Limited government

James Joyner replies to our posts (mine and ED’s) about the liberal failure to acknowledge the greatness of our Galtian overlords:

Doug’s rejoinder is, essentially, Why does Andrew care what liberals acknowledge? After all, he reasons, a desire to raise the marginal tax rate to not “much over 40%” is already a great favor to the rich.

But the reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

We need a lot of money to fund a lot of public projects. That would be true even if we just funded the ones that 85 percent of Americans agreed absolutely had to be funded. And people with money are, by definition, going to have to pony up most of it. But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

I appreciate the candor and forthrightness of this rejoinder. I think in the end, this is a pretty good example of where I have to part ways with pretty much all modern conservatives. I just don’t think this it is the job of government to validate people’s feelings. If there’s one thing the free market should be good at by now, it’s validating people’s feelings, especially rich people’s feelings, which are especially lucrative. There’s a big market for products and services that make rich people feel good about themselves and I say we sit back and let it do its job.

I guess I also don’t understand what form our acknowledgment of the sacrifices of the rich is supposed to take. A national holiday? A monument? I’m not kidding here. If erecting a Tomb of the Unknown CEO is all it takes to stop the whining, I’m all for it.






202 replies
  1. 1
    cleek says:

    the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts

    cite ?

    also, what you said. the rich are already rich, and since that seems to be all that matters to them (or, at least to those who faint dead away at the the prospect of paying another three cents on every dollar above their 250,000th) they should STFU and be happy with what they gots.

  2. 2

    As long as James Joyner calls taxation confiscation, fuck him with Moloch’s thorny cock.

  3. 3
    burnspbesq says:

    Print “Thank You” right above the signature line on Form 1040. That way, nobody’s fee-fees will be hurt.

  4. 4

    Doug,

    I can’t speak for Andrew but I’m not concerned about “the government” validating my feelings. Rather, I think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare and instead focus on the need to fund society.

    It’s the civic discourse that this is aimed at, not IRS pamphlets.

  5. 5
    Cris says:

    If there’s one thing the free market should be good at by now, it’s validating people’s feelings.

    For that matter, if you really earned your wealth, you probably did it by thinking more about practical outcomes than emotional responses. Like Mr. Corleone said, it’s business, not personal.

  6. 6

    As long as James Joyner calls taxation confiscation…

    Consult a dictionary, please.

  7. 7
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    I say we declare Feb 30th John Galt Day and only those that are affected by the top margin tax rate get to take the day off. The rest of us work. Deal?

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus): Stated rather strongly, but yeah. One cannot really debate the appropriate level of taxation with people who do not understand the purpose of taxation.

  9. 9
    Jrod the Cookie Thief says:

    So what, this whole mess is about the super-wealthy getting hurt fee-fees because they aren’t constantly getting sloppy beejers from their lessors?

    Isn’t having all the fucking money reward enough?

    You know, I never hear about the basic fact that being poor in America is a full-time job itself, one that makes sitting in a well-appointed office twelve hours a day seem like the life of ease it is.

    And just where do heirs fall? Do they require constant hymns and hosannas as well? I mean it’s hard work reading those financials and lobbying to keep your taxes down.

  10. 10
    John O says:

    Right on, Doug.

    And I would like to see some data on how most rich people got rich. “Many” of them were born into tremendous advantage.

  11. 11
    licensed to kill time says:

    How about a free “My Prowess Is Legendary” bumper sticker for everyone at the ‘not much over 40% marginal tax rate’ ?

  12. 12
    MikeJ says:

    Sorry, I just don’t buy the first premise, so the rest of the argument is stupid.

    No, rich people don’t work harder than poor people. Poor people in general work, much, much, much harder than rich people. Any argument that doesn’t acknowledge that reality is stupid from square one.

  13. 13

    Except of course the idea being rich due to their ‘hard work’ or some other form of inherent virtuousness is utter bullshit. The US has one of the lowest rates of social mobility in the Western world. The poor, are almost to a man, poor because they were born into poverty, and vice versa for the rich. That’s why the inheritance tax is a much bigger target for these jerks than say, payroll taxes.

  14. 14
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Maybe we could pay them outrageous salaries as a token of our esteem.

  15. 15
    John O says:

    Dear Mr. Joyner:

    You’re right that there has been class warfare. You guys won. Have you had a look at income inequality stats in the past, oh, 30 years?

    Far be it for me to argue with such a famed intellectual, but that class warfare crap really frosts my ass.

  16. 16
    Tom Hilton says:

    Also, too: Joyner wants “acknowledgment of the sacrifice” but doesn’t want any acknowledgment of the benefits. Anyone who is wealthy got that way partly because of government–because of logistical infrastructure, because of government enforcement of contracts, because of regulated financial markets, because of an educated workforce, etc., etc.

    The thing Joyner and Sully don’t get, and don’t get that they don’t get, is that wealth as such exists solely because government decrees that it exists. That in itself means wealthy people owe more from the get-go.

  17. 17
    Jewish Steel says:

    When observed through the long lens of history or the wide angle global wealth, almost all of us are doing fine.

    That we should be expected to soothe the jangled nerves of the rich is an inversion of the standard by which society should be judged; how it treats it’s least members. Not how it flatters it’s winners.

  18. 18
    FlipYrWhig says:

    But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    Oddly enough, for rich people to undertake all this po-faced whining about “sacrifice” and “confiscation” just might court some motherfucking resentment itself, no? And there are a fuckload fewer of you than there are of us. Jesus Christ. You are an atrocious human being.

  19. 19

    Can I say that I am incredibly tired of the “many rich people work incredibly hard” bleat?

    Look, a lot of people in this world – hell, a lot of people in this country – work just about as hard as it’s possible to work, just to make ends meet. And they don’t have any fucking choice in the matter. It’s what they’ve got to do just to keep going.

    Unlike rich people, they don’t have a choice. So the next time anyone asks me to acknowledge the feelings of the hardworking rich, I’ll tell them to fuck themselves with the rustiest old piece of rebar lying around the nearest construction site.

    And getting back to those people working as hard as they can to make ends meet, we tax them, with FICA and sales taxes and vehicle registration fees, and even a small bite of income tax.

    They can afford that little bit of taxation a hell of a lot less than rich people can afford a 70% tax rate, which I doubt we’ll ever see again. A pity, that.

  20. 20
    DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice. says:

    @James Joyner:

    What would you like Democrats to do then to show gratitude to rich people for paying their taxes?

    I’d say some kind of rich family version of the Frost family, but you can probably guess what the problem would be with that.

  21. 21
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare

    When billionaires pay for buses to cart Medicare recipients to wave signs about “Socialism” (and pay for the signs) at a rally organized by a multi-millionaire and promoted by another billionaire on his own TV network, does that count as “class warfare”?

  22. 22
  23. 23

    @James Joyner:

    I think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare

    That’s because if we actually talked about the war the wealthy class has been waging on the rest of us, the wealthy would find themselves in significant danger. So again, fuck you with Moloch’s thorny cock. As long as by civil discourse you mean “don’t call me on my bullshit,” you’ll get none of it from me.

  24. 24
    tweez says:

    What guys like Sullivan want is a kind of official catechism of acceptable criticism, that’s all. You merely have to preface every critique of wealthy folk with the phrase, “Even though I realize that many wealthy people work very hard…”

    Try it on for size. It’s stupid, but if it helps soothe their feelings it’s worth it.

    Isn’t it?

  25. 25
    Citizen_X says:

    Dear James Joyner: We’ll send you your “thanks for paying a lot of taxes” note the day you guys send the other 95% of Americans our “thanks for not bringing out the guillotines” note.

    Or, to put it more politely, yes, taxes are what we all pay for a stable, civil society. And, all taxes considered, the rich don’t even pay as high a percentage of their income as the rest of us. So please, quit the fucking whining.

  26. 26
    Bret says:

    I’m sorry, but taking away 25% of my income (~$12,000) in taxes hurts a lot more than someone making, say 12 million a year “only” being able to keep 8 million or so a year. I just have absolutely no sympathy for them, and I work just as hard if not harder than them.

  27. 27
    El Tiburon says:

    And people with money are, by definition, going to have to pony up most of it. But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    Just go and fuck yourself and do it hard and without lube.

    The ONLY reason the ‘high-earners’ make their money is because this society (through its government and laws, etc.) has made it POSSIBLE for you to make all of your goddamn money.

    Then you bribe and buy politicians to allow you to stuff more money in your pockets while Americans go without education and healthcare.

    Seriously, FOAD.

  28. 28

    @James Joyner:

    validating the efforts of the rich:

    You have a point there, that people who are prosperous are human and would like to have their efforts appreciated. I understand that.

    Are you willing to validate the feelings of people who are not prosperous, many of whom have worked like sons of bitches all their lives?

    If you are not willing to do that, then this conversation is over.

  29. 29
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Except, Mr. Joyner, most rich people didn’t get rich through their own efforts. Ignoring the fact that a lot of rich people these days got right by signing a contract that required them to get paid a huge amount of money if they were fired, and then actively doing everything they could to get fired, most rich people had:

    1. Supportive parents and teachers
    2. Police, fire, and military protection paid for by others
    3. A judicial system that made sure rules were followed and contracts were honored.
    4. The government run Air Traffic controllers to keep planes from crashing.
    5. Government paved roads.
    6. A functioning government that kept people from deciding that they needed to go work in fields.
    7. Etc.

    The rich can keep a lot of their money, but what most people – including a lot of rich people – understand is that it wasn’t done alone.

  30. 30
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    I pay my taxes without complaining like a spoiled little bitch about it, and I don’t make nearly as much money as the poor, oppressed millionaires, though I work every bit as hard as they do (without recognition of same from the likes of James Joyner–evidently, I have to join the top marginal bracket in order to matter to him). Why can’t Our Galtian Overlords just shut the fuck up and kick in like I do?

    Seriously, James. I make way less money than the people whose feelings you are so very, very concerned about. I work hard for my money, and I pay my taxes without complaint (which evidently is too much to ask of Our Galtian Overlords, delicate flowers that they apparently are). You gonna throw a pity party for me? Don’t worry–I don’t want one, anyway.

  31. 31
    MobiusKlein says:

    @James Joyner: Webster’s online: Definition of TAXATION
    1: the action of taxing; especially : the imposition of taxes
    2: revenue obtained from taxes
    3: the amount assessed as a tax

    Generally, when you talk about confiscate, it’s in the mode of ‘the principle confiscated all the comic books from the kids who were supposed to be studying. ”
    Not
    “the government confiscated 33% of the earnings above deductions from the people, who have a voice in spending and taxing decisions”

  32. 32
    Kryptik says:

    But the reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

    My ass.

    The problem here is, most high earners don’t get to where they are by sheer rugged individualism. It takes a lot of workers, above, below, and parallel to them to create an environment where said high earners could rise and excel. It takes infrastructure, private and gov’t funded, to help foster the literal environment and the economic environment to get them to where they are. It takes a whole lot of chance and circumstance too. Even where you have inheritance involved, it took chance that a person could be born into a family rich and well off enough to inherit that money.

    The problem with this debate is that we’re all expected to ‘recognize the sacrifices’ of the rich corporate board classes and such, and yet no one bothers to recognize the sacrifices of the lower brackets. A mother who has to work 12 hour shifts every day to support her child, who she doesn’t even get to see for but a third of her day at most. A family who has to buy handmedowns from Goodwill because they spent all the rest of their money on utilities. The worker who finds himself having to forge a resume because some higher up considered him a ‘redundant resource’, and whoops, the company isn’t hiring because it’s ‘lost confidence in the market’.

    The only reason the ‘wealthy’ are in a position to make such ‘sacrifices’ is because of an atmosphere and chance circumstances that allowed them to be where they are. No man is an island, and yet these rich fucks build moats around themselves because the ‘gubment hurt their fee fees’.

  33. 33
    JPL says:

    There are only three ways that the tax cuts can be extended. One is to borrow the money, two raid the entitlement programs or three a combination of both. When the middle class paid into soc. sec. for years, why should that fund be raided to provide tax cuts for the wealthy.
    That is class warfare at it’s worse.

  34. 34
    Nick says:

    “Please sir, may I have more porridge?”

  35. 35
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    You have a point there, that people who are prosperous are human

    I wouldn’t get ahead of myself on that…

  36. 36
    Jrod the Cookie Thief says:

    @James Joyner: Maybe we can rise above class-warfare when the wealthy stop sucking up every last scrap of wealth available.

    Do you think that the top 1% has seen their wealth balloon wildly while everyone else’s stagnated because the wealthy are just such hard workers while the rest of the nation turned lazy? Is it class warfare to say that systemic problems require systemic solutions?

    I’m not worried about resentment from the rich. Know why? They already resent us parasites, simply for existing outside of their circle. They resent us for not buckling under like good peasants.

    The class war is on, and the wealthy started it. And your concern is that the people being warred against aren’t grateful enough for their scraps? Eat a bag of dicks.

  37. 37
    Brighton says:

    Barf. Why don’t you pick lettuce for a whole day and then tell me how hard your desk job is. It’s time to hate on the rich.

  38. 38
    Brighton says:

    Barf. Why don’t you pick lettuce for a whole day and then tell me how hard your desk job is. It’s time to hate on the rich.

  39. 39
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @James Joyner: This is from dictionary.com:

    a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc.

  40. 40
    Dom Phenom says:

    how about liberals acknowledge how hard the rich work when conservatives acknowledge how freaking hard the poor work?

    the problem with this “request” that liberals acknowledge how hard the rich work is that it has a silent corollary, which is that the poor probably aren’t working as hard, cause if they were then they’d be rich. and that’s some straight bullsh-t. the fact is most people work pretty damn hard, just some people get paid a lot for it. and chances are the people that get paid a lot love working hard at what they do.

    this is ridiculous. i don’t comment often but this stuff pisses me off. i grew up in a good neighborhood, with good parents, went to a good school district, decent state school, and then law school, and now work hard at my job and make good money. sure, I worked hard, but I have no illusion that i got where I am because of hard work, or that i worked harder than anyone else. I got where I am because the cards were stacked in my favor, and at any point in my life where i felt like putting forth effort, i was rewarded. it would have been near impossible to really mess up my life. the fact is, that is the life of most successful people in this country. not overcoming adversity, just being born into one of the places where if you do some work, the pay off is pretty much guaranteed. most people in this country are not born into that situation. they just work their asses off and then are told that they are lazy or greedy when their house is foreclosed.

  41. 41
    Menzies says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus):

    This is more or less my problem too. The moment you call taxation confiscation I also have to part ways – taxes are just as “crucial to civil society” as recognizing that high earners might have gotten there through dint of their own effort. In fact, I’d say more so, since clearly society has continued to function as those high earners whine about how horribly the hoi polloi treats them.

    Taxes are the price you pay to live in a society where the state takes on the responsibility to build your roads, educate your children, and protect you from fire and crime.

  42. 42
    DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice. says:

    @James Joyner:

    Also too in any case: thanks for dropping by.

  43. 43
    Pangloss says:

    If only schoolteachers, nurses, policemen, auto workers, construction workers, and long haul truck drivers worked as hard as the average CEO, society would surely reward them like they have the CEOs.

  44. 44
    Kryptik says:

    @JPL:

    Don’t forget the next step: Saying Social Security has to be ‘reformed, because the program is broke’. Even if you accept that premise, why the fuck do you think it’s broke, you dipshits?

  45. 45
    Sarcastro says:

    Sucking wealthy cock is hardly necessary for civil debate. Not stringing said rich bastards up from a lamp-post with their own intestines, however, is necessary for civil debate.

    We are being civil. Don’t fucking push it.

  46. 46
    Zifnab says:

    @Brian S (formerly Incertus): This. I’m so sick of the “It’s my money! Taxes are theft!” bullshit. Do these jackasses throw a hissy fit like this every time they get a utility bill? “How dare the electric company demand my hard earned dollars? What have they ever done for me?!”

    Taxes are the price of government. If you don’t want to be taxed, by all means you are free to move to a state with lower rates and fewer government services. Might I recommend Arizona. Or Somalia.

    But so long as you are driving on government roads, eating government inspected foods, carrying around a degree from a state university, and living under the protection of the United States Armed Forces, I would politely ask that you take your whine and shove it.

    Cut the defense budget by 50% and maybe we can discuss the bitter unfairness of a 15% tax on unsheltered capital gains.

  47. 47
    Duane says:

    Typical bleeding heart conservative response…lather, rinse repeat……
    don’t hurt their feelings you big meanies…….

  48. 48
    kc says:

    Do rich people pay James Joyner to whine on their behalf?

  49. 49
    sukabi says:

    But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    this galls me to no end…. where is the acknowledgment from the CEOs and other “successful” rich to the folks their “success” springs from??? they’re busy gutting the American Dream for most of the stiffs working for them (off-shoring American middle class jobs from manufacturing to high-tech) and complaining that we aren’t grateful.

  50. 50
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    I think an annual vacation to Hawaii, dinner at Alexander’s Steakhouse at least once a month, and a BMW pretty much cover the acknowledgments the high earners need. They reward themselves by living well. I don’t see those fuckers thanking me for providing them service. Gee, guys, thanks for the tax dollars that help pay me to provide services to YOUR FUCKING CHILDREN.

  51. 51
    FlipYrWhig says:

    the reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

    I’ll get by just fine without including whiny “high earners” like Joyner and Sullivan in my fucking civil society. You want a civil society, ya gotta understand it’s gonna be rough and tumble in that public sphere. Let’s get some Habermas up in this bitch. Bring it.

  52. 52
    Paris says:

    If erecting a Tomb of the Unknown CEO is all it takes to stop the whining, I’m all for it.

    I, for one, am against it. I prefer to harness the whining as some kind of renewable energy supply.

    I don’t know James Joyner, but FU and die, sir. How did these supermen become so wealthy with such thin skin and frail egos?

  53. 53
    Suck It Up! says:

    Why does the government need to acknowledge their efforts? Isn’t that what fast women, fast cars, and big houses are for?

  54. 54
    soonergrunt says:

    Perhaps Messers Joiner and Sullivan think the fee-fees of the rich would be assuaged by allowing them to put their names and/or corporate logos on tanks and fighter planes?
    The 53rd Fighter Squadron, sponsored by Pepsi Shareholders, and the 1st Battalion, 4th Armored Regiment, brought to you by the staff of The Atlantic.
    We could paint Andrew Sullivan’s face on the front glacis of an Abrams turret, right next to the cannon. Maybe Ted Nugent’s signature could be engraved into the receivers of the M-24 sniper rifles, and I’ll bet the swoosh of Nike would look awesome on the tail plane of an F-16, and we could put the Intel Inside logo on damn near everything the military has, because most things do, actually.

  55. 55
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    I just don’t think … it is the job of government to validate peoples’ feelings.

    You are right. That’s the blogs’ job.

  56. 56
    Mark says:

    @James Joyner: Methinks someone needs to spend a day in someone else’s shoes. Then you’ll appreciate the fact that our wealthy betters – in front of whom you would have us bow down as we pass them (as though they would deign to use the same sidewalks as us) – haven’t had their homes torched by an angry unemployed and uninsured mob.

    And on a more serious note: fuck you. You want me to appreciate the efforts of the cocksuckers who pledged the same fraternities as four generations of their families, ride in first class and say things like “he’s doing very well.” And at the same time, you want to cut my mom off of unemployment and you think it’s no great tragedy that there were *zero* health insurance companies in the state of California who would take her onto their plans?

    Think about that, asswipe. You want me to fellate somebody who’s had everything go their way, and you want to crush someone who hasn’t.

    Fuck you fuck you fuck you. I hope you can see me doing the fuck you dance right now.

  57. 57
    JPL says:

    @Kryptik: I don’t think class warfare means what poor pitiful James thinks it does.

  58. 58
    kdaug says:

    So an estate tax of, say, 85% would solve these problems, no? Let’s make sure that the rich damn well earned what they have.

  59. 59
    Rommie says:

    Acknowledgment? Well, there was talk of replacing Columbus Day with a real holiday, so why not something like Freedom Day, with parades for the wealthy Old-world royalty style. They can bask in the aura of superiority as they go by all the parade watchers, who are down on one knee.

    More seriously, I think it’s going to head for the direction of Citizenship, where only the privileged will have the right to vote, and all this messy business of the illegal people and others with the wrong skin color getting to stand behind the curtain goes away.

    They’ll have the Constitution behind them, the We Hate King George version, and argue that we should go back to that system. Misinterpretation of the founders intent? Feh, they knew who has the gold makes the rules, and so will the Real American People. They’ll get their accolades, and their power, as they truly deserve.

    Or: Heinlien and Orwell weren’t writing Action Plans, you nitwits!

  60. 60
    AC in BC says:

    I’ll be happy to validate their successes if we would just once stop bailing out their catastrophic failures.

  61. 61
    Cris says:

    But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    We’re asking you (and the “successful” for whom you speak) to acknowledge that what you call “sacrifice” isn’t much of one.

    If you give up even 33% of your total (not marginal) income, you know what that makes you? Still rich. Maybe you have to sell off one of your investment properties at a loss.

    If I give up the same percentage, I’m eating cat food. From the dumpster. Maybe I have to sell off my primary residence, or since the market sucks I’ll hand it over to the bank when I can’t make the payments.

    Class warfare? Sure. You’re soaking in it.

  62. 62
    Lit3Bolt says:

    I wonder if James Joyner resented working for DISA as a defense contractor. Being hooked up to the government teat required much effort and Galtian cunning on his part.

  63. 63
    licensed to kill time says:

    I say we bring back forelock tugging, guvnor! Thankee!

  64. 64
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Menzies: Taxes are the price you pay to have society ensure that you get paid for your services, and your not having to do that with a gun.

  65. 65
    JPL says:

    There are some reason for unearned income being taxed at a lower rate but 15% give me a break. Inheritance tax is unearned income.

  66. 66
    Allan says:

    If every wealthy but underappreciated person in America hired a full time employee to do nothing but appreciate him all day long, we’d have full employment.

    If any wealthy BJ readers out there are feeling unloved, I am available and can be contacted via my website.

    But I insist that you pay me no more than $250,000 per year for the job, because if even one penny of my income were subject to additional taxes, it would sap my productivity.

  67. 67
    Seebach says:

    I see Joyner’s run away with his tail between his legs. Conservative SOP.

  68. 68
    Kryptik says:

    @Rommie:

    Seriously, we’re this close to having fiefs of Corpro-Kings, demanding that the peasants bring them tribute to show that they appreciate their grand rulers, then scream “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS MORTGAGES!” when they can’t afford to give even a meager tribute of some gold or their entire harvest. And apparently, according to folks like Joyner, this is the way it should be, because It’s Hard To Be Da King!

  69. 69
    Martin says:

    @James Joyner: Funny how nobody is worried about class warfare when waged from above.

    How about the effect of this policy on those young people we need to go out and perform critical jobs that lack the potential of 6-figure incomes? Who is going to tell their 15 year old to go be a factory worker, farmer, mechanic or even a cop or fireman when the prevailing national attitude is ‘When you work harder, your stock options will appreciate and then you’ll be rewarded, but stop complaining about not being able to make rent.’

    We’re now about to turn out the 3rd consecutive generation of young people that are entering the world believing that they’re wholly fucked if they don’t become a doctor, lawyer, or hedge fund manager, mainly because we’ve ensured that there are entire careers in this country with no upward benefit and pretty much nothing but downside risk from performance. There are two daily outcomes for quite a lot of working class people today: bust your ass and hope to God you get a cost-of-living increase that matches inflation, or lose some fraction of your income to furlough or pay cut if not outright layoff. You’re telling them that even if they work as hard as those folks complaining about top marginal tax rates, their reward will be to not get fired. I know that eating is very motivational, but if you want to know why the US economy has declined in so many areas other than chumming the planet with new financial products, maybe we should consider that we’ve left most of the economy to be filled by people as a last resort, rather than as a desired goal. I can’t think of a better way to screw an industry than to fill it will people that aren’t eager to be there.

  70. 70
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Any discussion of unequal distribtion of wealth today nees to take into account the role which has been played by the rise of what Nick Taleb calls “extremistan” (as contrasted with “mediocristan”). That is a clever catch phrase for the idea that economic activity which creates information (rather than say manufacturing tangible goods or growing food) tends to have a fractal distribution of incomes – not only is most of the income concentrated in the top 20%, but within that cohort most of its income is in the top 2%, and within the latter most of it in the top 0.1%, and so on. Our income curve is an inverted Devil’s Staircase.

    And it is almost impossible to imagine this state of affairs being purely, or even mainly, the outcome resulting from an equally extreme and equally power-law scaled distribution in willingness to work hard, or any other moral virtues. In a bit-producing economy, the rewards of hard work are distributed in a fashion which is much more the fickle choice of Dame Fortune, than in the older forms of economic activity which are more tangible.

    And so there is a new psychological factor operating behind resentment of the very rich, associated with this shift from an industrial to a post-industrial society, which is that insofar as they got rich producing bits in the world of extremistan, the very rich today are much, much more merely lucky, than were the very rich in the past.

    This is a sociological problem with post-industrial capitalism that needs a solution, and quickly, or the system is going to tear itself apart.

  71. 71
    MikeJ says:

    @Paris:

    How did these supermen become so wealthy with such thin skin and frail egos?

    By whining until other people decided to do what it took to shut them up.

  72. 72
    Kryptik says:

    @JPL:

    I think the rationale, maybe initially was 1) It doesn’t punish people for investing, and 2) no way that folks will end up living completely off unearned income, no way no how.

    Guess what.

  73. 73
    cleek says:

    But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    “confiscate” ? talk about resentment!

    taxes are the cost of admission to the USA. don’t like it? then get the fuck out.

  74. 74
    Cris says:

    By the way, let me state for the record that my previous post is speaking for others, not for myself. I’m comfortably middle class, earning just above the median for my area, and have plenty of family support. If I lost 33% of my income I’d still get by. But there are lots of people (who work a lot harder than I do, by the way) for whom the cat food/foreclosure thing is reality.

  75. 75
    Citizen_X says:

    @James Joyner: Well then, if you are trying to get validation for your upset feelings in “the public debate” you have seriously come to the wrong place.

    Or, to paraphrase Gary Oldman in “True Romance,” you must have thought this was Rich White Boy Day. It ain’t Rich White Boy Day, is it?

  76. 76

    […] Balloon Juice commenter would like to pleasure me in an unnatural way for my referring to taxation as […]

  77. 77
    Paris says:

    James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway and the managing editor of the Atlantic Council. He’s a former Army officer, Desert Storm vet, and college professor with a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama.

    So, I agree with Andrew both that those of us who have been relatively successful are going to have to pony up most of the bill

    Nothing in his bio suggests ‘being relatively successful’. Mostly former gov’t employee, probably still on the public dole along with some wingnut welfare.

    I guess I’m doing it wrong.

  78. 78
    John O says:

    @Seebach:

    He’s got more important things to do than argue with the rabble. You know, rich-guy stuff.

    I can feel his smug satisfaction at lobbing an idiot-grenade into the debate and bolting a thousand miles away.

  79. 79
    Lit3Bolt says:

    @cleek:

    Exactly. What do the rich even fucking do, anyway? Besides whine, commit financial fraud, lobby, and campaign for political office? Are we going to lose their hard earned investment dollars that are going to China anyway? Do the US citizens need genuflect more less the barony decide not to build their palatial mansions in our towns?

  80. 80
    Comrade Sock Puppet of the Great Satan says:

    “Well, there was talk of replacing Columbus Day with a real holiday, so why not something like Freedom Day, with parades for the wealthy Old-world royalty style.”

    A holiday? Why, that’d be more confiscation of our labor by the socialist government from our wealthy superiors.

    How about “Freedom Day”, being a day where in our gratitude to our betters, we work for them for free!

    Profits earned that day will only be assigned to individual wealthy investors in the top 1% of income or assets, rather than being shared with pension funds, etc.
    Workers for non-profits and government workers will be assigned a wealthy individual to work for so that wealthy individual can also feel they benefit from government and the charitable sector.

    And in the evening, a few of the womenfolk will be given the chance to improve the genetic quality of their future children as we revive the custom of Droit du Seigneur!

    Freedom Day! Because the rich have fee-fees too.

  81. 81
    JPL says:

    @Kryptik: What irritates me about people like Joyce is screaming about class warfare when the middle class is being squeezed. The middle class pays sales tax on most of their income, they pay soc. sec. on most of their income, they pay state and federal taxes. The rich are not being squeezed.

  82. 82
    kdaug says:

    @DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.: Agreed. Took some balls, but then I don’t guess he knew what he had coming from this crowd…

  83. 83
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @MikeJ:

    No, rich people don’t work harder than poor people. Poor people in general work, much, much, much harder than rich people. Any argument that doesn’t acknowledge that reality is stupid from square one.

    Work is much more taxing when:

    You drive to work and park in a garage rather than wait for public transportation in the middle of winter

    You wake up at 7am to get into the office whenever you feel like it rather than at 5am to make it in on-time

    You work in a private office on a pc/laptop rather than manual labor like maintenance or housekeeping

    You can take a vacation on miles accrued through company travel rather than a “stay-cation”

    You earn as much in one month at your only job as some do the entire year at just one of their jobs

    You have to decide who to lay-off so you can collect your whole bonus rather being being laid-off

  84. 84
    ed drone says:

    @kc:

    Do rich people pay James Joyner to whine on their behalf?

    Aha! We’ve discovered his “wealth plan”:

    A. Commiserate with the wealthy
    B ???
    C. Profit!

    Ed

  85. 85
    Brachiator says:

    @James Joyner:

    Rather, I think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare and instead focus on the need to fund society.

    How is it class warfare? And the title of your piece is “Taxing the Successful.” Last time I checked, almost everyone paid some kind of tax, income tax, sales tax, payroll tax, etc. So, are the majority of working people who are not also super-wealthy now “losers” somehow?

    But even here, should trust fund babies who had taxes paid at the trust level or those whose income consists only of inherited wealth be labeled as “social parasites” since they are not “the successful,” by your definition?

    By the by, since I have been involved in the tax industry for over 20 years, I will gladly discuss this with you on any level you like, tax code, IRS regulations, court cases, technical corrections, as well as “IRS pamphlets.” We can also talk about the degree to which evasion, avoidance, non-compliance and outright fraud forms a considerable foundation of the net incomes of those you think are “the successful.”

  86. 86
    Cris says:

    Oh for Christ’s sake. What a fucking crybaby. If you can’t take the thorny cock, stay out of Incertus’ kitchen.

  87. 87
    Michael says:

    Didn’t you know that every Galtian Superbeing starts with a completely blank slate? It matters not that you are a product of a long line of big brained primates that only survived out of joint effort and patient learning.

    Galtian Superbeings benefitted none at all by the discovery of fire, the invention of the wheel, the smelting of iron, the invention of the press, the development of mathematics, the civilizing effect of common rulemaking, stable and mostly decent courts, roads, literacy, infrastructure….

  88. 88
    ornery curmudgeon says:

    I’m so f’ing sick of rich people and their sychophants.

    DougJ, ED, Cole, don’t you wish you could quit Sully?

    I sure do.

  89. 89

    That has to amount to the lamest excuse for a lame original point (Sullivan’s) that I’ve read in quite a while.

    Ugh. JJ is as much of a glibertarian as the others, even though he plays a principled conservative in the blogosphere.

  90. 90
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @John O: Next he’ll come back to plead that he deserves some credit for participating in the discussion at all. After all, not to acknowledge his valuable contributions is a form of confiscation sure to breed resentment.

  91. 91
    DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice. says:

    @ornery curmudgeon:

    I have mostly quit, I just thought this particular silliness made for a good topic.

  92. 92
    Shygetz says:

    But the reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

    No, not breaking out the torches and pitchforks is crucial to a civil society. What you want is one thing that high earners have found that that they have not yet been able to buy–the respect and fear of the underclass.

    As 20% of the population now owns 84% of the wealth in this country, people like you and Andrew should be fucking ecstatic that the only thing you’re getting is some grumbling and nasty looks. You want civil society, fix that problem. But no, you just want us to clap louder. Class warfare is so much easier when one side is convinced it doesn’t exist, huh?

  93. 93
    TG Chicago says:

    To me, the most amazing thing is that Sullivan originally complained “Why are so many on the left incapable of acknowledging that many people who are rich – but, of course by no means all of them – earned it the hard way?”

    He did so in response to Jamelle Bouie saying:

    Simply put, wealth simply doesn’t enjoy a 1:1 relationship with success. Some people work hard for their wealth, but some are lucky, some have it handed to them, and others are ultimately capitalizing on advantages they gained at birth.

    So really, Sullivan was just complaining that Bouie said “Some people work hard” instead of “Many people work hard”. Wow, what a terrible injustice.

    Or is the real question we should be asking (to paraphrase Sullivan): Why are so many people on the right incapable of acknowledging that their tired old stereotypes and tropes about the left are clearly inaccurate?

  94. 94
    Menzies says:

    @Cris:

    Dear God, what a baby.

    Putting on my classicist hat for a moment here, confiscation does in fact refer to resources appropriated by the government, ever since Roman times. The problem is that it refers to resources appropriated as the result of prosecution.

  95. 95
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Paris: I admire all of the things he did. I’m still working on my PhD.

    I do think he needs to read the sequel to Atlas Shrugged when all of the wealthy people starve to death because the cannot grow their own food.

  96. 96

    @James Joyner:

    Rather, I think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare and instead focus on the need to fund society.

    Why is it when the rich are getting their fee-fee’s hurt, it’s all about class warfare, but when they’re using “piss on” (aka trickle down) economics, deregulation and union-busting to decimate the middle class, it’s not class warfare?

    Fuck that shit, James.

  97. 97
    Shygetz says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Eh, he’ll just send DougJ an invoice for his time.

  98. 98
    Brachiator says:

    This just in:

    Citigroup on Monday reported $2.2 billion in net income for its third quarter, marking its third straight quarter of earnings this year as the firm lowered reserves against potential losses.
    __
    The profit, built on $20.7 billion in revenue, amounts to 7 cents a share.

    By way of background, what they reported for their First Quarter: “Citigroup on Monday reported a $4.4 billion profit for its first quarter, as the banking giant continues to strengthen nearly two years after the financial crisis. Citi’s profit, which amounts to 15 cents a share, was a sharp reversal from the $7.6 billion loss it reported during the same time last year.”

    I suppose we should prepare to thank someone for his or her sacrifice.

  99. 99
    Ash Can says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare and instead focus on the need to fund society.

    And how in sweet hell can that happen if one side in the debate refuses to acknowledge any need for “funding society” at all? Or insists that the only society that needs funding is the segment that’s already wealthy?

    Your use of the word “successful” is a real tell. To you, success = wealth, and carries the implication that those who don’t manage to catch the brass ring are in some way failures. If only they would work harder, they too would be wealthy.

    Well, wake up. This isn’t how the real world works. The vast majority of people who work hard — very hard — never see the kind of wealth you’re trying to defend. What you, Andrew Sullivan, and the rest of the “won’t someone think of the feelings” crowd don’t seem to want to acknowledge is that plain, blind, dumb luck plays a huge role in determining which hard workers get rich and which ones don’t. People lucky enough to be born into optimal circumstances and/or encounter optimal opportunities are the ones who will end up wealthy. The exceptions to this rule are few and far between.

    Enough with your play-nice crap. We who support higher tax rates for those better able to pay them invariably have been the ones hollering loud and long for the “funding of society,” as you put it. But the perpetual tax cutters not only have no interest in funding society, they want to eliminate first and foremost what funding there is for those segments that can least afford it. Maybe the class-warfare stuff bothers you so much because, on a deeper level, you realize that’s exactly what’s been going on for some time now, and that the less-wealthy side is not the one that fired first.

  100. 100
    LT says:

    Exactly. It’s a never-ending game with these twats. “Liberals aren’t showing enough recognition of blah blah blah!” A completely immeasureable bit of horseshit that they can use forever to stoke their forever burning itch to kick a ghost from their own pasts. I don’t know about Joyner, but this is surely about Andrew’s own fee fees.

  101. 101
    Paula says:

    Ugh. Spare me.

    Call me when a public middle-school teacher working in a bankrupt school district makes just as much as a Goldman Sachs middle manager.

  102. 102
  103. 103
    John O says:

    @Cris:

    It’s sort of SOP among conservatives I argue with. They latch onto a tree they can quibble with and ignore the forest of the point everyone else is trying to make.

    Methinks Mr. Joyner is VERY impressed with his own awesome self. As he should be! He’s rich, meaning “successful!”

    What a dick.

  104. 104

    apologies for stealing the protein wisdom guy’s cockslap schtick, but seriously i’ll stick my dick in James Joyner’s mouth if it would make him and his rich friends shut the fuck up with the whining and crying already.

    Sorry, i’m going to go on a rant right now. i’d like those assholes to come move into my neighborhood, take on my debts and workload and then tell me how hard they have it. Because last night, we got woken up to the familiar pop-pop-pop of guns fire at 3:00 AM: six shots in all, followed a second or two later by someone returning fire. my porch roof needs a repair: i don’t have the $5000 to do it, or the credit to get a loan from a bank, not that i can afford another debt anyway. i have a car that needs a tie rod, a gasket, and a sensor of some sort for the throttle. i can’t afford to buy more than one of those a month. I’d sure like to have my bathroom professionally re-done, but because I’m not rich like james joyners’ poor long-suffering friends, i have to do it myself. My shower surround hasn’t come out as level as planned, live amnd learn i guess.

    and that doesn’t even begin to factor in my student loan which has been in forebearance for the past two years and is no doubt going back INTO forebearance at the end of the year.

    So let me repeat: james Joyner (and the rest of the apologists for the poor-long-suffering rich can SUCK. MY. DICK.
    other people work hard and sacrifice too, and when you don’t have a $5 million dollar cushion (or any cushion) the sacrifices are a lot worse. Suck on that, Joyner.

  105. 105
    soonergrunt says:

    @Mark:

    Fuck you fuck you fuck you. I hope you can see me doing the fuck you dance right now.

    Don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

  106. 106
    RSA says:

    __

    But the reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

    Chasing down a link on Wikipedia, I find this: “One third (34 percent) of Americans are ‘upwardly mobile,’ surpassing their parents’ income and their parents’ economic ranking (by one or more quintiles). This means that of the 67 percent of families who make more money than their parents, only half move ahead enough to place them in a new position on the income ladder.” When it comes to relative economic mobility, I don’t think it’s actually clear that most high earners got there through dint of their own efforts.

    But let’s just assume that. As others have mentioned, when will conservatives acknowledge that hard work is evenly distributed across all income levels (this is my unsupported assertion, but it’s just as plausible as the conservatives’), and that chance plays a huge role in outcomes? That’s also crucial to a civil society, the view that we’re in it together and it’s not everyone piggybacking on the rich.

  107. 107
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Lit3Bolt: Hell, he went to state universities, served in the army, and taught at state universities.

  108. 108
    JustMe says:

    I think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare

    You need to stop whining that everytime we argue to go back to clinton-era tax rates, you scream “class warfare.” This is a meaningless phrase by the disingenuous meant to shut down debate. It is meant to inflame and accuse without actually being productive. There has never been a history of any kind of “class warfare” outside of politicians trying to whip up outrage and hate against the “poor” accusing them of “stealing” from others. So spare us.

  109. 109
    kdaug says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): Ahhhh…. I think you may have a movement, there, mate!

    What if people just stopped going into gated communities? I mean, that’s what the gates are for, right? No “lower-class” people (plumbers, landscapers, carpenters, electricians, cops) are allowed, right? It has a FUCKING GATE, after all! If you can’t afford to live here, stay the hell out!

    Fine. Let’s dance, you fucking pigs. Wallow in your walled compounds. Fix your damn sink yourself. Learn how to fucking mow. Don’t come boo-hooing to us if someone breaks into your fabulous mansion. And even if you don’t want to pay your taxes, I hope you’ve paid your fire “protection”… you know, those flames can spread.

    Let’s just set up some pickets outside some of these gated McMansions. Then we can see how hard our wealthy betters really work.

  110. 110
    Corner Stone says:

    people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

    Aaaaannnd, this is why I couldn’t give a shit less what Joyner has to say about basically anything.

  111. 111
    New Yorker says:

    I guess I also don’t understand what form our acknowledgment of the sacrifices of the rich is supposed to take. A national holiday? A monument? I’m not kidding here. If erecting a Tomb of the Unknown CEO is all it takes to stop the whining, I’m all for it.

    I had a poli sci professor once who, when asked what the rich would get back from having to pay higher taxes, he said (paraphrasing) that they would get the continued privilege of living in the prosperous, stable, democratic society that is the United States. I thought it was one of the best responses to that question I have ever heard.

    I also like to imagine Professor Jackson haunting the dreams of wingnuts like David Horowitz.

  112. 112
  113. 113
    Corner Stone says:

    @James Joyner:

    Rather, I think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare and instead focus on the need to fund society.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA!!…ohhh, thanks sir. That was one of the best belly laughs I’ve had in a looooong time.

  114. 114
    Jim Pharo says:

    As usual, we lefties have foolishly taken the bait.

    The question is not some kind of “fee-fees” or acknowledgemnet, etc. It’s that the entire premise is wrong. Rich people surely worked hard — harder than others — in the course acquiring their wealth. But if hard work equalled success, there’s a cleaning lady I know who ought to be a trillionaire.

    Also, the idea that the richest people are going to be largely paying the bills is nonsense. The money we use to help each other comes mostly from the middle. Their contribution is helpful and needed, but it’s by no means the lion’s share of what’s needed.

    Finally, all that wealth exists solely as a by-product of a functioning civil society. We could vote it out of existence tomorrow. As many have said better upthread, their thanks is the large balances on their stock brokerage accounts.

    Many rich people are happy to acknowledge the debt they owe to the rest of us and have no problem paying their fair share. But others are just assholes.

  115. 115

    Perhaps we should tug our forelocks as they drive by in their limos.

    Rather, I think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare and instead focus on the need to fund society.

    Whoever you are, stop spoofing under Mr. Joyner’s name.

    Class Warfare indeed. Only a pea-brained simp would use a phrase like that in a non-ironic manner.

  116. 116
    Martin says:

    @New Yorker: Hmm. Maybe the left should use the free-market argument to taxation: Taxes should be no lower than is necessary to keep people from emigrating.

    That we’re offering something lower yet is outright generosity.

  117. 117
    Svensker says:

    @Brachiator:

    I suppose we should prepare to thank someone for his or her sacrifice.

    Well, my friend who works for Citibank in NY was complaining two years ago because they had to buy USED ski equipment for their kids. Can you imagine the humiliation of being at Vail with USED ski equipment? It was just awful for them. They were very upset.

    They don’t have that problem this year. Big fat juicy bonuses for shiny new ski equipment. Yay!

  118. 118
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    @James Joyner: Before this devolves into a namecallingfest, I figured I’d give my $0.02.

    I think most of the ire that your comments are arousing comes from the silent dichotomy you’re setting up between “success”/”failure” and “success” based on income. It’s one of those things that conservatives think nothing about but really rubs liberals the wrong way. I think there are a number of people who make under $250k who wouldn’t conceive of themselves as “failures”, but don’t think they have any special right to be free from taxation.

    I don’t think the phrase “taxing the affluent” arouses quite as much ire. I understand that your comment was in good faith, but you have to be aware that certain language is loaded with negative meaning for the other side, much as liberals talking about “social justice” rubs conservatives the wrong way. If you really think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare, avoid using language that suggests a higher inherent worth for the efforts of the affluent.

  119. 119
    Corner Stone says:

    @Daragh McDowell:

    The poor, are almost to a man, poor because they were born into poverty, and vice versa for the rich. That’s why the inheritance tax is a much bigger target for these jerks than say, payroll taxes.

    The number one indicator of a child’s future earning potential is, wait for it, the income of the parents on the day that child is born. Hmmm, strange that.
    And yeah, they don’t give a shit about the payroll tax as it deals with their income. Just what’s “confiscated” from them for their miserable wretches they have on the payroll.

  120. 120
    ChrisS says:

    @J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford:
    A whole lot of this.

    One of the things I noticed when I made the jump from common laborer/interchangeable human worker to college-educated salaried professional was that I could disappear for any length of time without so much as a questioning glance. If I came into work at 8:01 at a previous job, after three of those, regardless of the reason, it was a write-up. Now if I feel like taking an extra-long walk with the dog in the morning, no big whoop. Or an hour and a half lunch with an old friend who is breezing through town. Or a doctor’s appointment, car repair, miscellaneous errand, etc. Or in the case of a c few co-workers who can’t make it in until well after 8 because they need to drop their kids off at school.

    That benefit is HUGE.

  121. 121
    Ash Can says:

    @Jim Pharo: This. If people would just ditch the Ayn Rand bullshit and get it through their thick heads that it’s the middle class, not the wealthy, that’s the real engine of growth in any economy, this nation might actually get somewhere.

  122. 122
    The Other Chuck says:

    The rich are not taxed on 40% of their income. They are taxed on 40% on the amount of income ABOVE the top of the bracket below that rate, whatever it is. Why is it so hard for some people to understand this?

    Some rich people worked hard. A lot of them are sitting on their asses letting their money make money. There’s a REASON we were supposed to have have capital gains and estate taxes.

  123. 123
    El Cid says:

    I have been working very diligently collecting gold for the calf I will construct for worshiping my millionaire betters.

  124. 124
    Jim C says:

    But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    Whatever happened to the Protestant work ethic? “Hard work is its own reward.”

  125. 125
    BDeevDad says:

    Reposting to a later thread….

    WTF. The missing in this logic is that the people calling for higher taxes are not rich. Many billiionaires (with a B) have said the tax system is not right and they should be taxed at a higher rate.
    Warren Buffett has acknowledged the fact that he is taxed at a lower rate than his secretary because most of his income is from capital gains and has stated publicly that this is wrong. Will Sullivan and Joyner acknowledge that Warren Buffett knows more about the work ethic of the rich and what it has to do with tax policy?

  126. 126
    El Tiburon says:

    @brendancalling:
    Dude, that sucks.

    I can’t imagine.

  127. 127
  128. 128
    suzanne says:

    But the reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

    Who. Fucking. Cares.

    A witty rejoinder containing the phrase “hurt fee-fees” is applicable here.

  129. 129
    ET says:

    There are a lot of people who work hard for their money but don’t get paid the big bucks. Many of the wealthy have the ability to invest and let the money do the work – that is NOT working.

    As a liberal I acknowledge all those who work hard REGARDLESS of what their net worth is. Too bad those that want to defend the very wealthy don’t acknowledge that those that work hard but whose work is not valued enough to receive HUGE salaries deserve to be acknowledged for their hard work.

  130. 130
    El Tiburon says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    The rich are not taxed on 40% of their income

    Factor in loopholes and various other perks the wealthy enjoy, their overall tax rate is usually lower than most middle-class workers.

    See David Cay Johnston books to get your blood boiling.

    I’ve said it many time: as much as I hate giving my money to the poor, I hate it more giving it to the rich.

  131. 131
    Bmaccnm says:

    When 40 West Virginia hedge fund managers die in a money-dust explosion because monetary safety regulations were gutted to make some one else richer, then I’ll shed a tear for the priveledged. Until then, lil Johnny, be grateful we don’t give the rich what they really deserve.

  132. 132

    @Bmaccnm:

    When 40 West Virginia hedge fund managers die in a money-dust explosion because monetary safety regulations were gutted to make some one else richer, then I’ll shed a tear for the priveledged.

    /thread

  133. 133
    BDeevDad says:

    @El Tiburon: See my post above. Warren Buffett has stated he is taxed at about 17% compared to his secretary at about 28%.

  134. 134
    Don says:

    I’d like to see congress pass a 1% increase on income above $250,000 a year and justify it with a mandate that those folks get a strongly worded thank you letter from the government for being so awesome and productive.

    Joyner is smart enough to understand exactly why this doesn’t come up in the public discourse, in order of importance.

    1. It’s fucking irrelevant. You got the money and the social admiration that goes with it, what more could you want? This claim that the well compensated are maligned in our society in any meaningful way is complete nonsense. The occasional swipe at bankers doesn’t come close to offsetting the way we fetishize financial success in this country.

    2. It’s a disingenuous request. Joyner and the rest don’t want acknowledgment for its own sake, they want it to help set the goalposts for an every-inch-counts fight against every 0.001% of taxes. Demanding the opposing side swear on a stack of bibles that the well-off got that money through blood, sweat and tears is so they can use it as a stick against every request that they help support the country they enjoy living in. “You SAID you understood they EARNED this, how can you defend taking it away!@!@??”

    Beating the drum about how the well-off deserve every cent coming to them is just the laying of foundation to go after those who have less who clearly DON’T deserve what they’re getting.

  135. 135
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think the public debate on this issue should rise above the level of class warfare

    Yeah, the rich fuckers and their apologists always hate it when the rest of us refer to what they’ve been doing to us for 30 years now as, you know, what it is. Class warfare is OK when the eloi wage it on the morlocks without talking about it, but saints preserve us and fetch mah faintin’ couch if any of the morlocks should actually refer to it as such.

  136. 136
    Bob L says:

    But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    Good Lord, since when have the rich turned into such hyper sensitive, whinny ass tity babies?

    Joyce: taxes were part of the damn social contract when they started pulling the long hours in the board room. If they didn’t like then they shouldn’t have bothered pulling themselves by the boot straps.

  137. 137
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Svensker: We bought thrift store furniture for the boy’s room this past weekend. That was the first time I’d ever shopped in a thrift store and it was kinda nice not having sales associates pestering the hell outta ya every five minutes.

    When we get our 50 million dollar payday for working hard, we’ll hire a shopper.

  138. 138
    toujoursdan says:

    @The Other Chuck:

    This.

    And again, about 70% of the wealthy’s income in this country doesn’t come through hard work but inheritance and marriage.

    And it’s a shame that the good PhD won’t defend the “class warfare” (against the rich) assertion on this thread.

  139. 139
    El Tiburon says:

    @BDeevDad:
    Right.

    And factor in hedge fund managers being taxed at 15% and many corporations not paying any taxes, we can see who is getting screwed in this deal.

    The debate really should be to tax the top 1% at 50% or 55%.

  140. 140
    Barb (formerly gex) says:

    When your opponent starts banging on about civility and propriety, you know they have no substantive counter argument.

  141. 141
    fasteddie9318 says:

    And really, why are we taking this guy seriously?

    I’m torn on the notion of estate taxes — simultaneously thinking a permanent aristocracy of wealth is a bad thing for a Republic while squeamish about the implementation — and theoretically in favor of taxing consumption rather than income. But an income tax is the reality we’re stuck with for the foreseeable future.

    So he’s, gosh, not keen on an aristocracy but, gee whiz, just gets all squishy feeling when it comes time to do something to limit the wealth and power of that aristocracy. And, you know, “theoretically” things would be better if we shifted the tax burden away from rich folks and their multi-million dollar salaries and put more of it on the peasant and its irrational need to purchase basic comestibles to sustain its life.

  142. 142
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @ don: In ancient Rome, the number and width of the purple band(s) on the hem and yoke of your tunica, or on the rounded edge of the toga, indicated whether the wearer, based on wealth, was an eques, or a senator. It was a criminal act to wear purpura if your income determined by the censores was inadequate.

    If we let them wear the purple, and punish brutally those who wear it without earning it, will they let us then tax bejezus out of them?

    Because I’m up for that deal.

  143. 143
    MikeJ says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Every 11 year old girl in the country is gonna be after your ass.

  144. 144
    batgirl says:

    @Pangloss: Also, too, they don’t “sacrifice” when they pay their taxes. Nope, it is a much bigger sacrifice for the wealthy that still have a shitload of money left over to spend on luxuries. We must never forget that.

  145. 145
    Keith G says:

    I’m thinking that our French Frères have the right ideal on showing the proper level of acknowledgment.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20.....cspensions

  146. 146
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @MikeJ: It would appear, then, that your average bloated plutocrat functions at the level of a 11-year old girl.

  147. 147
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Bob L:

    Good Lord, since when have the rich turned into such hyper sensitive, whinny ass tity babies?

    WATB syndrome has likely been a part of the depraved wealthy lifestyle for decades, but it’s only in the past 15-20 years that the subculture has been engaging in risky unprotected expression of their whiny, bitchy moaning. In that time we’ve seen WATB in that subculture grow to epidemic proportions. More must be done to educate American youth on the dangers of the abnormal, immoral, and frankly disgusting lifestyle being led by the perverted wealthy elite.

  148. 148
    Barb (formerly gex) says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason:

    avoid using language that suggests a higher inherent worth for the efforts of the affluent.

    They won’t avoid that because they actually believe it. The supply/demand aspect of workers wages would suggest that income is a function of the way we structure our economy. And then it is subject to being tweaked for the good of the entire economy. But if you believe income is earned entirely through individual efforts then it all makes sense.

    There is never an acknowledgment that capitalism is pyramid shaped (it’s the ultimate pyramid scheme, we all pay upward). Joyner wants you to acknowledge that the wealthy earned their money. What he doesn’t want to do is acknowledge that they “earn” that money by paying workers less than the value of their work.

  149. 149
    Jonathan says:

    Maybe a wall of mirrors or reflecting pool for the wealthy? If all they’re concerned with is how great they are, then maybe it will make them happy to sit and stare at their awesomeness, and the rest of us can all point and laugh.

  150. 150
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Depressing — it’s like the whole idea of luck egalitarianism was never had, nor the phrase ever uttered.

  151. 151
    gwangung says:

    But the reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

    THis is way late to the table, but this is not quite right.

    As a fundraiser, I have to deal with the rich. I know where they all got their wealth and how they worked to get it. And the fact of the matter is that while hard work is necessary for wealth, it is not sufficient. There’s a little luck involved and there is the matter of a pre-existing advantages; I know of very few people who worked their way up from poverty level to great wealth. The higher up you start, the more likely you are to hit that road to riches.

    So while only a minority of folks (about 20-25% or so) can’t say they worked hard for their wealth because they inherited it, the majority did indeed work for their wealth—but they started from second base (or at least got a free pass to first), being part of the middle to upper middle class.

  152. 152
    gwangung says:

    But the reason people like Andrew and myself wish the basic fact that most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged in the debate is that it’s crucial to a civil society.

    THis is way late to the table, but this is not quite right.

    As a fundraiser, I have to deal with the rich. I know where they all got their wealth and how they worked to get it. And the fact of the matter is that while hard work is necessary for wealth, it is not sufficient. There’s a little luck involved and there is the matter of a pre-existing advantages; I know of very few people who worked their way up from poverty level to great wealth. The higher up you start, the more likely you are to hit that road to riches.

    So while only a minority of folks (about 20-25% or so) can’t say they worked hard for their wealth because they inherited it, the majority did indeed work for their wealth—but they started from second base (or at least got a free pass to first), being part of the middle to upper middle class.

  153. 153

    […] found this back and forth at Balloon Juice sparked by Andrew Sullivan’s concern that liberals don’t give the rich […]

  154. 154
    Ruckus says:

    @Sarcastro:
    Sucking wealthy cock is hardly necessary for civil debate. Not stringing said rich bastards up from a lamp-post with their own intestines, however, is necessary for civil debate.

    We are being civil. Don’t fucking push it.

    This is so good it needs repeating.
    And I hope you don’t mind but I may use this again. With attribution of course.

  155. 155
    Bob L says:

    @fasteddie9318: I suppose you’re right. Ayn Rand’s dream man Henry Ford supposedly was whinny about why his workers didn’t love him just because Ford set Harry Bennett lose on them.

  156. 156

    I know he’s just making up numbers, but Jesus he should think a little bit – what exactly could 85% of Americans agree on? Not social security, medicare, medicaid, homeland security or department of defense. So the idea that everyone should agree that big chunks of taxes are necessary because we can all agree on some things is. . .total and utter crap.

    Does it take away from his point? Yes it does, because his (laziness/ignorance) is demonstrating EXACTLY why is makes no fucking difference what the left acknowledges. Even if 75% of Americans agree on something – and that’s rare enough – the other 25% is gonna fight against it hard. If he honestly believes that resentment among the rich makes any difference to anything, why are we even bothering to listen to anything he says?

  157. 157
    curious says:

    @JustMe: how shrill of you. and uncivil. please exit the public debate. james’ rules were very clear.

  158. 158
    Mark says:

    @soonergrunt: My friend Bill once did the ‘fuck you’ dance for a woman he’d gone on a few dates with but refused to sleep with him. I thought it appropriate to pull it out again.

  159. 159

    @El Tiburon:

    you know I try not to complain that much about this that or the other thing. It’s par for the course when you’re working poor (let me also add that I have a steady job with what should be a decent salary). and it’s not like I’m up nights worrying about the roof caving in (even though it might) or getting shot (although i might).

    But jesus christ, when i hear fucking whiny ass titty babies like Joyner and his hurt fee fees, i start ticking off my financial obligations. My mom and dad didn’t put me through school, I DID. And while some of my more-fortunate classmates were doing summers abroad in Spain, I got my As in Spanish the old-fashioned way: by working 40-hour+ weeks in a prep kitchen managing a team of guys who couldn’t speak any fucking English. (we actually taught each other each other’s language, it was awesome).

    At my blog, i write a lot about homebrewing and canning and our vegetable garden. Now, it’s definitely fun to do all that stuff, but i would say more than 50% of the reason we do all that is because it saves money. i can make 2 cases of beer for the price of 1. Christina cans tomatoes for a fraction of the grocery price.

    Joyner, if you’re still reading: come to southwest Philly. Live in my hood for a year, with the schools that don’t have libraries, and the rec centers with limited hours because of city budget cuts, and the 52% illiteracy rate. then you can tell me all about “sacrifice”, you douche.

  160. 160
    tweez says:

    To expand a little on what I stated before, I know a doctor / surgeon who makes almost $ 1 million a year. She works her ass off for it though. I say good on her! The same is true of a lot of wealthy people, but not all. For some reason, Sullivan, Joyner, and company feel that this phenomenon should be acknowledged strenuously at every opportunity.

    I think this is silly and rather pointless at best. However, if it’ll shut them the fuck up, paying lip service is worth it I think.

  161. 161
    Brachiator says:

    @Svensker:

    Well, my friend who works for Citibank in NY was complaining two years ago because they had to buy USED ski equipment for their kids. Can you imagine the humiliation of being at Vail with USED ski equipment? It was just awful for them. They were very upset.

    Bad day for this kind of shit. Bad (and note that I am thanking you for mentioning this story, not blaming you).

    On my train commute, there was a father and two daughters who were probably middle class homeless. They were dressed somewhat shabbily, one daughter’s shoes had no laces, the other’s shoes were very worn. And even though it was raining, none of them had umbrellas or rain gear.

    I have had just about all I can take from smug, self-satisfied people whining about “class warfare.”

    @gwangung:

    I know of very few people who worked their way up from poverty level to great wealth. The higher up you start, the more likely you are to hit that road to riches.

    I know quite a few people who started from practically nothing, and numbers of people who started out well and ended up with practically nothing.

    I understand the role of luck, family, and other factors, but I think the main thing is that a well run society provides a high degree of opportunity for advancement and encourages the development of a sizable middle class.

  162. 162
    Nutella says:

    @TG Chicago:

    Wow, Joyner and Sullivan are whining about that obviously true and very, very temperately phrased point by Jamelle Bouie?

    Simply put, wealth simply doesn’t enjoy a 1:1 relationship with success. Some people work hard for their wealth, but some are lucky, some have it handed to them, and others are ultimately capitalizing on advantages they gained at birth

    They object to that statement?

    Babies. WATB. And completely irrational.

  163. 163
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Start wearing purple wearing purple
    Start wearing purple for me now
    All your sanity and wits they will all vanish
    I promise, it’s just a matter of time…

  164. 164
    BDeevDad says:

    @El Tiburon: I’ve begun to wonder why one has to pay sales tax on a home purchase but not on a stock purchase since they’re both property. Let the hedge fund managers decide, either tax income as income, or if you buy stock, pay a sales tax on the purchase.

  165. 165
    Bobby Thomson says:

    I don’t think Joyner is a useful idiot. I don’t believe that he really believes that bullshit. He’s a dishonest hack who knows who is buttering his bread.

    The extraordinarily wealthy aren’t resentful because people don’t appreciate their “sacrifice.” They’re resentful because they have to pony up at all. And if Joyner really wants to go there, what has happened to the working poor over the last 30 years has bred a lot more than resentment. It’s a safe bet that the rich have never had to let their pets die because they couldn’t afford to keep them alive, let alone their relatives.

  166. 166

    Also2: As someone who attended grade school and college with the children of the hyper-rich, I didn’t see my classmates putting a whole lot of effort into anything.

    OK, in college some of them cleaned up a bit on parents’ weekend.

  167. 167
    Surly Duff says:

    I guess I also don’t understand what form our acknowledgment of the sacrifices of the rich is supposed to take.

    What, allowing them send poor people to fight the wars they start, while also avoid actually fighting isn’t adequate acknowledgement of their “sacrafice”?

  168. 168

    Class warfare. Really want to go there right now with most of the country struggling to survive and the so-called successful people laughing at everyone else?

    It’s funny how it’s only class warfare when it’s the lower/middle class calling out the upper class–never the reverse.

    There is nothing civil about our society in which the privileged feel so entitled for so little reason. People who are rich, for the most part, are so because they do work that is valued in our society. They do not work harder than other people. And, it’s pretty rich (no pun intended) for the wealthy to want to be acknowledged for their productivity when they are all about putting down the poor/working class as being lazy, stupid, whatever.

    I got the rusty pitchforks. Who has the torches?

    @DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.: I thought you lured him here so we could all blast him.

  169. 169
    Observer says:

    The game was lost when DougJ replied to James Joyner without pointing out that “rich” does not equate to “successful”.

    So when James Joyner writes a post entitled “taxing the successful” while decrying “class warfare” it’s just another Republican argument that Democrats lose before it’s been started.

    No point in arguing with someone who’s built in framework assumes his argument.

  170. 170
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Barb (formerly gex):

    avoid using language that suggests a higher inherent worth for the efforts of the affluent.

    __
    They won’t avoid that because they actually believe it.

    This is a key point, which makes all of James Joyner’s lamenting over the lack of civility in this conversation simply farcical. He actually believes that success and wealth are inextricably linked together. It’s not some kind of slip of the tongue when he refers to “success” in such a manner. It’s not some kind of haphazard mistake. That’s why he’s even keeping it up in his comments over at his place on this topic:

    @Tano and PD Shaw: “The meaning seems to connote two separate entities – the government, and the people, or the particular person in question. But we have a democratic form of government. ” and “Taxation in our system is by representation, the confiscation by police power (including eminent domain authorities) is different.”
    __
    Fair enough to a point. If we had flat tax rates, I’d see it as a function of representation. Instead, we have a system where the majority can band together and vote them a share of the wealthy minority’s earnings. That’s confiscation even though I agree that there are good reasons, practical and moral, for those of us who have been successful to pay a larger share.

    “For those of us who have been successful.” There it is again, but that’s what he honestly believes. He sincerely believes that if you are wealth beyond your wildest imagination, then that is the apex of succeeding in life. Joyner has almost no ability to see things as they actually exist in the world, and much like with Sullivan, this causes him to be completely unserious as an intellectual.

    EDIT: I also love how Joyner very meekly admits that there are legitimate uses for the taxes the majority takes from the “wealthy minority”. For things like, you know, the basic infrastructure that keeps modern human civilization functioning today. Fucking hilarious. So glad you could deign to acknowledge that those taxes have a credible use, James. Really, you have given us peasants quite a delight.

  171. 171
    soonergrunt says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Don’t insult 11-year-old girls like that.

  172. 172
    Corner Stone says:

    @asiangrrlMN: DougJ is the master at stuff like that. But this isn’t on DougJ.
    Joyner owns this douchebaggery.

  173. 173
    Corner Stone says:

    @Midnight Marauder: As I said in a previous thread, it’s “virtue”.
    That’s what they really believe. Their income proves they are more virtuous than the poor.

  174. 174
    Ruckus says:

    Even those rich who work hard didn’t get there without the great unwashed masses doing each his/her little bit. What rich cocksucker didn’t either inherit the money and position or build it upon the backs of those working for them? The middle and lower class folks work hard for the upper class twits, that’s how the rich get richer. Yea they got there through hard work, just not only their own.
    This concept of human worth based upon the size of their bank account is bullshit. Many of the rich that I’ve met have little human worth but lots of money and many of the middle/lower class people that I’ve met have great human worth and squat for a bank account. Is there a correlation? Not in every case but there is enough of a pattern for me to see it.

  175. 175
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    @James Joyner:

    this issue should rise above the level of class warfare and instead focus on the need to fund society.

    Can’t argue with this part, funding society is indeed the only important issue here.

    But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    This statement has angered many here but I just find it bizarre. I’ve never been thanked nor my opinion solicited when the government confiscates my money, nor has it ever occurred to me that such things should be part of the calculus. Seems rather plain to me that your two quotes above are dissonant.

    My guess is that if you just keep your mouth shut and pay your higher marginal rates your little “class warfare” problem will simply disappear, so I suggest you take the parsimonious path here.

  176. 176
    burnspbesq says:

    @Brighton:

    Barf. Why don’t you pick lettuce for a whole day and then tell me how hard your desk job is.

    I can pick lettuce all day. Do you have the technical knowledge and the appropriate temperament to successfully negotiate with the IRS, the Department of Justice, and foreign tax authorities to resolve complex international tax disputes? Are you willing to work 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week, for years at a time to learn your craft, keep your skills current, and satisfy absurd demands from clients?

    If you answer to both of those questions is “yes,” then we’ll talk.

  177. 177
    El Cid says:

    @Bruce (formerly Steve S.): Maybe it’s just me, but I’d gladly multiply my income by 10 or more if the cost to me was to pay higher marginal tax rates.

    Maybe it becomes much more objectionable when the dollar amount you pay in taxes is so much larger, even if it’s the same or a lower percentage you pay at lower incomes.

    I would mind even less the percentage of my mediocre income paid in taxes if I could get more useful out of it, as opposed to, say, wars which will cost several trillion dollars (I don’t care who says it will be significantly less) directly, indirectly, and through lost other opportunities. Or tax breaks for giganto-corporations.

  178. 178
    Mark S. says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I can pick lettuce all day.

    I’d pay to see that.

  179. 179
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Regrettably, most of our remaining tumbrel manufacturing capacity — and it was never that great to begin with — was moved offshore by conglomerates back in the ’90’s.

    Torches, we can still do torches though….

  180. 180
    wrb says:

    most high earners got there through the dint of their own efforts acknowledged

    MOST?? MOST???

    From what mist-filled fantasy masturbation vid does he get this nugget of truthiness?

  181. 181
    polyorchnid octopunch says:

    @burnspbesq: Actually, I doubt it… if you spend all day on a desk, chances are the foreman’s gonna kick you off the team before lunch. As for appropriate temperament, try working level 1 or level 2 support sometime, esp. considering the undoubtedly gigantic gulf between how much those people’s incomes calm them vs. how much your income calms yours.

  182. 182
    scarshapedstar says:

    What he means is that the rich should pay no taxes. Ever.

  183. 183
  184. 184
  185. 185
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mark:

    My friend Bill once did the ‘fuck you’ dance for a woman he’d gone on a few dates with but refused to sleep with him. I thought it appropriate to pull it out again.

    Wouldn’t that make it the “not fucking you” dance, then? Just askin’. :-)

  186. 186
    Svensker says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I can pick lettuce all day.

    At $50 an hour!

  187. 187
    Bmaccnm says:

    @burnspbesq:
    “I can pick lettuce all day. Do you have the technical knowledge and the appropriate temperament to successfully negotiate with the IRS, the Department of Justice, and foreign tax authorities to resolve complex international tax disputes? Are you willing to work 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week, for years at a time to learn your craft, keep your skills current, and satisfy absurd demands from clients?”
    Sorry if this a duplication. I can sew your clitoris back on, but I don’t get that block quote-taggy thing. Apropos of that, this argument is crap. I can (and do) pull 24 hour call shifts as a nurse-midwife, for 5 times what I made as a nurse’s aide while I was working my way through nursing school all those years ago, but I don’t work nearly as hard as I did as a nurse’s aide. My interpersonal interactions aren’t more complex now than they were then, nor are yours more complex than a culture-straddling lettuce picker. The field worker balances way more systems theory than you do just to get here and get through the day- and it took a shit load more initiative for said field worker to arrive at his or her current station than it did for you to arrive at yours. And I call bullshit on your picking-lettuce-all-day claim. No desk bound lawyer type can do that kind of work. If you had to feed yourself, you’d starve.

  188. 188
    John Bird says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Well, in your defense, you are a tax lawyer, which is about as close to an unskilled white collar profession as you can get. Seriously, your job is a fill-in-the-blanks exercise that could be taught in its entirety at night class at a tech school for all the competence your profession demonstrates.

    I’d predict that I could become a ‘top-notch’ tax lawyer in perhaps a fifth of the time it would take me to become a ‘top-notch’ lettuce picker, if the latter is even physically possible for me. Luckily, I already have a profession that I love, so I never even considered law school to help rich people stay rich, which is truly the last resort of the desperate and aimless.

  189. 189
    El Cid says:

    Except for the fact that I do prefer a participatory democratic economy, which I’m assuming will not likely to be ever seriously discussed, much less tried in the next 40 centuries, I’m not opposed to people making quite a lot more money than others.

    Who gives a shit about the millionaire here and there?

    What I’m opposed to is a vast concentration of wealth and the enormous power that gives those at the very top to control our political and economic system to a very, very high degree over the decades.

    And the only serious countermanding power we can even imagine is the potential of elected government, and then again we go right back to all the hundreds of systemic ways the very, very, very rich successfully dominate that power structure.

    I figure that people busting their asses for $20K or $30K would mind it a whole lot less if all the basic and important things in life were treated as the common societal goals.

    You know, not having to pay lots of payroll and sales taxes, not having school systems based on local property taxes or at least somehow not letting property values determine the quality of your local school; the ability of their children to go to college or technical schools; being able to rent housing without losing out on the favorable tax policies given to incentivize people to buy houses; and so on and so forth.

    People who can enjoy good quality lives with their families and relatives and coworkers and not feel like they are ever teetering on the edge of catastrophe or watching their kids go without the opportunities they know they deserve are in large part fairly happy people.

    It’s why in recent surveys the happiest people tended to have household incomes of about $80K-$100K, as it was pretty much enough to meet all important needs and have enough left over for enjoyable activities and material niceties.

  190. 190
    John O says:

    @El Cid:

    Perfect, EC. It’s a shame more people won’t read it.

  191. 191
    DickSpudCouchPotatoDetective says:

    but seriously i’ll stick my dick in James Joyner’s mouth if it would make him and his rich friends shut the fuck up with the whining and crying already.

    There’s a Mr. Joyner on line one for you.

  192. 192
    Bill Murray says:

    But to confiscate it from the successful without acknowledgment of the sacrifice this entails is to court resentment.

    confiscation is a legal seizure without compensation by a government or other public authority. The problem here is that they do get compensation for their seizure, so the use of the term confiscation is not correct.

    OTOH, I think James Joyner will make a fine fermier généraux when we privatize the IRS. of course he will likely end up like Lavoisier

  193. 193
    Corner Stone says:

    @John Bird: Not to defend burns in any way, because he is a through and through POS, but one of the smartest two people I have ever met in my working life was an Int’l Tax Attorney. Any time she opens her mouth she knows exactly what she wants to say, why she’s saying it, and why it is useful/significant to mention.
    Lady would blow your doors off and you would understand why.
    Plus, she curses like a sailor when you’re joking around with her one on one.

  194. 194
    Binzinerator says:

    @Jim Pharo:

    As usual, we lefties have foolishly taken the bait.
    __
    The question is not some kind of “fee-fees” or acknowledgemnet, etc. It’s that the entire premise is wrong. Rich people surely worked hard—harder than others—in the course acquiring their wealth. But if hard work equalled success, there’s a cleaning lady I know who ought to be a trillionaire.

    Speak for yourself, lefty fool. I do not accept the premise that hard work equals success nor do I accept your own premise that rich people surely worked harder than others.

  195. 195
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Corner Stone: Is anyone surprised at the rise of Prosperity Gospel? Rich = blessed by God.

  196. 196
    brantl says:

    @James Joyner: Mr. Joyner, who should fund society most, those who’ve benefited most from society, and can best afford it, or those who have benefited least from society and can’t afford it? It’s actually a rhetorical question, unless you’re an idiot.

    Are you a full time schmuck, or do you just play one while writing?

  197. 197
    Corner Stone says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex): And all these multi-multi-millionaire Preachers/Pastors prove it.
    Assholes. If you’re preaching from the book then you should be living amongst your flock. Not in a $3M house.

  198. 198
    Corner Stone says:

    And I just wanted to add, Fuck You James Joyner.
    Jackass.

  199. 199
    Corner Stone says:

    @James Joyner:

    It’s the civic discourse that this is aimed at, not IRS pamphlets.

    Civic discourse? I’ve got friends making $40K a year arguing for making the tax breaks for the top 2% permanent.
    You think that serves a purpose in the “civic discourse”?
    Idiot.

  200. 200
    Jason says:

    @MikeJ: This is what’s bothering me about this series of posts, and I’m sure has been addressed over and over in the 400+ comments I’ve yet to read. It just boggles the mind that there can be a rightist critique of leftist rhetorical stereotypes that “court resentment” (slippage?) of the rich while the urban poor are routinely maligned by “many on the right.” Only the poor are lazy and shiftless. They’re buying steaks with their food stamps, ffs!

    Does this mean we can label Soros-bashing as class warfare?

  201. 201
    Jason says:

    Well cripes. Two posts up JC says as much himself.

  202. 202
    Michael says:

    If the left has to acknowledge that the money the government takes from the rich to pay for necessary programs was rightfully earned by those we take it from, then the right has to acknowledge that the money we give to the less fortunate is not going to some lazy drunk that would rather sleep in until noon rather than work an honest day.

    We can find the parasites feeding off the system in both camps. We’ll stop calling the rich a bunch of coddled, greedy anti-social whiners when you stop calling the poor a bunch of lazy, drunk, over-entitled whiners.

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