For The First Time In History, U.S. Billionaires Paid A Lower Tax Rate Than The Working Class


For The First Time In History, U.S. Billionaires Paid A Lower Tax Rate Than The Working Class: What Should We Do About It?

A new study, “The Triumph of Injustice,” conducted by University of California at Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, presents its claims that for the first time in history, U.S. billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class in 2018.

The economists assert that the average effective tax rate paid by America’s wealthiest 400 families was 23%, whereas the bottom half of households paid 24.2%. To offer historical perspective, the study reports that the 400 richest had an effective tax rate of 47% in 1980. In 1960, that rate was as high as 56%.

The study, coincidentally or not, has tapped into a rising zeitgeist in America. Rising inequality has become a big issue as we approach the 2020 election. Senator Elizabeth Warren, one of the front-runners for the Democratic presidential race, called for a 2% annual tax on the wealth of individuals that have assets in excess of  $50 million and a 3% tax on the wealth of people with over $1 billion.

Today In: Leadership

Senator Berrnie Sanders, a socialist-leaning, presidential contender (now in question due to his heart attack), previously offered his aggressive, antirich plan to ban billionaires.

According to Sanders, over the last 30 years, the top 1% of Americans have enjoyed a $21 trillion increase in their net worth. Meanwhile, the bottom half of families have lost $900 billion in wealth. To compensate, Sanders demands a wealth tax on those families with a net worth of over $32 million. Instead of plans to help the people, his agenda is to confiscate wealth from the rich and redistribute it to those with less money in the form of government programs. To enforce extricating capital from the wealthy, Sanders promises, if elected, to create a national wealth registry and significant additional third-party reporting requirements. Sanders will increase funding for the IRS, so it will have a war-chest to enforce audits and tax collections for those in the 1%t bracket.

Now, this is where things start to get scary. It’s a slippery slope. First, the billionaires are targeted, then the rich. Soon, it will be the middle class. After a while, there will be no one left to tax. It is frightening to have a politician with power weaponize government agencies to specifically target a group of Americans and closely scrutinize them just because they have more money than others.

The study has some fundamental flaws. The rich often pay lower tax rates—compared to others—due to their penchant for generating revenue through capital gains—and not from salaries. Money made in stocks, bonds and business ventures is treated differently by the IRS than salaries. The greater the risk, the higher the chance of success or failure. When you invest in the stock market, start businesses or purchase real estate, there is a chance for making a lot of money or losing it all. We read about those who succeed. However, for every success story, there are thousands of people who have tried to start a business venture or invested in the stock market and lost some—or all of their money.

Most ultra-wealthy people have their money tied up in illiquid investments, such as real estate or in companies. They also have money invested in the stock market, private equity and hedge funds. The money is not readily available. If they are forced to sell their holdings to raise money for taxes, it would take a long time to dispose of their assets and, most likely, will incur large losses due to the pressure to divest at inopportune times.

Missing from the study and political rhetoric is a plan to change the tax code for the top percentile. The rich have the financial resources to hire the best and brightest lawyers, accountants and tax experts. Rather than focus on the percentage they’re paying, the study and presidential candidates should look into closing the legal loopholes, clever accounting and legal maneuvering that the uber wealthy have access to—and the public at large does not.

There is a narrative that depicts wealthy people as just falling into their fortunes. Yes, some people inherit large inheritances from their families. The reality is that most multimillionaires and billionaires earned their money by taking risks and offering a product or service that people want or need.

What people don’t understand is that just because you have money now, doesn’t mean that you’ll always hold onto it. Think of all the great companies that no longer exist today and imagine the people who had their life savings tied up in it. Consider all the stories you hear—famous sports stars and celebrities who earn fortunes, but then lose it all to bad investments and poor advice from their managers.

We should also be leery of targeting certain groups because they’re unpopular. Instead of targeting the rich, some say that we should focus on the government reigning in their expenditures, which would lessen everyone’s taxes. There are billionaires, such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who has pledged his wealth to charity and spends his billions on improving the quality of life for everyone. The founders of Facebook, Amazon and Google are multi-billionaires who have created jobs for tens of thousands of people.

There are many self-made millionaires in business, music, sports, entertainment and other endeavors who have made sacrifices and worked hard to amass their money. Why should their efforts be punished by being forced to pay even higher taxes?

Instead of promoting class envy and antagonism, maybe our elected leaders should design a fair and equitable tax system and install checks and balances on how they waste our tax dollars.

The right wants to destroy traditional public schools

Occupy Each Other

October 15, 2019

John Hanno: The reason I’m not impressed with this U.S. Senator is because the ignorant dimwit has his head up his butt !

“It is no secret that the folks on the anti-government right want to destroy traditional public schools any way they can, budget cuts, vouchers, tax credits, unregulated charter schools.”


The right-wing war on college
By Chris Fitzsimon – 10/25/2011…/the-right-wing-war-on-colle…/

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Occupy Each Other

The Incredible Generational Memory of the Starling

BBC Spring Watch

These birds not only learned to speak fluent “engine” – they taught it to their kids, too.

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The Incredible Song of a Bullfinch !

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Did you know German foresters used to teach bullfinches to sing? Their ability to mimic is incredible 😲         (Headphones essential!)

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The civil rights leader ‘almost nobody knows about’ gets a statue in the U.S. Capitol

Officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), participate in the dedication ceremony for the statue of Ponca Chief Standing Bear of Nebraska in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol. (Erik S Lesser/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), participate in the dedication ceremony for the statue of Ponca Chief Standing Bear of Nebraska in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol. (Erik S Lesser/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Chief Standing Bear just wanted to bury his son at home.

The teenager, on his deathbed, told his dad he was worried that if his bones were not buried with his ancestors, then he would be alone in the afterlife, according to biographer Stephen Dando-Collins.

So in January 1879, Standing Bear left Oklahoma’s Indian Territory for Nebraska with his child’s remains.

That act of grief and love set in motion a chain of events that would make Standing Bear a civil rights hero. On Wednesday, he was honored with a statue representing the state of Nebraska in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.

Standing Bear was born sometime between 1829 and 1834 in the Ponca tribe’s native lands in northern Nebraska. A natural leader, he became a chief at a young age, according to the Nebraska History Museum.

By 1858, the Poncas were forced to cede most of their land except for a small area by the Niobrara River, where they became farmers rather than buffalo hunters. But they did well, growing corn and trading with white settlers often.

Ten years later, as described by Dee Alexander Brown in the classic “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” the remaining Ponca land was mistakenly included in a treaty between the United States and the Sioux tribes.

“Although the Poncas protested over and over again to Washington, officials took no action. Wild young men from the Sioux tribes came down demanding horses as tribute, threatening to drive the Poncas off the land which they now claimed as their own,” Brown wrote.

The U.S. government finally took action in 1876 but not in the way the Poncas had hoped. Congress declared that the Poncas would be moved to Indian Territory in Oklahoma in exchange for $25,000. Though the bill stated clearly this would all happen “with the consent of said band,” when the Poncas declined the inferior land they were offered in Oklahoma, they were forced to leave anyway.

By the time they arrived in Oklahoma in 1878, it was too late in the season to plant; they also didn’t get any of the farming equipment the government had promised them. More than a third of the Poncas died of starvation and disease — including Standing Bear’s sister and his beloved son.

Standing Bear and his burial party evaded capture while they traveled home but were caught and detained after visiting relatives at the Omaha reservation.

The man who caught them, Brig. Gen. George Crook, had been fighting Native Americans for decades, Brown wrote, but he was moved by Standing Bear’s reasons for leaving the Indian Territory and promised to help him.

Crook went to the media, which spread the story of the plight of Standing Bear and his fellow prisoners nationwide. Then two lawyers offered to take up their case pro bono, and asked a judge to free the Poncas immediately.

Though Crook was sympathetic to Standing Bear, since he was the official carrying out the federal government’s orders to detain them, the civil rights case that resulted was called Standing Bear v. Crook.

The U.S. attorney argued that Standing Bear was neither a citizen nor a person, and as such did not have standing to sue the government.

On the second day, Chief Standing Bear was called to testify, becoming the first Native American to do so. He raised his right hand and, through an interpreter, said: “My hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. The same god made us both. I am a man.”

The judge agreed, ruling for the first time in U.S. history that “the Indian is a ‘person’ ” and has all the rights and freedoms promised in the Constitution. The judge also ordered Crook to free Standing Bear and his people immediately.

Despite the landmark decision from the judge, his opinion still drips with prejudice, calling Native Americans a “weak, insignificant, unlettered, and generally despised race.”

Standing Bear returned to the land by the Niobrara River and buried his son alongside his ancestors. When he died there in 1908, he was buried alongside them, too.

A few decades later, in 1937, the state of Nebraska sent two statues to the U.S. Capitol. Each state is allowed to pick two historical figures to represent them in National Statuary Hall, and Nebraska chose politician William Jennings Bryan and Arbor Day founder Julius Sterling Morton.

(This provision is also why there are at least eight statues of Confederates in the Capitol. Neither Congress nor the Architect of the Capitol has the power to remove them; it must be done by the states that sent the statues.)

In recent years, Nebraska lawmakers voted to replace both statues. Bryan was replaced by Chief Standing Bear; soon, Morton will be replaced by a statue of author Willa Cather.

At the dedication ceremony Wednesday, which included Ponca tribal leaders and members of the House and Senate, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said it was an honor to recognize “one of the most important civil rights leaders in our country that almost nobody knows about.

“And we hope to be able to correct that today and tell his story,” Ricketts said.