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30 October 2008

Why I Hate Politics

Or more specifically, why I hate talking about it with people. If they agree with your views then generally you just nod your head a lot and reinforce one anothers' views. If you talk to Hass, you probably learn something. If on the other hand you talk to my dad you get acquainted with a brick wall.

It was the end of the workday and as I was leaving my father and brother were talking about taxes and the election. Naturally my dad fears his taxes being increased by a democrat. Even though Obama's plan for taxes is essentially a more graduated income tax system. Which isn't an insane idea when the gap between the rich and the poor has been growing. Those making about $250,000 will pay more, and if the free market hasn't graced you quite as much you will pay less. Pretty simple, yet McCain has spun this into a tax increase that strikes fear into the hearts of the very people Obama is trying to help.

One such person is my dad. I assume there is a double digit percentage of americans who share the same feelings as he does. Once I explained the differing positions on taxes of both candidates he responded with, "Which tax plan is this one? If a democrat is in office I can't see how my taxes won't go up." Why are the republicans so good at politics? They fool the very people they then screw over, and they do it under the guise of free market/laissez faire views which infuriates me.

Pretty simple stuff. Under McCain everyone pays less. Under Obama over 95% of people pay less. The number of people who make over $250,000 per year is less than 5%. In fact, the bottom half of income earners pay about 3% of the federal income tax, so why not give them a break? It won't cost the government much and they'll spend the money which has all sorts of multiplier effects. So why, under McCain's plan, do the rich get a bigger break? The top 1% pays 40% of the federal income tax. A large burden certainly, but aren't they profiting off the backs of those beneath them and within our great economic system?

The numbers on the vertical (y) axis show how many more times a certain income group earns per year as opposed to another income group. In 2005 if you were in the top 95% of US income earners you earned 3.6 times as much as someone in the 50% range. Someone at the 50% range earns about 2.4 times as much as someone at the 20% range. This later finding has remained stable for at least he last 40 years while the former has been growing and continues to grow even now.

Income inequality is pretty bad for a society. I'm not really a big fan of income redistribution; as a graduated income tax system is, but I can't think of a more fair mechanism. In the above linked freakonomics article William Bernstein offers that "Wealth does trickle down to the rest of the population, but often not fast enough to avoid political strife and worse." And the classic Alfred Maynard Keynes quote explains why sometimes the government must step in, "Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."

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