Tuesday, December 29, 2015

We Are Schocked -- Shocked To Learn That Gambling Has Been Going On

The Usual Suspects



'More Bacon'?*   We Didn't Make This Stuff Up
(Screenshot: NYT Online, December 29, 2015)

See these beautiful, pretty people? You live to make their lives soft, and good, and to help provide them with treats. There are different rules for them -- easier rules, which they get to make. Because you, kamaraden, are part of the peasantry. It's their world; we ultimately serve them in it.

I had already seen another article that made me see red (yes; a pun, ha ha) earlier this morning. Then, the New York Times online published an article this afternoon, entitled, "For The Wealthiest, A Tax System That Saves Them Billions", as reported by Noam Scheiber and Patricia Cohen:
With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the “income defense industry,” consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means...

All are among a small group providing much of the early cash for the 2016 presidential campaign. Operating largely out of public view — in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service — the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the government’s ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans.

...From Mr. Obama’s inauguration through the end of 2012, federal income tax rates on individuals did not change (excluding payroll taxes). But the highest-earning one-thousandth of Americans went from paying an average of 20.9 percent to 17.6 percent. By contrast, the top 1 percent, excluding the very wealthy, went from paying just under 24 percent on average to just over that level....
“We do have two different tax systems, one for normal wage-earners and another for those who can afford sophisticated tax advice,” said Victor Fleischer, a law professor at the University of San Diego who studies the intersection of tax policy and inequality. “At the very top of the income distribution, the effective rate of tax goes down, contrary to the principles of a progressive income tax system.”
Yes, this is on the final. And, what else is new? 
________________________________________

* "Have you seen the little piggies / In their startched white shirts..."
________________________________________

MEHR, MIT MEHR: John Lloyd, a Senior Fellow at Oxford, writes in a contribution to Reuters online
 There are corruptions. and then there are corruptions that undermine the very fabric of civil society...  while remaining almost always within the law, are ... more destructive. These corruptions wear the cloak of propriety yet produce great social divisions and permit the powerful to wrest funds from the powerless.

A few days before Christmas, the New York Times carried a story that said, in terms both bald and bold, that the very richest Americans have had developed for themselves “a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the ‘income defense industry,’ consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.” The effect, said the Times, has been to create a kind of “private tax system” that carves deep into the state’s ability to tax them, and puts the very wealthy’s tax payments on the same level, proportionately, as those on middle class incomes.

...And where wealth gives the very rich huge access to political goods and decisions, that “democratic quality” suffers. It cannot be a coincidence that all of the Republican candidates are proposing dramatic tax cuts. This includes even the most populist of them, Donald Trump, in spite of his crowd-pleasing call for hedge fund managers to pay more. These proposed cuts would lower taxes on the middle classes – but would assist the mega-rich more. 
Nice.