World of Class Warfare

This is perhaps the best Jon Stewart segment ever — or at least in a long time:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-18-2011/world-of-class-warfare—warren-buffett-vs–wealthy-conservatives

and especially part 2: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-18-2011/world-of-class-warfare—the-poor-s-free-ride-is-over

It demolishes the argument that slightly increasing the tax on the wealthy is class warfare, or the whining that “half the population” doesn’t pay any taxes.   (As Stewart points out, the bottom 50% of the population control only 2.5% of the wealth in the country).    This is classic, and it has punch.   It amazes me how many people are fooled by the argument that somehow the wealthy are being demonized (the Fox line on what asking for slightly higher tax rates is doing).   Middle and working class people are being manipulated into defending the wealthy.

I think that’s going to change.   The one quibble I have with Stewart is that he uses pre-tax and transfer GINI index numbers.  The post-tax and transfer numbers are even more powerful.   Enjoy the clip!   (And take it seriously — small tax increases on the wealthy are not in contradiction to true conservative principles).

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  1. #1 by Magginkat on August 20, 2011 - 02:58

    This one is even better:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-18-2011/world-of-class-warfare—the-poor-s-free-ride-is-over

    World of Class Warfare – The Poor’s Free Ride Is Over. They own 2.5% of the wealth in this country!
    The government could raise $700 billion by either taking half of everything earned by the bottom 50% or by raising the marginal tax rate on the top two percent.

  2. #2 by Magginkat on August 20, 2011 - 02:59

    Oooops………sorry. I didn’t see the second half of your post.

    • #3 by Scott Erb on August 20, 2011 - 11:56

      I originally only had the first link — then I realized it cut off so I added the second. You probably read it first before I edited it!

  3. #4 by thebigweasel on August 20, 2011 - 03:39

    Businessinsider.com is an extraordinary resource, one that delineates the class warfare waged against Americans by the right with a depth and accuracy not seen since the days of Steve Kangas. It’s one of my go-to sites when I need really compelling data.

  4. #5 by pino on August 20, 2011 - 06:09

    It demolishes the argument that slightly increasing the tax on the wealthy is class warfare

    Then raise taxes on everyone.

    If the non-rich only make so little money, they’ll only see so little tax increase.

    It amazes me how many people are fooled by the argument that somehow the wealthy are being demonized

    You don’t think the phrase “private jet owners” is demonizing?

    Face it, the rich overwhelmingly support the nation. We simply spend too much money doing it.

    • #6 by Scott Erb on August 20, 2011 - 10:32

      How on earth is a phrase like “private jet owners”demonizing?!! That’s the only way to describe owners of private jets! There is no way that can be seen as demonizing!

      • #7 by Scott Erb on August 20, 2011 - 11:58

        Also, note the bit on FOX about the “moochers vs. the producers, makers vs. takers, etc.” That is the language of demonization and class warfare, and it’s being used by FOX against the poor. To be demonization it has to do more than describe. A “private jet owner” is descriptive, it’s like a “car owner” or even a “sports franchise owner.” It simply describes the person with no negative or pejorative terms like “moocher.”

      • #8 by pino on August 20, 2011 - 13:28

        How on earth is a phrase like “private jet owners”demonizing?!!

        There is no a priori reason that private jet owners be taxed more than other citizens. The Left isn’t using that phrase to describe some small group of people otherwise indistinguishable from other non-jet owning people. They are using it single out the ugly nature of the rich.

        “moochers vs. the producers, makers vs. takers, etc.”

        Yes. Both sides are engaging in class warfare rhetoric.

    • #9 by Magginkat on August 20, 2011 - 13:37

      Are you saying that you are one of the rich and that you spend too much money supporting the nation? Like the Koch brothers?

      IF the rich overwhelmingly support the country why are they taking all the jobs out of the country? OR bringing in cheap foreign labor, forcing the current employee to train them to take his job?

      As for raising taxes on everyone, I’m betting that if universal health care was included with that tax raise most everyone would support it.

      • #10 by pino on August 21, 2011 - 00:41

        you spend too much money supporting the nation?

        When you vote my money away from me and spend it as you see fit, then yes, I’m spending too much of my money on the nation.

        why are they taking all the jobs out of the country?

        Because Liberals have never taken an Economics course. Further, Liberals think that money grows on trees and that incentives don’t matter. For example, if you would enjoy more domestic jobs, then quit making the price tag of domestic jobs so much higher than foreign jobs. You too shop for you things at the best value you can find.

        I’m betting that if universal health care was included with that tax raise most everyone would support it.

        I am very sure that ALL of those people not paying any tax would be in favor of raising taxes on those of us who DO pay taxes to provide them with free health care.

        They would be foolish to vote otherwise/

  5. #11 by Jeff Lees on August 20, 2011 - 08:08

    This is an exceptionally well done bit from Stewart! I absolutely love it

  6. #12 by Scott Erb on August 20, 2011 - 13:55

    Pino, I think it’s that private jets owners enjoy a tax loophole that Obama wants to close. One can argue the merits of whether or not that kind of loophole should exist and/or be closed, but it’s a stretch to call that demonization. I think the point is that lobbyists and influence have allowed a number of loopholes that allow the wealthy to avoid taxes — loopholes average middle class folk don’t get. I think that’s a legitimate argument.

    • #13 by pino on August 21, 2011 - 00:36

      I think it’s that private jets owners enjoy a tax loophole that Obama wants to close.

      They don’t. The tax treatment of jets by corporation is the same treatment of other assets like tractors, vans, trucks, cattle and horses.

      He’s demonizing the owners of jets because he knows it’ll play well in the media. There is not one single valid reason to tax jets any other way than other assets.

      Now…if you wanna change the way ALL those assets in that class are taxed, I’m fine with that. But I suspect taxing delivery vans and cattle doesn’t play as well in his poll testing.

      • #14 by Scott Erb on August 21, 2011 - 19:19

        I think there is a strong argument to see luxury items such as private jets in a different class than tractors, vans, trucks, cattle and horses — very strong reasons. I see no reason why they should all be in the same class.

  7. #15 by Magginkat on August 21, 2011 - 02:08

    You sir, are nuts and that’s the most polite thing I can think of to say to you.

    • #16 by Sean Patrick Hazlett on August 21, 2011 - 04:28

      Your ad hominem argument is that pino is “nuts”. On what basis to you make this argument? I am just curious. Thanks.

  8. #17 by Sean Patrick Hazlett on August 21, 2011 - 04:26

    Scott,

    I have no argument with the fact that income inequality has risen in the US as measured by the Gini coefficient. I even agree that have a large gap between the rich and the poor is inherently destabilizing.

    Where I disagree is how to bridge this gap. Transfering wealth from the most productive part of society to the least productive part by virtue of the gun, is no way to solve the problem. In fact, when the government expands this population (more government dependents) it also creates the conditions for more instability. Witness the reaction of the group of people in this video several hours — several hours mind you — after their was a glitch in their food stamp cards.

    Imagine the reaction after trying to ween people off these dependencies for good. Their reaction will likely be irrational, and potentially violent owing to a behavior psychologists call the edowment effect. 1 in 7 people in the United States are now on food stamps. That’s 46 million people, which is rougly the total population of California and Virgina combined. The United States cannot simply afford to provide these benefits indefinitely.

    I also have no problem with increasing taxes. However, tax increases should be on everyone, not on just the set of the population that already pays the majority of taxes. The problem with having a population of which only 50% pays income taxes is that it is inherently destabilizing. It is the ultimate case of moral hazard. These voters will always vote to increase their level of services at the expense of the other half of the population who fund them.

    I don’t understand why the liberal solution to problems of income inequality is to force everyone to lower their standard of living, rather than to create the conditions that allow businesses and people to raise everyone’s standard of living. To be honest, I was shocked that such a large percentage of the “poor” had air conditioning. I would love to have air conditioning. Where I live, temperatives can exceed 100 degrees in the summer. We just cannot afford it. Maybe we should shift our food costs to the government.

    • #18 by Scott Erb on August 21, 2011 - 12:29

      I agree that wealth should not just be transferred. Social welfare programs should, as I argued last month in this blog, be designed to liberate, not create dependencies. But the problem is taxes were cut so much on the wealthy on the theory they’d use this to produce more jobs. Instead, it fed the bubble economy and helped stimulate debt (debt people thought they could repay because they thought their net worth was greater thanks to the bubble illusion). I’d prefer to see money used to invest in the infrastructure and create jobs, something the private sector has not been as good at thanks to the bubble phenomenon. I think infrastructure, targeted tax credits and other ways to create the conditions conducive e for real growth is important. I also think that tax increases are necessary to help stop government debt (above I was talking about private debt) so that the weight of solving these problems doesn’t fall on the poor and disadvantaged. When the bottom 50% control only 2.5% of the wealth, asking them to pay more doesn’t make sense. MOre later, gotta run.

  9. #19 by Sean Patrick Hazlett on August 21, 2011 - 04:35

    To add to my point, I leave you with the following quote:

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. “

    – Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee

    http://reflectionsofarationalrepublican.com/2011/04/21/tax-americana-bread-and-circuses-redux/

    • #20 by Scott Erb on August 21, 2011 - 19:27

      OK, I have a bit of time again! Nobody wants to lower the standards of the wealthy. And I agree that there has been too much dependency building amongst the poorest, which hurt them more than it helps. There are good reasons to rethink how social welfare works. Right now we have to cut debt. The wealthiest have received massive tax cuts, have not used them productively (they created bubbles and built more debt rather than create jobs), suggesting to me that the tax rates went below the optimal rate for economic health. To be sure, easy credit and the changing nature of the global economy played into that so that many didn’t see what was happening until it was too late — they really thought they had a gravy train.

      Moreover, the wealthiest have benefited the most in the last 30 years, so it makes sense to ask them to contribute to helping solve the problem of debt, even as government programs helping the poor and middle class are being cut. To ask the wealthy who have benefited so much from tax cuts to pay nothing while those struggling have to endure all the pain is simply wrong. However, I wonder if taxing the poorest 50% really would do anything but make poverty worse? If they have such a small portion of the wealth, why tax them? Ronald Reagan was the one who cut their taxes, saying they shouldn’t have to pay, after all!

      The poor also tend not to vote — if they really did go out and vote, and if they did vote Democratic, the Democrats would win in a landslide. Their votes haven’t been worth going after. It just is wrong for FOX to have pundits criticize Warren Buffet as “socialist” for wanting slight tax increases, complain loudly about “Class warfare,” and ignore how their same pundits have been demonizing the poor.

  10. #21 by Sean Patrick Hazlett on August 21, 2011 - 22:18

    “To ask the wealthy who have benefited so much from tax cuts to pay nothing while those struggling have to endure all the pain is simply wrong. However, I wonder if taxing the poorest 50% really would do anything but make poverty worse? If they have such a small portion of the wealth, why tax them? Ronald Reagan was the one who cut their taxes, saying they shouldn’t have to pay, after all!”

    Scott, just to be clear, I am not advocating that the rich pay nothing. However, they already pay the majority of taxes. I am even fine with them paying more, provided everyone pay more, even the poor. Furthermore, I am not advocating taxing the poor’s existing wealth, I am talking about taxing whatever income they have, even if the taxes are nominal. Once you get to 50% of people not paying taxes and/or extracting rents on the government, at some point the other 50% is going to resent it, and start taking advantage of government programs as well. I am usually very conservative in how I pay my taxes, and do not take advantage of every loophole for which I might be eligible. This year I intend to take full advantage of every legitimate legal loophole I can find, because I am so disgusted at how this government is spending my tax dollars.

    I agree that more tax dollars should be spent on infrastructure. The problem is that at least 40% of the budget covers entitlement programs. This is simply unacceptable, particularly since much of it goes to the wealthy elderly. Furthermore, the elibilbility of certain programs like food stamps has been expanded so much that 15% of the American population is now on the dole.The entitlement system in this country is skewed in a very bad and destabilizing way. In fact, I think much of the Western world is in the same boat. The British riots should be a warning sign that the more money and resources governments throw at poverty, the more violent the recipients get when the government runs out of money.

    • #22 by Scott Erb on August 21, 2011 - 22:53

      Another way of looking at it, though, is that half the country is doing very poorly in terms of income. Again – 2.5% of the wealth in the hands of over half the country. If you were to get them to pay taxes, that would mean increasing taxes on everyone because you’d essentially have to reconfigure the whole tax tables. But is that really what we want? Do we want the very poor to pay income taxes (they do pay other taxes) if their income is really low? However, I do agree about entitlements. I knew a very wealthy person (a Democratic politician — though not national level) who actually wanted to refuse his social security because he didn’t need it. He basically was told he couldn’t — he could, say, write a check to the government as a contribution to pay back the debt, but he couldn’t refuse his benefits.

      And that’s really what’s at the heart of the grand compromise — the GOP has to accept higher taxes, and the Democrats have to accept entitlement reforms. Both sides have strong core constituencies who oppose any compromise on those terms, but I don’t see any other way to really deal with the problem. I also do think that a shift from government hand outs to individuals to community based organizing might be a better way to use funds to actually encourage success rather than risking dependencies.

    • #23 by ross on September 13, 2011 - 05:42

      It is beyond amazing that, in this forum or ANY other, including ALL “news” outlets on television, the “tax break for jet owners” never gets down to the nitty gritty.

      Here it is folks, and it’s for ALL business aircraft. Obama knows it, but since his whole schtik is class warfare……

      Accelerated Depreciation (rather than straight-line) is optional for business aircraft. BFD. Maybe it is advantageous at tax time, and maybe not. Depends on a business’ particular tax scenario. In any case, if it’s eliminated, OMB or CBO scoring shows that in a best case scenario, net tax revenue gains would run the Insane DC Clowns Spending Posse for 45 MINUTES!!!!!

      I’m not exaggerating–anybody can do the math. We spend 10 BILLION FAROUKING DOLLARS A DAY!!!!! Oh wait–that’s the actual “budget”–we ACTUALLY spend 12 and a half billion a day.

      Barry Sotero says he’s going to raise the revenue for his newest half trillion plan by doing things like this? Never mind idling a s***load of aircraft workers-p-is Barry feally that dumb?

      No, but a good Progressive never passes up an easy opportunity to foment class envy–he learned that in Community Agitation and Mob Manipulation 101.

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