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What are the most important issues facing the US today?

Bela Bardak
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Joined: Jan 02, 2004
Posts: 179
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Of course not! Every Moslem I have met wants to live peacefully and appreciates the freedoms of the West. The terrorists are a sick cult that needs to be destroyed.

My experience also. OTOH a few could be lying and really burn for vengeance and martyrdom. How can you tell, except after the fact?
Axel Janssen
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Joined: Jan 08, 2001
Posts: 2164
I haven't been in USA after being 10 years old. Here are my proposals:
1. very low private saving rate. Should be higher. Might pose a problem someday, when there will be less influx of capital.
2. better quality of public high schools
3. trying to solve international problems alone. Its too expensive.
I know some of you fear endless debate with european no-real-action-please discussion-aficionados and I see your point. But generally its better idea to look for common action.
4. environment. This summer I took my first bath in the huge river of my city (Rhein). I still remember the bad smell of the water when I was kid in 70ties. Now its clean enough to go for a swim they say.
5. find new ways in keeping productive jobs for people in world market where other countries are catching up (to ban outsourcing don't help. I am pro free markets)
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Axel Janssen:
4. environment. This summer I took my first bath in the huge river of my city (Rhein). I still remember the bad smell of the water when I was kid in 70ties. Now its clean enough to go for a swim they say.
Same thing in the US. I remember as a kid reading about Lake Erie catching on fire because of the pollution. Today the Lake is much cleaner. Same with the Hudson River here in NY. There is a lot of residual pollution that needs to be cleaned up (PCBs, etc) but the environment is a lot better than it was back in the 60's.
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8764
    
    5
For the sake of argument (this IS MD after all ), let's say that it's a good idea to "fight a war on terrorism". Do we need the PATRIOT act to do it?
So far the PATRIOT act has allowed the government to sidestep our rights to due process and accountability. Specifically, it has eroded the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th amendments. The constitution has served us well for a couple of hundred years, and frankly I don't think the current administration has the right or capabilty to attempt to improve upon it.
For more info:
http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=11813&c=207#FileAttach


Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Bela Bardak
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Joined: Jan 02, 2004
Posts: 179
Originally posted by Axel Janssen:
I haven't been in USA after being 10 years old. Here are my proposals:
1. very low private saving rate. Should be higher. Might pose a problem someday, when there will be less influx of capital.
2. better quality of public high schools
3. trying to solve international problems alone. Its too expensive.
I know some of you fear endless debate with european no-real-action-please discussion-aficionados and I see your point. But generally its better idea to look for common action.
4. environment. This summer I took my first bath in the huge river of my city (Rhein). I still remember the bad smell of the water when I was kid in 70ties. Now its clean enough to go for a swim they say.
5. find new ways in keeping productive jobs for people in world market where other countries are catching up (to ban outsourcing don't help. I am pro free markets)

A pretty good list, Alex. Some comments:
2. better quality of public high schools

This is a problem at the very low end more than above that. The worst high schools don't work well enough to get people into college where the US system really does much of it's work. I think it would be a very bad move to move major funding from tertiary to secondary schools in the US, because it would be moving the education funding further from the goal (an employable adult).
3. trying to solve international problems alone. Its too expensive.

Absolutely correct. We need to work with allies. Problem is that there aren't too many allies who either can or are willing to bring enough tools to the problem right now. For a variety of reasons. Japan has it's self-imposed limits on what it allows itself to do. Germany is in a similar situation although much more flexible. The biggest problem here is that Germany hasn't updated it's armed forces which still seem better configred to repel a Warsaw Pact tank invasion than fight information-based battles with light forces on the other side of the world.
During Kosovo it degenerated into a situation where a fair number of countries demanded a full say in the decisions but then could not help carry them out. Then pointed fingers at the US for getting it wrong! Think about the bombing of the Chinese Embassy for an example of the latter......
I know some of you fear endless debate with european no-real-action-please discussion-aficionados and I see your point. But generally its better idea to look for common action.

There are obvious answers to the problems. The EU countries can update their armed forces. But it will be painful because it involves a huge restructuring of the EU defense industry. And enormous costs.
Some of the EU's positions seem to involve a great deal of finger pointing or an effort to cherry-pick the easier parts of the job while leaving the US with the hard parts (and all the blame). The subject of the ICC and war crime tribunals in particular causes the red white and blue to see red!
Europe has this wonderful collegial decision-making style which ruminates for years on creating institutions. It's not perfect but has worked very very well since 1950. In Europe, among friends and allies. Europe produces great judges and diplomats. With the exception of the UK not great soldiers, at least not right now. The proposal seems to be that the EU decides where and when we go to war and then judges us for our war-crimes afterward (because that's what they do best). Somehow that seems slightly inequitable from the Yank POV......
Finally there is the (largely) European concept of democracy among nations. Everyone has a vote. France has a vote, UK has a vote, Germany has a vote. So do Luxemborg, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, Portugal, etc. The US has one vote. Net result, the EU has 15 votes and the US 1 vote.
What could be fairer than that?!!!
From the yank POV it results in tilted treaties. Unfair to the US. Kyoto and ICC. The US gets thrown off of important UN comittees because of this kind of 'democracy'. We're getting pretty disgusted with it, but most Europeans don't get the point at all!
[ February 06, 2004: Message edited by: Bela Bardak ]
Phil Chuang
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Joined: Feb 15, 2003
Posts: 251
Yes, the EU matches closely in concept to our senate. Now, this would be a good system if they had also paired it with something similar to the house of representatives. We have this two part system for a reason - so that each state has a say, no matter how small (senate); but each state also has a say based on population (representatives) so that smaller states don't exert an unproportional amount of control. That's what's missing from the EU system - yes, the smaller states are represented, but they have an unproportional amount of control. I'm pretty sure most of the bigger nations feel some sort of resentment at being on the same level as luxemborg or andora
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Bert Bates:
So far the PATRIOT act has allowed the government to sidestep our rights to due process and accountability. Specifically, it has eroded the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 14th amendments.
The overreaction to the PATRIOT Act is amazing. Do you have any real examples of where the PATRIOT Act has actually done any of the things that people are saying it does? As I sadi earlier, the government already had most of the powers in the PATRIOT Act. The one big difference is that now they can do a search and not tell the person that they searched. Before the PATRIOT Act the person would have found out they were under suspicion and could have fled or warned their friends.
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8764
    
    5
Paraprashing from the ACLU flyer...
People are being held in custody without any charges filed against them
The public and press have been barred from immigration court hearings
The government is monitoring conversations between detainees and their lawyers
American citizens are being held in custody without being charged and without access to lawyers

Some might draw parallels to parts of Europe in the 30's. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but this is scary, slippery-slope kind of stuff. Once again, I'd prefer not to have to take Bush's or anyone else's word on this stuff. I'd feel a lot better if we were all just working within the good ol' Constitution.
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
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Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
As I said earlier, the government already had most of the powers in the PATRIOT Act. The one big difference is that now they can do a search and not tell the person that they searched. Before the PATRIOT Act the person would have found out they were under suspicion and could have fled or warned their friends.

Or object to the intrusion, if they feel the search was unwarranted.
It seems to me Phil's earlier point applies well here. If investigating a person causes flight, an investigation has done more good than it intended. For the purposes of arresting someone, flight upon questioning is considered a presumption of guilt. Given a choice between foiling a plot to terrorize by inquiry and risking terrorist action for the sake of catching as many people as possible, I'd choose the former.
My problem with the PATRIOT act is that it presumes good citizens don't need to know or don't care if they are being investigated. Personally, if the federal camera were trained on me I'd be happy to give it the bird. Anyone who thinks I'm a threat clearly doesn't have their shit together, and I'd be happy to let them know it.
I grew up in the streets where people were tear-gassed for protesting university policies, and as a young child watched college students protesting with armed militia in riot gear closely watching the Commie threat of these ungrateful college shits who didn't know what was good for the country. And I heard some of the same anxiety-riddled crap coming out of riot cops' mouths then as I hear hinted at in MD now and again. It sounds very, very familiar.
The 60's themselves are gone. Clearly for some, there is no possibility that such a police mentality as existed then could ever manifest again. I for one am skeptical. The times have changed; human nature has not. Human nature under the stress of an enemy whose numbers and locations are unclear, and the human nature that fears Benjamin Franklin might in fact be wrong -- that temporary security in lieu of freedom is the way to go -- certainly hasn't changed. The only protection against overreaching government enforcement practice is public vigilance and public oversight. And you cannot examine what the government won't show you.
For those of you in doubt that government can overstep, I am in possession of the FBI's files on my mom, retrieved under the Freedom of Information Act. My mother was in 1966-67 a member of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, under surveillance at the time as possible Communist sympathizers with links to "other militant groups" such as the Black Panthers. All that free theater in the public parks, y'know, the perfect breeding ground for new ideas. And both groups have shown up in Golden Gate Park at the same time more than once...
It's really not hard for me to imagine than in the never-ending pursuit of terrorism -- much like the equally vaporous search for Communism -- everyone becomes a potential terrorist. Why not? As long as you're hunting down an idea, everyone who thinks is suspect.
[ February 06, 2004: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]

Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.
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Ben Dover
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Joined: Jan 30, 2004
Posts: 91
Speaking too loudly. Why do American hosts on the TV have to shout at each other? Sure, it grabs attention, but over the smallest of trifles they shout. What's the story? It seems if you're not loud and obnoxious you won't get on the tele. Fox news is the major culprit here, I know they are unbiased and free-thinking, but do they need to be so loud about it. (note sarcasm).
Paul Stevens
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Joined: May 17, 2001
Posts: 2823
Originally posted by Louis Saha:
Speaking too loudly. Why do American hosts on the TV have to shout at each other? Sure, it grabs attention, but over the smallest of trifles they shout. What's the story? It seems if you're not loud and obnoxious you won't get on the tele. Fox news is the major culprit here, I know they are unbiased and free-thinking, but do they need to be so loud about it. (note sarcasm).

Got any stats on that?
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
People are being held in custody without any charges filed against them
I presume they mean the people being held at Guantanamo. How about if we release them but they have to live on your block? They are all people tied to a terrorist group. They have been seen by the International Red Cross.
The public and press have been barred from immigration court hearings
Only under very specific circumstances.
The government is monitoring conversations between detainees and their lawyers
Again, these are people who are not US citizens and not held in the US. We already know that in many cases their "lawyers" are nothing more than carrier pigeons for terrorist groups.
American citizens are being held in custody without being charged and without access to lawyers
Which American citizens and under what circumstances?
I'd feel a lot better if we were all just working within the good ol' Constitution.
We are working within the US Constitution. The Congress makes the laws, the President signs them and the Judicial branch reviews them. That is the Judicial Branch of the government not of the ACLU.
John Smith
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Joined: Oct 08, 2001
Posts: 2937
Why do American hosts on the TV have to shout at each other?
It's the difference between passive and active journalism. CNN doesn't engage the viewer, -- their reporters cover the news as though they are the news from another planet, irrelevant to them and to the viewers. Fox is different, -- their reporters take a position and challenge the invited guests, -- and that makes you think about your take on the issue. Sometimes there is some excess of heat, sure, but at least you don't fall asleep as you would watching that dull CNN.
John Smith
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Posts: 2937
TP: How about if we release them but they have to live on your block?
This argument can be easily reversed: how about your bedroom being monitored without a probable cause? How about Ashcroft deciding which books are considered a threat to national security? How about you being arrested and held without the access to the lawer?
I know, you will probably say that you will never find yourself in that position, and that the government has enough common sense not to prosecute the innocent. But I don't have much faith, and apparently the founding fathers didn't either. And that's the reason we have the protective mechanism built in the constitution.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:
And that's the reason we have the protective mechanism built in the constitution.

Yes, we are protected by the Constitution. Enemy combatants however are not. Probable cause in the sense it is used in US criminal law is not required to hold enemy combatants, although I would argue that being found on a battlefield bearing arms against the US would probably constitute probable cause if such a thing were to apply in such cases, which it doesn't.
This whole notion that many seem to have of prosecuting these Islamic terrorists in civillian courts is a bit mind boggling. These aren't isolated one-off incidents, these are acts of war by non-nation state entities. They are organized and they are waging an ongoing war against us. These are not the things that civillian courts are built to handle. One only needs to look at the recent farce in Germany to support that conclusion. Laws of armed conflict and the Geneva Conventions were designed to handle these situations, and as such the only proper forum for legal action against these people is in military courts.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Posts: 13974
This argument can be easily reversed: how about your bedroom being monitored without a probable cause?
They still need probable cause but if John Ashcroft wants to spy on me I think he would get bored rather quickly.
How about Ashcroft deciding which books are considered a threat to national security?
No one is suggesting that Ashcroft can ban any books.
How about you being arrested and held without the access to the lawer?
You mean the way that German soldiers were during World War II?
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
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Posts: 18671
They still need probable cause
But how is this enforced? If the system is abused, the victim doesn't know the abuse has occurred, so he's unable to contest the issue. How does the government limit potential abuse?


"I'm not back." - Bill Harding, Twister
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8764
    
    5

TP: How about if we release them but they have to live on your block?

In a free society some bad guys will get away, but we will go out of our way to make sure that innocent people are not jailed. I thought that one of the costs of freedom was that we'd let 100 guilty men walk to avoid imprisoning 1 innocent man.
We're not talking about armed men captured on the battlefield. We're talking about people with "suspicious ethnicity" :roll: , picked up at airports. Certain civil liberties were eroded during WWII and I thought that in retrospect everyone agreed that that was a really bad idea. Are we now saying that the threat of terrorism is so great that we are justified in repeating those mistakes? Once again, I'll stick with the Constitution and rail against Bush or anyone else who thinks they have a better idea.
John Smith
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Joined: Oct 08, 2001
Posts: 2937
PATRIOT Act, Section 216:

Upon an application made under section 3122(a)(1), the court shall enter an ex parte order authorizing the installation and use of a pen register or trap and trace device anywhere within the United States, if the court finds that the attorney for the Government has certified to the court that the information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.

It's actually written in a very cute English: if you simply scan through it, you may get an impression that court still has the power to determine if the use of the bugs is relevant to the case. But read it carefully, -- what it actually says is is that if the attorney for the Government states that it is relevant, then the court must stamp it. In other words, the government doesn't need to show the probable cause, only to state that there is a probable cause.
Attorney: We feel like doing some eavesdropping, your honor.
Judge: Is it relevant to whatever the case?
Attorney: You betcha!
Judge: You got it.
Attorney (with a grin): As though you could say "no", even if you didn't believe me.
[ February 07, 2004: Message edited by: Eugene Kononov ]
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
But how is this enforced? If the system is abused, the victim doesn't know the abuse has occurred, so he's unable to contest the issue. How does the government limit potential abuse?
As opposed to the illegal wiretaps during the 60's that Michael was complaining about? The Patriot Act gives the government very little more power than it already had under the law as written in 1978. We all have the same protections that we always had. If it turns out that the Attorney General did not have sufficient reason for getting a wiretap then the evidence will be inadmissable in court. You have never had any other protection under the law.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Originally posted by Bert Bates:
We're not talking about armed men captured on the battlefield.
Yes, we are.
Matthew Phillips
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Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Which American citizens and under what circumstances?

Jose Padilla has been held for approx 2 years without being charged with a crime. If he is guilty of consipiracy to commit a terrorist act, then the government should charge him, convict him, and punish him severly. So far, none of that has happened.


Matthew Phillips
Matthew Phillips
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I'm torn between national defense and government spending as the number one concern. While I agree with those who think that the Dept. of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act are overkill (and to some degree unconstitutional in the case of the Patriot Act) it is important that we take care of preventing another attack on US soil.
Paul Stevens
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Joined: May 17, 2001
Posts: 2823
Al Sharpton feels the rich pay too much in taxes.
"When it comes to income taxes the rich don't pair their fair share."
JOHN STOSSEL: (Voice Over) The Democratic presidential candidates keep saying that. The first one willing to say it to me was the Reverend Al Sharpton.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON: The rich do not pay their share.
JOHN STOSSEL: (Voice Over) That's a widespread belief. But do the politicians even know how much of the income tax burden the rich pay now?
REVEREND AL SHARPTON: The top 1 percent in this country pays very much less than 10 percent. Very much less than 5 percent.
JOHN STOSSEL: (Off Camera) So, what's fair? The top 1 percent should pay 10 percent of America's income taxes? 20 percent?
REVEREND AL SHARPTON: They should pay somewhere around 15 percent. They don't pay 5 percent. Anybody could see that is unequal and unfair.
JOHN STOSSEL: (Voice Over) So, they should pay 15 percent, he says. And the richest 1 percent now pay less than 10 percent, then he said less than 5 percent. But that's so silly because, and I bet most of you don't know this, the IRS says the richest 1 percent of taxpayers already pay 34 percent. Twice what Sharpton wanted them to pay. The Reverend barely reacted when I told him.
JOHN STOSSEL: They are already paying 34 percent?
REVEREND AL SHARPTON: No, I think that if you deal with the quality of their lives ...
JOHN STOSSEL: (Voice Over) He quickly changed the subject...
The Sharpton view is shared by many who believe something they hear over and over. It is an effective strategy since even some of the Dem leaders believe it to be true.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Matthew Phillips:
Jose Padilla has been held for approx 2 years without being charged with a crime.
But this has nothing to do with the Patriot Act as he isn't being held under the Patriot Act. In fact, the courts have consistently ruled that he is being held illegaly.
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

Originally posted by Paul Stevens:
Al Sharpton feels the rich pay too much in taxes.
"When it comes to income taxes the rich don't pair their fair share."
JOHN STOSSEL: (Voice Over) The Democratic presidential candidates keep saying that. The first one willing to say it to me was the Reverend Al Sharpton.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON: The rich do not pay their share.
...
The Sharpton view is shared by many who believe something they hear over and over. It is an effective strategy since even some of the Dem leaders believe it to be true.

John Stossel. I wanted to say John Stossel is less of a reporter than a man with an agenda that somehow passes for news reporting, but that work's been done.
Paul Stevens
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Posts: 2823
Originally posted by Michael Ernest:

John Stossel. I wanted to say John Stossel is less of a reporter than a man with an agenda that somehow passes for news reporting, but that work's been done.

As opposed to the network "news" reporters. Or the New York Times, LA Times, ...
Attack the person not the message how typical. The view of Sharptons is shared by many Democrats/Liberals. Listen to Kerry, Dean, Edwards they all say the rich are getting over. The top 10 percent pay 75% of income taxes. That is fact. They pay there fair share.
btw. The guys arguement is total BS. SS and medicare are a fixed percent. So pulling them or property taxes or name whatever other tax you want in is a bogus argument. If fraud and deception are ok, that article must seem pretty good. Figures don't lie, liars know how to figure. Use the faulty arguments you accuse someone else of.
[ February 09, 2004: Message edited by: Paul Stevens ]
Paul Stevens
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Posts: 2823
I am posting this again.
Total income tax share (percentage):
1% 5% 10% 25% 50%
1986: 100.00......25.75......42.57......54.69......76.02......93.54
1987: 100.00......24.81......43.26......55.61......76.92......93.93
1988: 100.00......27.58......45.62......57.28......77.84......94.28
1989: 100.00......25.24......43.94......55.78......77.22......94.17
1990: 100.00......25.13......43.64......55.36......77.02......94.19
1991: 100.00......24.82......43.38......55.82......77.29......94.52
1992: 100.00......27.54......45.88......58.01......78.48......94.94
1993: 100.00......29.01......47.36......59.24......79.27......95.19
1994: 100.00......28.86......47.52......59.45......79.55......95.23
1995: 100.00......30.26......48.91......60.75......80.36......95.39
1996: 100.00......32.31......50.97......62.51......81.32......95.68
1997: 100.00......33.17......51.87......63.20......81.67......95.72
1998: 100.00......34.75......53.84......65.04......82.69......95.79
1999: 100.00......36.18......55.45......66.45......83.54......96.00
2000: 100.00......37.42......56.47......67.33......84.01......96.09
The numbers are even higher now. The top 10 pay 75%. Where was John wrong about that again (37.42)? The link you provided was wrong and dishonest to be kind. Totally misleading would be another discription.
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

Originally posted by Paul Stevens:

The view of Sharptons is shared by many Democrats/Liberals. Listen to Kerry, Dean, Edwards they all say the rich are getting over. The top 10 percent pay 75% of income taxes. That is fact. They pay there fair share.

If it's fact, cite a source that manages to avoid editorializing.
My point is generally simpler than that anyway. Sharpton asserts some claim that "the rich" don't pay their fair share. But the percentage Sharpton is trying to refer to isn't the same one Stossel refers to. "The rich" may pay in the 34% tax bracket. So Stossel managed to confuse Sharpton by quoting another number, and Sharpton, not being the sharpest economic knife in the drawer, doesn't understand and gets flustered.
That's not reporting, Paul, that's ridicule. The point isn't that Sharpton doesn't have his facts straight -- which surprises no one who remembers Tawana Brawley -- it's the insinuation that because Al Sharpton doesn't have it right, all Democrats are wrong.
"The rich pay/don't pay their fair share" is as interesting to debate as the meaning of the phrase "ocean-fresh fish." There's nothing substantive to debate in that statement until there's an agreement as to what constitutes fair share. It's a subjective argument.
Incidentally, I'm not attacking John Stossel the human being or the average citizen. I'm on about John Stossel, the journalist who, under that professional title, purports to cover meaningful news. Since reporters have access to information and people we do not, and the resources available to convey that information to the rest of us, their credibility is always an issue, all the time. Reporters like Stossel are closer to entertainers, in that they feed a very specific population a message they are dying to hear: how whacked out, corrupt and stupid those tree-hugging liberal politicians are. And that's his only message. His work would be better described as an infotainment than news, the conservative answer to Geraldo Rivera.
Bela Bardak
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Joined: Jan 02, 2004
Posts: 179
Attack the person not the message how typical. The view of Sharptons is shared by many Democrats/Liberals. Listen to Kerry, Dean, Edwards they all say the rich are getting over. The top 10 percent pay 75% of income taxes. That is fact. They pay there fair share.

That is only the income tax, not the SS/payroll tax. When you factor the payroll tax in the share of total income taxation paid by the rich falls. If you were to call capital gains income their share would fall further.
Sharpton is full of nonsense but he may be confusing the total percentage of income tax paid with the marginal rate. The total percent of income tax paid by the top 1% may well be 34% or even higher but the marginal rate would be much lower than someone making less than 100K would pay if you count the payroll tax as an income tax and count the 'employer' portion of the payroll tax an income tax on the employee (as I do count them).
When you factor in capital gains which are not taxed unless and until the underlying asset is sold the inequity gets worse.
The problem with the Democrat's prescription is that it's not easy to tax investment because the rich will take their investment elsewhere or invest in economically irrational ways to gain tax shelters. My experience is that when you raise taxes on the 'rich' the rich don't end up paying the additional tax. The effect 'trickles down' to the earned income of the upper middle and middle classes who cannot shelter their income from the tax man effectively.
So whenever someone tells me they want to tax the 'rich' (but not me) I may honor their sincerity but I also know that any tax rise which really bites will wind up coming out of my hide. Good intentions notwithstanding...
There may be an exception in this election year. A rollback of the Bush tax cuts on dividends might well work. But my guess is that it won't happen. The Democrats would have to have a landslide victory and take decisive control of both the House and Senate, plus the Presidentcy. And the President would have to be willing to bite the bullet and repeal. Pretty unlikely....
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
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Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

PS: Attack the person not the message how typical. The view of Sharptons is shared by many Democrats/Liberals. Listen to Kerry, Dean, Edwards they all say the rich are getting over.
ME: Exactly my point above. Because Sharpton is easily confused, and because Democrats/Liberals share his same conclusions, they must all be wrong because they all must think the same thing for the same reasons. That's Stossel's opening rheotorical device as well: "Sharpton is the only person who would speak to me, therefore I am forced to report only what he said and forced to conclude that they all agree." Typical hardline-agenda reporting.
PS: The guy's arguement is total BS. SS and medicare are a fixed percent. So pulling them or property taxes or name whatever other tax you want in is a bogus argument. If fraud and deception are ok, that article must seem pretty good. Figures don't lie, liars know how to figure. Use the faulty arguments you accuse someone else of.
ME: Taxes are taxes. You bear the full brunt of SS/Medicare unless you make more than some number every year, approx. $80k. After that, nothing, so there's a world of difference in paying into the system if you are a so-called "highly-compensated" person. I don't see how property taxes should be excluded either. You own taxable real assets, you pay taxes.
If you have a scope in mind, then declare what it is. I have no idea what the table you cited is saying. Whose figures are these? What are they based on?
Paul Stevens
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Joined: May 17, 2001
Posts: 2823
Originally posted by Michael Ernest:

If it's fact, cite a source that manages to avoid editorializing.
My point is generally simpler than that anyway. Sharpton asserts some claim that "the rich" don't pay their fair share. But the percentage Sharpton is trying to refer to isn't the same one Stossel refers to. "The rich" may pay in the 34% tax bracket. So Stossel managed to confuse Sharpton by quoting another number, and Sharpton, not being the sharpest economic knife in the drawer, doesn't understand and gets flustered.
That's not reporting, Paul, that's ridicule. The point isn't that Sharpton doesn't have his facts straight -- which surprises no one who remembers Tawana Brawley -- it's the insinuation that because Al Sharpton doesn't have it right, all Democrats are wrong.
"The rich pay/don't pay their fair share" is as interesting to debate as the meaning of the phrase "ocean-fresh fish." There's nothing substantive to debate in that statement until there's an agreement as to what constitutes fair share. It's a subjective argument.
Incidentally, I'm not attacking John Stossel the human being or the average citizen. I'm on about John Stossel, the journalist who, under that professional title, purports to cover meaningful news. Since reporters have access to information and people we do not, and the resources available to convey that information to the rest of us, their credibility is always an issue, all the time. Reporters like Stossel are closer to entertainers, in that they feed a very specific population a message they are dying to hear: how whacked out, corrupt and stupid those tree-hugging liberal politicians are. And that's his only message. His work would be better described as an infotainment than news, the conservative answer to Geraldo Rivera.


You have it totally wrong as well. Stossel isn't saying they pay in the 34% bracket. He is saying just what the numbers I posted show. The top 1% of wage earners pay over 37% of income taxes.
The problem is that those who say the rich don't pay their fair share can't say what that fair share is. When called on it they come up with a number that is usually lower than what they pay now.
If you want to say, they don't pay their fair share of SS and medicare. I might be convinced since those are capped so they do not pay the same percentage as lower income people. It is made up for in the income tax though.
As far as Stossel goes at least he isn't a network anchor slanting the news and pretending to be impartial. Take the whole AWOL lie about Bush. That was covered in detail in the last election and discredited then. The DNC head makes a charge and the network heard ran with it. No looking into facts that had already been put out.
It is always amusing to hear someone on the left complain about a token conservative view on the networks.
Sadanand Murthy
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Joined: Nov 26, 2003
Posts: 382
Originally posted by Paul Stevens:

The problem is that those who say the rich don't pay their fair share can't say what that fair share is. When called on it they come up with a number that is usually lower than what they pay now.

Recently, O'Reilly had John Edwards on his show. I actually saw an excerpt from that. In that O'Reilly said that he himself is a fat cat & is willing to pay 50% as his fair share. Edwards didn't respond to that (at least the excerpt didn't show any), but his reaction appeared (subjective, no doubt) that he (Edwards, i.e.) didn't think 50% was fair enough. I wonder if Edwards thinks even 75% is not fair enough. But the fact, as Paul & others have said; there is no unanimity about what fair share is. So, for dems to keep harping on this is an election ploy at inciting class envy.
Originally posted by Paul Stevens:

If you want to say, they don't pay their fair share of SS and medicare. I might be convinced since those are capped so they do not pay the same percentage as lower income people. It is made up for in the income tax though.

I know SS has a cap on the income that is taxed. But I didn't know medicare does too. My W2 shows every single penny as medicare taxable. Perhaps I don't make enough to be affected by it.
[ February 09, 2004: Message edited by: Sadanand Murthy ]

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Paul Stevens
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Joined: May 17, 2001
Posts: 2823
If you have a scope in mind, then declare what it is. I have no idea what the table you cited is saying. Whose figures are these? What are they based on?

Those are figures from the IRS. They show the percent of total income taxes paid by wage earners. I have posted the full charts on here multiple times. I copied the chart a couple of years ago and it comes in handy.
Across the top is the wage earners as a percent of total wage earners. It only goes to the top 50%. So in 2000 the top 1% of wage earners paid 37.42% of all income taxes. The top 10% paid 67%. The numbers from the top 10% are now 75%.
Many other taxes are flat. Sales tax, many states income taxes, who knows what the formula is for property taxes.
As I said I don't have a problem with removing the cap on SS earnings. That would go a long way towards its long term solvency.
Where are the numbers that say the top 1% pay only 24% of taxes? Where does that number come from? I have heard it used but have saw no proof that it is factual.
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

PS: You have it totally wrong as well. Stossel isn't saying they pay in the 34% bracket. He is saying just what the numbers I posted show. The top 1% of wage earners pay over 37% of income taxes.
ME: Ok, then where do those numbers come from? What is the source? What are they basing those percentages on? To you it may be gospel, to me it's just a pattern of numbers. I may be wrong, but I hardly think you're right for posting several columns of numbers as if everything has finally been explained.
PS: The problem is that those who say the rich don't pay their fair share can't say what that fair share is.
ME: Neither can those here who say the rich do pay their fair share. Not yet, anyway. They just have a column of numbers with no explanation to them.
PS: When called on it they come up with a number that is usually lower than what they pay now.
ME: It stands to reason that if some people claim the rich don't pay their fair share, the percentage they quote is going to be lower than what your table asserts. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that people on either side of the issue rely on numbers that support their claim. What I dismiss as opinionation is the presumption that one side uses no numbers at all, or disregards the "right" numbers in order to make a point that doesn't exist.
PS: If you want to say, they don't pay their fair share of SS and medicare. I might be convinced since those are capped so they do not pay the same percentage as lower income people. It is made up for in the income tax though.
ME: My guess is the warring points of view in all this have a different take on what they mean by taxes. To me, anything I pay to the government is tax. Anything I keep, that's not.
PS: As far as Stossel goes at least he isn't a network anchor slanting the news and pretending to be impartial.
ME: That's not much of an excuse for a reporter. Two wrongs may make for better ratings, but they still don't make a right.
PS: Take the whole AWOL lie about Bush. That was covered in detail in the last election and discredited then. The DNC head makes a charge and the network heard ran with it. No looking into facts that had already been put out.
ME: Neither the RNC nor DNC are investigative bodies. Accuse either of failing to do something they do not normally do means little.
Here are some details that purport to be refutable:
From May to November 1972, George W. Bush was living in Alabama working on the US senate campaign of Winton Blount and was required to attend drills with the Air National Guard unit in Montgomery, Alabama. There is no record that he attended any drills whatsoever. Additionally, General William Turnipseed (r) who was commander of the unit at that time has stated in interviews that he never saw Bush report for duty.
On September 5, 1972, Bush had requested permission to perform duty for September, October, and November at the 187th Tactical Recon Group in Montgomery. Permission was granted, and Bush was ordered to report to General William Turnipseed. In interviews, Turnipseed, and his administrative officer at the time, Kenneth K. Lott, have stated that they had no memory of Bush ever reporting.
Seven months later, at Ellington Air Force Base in Texas, Bush's two superior officers were unable to complete his annual evaluation covering the year from May 1, 1972 to April 30, 1973 because, "Lt. Bush has not been observed at this unit during the period of this report." Both superior officers, who are now dead, and also Ellington's top personnel officer at the time, mistakenly concluded that Bush served his final year of service in Alabama. Bush returned to live in Texas after the senatorial election in November, 1972, so this is obviously not true.
According to the records available from the National Guard, the period between May 1972 and May 1973 remains unaccounted for.

I presume there's a site out there somewhere that proves these statements of fact to be inaccurate or false. The site I lifted these statements had their own editorial slant, which I omitted. But it sure sounds to me, unless this account is simply and completely wrong, that there's no "lie" in the sense that all these people deliberate offered misstatements for the intended purpose of foiling any potential campaign for the presidency 30 years later.
PS: It is always amusing to hear someone on the left complain about a token conservative view on the networks.
ME: If that's a hopeful cry for more people like John Stossel, I sure hope the networks aren't listening.
Matthew Phillips
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Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
But this has nothing to do with the Patriot Act as he isn't being held under the Patriot Act. In fact, the courts have consistently ruled that he is being held illegaly.

I didn't intend to indicate it did. There were some posts in this thread that I merely skimmed, so if my statment appeared to be an attack on the Patriot Act it was not intended. I just wanted to answer the question.
The fact that the courts have consistently ruled that he is being held illegally hasn't won his releas (or indictment).
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

PS: Across the top is the wage earners as a percent of total wage earners. It only goes to the top 50%. So in 2000 the top 1% of wage earners paid 37.42% of all income taxes. The top 10% paid 67%. The numbers from the top 10% are now 75%.
ME: There we have it. Wage earners: people who earn money working for someone else. That's not really where "the rich" are coming from in a hardline Democrat view, mind you. The "rich" in such a person's eyes are probably the people who a) make most of their money using capital, rather than drawing wages, and b) vote Republican.
PS: Where are the numbers that say the top 1% pay only 24% of taxes? Where does that number come from? I have heard it used but have saw no proof that it is factual.
ME: I don't know. The "breakover" value -- where the percentage of taxpayers equals the percentage of taxes paid -- that I hear repeated hovers between 24-27%. I'm not even sure what the significance of that value is, other than no one really likes it because you can't generate a lot of political controversy with it.
Matthew Phillips
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
Paul's numbers come from the IRS. I have a link to the page at work, so I'll try to post it tomorrow. The problem, at least in my opinion, is that an income tax is inherently unfair. Instead of sharing the burden of financing government equally amongst all citizens, it punishes people who produce wealth. The "rich" don't get taxed at all. Only income earners get taxed.
Matthew Phillips
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Joined: Mar 09, 2001
Posts: 2676
IRS Statistics of Income Division
Frank Silbermann
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Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1379
Why should the rich pay an income-proportional Social Security / Medicaire tax when they don't get proportional benefits? Do you really want Bill Gates to get a $100 million dollar per year pension from social security when he retires?
If we're talking charity, then yeah, the rich should pay in proportion to their income. But if we're talking about a government-run insurance program (e.g. old-age insurance or health insurance), then no, fairness means that your premium is proportional to your share of the benefit.
Or do you think fairness means that everyone is left after taxes with approximately the same amount of wealth as everyone else?
[ February 10, 2004: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
 
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