Comments about ‘Letter: American billionaires’

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Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11 2013 12:02 p.m. MST

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high school fan
Huntington, UT

Just remember that the tax code was written by congress which the democrats have controlled for much of the past ninety years. Ask the founder of Facebook about being wealthy, or the owner of the Dallas mavericks or how about the Larry H Miller family, or the Huntsman's or the Romney's or anyone else that now has money when their ancestors didn't.
That is what makes America, our ability to progress. And now as to nearly half the country that pays absolutely nothing in federal taxes, you can't get better than zero except yes you can because of earned income credit rule. You get money back that someone else paid in. Only in America.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

I suggest that we look at the realities of the disparity in wealth and the trend.

By any reasonable account, this is terrible for our country.

So, we must ask ourselves, "WHY is the wealth collecting so rapidly at the top?"
It would be easy to just say that the rich are getting smarter and working harder.

But, does one really believe that? Can someone show me how the poor and middle class are getting dumber and lazier?

This is terrible for our country. We need to understand why it is happening. Then, make some changes.

Any suggestions as to WHY?

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah
If you want to be rich, you have to work at it.

12:21 p.m. Dec. 11, 2013

=========

No you don't.
The truth is -- MOST rich people have never worked a single day in their lives.
They inherit their wealth.

Some ancestor of theirs did the "work",
and they simple reap the rewards of someone else's "work".

It goes against 100% against God's law of the Harvest.

BTW - Why do you covet the rich?

pragmatistferlife
salt lake city, utah

Joe, "WHY is the wealth collecting so rapidly at the top?" Details are important but let me give my opinion as to the meta cause of this transformation.

America was equalized as our economy was industrialized. Starting in the late 70's and especially the early 80's America began to de-industrialize and turn it's economy into a financial economy that just simply doesn't need workers (of course that's a little bit of an overstatement but not much).

A financially based economy is designed to amass the wealth in the few. It's been described as a larva eating it's host alive from the inside out.

The problem simply doesn't have a conservative solution because the old is gone. Reality demands a new economy, one where the old platitudes like you need to get up early and work hard make some sense;

BTW, President Obama has made such suggestions multiple times and been rebuffed by the right every time. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

Flashback
Kearns, UT

Grover, Mitt's 2.9 million (14% of 21 mil) is most likely way more than you have paid in income taxes your whole life. Personally, I think that Mitt has paid his fair share. By the way, he took advantage of legal deductions.

Mr. Letter writer, just who has been president most of the time since 2007? The rich have gotten way richer with a Democrat in the White House the last six years, not a Republican.

While I agree that sometimes the rich overdo it, they have earned the money and worked hard to get it, so they deserve to keep as much as they legally can. Until we have a flat tax that hits everyone the same percentage, nothing will change.

Republican solution? Flat tax, no deductions. Simple as that. Not your "progressive tax" nonsense with all kinds of loopholes and deductions.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

One thing is for certain: we need to allow the billionaires and millionaires to hoard more money so the poor and middle class can pay all the taxes.

Open Minded Mormon
Everett, 00

Tax deductions were originally set-up as a means to force spending.
[see my earlier comment about "usury"]

If a person or business sat on his money [buried it like the unwise and slothful servant] - he would be taxed for it.

However --
If you "used" it, invested it in something "useful" [equipment, machinery, computers, trainging, hiring new employees, expanding a business, home improvements, etc.] - he could deducted it and not show it as earned "profit" and therfore avoid the tax entirely.

The problem is --
The uber rich and businesses have been abusing and gaming the system to their advange the rest of can't.

one old man
Ogden, UT

I have to agree with Chris B, who at 2:02 yesterday posted:
"Its sad there are so many lazy people who think rich people should pay for their share of the country's expenses."

Let's edit that a bit to make it accurate:

It's sad there are so many hard working people who think rich people should pay for their share of the country's expenses by eliminating their ability to dodge tax payments by hiding their money in overseas bank accounts and finding creative ways to use a multitude of tax shelters that are not available to those of us who are less affluent.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

high school fan:

Please explain to me, then, why we refer to the huge tax cuts on the wealthy as the Reagan tax cuts and the Bush tax cuts?

Flashback:

It doesn't matter who is president when the tax code is almost set in stone (Grover's stone, that is). Look what it took to merely allow the Bush tax cuts on the ultra-wealthy to expire, raising the top rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. But tax rates are merely a mechanism to fund (or underfund, if you're Republican) the services we require of government. The real problem is the initial distribution of wealth, which has gotten more and more skewed over the past 30 years. The problem is that the people who actually create the wealth don't get a fair share of it. Why? Because corporate capitalism has a dual pay system. It pays a small cadre of owners and executives as much as possible, while it pays the workers as little as possible. This is viewed as good business. Labor is merely a cost to be minimized. And if workers won't accept lower pay, ship their jobs off to Bangladesh or Vietnam.

Roger Terry
Happy Valley, UT

What? Still no takers? I'm still waiting for a Republican response to my challenge. Mike Lee tried, in his recent attempt to convince establishment Republicans that he is no tea party stooge, but his proposals do nothing to reduce the ever-widening gap between the rich and the rest.

Maybe I'll have to wait forever . . .

a bit of reality
Shawnee Mission, KS

I have more disdain than empathy for people who covet the wealth of others. I'm okay with inequality.

That said, we do need to recognize the fact that the money one earns is a function of what you *negotiate* more than what you actually produce. The people who get fabulously wealthy in this economy are the ones who were able to negotiate for themselves wealth that was actually produced by legions of others. Again, I'm okay with that.

My concern is with the effect that inequality has on the overall economy. Say a poor man and a rich man work *together* to produce a dollar (worth of goods and services). How they divide the dollar they jointly created effects the macro economy. The poor man will spend his part, while the rich man will save his. Given that an optimal economy has a macroeconomic balance between saving and spending, too much money going to the rich hurts the economy.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Roger Terry" the best plan Republicans have is to get rid of Obama and let the free market operate again. This is what pulled us out of the great depression, and has a 100 year track record of working with every recession that has occured.

As the Huffington Post and Daily Kos have pointed out in some articles, under Obama, income inequality has INCREASED. See "Income Inequality Worse Under Obama Than George W. Bush" in the Huffington Post.

What bothers me most is that people think that Obama just needs more power and more time to get things right. Unfortunately that not only won't work, but ultimately leads to less freedom.

The only plan Republicans need is to have is dismantle most regulations and government programs that have been enacted over the past 20 years.

To "Open Minded Mormon" it is a lie that most wealthy people have inherited their wealth. Read "The Decline of Inherited Money" in the WSJ. Less than 10% of the wealthy inherited their money.

To "one old man" but the wealthy do pay their "fair share" of taxes. They account for around 35% of all income in the US, yet pay close to 40% of all income taxes.

Grover
Salt Lake City, UT

Cur: So your solution to income inequality is to hire a smart attorney so that you pay the lowest rate? You think you get Buffett level advice from H. & R. Block?? The tax code was written by no one of either party. It was written by those with the most money to pay lobbyists to favor their "sacred cow'. Didn't Confucius say: "Them that has gets!"

Flash: The Forbes 400 list catalogues the 400 richest in America. How many know more than the Gates and Buffets? #6, #7, #8, and #9 on the list all share the same last name: Walton. That would be the fortune amassed by Sam Walton. 6,7,8,9 are his kids. Only number 7 has ever had a thing to do with Wal-Mart, yet their total fortune is listed at 136 Billion dollars. That figure would make them #56 in a United Nations list of Countries by GDP. Do those facts give you not the slightest pause that the playing field is level in the USA, that hard work will win the day?

pragmatistferlife
salt lake city, utah

RedShirt," under Obama, income inequality has INCREASED. Of course it has. It's steadily been increasing for the past 40 years despite the President. It has to do with the structure of the economy not who's in the White House.

Who's in the White could effect the structure of the economy but hasn't so far. This is what pulled us out of the great depression, and has a 100 year

"This is what pulled us out of the great depression, and has a 100 year track record of working with every recession that has occurred." First of all not exactly true, but more importantly what worked in an emerging industrial society, and a fully functioning industrial society is not what will work in a post industrial society.

Until you have an economy with jobs that once again demand an equal share of the wealth unleashing unfettered market forces simply centralizes the wealth in the top 1%.

Such jobs are not easy to come by, but they certainly aren't created by further empowering the financial sector. There's absolutely no incentive for them to do anything but create and hoard.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

"We need to understand why it is happening."

Multi-factorial.

Tax structure--low capital gains tax and carried-interest loophole.
Pay structure--worker wages not increasing along with management wages.

From an article "The Causes of Rising Inequality" by the National Bureau of Economic Research:

"Their review of the CEO debate places equal emphasis on the market, in showering capital gains through stock options, and an arbitrary management-power hypothesis based on numerous non-market aspects of executive pay. "CEOs, through compensation committees and inbreeding of boards of directors, have a unique ability to control their own compensation," the authors write. "Furthermore, if a director approves a higher compensation package, that may subsequently lead her to receive more compensation at her own firm."

They cite one study of 1,500 firms that found that the compensation earned by the top five corporate officers in 1993-5 equaled 5% of their firms' total profits during that period; by 2000-2, that ratio had more than doubled to 12.8%. The trend was caused in equal parts by arbitrary pay decisions by corporate boards and by the showering of stock options on CEOs, they conclude."

Ranch
Here, UT

Since when is it "coveting" the wealth of others to work an honest day's work and have the fruits of your labors go to the man at the top? It seems to me, the coveting is being done by those at the top. They're coveting (and taking) the fruits of another man's labor.

Redshirt1701
Deep Space 9, Ut

To "pragmatistferlife" actually the person in the White House can significantly alter the economy based on the policies that they implement or the laws that they allow to be passed.

For instance, in the article "$1.8 trillion shock: Obama regs cost 20-times estimate" in the Washington Examiner points out that the regulations and Obamacare combined are going to be sucking $184 billion out of the economy each year. What do you think happens to businesses that now have to pay more to comply with regulations?

How can jobs be created when the employers end up with fewer profits to use for expansion?

You are wrong about how to pull out of the recession and get the economy going again. If you go back to 1900, and look at every recession since then you find the same thing. The more the government tries to "fix" thing, the worse it get. When the government backs off, or better yet cuts taxes and spending, the recession is over quickly. Individual people are the solution, not government regulations and programs.

Redshirt1701
Deep Space 9, Ut

To "Ranch" it is coveting the minute you begin to desire what belongs to another person.

From Webster's Dictionary the definition of covet is "to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpably". If that isn't good enough, Oxford's dictionary defines it as to "yearn to possess or have (something)".

Your statement shows that you covet what the wealthy have. The question is who's labor is more valuable. Is it the person with no skills flipping burgers, or is it the person that makes decisions regarding contracts and marketing for the entire company? If the burger flipper doesn't perform well it will only directly effect that one location. If the CEO constantly makes bad decisions, it destroys the company. Tell me which is harder to find, a good burger flipper or a good CEO?

You want to go the communism route where everybody is paid the same regardless of skill or knowledge. The free market teaches us that you are paid according to what skills and knowledge you bring.

pragmatistferlife
salt lake city, utah

So Redshirt, rather than argue ideologies with you, let me just encourage you to look at the countries that are in fact doing well. The common thread is they have re-tooled, re-educated and moved ahead with new industries that demand higher skills and thus higher wages.

They are producing (first plus) products that no one else can (what America use to do, and needs to do again). That should be the goal not simply less government involvement in the economy.

I and most "liberals" would in fact favor government policies that move us to those goals. In some cases I'm sure that would involve getting out of the way. Other policies may in fact require some government support (technology development).

Given our current economy however, there is no natural movement to a new technology driven industrial economy, which is the answer to inequality..higher paying work.

BTW this use to be the Republican/Conservative view.

The Judge
Kaysville, UT

Check the numbers. If you define the "Reagan Era" from the time Reagan took office to the time he left, the numbers are stunning. GDP growth averaged 3.1 percent per year, including the 80-81 recession. Real median family income grew by 0.8 percent per year, from $36,500 to $41,000. (All figures are in 1994 dollars). This followed zero household income growth from 1973 to 1980, and was followed by a decline of -0.3 from 1988-95. (Source: Economic Report of the President, 1996). The numbers get even better if you define the "Reagan Era" from '81--when his tax cuts passed--to '89, the year after he left. And yes, the growth was across all household income levels.

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