Robert J. Samuelson: Americans' fearsome mega-trends include immigration, family breakdown and aging

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  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 6, 2014 8:30 a.m.

    @happ2bhere Your remarks about the wealthy being able to dodge taxes is quite true, and that has accelerated the accumulation at the top. This accumulation at the top is the source of most of our problems, not Obamacare. The accumulation at the top 1% has left little buying power in what used to be the middle class. This is will soon be the death of American capitalism. The collapse of 2008 was just the beginning. We sill see a revolt in this country within five years, maybe even in 2016. Socialists have to step up, because the Democratic Party is brain dead.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    March 6, 2014 7:29 a.m.


    Economic philosophy and history does not deal with the problems we face today. However, one thing that I agree with and disagree with is the part about payroll taxes. I agree, we working stiffs should get tax cuts. When the Reagan tax cut came, I was attending college and one of the "working stiff" professors said he couldn't believe how much money he saved due to those cuts. So I'm not sure your point about only the rich benefiting is accurate. A lot of middle class folks benefited from Reagans tax cuts too. Yes the rich got a lot, but that is good because in large part that translates to more job creating and working people. Something I hope you believe we need today, and have needed for the last 5 years. Unless you are now amoung the folks who are believing that the "new normal" should be 6% unemployment and 2% GDP. That is just people making an excuse for Obamanomics not working. And never will. Time to get off that wagon and hope for a better President in 2016.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 6, 2014 1:01 a.m.

    "Liberals won't come to terms with aging. Believing that spending on the elderly and near-elderly constitutes the essence of progressivism — and ignoring the affluence of many elderly — some liberals even support raising these benefits. "

    The vast majority of elderly are in very modest circumstances. That the United States lacks the resources to care for the elderly is a cruel myth. The wealthy have decided they are entitled to most of the wealth of the country. In pursuit of this they have given themselves tax cut after tax cut to the point of threatening social security and medicare. This has forced government borrowing, which the wealthy benefit from by buying that debt, being repaid with interest. The starvation of the elderly desired is also being furthered by the planned destruction of all pensions, public and private.

    This is creating a build of tensions which will explode at some point.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 5, 2014 4:30 p.m.


    By the way, you're wrong about revenues during the Reagan years. Yes, they increased in actual dollars, but that was largely due to inflation. As a percentage of GDP, a better measure, total government receipts were 19.6 percent in 1981, Reagan's first year in office. By 1983, revenues had actually dropped to 17.5 percent. They bottomed out the next year, at 17.3 percent, then rose slightly during the rest of Reagan's tenure, reaching 18.4 percent in 1987 but dropping to 18.2 percent in 1988. These percentages are about average for the past 60 years. By comparison, the 1970s were very similar. The 1990s were a little higher.

    The reason, however, that revenues weren't worse is that while income and capital gains taxes dropped (primarily benefiting the wealthy), payroll taxes increased substantially (and these are paid mostly by working stiffs like me). It is simple historical fact that the Reagan revolution laid the foundation for the huge disparity in wealth we are now experiencing.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 5, 2014 4:15 p.m.


    No trouble at all. Close the loopholes, raise the top rates to 70 percent again, and watch the revenues flow in. But you can't be serious about a flat tax. That only makes sense if you also flatten out the initial distribution of wealth by, say, increasing worker ownership of businesses or at least capping the top salary (and bonuses) at corporations so that the top earners can make only 8 to 10 times as much as the lowest-level full-time workers.

    Somehow people seem to think that capitalism is only capitalism if you allow people at the top to exploit those in the middle and at the bottom and reap all the rewards for the hard work of others. But capitalism, initially, was a revolutionary system devised to overthrow the aristocratic system that had prevailed for centuries. The problem now is the we've turned capitalism into just another aristocratic system. Adam Smith wouldn't much like the economic philosophy we adhere to today.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    March 5, 2014 3:01 p.m.


    The trouble with raising taxes to pre Reagan era, (read Jimmy Carter) is that the rich always find ways to avoid those taxes with the loopholes one can use in the several thousand pages of our tax law. The only people who really end up paying more in taxes is the middle class and below. Interesting to note, when Reagan cut taxes, the revenue to the treasury went up by a lot due to the increased business and production incentive. So, if the right taxes are cut, the net result can be more revenue. Many people still don't or won't believe that, but it has been proven true more than once. Now, if we could come up with a flat tax..............

  • One of a Few Layton, UT
    March 5, 2014 1:25 p.m.

    Unmarried women having babies are the problem? That's a lesson taken right out of Adam's response to the almighty in the garden. Things haven't changed much in 10 thousand years.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    March 5, 2014 9:46 a.m.

    Roland: "President Obama offered cuts to social security in exchange for higher taxes...the Republican congress said no."

    I wonder if the reason why they did that is because like nearly every promise from the left on trading new taxes for spending cuts, it was a bait-and-switch.

    "Vote now to impose higher taxes immediately and we promise to cut spending somewhere down the road" - is the siren song. Funny how it never works out that way. The spending cuts just magically disappear and we are all left with higher taxes and more debt.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 5, 2014 9:37 a.m.

    Samuelson makes a great case for a third party, one willing to deal with economic realities and forget petty partisan bickering. Such a party would need to propose implementing serious means testing for both Social Security and Medicare. It would also propose raising taxes at least to pre-Reagan levels. Short of this, we will never get our financial affairs in order, particularly with the demographic shift we are just beginning to see. Scrapping Obamacare for a single-payer system based on the blueprint of a successful system already in place somewhere in the world (Norway, France, Germany, Japan, take your pick) would also be a nice plank in the new party's platform. If such a party existed, I and many others like me would gladly give up our unaffiliated status. I doubt either of the current parties could hold a candle to such a party. Polls show that Americans are fed up with both, but particularly the GOP.

    March 5, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    Aging is a problem? I kind of see it as blessing, considering the alternative.

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    March 5, 2014 7:54 a.m.

    Roland Kayser

    How can cutting social security in exchange for higher taxes be an answer? SS has now been considered a successful program, that was supposed to be held seperate from the regular budget to begin with. Remember Gore, "lock box"? Both Republicans and Democrats violated the law by taking from the SS acount to fund other programs. Should never have happened in the first place. If any taxes should go up it should be specifically for the SS acount only. If Democrats really cared about old people and poor people as they "claim", then messing with a successful program that helps said people would be the last move they should make. What on Earth are Democrats trying to do? I can't figure them out, but if you are are a Democrat, maybe you do. What's up?

  • happy2bhere clearfield, UT
    March 5, 2014 7:06 a.m.

    I think the unmarried women having babies is by far the most troubling trend that has the most damaging overall impact to our society.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 5, 2014 12:18 a.m.

    President Obama offered cuts to social security in exchange for higher taxes. John Boehner agreed to the deal, but the Republican congress said no. It's not quite accurate to blame both parties equally, which is not to say that Democrats are blameless, they certainly are not.