US Political Discussion: Biden/Harris Edition (Rules in OP)

MaxOfMetal

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We are not predestined to be what the system dictates we be; we have personal agency.

I agree that the system is fucked up, especially here in the US, but that system will never lift us up in and of itself; at best, it provides a baseline and some resources for improvement. It’s up to us to take responsibility for making use of those resources and, if need be, fighting against the system when its in our best interest to do so. While the system is fucked, we can’t use it as an excuse for failing to exercise personal agency; that’s a cop out.



Of couse people need help from others to improve their lot in life - EVERYIONE does, no matter where they happen to start out, including those that start out at the top - none of can do it entirely on our own.

What I am saying is that it doesn’t matter how much someone hepls if the individual in question is not ready to do thier part (including accepting the help). As an extreme example, if you give a severe drug addict a million dollars, are they more likely to 1) automatically check themselves into rehab, get clean, buy a house, and get a job, or 2) do a million dollars worth of their drug of choice and end up back in the same situation where they started? Option 1 is possible, but it requires the individual to exercise personal agency and be willing to make the decisions and changes necessary to effect that outcome. It doesn’t matter how much others try to help that individual if the individual isn’t serious about helping themself first.



This is an example of exactly what I’m talking about. Your ex’s family encouraged you to help yourself in life, but all that encouragement would be nothing but hot air if you yourself hadn’t taken the initiative to make a plan to go to HVAC school and improve your situation.

YOU exercised your personal agency, YOU were willing to make the decisions and changes necessary to improve your situation, and YOU followed through and made it happen. Don’t get me wrong, you had help. From your ex, from her family, from your instructors, from your fellow students, from contacts that you made along the way, etc., etc. But ultimately, YOU made the decision to excercise your personal agency, take responsibility for your life, and do what was necessary to improve things for yourself,

If you hadn’t made that decision, all your ex’s family’s encouragement would have been hot air and you would still be working retail and/or restaurant jobs.

Don’t underestimate the part you played in that equation (I’m using a math analogy for Narad :lol:).

That decision to accept personal agency and responsibility acts as a catalyst that allows us to begin making the necessary changes, to receive the help from others, to recognize the opportunities available to us, etc. It is a necessary first step. Not the be all, end all, but a necessary first step.

And I’ve seen this way, way too many time from people, mostly immigrants, who start with nothing and end up multimillionaires, always via starting a business, to accept that the system, as fucked up as it is, predestines our lot in life. We have FAR more control over where we end up than most of us are willing to admit.

Again, these "penniless immigrant to millionaire" situations are extreme outliers. There is something like 45 million immigrants in this country, what percentage do you think will become millionaires by willing it so?

It's just as big of a cop-out to say that everyone just needs to "take responsibility" vs. addressing some big problems.
 

eaeolian

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Again, these "penniless immigrant to millionaire" situations are extreme outliers. There is something like 45 million immigrants in this country, what percentage do you think will become millionaires by willing it so?

It's just as big of a cop-out to say that everyone just needs to "take responsibility" vs. addressing some big problems.
Yeah, I have these arguments all the time - "oh, college is there for you if you try harder, no matter how poor you are. This one homeless person..."
Outliers are not an example, and anyone who tells you otherwise failed to understand the lessons of their statistics course.
 

wheresthefbomb

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I can relate to both sides of this conversation regarding family support. I had a lot of family support, and still do today. My family was and is also highly dysfunctional, and created a lot of barriers for me that I am still slowly figuring out how to navigate, including taking up a lot of my emotional and mental energy when I allow them to.

I also recognize the duality in myself that there are many issues for which I am not able to create an immediate solution (I need mental health counseling, I don't have insurance. I'm looking at jobs with insurance, but I don't have insurance until I do, and in the meanwhile my mental health is just waiting) and likewise issues for which I can directly rest at least a large part of the blame on myself (I don't go to work some days because I'm trapped in a depressive cycle, which makes my depressive cycle worse because I feel worthless and also recognize that I'm not taking care of my financial responsibilities which also feeds the cycle). Recognizing this definitely gives me some level of ability to do something about it, but ultimately, it's not that I'm not "ready," I am ready as fuck, I am tired of myself on the days that is kind of stuff happens. Conversely, in some ways, being able to recognize this cycle inside myself makes me feel even more helpless to do anything about it because of lack of immediate access to counseling/therapy.

On the other hand, I have also dealt a lot with the addiction personally, and the only thing I have ever come to in all of my time dealing with various attempts at sobriety is that I can't get clean until I'm ready to get clean. Wanting sobriety for myself more than I want whatever alcohol (or whatever else) offers me is the only way that I got, and stay, sober. I cannot imagine what the struggle would look like for someone whose life is bad enough not be able to rationalize themselves out of that trap. It is not at all difficult for me to imagine material conditions to which alcohol, or even more powerful numbing agents would be highly preferable on a day to day basis.
 

Mathemagician

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Funny enough, I actually do believe that people should provided access to “just” a baseline level of help.

Access to universal healthcare - so they can get preventative care which is WAY cheaper than treating a big problem later. And someone who works hard their life shouldn’t be bankrupted by getting a bad draw on some later health issue like the big C.

Tax-subsidized Access to University level education. Since all good white collar jobs are essentially “locked” behind ever inflating degree costs, giving people access to education removes a massive barrier to upward mobility. The older generations that think this is “unfair” say this because FOR THEM higher education was optional. The FREE high school education was enough to get started on the path to a good life with hard work.

Now due to educational inflation we need to offer at least a bachelors degree free. I’m fine with including trade schools as well. Not everybody wants to spend 4 years in a classroom and that A ok.

We can afford to pay through HS, adding on college isn’t some foreign concept.

Investments that benefit society as a whole like mass transit. Cars aren’t going anywhere, and they can be fun AF too. But investing in mass transit creates economic mobility as people can expand their job search and smaller brick & mortar business can appeal to clients from further away. It makes hiring and working easier on those who don’t live right next to somewhere hiring.

All of those have massive economic gains in the intermediate and long term.

But quite often the reason someone says they don’t support it is whining. “It’s not fair, I had to suffer to pay for something so you should too.”

It’s like being mad they cure a disease just because others have already died from it. Just because something sucked before, doesn’t mean it should keep sucking now.

But it’s way more fun to absolve oneself of any ability enact positive change and just blame the individual for not being able to hustle their way out of a situation. It’s also a great way to score political points by creating an “other” group and calling them lazy.
 

Thaeon

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I can relate to both sides of this conversation regarding family support. I had a lot of family support, and still do today. My family was and is also highly dysfunctional, and created a lot of barriers for me that I am still slowly figuring out how to navigate, including taking up a lot of my emotional and mental energy when I allow them to.

I also recognize the duality in myself that there are many issues for which I am not able to create an immediate solution (I need mental health counseling, I don't have insurance. I'm looking at jobs with insurance, but I don't have insurance until I do, and in the meanwhile my mental health is just waiting) and likewise issues for which I can directly rest at least a large part of the blame on myself (I don't go to work some days because I'm trapped in a depressive cycle, which makes my depressive cycle worse because I feel worthless and also recognize that I'm not taking care of my financial responsibilities which also feeds the cycle). Recognizing this definitely gives me some level of ability to do something about it, but ultimately, it's not that I'm not "ready," I am ready as fuck, I am tired of myself on the days that is kind of stuff happens. Conversely, in some ways, being able to recognize this cycle inside myself makes me feel even more helpless to do anything about it because of lack of immediate access to counseling/therapy.

On the other hand, I have also dealt a lot with the addiction personally, and the only thing I have ever come to in all of my time dealing with various attempts at sobriety is that I can't get clean until I'm ready to get clean. Wanting sobriety for myself more than I want whatever alcohol (or whatever else) offers me is the only way that I got, and stay, sober. I cannot imagine what the struggle would look like for someone whose life is bad enough not be able to rationalize themselves out of that trap. It is not at all difficult for me to imagine material conditions to which alcohol, or even more powerful numbing agents would be highly preferable on a day to day basis.

Outside of the addiction, I understand your struggle. I have days that I just can't. Until this month, I hadn't had insurance for years. I have a laundry list of issues that need addressing. Now I need the time to address them. But I feel you dude. When the anxiety hits, I am immobile. Literally stuck. I don't want to be stuck. I see the problem clear as day. But its like a war inside my head. Get up to do something about it? Panic. Have to distract myself. Get depressed because I'm having to avoid my issues just to approach addressing them. Panic more. Distract myself again. Its not a game of getting to a place where I want to take responsibility. I want the responsibility. I'm tired of the internal battle. Its exhausting. But I can't without help. And its a lot of, why is simple shit SO FUCKING HARD TO DO? Take responsibility for moving forward... You think I don't want to? I'm DYING to. Currently hoping I can get help quick so my internal issues don't jam up my situation such that I'm back to square one before I can get the help I need.

The entire concept of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps makes a false assumption. That everyone has the means to do so.
 

Thaeon

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Funny enough, I actually do believe that people should provided access to “just” a baseline level of help.

Access to universal healthcare - so they can get preventative care which is WAY cheaper than treating a big problem later. And someone who works hard their life shouldn’t be bankrupted by getting a bad draw on some later health issue like the big C.

Tax-subsidized Access to University level education. Since all good white collar jobs are essentially “locked” behind ever inflating degree costs, giving people access to education removes a massive barrier to upward mobility. The older generations that think this is “unfair” say this because FOR THEM higher education was optional. The FREE high school education was enough to get started on the path to a good life with hard work.

Now due to educational inflation we need to offer at least a bachelors degree free. I’m fine with including trade schools as well. Not everybody wants to spend 4 years in a classroom and that A ok.

We can afford to pay through HS, adding on college isn’t some foreign concept.

Investments that benefit society as a whole like mass transit. Cars aren’t going anywhere, and they can be fun AF too. But investing in mass transit creates economic mobility as people can expand their job search and smaller brick & mortar business can appeal to clients from further away. It makes hiring and working easier on those who don’t live right next to somewhere hiring.

All of those have massive economic gains in the intermediate and long term.

But quite often the reason someone says they don’t support it is whining. “It’s not fair, I had to suffer to pay for something so you should too.”

It’s like being mad they cure a disease just because others have already died from it. Just because something sucked before, doesn’t mean it should keep sucking now.

But it’s way more fun to absolve oneself of any ability enact positive change and just blame the individual for not being able to hustle their way out of a situation. It’s also a great way to score political points by creating an “other” group and calling them lazy.

Yeah, and I see this as the cost of being in a nation like ours. Of being a citizen. People say they want the choice to help others with these things how they see fit, yet, history shows that given the choice, people shirk that responsibility of citizenship and investing in the people around them. Which means, people only want the choice, so that they can opt out of responsibility to their own society.
 

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Yeah, and I see this as the cost of being in a nation like ours. Of being a citizen. People say they want the choice to help others with these things how they see fit, yet, history shows that given the choice, people shirk that responsibility of citizenship and investing in the people around them. Which means, people only want the choice, so that they can opt out of responsibility to their own society.

The truly ironic thing is that it’s done out of pure spite/whining. Out of 330 million people the median us income in 2020 was $60k for men and $51k for women.

So 50% of the country makes barely enough money to rent a one bedroom apartment and afford groceries and gas and would benefit from these policies.

Because the bulk of the tax burden should come from a wealth tax on net worths over $1 billion (liquid or not)

And a progressive tax system that’s easier on those making less than $1mm/yr. Offset by a higher corporate tax system. Because higher corporate taxes encourage companies to pay out more of their earnings to their employees and to invest in more benefits/etc.

But people are married to the idea that Elon Musk/Tesla should have a low %, and that they themselves should have a higher %. Because somehow when they retire with maybe $2-4 million in retirement assets in their 60’s that they’ll be just like him.

Like bro $3mm is fucking nothing and a large part of the population needs to realize that they are the broke people. They’re just “less” broke.

American citizens were fucking killed by companies fighting for labor protections, weekends off, benefits etc. but they think they don’t “need” unions in low wage jobs because they can single handedly rise above their peers and ascend from wage slave to working poor.

Meanwhile apple is coaching store management on anti-union language and rhetoric. God forbid hard working people get better benefits and more days off.
 

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The truly ironic thing is that it’s done out of pure spite/whining. Out of 330 million people the median us income in 2020 was $60k for men and $51k for women.

So 50% of the country makes barely enough money to rent a one bedroom apartment and afford groceries and gas and would benefit from these policies.

Because the bulk of the tax burden should come from a wealth tax on net worths over $1 billion (liquid or not)

And a progressive tax system that’s easier on those making less than $1mm/yr. Offset by a higher corporate tax system. Because higher corporate taxes encourage companies to pay out more of their earnings to their employees and to invest in more benefits/etc.

But people are married to the idea that Elon Musk/Tesla should have a low %, and that they themselves should have a higher %. Because somehow when they retire with maybe $2-4 million in retirement assets in their 60’s that they’ll be just like him.

Like bro $3mm is fucking nothing and a large part of the population needs to realize that they are the broke people. They’re just “less” broke.

American citizens were fucking killed by companies fighting for labor protections, weekends off, benefits etc. but they think they don’t “need” unions in low wage jobs because they can single handedly rise above their peers and ascend from wage slave to working poor.

Meanwhile apple is coaching store management on anti-union language and rhetoric. God forbid hard working people get better benefits and more days off.

I will say, that while I worked for Apple, I was well taken care of as a technician. The benefits were the best I've ever had. The sales people didn't make enough though. But, they were constantly promoting people from sales to better positions. If you took it seriously at all, you got a better position in less than 3-4 months. I have no idea what it looks like now. Most of my coworkers from then are working for big tech either in Austin or for facebook or google.
 

tedtan

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The problem with that thought process is that you're taking someone who has already seized "Agency" (to use the current vernacular), and comparing them to someone who hasn't. So you're comparing apples to oranges.
What I’m doing is stating that seizing agency is the key transition necessary to improve one’s lot in life and using some people who have seized agency as an example to illustrate my point, not implying that everyone who wants to be rich can get there through hard work. Also, though I used financial success as an example, the same holds for other areas of life such as getting clean, getting help for mental health issues, having a good relationship with a wife or girlfriend, being a goodm parent, etc.

The folks I referenced are from all over the world (off the top of my head, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Nigeria, Mexico, and Venezuela, though I know I’m missing many other countries). Some of these folks have mental health issue, some have substance abuse issues, some have difunctional families, some have no families here with them in the States.

What they have in common is 1) they have seized agency, and 2) they haven’t let a fucked up system hold them back.


I guess the problem becomes, how does a person become ready to do their part?
Sometimes it happens organically, where a person simply realizes they have to do something. But that’s probably a small minority of cases, and I don’t know how to motivate someone in the rest of the cases. Someone else may, but I have yet to figure that out.


What happens if there isn't time for them to get into some ideal headspace to accept the kind of help you want to give them?
Unfortunately, if someone isn’t ready, the effort expended in order to help them is typically wasted. That doesn’t mean that its not worth trying to help them, only that the effort typically does not bear fruit. Or if it does, it takes a long enough time to show up that it is difficult to link it back to the initial effort to help.


Again, these "penniless immigrant to millionaire" situations are extreme outliers. There is something like 45 million immigrants in this country, what percentage do you think will become millionaires by willing it so?
Those achieving that level of financial success are a small portion of all immigrant, sure. But I only used financial success as an example, not the ultimate goal. The same thing goes for getting clean, getting help with mental health issues, having a good, healthy and happy family life, or whatever other area we want to achieve a change for the better. I won’t happen to us on its own, we have to help make it happen.

Can anyone become a good musician, no matter how talented, without putting in the time practicing and playing with others?


It's just as big of a cop-out to say that everyone just needs to "take responsibility" vs. addressing some big problems.
If you’ve read any of my prior posts, you know I am heavily in favor of improving the social and financial support systems here in the US.

What I’m saying is that you’re not going to get rich without putting in the effort unless you just happen to have a rich uncle with no other heirs to which to leave his estate. And you’re not going to get clean without putting in the effort to get clean. And you’re not going to have a great relationship with you wife without putting in the effort. And you’re not going to be a great parent without putting in the effort.

These things don’t just manifest out of thin air, we have to realize that we need to do our part and then take action to do so before these things can occur. That doesn’t mean that we are left all on our own, but without us seizing agency and doing our part, they won’t happen. No one can give them to us, and, if they could, we probably wouldn’t realize what a gift we had received and would likely squander it.


but ultimately, it's not that I'm not "ready," I am ready as fuck, I am tired of myself on the days that is kind of stuff happens. Conversely, in some ways, being able to recognize this cycle inside myself makes me feel even more helpless to do anything about it because of lack of immediate access to counseling/therapy.
Yeah, I’m not saying being ready is all it takes, only that being ready to do what is necessary is a necessary first step.


On the other hand, I have also dealt a lot with the addiction personally, and the only thing I have ever come to in all of my time dealing with various attempts at sobriety is that I can't get clean until I'm ready to get clean. Wanting sobriety for myself more than I want whatever alcohol (or whatever else) offers me is the only way that I got, and stay, sober. I cannot imagine what the struggle would look like for someone whose life is bad enough not be able to rationalize themselves out of that trap. It is not at all difficult for me to imagine material conditions to which alcohol, or even more powerful numbing agents would be highly preferable on a day to day basis.
This is a good example of what I’m saying. Once you make the decision, the work, and the help from others, can begin. But if you’re not ready, any help offered s probably not going to actually help.

Funny enough, I actually do believe that people should provided access to “just” a baseline level of help.

Access to universal healthcare - so they can get preventative care which is WAY cheaper than treating a big problem later. And someone who works hard their life shouldn’t be bankrupted by getting a bad draw on some later health issue like the big C.

Tax-subsidized Access to University level education. Since all good white collar jobs are essentially “locked” behind ever inflating degree costs, giving people access to education removes a massive barrier to upward mobility. The older generations that think this is “unfair” say this because FOR THEM higher education was optional. The FREE high school education was enough to get started on the path to a good life with hard work.

Now due to educational inflation we need to offer at least a bachelors degree free. I’m fine with including trade schools as well. Not everybody wants to spend 4 years in a classroom and that A ok.

We can afford to pay through HS, adding on college isn’t some foreign concept.

Investments that benefit society as a whole like mass transit. Cars aren’t going anywhere, and they can be fun AF too. But investing in mass transit creates economic mobility as people can expand their job search and smaller brick & mortar business can appeal to clients from further away. It makes hiring and working easier on those who don’t live right next to somewhere hiring.

All of those have massive economic gains in the intermediate and long term.

But quite often the reason someone says they don’t support it is whining. “It’s not fair, I had to suffer to pay for something so you should too.”

It’s like being mad they cure a disease just because others have already died from it. Just because something sucked before, doesn’t mean it should keep sucking now.

But it’s way more fun to absolve oneself of any ability enact positive change and just blame the individual for not being able to hustle their way out of a situation. It’s also a great way to score political points by creating an “other” group and calling them lazy.
Agreed.
 

tedtan

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Because the bulk of the tax burden should come from a wealth tax on net worths over $1 billion (liquid or not)
We already have property taxes on real estate and and capitals gains taxes on profits from investments (when the gain is realized, not while it is merely held), so how would you implement that, though?
 

TedEH

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Unfortunately, if someone isn’t ready, the effort expended in order to help them is typically wasted. That doesn’t mean that its not worth trying to help them, only that the effort typically does not bear fruit. Or if it does, it takes a long enough time to show up that it is difficult to link it back to the initial effort to help.
I remain unconvinced, since that's not been my experience - but then you're talking anecdote vs. anecdote vs. personal philosophies on what "ready to help themselves" means, Maybe you're right or maybe you're wrong, but in both cases it becomes really easy to say "my help would do nothing" so that you don't have to say "I just don't want to help", whether there's truth to either statement or not.
 

MaxOfMetal

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@tedtan

I guess what I'm getting at is that I see tons of folks trying their absolute damndest and still failing. That trying isn't really the issue I've ever seen. I can't tell you how many job fairs that I've attended on behalf of my union and the company I work for. There are folks so desperate for a chance and even if they get it they'll never make it. They just won't. Not because they just don't have what it takes, but because it's a coin toss, complete luck or chance or whatever.

I know you're not some über libertarian, survival of the fittest at the behest of our corporate overlords type. We have a lot of the same beliefs and politics, and as you've expanded on your original point it makes more sense. What I'm saying is I think we agree on a lot of stuff, just not this exactly. :)
 

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We already have property taxes on real estate and and capitals gains taxes on profits from investments (when the gain is realized, not while it is merely held), so how would you implement that, though?

higher taxes on profits from other sources for one. I also think that not taxing gains on investments while they are still invested is a mistake. If they gain 50% in a stock one year and leave it there while markets trend down in a poor decision and lose 75% the next year, and pull their money at a loss, they get to write that off. Any other business would have been taxed on their profits and held accountable for them and thus forced to make better decisions with the money. Its zero sum in this case because either way it creates a very specific taxation advantage for the investor that allows for a situation where there is only benefit whether or not an investment fails. Its either a write-off or they don't pay taxes on it until they draw on it. Yet for all intents and purposes, its part of their valuation. Meaning they benefit in loans against net worth granting them financial power. Its not a fair practice. Sure, its high risk. But so is opening any business.
 

Thaeon

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I remain unconvinced, since that's not been my experience - but then you're talking anecdote vs. anecdote vs. personal philosophies on what "ready to help themselves" means, Maybe you're right or maybe you're wrong, but in both cases it becomes really easy to say "my help would do nothing" so that you don't have to say "I just don't want to help", whether there's truth to either statement or not.

To me this is the difference between the perspective of the inability to distinguish impotence and malice, or choosing not to attribute to malice that which can be easily explained otherwise.

The assumption of ill intent is tantamount to paranoia. Best to assume positive intent and act as if the person needing help will respond well. And if they don't, reason out why its not working instead of assuming they're not ready or are unable to receive it.
 

wheresthefbomb

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I think this stuff is a lot more important on a personal level. Recognizing that someone is not in a place to accept your help can be critical on that level. I have been in multiple relationships that I suffered during due ultimately to my prolonged inability to recognize this about someone. It leads to resentment, abuse, and all kinds of dysfunction. You very often can't save people on an individual basis.

There's a give and take as well. In my experience you may have to offer help a few times before it's received. I know that help I have been offered by others was rarely welcome the first time, especially the younger I was. So it's all about a balance of knowing yourself and knowing at what point you tip over into pouring from and empty cup, because at that point you're both going down together.

I don't think this kind of reasoning applies as well on a societal level, though. In my way of thinking, our collective responsibility to each other just from a pragmatic perspective of having a better society is limitless. Our collective cup is much more than the sum of its parts, or at least has that very real potential.
 

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We already have property taxes on real estate and and capitals gains taxes on profits from investments (when the gain is realized, not while it is merely held), so how would you implement that, though?

So I love explaining boring concepts:

Those trying to punish regular people making under $1mm/yr and run of the mill successful people clearing $20mm/yr gross isn’t how you fix a broken tax system.

Corporate tax rates are separate from individual tax rates. Corporate rates rates should cap out at 50-65% at the highest marginal rates once revenues start entering the billions per year level.

Not for mom and pops making $20million/year but for fortune 500’s making hundreds of billions per year.

A 1% wealth tax per billion dollars of net worth on the individual would mean that for every billion an individual has (of which there are maybe a few hundred people in this country at that level) they need to come up with $10mm no matter what other taxes they do or don’t pay. I won’t get into the financials of how ludicrously easy this is to resolve. The argument “yeah but it’s all invested not liquid”. Doesn’t hold water when you can borrow against the assets for next to nothing and therefore defer paying any actual capital gains tax as it isn’t “sold”. Then they get to keep the securities and continue to experience appreciation on that asset.

People vote against taxes because the lobbyists ensure politicians write them to punish American citizens that need every dollar they get just to live. Of course that would make for an easy bill to shoot down. And that prevents proper taxation at the highest levels, where the IRS doesn’t have the teeth to go after.

Regular people shouldn’t be hitting a 30-40% marginal rate in the mid 100k’s is what I’m saying. And making $400k isn’t “rich” that’s just normal hard work/upper middle class.

But you find someone who thinks there is room to improve things and they say stuff like “tax everyone making over $200k”. Almost missing the point entirely of not punishing regular people.

Also universal healthcare would mean that smaller businesses could better compete as they won’t have to set aside precious dollars to offer benefits that compete with larger established firms. That’s actually pro-business, but large companies lobby against that.

Math is boring and it takes time to pick through good ideas versus good propaganda.
 

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higher taxes on profits from other sources for one. I also think that not taxing gains on investments while they are still invested is a mistake. If they gain 50% in a stock one year and leave it there while markets trend down in a poor decision and lose 75% the next year, and pull their money at a loss, they get to write that off. Any other business would have been taxed on their profits and held accountable for them and thus forced to make better decisions with the money. Its zero sum in this case because either way it creates a very specific taxation advantage for the investor that allows for a situation where there is only benefit whether or not an investment fails. Its either a write-off or they don't pay taxes on it until they draw on it. Yet for all intents and purposes, its part of their valuation. Meaning they benefit in loans against net worth granting them financial power. Its not a fair practice. Sure, its high risk. But so is opening any business.
I agree in principle that we need to do a better job broadening the tax base towards the top, and I'd love to see a few additional higher marginal tax rates.

Here, specifically, I disagree though. Unrealized gains are just that - paper gains. You can't use unrealized gains in Apple stock to buy a yacht. You can't even use them to buy groceries. They're merely the potential for gains if and when you choose to sell. If Yoy buy shares in Apple and it goes up 50% one year, you continue holding, and then it goes down 75% the next and you sell at a net loss of 62.5% of your initial investment, you get to write that off on your taxes because you lost money. It doesn't matter if you lost money because you were really smart or really dumb, the tax code doesn't make moral judgements on why gains or losses happen, it just taxes them. This would also likely have the effect of forcing people to sell to pay tax bills if unrealized investment gains or losses are large relative to current income (read: most older Americans approching retirement, during market volatility) which is the kind of thing that isn't great for market efficiency, having a whole bunch of market oarticipants transacting for non-economic reasons.

Where I would like to see tax reform on investments is in two areas - one, the long term capital gains tax rate being well below most Americans' ordinary income tax rates rewards capital over labor, which to me doesn't make much sense, and I'd support taxing realized investment gains as ordinary income. Two, I'm ultmately agnostic on the estate tax question with one important caveat - we should either have an estate tx, no exceptions, or if we don't, then we should do away with the resetting of cost basis at time of death. If someone leaves me $5mm in appreciated Apple stock bought at a cost basis of $2 a share, that sneaks under the estate tax cap, but those shares come to me both untaxed, and at a cost basis of whatever their market value was when I inherited them (currently about $146 a share). That's a pretty huge way to shelter investment gains.

I'd also rather see additional higher marginal tax rates than higher corporate taxes - corporations are essentially pass-thru vehicles, I care way less what Amazon pays in income taxes than i do what Jeff Bezos pays in income taxes, and I'd happily trade lower corporate tax rates for higher personal ones on the ultra rich.
 


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