Debunking Cain: Turning 999 Upside Down

Herman Cain’s policies escaped close scrutiny while his presidential campaign lingered on the margins, but the businessman/radio personality’s recent burst into the frontrunner’s box targets him as a candidate to be taken seriously. He’s armed with what he calls his 999 Plan, and he’s dangerous. Cain’s plan is ultimately to phase in the Fair Tax in lieu of the current individual and corporate tax system, and that tax is anything but fair to middle class Americans, particularly retirees.

Cain’s 999 Plan eliminates the estate, capital gains, and payroll taxes. It replaces the 35% corporate income tax with a 9% Business Flat Tax (gross income less all investments, purchases from other businesses, and dividends paid to shareholders, i.e., it’s a 9% payroll tax, since wages are the primary expenses paid to individuals). It replaces the progressive personal income tax with a 9% Individual Flat Tax (gross income less charitable deductions). Finally, it adds a 9% National Sales Tax as the first step toward implementing the Fair Tax.

Cain’s 999 Plan is by his own assertion revenue neutral, i.e., the total amount of tax raised will be the same as under the current tax system. Assuming that to be true, a simple example, without serious number crunching, demonstrates how his plan MUST result in a massive redistribution of the tax burden away from the wealthiest Americans.

The wealthy will have their marginal income tax rate cut from 35% to 9% and capital gains escape taxation entirely. Even if they spent their entire income every year (unlikely), subjecting it to the 9% sales tax, their marginal tax rate would only be 18%. Take this sizable reduction in marginal tax rates, add the zero tax on capital gains, and you get an historic tax cut for the wealthy. If the 999 Plan is revenue neutral, and taxes are cut for businesses and the wealthy, then some other class of citizens must be paying a lot more taxes.

Numbers crunchers will surely have a field day turning Cain’s 999 Plan upside down to identify the losers. (Some wise guy will no doubt label it the 666 Plan and pronounce that the devil is in the details.) But even at the intuitive level, one class will clearly bear a disproportionate and unfair burden.

Middle class RETIREES will be devastated by this “fair” tax plan. For those who consume more than they earn–think retirees living off savings–the national sales tax will create a huge tax burden where none existed before. Their savings have already been taxed when originally earned under the income tax, and now the sales tax would tax the same earnings again when consumed! Those retirees who scrimped and saved during their careers to fund retirement rather than buying expensive cars and vacations will find themselves forced back into the work force to fund the shortfall.

Even the national sales tax manifesto, “Emancipating America from the Income Tax: How a National Sales Tax Would Work” by David R. Burton and Dan R. Mastromarco, warns that transition relief to avoid this horrible inequity is essential. Yet somehow Cain left this out of his plan. He’s got a giant personality made for radio and the campaign trail, but it seems Herman Cain is just another conservative more interested in massive tax cuts for the rich than a truly fair tax system.

12 comments on “Debunking Cain: Turning 999 Upside Down

  1. As predicted, some wise “guy” has turned 999 upside down and said the devil is in the details, but I didn’t think it would be on national TV. Watch Michele Bachmann steal my line almost verbatim at the end of this short clip from Tuesday’s Republican presidential candidate debate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeDMClOSiNg

  2. This post has quickly become my most popular one, and I’ve been asked to demonstrate more specifically how a typical retiree could be clobbered by Mr. Cain’s 999 Plan. I’ll use a middle class retiree couple with a very simple balance sheet and income as an example. Also for simplicity’s sake, I’ll assume the couple withdraws 4% of each investment asset annually (i.e., a prudent withdrawal but without optimizing the source for tax planning purposes). I’ll also assume they spend all income and withdrawals.

    Assets
    Savings Account: $100,000
    Stock Mutual Fund: $100,000 (unrealized gain=50%)
    Roth IRA: $100,000
    Traditional IRA: $100,000
    Home: $200,000 (no mortgage)

    Income/Deductions
    Social Security: $30,000
    Interest & Dividends: $2,000
    Capital Gains: $2,000 ($4,000 withdrawal, 50% gain)
    Traditional IRA Withdrawal: $4,000

    Cash Flow
    Social Security: $30,000
    Interest & Dividends: $2,000
    Investment Withdrawals: $16,000

    Because their Social Security income and capital gains are exempt from tax and personal exemptions and deductions will easily offset their $8,000 in taxable income (plus substantially more, if they had higher income), this retiree couple will owe no federal income tax under the current system even though they have $48,000 of cash flow to spend.

    However, under Mr. Cain’s 999 Plan, they will owe 9% national sales tax on all taxable sales, which could be up to $4,320. This may be a couple already on a tight budget, especially if they have significant medical expenses.

    Advocates of the 999 Plan will argue that because the corporate income tax is also reduced to 9%, corporations will reduce prices as embedded taxes are lowered. But pricing depends on many factors, and no one can predict the impact on any family’s budget based simply on a possible drop in embedded taxes. First, the tax reduction only applies to profits, and profit margins vary across products and industries. Profits may be 10% or less than price, so reductions in income tax rates will have far less impact on price than a direct sales tax. Second, Cain promises widening of the tax base as rates are dropped, so actual income taxes won’t drop as much as a drop in tax rate alone would suggest. Third, the sales of some products are more sensitive to price fluctuations than others. A pro sports fan might not hesitate to pay an extra 9% and there is no competition to drive prices down. Corporations will not necessarily pass along tax savings to customers, and the law cannot require it.

    Clearly, even this modest income couple will have a dramatic tax increase under Mr. Cain’s 999 Plan. If you think I’ve misinterpreted the general workings of the plan, please comment below.

  3. Larry,

    Unfortunately, you’ve made some very large mistakes here.

    If the 999 Plan is revenue neutral, and taxes are cut for businesses and the wealthy, then some other class of citizens must be paying a lot more taxes.

    That’s not necessarily true. Only people who use static scoring come to that conclusion (which is a model that biases toward higher tax rates). Lowering taxes can actually drive an increase in revenue to the Federal government for many reasons, a few of which being less evasion, lower unemployment and an increased tax base.

    Claiming that lower taxes for one group shifts the burden to another assumes that all other factors in revenue collection remain stagnant, which is an impossible assumption to make.

    Did you also happen to factor in that illegal aliens, drug dealers, and pimps will be paying taxes under 999; three groups of many more who currently don’t pay any taxes into the system? Claiming the poor will take the hit is a nice appeal to emotion, but lacks factual basis.

    Middle class RETIREES will be devastated by this “fair” tax plan. For those who consume more than they earn–think retirees living off savings–the national sales tax will create a huge tax burden where none existed before.

    This is also untrue. In fact, they pay more of a burden under the current system. The average price of every product they buy in retirement is inflated 22% by embedded taxes. 999 simply replaces invisible embedded taxes with a visible tax. Embedded taxes will drop and be replaced with the 9%. Retirees will suffer no additional burden in this regard.

    Their savings have already been taxed when originally earned under the income tax, and now the sales tax would tax the same earnings again when consumed!

    If they saved in a retirement vehicle, their income saved was not taxed. This is false. Let’s use the example of an IRA: the money they set aside in the IRA was never taxed. And under 999, when they withdraw it, it still won’t be taxed. I don’t see how this hammers retirees. Not to mention that when they spend the money, the price of the product they buy will have an embedded tax far less than the current 22%.

    Those retirees who scrimped and saved during their careers to fund retirement rather than buying expensive cars and vacations will find themselves forced back into the work force to fund the shortfall.

    Yet another meaningless and blatant appeal to emotion.

    Advocates of the 999 Plan will argue that because the corporate income tax is also reduced to 9%, corporations will reduce prices as embedded taxes are lowered. But pricing depends on many factors, and no one can predict the impact on any family’s budget based simply on a possible drop in embedded taxes. First, the tax reduction only applies to profits, and profit margins vary across products and industries. Profits may be 10% or less than price, so reductions in income tax rates will have far less impact on price than a direct sales tax.

    Profit margin is 10% or less in many industries but a product goes through multiple channels of 10% margin before it gets to the consumer. The accepted average amount of embedded taxes in any good is 22%, not 10% as you propose.

    Corporations will not necessarily pass along tax savings to customers, and the law cannot require it.

    As soon as one company lowers the price, the others will follow suit. You think WalMart, who competes with thousands of different companies across many industries isn’t going to pass on the reduction? In just a few months, through competitive market forces, we will experience a total price reset that negates any 9% tax.

    Keep in mind that all of the “999 Debunked” articles are based on a static analysis and not a dynamic analysis. For decades it has been shown (through real world results compared to the static analysis) that static modeling is inherently flawed. The only way to truly and effectively analyze economic ideas is through dynamic scoring. Unfortunately, static scoring is biased toward higher tax rates and thus people who support higher taxes prop up static scoring as legitimate when, in fact, it’s not.

  4. Thanks for starting an intelligent debate on these issues, Kevin. The problem I have with most of your arguments is that they call for speculation. You can guess at how much additional tax will be paid by illegal immigrants, pimps and the like, but you can’t predict it with any accuracy. Here are clear, provable facts: (1) wealthy taxpayers will pay a lot less tax under the 999 Plan, and (2) poor and middle class citizens, many of them retirees, will pay more direct taxes under the 999 Plan.

    Your assumption that embedded taxes will be reduced and passed along as price reductions is speculative. I don’t know where you got the 11% figure but will assume for the moment it is correct. You sound like an intelligent and fair commentator. Since corporate taxes are not going to zero (the rate is still 9% and, while details are sketchy, presumably 999 will include some corporate base broadening), I assume you’re not arguing that the entire 11% would be reduced to zero. You have also ignored price elasticity concerns. Simply because inputs have gotten less costly, doesn’t mean prices will change, either immediately or over time. In a perfect market, maybe, but we have few perfect markets. Also, not every business is subject to corporate tax rates (sole proprietorships, partnerships and professionals), so even if embedded tax reductions were perfectly matched by price reductions, many products and services purchased by consumers would be unaffected (or less affected, depending on the embedded taxes of their inputs).

    So, in fairness, the 9% sales tax may be offset by some price reductions, but you can’t quantify it. The benefit of price reductions will be under the control of business interests who will have every incentive to NOT pass along price reductions until forced by competition. If I’m a retiree or middle class citizen looking at a significant and certain direct tax increase (see my example), I’m awfully reluctant to support a plan that clearly reduces taxes for wealthy citizens and offers a possibility of SPECULATIVE offsets to PART of my tax increase, depending upon decisions by corporate interests and the makeup of goods and services I consume.

  5. Larry,

    Both of our arguments are speculative. Unfortunately, only one of them is realistically speculative.

    Your argument speculates that every other factor BESIDES the tax rate will remain the same: Consumer behavior, corporate behavior, GDP, unemployment, compliance costs, etc. And it speculates that the market is inefficient and competition isn’t a large influencer on economic activity.

    My argument speculates the opposite: that all of those factors will change.

    Which is the more probable outcome?

    (1) wealthy taxpayers will pay a lot less tax under the 999 Plan, and (2) poor and middle class citizens, many of them retirees, will pay more direct taxes under the 999 Plan.

    1. The wealthy paying less than they do now is not a pro or con of the plan unless you’re a class warfare strategist or think taxation is zero sum. What’s your prerogative for making that an argument other than appealing to emotion?

    2. I’ve already debunked how retirees will pay more under the plan. They’ll pay more on paper, but they’ll pay less in reality. This is because they’ll be paying a 9% VISIBLE tax instead of a 22% INVISIBLE tax. If you are truly concerned about retirees, you’d be lobbying for 999. If you were concerned only with protecting the status quo, you’d falsely argue that retirees will “pay more” under 999. Which side do you choose to be on?

    Also, not every business is subject to corporate tax rates (sole proprietorships, partnerships and professionals), so even if embedded tax reductions were perfectly matched by price reductions, many products and services purchased by consumers would be unaffected (or less affected, depending on the embedded taxes of their inputs).

    Which brings us back to your “the rich paying less is bad” theory. If a small business owner operates an LLC and the taxes pass through and he makes $250k a year, he’s in a much higher tax bracket than a 9% bracket. Those are “costs” that still get passed on in the form of lower wages or embedded in higher prices.

    Guess what? Under 999 his tax burden is not so high and he is able to drop prices, raise wages, or hire more workers: all bonuses for the entire population.

    Lastly, ALL businesses pay payroll taxes for all employees. Those are embedded regardless of whether or not you pay corporate taxes. So pretending that some prices won’t be effected by 999 because some businesses aren’t affected by 999 is not correct. Every business is impacted by 999.

    The benefit of price reductions will be under the control of business interests who will have every incentive to NOT pass along price reductions until forced by competition.

    Which in reality, happens in about 30 seconds. Gigantic corporates, like Wal Mart, who thrive on offering the lowest price will lead the pack. Competitive market forces are unstoppable. Assuming business owners can just not change the price assumes that business owners have control over the price, which is not correct. The price is set by the market, not the “business interests” as you put it.

    This is ESPECIALLY true for the commodity items that people keep demagoguing saying “Milk will be 18% more expensive”. It won’t be. Market pressures influence commodity items in a heartbeat. If you’re talking about an Apple Macbook Pro, yes, that price may take much longer to come down or it may never come down because Apple has done such a great job of positioning their brand. But that’s where 999’s no tax on used items policy comes in so handy. Buy a used Macbook Pro and pay no tax. Done.

    Please reconsider your notions. Read “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell so you can understand how complex the reality is and how absolutely efficient markets actually are.

  6. Thanks, Kevin. I’m not going to respond point by point because I don’t think the last comment adds much to the debate. Funny how the class warriors are always the ones whining about class warfare.

    The economy did just fine under the present system, with higher marginal tax rates for the wealthy, in the Clinton years, among other boom periods. Defending this system is not class warfare. Introducing a new system with clear benefits for the rich and speculative (maybe even unlikely) benefits for the middle class and poor is continued class warfare waged by the privileged class. The 1% enriched itself with the Bush tax cuts and led the entire country into an economic disaster while widening the gap between the rich and the rest. THEY will continue to wage class warfare and feed at the trough as long as slick talkers can convince the electorate it’s in their interest in the long run or is somehow un-American to protest. Occupy Wall Street doesn’t know it yet, but they will become the defenders of the oppressed majority sooner or later. It’s not a war anybody wants or knows how to fight yet but, in the end, hogs get slaughtered, at the polls or in the streets. The revolution’s here.

    As far as market behavior, neither of us can predict it, but markets are simply means to an end, not gods to be worshiped. They are imperfect, and even when they function naturally, the result is not always to be applauded. Commodities markets like milk and pork bellies are the easy ones; you want to bet on how the medical community will reprice services when embedded taxes are reduced? How about on-patent prescription drugs? Cable TV? Wireless telephone service? Pro sports tickets? Foreign oil? You want to recite Sowell and efficient markets to explain the real estate bubble, monopolies and cartels? Are you pleased with the results of the unregulated capital market in credit default swaps?

    No, there’s no reason to respond point by point. How can I argue with “abracadabra, free markets will make you less screwed if you give them enough time”?

  7. Larry,

    You’re clearly avoiding the debate now. But I’ll bite:

    The economy did just fine under the present system, with higher marginal tax rates for the wealthy, in the Clinton years, among other boom periods.

    The Clinton boom had nothing to do with tax rates and all to do with the dot com tech growth explosion.

    Defending this system is not class warfare.

    It absolutely is. You’re defending a system where the top 10% of wage earners pay 70% of the tax burden and the bottom 50% pay 3%. It’s an anti-wealth, anti-growth, anti-success system. And you have the nerve to say the wealthy don’t pay their “fair share.” What a scam.

    Introducing a new system with clear benefits for the rich and speculative (maybe even unlikely) benefits for the middle class and poor is continued class warfare waged by the privileged class.

    You’re supporting keeping a system that only benefits those who pay nothing. The alternative option (999) benefits everyone by making the tax code more transparent and fair, replacing a system where the government picks winners and losers based on nothing but lobbyist money and votes and levels the playing field by discarding decades of preferential treatment for the most influential.

    The 1% enriched itself with the Bush tax cuts and led the entire country into an economic disaster while widening the gap between the rich and the rest.

    And now you show your true colors: wealth envy. And your history is wrong. The government altered the playing field and banks took advantage of it. You should be protesting the government, not the banks. They did exactly what the government (Democrats, by the way) incentivized them to do. That’s why we need to protect our system of Capitalism from becoming a system of Corporatism. Some of us learned the lesson and some of us (you) are still misplacing blame.

    You want to recite Sowell and efficient markets to explain the real estate bubble, monopolies and cartels?

    Yes. Because there has never been a monopoly in the United States that didn’t form without the help of government. If you can name one, I’ll be impressed.

    Markets lose efficiency when government involves itself, which has been the point of small government activists from day one. The housing bubble bust was DIRECTLY caused by government intervention in the market. You think the government relieving banks of the risk of high risk loans had nothing to do with the bust? You’re comical.

  8. 1. My point on tax rates, which you confirm, is that the historically moderate rates of the Clinton era stifled neither growth nor innovation. They worked fine and no benefits were achieved in resetting rates to their current historical lows under Bush II and his Republican cohorts in Congress.

    2. The imbalance in income tax allocation results from the imbalance in income. When you consider all taxes, most people pay something. The free market system is only as good as the distribution of wealth it produces. Yes, everyone should work hard and innovators should be rewarded. No, the inventor of the better toilet bowl cleaner should not control unlimited wealth while children go without food. If we have created a system that allows this to happen, it should be modified by government intervention. Contracts and free markets themselves do not exist in nature, so we already know you are a fan of government intervention when it helps the advantaged class. I agree with you there, but we have a fundamental disagreement on the scope of the free enterprise system, so beating your chest and declaring you undying love for free markets will do no further good. You are advocating a system that exponentially increases the relative wealth of the advantaged if unchecked. I’m not saying “a plasma tv in every house!” but a decent breakfast and health care would be nice.

    3. You said: “You’re supporting keeping a system that only benefits those who pay nothing. The alternative option (999) benefits everyone by making the tax code more transparent and fair, replacing a system where the government picks winners and losers based on nothing but lobbyist money and votes and levels the playing field by discarding decades of preferential treatment for the most influential.”

    This is insane. I think you’re just funning with me now. The middle class and poor benefit from lack of transparency? It’s more fair to impose a regressive tax than a progressive one? The government unfairly “picks” winners and losers by adding progressivity to the tax code? The wealthy need the playing field leveled against those influential poor folks who live in squalor and can’t feed and educate their children? Do you really think my lack of response to this idiocy reflects on my withdrawal from intelligent debate? Sorry, we’re cutting you off–no more Red Bull and alcohol for you, sir.

    4. No wealth envy here, I’m just in favor of a fair distribution of it. If the system doesn’t provide a fair allocation, fix the system. There’s no assumption that an unregulated system is better than a regulated one. I don’t think you’re arguing for absolutely no regulations (no police, military, contracts, patents, property rights), you’re just against regulations that adversely effect you.

    5. There’s a lot of blame to go around for the financial crisis. Poor government incentives to banks was a small part. Criminally negligent corporate risk management by the big banks is the biggest, followed closely by criminally reckless loans made by small mortgage brokers. Without the careless and reckless behavior, there is no crisis. Incentives did not “make” anybody be stupid or reckless. Lack of oversight and regulation, a Republican thing under a Republican watchdog, prevented its discovery.

    6. I’m not going to list monopolies and oligopolies and then debate whether government facilitated their creation. That’s irrelevant to a discussion over whether we should scrap a system that more or less worked for the past century for another government system of taxation that on its face seems to disadvantage an already disadvantaged class of citizens. Simplify the tax code, baby. I’m all for it. Want to eliminate the corporate tax in favor of higher individual marginal tax rates? Go for it. Flat tax? You’re comically greedy.

  9. Come on Larry, let’s be real here.

    The imbalance in income tax allocation results from the imbalance in income.

    It’s not the amount that we’re disputing. The wealthier should pay a higher dollar amount because they’re taxed on more income. But that’s not where the status quo stops. The biggest imbalance is due to the progressive nature of the current income tax code. Paying more dollars is fair if the percentage is the same. Paying a higher percentage than someone else is not fair, no matter how you slice it.

    No, the inventor of the better toilet bowl cleaner should not control unlimited wealth while children go without food.

    This is unrealistic. Children will always go without food somewhere. There is no fix for poverty. However, the greatest hope to end the MAJORITY of poverty lies in the free market system that you oppose. The progressive, statist ideals you support have resulted in more deaths and oppression than all the world’s wars combined.

    Besides, even Communist systems have a severe unbalance of wealth. The leaders of Communist and Socialist countries live in mansions while the people live in shacks. No system is perfect; Capitalism is simply the best possible system.

    I’m not saying “a plasma tv in every house!” but a decent breakfast and health care would be nice.

    Then you have no principles because your belief requires the slavery of another human being. Who should provide the health care for less profit than they would like? Who are you going to economically enslave to garner that outcome?

    Food isn’t free, so who are you going to economically enslave to feed every human being? Your answer is to pillage the wealth of others. That’s not a system I want to be a part of. Your solution is just as disgusting as the situation you’re trying to cure. The only viable solution is to give charity (not by force) to those in bad situations and provide them optimal OPPORTUNITIES for them to escape it. The free market does that. Socialism does not.

    The middle class and poor benefit from lack of transparency?

    Nobody benefits from a lack of transparency except government. 999 is transparent. The current tax code is not.

    It’s more fair to impose a regressive tax than a progressive one?

    A flat tax is not regressive or progressive. Hence the appeal.

    The government unfairly “picks” winners and losers by adding progressivity to the tax code?

    I was referring to the loopholes and deductions for certain industries over others. Why is the majority of products now made with the chemical “High Fructose Corn Syrup” instead of real sugar? Because the government subsidizes the corn industry making it cheaper to use than real sugar. The poor, who can’t afford higher quality products made with real ingredients suffer more under this system. In fact, the poor suffer under the weight of thousands of well-meaning government policies that your party has instituted over the last few decades.

    The wealthy need the playing field leveled against those influential poor folks who live in squalor and can’t feed and educate their children?

    Playing fields aren’t leveled “for” or “against” anyone. Thus the term, “level.” Are you feeling okay?

    No wealth envy here, I’m just in favor of a fair distribution of it.

    The fact that you use the term “distribution” is menacing. No freedom exists where private property is “distributed.”

    Criminally negligent corporate risk management by the big banks is the biggest, followed closely by criminally reckless loans made by small mortgage brokers. Without the careless and reckless behavior, there is no crisis.

    And why didn’t that recklessness happen in decades prior? Why did banks suddenly have a logic lapse and start making loans to people who couldn’t meet the risk analysis? Could it be perhaps because THE GOVERNMENT TOLD THEM THERE WAS NO RISK!!!! The government effectively said, “Make the loans so everyone can live the American dream; if they default, we’ll cover your back!”

    BLAME GOVERNMENT!

    There’s no assumption that an unregulated system is better than a regulated one. I don’t think you’re arguing for absolutely no regulations (no police, military, contracts, patents, property rights), you’re just against regulations that adversely effect you.

    I took you to be educated, but I’m starting to second guess myself. Are you really confusing regulations with police, military, patents, and property rights? I’ll give you a chance to redeem yourself…

  10. Read my post “Wealth Distribution, The Law of the Jungle & Seeds of Revolution” http://larrykahn.com/2011/04/wealth-redistribution-the-law-of-the-jungle-seeds-of-revolution/ My points there counter a number of yours.

    Progressivity in the income tax is not “unfair.”

    Paying for a social safety net in America is part of the cost of freedoms that are not guaranteed by nature. It’s not slavery to tax income at 40% marginal rates. It wasn’t slavery when Reagan’s highest rates were even higher. Go ahead, stop working if you don’t like the American way of life. Move to a country with more economic freedom. We will miss you during your life-long quest to find one.

    999 is as transparent as mud. You don’t have a clue what it will do to prices.

    A level playing field would suggest everybody has the same opportunities at the beginning of the game. Do you really want to argue this point?

    “Distribution” is a term in economics that describes the result of an economic system. Income and wealth are “distributed” in this sense under every system. You’re worried about “redistribution,” the reallocation of resources after the system’s natural results are known. Nations choose their economic system based on the expected efficiency (maximization of total wealth) and distribution (allocation of that wealth among its citizens). No country has or wants a pure capitalist system that concentrates great wealth in the hands of a few. Why would a majority of people enslave themselves to enrich a few? They’d be better off with a smaller pie and a fair share of it. Our system of mixed capitalism/socialism has worked because the working class lives at a decent minimal standard and has perceived opportunity to advance. If the elite gets too greedy, there’s nothing in the Constitution requiring a capitalist system. Keeping the minority from getting restless is in everybody’s self-interest. I believe in capitalism with a safety net.

    Criminally reckless behavior is not unique to this decade. We’ve had crises before, and we’ll have them again. And, no, the government did not tell mortgage brokers to issue loans without collecting financial data and lay off those risky loans the next day. If we had some oversight, maybe the Bush Administration would have noticed this phenomenon.

    You seem to think pretty highly of yourself, a good thing, but consider a little humility, as well. Think about the real level playing field, the jungle, a place where a trained athlete like yourself could really excel. No laws. No property. Eat what you kill. We’ve created governments because on the whole we’re all better off with rules that allow us to create and protect property; we’ve all agreed to be bound by those laws because they create a more efficient and fair distribution of property than the lawless jungle would. If a majority start to think they would be better off with a different system, our Constitution allows it. Don’t be so cocky to think you’re so much better than 90% of your countrymen that they will bend to your will. If you and your ilk keep rejiggering the system so the majority gets less and less, the majority will change the rules to adopt a fairer system even if less efficient, and fifty years from now cocky young things will believe that system is the way it always was and dream of making it better for themselves at the expense of others. You’re looking at the world with blinders on–remember where we came from and try to envision where the will of the majority could take us. Think about what’s “fair” for everyone, not just over-achievers like yourself. Achievement is great but it doesn’t get us extra votes.

  11. Larry,

    Why would I read another one of your articles? Your first one was blatantly false and misleading, as I’ve clearly pointed out.

    Progressivity in the income tax is not “unfair.”

    How is it not unfair to confiscate a higher percentage of wealth from one person vs another?

    999 is as transparent as mud. You don’t have a clue what it will do to prices.

    Sigh. That’s not what transparency means.

    A level playing field would suggest everybody has the same opportunities at the beginning of the game. Do you really want to argue this point?

    Sure. And no, that’s not what it means. A level playing field means that everyone has the same opportunity and are not treated differently. It has nothing to do with starting points.

    No country has or wants a pure capitalist system that concentrates great wealth in the hands of a few.

    You just blatantly misdefined Capitalism. You’re intellectually dishonest and that discredits you and your articles.

    Why would a majority of people enslave themselves to enrich a few? They’d be better off with a smaller pie and a fair share of it.

    The fact that you’re using a pie as an example shows that you believe success is zero sum. That’s a rookie mistake.

    And, no, the government did not tell mortgage brokers to issue loans without collecting financial data and lay off those risky loans the next day.

    You’re right, in many instances they threatened to SUE them if they DIDN’T make the loans. It’s even worse than I first mentioned. Thanks for reminding me.

    We’ve created governments because on the whole we’re all better off with rules that allow us to create and protect property; we’ve all agreed to be bound by those laws because they create a more efficient and fair distribution of property than the lawless jungle would.

    Funny that you’d talk about protecting property when ALL you’ve done thus far is suggest that property should be stolen from one group and redistributed to another. The nerve of you progressives is laughable.

  12. Thanks for the interesting commentary, Kevin. Sounds like you’re arguments have devolved to simple declarations of victory in the face of contrary facts. Have a good night and a pleasant tomorrow.

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