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hfojvt's Journal - Archives
Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Sun Oct 23rd 2011, 02:29 PM
that's the title of regulation 30:30 from when I was in the military.

I was at another party last night, working the garbage detail, of course. While I was checking the trash, I pulled out 45 aluminum cans, which was probably less than 1/4 of the cans used that night. I was not there at the end of the party to save more.

It kills me to see all that money thrown away. Even more so when it is a high school graduation party or even a Boy Scouts event - our young people are still not being taught to recycle. Even at my niece's graduation parties, I have been the one who set up the recycling. It's not even that hard. I got a trash bag from my car and tied it to the handle of the trash can. The harder part is getting people to use that recycling bag.

Trying to estimate how much gets thrown away, google gives me this

which says this - "51 percent of aluminum beer and soft drink containers generated were recycled (about 0.7 million tons)."

Meaning that about .67 million tons of aluminum are discarded or 1.34 billion pounds. At 60 cents a pound that is $804 million dollars - every year. That's enough money to provide a $40,000 annual income to over 20,000 families.

Now if there was some way to calculate the value of the drinks that get thrown away still half full (or even 1/6 full) I bet that would run into hundreds of millions.

People, please. Recycle.
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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Tue Oct 04th 2011, 04:08 PM
from here

On Aug 18, 2008 it was $3.71 and Sep. 29, 2008 it was $3.64 then it started falling as the economy crashed. 3.11 by Oct 13, 2.34 by Nov. 3, and 1.79 by December 1, 2008. Bottomed out at 1.59 on December 29. 2008. By Feb. 2, it was $1.87 and by March 30, $2.03.

That's kind of an outlier though, because from Dec. 31, 2007 to Oct. 13, 2008 gas was over $2.95, peaking at a price of $4.05 on July 14, 2008.
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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Sat Sep 24th 2011, 12:25 PM
In Thursday's Daily Howler, Somerby was complaining that the public has no source for basic facts about taxes.

"Why are we required to “think” X, Y and Z about federal taxes? Why can’t we be allowed to know about such basic matters? Why isn’t there a digest of user-friendly information where voters can learn basic facts?"

So here's my attempt to answer that call, although I am not sure how "user friendly" this is.

First, about basic tax rates, here is the link to ITEP's report on State taxes.

Then for Federal taxes, I have computed them for various classes over time (unfortunately not going back before 1986)

average tax rates by group

year       top .1%      top 1%     next 4%    next 5%     next 15%     next 25%     bottom 50%
1986 n/d 33.13 19.10 15.99 12.83 10.62 5.63
1990 n/d 23.25 17.60 13.63 12.01 9.73 5.01
1995 n/d 28.73 18.19 14.46 11.71 9.43 4.39
2000 28.20 27.45 20.07 15.48 12.04 9.28 4.60
2005 22.52 23.13 17.36 12.37 9.27 6.93 2.98
2007 21.46 22.45 17.52 12.66 9.43 7.01 2.99
2008 22.70 23.27 17.21 12.44 9.29 6.75 2.59

Data calculated from tables 5 and 6 here
(Note to those who might check my work, the IRS tables have the average tax rate for the top 5%, whereas I calculated it for the next 4% - that is, I removed the top 1% from the top 5%, then removed the top 5% from the top 10%, and so on. I did not remove the top .1% from the top 1%, although I may do so later as that might be interesting.

No data on the top .1% until 2001 (which I used for 2000). The income boundaries are as follows

year       top .1%      top 1%     next 4%    next 5%     next 15%     next 25%     bottom 50%
1986 n/d 111,818 62,377 48,656 32,242 17,302 less
1990 n/d 167,421 79,064 60,287 38,080 19,767 less
1995 n/d 209,406 96,221 72,094 44,207 22,344 less
2000 1,324,487 313,469 128,336 92,144 55,225 27,682 less
2005 1,848,791 364,657 145,283 103,912 62,068 30,881 less
2007 2,155,365 410,096 160,041 113,018 66,532 32,879 less
2008 1,803,585 380,354 159,619 113,799 67,280 33,048 less

Another key piece of data is how the share of income of the top 1% has grown over the last 20 years while the income of the bottom 50% has shrunk. That is in graph form here

Through the years I have written a fair amount about various tax issues which I will link to here, the idea being to create a "one stop shop" for tax information (not that I have answered every possible question but I try when they become relevant issues).

Who gets the payroll tax cut?

Who gets most of the benefits from itemized deductions?

Comparison of rates before and after Bush

Who gets most of the dividend tax cuts?

About IRA deductions

Fundamentals of the UnFairTax (as the FairTax should properly be called)

Why the Flat Tax is a bad idea

Debunking the Laffer Curve

About the Fab 400

The rich get richer

Tax cuts for the top .1% vs. tax cuts for the bottom 50%

How the Wall Street Journal lies about taxes

The AP repeats Republican talking points (and errors) on taxes

Republican Governor opposes tax increases on the rich
and cuts jobs, shorts the pension fund, cuts education
and increases taxes on seniors and the poor

Democratic Governor gives $1 billion in tax cuts to the rich
and cuts education spending

Of course, one place I always turn to for tax research is Citizens for Tax Justice /

And, although I think they produced sloppy research supporting the payroll tax cuts,
I usually appreciate the analysis of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities /

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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Thu Sep 15th 2011, 01:39 PM
"If you cross Perry, he will get even."

'You have heard that it was said 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheeck, turn the other to him also. Matthew 5: 38-39

'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me...' Mark 7: 6, Isaiah 29: 13
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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Sun Sep 04th 2011, 02:54 PM
First, he gave in to them by continuing the Bush tax cuts.

By doing that, he tied both arms behind his back. Now, he could not point out how absolutely ridiculous it is to demand $2 trillion in spending cuts when you just gave $2 trillion in tax cuts to the rich.

He couldn't do that, because his name was on the tax cuts too.

Then he decided to fight, not just with both arms tied behind his back, but standing on one foot too.

He conceded their terms of the debate. He agreed that spending needs to be cut. Then he even agreed that spending needs to be cut on social security and medicare. Thus surrendering the club the Democrats had been using to pound Republicans with, that Republicans were trying to end medicare as we know it.

So instead of pounding Republicans for pretending they care about the deficit while they cut taxes for the rich. Instead of informing the public that spending cuts mean lost jobs and slower economic growth, and that right now we need more spending to create jobs, Obama went into the fight with his arms tied and hopping on one foot. No wonder he got his butt kicked.

No wonder we think, "Obama doesn't even WANT to win one for the masses. He's not even trying to fight for our side."

It is a basic strategy of football that you want to give your opponents the ball deep in their own territory, say, on their 5 yard line. Not in our territory, and certainly not in the red zone (the last twenty yards).

Yet Obama begins the negotiation, NOT by demanding a clean debt ceiling bill, but by conceding $2 trillion in spending cuts while asking for a mere $200 billion in tax increases. (no, I don't have the exact numbers, but remember it was spending-taxes by a 4-1 margin.)

Yes, probably there is no way he would have gotten a clean debt ceiling bill, but if you start out fighting for that, and if you strengthen your position by saying that Republicans are wrong about the need for spending cuts, instead of agreeing that they are right, then you may finish by conceding $500 billion in cuts. If, OTOH, you start out conceding $2 trillion in cuts, as well as conceding the whole debate, then you end up with a huge Republican victory.

And a big loss for the American people.

And THAT, is why I would say that Obama, and by extension the Democratic Party that unfortunately he was picked to lead, really WAS part of the problem.
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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Fri Aug 26th 2011, 05:14 PM
I once worked on setting up for an Irish Stew dinner. This required the gathering and then placement of about sixty wooden tables which weigh 60 pounds each (that's almost two tons of tables loaded, and what do you get? ...) And each table had 6 chairs (and each chair had six cats. No wait, that was my trip to St. Ives.) That's 360 chairs at 14 pounds each, or 5,040 pounds (another 2.5 tons) and then tablecloths on all the tables and the rest of the building cleaned, and probably picked up the dance floor too, which is another half ton.

BUT, it just so happens that I forgot to ride up the elevator and bring down 3 boxes of Irish decorations (something that would take about three minutes). Sometimes, in the scramble to get everything else done, things get forgotten.

You know what happened?

On next week's paperwork, it was printed, the complaint "you forgot the Irish decorations, stay on the ball" or words to that effect.

I was thinking, you have got to be fucking kidding me. After all that I did, moving 8,600 pounds of tables and chairs, and you would pick at one tiny little thing that I forgot (actually WE, since there are four on staff) and PUT THAT IN WRITING????

The point is, no matter how hard you work, no matter how much good you do, somebody can always find fault, especially if they look for it. But is it fair or truthful to just focus on it, as if all the other good things are not there?

George W. Bush vetoed expansion of SCHIP, vetoed (or maybe just threatened) the Matthew Shepard Act, and the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act. Obama signed them (but hey, who really cares?). Bush's idea of a stimulus is tax cuts, mostly for the rich. Obama gave tax rebates to the poor and also built some roads and kept some teachers employed (but hey, who cares?). Bush appointed Roberts and Alito to SCOTUS. Obama appointed Sotomayor (first Latino) and Kagan (but hey, who really cares?).

The good things get ignored as we search for things to complain about.

I might complain too, that my own complaints don't seem to get much traction here
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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Fri Aug 26th 2011, 12:02 AM
The Obama administration does thousands of things. The much maligned list is evidence of that. Sometimes it seems like progressives will sift and strain at everything Obama does or says in order to find something to get upset about. We die a thousands deaths and hurl a thousand insults as well over things that we fear (or predict) Obama will do.

I will make a prediction now. I predict that if there was a thread started tomorrow that said "Now Obama is gonna bomb Somalia" that linked to some half-reasoned article quoting an anonymous source within the Obama administration. That it would quickly get 150+ recs and be on the front page of DU and be loaded with replies of people rending their garments and asking "why, FSM, why did we ever vote for this guy?"

Also, like a vindictive lover, we remember and bring back all the previous slights instead of sticking to the issue at hand. There used to be other lists which were beloved here. A laundry list of Obama's failures and betrayals that long time DUers with low post counts would suddenly decide to post, and get DU to sing along like they were Mitch Miller leading us in the "12 Days of the Obama Administration"

On the twelfth day of the Obama administration my true love betrayed me
12 drones a bombing
11 divisions in Iraq
10 DLCers in the cabinent
nein Bush officials prosecuted
8 tax credits in the stimulus
7 days of DADT not ended
6 million dollar CEO bonuses
5 trillion to the banks
4 calling us idiots
3 months and still no single payer
2 moderates on the Court
1 prayer by "Pastor" Rick Warren.

Some people have decided (or been persuaded to believe) that Obama is one of the enemy. He's no longer loyal to the Jets. Well, once that happens there's pretty much nothing he can do to win us back.

Especially with a Republican controlled House. Obama has to work with the Congress that is, not the Congress we wish we had. If we cannot pressure our Republican Congresspeople (and I fully admit that I cannot, not in my district and not in my state), or better yet defeat them (which we did not in 2010) then what do we expect him to do?

I think it would be better if he would fight and lose, than to be so pragmatic. For example, he ought to propose, more government spending and a WPA like jobs program. However, that would never pass the House. So he chooses instead to offer trickle down Reaganomics. Much less effective as a stimulus and helps to make America even more unequal, but it has a good chance of passing and it will, admittedly, do SOME good. Which is better? To fight for three meals for a starving person and ultimately get nothing, or to actually win a slice of bread and a glass of water which will do some good?

My way, Obama and Democrats may win more elections (or may not as big money might fight even harder). Obama's way another 300,000 or so Americans get jobs. Aren't they much better off? Isn't helping them better than just thinking about elections?

Also, for some of the problems, I think DU makes things worse. As I said in this post, we ought to be educating the public about the value of liberal policies. Instead, we are hung up on people. We love to bash those Republican candidates, and also the sold out Democrats. Meanwhile, nobody is bringing a progressive message to the masses of voters.

"Look, I share a desire to move both Obama and the Democratic Party to the left. I really do, but I don't think a strategy of constantly castigating them for not being progressive enough is a way to accomplish that. I think that if people came to DU and got information, they might walk away thinking "wow, single payer really is better" or "wow, Reaganomics really does suck (if I may put forward my own not so humble attempts in this regard ). Instead they walk away thinking things like "wow, Obama and Democrats really do suck (thus why bother electing them)" or "wow, liberals really are arrogant and hateful". It seems to me we are our own worst enemy in moving the country in the right direction."
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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Thu Aug 25th 2011, 01:39 PM
When he said that about Joplin, I wanted to kick his ass.

But now, hey, if they don't get any assistance, they know who to blame, and can do something about it in the next election.

I will make it easy for Republicans though since they want to balance the budget. Democrats will not vote for relief for Cantor's district unless it is offset by a .5% tax increase on the richest 400 Americans. Their total income, those 400, is $136 billion dollars. So taxing them by .5% more would bring in $680 million.

Now, put that up for a vote, and I want to see how many Republicans vote against it.

Because I know they will. I know that to protect the 400 richest Americans from even a .5% tax increase, Republicans would deny other Americans disaster relief.

And that they will lie to the American people about it. They will say they are against "tax increases" when what they would be voting against would be tax increases ON THE 400 RICHEST.

I'd love to see my theory tested on Cantor's head.
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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Mon Aug 22nd 2011, 11:31 AM
Yesterday I was complaining about Obama's trickle down jobs plan

The payroll tax cut amounts to $120 billion.

While I was at work, I started thinking, what if that money was used to hire people for a year, instead of being just another rebate that mostly goes to the upper class? How many people could you hire?

The answer turns out to be an astounding 3 million if the workers get paid $40,000 (including benefits).

It's 4 million if the workers just get paid about $13.50 an hour with no benefits.

That would be a much better jobs plan. True, the jobs would only be temporary, but the way the argument is being made now, calling it a tax increase if the tax cut expires, that same argument can, and likely will, be used to extend the 2% tax cut indefinitely. But even if temporary, it gives those employed a year to look for something more permanent.

It also means

* they are paying taxes for the year
* they are not collecting unemployment for the year
* they are perhaps getting some training and can get past the "must be current employed" barrier to finding a more permanent job
* WPA type projects can get done (for just one small example, my city is still using the water intake that was built by WPA in the 1930s)
* as they spend their paychecks, this provides at least as much economic stimulus at the original plan

We know that Obama's plan will not create 3 million jobs - because it was already tried this year and so far less than a million jobs have been created (and many of those are not attributable to the tax cut).
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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Sun Aug 21st 2011, 02:16 PM
Here's an analysis from Citizens for Tax Justice ...

12.1% of the payroll tax cut goes to those in the bottom 40%
26.7% of the payroll tax cut goes to those in the top 10%

27.1% goes to those in the bottom 60%
46.4% goes to those in the top 20%

The top 10% get twice as much of the tax cut as the bottom 40%.

We'd probably complain if such a proposal came from Bush. But now there seems to be cheering having it come from Obama. And then to hear Obama make the same arguments that Bush did for the efficacy of trickle down economics - unbelievable.

"I look forward to signing the economic recovery bill soon. The principle of the bill is pretty simple, that we believe the more money people have in their pockets, the more likely it is somebody is going to be able to find work in America. In other words, the more money somebody has, it means somebody is more likely to demand a good or a service, which means somebody will produce a good or a service, which means somebody is likely to find work." George W. Bush May 22, 2003

"In my judgment, and the judgment of a lot of economists -- and the truth of the matter is, it's now become kind of the common wisdom in Washington, D.C. -- the best way to create growth is to let people keep more of their own money." (Applause.) George W. Bush May 2, 2003

Obama - "We need to begin by extending tax cuts for middle-class families so that you have more money in your paychecks next year. If you’ve got more money in your paycheck, you’re more likely to spend it. And that means small businesses and medium-sized businesses and large businesses will all have more customers. That means they’ll be in a better position to hire."

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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Fri Aug 19th 2011, 12:26 PM
"Who Pays? is a comprehensive analysis of state and local tax systems in all fifty states. The study, released on November 18, 2009, shows that on average, state and local tax systems require the poorest taxpayers to pay the highest effective tax rates." /

Interesting state by state data

The top ten regressive states?

Washington (really? wow)
Southa Dakota (my home state, no surprise)
Illinois (again, really? wow)

the least reggressive states (note, they are least regressive, not most PROgressive)
Washington DC
New York

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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Fri Aug 19th 2011, 02:36 AM

It was a big deal when Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama.

Perhaps the dream died with him.
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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Sat Aug 13th 2011, 02:31 PM
the automatic cuts are bad, but probably not as bad as the piece of excrement that a bi-partisan committee will come up with (see, six, gang of). There are even people on the left who talk about tax "reform" of "closing loopholes" and "lowering all rates" (especially those at the top. If they do reach an agreement, I expect to be lobbying hard to kill it. (the trouble is a piece of crap can pass with 90% Republican support and 15% Democratic support, and then what, could Obama be counted on to veto it? My fear is that Obama cannot be counted on. Not to fight for the working class, only to betray us - again. So the best case scenario is for the whole committee to implode.)

Sorry, my idea of reform would be for higher rates at the top . I am not against eliminating deductions (like all of Schedule A )

but as I note in that post, I would not then lower the top rate, instead I would compensate those in the middle class who would be losing their deductions. The gang of six just compensates those at the top, leaving the middle class and the upper middle class to pay more and making the tax code even less progressive.

So I hope they "fail" in that attempt.
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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion: Presidency
Mon Aug 01st 2011, 02:45 AM
because I do not like the sound of this - "Establishes a bipartisan process to seek a balanced approach to larger deficit reduction through entitlement and tax reform;"

Especially considering the gang of six crap that Obama endorsed.

And I guess this is a great victory if you are a Republican "Reduces Domestic Discretionary Spending to the Lowest Level Since Eisenhower: These discretionary caps will put us on track to reduce non-defense discretionary spending to its lowest level since Dwight Eisenhower was President."

Well just keep shrinking it - soon we will be able to drown it in the bathtub.

Then there's this - "To Meet This Target, the Committee Will Consider Responsible Entitlement and Tax Reform. This means putting all the priorities of both parties on the table – including both entitlement reform and revenue-raising tax reform."

That sounds kinda like Catfood Commission deja vu. Both the CC and the gang of six, came up with "revenue raising tax reform" that CUT taxes for the rich, and increased taxes for the middle class (I assume, since how else could it be 'revenue raising'?) Seriously, lower the top marginal rate and call that tax "reform".

That just reminds me of what I wrote about how Republicans use the word 'reform'

"the GOP loves the word reform
Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Sep 03rd 2008, 01:57 AM
Bush promised to 'reform' social security - by killing it.

He promised to 'reform' the tax code. In other words, take away its progressivity and call that 'reform'.

It's pure marketing. Take a policy which benefits rich people or corporations and sell it to the idiot masses by calling it 'reform'. It's like a political sub-prime loan. Just sign it and don't bother to read the fine print, and then act surprised six months after the election when you have lost your house.

To quote Dennis Kucinich


At this point, my best hope would be that the automatic cuts take place. There's absolutely no chance that a bipartisan committee will come up with something palatable.

The only other reform I would like to see is for 90% of the Republicans in Congress to be thrown out of office and for about 80% of Democrats in Congress to lose in primary elections, but there is not much chance of that either.

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Posted by hfojvt in General Discussion
Tue Jul 26th 2011, 04:11 PM
Secondly, I think this is wrong "Republicans may insist with flawless logic that seizing resources from business people does nothing to encourage them to expand, invest or create jobs."

The idea that most of the rich are businesspeople is wrong. Also, it seems to me that lower taxes are a disincentive to hire. If the tax rate is 30% and my business makes another $100,000 then I am probably gonna choose to keep it. However, if the tax rate is 70% then I might as well use the money to hire somebody, because the government is gonna just take it anyway. Hiring and investment become a way to avoid higher tax rates. Because employee costs are tax deductible and money that I put into my business is not taxed either. For every $1 I pay an employee in salary and benefits I save then 70 cents on my taxes. So a higher tax rate makes employees cheaper to me. If the tax rate is lowered, then wages effectively become more expensive.

Third, looking at tax share is not the best measure. The total pie has gotten smaller, so the share of the rich getting bigger is a way to cover up their huge gains. In 2001, the top .1% paid an average rate of 28.2% in Federal income taxes and got 8.1% of all income. By 2007 (pre-recession) they got 11.9% of all income and paid an average rate of 21.46%. Their total income was $1.05 trillion so they gained $70.35 billion from the Bush tax cuts in 2007 alone.

Now the tax rate for the bottom 50% was 4.09 in 2001 and it was 2.99 in 2007. Total income for the bottom 50% was $1.08 trillion (how about that a whole .03 trillion more than the top .1%?). Our savings from the Bush tax cuts - a mere $11.9 billion. That's 1/6th as much money going to 500 times more people. Meaning that for every $1 a person in the bottom 50% got from the Bush tax cuts, a person in the top .1% got $3,000 (did I mention that their average income is $7.55 million?).

So an argument that the Bush tax cuts has increased the rich's share of income taxes paid - isn't worth a dram of spit to me. Although if you do make that argument to me, I will happily deposit said dram of spit into your right eye.
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