Editor's Note

July/August 2011 Playing Chicken with History

By Paul Glastris

If America really is threatened by a growing mountain of debt, shouldn’t the wealthy help out by paying higher taxes? Most voters think so, according to polls, and for good reason. The rich have enjoyed staggering run-ups in their incomes and net worth in recent years, while average Americans have barely treaded water. Yet the effective tax burdens on the wealthy are lower now than at almost any time in the past fifty years, thanks to past rate cuts and a proliferation of tax exemptions which, as Suzanne Mettler makes clear in this issue, shower most of their benefits on the affluent. The idea that the economy will suffer if we modestly raise taxes on upper-income Americans is belied by recent history: we increased tax rates on the rich in 1993 and the economy created more than twenty-two million jobs; we cut them in 2001 and the economy created fewer than seven million jobs. Of course, to put our long-term fiscal house in order, we also need to get control of Medicare spending—which, as Sebastian Jones explains, means not letting Congress kill off a powerful but little-known cost containment board called for in the new health reform law. Other cuts in government and tax hikes that hit the middle class may also be necessary eventually. But wouldn’t Americans be more willing to accept such shared sacrifice if they knew the rich were first in line?

Of course, GOP leaders have refused to even consider tax increases, especially on the rich—or, as conservatives like to call them, the “wealth producers.” The Ryan plan would further cut taxes on the wealthy and pay for them by gutting Medicare benefits. So determined are Republicans to shield the wealthy from taxation that they have been playing a game of chicken with the White House over raising the debt ceiling, at the risk of spooking financial markets, wrecking America’s credit rating, and plunging the economy back into recession.

As it happens, the willingness of the rich to defend their wealth from taxation to the point of national ruin is nothing new in world history, as Francis Fukuyama recounts in his magisterial new book The Origins of Political Order. The Han dynasty in China fell in the third century AD after aristocratic families with government connections became increasingly able to shield their ever-larger land holdings from taxation, which helped precipitate the bloody Yellow Turban peasant revolt. Nearly a millennium and a half later, the great Ming dynasty went into protracted decline in part for similar reasons: unable or unwilling to raise taxes on the landed gentry, the government couldn’t pay its soldiers and was overrun by Manchu invaders.

In the fifteenth century, the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus persuaded his reluctant nobles to accept higher taxes, with which he built a professional military that beat back the invading Ottomans. But after his death the resentful barons placed a weak foreign prince on the throne and got their taxes cut 70 to 80 percent. When their undisciplined army lost to Suleiman the Magnificent, Hungary lost its independence.

Similarly, the cash-strapped sixteenth-century Spanish monarchy sold municipal and state offices off to wealthy elites rather than raise their taxes—giving them the right to collect public revenues. The elites, in turn, raised taxes on commerce, immiserating peasants and artisans and putting Spain on a path of long-term economic decline. This same practice of exempting the wealthy from taxation and selling them government offices while transferring the tax burden onto the poor reached its apogee in ancien regime France and ended with the guillotine.

By contrast, in England during the same period, the nobility and gentry didn’t conspire with the crown to exempt themselves from taxation. Instead, thanks to a number of factors—greater social solidarity, a keener sense of foreign threats, reforms that made the government itself less corrupt, and the principle of taxation only with the consent of Parliament—the wealthy of England willingly accepted higher taxes on themselves. As a result, government spending in England rose from 11 percent of GDP in the late seventeenth century to 30 percent during some years in the eighteenth century. That’s higher than U.S. federal spending today. These higher taxes on the wealthy in England, Fukuyama notes, “did not, needless to say, stifle the capitalist revolution.”

Higher taxes on the rich won’t stifle America’s economy either. Nor, I think, would most wealthy Americans object to paying more if they truly understood that the fate of the country is on the line. Unfortunately, the GOP may now be too ideologically rigid to see the real interests of its own wealthy constituents. History shows that the rich sometimes make suicidal decisions. The challenge of American democracy right now is to somehow keep ours from doing so.

Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly.


  • Steve on July 05, 2011 10:16 AM:

    "This same practice of exempting the wealthy from taxation ... reached its apogee in ancien regime France and ended with the guillotine."

    Well, at least there's that silver lining to this cloud.

  • zandru on July 05, 2011 10:37 AM:

    @Steve on the "silver lining" -

    Bwahahahaha! Reminds me of the frequent refrain of which top level executives and ruling class members were "the next up against the wall" in Douglas Adam's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe" series.

    Adams came from a more cosmopolitan, revolutionary tradition than us Americans - in the US, we've been quashing popular democratic revolutions for well over a century. But I think we're currently at a point where we ought to be studying them.

    "istiiz once" - repeat as necessary

  • DBL2 on July 05, 2011 10:38 AM:

    I think the author is correct historically that civilizations that exempt large sectors of the economy from taxation suffer (e.g., the Buddhist temples in medieval China) - however, he has failed to identify the part of the economy that's become exempt from paying their fair share of income taxes. Guess what? It's not the affluent. Half of the "taxpayers" in the US pay no income tax at all. Who pays income taxes? I forget the exact numbers, but the top 5-10% of income earners pay 55% of all income taxes. And don't give me that crap about payroll taxes. Most of the people who are exempt from income taxes will receive far more back from Social Security and Medicare than they will ever have paid in payroll taxes. However, if you want to break completely the link between payments for SS and Medicare and benefits, and convert those into pure welfare programs, well, make your case, tell the American people that's what you want, and let them vote.

    In any event, you could raise taxes on the "rich" all you want and still not come close to paying for Government on the scale that the author wants. We would need a trillion or two per year to do that. Raising marginal tax rates to 40% on the two-earner professional families that make over $250,000/year would raise maybe a tenth or a fifth of what's needed. What the author fails to say is that the only way to pay for the welfare state that he wants is to raise taxes on everyone, dramatically.

  • Cantank on July 05, 2011 11:50 AM:

    The most common ruse for those who want to avoid discussion of the corruption of our system, it to apply selected items in that discussion. If I'm right, DBL2 thinks 1) the poor should pay more taxes, because its "fair" 2) We can't raise enough taxes today to balance our budget, even though that's not how budgeting works even in our homes 3) The author is biased because he wants a "welfare state" and finally 4) the only taxes that matter are business and capital gains taxes because payroll taxes are "crap".

    Its fair to trot out ideological arguments, but to attack what is essentially a book review on right-wing grounds just shows how bankrupt that philosophy is, as it can't address the whole - which is, oddly, the subject of the book.

  • linus bern on July 05, 2011 2:38 PM:

    DBL2, I'm not sure where you are getting your numbers, but lets assume they are correct and 5-10% of income earners pay 55 percent of income tax. If that is the case they are getting a great deal and should clearly pay more.
    Wealth distribution in the states is currently as follows:

    Top 1% controls 43% of the wealth
    The top 5% control 72% of the wealth
    The top 20% control 93% of the wealth
    Leaving the bottom 80% with only 7%.

    Tell me again how the wealthy are paying too much.

    As for your contention that half the country pays no income tax, this is true only of federal income tax, but when you count all the other taxes, such as state taxes, sales taxes, payroll taxes etc... the average tax burden on everyone, rich, poor, and middle class, is 40%. The only ones who get away with lower rates are wealthy investors whose income is derived from capital gains and thus pay a lower tax rate, and corporations who not only have an effective tax rate of 0, in many cases they are getting subsidies, so they actually have a negative tax rate.

  • clone12 on July 05, 2011 3:11 PM:


    We do tax the bottom 55%- where do you think the kids who died in Vietnam and Iraq so the brave trust fund babies who took 5 draft deferments can wax poetry on WSJ OpEd board about the lucky duckies who don't have to pay taxes because they don't make enough money came from?

  • DBL2 on July 05, 2011 3:39 PM:


    I think I've already addressed your point about payroll taxes but perhaps not in enough detail. The way those programs are currently structured, there is supposed to be some rough correlation between payments in and benefits out. That is, they are supposed to be insurance programs, not welfare programs. That is how they have been sold to the American people and that is how they are understood by most folks. That is the reason for the cap on the income subject to the SS tax. If you took away that cap, then you'd just have another welfare (income transfer) program and, I believe, most Democrat analysts think that the reason for the public's longstanding support for SS is that they do not see it as just another welfare program. The point is that most people view SS taxes as insurance premiums, not taxes supporting the Government.

    I don't know about state income taxes but I would suspect that those states that follow the federal form would have the same exemptions.

    State sales taxes are another thing. Everyone pays them. Indeed, that is why politicians love them, and why, if you push them, most Washington Democrats are so hot for a VAT. A VAT is the best way, indeed, the only way, to raise trillions of dollars in revenues. And a VAT is an equal opportunity tax - everyone pays it. That's my point: taxing the "rich" is a fool's game. At the levels we're talking about, you'll need big taxes on the middle class, because that's where the money is, and the best way to extract more money from them is a VAT.

    One last point: In 1981 total tax payments from from the richest 1% were $98.84 billion, while in 2005 the top 1% paid $368.13 billion in taxes; thatís a 288% increase in 25 years. In rough numbers and in constant dollars, that means that each of the richest 1% of filers in 1981 paid a little over $100,000 in 2005 dollars, while in 2005 each top 1% filer on average paid over $288,000. Yes, they paid more because they made more. But if what you cared about was maximizing Government revenues, you would want them to make more money so they could pay more in taxes. I suppose if you believed that the economy was a zero-sum game and the only way X can make more is if Y makes less, you might object, but not even the Chinese Communists believe that any more.

  • zandru on July 05, 2011 4:07 PM:

    @DBL2 on that "last point": Remember what the top marginal rate was in 1981? Yes, it was 70%

    The top marginal rate in 2005, after the Reagan tax cuts, the Bush I tax cuts, and the Bush the Lesser tax cuts? Yes, a mere 35% - actually, 15% since most of these folks derive the bulk of their income from "passive" activities, like collecting capital gains and hedge fund management income.

    You don't get higher revenues by reducing tax rates. We've got 30 years' experience in that. The reason revenues went up under Reagan was that he RAISED tax rates, once he saw what a mess the decreases had wrought.

    Reagan may have been a senile old git, but he wasn't as stupid as the present-day "G"OP.

  • Michael Carpet on July 05, 2011 4:30 PM:

    Oddly enough, the top marginal rate during the Eisenhower Administration was 90%, and dropped to the 60s under JFK. That was back when we believed in paying off our war debt, rather than kicking it down the road to the grandkids. What a disaster that insane decision caused! I'm sure the wealthy hated it as much then as they would dislike higher taxes now.

  • Slideguy on July 05, 2011 6:11 PM:

    Excellent post.

  • Kristina on July 05, 2011 6:24 PM:

    @DBL2 You stated:

    "In 1981 total tax payments from from the richest 1% were $98.84 billion, while in 2005 the top 1% paid $368.13 billion in taxes; thatís a 288% increase in 25 years."

    Then you go on to assume the amount paid per top 1% filer increased dramatically, and I',m not sure what you used as the reference (or math) for that. I think you neglected to figure in the population increase that occurred between 1981 and 2005. The number of taxpayers in the top 1% during that period of time would have seen an increase as well - not 288%, but enough to make your assumptions about the amount paid per filer incorrect.

  • TheOtherJim on July 05, 2011 8:11 PM:

    And don't give me that crap about payroll taxes...

    I just love an argument which, if correctly translated, goes like this: "This is my position. Don't try to refute me with the facts!" If I'm not mistaken, that kind of reasoning has been trademarked by Stephen Colbert.

    DBL2, you say things like "I forget the exact numbers, but the top 5-10% of income earners pay 55% of all income taxes." You should look up the exact numbers if you want to engage in a rational discussion. You should also look up the percentage of the national wealth that is held by the top 5 - 10% of income earners. And while you're at it, you might also consider the source of income. After all, if it's primarily long-term capital gains, then the tax rate is 15%. That's a lower tax rate than some kid flipping burgers at McDonald's pays.

    A brief comment about tax rates: If you're the kind of person who insists that everyone in the family carry some amount of camping gear equal to 40% of their body weight, regardless of age or physical condition, then I guess you probably hate progressive tax rates and bristle at the very notion that people as much weight as they can, not merely as little as they'd like.

    And as for that canard that "Half of the "taxpayers" in the US pay no income tax at all," it has been debunked so thoroughly and so frequently that I have to admire your chutzpah. It is a rare person who is able to stand up and shout to the crowd "The world is flat!" That still doesn't make it true.

    Here's the thing, DBL2. It does us no good to engage in debate on the basis of slogans or misstatements or misleading statements. The problems we face today are not unique to us or to this time in history. They have been faced before, and have been successfully met before, and we're far more likely to achieve success if we look to history and learn from it. All you need to do is a few minutes of research -- real research -- to gain some degree of enlightenment. And you'll still have plenty of room to disagree with the likes of me. There are, after all, plenty of ways to skin a cat. But at least we could have a reasoned discussion then.

  • cervantes on July 06, 2011 10:40 AM:

    I have been wondering why our current generation of plutocrats seems to think that the destruction of society is in their own long-term interest. We need a better class of rich people, frankly. In FDR's time, a sufficient proportion of capitalists recognized that it was necessary to part with a bit of their loot in order to save capitalism. Evidently the crop we have now has an inverse relationship between IQ and Cayman Islands bank balance.

  • linus bern on July 06, 2011 11:23 AM:

    Cervantes, I think in FDR's time capitalists in the US understood that if 93% of the country was destitute then they would never be able to sell their products. Today's capitalists understand that it doesn't really matter to them if the U.S. population is destitute. They don't make consumer products that they need to worry about having American consumers for anyway, and the few that do make consumer products see markets overseas exploding with demand. Basically the rich in the U.S. have managed to sever any connection between their interests and the interests of the vast majority of the country.

  • RefManTim on July 06, 2011 11:49 AM:

    Substitute "taxed" for "governed" and G.K. Chesterton had it right: "The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all" (The Man Who was Thursday, chapter 11).

  • Texas Aggie on July 06, 2011 12:15 PM:

    Linus has touched on the major problem. The rich no longer consider themselves to be Americans. They have truly globalized and really don't care what happens to the US. DBL2 is a case in point.

    Speaking of DBL2, he seems to feel that the poor are somehow not paying their share of income taxes because the finks use a loophole not available to the rich. It seems they don't make enough to qualify for income taxes. And then he positively weeps because in 1981 the wealthy paid $98.84 billion while 25 years later they paid a whopping $368.13 billion, a 288% increase. Whoop de doo. Their incomes went up over 300% in the same time and adjusted for inflation, their tax increase was a lot less, not to mention Kristina's point about population increase.

    That he doesn't even begin to understand SS and Medicare is obvious. The only people who get less out of those programs than they put in are those who died before age 65, a category that includes very few rich people. He seems to think that individual benefits should somehow be linked to individual contributions, but that isn't how insurance works. Everyone pays premiums and those who qualify for the service get it even if it exceeds their premiums. Those who don't qualify for the service don't get it. I'm sure he knows that so his quibble is duplicitous.

  • Console on July 06, 2011 2:11 PM:

    @ DBL2

    The average person gets back more money from social security and medicare than they put in. 1, because payroll taxes are capped after a certain point, so it's not like the wealthy put in way more money than anyone else. 2, because payroll taxes aren't an investment. The 500 bucks that you put in in 1976 doesn't magically grow and get returned to you as 500 bucks plus 30 years of inflation... it's still only 500 bucks.

    As much as the focus on the wealthy is valid... To me, the problem seems to be this growing disconnect that working class to middle class people have with government spending. They buy into these nonsense ideas like the idea they actually pay for their own social security (no, you pay for someone else's, and when you collect, some worker will pay for yours). They ignore what they get out of the government and simply make up scapegoats as to why we have no money. I mean damn, America is the country that started 2 wars then decided the best fiscal response was some tax cuts. That's the idiotic selfishness of america in a nutshell.

  • CommanderGREENLEE on July 06, 2011 4:33 PM:

    How much is too much.

    What makes someone "richer" than another person. What constitutes having "too much" is 2% more than the average aggregate, 10% 100% where do you draw the line. Its always left as an abstract and leftists never have to define what constitutes "RICH". Compared to the poor people in africa the poor people in America are "RICH". Its rubbish nothing more than a foil.

    Lets take it is natural conclusion. If everyone had the same amount by way of a RESET. It would only take less than 2 days and you would find there poor people and rich people. So whats the solution another RESET The fact is some people work harder then others, some people are smarter than others and unless you are going to have a reset every other month than fuck off.

  • Big R on July 06, 2011 4:54 PM:

    DBL is correct. Tax the rich all you want. What are you going to get? 200, 300 Billion, Heck take half a trillion
    from them. That is still a trillion short. Wake up, we do not have a taxing problem. We have a spending problem.
    Too many Takers, not enough makers.

  • Roger Keeling on July 06, 2011 8:02 PM:

    I haven't read Fukuyama's book, but I appreciate the examples he apparently cites. And I can add to them, perhaps. The decline and fall of the Roman Empire was almost entirely caused by the EXACT same thing. Thomas Cahill describes the agonizing history of it in his great book, "How The Irish Saved Civilization." That was a real eye-opener for me. Rome's elites effectively exempted themselves from taxes, and the burden was shoved over onto the poor and (ever shrinking) middle class, such as existed then; it took a long time for the collapse to come, but when it did it was spectacularly horrible. Virtually the same sequence also occurred in Japan at one point, with pretty much the same results.

  • giantslor on July 10, 2011 4:27 AM:

    @Big R: Well, with concrete data like that, conversation over! But seriously, You've got it completely backward. We do not have a spending problem, we have a taxing problem. In 1982 with the election of Reagan, the top marginal tax rate dropped from 70% to 50%, and then to 28% six years later. The rate had been at least 63% since 1932 and above 80% for most of the post-WWII economic boom.

    Thanks to the high taxes on the wealthy, the national debt as a percentage of GDP had been going down rapidly since 1947, but that abruptly changed when Reagan got into office. In 1982 growth in the national debt started to explode. Clinton started to get it under control by raising taxes, but then George W. Bush cut taxes again and the debt exploded once again, peaking in 2008 when the debt increased by $1 trillion to a total of $10 trillion -- and that's before any of the bailout money was spent.

    Government spending has stayed at about 35% of GDP since the beginning of Reagan's presidency, with a spike only recently because of the bailouts and stimulus. Before Reagan, government spending was almost as high, hovering just below 30% as far back as the early 1950s. So government spending isn't the problem. The problem is the huge drop in revenue that resulted from Reagan's and George W. Bush's giant tax breaks for the wealthy.

    Some of this was also due to modest tax cuts for the middle class. But something else has changed since the early 80s: The income of the wealthiest Americans has increased exponentially. We can return to a sustainable level of taxation mostly by taxing the wealthy, with very little tax increase on the middle class.

  • Gene Church on July 10, 2011 9:54 AM:

    This is absolute junk history, with conclusions that fit Glastris' twisted view of reality.

    The wealthy do pay income taxes in the United States. The poor do not.

    "The elites, in turn, raised taxes on commerce, immiserating peasants and artisans and putting Spain on a path of long-term economic decline." Gee, sounds like Democrats today.

  • Anonymous on July 12, 2011 3:53 PM:

    linus bern's statment of:

    "Wealth distribution in the states is currently as follows:

    Top 1% controls 43% of the wealth
    The top 5% control 72% of the wealth
    The top 20% control 93% of the wealth
    Leaving the bottom 80% with only 7%.

    Tell me again how the wealthy are paying too much."

    and then the response of can't raise money by taxing rich reminds me of the old Dillenger quote - "Why do you rob banks?" "Cause that's where the money is?" How do you raise government income? Tax were the money is, and it ain't in the bottom 80%

  • Keith Roberts on July 12, 2011 4:37 PM:

    I think this one of the best editorials I have read on the Republican march to financial disaster. It was long thought that democracy could forestall the evil that stupidly piggish elites have done, and the examples begin long before those that Fukuyama cites. I believe that a direct precedent to our own situation can be found in the origins of the European Dark Ages. Roman generals and senators, taking advantage of 3rd century plagues, invasions, and civil wars, acquired vast tracts of European land at bargain prices. Reverting to a self-sufficient economy, they used their political and financial power to extort increasing concessions from the emperors, enfeebling them to the point that they could not defend even Rome itself. In place of a wealthy empire and its lucrative commerce, Europe was left with a multitude of fiefdoms that virtually enslaved nearly all its inhabitants, and kept even its rulers impoverished for hundreds of years. We call this period the Dark Ages.


    PS: I know this because I wrote, and recently published through Columbia University Business School Press, an account of the Western origins of business entitled The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets. It ends with a detailed study of the decline I briefly describe above, since that was the end of business in Europe for about a thousand years.

  • Pievegas on July 13, 2011 1:23 PM:

    Boy. If this isn't class warfare, I don't know what is. First of all, I wouldn't be opposed to paying more in taxes, except that I employ dozens of people who rely on me for income, benefits, an office, supplies, office services, etc. I have 100% of the financial burden, my employees pay in nothing, I pay them whether we are producing or not, they keep their benefits whether we are producing or not, and I also pay more in taxes than all of them put together. Since I have no idea where the economy is headed, how much more I'm going to have to pay for employee benefits and their healthcare next year, what effect energy costs are going to have on our business, and am clueless as to what our tax rate will be in 2012, I'm not moving anymore revenue. Move too much, and I start laying off workers until the future is more certain. Or hang on, run out of revenue, and we all lose our security. And one more thing, at the end of the year, all of my employees qualify for 100% federal tax return. Do you think my business or I get the same credit?
    Tell you what, when the government stops wasting money, curbs its spending, and acts fiscally more responsible, then I'll be willing to take on more of the financial burden. If I have to tighten my belt, then so should the government. There's plenty of waste to cut. Cut it first. Then ask me to pay MORE of my fair share. Government is business, and the government business model is hemorrhaging money.

  • Charles Lemos on July 16, 2011 12:02 AM:

    Well, the US was at its most prosperous when the country had top marginal rate of 91% and 70%. US economic historians speak of the Great Compression of 1930s through 1960s when higher marginal tax rates, that is a truly progressive tax structure, delivered a broad based prosperity.

    It's really quick simple countries with GINI coefficients over .5 tend to be inherently unstable while countries with GINIs under .3 are remarkably stable and prosperous. The GINI for the US is somewhere around .45 right now. Since the Census Bureau started measuring the GINI coefficient in 1967, it has risen by 20% for full-time workers and 18% for households. As Paul Krugman has noted, the period since 1979 might aptly be called the "Great Divergence". We are a country in reverse.

    I, for one, now hold that only another economic collapse akin to that of 1929 is capable of restoring sanity to the American political system and even then I remain unconvinced that the American right is capable of recognizing the errors of their ways. Theirs is a faith based politics, an irrational belief in unfettered free markets now married to a bizarre Christian Reconstructionist ideology that has no parallel in the OECD.

  • Stephen LaBonne on July 16, 2011 12:17 PM:

    Boy. If this isn't class warfare, I don't know what is.

    What you're too dumb to understand is that the class warfare is being conducted by the truly wealthy- the top 0.1%- and YOU are on the losing side, right along with your employees.

  • Nazi Love on July 17, 2011 1:16 PM:

    Anyone who believes in heaven is the cause of this nastiness. Point closed.

  • Andrew Solarski on July 17, 2011 4:14 PM:

    Let's not leave out the fact that the Internal Revenue Service estimates that it is able to accurately tax 99 percent of wage income but that it captures only about 70 percent of business and investment income, most of which flows to upper-income individuals, because not everybody accurately reports such figures.

  • SickofIgnorantMoronsWithBigMouths on July 17, 2011 4:30 PM:

    Gene Church on July 10, 2011 9:54 AM said:

    " 'The elite, in turn, raised taxes on commerce, immiserating peasants and artisans and putting Spain on a path of long-term economic decline.' Gee, sounds like Democrats today."

    This line referred to taxes on commerce, not wealth and income. AKA the Fair Tax which Democratic President Barack Obama does not support.

    Gee, sounds like you are ignorant and proud to show it off with such "clever" sarcastic comments.

  • Anonymous on July 23, 2011 12:36 PM:

    Pievegas' argument is fallacious. He claims "I employ dozens of people who rely on me for income, benefits, an office, supplies, office services, etc....", implying that if his taxes go up, he would have to cut these things.

    All of these costs are completely tax deductible and so are unaffected by his personal income tax rate. The income tax rate will affect how much money he personally takes home, and if he doesn't want to see that drop maybe he would make some changes to cut costs elsewhere so he can take home more, although if he is a businessman, chances are he has already maximized the amount of profit he makes and hires people because he has work he needs them to do, not because he has extra money lying around and wants to give it to someone. Besides which, unless he is personally taking home millions, then an extra couple of percent isn't going to add up to even one person's wage.

  • Anonymous on July 25, 2011 10:37 AM:

    Lets take it is natural conclusion. If everyone had the same amount by way of a RESET. It would only take less than 2 days and you would find there poor people and rich people. So whats the solution another RESET The fact is some people work harder then others, some people are smarter than others and unless you are going to have a reset every other month than fuck off.
    This is one of those stupid "conservative" arguments that actually is one in favor of redistributing wealth. Let's accept the conclusion, that the stupider people (like the potty mouth "commander") will end up with less money after his hypothetical "reset". Well, this doesn't happen instantly, now, does it? It takes economic activity for this to happen. Economic activity is how we all make a living. So, resets should happen often. I don't know how the commander comes up with every month, because it would take longer than that to get out of balance, so he can "fuck off and die in a fire".
  • Howlin Wolfe on July 25, 2011 10:44 AM:

    @Pievegas: tell us why you don't hire more people? Because you're worried about taxes you may pay in the future? Or because you don't have the work? Tell us how you are "increasing productivity". Is that making our economy all better? Thank you, Mr. or Ms. Job Creator! Now, fucking create some jobs to provide goods and services there is no demand for because nobody in the "lucky, non-taxpaying" sector can afford it!

    And only one troll has considered the historical argument, and its refutation wasn't very convincing - in fact, it was pretty lame. They're not only greedy,they're very stupid.

  • Group Captain Lionel Mandrake on July 25, 2011 5:14 PM:

    Yep, me, too! I like the guillotine idea...

  • darius on August 01, 2011 5:44 PM:

    reading the comments above, I have learned quite a few things. it shows there are still smart americans left in this country. the smart and rational americans however have surrendered the narrative to the stupid, noisy, and irrational hooligans, and along withit the control of the critical levers of the government.
    it's a sorry spectacle.
    US will continue to decline, and in a couple of decades will loose power and influence. Last time, there was no serious competitor, so the US pulled itself up. No luck this time. As US weakens and withers away, China is prepared to take its place.