Sunday, July 31, 2011

Growing up

"If you're responsible, you drop acid in the evening. After midnight it's just lame." 

A twenty-something's complaint about how some friends haven't quit their irresponsible college behaviors.  Overheard at the Zilker Park Hillside Theater. 

Keep Austin Weird!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Are you serious?

The  government deficit is a serious problem, and serious problems require serious solutions from serious people.

I dug through the budget and found that $2 billion in subsidy checks are being sent to oil companies.  We'll call this Government Program A (or GoPA).   It works like this: the oil companies calculate and send in their taxes, then the government runs their financial data through complex calculations and cuts each company a check.  If you're serious about the deficit, is this a program to cut?

With a little more research, I found another $2 billion oil subsidy program, which we'll call Government Program B (or GoPB).  This program is more efficient than GoPA, because it's rather silly for the oil companies send in a tax check and then get a subsidy check back.  In GoPB, the oil companies calculate the subsidy and deduct it from their taxes.   If you're serious about the deficit, is this a program to cut?

Oops, it looks like I made a couple mistakes. GoPA doesn't actually exist and the real GoPB subsidy is $4 billion.

Republicans (or just plain old GOP) refuse to talk about cutting GoPB because that would be "raising taxes."  Apparently,  "spending" only occurs when you send a check to the government and they send one back.  So your Social Security is OK to cut, because you've already sent the check in - but hands off those oil company subsidies.

Are they serious?


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The masters of spin

Tax cuts for the wealthy: $1.7 trillion.
Underestimated war costs: $1.3 trillion.
Medicare giveaway to big pharma: $369 billion.
Bailout for the banks: $700 billion.

Blaming it on the Democrats:

... priceless


Friday, July 22, 2011

Who doesn't pay taxes?

A recent conservative meme is that more than 50% of Americans don't pay any income tax, with the implicit (or explicit) conclusion that most American's aren't contributing their "fair share." This idea becomes a justification for cutting Social Security and Medicare, since the people benefiting clearly aren't paying their fair share.  Naturally, if you just talk about income taxes you miss state and local sales taxes, real estate taxes, Medicare taxes, Social Security taxes and gasoline taxes.  But those can't be significant right?

But let's not muddy things too much - we'll limit our focus to just Federal taxes and ask the question:
Do the data support the idea that most Americans aren't contributing to Federal revenue?  
 The figure below shows the percentage of revenue from the three principal sources (~90% of revenue): individual income taxes, corporate income taxes and Social Security/Medicare taxes.

Looks to me like anyone paying Social Security/Medicare is doing their share, whether or not they pay income taxes. Indeed, the general trend since 1970 is that those paying SS/M are paying an increasing share of the Federal revenue.

I'm not sure what the "fair share" for corporations should be, but it looks to me like they've been treated rather well.