Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday snips.

I'm not surprised that Mark Zuckerberg's visit to Prineville was news in Central Oregon. (Actually, I was surprised it wasn't more in the news -- seems to me the Bulletin mostly missed it.)

But that it was news nationwide -- in the USA Today and Huff Post?

Even then, I wonder if the nationals really understand how much in the middle of nowhere Prineville is: sorry, Prineville, I love you but you know it's true...


Wow. I really am knocked out by the complete lack of notice on the part of the comic retailers over the demise of Tokyo Pop. There isn't a peep out of the Comic Book Industry Alliance -- nothing, no alarm, no sadness, not even the small of amount of schadenfreude I expressed.

The complete dismissal of the subject tells volumes....about how we weren't selling volumes...


The comic publisher Boom has apparently lost its right's to Disney titles.

One of those outcomes you knew was coming once Disney bought Marvel, despite the usual protestations that nothing would change.

I've been buying as many Disney comics on the liquidation lists as possible, and I'll probably up that for awhile until I see if Marvel is going to follow through...

I always like to have a stack of Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney's Comics and Stories around.


Linda and I watched Splice last night. This was an effectively creepy movie not so much because of the 'monster' girl, but because of the behavior of the humans. Deeply flawed and believable and unsettling.


Blog reader and game customer was commenting on my "tax the rich" sentiments. He mentioned Atlas Shrugged.

"What happens if they leave the country and take their innovation and jobs with them?" he asked, (which is pretty much the theme of the movie...).

"I just don't think that would happen," I said. "Besides, they've been doing a bang up job of creating jobs, haven't they?"

Anyway, we agreed to disagree, but as he was leaving he made another dig, and I shouted out in revolutionary fervor "Eat the Rich!"

"Eat the rich? What if YOU become rich."

"Why....I don't think that is going to happen. But....if it did. Umm...........I'd have to leave the country to avoid taxes..."

I have another customer that assures me that Atlas Shrugged was the best movie since Gone with the Wind and was going to be a huge hit. It currently has a 5% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes -- or, as it happens, one positive review out of 22 which if you read it, is actually a negative review. (Just checked, it's bumped up to 10% positive, but still...)

It seems to me that his conservative views are equally delusional...

I don't understand why so many of my favorite customers are so damn conservative...



H. Bruce Miller said...

""What happens if they leave the country and take their innovation and jobs with them?" he asked"

The core premise of "Atlas Shrugged" is that only those at the top of the economic pyramid have any creativity or brains or make any real contribution to society; they are the people who make everything run, and the rest of us are basically parasites who sponge off of them and couldn't survive without them. (John Galt says it more or less in so many words in his lengthy rant near the end of the book, which Rand said was the most concise expression of her philosophy.)

This is deeply infuriating to me. I would love to see Galt and Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden and the other ubermenschen in Rand's novel try to operate their railroads and steel mills and mines by themselves.

Duncan McGeary said...

I hear you, comrade...errr...I mean, brother, ....errr....I mean...

Anyway, I guess an Oligarchy is all right by them.

Totally mystifying.

Duncan McGeary said...

You can take the serfdom out of peasants, but you can't take the peasants out of serfdom?

Duncan McGeary said...

You know, I always wonder if the the Randians (Randies? Randasonians?) had to spend one hour alone with a tape of Ayn Rand, they might completely change their minds.

Horrid woman.

Duncan McGeary said...

Wait: that would be:

You can take the peasants out of serfdom, but you can't sake the serfdom out of peasants.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Horrid woman."

Completely horrid, and a psychological basket case. Also a Benzedrine addict.

How this crazed hag became such an influential "thinker" in America in spite of being a mediocre writer and a much worse than mediocre philosopher and economist is an interesting study.

Duncan McGeary said...

Here's a scary thought:

If the Randosophilosophers got their wishes, we'd could all end up as broken and miserable and broke and lonely as good ol' Ayn.

Duncan McGeary said...

If you pursue a selfish philosophy to it's ends, you end up like Ayn.

My understanding is she had broken with all her friends and disciples and was broke and basically one of her followers took pity on her (how unrandian!) and took care of her at the end.

Big surprise. It's mine, mine, mine!!

Wait -- where you going?

H. Bruce Miller said...

"My understanding is she had broken with all her friends and disciples and was broke and basically one of her followers took pity on her (how unrandian!) and took care of her at the end."

She did alienate almost everybody around her by being, basically, a total bitch. I don't think she was exactly broke; royalties for "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" kept rolling in. But she did collect Social Security (under her real name, Alisa Rosenbaum). A little hypocrisy there?

H. Bruce Miller said...

"If you pursue a selfish philosophy to it's ends, you end up like Ayn."

"A person all wrapped up in himself makes a pretty small package." I don't know who said it, but I agree with it.

In her defense it must be said that Rand was devoted to her husband, Frank O'Connor.

Mr. Teacher said...

Well, I kind of want to see "Atlas Shrugged" now.

Absolutely the worst argument I have ever heard in the history of argument, "What if you become rich?" (considering they are what, less than 5% of the population, and I am a teacher)


Say what you want about the French, but they know how to throw a revolution. That's exactly the sum of my fear of the rich taking their business elsewhere.

But also, you have to remember, unless you are talking about the majority of the west side of Bend, Central Oregon is primarily a conservative area. I kind of lean that way on a couple topics. But I think in the past few years I have come around to a more liberal view (it almost hurts to admit that, since I have thought of 'liberal' as a dirty word since I first heard it as a child, Native Central Oregonian here.)

RDC said...

The top 5% of income earners pay a higher percentage of the federal budget then ever before in the history of the US. The bottom 50% pay a lower percentage then they ever have in history.

If you increase the height then you should also increase the width of the tax pyramid.

We are creating a very interesting situation as we are reaching a point where the majority, does not pay income tax. As such it is easy for them to say increase income taxes because they only benefit, and their bill does not increase. They may pay sales tax, property tax and payroll taxes, but not income tax.

By quintile:

Top Quintile 55.7% income 69.3 taxes

Middle Quintile 13.2% income 9.1% taxes

Bottom Quintile 3.9% income .8% taxes

Not that these figures from the CBO are for all Federal taxes it is even more slanted for income taxes and in those the bottom half is basically zero or negative due to earned income credit.

Duncan McGeary said...

"Rand was devoted to her husband, Frank O'Connor."

But also cheated on him.

H. Bruce Miller said...

RDC: I am tired of hearing rich Americans (especially the super-rich) whine about how heavy their tax burden is. The US has a less progressive tax structure than virtually any other modern developed nation.

"The top individual tax rate on long-term capital gains has stood at 15% since 2003--its lowest since 1933. Because the top 400 earners derived two-thirds of their $345 million in average gross from gains, they got clipped by an effective tax of only 16.6% in 2007 (the latest available year), down from 29.9% in 1995. 'As long as capital gains are taxed at a lower rate, the top 400 will pay less than the merely rich,' says Leonard Burman, a Syracuse University professor. Indeed, the merely rich--those with adjusted gross of $1 million to $5 million--paid 24% because more of their income comes from salary and other earnings taxed at a 35% rate." --

"In its annual update of the taxes paid by the 400 best-off taxpayers, who aren’t identified, the IRS also said that only 220 of the top 400 were in the top marginal tax bracket. The 400 best-off taxpayers paid an average tax rate of 16.6%, lower than in any year since the IRS began making the reports in 1992." --

If the super-rich think they can be less "oppressed" elsewhere, why don't they leave? Please don't tell me their patriotism is keeping them here.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"But also cheated on him."

Yes, with Nathaniel Branden, with the consent of Branden's wife, who also was one of the zombie-like members of Rand's inner circle. Rand managed to convince her it was "rational" that she should share Nathaniel with her.

Frank O'Connor might have been gay; at least there's always been that speculation.

RDC said...

HBM can't really help how you feel.

What I listed are hard cold facts. While the rich may have gotten cuts, others have gotten more cuts. We are setting up a very slippery slope by having most of the governments expenses paid by a minority of the citizens. At no time in this country's history, since the income tax was put in place, has such a small percentage paid income tax.

Now you in particular like to point at times when the "rich" paid a higher percentage, but usually forget to mention that everyone else also paid much higher percentages as well. You also forget to mention that as a percentage of income taxes paid the "rich" is the highest both in ratio to their income and as a percentage of total income taxes paid.

I have no problems with the tax rate going up, as long as it goes up across the board because the government really needs the funds. But as a wealth transfer mechanism it is really creating a slippery slope that history has shown to fail eventually.

I suggest you really take a hard look at those countries that you indicated as having a progressive tax structure. What you will find is that the "rich" pay far more, but then again so does everyone else. I doubt you will find any of them where almost 50% of the citizens do not pay income tax. You will find higher percentages of permanently un-employed, much higher level of government provided services, but almost everyone Rich, middleclass and poor are taxed more than here.

I suggest you go spend some time there. I have. That is if you can ever find enough money to get out of the city of Bend which you seem to hate so much.

RDC said...

What to eliminate that issue for the really rich. Very simple put in a flat tax and eliminate all deductions and treat all income the same.

The issue comes down to Bonds (you know those things issed by cities and other government agencies and are tax free, dividends (moeny which is paid out by companies and already taxed as income at the corporate level) and capital gains.

Of course tell the cities that their cost of borrowing just went up to market rates because their bonds are nolonger interest free. High dividend paying companies will have their stock nose dive (of course those stocks tend to be held by retirees and other lookng for cash flow).

I have no problem with a flat tax system that does away with all deductions and shelters. You can make such a system progressive by eliminating tax on any income up to the poverty level. That will put income tax at zero for anyone below it and will create a slop of total taxes where the closer you are to that level the lower percentage you would pay going to zero at an income at the poverty level and approaching the full flat rate for incomes considerably higher.

I always like people that think others should pay for things they think the government should do. Yet I never see any of them voluntarily contributing more to the government.

RDC said...

One other thing if you look at the top 400 most of them run hedge funds and are taking advantage of that little ability to classify the fees charged and correspondingly their earnings as capital gains. Something that the Democratic controlled house, senate and President refused to address last year.

The other thing to point is that the 400, even with their income of 138 billion, even if they paid 100% income tax their income is a rounding error on this years increase in the deficit, less than 1% of just this years.

The problem with trying to solve the problem by just taxing the rich is that there is just plan not enough of them.

RDC said...

Here for example is the tax brackets for France:

Bracket of taxable income Tax Rate (%)
0 – 5,875 0
5,875 to 11,720 5.5
11,720 to 26,030 14
26,030 to 69,783 30
Over 69,783 40

I will leave the Euro conversion to you.

Note that this comes on top of their VAT and other taxes.
Standard rate of VAT (TVA) in France is 19.6%.

In general, all economic activities conducted in France are subject to VAT (sales of goods, supplies of services and intra-community acquisitions).

The 19.6% VAT rate applies to all operations other than those that are expressly exempt or subject to the reduced rate (5.5%) or to the special rate (2.1%).

They also have a waelth tax on your netwooth if it is over 790,000 EUR (a little over 1 million US dollars at current exchange rates)
The rates of tax range from 0.55% to 1.8%.

This is an example of one of your more progressive developed economies.

Mr. Teacher said...

Why is the argument that the tax rate isn't fair, always made with an angry glance towards the poor?

You have no problem with the tax rate going up, as long as it goes up "across the board." So you are saying, that the poor, a class that is being expanded by the actions of the uber-rich, should pay a larger portion of the taxes, or what you are saying, any taxes.

Sure, now they pay no taxes, (I say 'they' with a grin, because as of 2009, I am not a part of the uber-poor anymore, and I get to pay taxes. Well, so kind of a grin) but they pay no taxes, because they make virtually no money. We aren't talking about welfare recipients here, we are talking about families where both parents work, and still they don't make enough to get them outside the poverty level.

Ignore the fact that the rich of today are 10 times richer than they were 20-30 years ago, and the standard of living has gone down substantially for the median family in the last 5 years.

So, basically, everyone that isn't part of the rich elite, should live less than a mile from their job, and be paid a pittance for their 18 hour workday, cash, so they can buy a can of dog food at the mini mart on their walk home to feed their family, because none of them can afford a car, let alone gasoline.

Why don't we try to build the uber-poor up, so they can afford to pay their fair share, rather than be angry because they are too poor to spare a few cents?

And, by the way, if you are a multi-billionaire, and you half your worth, what exactly is lost? They have the same standard of living, and don't even notice. But if you do the same thing to me, I don't have a home or a car anymore.

So, 50% don't pay income taxes, not because they are greedy, and are trying to get away with something, but because they are poor, Horribly poor.

H. Bruce Miller said...

RDC, I agree that everyone who has an income should be required to pay some amount of federal income tax, if for no other reason than to stop people like you whining about how the poor "pay no taxes." But in return I would like to see the billionaires and large corporations shoulder a greater share of the tax burden -- something like what existed before Reagan came along and sold everybody his trickle-down snake oil. You can throw around all the numbers you want about tax RATES and dollar amounts, but the ineluctable fact is that the share of the federal tax load borne by billionaires and large corporations has been going steadily downward since the 1980s.

Also, your cheap shot about me leaving Bend was gratuitous and petty. But if it will make you happy, I can let you know that I will be leaving Bend before the winter of 2012. Wish it could be sooner, but that's just the way things work out.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"The problem with trying to solve the problem by just taxing the rich is that there is just plain not enough of them."

Straw-man argument -- none of us is saying we can solve the problem by just taxing the rich. That's part of the solution, along with spending cuts. But I don't think we should be even talking about giving MORE tax cuts to the rich while gutting Medicare, as Paul Ryan wants to do.

RDC said...


Yes it was a bit of a cheap shot. My apology for it.

The main point still remains have you really looked at the tax structures in those "developed countries with more progressive tax structures" and for that matter their long term unenployment and economic growth?

The reality is that the top quintile is paying a higher percentage of income taxes paid than at any time in history. Their marginal rates are lower but the marginal rates for the other quintiles have dropped even more.

The current battling budget proposals are similar in that they are both pretty useless. A 4 trillion reduction in the deficit over 10 years or 12 years does not matter. It needs to be 10 to 15 trillion over that period.

That will require both tax increases and dramatic reductions.

As indicated by the commision the best way to deal with taxes is to get rid of deductions and then reset the rates.

Going that route also returns the tax system to its purpose of raising revenue for the country instead of the primary vehicle by which congress distributes favors upon it friends.

RDC said...

Mr. Teacher,

First of all I suggest you look at the income levels of that 50%. Second doesn't it strike you a bit odd that you are classifying one half of the US population as horribly poor.

The cutoff for the lowest quintile was $20291 in 2007 is higher today. The cutoff for the top of the second quintile was 39100 not exactly horribly poor. The mean of the third quintile, which is the income for that 50 percent point was 49968.

As far as the rich go

In 1969 the bottom decile was at 4.0 percent and the top decile was at 43.8. In 2001 is was 3.5 and 50.1. However those measurement are by the strict census method of pretax excluding capital gains. If you include all income, capital gains, eitc and so on the number is 4.5 and 47.

The poor has moved up though if you look at the other quintiles. Those in quintile 3 and 4 have gotten squeezed at bit with 4 dropping 1.6% and 3 dropping 1.5 %.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"The main point still remains have you really looked at the tax structures in those "developed countries with more progressive tax structures" and for that matter their long term unenployment and economic growth?"

Yes, they have higher tax rates overall. And yet their citizens seem to complain a lot less about taxes than Americans do. Why? I suspect it's because they GET something for their taxes -- quality public education from kindergarten through college, excellent roads and public transportation, health care, retirement and other benefits. Americans get nothing but one damn war after another, it seems.

As for unemployment, at present the unemployment rates in the EU countries are no worse than ours. (And our "official" unemployment rate, of course, is notoriously lowballed by excluding "discouraged" workers and the under-employed.)

As for growth rates, what good is a high growth rate if nearly all the benefits go to the top 5% or top 1%? I'm less interested in a high growth rate per se than in achieving broad-based and stable prosperity. Our present system is not delivering that.

"The reality is that the top quintile is paying a higher percentage of income taxes paid than at any time in history."

They're also getting a higher percentage of the total income than at any time in modern history, so what's the problem?

RDC said...

One thing that is important to note is that the 45% that do not pay federal income taxes are not strictly by income level. It is not just the bottom 45%. But in general it is a combination of income coupled with deductions of various kinds. Eliminate deductions and the percentage drops to around 24%

H. Bruce Miller said...

The Dalai Lama posted this on Facebook today:

"Every aspect of our present well-being is due to others' hard work. The buildings we live and work in, the roads we travel, the clothes we wear, and the food we eat, are all provided by others."

Man is a social animal and the members of a society are interdependent. This is a concept that Rand and her devotees simply could not wrap their brains around.

RDC said...

Actually if you take France for example:

The unemployment rate in France was last reported at 9.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. From 1983 until 2010, France's Unemployment Rate averaged 9.54 percent reaching an historical high of 11.80 percent in March of 1994

By using that standard everything in the US is fine we are on par with Frances average unemployment rate for the past 27 years.

By the way they have the same under reporting problem as we do and use a similar method as we do with the same issues with under reporting.

The labour force is defined as the number of people employed plus the number unemployed but seeking work.

As far as the top goes their percentage paid has gone up more then their percentage of income earned.

RDC said...

Hate to tell you but there has never been a case of a society using wealth transfer that has resulted in a higher level of general properity than the us accomplished.

The more we seem to go down the wealth transfer route the more struggles we seem to have and problems created.

The countries in Europe have a much higher tax rate. But their general prosperity and standard of living is not any higher.

If you really want to look at things it comes down to the reality that we now have to deal with true competition. You now have educational systems that can train work forces and have infrastructure that enables manufacturing to be done almost anywhere in the world and done by people that have a median income less then $2000 per year (China). There are other countries where the median is even lower.

You have third world countires graduating more engineers than the US does (India). You have the best grad students in our universities coming form those countries. Even the best students that are from the US are from families that have only been here a generation or two.

The reason why is while we have been knocking competition out of our educational systems with the everybody gets a trophy mentality the rest of the world having been increasing their ability to compete.

We still have not recognized that the field has changed. We need to compete.

You want to improve general properity then we need to restore the same things that built the US to begin with, a strong work ethic and the view that one must not only compete, but win.

RDC said...

Hard work for which they get rewarded/compensated.

Hard work is a good thing. Getting something for working hard is a good thing.

Feeling that the world owes you something and that don't have to work hard is not.

H. Bruce Miller said...

RDC: "The countries in Europe have a much higher tax rate. But their general prosperity and standard of living is not any higher."

I'm not clear on what "general prosperity" means. Can you help me out with a definition?

"Standard of living" is another vague and slippery concept. As currently understood in the US, it seems to mean "being able to buy lots of cheap electronic toys made in China."

"The more we seem to go down the wealth transfer route the more struggles we seem to have and problems created."

True, and for the past 30 years the US government has aided and abetted an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class UPWARD. If you don't believe in "wealth transfer" you should join me in wanting to stop it.

RDC said...

Per your comment:

"True, and for the past 30 years the US government has aided and abetted an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class UPWARD."

Actually it hasn't. Atleast not in the way your are implying. more on that later.

First of all if one looks at the measures of wealth.

As I indicated in previous postings there have been some shift in the percentage of income by quintile over the past 40 years or so. Those shifts a gain of 3.2% in the top Quintile and losses of 1.6% and 1.3% in the next two. Not an overwhelming dramatic shift.

Now if you look at the changes in income over that same period all quintiles have gained in income. Some slower some faster.

Now one must also take into account that the quintiles are single views. There is movement between the quintiles. For example when one retires they will generally move down in quintiles because their reported income is less.

The real issue of what is happening to the middle class in two primary areas. The first is basic economics. The US held substantial competitive advantages for a number of years. Those included infrastructure, education, trade barriers, shipping costs, etc. Over the last 30 years we have lost those advantages. Third world countires have improved their education and infrastructure to the degree that you can locate a manufacturing plant just about anywhere in the world. That means that our manufacturing base must now compete head to head with the rest of the world. If we cannot then those activites will flow to those areas that can do them the most cost effectively. That means that realitively high paying blue colar jobs have been lost as this reality has hit home. It is quite difficult for someone making $50,000 per year to compete with someone making $2,000 per year. Now wages are not the only factor and can other factors such by improved productivity, currency risk, shipping costs, delivery time, product quality, etc.

The point is that this competion has and will continue to negatively impact the American work force. Basic economics.

Now over the last 30 years the government has taken steps to try and offset some of this, but has done exactly the wrong thing. It has tried to do so by increased spending. While the actions taken might have a short term positive impact, they almost always have a long term negative impact. Negative in that they delay having to face the true problem and by building up of debt. Now over the past 30 years these actions have resulted in increasing debt loads, artifical bubbles in the economy resulting from the government trying to reinflate the economy and increasing economic volatility. Now these buddle have enabled some to take advantage of them in building wealth, it has also cost others.

The other major impact on the middle class is the spending binge it has been on for 30 years. Credit cards and the uncontrolled used of debt is a major wealth transfer mechanism. but in that case the middle class has done it to itself. The best way to build wealth is to save, not borrow and live beneath your means. The best way to destroy wealth is to go into debt. In that area there has been a major wealth transfer but they have done it to themselves, volutarily.

Duncan McGeary said...


You can't see the forest for the trees.

H. Bruce Miller said...

Duncan: I was going to write a lengthy reply to RDC, but yours sums it up in eight words.

RDC said...

Oh go ahead with the lengthy answer.

Or better yet keep on complaining that it is the governments fault and count on them to fix it when in reality all government can really do is to muddle it up more. Anything government does in the short term to accelerate, builds up a larger long term breaking effect when the short term activity is funded by deficit dollars.

We are reaching the point where the government has just about run out of bullets. Macro and micro economics, while one might disagree about them, overwhelm politics in the long term.

RDC said...


You are actually a good example of what I am talking about. On paper you income has not been very high. Yet on that income you have managed to have a pretty good standard of living. You own your own house, you have a successful business, you certainly aren't starving, etc. You learned the lesson about credit card debt and also about actually reading your mortgage papers before signing them.

You raised some of the same issues a week or so ago with your comments about how could some people afford things.

There are numerous studies about how you can take a group that is pretty content and happy with their lives and expose them to information about someones elses income or life style and boom they now feel less content and less happy.

H. Bruce Miller said...

RDC: "Hard work is a good thing. Getting something for working hard is a good thing."

Couldn't agree more. So why do we tax income obtained without work (capital gains) at a lower rate than income obtained by work (wages and salaries)? Doesn't that policy penalize the hard workers?

(I know what your answer is going to be, but I want to hear you say it.)

Anonymous said...

I'm quite surprised that king-dunc allowed all this vile & bile to be published.

soak the riche

The problem of course 'what is riche' is it over $250k/year "income"? Is it having saved $250k life savings for a lifetime? Too often high income earning is used, but then again in USA so often 'nigger riche' is seen by most as riche. Having debt is seen by morons as 'riche'.

Now that the USA gubmint
'know-all' about everyone's "savings", and all is essentially public, e.g. sold to advertisers, the 'riche' will be anyone with assets, which is why the first to go will be the IRA, as it is the easiest to steal.

AmeriKKKa is Bend-Broke, AmeriKKKa is a kleptocracy. I'm to the left of HBM&Dunc being a hard-core anarchist, yet I see the USA for what it is. It's beyond redemption, its people all deserve to be flushed down the toilet by the world. USA is 'FRAUD' and deceit. All this talk about 'riche' is just a means to continue the same, ... the same MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL complex and gendarme shit, ... it keep this NORMALCY running. The USA is now to big to survive, and too hungry to be fed.

All will be taken by your gubmint. Yes, I love this shit about taxing the poor, as if 7-11 wasn't already taxing the poor, as if malt-liquor and cigarrette tax didn't exist.

I concur the real-riche don't pay tax, but then they write the tax-code. We are a nation of lawyers, and if your not a lawyer, your a field-nigger. So go ahead tax the poor. Take their first-born. In the end the poor will eat the rich, as they always do. For no other reason than the poor outbreed the riche.

RDC said...

The reason why is very simply in our tax system money is taxed once. Either as Corporate income or as personal income, but not both. In the case of Capital Gains as applied to equities and Dividends the money it taxed twice. The company is taxed on its income and then the capital gains are taxed on the Companies growth which is driven from already taxed income. The same with Dividends a company cannot deduct as an expense the cost of dividends it pays out that means that the company pays tax on the amount of the dividend and the recipient is also taxed. As such both dividends and capital gains get a reduced tax amount compared to the normal tax brackets and one can make an arguement that they should be zero.

Now there is one categroy of capital gains, the fees collected by hedgefunds, which in my opinion, should not be considered to be capital gains but should instead be considered normal income.

You also have a smaller portion of the total category of capital gains which is the result of increase value of real property (real estate). That is an outlyer on the double taxation issue, but it is really a relatively small portion of the overall category of capital gains.

There is also fact that capital investment and the amount of it is critical to the growth of an economy, for that reason it has been determined that it should be encouraged (long term capital gains that is, which is the portion that gets the lower tax rate) and as such gets favored status.

Even with the double taxation and the need for capital investment in any economy, I would prefer to see where all deductions and all distortions get removed from the tax law and income from whatever source is taxed as income. If you do that then overall tax brackets can shrink, even while generating higher tax revenues. Deductions and the other distortions drive behaviors into tax avoidance strategies and create an structure where one loses or benefits depending upon if they can get things put into the tax code or not. That is not the purpose of the tax code and it should be returned to a easy simply, method of generating the revenue needed by the government. If one wants to play with social issues it should be done in other places not in the tax code.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Even with the double taxation and the need for capital investment in any economy, I would prefer to see where all deductions and all distortions get removed from the tax law and income from whatever source is taxed as income. If you do that then overall tax brackets can shrink, even while generating higher tax revenues. Deductions and the other distortions drive behaviors into tax avoidance strategies"

Amazingly, we agree.