Friday, January 20, 2012


Recently, public radio had a segment about fine print.
The consensus was that technology has enabled the print to become even finer yet.
It’s not done to save spruce trees.
The purpose is to make selected passages so difficult to read that they aren’t.

The tax code is like that.
Although the print may be large enough, the complexity of words and obscure references turns them to cuneiform.
Like thermodynamics for dummies, you can read it, but you won’t understand it.
Words can be so confusing.
(Look up ‘credit default swap’ then explain it to your neighbor)

But we all understand numbers.
We get the difference between, say, 15 and 35.
Take the struggle over getting Mitt Romney to release his tax returns.
It’s given us a teachable dividend.
He’s attempted to defuse the inevitable outrage by telling us in advance that he pays an effective tax rate of about 15%.
Effective indeed!
We’ll soon learn that it was even lower; thanks to tax regulations …
( Also known as avoidance schemes)…but let us not haggle.

Let’s thank him.
Mr. Romney has given us the gift of sunlight.

During the coming ground-war of the national campaign, when President Obama is repeatedly called a Euro-socialist, he’ll be comfortable responding, “15%”.

We’ll be advised to look at our tax returns, seeing 28% or 30% or 35% of our taxable ordinary income being paid to the Internal Revenue Service.
We’ll question why Mr. Romney’s not-so-ordinary income gets treated so much more kindly, and not even subjected to the payroll tax.

He and his platoon of accounts, lawyers, lobbyists, and cohorts will try to muddle us with words…investments, long term, job creation, capital flight, appreciation, depreciation, private equity funds, carried interest, venture capital, and words not even known in these parts.

It just may not work anymore.


jim (formerly known as ben's friend) said...

The Obama administration may have found Romney's Achille's tendon. Mitt may become the poster boy for all that is wrong with the rise of the 1%. While he pretends to be ordinary folk like you and me (joking about being unemployed and fearing being fired etc. etc.) his tax returns tell the true story of a man who has taken full advantage of the unfair tax breaks given to the haves while the have nots keep having not.

quicksand said...

I'm a long time Democrat.  I worked for George McGovern.  I am a card carrying liberal and live in Europe with the 'Socialists.'  I've been aware since Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Regan that the rich were getting richer, that CEOs were walking off with fat pay packets and that the ordinary worker was getting stiffed with layoffs, downsizing, streamlining and job relocation. 
But what have the Democrats done about this situation?  What have they tried to do during the Clinton and Obama years?  Over here, in little old 'Socialist' Europe, that incidentally has greater economic mobility than in America, maybe I've missed something?
I would feel much better if I didn't have to think the Democrats were complicit in all this economic inequality, this ripped and war torn economy, this crumbling America.

quicksand said...

Note: the above piece came from Ed who lives in England.

Jed Turner said...

Insightful, as usual.

Purple Haze said...

Are your facts okay according to SOPA or PIPA or did you not certify and give credit for your "fax"- Mr Romney has a lower tax rate than many of us but he's entitled to it because he's rich and the rich are different from us according to F. Scott Fitzgerald . It seems that this GOP primary has exposed many flaws of whoever gets the nod- tomorrow may be Newt's turn to shine before we find out more bad shit about him- like Jon Stewart I really enjoy sitting back and watching these GOPers eat each other up. Oh yeah- don't forget that a vote for Cain is a vote for Stephen

Dresden said...

Look & Listen: It's all his eyes, his ha-ha-ha nervous laugh, his rapid, jerky stammer, his stub of a fuse. Willard proves that money can buy anything... almost. We learn from our own complacencies and owe our rude awakenings to the TP boobs financed by Karl, Chas. & David...not (oh, please!) to mention The Donald, the promoter whose Id is larger than anything Freud ever imagined. What duh these times do be.

Claude said...

I don’t know why income inequality isn’t even MORE of an issue in American politics. According to the Gini Index (a measure of national income inequality) America is in pretty bad shape. Google the Gini Index and you will see that we in America are more unequal, with less interclass mobility than any industrialized country. It looks like we will pass many of the banana republics in income inequality within the decade. The least we can do, THE LEAST, is establish a fair, GRADUATED, tax code. I’m not sure I even buy the argument that capital gains should be taxed at a lower level because that encourages investment. Certainly “vulture” capitalists who risk other people’s money, should be taxed at the normal income tax rate. The big problem is…where do we turn for help? Certainly not the Republicans. They are is a walking chamber of horrors. And the only good things about the Democrats, the ONLY good thing, is they’re not Republicans. Oy Vey. Why doesn’t Bernie Sanders run for President?

jim said...

Bernie Sanders can never run for president, not because he makes sense, which he does, but because he openly declares himself a socialist. To call your self a progressive, or a liberal, or an atheist, or, or worse yet, a socialist is to cut yourself off from social discourse and set yourself up for demonization in this country which calls itself the land of the free and the home of the brave. Frankly, I don't know how he got as far as he did in American politics.

quicksand said...

Sanders was super on the Maher show last night. He reminds us of things we sometimes forget.
Yes...labels are substitutes for thinking (Casper Wineberg said that !)
Labels serve our tendency to micro-wave judgements.

And remember... wealthy democrats take full advantage of the designer-label tax code too.

jim said...

To Quicksand:
Yes, but also remember that some Democrats (Warren Buffet being one) agree that they should not pay income tax at a lower rate than (his) secretary who makes considerably less than one percent of what he makes. There are any number of wealthy people who see the inequity in the warped tax code and advocate for change. If there are any Republicans among them I am unaware of it. Am I labeling here?

SBU OLLI Member said...

Glad to see another blog from Mr. Politrix...another nail hit right on the head