Mark Hartless: Fairness in groceries

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I was caught up in something rather infuriating yesterday. I was in line behind a woman who was purchasing the exact same items as I had chosen. In all my life, this has never happened to me at the grocery store. The clerk tallied and bagged the items. He returned the woman’s frequent shopper card, smiled and said, “That will be $39.72, ma’am.” She paid him and went her way as my items began their conveyor belt ride toward the clerk.

The clerk had not noticed the curious coincidence, so I was way ahead of him when he returned my frequent shopper card. “That’ll be $51.27, sir,” the clerk said with the same pre-packaged smile he had given the previous customer.

There I stood with $39.72 in my outstretched hand, ready to confound him with my prophetic ability to know the total before he uttered a word. Now, I was in shock. What had just happened? The clerk was over-charging me!

Perhaps he had counted some of my items twice. I reviewed my receipt; no mistakes or double charges. I could pretend I hadn’t noticed what just happened, or I could question the clerk and politely demand an explanation. Because money is not exactly growing on trees these days, I chose to ask for the explanation.

“Pardon me, but I used the frequent customer card and had the exact same items as the previous customer, so why is my bill $11 more than hers?” I demanded.

What I heard next left me staring at the clerk like a calf staring at a new gate.

He informed me that the store recently had instituted a “fairness” policy and that the information on my card had revealed that I earned more than the previous customer, and therefore, my bill would be more than hers.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Different prices for the exact same groceries? What idiot came up with a policy like this? I left the groceries at the register and walked out in protest. I will never be back.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

What? This has never happened to you? Think again. We are being charged varying rates for the exact same products every day, just not at the grocery store.

Here is just a partial list of the things we all buy or have available to us in equal amounts:

■ Military protection

■ Roads and bridges

■ National parks, forests, monuments and historic sites

■ Rivers and lakes

■ Legal system

■ Law enforcement, fire and medical rescue and Coast Guard assistance

■ Weather forecast and warning systems

■ Prisons

■ Reliable, safe electric grid

And the list goes on and on. So why are we charged different prices for the same product? Why, when we do business with this one particular company, a monopoly called government, are we charged based on a discriminatory scale uncommon to almost any other entity with which we do business?

In fact, the systematic use of such a fee scale, were it applied elsewhere, likely would be grounds for legal action. Perhaps some attorney would win a big lawsuit by calling it “financial profiling.”

Why are we told that such a method of payment for government products is “fairness” when it is not practiced anywhere else? Is the customary one-price-fits-all pricing we see at Walmart, McDonald’s or the gas station not fair?

It is more than a little frustrating to see some Americans paying exorbitant prices for items while others get the same products at a discount. Worse still, many pay nothing at all, and some are even given other people’s money in addition to receiving their “stuff.”

Not surprisingly, those who pay the least for these products vigorously support this injustice while those who preside over this plunder shamelessly proclaim to us with a straight face that this is “fairness.” I wonder how so many people came to view “fairness” as one person paying half their income in taxes while another pays nothing.

Perhaps the answer can be found in the words of Frederic Bastiat: “There are people who think that plunder loses all its immorality as soon as it becomes legal. I cannot imagine a more alarming situation.”

Mark Hartless is a Steamboat Springs resident.

Comments

max huppert 2 years, 4 months ago

but the big question is why you did not tell us the name of the store?

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John St Pierre 2 years, 4 months ago

YES BIG BIG QUESTION.... was this here in Steamboat>>>?????

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Neil O'Keeffe 2 years, 3 months ago

Because it is nothing more then a metaphor for his worn out tea party diatribe.

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Neil O'Keeffe 2 years, 3 months ago

Although I may not agree with the authors viewpoints I do have to commend him for speaking his mind and airing his personal beliefs/philosophies regardless of the controversy or divisiveness of the subject. Which is more than I can say for myself or many others. The most recent massacre in Aurora comes to mind and the publics attitude toward much needed gun control versus our 2nd Ammendament rights.

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rhys jones 2 years, 3 months ago

I buy my groceries where the prices are clearly marked, including "club" discounts. So when I get to the register, I already know how much I am spending, within pennies, including tax. I'm a cheap date.

I must admit this is a novel marketing approach: Adjust the price UP if it appears our patron has too much money. You don't dress up to go shopping, do you Mark? I dress down, in order to get the best discounts.

Stretching the metaphor to cover gun control and national politics makes me wonder if this is not a media event to begin with. Where did you say this store is, Mark?

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James Earley, MCSE 2 years, 3 months ago

I would label the authors elucidation on pecuniary inequities a "fatuous diatribe", however, "ridiculous story" works just as well.

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bill schurman 2 years, 3 months ago

According to Mark my prices should go down since I'm retired. We'll see if this far-fetched tale is true.

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Neil O'Keeffe 2 years, 3 months ago

More surprising is the fact that the newspaper allowed this deception to go out under their name, this was not presented as a personal opinion/letter to the editor piece.

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jerry carlton 2 years, 3 months ago

James I have a title too. It is BSIE. That does not stand for bu.. sh.. but Bachleor of Science in Industrial Engineering. I am guessing that M stands for Masters but I am at a loss for CSE. Please educate me. Thank you in advance.

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John St Pierre 2 years, 3 months ago

If the Pilot is going to publish this story as fact.... we should have the right, no we insist on full disclosure... what store this is.... is this in Steamboat????

If this is a work of fiction then the Pilot should state so.... since the Pilot has insisted on full disclosure from those who use this medium ( not to mention confirm your identity) to say the least the Pilot should also verify what they print........

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rhys jones 2 years, 3 months ago

Jerry -- May I answer on behalf of James -- and if I am not mistaken -- that is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert -- in other words, A Degree in Quackery. Gates' Windows platform is an antiquated relic, a necessarily-single-user, closed-source, buggy and virus-susceptible can of sanctioned spyware. Not to mention what the 'Net scum might throw at you.

I am proud to say there is not a line of Windows code in my machine or on my website, save for a few JavaScript lines to deal with their funky Internet Explorer browsers.

Linux, my man. Open-source. You can see everything. The Future.

Sorry I can provide no cute title too; my school changes almost every day, and my only reward is an occasional new client.

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James Earley, MCSE 2 years, 3 months ago

Jerry: MCSE is Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. Jones: It's evident that attempting to understand complex computer systems causes you much anger and frustration. I would therefore recommend an occupation change. I think you would be better suited to the food service industry. McDonalds is hiring. The position of "clown" is already taken, but perhaps you could be trained to flip burgers.

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Rick Akin 2 years, 3 months ago

I am surprised at the reactions to this article. It seems to me that Mark illustrates a point that is worthy of some thoughtful discussion. Mark, thanks for making this point.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 3 months ago

The illustrated point is a farce.

Optional government services such as planning reviews or getting a copy of a recorded deed have a fixed fee schedule.

The amount of taxes dues is obviously dependent upon the person's wealth and income.

I have a different parable. A person is struggling to support a family working in house cleaning. She goes to church and puts $3 in the collection plate. Do Mr Hartless and Mr Akin look at that and say that, to be fair, that they will also put $3 on the collection plate?

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rhys jones 2 years, 3 months ago

Earley: I already have a job, thank you, and it's not dealing with antiquated technology.

Even my Linux friends make lots of money off of Bill, because everybody has so much trouble with his software. Lots of people milking that cow, yourself included.

I stay on the cutting edge, buddy, stuff so new they don't teach it in classes, and by the time they do, it's already outdated.

No fancy title comes with that, just more clients. Go ahead, follow your Piper.

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Rick Akin 2 years, 3 months ago

Thanks to Mr. Wedel for his response. I would answer with two points. First, Mr. Hartless can put any amount that he wants in the collection plate ($0, $3, or $30,000). It is really none of my business, except to the extent that I will defend his right to do what he wants. The point is that he and everyone else is free to choose. Second, your statement that, "The amount of taxes dues (sic) is obviously dependent upon the person's wealth and income." is clearly false. In terms of how the system actually works, in 2010 GE made $14.2 billion worldwide and paid no U.S. income tax. So, your premise does not entirely reflect how the system works now.
In fact, your premise is really the point up for discussion. Why should the amount you pay be dependent upon your income and wealth? Doesn't a system like you describe provide a disincentive to producing income and wealth? Furthermore, that sort of system supports the myth that "Someone else is paying, so why do I care why the government spends?". This is one of the major factors that makes it so difficult to get spending under control. Too much of the electorate thinks that they are playing with someone else's money.

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mark hartless 2 years, 3 months ago

Finally... somebody gets it! Thanks Rick.

I've been siting back reading some of the comments, speaking to some on the phone (all of whom were quite courteous) and in person; here is what I have gleaned:

  1. There seem to be a few folks who couldn't care less about someone elses income tax rates but they sure seem concerned with the possibility of having paid more for their groceries than someone else.

  2. One commenter actually admits to trying to conceal his true wealth in order to get better rates, something I'm guessing they might chastise some rich guy like... say... Mitt Romney for doing.

  3. Apparently we, as a society, are so naive that we actually need and, even worse, expect to be told something is "fiction"/ "editorializing" so we won't believe it. Apparently it is the responsibility of the news media to verify every single word they print, yet the public bears no responsibility for believing total and complete BS!

What does this say about the ability of the American electorate to discern truth? I think it speaks volumes.

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mark hartless 2 years, 3 months ago

BTW, I did not set out to decieve anyone. I did not set out to run down any grocery store, local or otherwise. This was not intended as any sort of experiment whatsoever. I simply used an everyday experience to illustrate a simple point.

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jerry carlton 2 years, 3 months ago

James Thank you for the information. That said, I have always felt it was rather pompous to advertise titles with the possible exception of MD, Medical Doctor. This is the United States, not England, whose butts we kicked quite a few years ago. Personal opinion only. P.S. I am half English and half Irish or least that is what I was told as a child.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 3 months ago

Rick, The church collection plate parable is asking not what is required, but what you think is fair. You ignored that question. Sure, in a church there is no compulsion to contribute and a person has the choice to put nothing on the collection plate. The question is should a presumably wealthy person look at what a poor person put on the plate and think it is moral and fair to put in the same amount?

There is an obvious difference between a donation plate and taxes. No one would consider operating government based upon voluntary contributions. Taxes have been compulsory since the earliest days of any civilization since a society cannot depend upon voluntary contributions.

Just because the tax system has so many loopholes that a GE can avoid paying taxes does not mean that GE should be EXPECTED to pay the same as a working poor person.

A progressive tax system does not discourage people from making more money except at extremely high (75%+) tax rates. That people will seek lower pay to pay less in taxes is a claim made without evidence. The opposite claim that people want to maximize their income even if they have to pay more taxes is seen every day.

It is an inaccurate argument to suggest government spends most of its money on the poor. Defense Dept pays nothing to the poor and so on for most other government programs. If paying taxes meant those people cared about government spending then farm subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare would have ended long ago.

Government always operates on other people's money in a representative democracy. That is true by definition.

A normal force against government deficits are the wealthy since deficits threaten stability and their wealth. But with the Republican Party making the claim that deficits from tax cuts are fine while smaller deficits via tax hikes are immoral then it is impossible to politically deal with the deficit. Republicans could say that Clinton left office with budget surplus and that we should return to that. Instead we have a record low percentage of income being taxed along with record deficits and one political party refusing to consider that tax cuts and deficits could be linked.

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Neil O'Keeffe 2 years, 3 months ago

Yea, like he said! Thanks Scott, common sense may prevail some day soon but don't count on it.

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James Earley, MCSE 2 years, 3 months ago

Jerry: I could care less about your lineage. All your last post does is prove you're an idiot. You and a handful of others belong on craigslist rants and raves department - not here in this venue. Why you or anyone would choose to go off topic and use this forum as a vehicle to insult people is beyond me. Don't go away mad, just go away.

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rhys jones 2 years, 3 months ago

Hmmm, seems a Microsoft degree comes with an attitude, as well as initials.

Everybody ELSE has had something to say on topic, save for the Gates' lemming.

That's (another reason) why I shun Microsoft. They get so wrapped up in the minutia they lose sight of the big picture. They think they understand complex computer logic, when they don't understand simple human communication.

So they insult here, point their fingers there, all the while so superior...

That act plays thin after a while. Stay on topic yourself.

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Rick Akin 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for your reply, Mr. Wedel. I am actually quite sure that I am not going to convince you of anything, but for the benefit of other folks reading this, I will reply First, I did answer your question about the collection plate. It is none of my business what you, Mr. Hartless or anyone else puts in the collection plate. It is not my place to dictate the behavior of others. My only interest is that they be free to make their own choices. Actually, it is here where I believe our basic differences lie. I look at history and I see that freedom has worked and that government control and planning has not been terribly effective. So, I would say that not only is freedom morally right, but it has demonstrably better practical effects than government control and coercion. This is not to say that government does not serve a proper and necessary role, but just because something needs done, does not mean that government is the party that should do it. Government, by its very nature, works only through coercion. In this regard, it is the opposite of the free market. Consequently, my view, like this country's founders, is that government should be limited. We are more likely to realize this effect if people see that it is their money that the government is spending. Therefore, I want people to realize that they have skin in the game when the government spends money. In the final analysis, I do not believe that government properly exists for it own sake. It exists only for the sake of, and to the extent consented to, by the governed. As Adam Smith observed, the proper role of government is limited to protecting us from invasion, administering justice internally,and "erecting and maintaining certain public works, and certain public institutions, which it can never be for the interest of any individual, or small number of individuals to erect and maintain."

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Neil O'Keeffe 2 years, 3 months ago

Blah, blah, blah. No one can convince you of anything either my friend. Remember that minds are like parachutes and right now this country in plummeting toward the abis and has no idea where the rip cord is.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 3 months ago

Rick, Liberals also believe in freedom. They believe in the freedom of gays to marry, of disabled to move around a city, the freedom of Muslims to have mosques, and so on.

I find this idea that there are Americans without "skin in the game" to be rather insulting. Impoverished Americans still have their own and their children's lives at stake and certainly have skin in the game.

No one believes that government properly exists for it's own sake.

Government has grown because it was not acceptable to have kids with stunted growth and lower IQs from malnutrition. Government grew because of the poor farming practices that contributed to the Dust Bowl. Government grew because of abusive child labor practices, workplace disasters and monopolistic practices of corporations. Government grew because of the citizen in Appalachia and elsewhere living in poverty. Government grew because of so many senior citizens living in poverty. Government grew to build the interstate highway system. Government grew to protect the environment when a river was so polluted that it burned and people died in a town from air pollution. Government grew to become and remain the most powerful military.

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mark hartless 2 years, 3 months ago

Why not tell the truth? Stop lying about it.

When legendary bank robber Willie Sutton was asked "Why did you rob all those banks?" He famously replied: "Because that's where all the money is!"

Why do the rich pay most of the tax burden? Because the government needs the money and they are the only ones who have it. I understand that for godness sakes.

Stop lying and stop calling it "fairness". There is nothing "fair" whatsoever about a progressive income tax... NOTHING. Just have the guts to admit it! That's all I'm asking.

Do the rich pay their fair share? Hell no! They pay way, way MORE. And there's nothing "fair" about it.

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rhys jones 2 years, 3 months ago

When Government realized there was Money to be Made being Government -- Capably Assisted by the Banks controlling the Economy -- THAT'S when Government got BIG.

Well Mark, it's obvious you just have too much money. The Government sees it; the clerk at the store sees it. And on their behalf, I would like to thank you for supporting us.

Now wasn't that neat, how I just roped this dogie back on topic?

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mark hartless 2 years, 3 months ago

"Too much money"? What's that mean?

You got the wrong guy there Rhys. I work for a living just like you.

An easy mistake, I guess. Many, many people assume only rich people defend rich people. Since I do not subscribe to the pettiness of class envy I support what I think is right; rich, poor, or otherwise.
However, I do tend to esteem rich people higher than many Americans do. Probably because I do not accept the all-too-popular notions that, if you are rich, you had to screw someone to get there or that you can only have money and prosperity by removing it or making it unavailable to others. And the latest demonization, that they don't "pay their fair share". Hence my original letter to the Pilot.

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Rick Akin 2 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Hartless, I think old Rhys is kidding with you a little there. To answer your question though, take a look at Mr. Wedel's post. When he says "freedom" he means something different than what you and I mean. We have in mind freedom from the force and coercion of government,which is also what America's founders meant. He means being guaranteed certain results, which is what people like Woodrow Wilson and John Dewey meant. Guaranteeing results is an expensive proposition and requires significant taxation on the productive elements of society. Unfortunately, this also erodes the overall productivity of society and leads to the fairness problems that you correctly point out. It further means that someone must perceive themselves as competent to know how to redistribute wealth. I do not believe that such competence exists. I would rather trust free markets.

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Kevin Nerney 2 years, 3 months ago

Rick I would like to expound on you point if I could. Scott W. , if government was so good at the things it got bigger doing why must they still be doing it? The poor in Appalachia are still poor. The swamp people (despite having their own show) are still poor. The "ghetto's" are still ghetto's. Now matter how much money we throw at education we're still 17th in the world in science. And if you believe the presidential ads on TV he's trying to get more people into the middle class. Why should we settle for being middle class? What happened to the American dream of being anything you wanted to be? Upwardly mobile use to be a great catch phrase. My only regret is not being able to pay a million dollars in taxes.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 3 months ago

Rick, It is not guaranteeing results to allow gays to marry.

It is not guaranteeing results to give the disabled access to buildings. This is a case where freedom of business owners and such was reduced in order to grant freedom of access to the disabled.

Guaranteeing results is a false argument because guaranteeing access or opportunity is not the same as guaranteeing the result.

In the 70s, my aunt was denied the opportunity to take the test to become a sergeant in the police dept where she worked. When the courts ruled that the dept had to let her take the test then yes, the dept lost the freedom to say only men could become police sergeants. That did not guarantee that she would pass the written test. She did. She had to go to court again to take the physical test. Before she was allowed to take it, she was injured.

So yeah, freedom to be sexist and racist in business has been lost. Good riddance.

Conservatives love to claim that giving others the same opportunities that have been reserved for white males is guaranteeing results.

Kevin, Government addressing a problem generally does not mean the problem goes away. It typically means that a majority of the people no longer accept that this is an acceptable situation and want to spend government resources dealing with the situation. There is rarely the expectation that government will solve the problem and the issue will go away. The situation is more like that this is a chronic issue and the effort is to control and minimize a problem that was once out of control and could get out of control again. For instance, coal miners once died by the hundreds. Mine safety has gotten far better, but just because deaths are down does not mean mine safety regulations have solved the problem and thus go away.

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Rick Akin 2 years, 3 months ago

I was not really aware that we were talking about gay marriage or anything along that line, but back to the subject of tax policy and size of government, here is a link to a great article about Milton Friedman: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444226904577558882802335216.html

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

Hard to take your "article" (it's an opinion piece) seriously with its "Obamanomics" hyperbole, comes across as hateful ranting. Here's a link to a much sounder opinion about Friedman:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2007/feb/15/who-was-milton-friedman/?pagination=false

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

Here's my counterpoint to Mark's strawman grocery-hyperbole opinion piece:

Progressive taxation to pay for government, particularly a social safety net, is one of the founding ideas of this nation. It's perfectly OK to discuss the topic, but it's my belief that it's downright unpatriotic to insist on regressive taxation, particularly using a "fairness" argument. These issues were settled back in Tom Paine's day, whom it would seem the Tea Partiers are unfamiliar with, believing "the Democrats" are somehow to blame, in blissful ignorance of the actual beliefs of the founders.

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

"Consequently, my view, like this country's founders, is that government should be limited. We are more likely to realize this effect if people see that it is their money that the government is spending. Therefore, I want people to realize that they have skin in the game when the government spends money."

I think everyone understands they have skin in the game, hard not to when sales and use taxes affect us all on a daily basis. But I am not familiar with these founders you speak of. In fact, I'm damn tired of the sheer ignorance of this trite right-wing talking point, which often goes so far as to claim that even Hamilton and Madison favored "States' Rights" and limited federal government.

Come on, people. If you want me to take you seriously, your opinions can't be based on a mythological retelling of American history. The Constitution replaced the failing, States' Rights approach of the Articles of Confederation with a strong central government model. Hell, the anti-federalist papers are nothing if not doom-and-gloom criticism of this paradigm shift, but that was the losing side of the debate. Those on the winning side, are those to whom we refer when we speak of the founders.

This is a matter of historical fact, not Tea Party fiction, no matter how much y'all would like to claim otherwise in an effort to lend legitimacy to your ideological preconceptions. Strong central government -- it's the American Way (TM). Any lingering doubt was surely put to rest with the Union victory in the Civil War.

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

"There is nothing "fair" whatsoever about a progressive income tax... NOTHING."

Tom Paine, amongst other prominent founders of this nation, would disagree with you. I really don't see how regressive taxation is fair, as it means the less money you have, the greater percentage of it you pay to the government. How is that remotely fair? There's nothing fair about 70% of farm subsidies going to the top .1% who don't even farm, what a lazy-ass bunch of leeches sucking on the teat of government. It would be so unfair if Ann Romney couldn't take a $70,000 deduction for her show pony. What a (two-) Cadillac-driving welfare queen!!!

"Do the rich pay their fair share? Hell no! They pay way, way MORE."

This statement itself proves you aren't rich. Or living on the same planet as me. Warren Buffett and others are at least honest enough to admit straight up that it's unfair for them to be taxed at half the rate of their secretaries. But can we please put this idiotic talking point of the rich pay their fair share, away once and for all with some facts? This article refers to a study, the likes of which hadn't been done before, which finally gives us a rough accounting of where America's wealth really winds up, and it's as I've long suspected:

http://truth-out.org/news/item/10539-mitts-offshore-shenanigans-the-bigger-story

Big surprise, it doesn't trickle down into American pockets. Seriously, how naive do you have to be, to believe the wealthy aren't stashing as much of their money as they possibly can in offshore tax havens? And why won't Mitt Romney follow his own Father's example and standard (12 years of tax returns for gubernatorial candidates, Kerry released 20 years back in '04 because of his wealth from marrying that ketchup heiress), instead of refusing to release more than one (not two, one) incomplete tax return, when that one already shows he's a "legal tax cheat" like the rest of the rich? You can't possibly not know why they do this -- to AVOID PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE OF TAXES.

But, thanks to Bush's initiative and Obama's general suckiness, the IRS has for years now ignored the rich, instead auditing those who qualify for EITC. Thus guaranteeing that any monies recovered fall far short of what it costs to recover them -- the cost-benefit analysis would seem to call for investigating the Romneys of this country, due to the revenue windfall when the big fish get caught. But, we can't have that, as it would go against the "big government is bad" narrative which points to the IRS as an example of government inefficiencies, a self-fulfilling prophecy like the bogus accounting requirements imposed on the Postal Service which "justify" office closings.

The right-wing BS, it sure does pile up. Sometimes, I've had enough, and need to vent.

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

That part of our heritage that's Anglo-Saxon had a little thing called "primogeniture" wherein the eldest son inherited everything. Studying up on a little history reveals that the founders were all in favor of taxing capital gains, profits, and inheritances to break up the pattern common in the British Empire of political power being passed down through family dynasties.

And it worked, too, until the rich figured out how to buy enough congresscritters to undo these things, slowly at first, but if Romney wins the estate tax disappears in a blizzard of "death tax" propaganda. Take a look at the established political dynasties in the halls of Congress today -- quite a few of them -- and understand that it's a direct, and predicted, result of our tax system going increasingly regressive since the prosperous-for-all mid-forties through mid-sixties when the top income tax rate went as high as 92%.

Those with enough income to be in those top brackets, actually get most of their income from dividends, so it was hardly a disincentive to accumulating more wealth, to take most from the least. And in Congress? Waaaay fewer of the political dynasties entrenched today (can ya say Udall), now we have a surprising number of Senators who are appointed. The only way for our democratic republic to survive, is to make the rich pay for it; instead, they fund elections in our glorified system of legalized corruption, which the country is literally falling apart to perpetuate because of how much time politicians have to spend fundraising instead of legislating.

Instead, Bloomberg bought himself a third term as Mayor of our largest city, and this year's presidential election will wind up costing billions, instead of the mere $500 million of 2008. We either figure out some way to reign the out-of-control rich back in, and get them to fund government services instead of government graft, or this nation is doomed to succumb to the oligarchy whose actions (like crashing the financial system, then recovering from it thanks to $16T lending from the Fed the public didn't know about until Ron Paul's last audit, in addition to systematically fraudulent foreclosures, all unpunished but even so the perpetrators have abandoned Obama for not being business-friendly enough, of all the mind-boggling complaints) we increasingly bear witness to.

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

Romney's Palestinian gaffe will cost him nothing, of course, since nobody gives a rat's ass about the Palestinians. But it's interesting to note that nobody in the MSM managed to point out that, if it isn't racist, it goes against Tom Paine's assertion that "rich" and "poor" are artificial divisions having nothing to do with divine providence. Speaking of "Agrarian Justice."

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

"Anyway, just a reminder about what's really dividing America: the fact that a rising tide no longer raises all boats. And there has been a dramatic decoupling between overall economic growth and the fortunes of the typical family.

It's not an 'attack on capitalism' to suggest that growing income disparities and the corresponding failure of most Americans to benefit from rising productivity are problems. Still, what can be done? Well, you can ask the rich to pay somewhat higher taxes, and you can strengthen the safety net — which is what Mr. Obama actually advocates. But Mr. Romney wants to do the reverse."

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/10617-romney-still-doubling-down-on-failed-policies

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

Just gettin' warmed up, heheh...

"When Government realized there was Money to be Made being Government -- Capably Assisted by the Banks controlling the Economy -- THAT'S when Government got BIG."

And went into high profit businesses like narco-trafficking, using the farce of the War on Drugs to take out the competition. But, please, the correct terminology is "banksters" (heh, sorry Wade). I'd be willing to bet the sacrificial lamb got a job with another bank the next day, given the extent to which the fix is in for these guys:

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-16/hsbc-aided-money-laundering-by-iran-drug-cartels-probe-shows

Which is even less punishment than the last major bank to get busted for money laundering ($160 million fine for $385 billion of illegal activity), so it's no surprise to me if they all continue to do it, and consider the fines just the cost of being in such a lucrative business...

"Stanford's bank was chartered by a fraudster from Beverly Hills named Jerome Schneider, author of an early entry in the booming field of helping the parasitic rich avoid paying taxes. It was called 'Hiding Your Money.'

Schneider also hosted 'offshore wealth summits' in places like Cancun, attended by congressmen and other public figures, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Schneider set up about 800 offshore banks in 15 years, and was a 'thorn in the side of federal banking authorities and the Internal Revenue Service for years,' according to the LA Times.

But if he was a thorn in their side, you couldn't tell. They never did anything about him. Nothing."

http://www.madcowprod.com/2012/04/13/narcobanker-allen-stanford-story/

"We knew little else about the bank, however, until we received the letter threatening a lawsuit, and we certainly had no idea at the time that the bank's co-founder, top investor and principal owner, Tony Sanchez, had once [been] the target of accusations that millions of dollars of drug money had been knowingly laundered through his Texas thrift, called Tesoro Savings & Loan.

Before failing in 1988, at a cost to American taxpayers of $161 million, the thrift was accused of laundering $25 million in Mexican drug money, not exactly the ideal credential for a bank founder and owner.

But, we soon discovered, it gets worse…

The drug money Sanchez's S& L was accused of raking in allegedly belonged to the very same drug traffickers who had recently witnessed, directed, recorded and participated in the infamous torture-murder in Mexico of American DEA agent Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena."

http://www.madcowprod.com/04242008.html

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

"On 10 April 2006, a DC-9 jet landed in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, on the Gulf of Mexico, as the sun was setting. Mexican soldiers, waiting to intercept it, found 128 cases packed with 5.7 tons of cocaine, valued at $100m. But something else – more important and far-reaching – was discovered in the paper trail behind the purchase of the plane by the Sinaloa narco-trafficking cartel.

During a 22-month investigation by agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and others, it emerged that the cocaine smugglers had bought the plane with money they had laundered through one of the biggest banks in the United States: Wachovia, now part of the giant Wells Fargo."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/03/us-bank-mexico-drug-gangs

There's more to the narco-jet story, of course, some of it fresh:

http://www.madcowprod.com/2012/06/27/mexican-drug-lord-linked-55-toncocaine-bust/ http://www.madcowprod.com/2012/07/27/hsbc-narcobank-big-fail-big-jail/

"Wachovia's nasty habit of moving money around for Mexican drug smugglers provided the clean cash necessary for the purchase of a fleet of American planes, including the DC9, which cumulatively flew at least 22 tons of cocaine."

http://www.madcowprod.com/07062011.htm

"The day before the plane crashed, in fact, Jay-Z and R&B singer Beyonce, who were apparently an item at the time, were aboard the plane as it flew from Las Vegas to Teterboro.

A fact not likely to be emphasized is that both former Presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton were also Platinum charter customers.

...

Brassington's status as a long-time employee of terror flight school owner Wallace J. Hilliard will almost certainly go unmentioned.

Evidence will not be presented to show how Brassington’s charter jet company was his 'cover' for a decade-long stint flying drug and money-laundering flights on luxury jets into and out of the U.S. for a drug trafficking operation which has been led -- since at least the mid-1980’s -- by a corrupt element of America's political elite which was first exposed in the Iran Contra Scandal.

...

Also not being addressed is the curious timing of the indictment.

The plane crash which is the centerpiece of the prosecution's case occurred in February of 2005. Yet Brassington wasn't charged until three years later… two short weeks after the Bush Administration left office.

It is highly unlikely that prosecutors learned anything about the Teterboro crash in 2009 that they didn't already know by the end of 2005.

So the question becomes: Why was the Bush Administration protecting from prosecution a foreign national pilot who had flown charter flights into the U.S. in 2000 carrying heroin?"

http://www.madcowprod.com/11022010.htm

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

"This news came out after Losada was arrested in the Chilean capital of Santiago. He had been 'linked to a shipment of five tons of cocaine which U.S. drug enforcement officials in Miami intercepted over six years ago on the MV Harbour as it headed toward Guantanamo Bay.'

...

Why were Caribbean dopers steering a course for a highly-secure U.S. military facility?"

http://www.madcowprod.com/04022009.html

"We dubbed the affair the 'One Hundred Drug Plane Scandal' after an announcement by the Mexican Attorney General stating that as many as 100 American aircraft were purchased by Mexican Drug Lords using the SAME FUNDING MECHANISM, supposedly discovered only after the two American-registered drug planes were caught in Mexico's Yucatan carrying a cumulative 10 tons of cocaine.

...

Neither of the federal agencies with apparent jurisdiction -- the DEA and FAA -- has so far offered answers about how two American-registered jets with extremely politically well-connected owners, could have wound up carrying so much Colombian coke. But then, no mainstream American journalists have bothered to ask.

...

The question of how a CIA plane ended up flying for the Sinaloa Cartel is reminiscent, as well, of the one raised in 1999, after our discovery, before the 2000 Presidential election, that the favorite airplane of Texas Governor George W. Bush once belonged to belong to Barry Seal, a life-long CIA pilot and the biggest cocaine smuggler of the go-go 80's.

...

Moreover our investigation uncovered evidence linking the past and current owners of both busted American planes to a continuing criminal enterprise engaged -- not just in drug trafficking -- but in massive financial fraud which has cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars."

http://www.madcowprod.com/09102008.html (written before we knew what that funding mechanism was, i.e. Wachovia) http://www.madcowprod.com/cocaine-archive.htm

Hats off to Daniel Hunsicker for connecting the dots between drugs, terrorism, money laundering, the CIA and the banksters -- where other media outlets like the Guardian article above really just gloss right over that airplane and its pilots, and the whole rest of the sordid tale...

The super-wealthy banksters are making a literal killing laundering drug and terror money, and stashing the proceeds overseas. Paying their fair share? Not until someone has to do some real jail time, and the fines are replaced by confiscation of ill-gotten booty, will that be the case. My objection has nothing to do with "class envy" or other such hogwash; many of these people are parasites on our society who don't need lower taxes, less regulation, or criminal immunity.

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Rick Akin 2 years, 3 months ago

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." --James Madison, Federalist No. 45

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mark hartless 2 years, 3 months ago

Wow! Now I see.

The founders MEANT for 50% of the population to have no income tax burden.

They actually MEANT for the other 50% to have all the income tax burden., even though the income tax, via the 16th ammendment to the Constituton, was not established till 1913.

And the black market, crooked bankers, rich folks with ponies, unlike in their day, was all part of the founders design for our future... yes... I get it!

It's all so clear now...

Thanks Eric, for setting me straight. I'll try to do better... I promise.

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Heidi O'Connell 2 years, 3 months ago

Oh my..I wonder if Eric J Bowman is sleeping in..

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 3 months ago

Founders did not intend women to vote. Founders did not intend for the public to vote for US Senate candidates. Founders tolerated slavery.

What the Founders intended for a low tech agrarian society is of little relevance unless you intend that we return to a low tech agrarian society.

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mark hartless 2 years, 3 months ago

And I could make a great case that the general public should not vote for senators.

I could make a pretty good case that the nanny-state began with women voting.

And just about anyone who understands 18th century American history knows that many of the founders did not like slavery and spoke against it and wanted it stopped, but realized the consequences of doing it in the 1700's would be more radical and sudden change than the new nation could bear.

What the founders intended is of great relevance. Their vision and understanding of human history, human nature, human limitations, humans' relation to their maker, and their ability to craft an owners manual for a nation that is still relevant long after the passing of the agrarian society prove them to have been far wiser and possesed of far more vision that Scott Wedel.

Frankly, I think perhaps that was the stupidest thing I have ever read from the fingertips of Scott Wedel.

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rhys jones 2 years, 3 months ago

Every thing Scoot ever said was smarter than anything you ever said.

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rhys jones 2 years, 3 months ago

That's all you've got, is a nasty bark. An original idea never crossed your mind.

Stop polluting these forums with your bitter bile. Defecate in your own back yard. It's too late to ask you to grow up.

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Eric J. Bowman 2 years, 3 months ago

"The founders MEANT for 50% of the population to have no income tax burden."

Damn all those babies and seniors with no income to tax. This has got to be the most ridiculous right-wing drivel of our times.

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