Like I said…UPDATED

About three years ago, a Democrat congressman — I think it was Stark but I’m not sure, anymore — said he wanted to see the marginal tax rate raised to 90%.

That story quickly went down the memory hole. You can’t get re-elected saying stuff like that.

But now, the election is over, so the guards are being let down. This is why you can read Krugman today, recommending a 91% tax rate. It’s why you can hang out on Twitter late at night and watch Robert Reich deliver talking points about why the president should not try to put the brakes on anything, but should let us go over “the fiscal cliff.”

It’s interesting, almost amusing, to consider that the same people who said the banks and GM were “too big to fail” and who supported government bail-outs, do not think the economy is too big to fail.

Of course Obama is going to let us go over “the fiscal cliff.” Doing so will give him all the marbles, and he’ll get to blame the Congress, to boot.

The Obama administration could blunt the economic harm caused by the “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year by using its unilateral powers over spending and taxes, for instance, by freezing how much in taxes is taken out of payroll checks, according to former senior officials and other tax and budget experts.

Anyway. As you know — as I more or less spelled out last week — I am less interested in railing about this stuff, anymore, because it seems pointless to me. A die is cast, and it is what it is. We’re being prompted to look elsewhere.

Pat Archbold has a good piece on this; he too has figured out that the political “answers” are all-illusion and distraction.

As I wrote not too long ago:

…the Obama administration — the whole boiling of them, and Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Reid and their posses and pals — have become so confident that a victory in this election means they will never again have to answer to anyone about anything, that in their heads, they’re already there.

An era is upon us that has been a long time coming. Let’s get past Thanksgiving, and then geer our Advent thoughts and prayers away from the headlines. Nations and ideals arise and then pass; only God is constant.

George Will: Answerable to no one

UPDATED:
Msgr. Pope: A Call to Courage in a Climate of Crisis and Conflict

Archbishop Chaput.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Ted Seeber

    I would point out that the Church flourished during the 1950s- under top marginal tax rates between 75% and 95%.

    Sometimes, I think, we need a reminder that we should be worshiping Jesus Christ, not the wealthy.

    [Well, thank you and I certainly agree we should be worshiping Jesus Christ, and I for one do not worship the wealthy, or "wealth" in general. I do find it surpassing strange, though, that someone like Krugman, who owns a beachhouse in the Caribbean and copters out to the Hamptons in summer doesn't think other people might like to be able to afford such things, too. I am not sure why for some people "wealth" is an evil while for others it is a good, and that double-standard always bothers me. And this piece has nothing to do with whether or not the church will "flourish" -- it's about accountability and people who hid themselves until they knew they were no longer accountable to anyone. Also, I'm not sure how you connect post-war "flourishing" in the church to a high marginal tax rate. Pretty sure one had little-to-nothing to do with the other. But, as someone has pointed out elsewhere, "include the other major economic factors at work at the time, like the fact that the US' share of world GDP was more than 50% during that time, or more than double what it is now -- due to the widespread destruction in the developed world because of WWII." And of course, China's withdrawal from the stage. It's interesting; the same people who say "that was then, this is now" on some issues think "that was then" on other issues is pretty good. But yes, I am completely of a mind that, jibber-jabber aside, we should be focusing on Christ. It's what I've been saying for a while, now and I'm happy that you think so, too. -admin]

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    91%? They can go where the sun don’t shine. Just when I was ready to reluctantly capitulate to let the Bush tax rate expire on the rich, I’ve now sunk my heals into the ground and so I won’t support any of it. It’s the principle. Let Obama cut Obamacare first and then we’ll comprimise. He added to the size of government, so let his constituents pay for it. Mayber we should let the country fall over the cliff. As it is, this is not the country I grew up in nor do I like what it’s become.

  • Pingback: Like I said…UPDATED | cathlick.com

  • JDC

    I do find it surpassing strange, though, that someone like Krugman, who owns a beachhouse in the Caribbean and copters out to the Hamptons in summer doesn’t think other people might like to be able to afford such things, too.

    So which is it? You can’t begrudge someone’s success at the same time you begrudge people their alleged begrudging of success. High marginal taxation is, contrary to your implication, about equality of opportunity, not outcome. It’s just that some folks acknowledge that initial endowments are one of the largest determinants of opportunity.

    Also while it is valid to acknowledge the role of WWII on our production, it’s misleading the way you’ve done so. Consider: even with a smaller share of global GDP, our productive capacity now is many times what it was then due to continued automation and related technologies – e.g., we didn’t have an internet at that point to simplify production and coordination. Now, people can hardly imagine the state of commerce without one.

    One major determinant of the health of the economy that is significantly “worse” now than post WWII is the average rate of profit. Unfortunately, the only way that’s likely to change is through untold human misery. The situation in America is lousy right now, but if we instead let the market “self-correct” by allowing the bottom to drop out, we’re only at the tip of the iceberg.

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    @JDC
    You said, “One major determinant of the health of the economy that is significantly “worse” now than post WWII is the average rate of profit.”

    How has it changed? I’ve never come across the average rate of profit. Can you provide some evidence? I would imagine it’s a complicated calculation given different inflation rates and forced things people have to buy today such as insurance.

  • JDC

    @Manny:

    It’s not something you see very often in mainstream economic discourse, but pretty much any modern surplus approach hinges pretty critically on it as a key independent variable. As for the calculation, the buying habits of firms don’t necessarily make it more or less difficult, since revenues will still boil down to some combination of fixed costs, capital, labor and profit. The main difficulty tends to have more to do with the depth of statistics readily available.

    That said, this is a fairly comprehensive example of how one might go about calculating it. It is by no means the only such example, however; there are a whole bunch of competing methodologies out there, often doing so quite hotly. To illustrate, the above paper even goes on a lengthy theoretical tangent in the middle to argue about some of these differences. It’s not something you’d probably want to dig too deeply into if all you’re looking for is an example, but all the other things you would want to see are there: sourced data, clear methodology, testable hypotheses, etc.

  • PB

    @JDC I would hardly call one’s salary an endowment.

  • JDC

    @PB:

    Granted, it’s not exactly the same. But when ownership tends to trump productivity as a factor of income, it doesn’t win any points for the “meritocratic” view of the way our economy is structured. Plus, the Cambridge Capital Controversy thoroughly exploded marginal productivity theory on logical grounds, so there’s really no reason to suppose a priori that compensation need be in line with one’s actual contribution to society.

    And anyone on the current, lousy job market will tell you the same from a more empirical standpoint: “who you know” frequently trumps “what you do.” Though of course care must be taken with inductive reasoning, that certainly CAN be viewed as an endowment.

  • Brian English

    “Pat Archbold has a good piece on this; he too has figured out that the political “answers” are all-illusion and distraction.”

    I actually found both Pat’s column and yours in First Things very disturbing. What is the basis for this belief that one cannot be focused on Christ and at the same time politically active? Obama and his progressive pals want people of faith out of the public square. Why are we removing ourselves voluntarily?

    And, unfortunately for those looking to retreat into the Catholic cloister, Obama and friends are not even going to be satisfied with that. We hold unacceptable beliefs that cannot be tolerated. We have already seen the Obama Adminstration making the argument that the First Amendment has to give way in order to achieve other societal goals, so just relying on the courts for protection is going to grow less effective the longer that crew is in power.

    Pray and fight. We don’t have to win, but we do have to try.

  • Brian English

    “Just when I was ready to reluctantly capitulate to let the Bush tax rate expire on the rich, I’ve now sunk my heals into the ground and so I won’t support any of it. It’s the principle.”

    No. Let Obama have everything he wants. The GOP should just abstain from the votes where his program goes into effect. Often people only learn through painful experience. Maybe we could also finally be done with the ludicrous claim that all of this is still GWB’s fault.


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