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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OWS: 53 versus 99 (updated)

The conservatives have launched a "53% movement" to win the propaganda wars against the 99 percenters.
Conservative activists have created a Tumblr called “We are the 53 percent” that’s meant to be a counterpunch to the viral “We are the 99 percent” site that’s become a prominent symbol for the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Tumblr is supposed to represent the 53 percent of Americans who pay federal income taxes, and its assumption is that the Wall Street protesters are part of the 46 percent of the country who don’t.
Of course, this meme is a thorough falsehood. Much of the "46 percent" is composed of old people, very young people, the disabled, stay-at-home spouses, and those mired in the dregs of poverty. The working poor may pay less in federal income tax, but their overall tax bill is as bad as, or worse than, that faced by the wealthy.

The people who put together the "53 percent" movement leave Social Security out of their calculations. Excise taxes hit the poor harder. Sales taxes are inherently regressive.

Joshua Holland goes into this in his book The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy, which is recommended reading. Holland totes up all the taxes and finds that the bottom half and the top half of the population pay about the same.

Update: Dakinikat points out that the 53% figure (give or take a percentage point or two) was for the single year of 2009, and that situation arose out of very special circumstances.
In a more typical year, 35 percent to 40 percent of households owe no federal income tax. In 2007, the figure was 37.9 percent.
So the 53 percent figure is bullshit. That said, "99 percent" may also be a slightly misleading figure. This site says that there 5,139,385 millionaires in this country. If my calculatin' is correct, that brings us close to 98%. Of course, a million bucks just doesn't buy what it used to.

Speaking of OWS: Business Insider says that the protesters are being paid 20 bucks an hour. (Insert standard issue "Evil Soros" conspiracy theory here.) Yeahhhhh. Right. I'm much more willing to believe that the Koch-heads would pay some guy to say that.

By the way: As long as we are talking about who pays more in taxes, can we do something about the "leech state" versus the "producer state" phenomenon?

Even with all of its problems, my former home state of California pays more to the federal government than it receives in goods and services. So does New York; so do pretty much all the blue states.

The red states tend to be leeches. The south, for example, receives far more from the government than it pays in taxes. Thus, the Iraq war was foisted on this nation by red state voters (who wield disproportionate power, thanks to the institutions of the Senate and the electoral college), yet the blue state voters have to pay for that stupid, ongoing mistake.

Is that fair?
That argument about poor people not paying taxes is incredible BS. Shot down long time ago. Here's a good link. That stat is basically an anomaly for one year because of extraordinary tax cuts combined with ignoring a bunch of other taxes paid beyond income taxes. I've shot it down twice but here's the best source of some REAL data.
Are you kidding me? $20 an hour? Sign me up.

I'm sickened to hear of this 53 % crap, but it must be that we're striking a blow. Riot police just cracked down on Occupy Boston (I have not slept tonight, went down there!)....10,000 marched and those camping spilled over into the next greenway. The park conservators gave their permission but the elite security guards aka police still claim the charge was "trespassing" as they limited the growth and legitimacy of this movement.

btw, Joseph, while there I heard one obvious plant arguing that "after this there is no excuse not to be a Libertarian." I turned and gave them a tongue-lashing, including facts, and they fell back on the standby, "prove it." I told them do their own research. Wrong, it's just all so wrong.
The Wall Street occupation represents the culmination of the war between the business class--and those who identify with it--and everyone else.

In my version of history, the merchant class declared war on the rest of us sometime in the 1970s. They have been very successful at pushing their agenda through, in the sense that the business class are making out like bandits while everyone else starves.

Though they're bloated like ticks, the business types the ones doing all the whining now, as you can see by the obsessive talk about taxes and money and such. They have robbed everybody blind, yet they can't figure out why the whole world is mad at them.
Prowlerzee, I'm really worried (as you might guess) by that "libertarian" remark. The movement has to define itself as anti-libertarian. You can't be pro-libertarian and anti-Wall Street. You just can't.
Im very struck by quite how freaked out the powers that be must be by these rather limited protest movements. I mean its not like a well organised resistance campaign. They have no media backing. In fact I am struck by how unfriendly the coverage has been (when covered at all).

The legitimacy of lots of media outlets is finally being compromised (in the minds of ordinary people) by the clear bias in their coverage. Similarly the legitimacy of the police is being damaged.

On the one hand I am a little alarmed to see how quickly the organs of state are losing their grip. On the other hand, since the state itself has been completely captured by finance capital and corporations, it cant be a bad thing to demonstrate that we still believe that legitimacy derives from the poeple first.

However I think you would be naive not to recognise that there will probably be a violent stage, where the government gets heavy and tries to win by beating people up. Buckle up, this is gonna be a turbulent ride.

Stay at home spouses pay taxes. They are usually included on joint returns. They provide labor that would otherwise have to be purchased and thus provide income to the household, as do family caretakers of the disabled or elderly.
hurray for you, prowlerzee!!!!

Let's solve the leech state problem by moving all those military reservations that get all those federal dollars to producer states. Thar will make everything right as rain.
Social security is not a tax, it is premium paid for an issuance plan.

And your leech state classification is the natural outcome of progressive taxation. "Leech" states have lower per capita incomes.
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