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Our Complex Tax System is Actually Pretty Good

Much is being bandied about by Repub political candidates on tax rates and the old chestnuts about “flat taxes” and “consumption taxes” are once again entering the conversation. For that reason I decided to explain modern tax schemes to those who may not understand them:

Flat Tax

The so-called flat tax is a simple levy on every dollar earned, deemed flat because everyone pays the same amount. This may seem much simpler, and it is, but mere simplicity is not a reason to change an entire tax code. Under this scheme, a person earning, say $30,000 per year would pay, say, 18% of his income or $5,400.00, considerably more than he pays now. That same person, earning $300,000 per year would pay $54,000, considerably less than he pays now. Most flat-tax schemes have been set at considerably lower rates than our current tax tables, begging the question as to the motivation of those proposing it. Flat taxes remove a large burden from high earners, who can afford to pay more taxes, and shifts it to low earners, who by their very nature, cannot.

Consumption Tax
This tax seems to make more sense to many. Rather than tax what a person earns, it would tax what they spend. On its face, it appears to be a fairer system, in that those who make a lot presumably spend a lot and, therefore, the highest burden would be with them. The problem is that those in lower income brackets tend to spend all or most of their incomes on basic necessities such as food, fuel and rent. These people have little disposable income from which to draw taxes, and so it would place an undue burden on them. They are virtually forced to spend nearly all their money nearly all the time, and have little or none to save, making 100% of their incomes subject to this tax.

Those with higher incomes and more disposable incomes can choose when to spend money and when not to. They can afford to save their money, rather than spending it, and would, therefore, be in a better position to keep their tax burden, on a percentage of income basis, lower than low-income people.

There are some who also suggest that this kind of tax would stifle spending-never a good thing for the economy.

Progressive Tax
The advantage of a progressive tax is that it’s based on the taxpayer’s ability to pay. The more one makes, the higher percentage of income one is able to pay. This premise is based on the fact that there is a baseline for how much it costs to live in modern society, and the further one is from that baseline, the more of one’s income is deemed to be surplus, and, therefore, available for taxation to benefit the greater good. It also allows those who do not make as much to pay less in taxes, thereby leaving more available to pay for everyday expenses like rent and food. It can also assist those in need by adding complexities like earned income credits, allowing low-income workers to receive money from the general tax account in order to help them survive.

It also creates more investment and charitable giving, in that those in the higher tax brackets, wanting to avoid high levels of taxation, will employ “writeoffs” by investing in tax deductible items such as charities or expanding their businesses by paying for factories and risking capital for new innovations. This, by extension, creates jobs and expands businesses. This is why when, during the 1950s when we had a maximum marginal tax rate of 92%, very few people ever actually paid that high rate. They were incentivised by these high rates to use their money for capital improvements in their businesses and expansion of industries, as well as investing in innovation, due to the tax-deductible nature of those types of investments. In this way, the marginal rate of 92%, although not actually paid by many people, may have contributed to the enormous economic expansion he U.S. experienced during the 1950s.

It is the most complex of all tax systems in that many “loopholes” are baked into it for various political reasons, but those loopholes do not mean that the system doesn’t work, only that certain interest groups have been able to get special treatment for themselves. These loopholes are purely political and have nothing to do with the benefits of the system itself. In general, it is the fairest of tax systems across the broad spectrum of incomes.

Some complain about the level of complexity of the current tax system for the average citizen. These issues have been largely resolved by the advent of personal tax software like Turbo Tax and the like. The simplicity of these software packages is such that virtually anyone who has earned their income from simple employment can do their taxes in minutes and avoid the expense of a tax preparer.

Flint water contamination and black kids going to jail-Perfect Together.

Here is a checklist of possible neuropsychological problems associated with lead when ingested by children:

Delayed language or motor milestones (infant, toddler)
Poor speech articulation
Poor language understanding or usage
Problems maintaining attention in school or home
High activity level (hyperactivity)
Problems with learning and remembering new information
Rigid, inflexible problem-solving abilities
Delayed general intellectual abilities
Learning problems in school (reading, language, math, writing)
Problems controlling behavior (e.g., aggressive, impulsive)
Problems with fine or gross motor coordination

Poor Academic Learning and Performance:
Learning Disabilities
Problems Paying Attention
Disorganized Approach to Learning
Poor Work Completion
Increased Risk to Drop Out
Poor Social Relationships:
Communication Deficits
Impulsive, Hyperactive Behavior
Problems Sharing and Taking Turns
Increased Aggression
Increased Need for Adult Supervision

I know it seems wrong, but there is an opportunity for a ground-breaking social experiment happening right now…

If all the kids who have been contaminated by the lead from the drinking water in Flint, Mich are identified and have their family histories and medical records retrieved, they can be tracked and monitored for nearly the rest of their lives.

Then, when they are in their teens and twenties, we can identify which, if any, have criminal backgrounds, family cohesion issues and others of the social ills often assigned to black people from inner cities.

Although this might be considered cold-hearted and calculating, it might, if my predictions are true, prove how many inner city children are destined for a life of hardship due to the environment prevalent during their childhood.

I’m curious as to what percentage of these kids will end up being societal throwaways when they get older. I suspect that if we don’t start monitoring them now, we’ll forget how and why many of them ended up in jail.

Religion and Bell Curves

I’ve spent the weekend (between FB posts) on advanced statistics and have arrived, once again, at the mathematic elegance of the Gaussian Curve (or Normal curve or Bell curve) and, although it is quite a fundamental mathematical concept, it reinforced a premise that I’d never thought of before.

Anyone who has spent any time with math (I engage in it reluctantly, but cross paths with it quite often) knows the music of it, knows how, when understood in depth, it defines the natural world. Atoms, molecules, cells, chemistry, biology, the Earth, the solar system and the entire universe can be explained, to a high degree of accuracy, with math. Most thinking people will agree with that fundamental tenet.
When one looks at a Bell curve, one can’t help but understand that central tendency cannot be explained other than by random selection. If it was designed by someone or something, there would be no need for the big hump in the middle. We would all be outliers, created by some omniscient spirit, one by one, in his “image”.

The efficiencies of evolution and random selection make perfect sense if one simply looks at the central tendency of Intelligence, which is normally distributed. So is achievement. So is height. Then again, so are shots at a target, time to a correct answer in a memory task, the diameter of giant redwood trees, life span of the one-celled protist Euglena gracilis, and innumerable other natural and derived phenomena. This is because deviations from the mean for any continuously scaled variable whose occurrence is independent of other events distribute themselves normally.

This is the essence of randomness and the antithesis of theism.

Campaign Spending is Not a Bad Thing

The entire issue of campaign spending is a red herring, and here’s why.

A Repub billionaire gives $100 million to candidates who want to overturn Roe v Wade
A Democrat billionaire gives $100 million to candidates who want to uphold it.

Where does that money go? To advertising agencies, local TV stations, pizza joints to buy lunches for staffs, sign companies, stationary companies, temp agencies, etc.

Each one lays out $100 million and washes out the other, and the economy gets a $200 million (or $200 billion dollar, as the case may be) boost so that these guys can try to buy their government. Yet the fact that it’s happening on both sides provides for a balance where no one really wins. Except our economy.

Please tell me why this is bad…

This is Why Hillary Will Be Our Next President

To anyone who is unfamiliar with Opposition Research, it is the task of finding everything there is to know about a candidate in an effort to undermine him or her in an election. Vast numbers of workers are hired for this task by every candidate, not only to undermine their opponents but to find out what information is available on their own candidate, in an effort to have rapid responses to any embarrassing questions which may be posed when the opposing candidates reveal each other’s dirty secrets.

The people who do this job spend their days at county, state and federal courthouses and record-keeping agencies perusing voting records, military files, college grades, credit card receipts, marriage and divorce documents and whatever else they can find which may lead to information about a proclivity for young boys, old women, or anything else potentially embarrassing. It is a multi-million dollar industry and all candidates partake in it.

What does this have to do with Hillary? Simple. All the oppo research that will ever be done about her has been done and the information released. And she still leads in the polls.

You may have noticed that not a single scandal about Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump has made the news. Not even the fact that Trumps wife posed nude all over Europe before marrying Trump! Folks, it’s not that these guys are both squeaky clean-it’s because Hillary is keeping her powder dry.

If Bernie was to become a real threat, Hillary’s attack machine will come out in full force and go after all of Bernie’s peccadillos, and don’t be so naive to think that he hasn’t any-he does. If Trump were to become the nominee, no one has yet spoken at length about his bankruptcies, dirty deals for government contracts, infidelity, three marriages and how he helped cut his dead brother’s family out of his father’s estate of over $20 million. All this information is in a file at Hillary headquarters, just waiting for the right time to come out swinging.

Unfair you say? Really? Do you know a single candidate in the history of the Presidency who has had more trash written about her and her family than Hillary? AND SHE’S STILL AT THE TOP OF THE POLES.

This is how real politics works, folks, and it is why we need experience in the White House. Watch this space, and watch Hillary come to the center of the ring loaded for bear.

Thomas Aquinas Explains How God Makes Woopie

Wonderful Originator of the heavens and the earth; how can He have a son when He has no consort? He created all things, and He hath full knowledge of all things
—Qur’an 6:101

They say, ‘God has begotten a son.’ God forbid! Self-sufficient is He. His is all that the heavens and the earth contain. Surely for this, you have no sanction. Would you say of God what you know not?
—Qur’an 10:68

Such was Jesus, the son of Mary. That is the whole truth, which they still doubt. God forbid that He Himself should beget a son! When He decrees a thing He need only say: ‘Be,’ and it is.
—Qur’an 19:35

I don’t use these passages to pitch one religion against another, but only to illustrate that another Abrahamic religion, one which, when scrutinized, is extremely similar to Christianity (no, the Quran does not say anything about 73 virgins) can so contradict one of the most fundamental tenets of Christianity.

I’m trying to illustrate that not only Atheists have problems with the entire premise of God having a “son”, but that those belonging to the second largest religion on earth (1.4 billion members) can contradict the premise that the most powerful force the earth has ever known needed to impregnate a mere mortal to have his word spread throughout the earth, then die for some sin that God himself perpetuated.

This is a common thread with those who must anthropomorphize their fantasies in an effort to make them more palatable. God the Spirit needed some walking around flesh in order to make him copacetic to the unwashed masses. Whatever this purported God did to this purported Virgin to create this purported Second God who is, Himself, the only God seems to be so blindingly lacking in necessity and logic as to beg suspension of disbelief.

The premise that an all-powerful God needed the mere flesh of a mortal woman to create a son, whereas he, God, had already created man by the snap of a divine finger, is idiotic to say the least. Oh, right, that was the Old Testament, which we seem to have decided was written when God was young and naive. As Gilda Radner’s character Emily Litella used to say in the early days of SNL, “Never mind”.

Even Thomas Aquinas could only justify this extra-biologic occurrence by suggesting that since sex is so dirty (now we see where that came from) there is no way that God could have gone through history as having gotten a little nookie, so he invented virgin births for one-time use. He claims to have had nothing to do with it. He just laid it all on the bitch (and now we know where that came from too).

The Circular Argument for Biblical Free Will.

I’ve been thinking about the concept of free will, as relates to biblical teachings (aka excuses for the evil in a world ostensibly ruled by divinity) and decided to revisit something I read years ago, that being On The Choice of Free Will, written by Augustine of Hippo, who become known as St. Augustine, in 395 AD. They named a city in Florida after him, likely because he had a condo on the beach or turned water into Margaritas or something…

The question being addressed in this book, using the Socratic method, is whether God can control this free will. It seems, after re-reading that which I last read at least 20 years ago, that the simplistic and dishonest method he uses for explaining away this argument which would offer incontrovertible proof of God’s power is simply too transparent. It uses deliberate circular reasoning and a “student”, Evodius, who is obsequious to the degree of a hungry Beagle.

It begins:
All wicked people, just like good people, desire to live without fear. The difference is that the good, in desiring this, turn their love away from things that cannot be possessed without the fear of losing them. The wicked, on the other hand, try to get rid of anything that prevents them from enjoying such things securely. Thus, they lead a wicked and criminal life, which would better be called death.

About one-third of the way through the book, Evodius asks the $60,000 question:
Now explain to me, if you can, why God gave human beings free choice of the will, since if we had not received it, we would not have been able to sin.

This is the issue that all religious people bring up when asked why God does not feed the hungry, heal the sick and end wars. They use the free will Get-Out-Of-Jail-Card.

Here is St Augustine’s answer to that question. Note the circularity of the argument.
If all of this is true, the question you posed has clearly been answered. If human beings are good things, and they cannot do right unless they so will, then they ought to have a free will, without which they cannot do right. True, they can also use free will to sin, but we should not, therefore, believe that God gave them free will so that they would be able to sin. The fact that human beings could not live rightly without it was sufficient reason for God to give it.

The very fact that anyone who uses free will to sin is divinely punished shows that free will was given to enable human beings to live rightly, for such punishment would be unjust if free will had been given both for living rightly and for sinning. After all, how could someone justly be punished for using the will for the very purpose for which it was given? When God punishes a sinner, don’t you think he is saying, “Why didn’t you use your free will for the purpose for which I gave it to you?”— that is, for living rightly?

So brothers and sisters, according to St Augustine, the PROOF that we have free will, which includes the ability to be evil, is that God told us not to use it for evil or else he’d punish us in Hell. So, in order to believe in God and Hell, one must believe that he gives us free will, and in order to believe in why he would give us free will to perpetuate such evil in our world, one must believe in God and Hell.

You must believe that God is all powerful, yet gives us free will to do evil things, for which you must believe that he will send you to Hell, which is a Godly construct, for which you must believe that God is all powerful. One must accept God as both the cause and the effect.

Augustine (1993-10-01). On Free Choice of the Will (Hackett Classics) (pp. 7-8). Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. Translated by Thomas Williams

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