‘This is an administration that has methodically exalted corporate power and fortified the obscene gap between America’s rich and poor.’ – Bill Keller, in Saturday’s New York Times

Well, that’s one point of view. I have friends at the rich end of the gap who don’t think it’s obscene at all. Sure, they’d like to see the poor do better – but not at the expense of the $700 billion tax cut for the top 1%. First things first.

A couple of days earlier, Paul Krugman was writing in the same paper on much the same topic. Both he and Keller had become fascinated by the African tour of rock star Bono and Treasury Secretary O’Neill. Krugman points out that we devote one a third as much of our GDP to foreign aid as Canada and much of Europe do – little more than one-tenth of one percent. Should they feel foolish for helping so much? Should we feel smart for helping so little?. And he drew this interesting contrast: ‘Faced with a proposal that would save the lives of eight million people every year, many of them children,’ Krugman writes, ‘we balk at the cost. But when asked to give up revenue equal to twice that cost, in order to allow each of 3,300 lucky families to collect its full $16 million inheritance rather than a mere $10 million, we don’t hesitate.’

NATHAN MAKES AN INTERESTING POINT

Nathan Schwartz: ‘You write . . . ‘So, as the Journal noted, even though the top 1% reported adjusted gross income (AGI) equal to only 19.5% of the total income pie, they paid 36.2% of the total income tax pie.’ . . . This statistic is frequently used show that the richest 1% are paying a disproportionate share of taxes. Yet ‘adjusted gross income’ is not the same thing as wealth – it is not even the same thing as income. The wealthiest 1% have the greatest ability to shelter income in ways so that it never becomes AGI. It is entirely possible (but I have no idea how likely) that the richest 1% have 40% of the total income, and yet pay only 36% of the taxes (less if you include FICA). I don’t even know if there are any statistics compiled anywhere that try to estimate the effective tax rate on comprehensive income for various levels of income or wealth.’

☞ Interesting. I hadn’t thought of it this way. If you own nothing but $20 million in municipal bonds, your adjusted gross income might be zero, despite your $900,000 tax-free annual income. You thus not be counted in the top 1%. Yet you certainly would be an example of a high-income person not paying a disproportionate share of the total income tax pie – even allowing for the fact that tax-free bonds yield perhaps 20% less than Treasuries (and thus you are, in a sense, ‘paying’ 20% in a different sort of tax).

Anybody out there able to shed some statistical insight?

[FOR MYM V12 USERS ONLY:]

Peter Kronenberg: ‘I’ve been using MYM12 and Windows XP Home edition since October. Works like a champ. The only problem I had was with my internal modem, which I use to call Checkfree. MYM only supports standard DOS modem configurations. There’s some tweaking you can do, but not much. Previous versions of Windows were a little more flexible in letting you change the I/O address and IRQ of a modem so you could force it to a ‘standard’ position. I couldn’t get this to work with Windows XP. I had the same problem with Tapcis, which is the only other DOS program I use regularly. So, I got a cheap external modem, which I just hooked up to my COM1 port, which, by definition, is in a standard DOS location. Works fine now. It also means I can keep my high-speed internal modem always connected to the internet and transmit my Checkfree transactions without disconnecting from the Internet, which is what I used to have to do.’

☞ Another of you reported that it won’t print. But if that’s the case, it seems to me you could always ‘print to disk,’ except perhaps for checks, and then open that file with your word processor and print from there.

Coming Soon: More Dick Davis

 

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