Frank McClendon: ‘Hi. You can have TiVo. I want one of these.’

☞ Oh, me, too!


Dan H.: Here‘s a terrific website analyzing the Bush plan. Highlights: In the year 2000, 91.6% of tax returns reported income under $100K. Of these, only 22% reported any dividend income whatsoever – averaging $1159. Meanwhile, 0.2% of the returns reported incomes greater than $1 million. Of these, 96% reported dividends – averaging $75,463. In other words, 72% of the population will experience zero tax reduction from this plan . . . about 20% of the population will experience perhaps an average tax savings of $350 . . . and the top 0.2% will average a $30K tax cut from this plan.’

☞ Here’s another statistic, this one from President Bush, who told us: ‘About half of all dividend income goes to America’s seniors.’ Technically that’s true – as it would be even if the entire benefit went solely to Warren Buffett (a senior), and not a dime to anyone else. In fact, Warren will not get it all. But as the aforelinked website notes, seniors who actually need a little help – and there are a lot of them – will get little or none from making dividends tax-free. So the President, you will be shocked to know . . . the same President who as a candidate assured us over and over that we could cut taxes dramatically and still pay down the national debt while providing a prescription drug benefit and building up our military . . . is being just a little disingenuous in suggesting that ‘seniors’ will be a primary beneficiary of his latest tax cut. They will – but mainly those who don’t need it.

Barry Basden: ‘Re your comment Friday that it would sure be nice to have the balance of wealth shift further in favor of the wealthy ‘but how could we possibly live with ourselves?’ . . . Well, you would probably have to live in a highly secure gated community such as those where the rich in Argentina now find themselves confined. Argentina: the middle class is now largely extinct. The desperate poor have ripped out state monuments for the metal. They recently butchered livestock right on the highway where a cattle truck overturned while the police stood by unable to do anything about it. Those rich folks foolish enough to venture out of their compounds are robbed repeatedly or kidnapped for ransom. If America goes ahead and destroys its middle class, as some seem to be trying to do, I fear we will become just another banana republic, not much different from the Argentina of today.’

☞ This will not happen. Eventually, yin will yang, a Democrat will be elected, and the same sort of thing will happen as did in 1992: taxes on the best off will be nudged back up some (or, more likely, just frozen from falling further), and more than lip-service will be paid to the concerns of the average citizen, whose interests the administration will once again champion. But I believe you are right to worry. For more on the growing inequality between America’s rich and, well, everyone else, read Kevin Phillips’ Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich.

01/02/03 04:05:06:07

John Bakke: ‘If you missed this numeric moment the first time, all you need to do is fly to Europe by February 1st to enjoy it there; they list the day before the month.’

J.R.: ‘Nicoletta says, I’m a programmer and I have to deal with nanoseconds all the time. Thus – 01/02/03 04:05:06:07. Then she should know it’s written as a decimal. And can be continued — 01/02/03 04:05:06.07080910. Can we end this now?’

☞ Oh, yes – please!


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