"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
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Brilliant at Breakfast title banner "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
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"I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum." -- "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (1954-2015), They Live
Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pointing the gun at your own head and saying "Nobody move or the idiot gets it"
Posted by Jill | 5:12 AM
Every day I become more convinced that Blazing Saddles may be the most important movie in the history of film, because not a day goes by that people who think anything to the left of Rush Limbaugh is Communist don't remind me of the "simple farmers...people of the land...the common clay of the new west....you know....MORONS" described by Gene Wilder as the Waco Kid to the town's new black sheriff.

This little gem was found over at Pandagon, where Jesse Taylor's triumphant return is almost enough to redeem him from his time in exile as an intern working on Jerry Springer's political campaign:
President Barack Obama's tax proposal -- which promises to increase taxes for those families with incomes of $250,000 or more -- has some Americans brainstorming ways to decrease their pay in an attempt to avoid paying higher taxes on every dollar they earn over the quarter million dollar mark.

A 63-year-old attorney based in Lafayette, La., who asked not to be named, told ABCNews.com that she plans to cut back on her business to get her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obama tax plan be passed by Congress and become law.

"We are going to try to figure out how to make our income $249,999.00," she said.

"We have to find a way out where we can make just what we need to just under the line so we can benefit from Obama's tax plan," she added. "Why kill yourself working if you're going to give it all away to people who aren't working as hard?"

It's hard to know where to start with a statement of such mindboggling stupidity, one which if she had allowed herself to be named would make me want to warn everyone in Louisiana to stay far, far away from this person because she is an idiot and incapable of finding her own ass. Obviously, this "attorney" doesn't understand that a) graduated tax rates mean that the increased rate would only apply to the amount of TAXABLE (not GROSS) income over $250,000; and b) it still isn't taxing ALL her money. Never mind that $250,000 buys you a very nice lifestyle in Louisiana, even in Lafayette, which appears to be a tonier area of Bobby Jindal's America. And of course there's c), which is the fallacious notion that in this country, working hard means you earn more; a notion which one look at banking executives ought to put to rest.

As Jesse says
I one day hope to earn enough money to consider acting like an irrational asshole and having it become national news....What’s funny about this is that it’s the dumbest thing a human being has ever said about their own money. Having said this immediately means that in the event of a Marxist revolution, you deserve to have any money in your possession taken from you and spent on every single thing you hate until your children have gay abortions.

The version of the article I've linked above clarifies how the U.S. tax system works, for the many idiots who think that if you're in a particular tax bracket, and you make $100,000, that you pay that percentage off the entire amount. Perhaps this is in response to some of the commentary on it that Steve Benen rounds up here. The discouraging aspect to all this is not that an idiot like the lawyer quoted in the article isn't above putting the gun to her own head and saying "Nobody move or the immature Objectivist gets it", but that there are still far too many Americans who just don't understand what a tax bracket is. I broke it down a bit last year in a post about why the McCain/Palin "health care proposal" was a bad deal for the middle class.

I remember thinking when I was a kid that a house with a concrete patio was the next level up from my family's income, and a pool was the next level up from that. My parents used to dream of "moving up" from a $25,000 house to a $35,000 house. The assumption then was that at a certain income level, you lived a certain way, and that there were certain trappings that went with the various levels up the ladder. A patio. A pool. A second full bathroom. I've been thinking lately that this society built in this country over the last decade, in which everyone feels entitled to the trappings of the wealthy all started with automobile leasing, which allowed working- and middle-class people to drive luxury cars they couldn't afford to actually buy. This of course led us inexorably down the path to 6000-square-foot McMansions on 7500-foot lots, built 8 feet from the property line of crappy fake stucco and particleboard, but with crown moldings, "bridal staircases", closets the size of yesterday's living rooms, and granite countertops and Jenn-Air ranges for all. There's no better example of this change than right in my own neighborhood, in which a tiny 1950's ranch house in which a family raised two perfectly healthy and normal children was knocked down a few years ago and replaced with one of these monstrosities, in which a family of today feels they need all these gewgaws in order to raise two children.

This sense of entitlement to the trappings of the wealthy has made the middle class feel more closely allied to the top of the ladder than the bottom, which is why the current hemorrhage of jobs from our economy has been met with such a state of culture shock -- people have forgotten that the guys at the top; the ones they've been trying so hard to emulate with their plastic crown moldings and leased Escalades, hold all the aces.

But in answer to the question about why the wealthy should pay more, I turn to Mr. Brilliant, who notes that those who use more of the social contract SHOULD pay more. If you want to say that the social contract is the system of services that forms an organized society -- police, fire departments, roads and bridges, the tech guys who keep the international banking system going, the contractors who build the home theatres and koi ponds for their mansions -- it's clear that the wealthy utilize more of this social contract. So why shouldn't they pay more for it? If someone breaks into my house, it would be frightening, but there just isn't anything of real value that they're likely to take, because I don't own any valuable jewelry or anything else of significant monetary worth on the secondary market. So shouldn't the wealthy, who have more to lose in the event of burglary or complete social breakdown, pay more to keep the whole thing going?

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