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Sexuality? - Page 5

post #61 of 73
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I need a Kiton black, single breasted, one button, peaked lapel dinner suit, preferably MTM, but I'll take RTW if it comes to that.  You know what, I'll even go for Brioni.  I do not have the resources to purchase said suit.  So c'mon now.  One of you fat cats out there can hook me up, right?
I'll give you the resources to go buy said suit; what value will you provide me in return?
post #62 of 73
This is a rather interesting read about the European tax system (for subscribers only, so I just copied and pasted): Economics focus Taxing the poor to pay the poor Apr 1st 2004 From The Economist print edition Europe's big welfare states are surprisingly efficient"”and surprisingly inequitable ECONOMISTS, who prize efficiency above equity, have long given warning of the dangers of redistribution. England's poor laws, which paid a pittance to the destitute out of taxes, earned David Ricardo's condemnation in the early 19th century. "The principle of gravitation is not more certain than the tendency of such laws to change wealth and power into misery and weakness," he claimed. Modern economists have raised similar concerns about today's redistributive welfare states: by subtracting from the rewards of work and adding to the consolations of idleness, social transfers sap economies of their vigour. Some American conservatives have sought to "starve the beast", cutting the taxes that feed social spending. In the Nordic countries and much of Europe, however, the beast remains well fed. According to the OECD, Sweden, Denmark and Finland devote almost a third of their GDP to social transfers. Germany and France devote about a quarter. America redirects only 14% or so of its national income in this way. The costs to Europe of overgrown welfare systems are plain: its citizens pay for redistribution with high taxes, which may be one reason why Europe's economic performance has lagged behind America's. The average French worker produces 5% more per hour than his American counterpart, but produces less in total because he works fewer hours"”in part because those high taxes reduce his incentive to work. Yet Europe's redistribution has not led to the "plague of universal poverty" predicted by Ricardo. Far from it: European countries are rich. How can this be? Peter Lindert, of the University of California, Davis, offers an answer towards the end of his new book, "Growing Public"*, a monumental history of two centuries of social spending. The big European and Nordic welfare states are undoubtedly expensive. But their economic costs are held down by the perhaps surprisingly efficient tax systems with which they are financed. Once the means of finance are taken into account, they are also less redistributive than you might expect. Economic theory has a lot to say about efficient systems of taxation. One guiding principle is that it is better to tax consumption than income, because taxing what is spent rather than what is earned does less damage to incentives to save. If wages are taxed, and the interest on savings is taxed also, then anything saved out of your wages is, in effect, taxed twice. Compared with the Americans, the Europeans place far more of their tax burden on consumption than income. A second principle dates from a 1927 paper by Frank Ramsey, a Cambridge polymath. In essence, Ramsey's theory says that those goods or services most sensitive to price should be taxed the least; those least sensitive to price should be taxed the most. Scandinavian tax systems, in particular, are close to the spirit of the Ramsey rule. They lean on labour rather than on capital, because capitalists are deterred from investing more easily than workers are discouraged from labouring. They tax habits, such as smoking and drinking, more than luxuries, because the addicted or habituated will buy at almost any price. In general, Europe's big social spenders tax capital relatively lightly. On some measures, indeed, Europeans treat capital better than supposedly more sympathetic Americans. According to an OECD study, the grabbing hand of the American state took an average of 31% of capital income between 1991 and 1997. The corresponding figure was about 20% in Germany, Norway and Finland, and 24% in France. In 1998, rich Americans faced a marginal tax rate on dividends of over 46%. Rich Belgians, Finns and Norwegians paid much lower rates. While Americans were arguing about Reaganomics in the 1980s, Swedish households were enjoying a negative tax rate on capital income, once generous deductions and adjustments for inflation were taken into account. Thick end of the wedge This style of taxation is efficient, but it is clearly inequitable. Taxing luxuries less heavily than, say, alcohol is likely to be regressive. Suppliers of capital, who tend to be richer, get off lightly, while labour carries a heavier burden, through both lower net income and higher unemployment. The income and payroll taxes that support Europe's large welfare states drive a deep wedge between a worker's take-home wage and the much higher cost of employing him. Generous minimum wages and unemployment benefits also put a floor under wages, pricing many people out of the labour market. The result is that just 68% of the European Union's working-age citizens are employed, compared with 77% of America's. But surely this is evidence of the inefficiency of Europe's welfare systems and the taxes needed to finance them? Mr Lindert, however, is keen to stress the other side of the tax-and-spend ledger. Returns to some of Europe's social expenditures, such as child-care subsidies, are probably quite high, he says. He also claims, rather unkindly, that unemployment benefits and generous retirement schemes both "harvest lemons""”ie, they pluck the least productive out of the labour force. Discarding these workers subtracts little from the nation's output, he argues; it also flatters the productivity figures of those with jobs. America, Mr Lindert conjectures, can get away with an inefficient tax code because its tax burden is quite low. Bigger welfare states have to be smarter, because the stakes are so much higher. The "Swedish model", for example, has been declared dead more than once, but each time has reinvented itself and survived. Europe's other welfare states are now ailing, blamed for weak growth and high unemployment. Some foresee their slow demise. Survival through adaptation seems more likely. * "Growing Public: Social Spending and Economic Growth Since the Eighteenth Century". Cambridge University Press, 2004
post #63 of 73
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Sure it's "unfair". Why punish someone for being smarter and using a more efficient element of production? The efficiency provides greater value to society in and of itself -- that is why the individual is being rewarded with wealth in the first place. You provide value to society, you get paid. Rewarding people for using relatively inefficient elements of production would be counter-productive to society's progress.
Vero, I'm afraid that you've misunderstood my point again. I was merely stating that our system is designed such that capital has a disproportionate amount of leverage compared to other elements of production, labor and government. BTW, all your talk about rewarding efficient elements of production is unfounded crap. Although in a very carefully selected case study, this could be the case, it is not generally true. In fact, in a macro sense, the consolidation of capital tends towards a monopoly, which are inherently inefficient (because competition at that point stops.) This is one of the instances in which the utility of government in economy becomes evident. Moreover, there is no corollary relationship between your value to society and your financial reward. If that were in fact the case, firefighters might be all millionaires, and Paris Hilton would probably not be so rich.
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Rewarding people for using relatively inefficient elements of production would be counter-productive to society's progress.
Again, an unfounded statement. First of all, "progress" a particularly difficult to define concept. And even were we to take the most facile definition, efficiency is not a good metric for it.
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I earn my keep and keep to myself. If I don't get rich, that's my own fault, not anybody else's.
And you can become rich or poor through no fault of your own, nor the fault of anybody else. That's not at issue here. What was at issue is who should best bear the cost of living in a civil and humane society.
post #64 of 73
You seem like a good guy -- undeniably. but I think you suffer from this all too common mentality of "capitalism is treating me pretty well, so it's all good as far as I am concerned." -- damn good. You will have a hard time convincing me Americans have it hard. All Americans, rich or poor, are lucky to be living and working here. Capitalism is a system fraught with problems that create innocent victims and undeserving beneficiaries. -- yawn. And, what economic system doesn't? you are white male -- very good. probably born middle class -- excellent. I am willing to guess you went to college -- true. were supported financially to a significant degree while you were there by your family -- oops, you got that one wrong. At the age of 18, I was told "you're on your own", just as my sister and brother had been told. At that young age, I TOOK A RISK and signed on the dotted line for a $33,000 school loan to attend Southern Methodist University. It took me five years, but I worked my ass off through school, and WHILE IN SCHOOL I paid almost $400 per month on that loan -- that's in addition to my other normal and expected expenses like books, supplies, occassional night out, etc. and graduated with negligible debt. -- I had $10,000 left to pay after graduation. Paid it off within my first year at my new job. You probably then got a job fairly quickly that supports a lifestyle you find comfortable -- I was the only non-MBA student who interviewed for an MBA-level position, and got the job -- thanks to all my hard work (no one else's hard work played a factor in my income or lifestyle). I am guessing you have never been laid off. -- Nope. I was a VICTIM -- gasp. -- of 9/11/2001. Got laid off September 28th. I immediately went to work trying to sell my services as a consultant. It was VERY tough going, as many people know. I probably went six or seven months without a steady income, and even fell behind on some debts. After a time, I landed a few small consulting contracts. Business has been picking up ever since. I'm now caught up on all debts. I am not slighting you for any of this, but the point I am trying to make is that your attitudes seem to me to reflect a lack of any acute discomfort as a result of external economic factors. -- see above. The difference is, I don't whine and blame others about my acute discomfort. It's tough, sure. I disliked it greatly. Doesn't mean someone else should be responsible for my predicament. It's my problem to deal with, not anyone else's. not everyone has things so easily in our society. Many people in fact have the cards stacked against them from birth- it is simply a fact in any society. -- True. But you seem to not accept this fact though -- why not just accept the fact and go on with your life without piously "standing up for the little guy"? If you are willing to accept the fact, what are you doing right now to change this fact? I do not think it is unreasonable that those who have far greater access to opporunities simply as a result of their place in the system bear some cost for improving the quality of living for everyone (and in fact preserve their superior place in the system). -- Well, I think it is unreasonable for Americans. If this were a different country we were talking about, I might agree.
post #65 of 73
Vero, I applaud your hardwork and enthusiasm, and I understand your contempt for people who bitch and complain about their lot in life while doing nothing to better it. However, there are nonetheless people who do fall through the cracks despite their best efforts, for whatever reason. Maybe they just had bad breaks. Or maybe they just lack the mental acuity and/or discipline to make something of thems. Whatever the case, a society can be judged by the way it treats its poor, and America can certainly afford to treat them better. I suspect, from your past statements, that you don't respect the opinions I and others have voiced on the forum on this subject, and that you think that we are rich, spoiled, weekend liberals. I can tell you that I'm not. In fact, I have a condition that has made my progress in my career somewhat more complicated than it otherwise might have been. But just because you and I have been able to achieve something in the face of adversity, doesn't mean that others can necessarily do so. Nor should we ask anyone to justify their right to live in a dignified manner, no matter what their merits may be.
post #66 of 73
LA Guy, Please understand that I do respect your opinions and those of others that disagree with me. I am just perhaps more aggressive with mine, since my impatience with the whining of "rich, spoiled, weekend liberals" is great. I hope that you do not take anything I have said personally. We are all just doing our part to sway opinion. And, with that, I declare my contribution to this thread complete. Thanks for listening, LGF
post #67 of 73
i'm straight...what did i miss?
post #68 of 73
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Why does this post always come up as new when no one has posted here since no one has posted in it since August???
Its a poll... Whenever anyone votes it pops up as a response even though noone adds an actual response. JJF
post #69 of 73
I am going to continue with the (months cold by now) highjack.... I have a personal perspective on the whole tax issue. I moved to the US from Israel about 9 months ago, after spending most of my life their (with a little in Germany, Jordan and India, by the way). although the security and political situation were important motivators, the single biggest reason for the move was taxes (and most of the taxes could be linked to the security situation). I think that I was a huge asset to the country, I served ina good unit in the military, and then contributed in the security forces for a period of time. I served in a pretty good unit in the reserves. I paid a huge amount of taxes, in the highest percentile. The companies I worked for provided work to large numbers of people. and this asset was lost to the country because they were choking me. to give you an example - I was amoung the top 5 performing sales managers in the 3rd biggest corporation in Israel. I would bring in annual sales in the tens of millions of dollars. In the end of the day, my annual take home salary was the equivelent of the cost of a honda accord. why? I paid about 62% or so in income tax. 18% in value added tax (basically sales tax). about a months salary in municipal tax. 2% of salary in mandatory medical insurance (which I had to subsidize with private health insurance). most imports of large ticket items had 200-300% import tax. so, a salary of $120K becomes 40 something pretty fast, and a 20K car becomes 60K pretty fast. I'm sorry, I do not agree with LA guy about taxes. some people chose fields where money is not the primary goal in life, and good for them. some people want to work and achieve more materially in the commercial world, and work harder and take more responsibility and challenges. they should be able to enjoy the fruit of their work.
post #70 of 73
Eh - it seems to me that you were leaving Israel because they kept spending all your money on security. Your taxes were just the messengers and they should not be shot. I felt rather good about paying close to 44% of my income in taxes (around $1000 vas exempt)and suffering 24.5% VAT on most things back home because I knew the money were getting redistributed to those that had less. This system gave me excelent healthcare and good schooling, none of which I would have gotten if my parents had had to pay. They simply did not have the money and what little they had, they spent on the wrong things. So you could say, that I'm a product of the nordic model. I would NOT be in the place I am today without the welfare state. B
post #71 of 73
" would NOT be in the place I am today without the welfare state." that makes 2 of us, I if it weren't for the welfare state I would probrably have a nice house with an inground pool and a boxter.
post #72 of 73
I say live and let live when in comes to sexuality.....I have no problem with any one who practices their lifestyle with class and confidence....no matter what the lifestyle is
post #73 of 73
Well I guess we know what the flyover states think of us now.
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