Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Facebook Fun and Respectful Conversations (lots of Socratic Questions)

First: leave the other people in this conversation alone. If you wanted to, you could track down the identities of everyone here despite my efforts to redact their names, but don't. Respect that, please.
Second, this is all in response to the stupid (IMHO) picture below, which has been thoroughly debunked. I hate crap like this, and the dumb "Christian Nation" Colbert quote. Maybe a post on that is in order.
This is mostly to archive the conversation, I'll add the rest as it grows, I promise!
David C
And the rich get richer.

Wall Photos
Any questions?
By: Rebuild The Dream
· · · Share · January 25 at 10:37pm ·

  • Abigail G and 2 others like this.

    • David P Thomas Barb F covered this already....
      January 26 at 12:22am · · 1

    • David C Some things are worth repeating...
      January 26 at 7:02am ·

    • David P Thomas excellent point, so I'll paste her worthwhile comments here: "although I'm not sure who I'd like to see as the Republican party nominee, I do highly suspect that the tax rates shown in this photo are "apples and oranges" to an extent. Romney is showing is effective tax rate, and I'm pretty sure the teacher is showing her marginal tax rate (i.e., the rate she pays on the next $ she earns). I will concede that her effective rate is likely higher than Romney's; however, I don't fault him for taking full advantage of the tax code, which currently imposes lower tax rates on long-term capital gains. If you've kept P&G stock into your retirement, you benefit from this preferential treatment as well, if you sell your P&G stock (or any stock you've held for more than 12 months) ... as well as on qualified dividends (dividends on stock held >12 mos). We can opine all day about whether or not there should be lower tax rates on investment income, but let's not pillory folks for taking full advantage of the current tax law. (And, I'm guessing this his 16% in charitable contributions is probably larger than many other candidates' giving, which further reduces his tax burden.)"
      January 26 at 10:56am ·

    • David P Thomas followed by: "Sorry to get on my soapbox ... but it's pretty clear to me that the rates shown aren't on the same basis. Mitt's marginal rate is likely 15% (the rate for LT capital gains) and I'd guess the teacher's effective rate is in the 15-20% range. Still seems "out of kilter", but it's largely a function of the current tax code."
      January 26 at 10:56am ·

    • David C Written by the rich, which in relation to the world, I am one!
      January 26 at 10:59am ·

    • David P Thomas and who writes the tax code? Congress. Isn't it everyone's goal to be able to live off their investments, be they $1 million or $250 million?
      January 26 at 11:00am ·

    • David C I already am living off my investment. Everyday I make an investment of time into the lives of the youth of our country. I get a great return...both financial and emotional. But why should someone else's investment be taxed differently?
      January 26 at 11:08am · · 2 (ed. note, this was not his original response, it was about something else, as you can see, I called him on it below)

    • David P Thomas ooh, you snuck in there...good point, too by the way, and not just in terms of the world: the latest numbers I have are 2005 IRS and over 103,912 AGI a year put you in the top 10% of wage earners in this country, over 145, 283 is the top 5%.
      January 26 at 11:13am ·

    • David P Thomas My only point is that the poster is demonstrably false, and why should we have to lie to make a point about how our tax code is messed up? The truth is more powerful. Unless, of course, the point of the poster is something other than to show or seek the truth.
      January 26 at 11:16am · · 1

    • David C But what is yours the same as mine? (Jesus Christ superstar)
      January 26 at 11:19am · · 1

    • David P Thomas the truth is that I should be cleaning the house right now.
      January 26 at 11:26am ·

    • David Colaw And I grading papers
      January 26 at 11:27am ·

    • David C Always good to banter with you...I mean talk!
      January 26 at 11:28am ·

    • David P Thomas ditto!
      January 26 at 11:28am ·

    • Mike S Just a side note. We want people to invest. I invest. You both invest. The money I invest has already been taxed as income. So now I am taking a chance on that money investing in a business (which gives jobs, pays taxes, etc.). If I had to pay 30% tax on taking that chance, not sure I would invest as much. If we raise the investment rate to 30%, you will see the stock market fall more than in 2008. If I were in charge, I would actually lower that rate and also change the rate on any interest earned to 12%. I think it would spur investment in our country and savings. Not sure if STRS has to pay taxes on what it earns from investments, but I certainly don't want them paying 30%. And I don't think I have ever paid 25% tax rate after deductions as a teacher.
      January 26 at 12:42pm · · 1

    • Mike S I am retired so I have an excuse for using FB during the day. You two I am not so sure about. No school today?
      January 26 at 12:43pm ·

    • David C Plan bell and lunch
      January 26 at 12:44pm ·

    • David P Thomas Downsized and looking for yet another career!
      January 26 at 6:41pm ·

    • David P Thomas And David, when did you add you comment about living off your investment? Don't remember that from this morning... ;)
      January 26 at 6:45pm ·

    • David C The stock market will always be a place to make money. The tax on income there should be no different than the tax on any income. It won't keep me from investing. I personally have come to believe that our taxes are too low. Not a very popular idea. We demand a lot from
      January 26 at 7:45pm ·

    • David C Our government( just hit send by accident) but don't want to pay for it. Then we get mad about things that go wrong. Everything from potholes to poor regulations on housing loans.
      January 26 at 7:47pm ·

    • Mike S I would not mind paying more taxes if I knew the money was going to pay off the debt. But I do not want to raise taxes if the money is going to go to more, non-functional government programs (and not help the debt). I think most people would feel the same way. By the way, how is your knee? DT - I had no idea about the downsize. How long have you been looking? What area are you looking into?
      January 26 at 10:19pm ·

    • David P Thomas Hey, Mike! yeah, first day back from Christmas break, 3 weeks to the day today, 2 of us. Evaluating my options, probably in the Training field, product training, I'm a quick study, but i have some people bugging me to start a successful sales career! short term, though, I'm just looking!
      January 26 at 10:40pm ·

    • David P Thomas Yeah, Dave I get your point that many expect much from the government, but there isn't enough income (or investments) to tax to pay for it all. You could confiscate the net worth of the richest and only pay for a few months of the Federal Budget, so for me, the taxation side of the argument is settled. We have to reduce the expectations and spending, there isn't enough money to pay for what we already are budgeted to pay.
      January 27 at 11:35am · · 2

    • David C You do realize this is crazy talk!
      January 28 at 2:14am ·

    • Lisa S David C, I don't know your friends, but you all just made my day... what we need more than anything in the world is more people who can have a respectful conversation while sharing their different perspectives. It's conversations like these that help us learn and move us forward... maybe you could teach congress and talk radio? Have a wonderful day!
      January 28 at 6:02am · · 2

    • David C Two OLD friends who were both in our wedding. They are great friends!
      January 28 at 10:47am · · 1

    • David P Thomas Who you callin' old? ;)
      January 28 at 10:53am · · 1

    • David C Us.
      January 28 at 12:17pm · · 1

    • David C
      So what I see is that the rich don't spend the money they make now. Allowing them/us to keep more of it will not help the economy. It will go to Swiss accounts. On the other hand if the middle class has more to spend, they will! (hopefully save some too) When they spend companies have to expand to meet demand. When companies expand they hire more people. When they hire more there are more people to spend. When there are more people to's a vicious cycle. Oh, and by the way, the rich who own the companies...they get richer. Trickle down does not work. We already tried it. Trickle up does.

      January 28 at 1:51pm · · 1

    • Lisa S ‎:)
      January 28 at 4:12pm ·

    • David P Thomas If I could show you that these assumptions are not accurate, would you reconsider your positions? Just saw a Wall Street Journal article about the Reagan first 3 year recovery versus the last 3 years today....
      January 28 at 8:47pm ·

    • David C Do you mean when there was one of the largest increases in the national debt? When was the last time we had a surplus?
      January 28 at 9:00pm · · 1

    • David P Thomas So, that's a "no," then? ;)
      January 28 at 9:23pm ·

    • David C No of course I want to hear what you have to say. Otherwise the debate would be over.
      Sunday at 1:24am ·

    • David P Thomas
      Ok then, but one thing at a time! Starting backwards, which do we address, the concept of trickle down, the tax rate's effect on IRS reciepts, the overspending, or who gets credit/blame? The marginal tax rate was in the 70s I think in 1979, dropped to the 30s and dramatically increased the amount of money going to Washington, as well as initiating out country's longest peacetime economic expansion, at the same time the govt spent a boatload of money. How does history usually credit these things? Well, congress writes laws and determines spending, presidents sign or veto budgets.

      Sunday at 1:38am ·

    • David P Thomas
      So, if you want more money, you can't raise taxes to high, THAT is when the super rich hide their money, regardless of party affiliation. Warren Buffett has a pending case right now fighting the IRS over billions they say he owes. Congress and the White House have switched party control several times in our short voting ages yet the overspending continues out of control, yet we need to pay more? That's my bugaboo. It doesn't seem to matter who's in DC, tax dollars that we have to pay are never enough. The current Senate hasn't even passed a budget in over 1000 days! We borrow .41 of every federal $1. I don't trust them with our money, yours, mitt romney's, or warren buffett's.

      Sunday at 1:47am ·

    • David P Thomas
      The Administration gave...gave away $500 Million to one solar energy company that they knew would fail, and it did, Solyndra. Twice Romney's reported net worth, our tax dollars, given away. That is why I don't care about one rich guy's capital gain rate, it's chump change to the larceny going on by both groups in power in DC, I could grab a Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, or Carter administration example, as could many: if you like imagine how many teachers' taxes went to Solyndra, or whatever. We, the people, as a group, participating in the market, will choose better than the folks at the capital, so I say let us keep more and quit trying to do so much that our wise founders never intended our government to handle.

      Sunday at 1:55am ·

    • David P Thomas
      We know rich people, shoot by IRS standards, and my dated copy of the CPS salary schedule, there are teachers that make enough to be in the top 10% of wage earners on the country. They are spending! They are investing (which isn't hiding the money, it's putting it to work, right?)! Businesses are holding cash because they are nervous about the future and current situation, but I think that's understandable, even if I think it stinks. I am not rich. I've gone to the IRS site and seen the breakdowns, though, and seen who pays the lion share, and it isn't the middle class, the rates are progressive and the rich pay a greater percentage of the nation's taxes then the percentage of the nation's income they earn, and even though that's not me, I still think that it's a crock.

      Sunday at 2:08am ·

    • David P Thomas
      Lastly, the majority, by far, of companies in this country are relatively small, not giants, where the CEOs are getting richer and not hiring or trickling down. Fewer than 100 employees is the number, I believe. As you know, both side of my family are among those, and none have Swiss accounts, and indeed, they all have struggled to make payroll. Who are we to demonize them for being the one who started, runs, invests and reinvests in their companies? Sure, the massive middle class's economic demands can spur growth, but that is trickle down, too! How is that trickle up? If 47% of our wage earners don't pay income taxes, then trickle up cant happen, can it? There is nothing to trickle.

      Sunday at 2:20am ·

    • David P Thomas
      Sorry, but I'm up b/c a sleepover guest was having trouble getting to sleep, and I am also noticeably passionate about this! We have all said one thing in different ways that I feel very strongly about: our group of long-term political elite rich people, many who have gotten rich by being in Congress, are writing laws, tax codes, policy, etc. that are at the root of this stuff. You can't fault a person who has made a ton of money for checking out every way to follow the labyrinthine tax laws to pay as little as possible anymore than you should fault me for using every deduction to minimize my tax burden. The OWS folks were always protesting the wrong folks, in my opinion, it's the ones who created the crooked rules that deserve the scorn!

      Sunday at 2:43am · · 1

    • David C Vote all the bums out then!
      Sunday at 9:03am · · 1

    • Kimberly K Lisa I agree with you first, I have not heard a more civil sharing of views anywhere. And D, D, and M. You all make very valid points. Thank you for giving me a great morning read. With my coffee.
      Sunday at 9:28am ·

    • David P Thomas There are precious few folks on FB with whom I would have had this conversation. Love, trust, and respect from nearly lifelong relationships rock!
      Sunday at 12:15pm ·

    • David C
      ‎235 Congressional members and 41 Senators have signed the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge". (All but 3 are Republicans who are afraid of the Tea Party) It basically says they won't raise taxes. Our current taxes as a percent of GNP are the lowest in half a century. As teachers, police and other public employees are laid off because of a lack of revenue, as our infrastructure is crumbling, and as we need to switch over to non-polluting energy these leaders have pledged to NOT do exactly what needs to be done to solve our unemployment problem and to correct our deficit. How was that for a run on sentence. Mike...any thoughts?

      Sunday at 10:56pm ·

    • Heather L Love the debate. I am a teacher in CO.
      Monday at 1:20am ·

    • Mike S
      Spending is the problem, not taxation. We can't continue running up the debts to which both parties have contributed. I would raise taxes but as I said, it could ONLY be used to pay off the debt we have incurred and it would be a small percentage -- say .5 percent a year for 5 years. AND EVERYONE would have to pay it, not just the rich. We will not suffer but your kids and grand kids certainly will -- because of this debt. And we need to make a budget cut an actual cut -- not a decrease in the amount of the increase. Most of what DT says, I also believe. I agree with DC about the pledge. But I disagree that our infrastructure crumbling and police/fire getting laid off are because we don't have enough money. We spent 3/4 Trillion that was supposed to fix our roads, powergrid, etc. DT mentioned Solyndra. Add to it Evergreen Energy, Ener1 and Amonix. Wasted!!! Our FEDERAL government is out of control and yet we continue to give it more power by giving it more money. We need someone with COMMON SENSE to run this country. Someone who is more concerned about the country than they are about their party. And from what I see, that is not happening on either side. JMO

      Monday at 11:27am ·

    • Michael V
      Oooooh. I want in. It IS good to see a civil discussion about the challenges our country is facing. And this discussion has been pretty accurate. But, it seems important to me to recognize that neither spending or revenue are THE problem. As we begin to look at these kinds of issues truth usually lies in a "both-and" understanding. Both revenue must increase for the U.S. to overcome some of its challenges AND spending must be reigned in by fiscal responsibility. BUT, I do not agree with citing such failures as Solyndra as an example of "out of control" spending. Anyone ever use the FEDERAL highway system? Or, are we still okay with subsidizing oil companies as climate change looms as a threat to the world as we know it? EVERY President for decades has proposed we need to end our dependence on foreign oil and most (if not tied to the oil industry) have backed moving away from fossil fuels. What will initiate such a change toward sustainable, less polluting energy? The market? By definition it is only reactive, not proactive. We need a proactive step here. Only brave leaders, usually in government leadership, will take the risk on our behalf. They will fail sometimes. We will ALL benefit when they succeed.

      Monday at 12:04pm · · 1

    • David C
      It is about revenue. Our current taxes are at the lowest percent of GNP in over 50 years. We must do both (reduce and raise) to fix our debt. But reducing is always a difficult proposition. What gets cut? Just the things you think are wasteful? How about we put 75 kids in a classroom. We could get rid of a lot of teachers. I know that at Church there are many people (not me) who think it is a waste of money to have paid soloists in the choir. Hmmm...One person's waste is another person's income. Oh yeah, having people with income is good. What if we allowed people to support just the things they wanted? How do you think these last two wars would have gone? As a democracy we must accept that there are things we support that we don’t like. I know we need to find ways to cut back but if we don’t raise more revenue through taxes in a way that leads to more wealth equality we will become like a company that won’t open their doors for business because they don’t want to pay their employees or turn on the lights because they don’t want to pay for electric. They and we will eventually go out of business. Even Bill Cunningham told a friend of mine after speaking to John Boehner that Boehner doesn’t have a clue. Cunningham admitted that taxes must go up. We have GOT to put people in place who are willing to make this hard choice. I notice our "comments" have gotten longer!

      Monday at 8:16pm ·

    • David C Just read this in Time. "Over half the world's poor live in G20 countries." Oxfam called for governments to focus on alleviating poverty. I read that as financial equality.
      Monday at 10:20pm ·

    • David P Thomas
      Lots of excellent stuff to talk about here, but it's late! Welcome, Michael! Before I nod off, I just want to clarify what the Solyndra example meant to me: the problem with empowering govt to do what the reactive market should do. Using our money to pick winners and losers (bank/car maker bailouts) is just wrong, and Solyndra is just one on a long line of what I see as an example of misguided spendings, that taken by itself, is chump change, but shows the flaw in trusting, expecting, or allowing govt to decide: this business shall succeed. Why? The reasons are always political, and I trust the market (that collective decision making if the citizens) over the influence-peddled, lobbied, donated-to, "I really like being a Senator and will do whatever is necessary to keep the job" guys and gals we elect. Now, I realize that opens up a new can o' worms, but let's not get too distracted! This then verges into philosophy (rather than party nitpicking, which I have tried to avoid), but that is where the crux is, isn't it? If you, like me, am a kind of Founding Principles guy, then it isn't a revenue problem, it's a political philosophy one: our Federal Government is doing way more then that wonderful document says it should be, do, David, the decisions get much easier. If it's not enumerated, no matter how worthwhile, no matter how kindly or whatever, (and here I wish for italics), the federal government doesn't get to do it. That doesn't mean it doesn't get done, there are all kinds of things the states are specifically enabled to do, but not the federal government.

      Yesterday at 12:38am ·

    • David P Thomas
      Obviously, that isn't the only political philosophy at play in the country, so there will be a conversation about what should be done, what can be done, and how. I guess I will always fall on the side of the individual liberty side: if the church decides it's wasteful to pay soloists, that it's right, right? Is it the government's job, and do they, or should they have the right to determine what you called "wealth equality?" how? Seriously, how? Who gets to decide? I think we are all very reasonable people, and I wouldn't trust us to decide that because it isn't for us to decide, in my opinion, nor the govt. I'm back to the idea that any government of any country should be able to say "you get to succeed, but you are on your own" because those decisions are always tainted. One side will say, the oil companies lobbied to gain dominance just as others will observe as Mike did, that alternative energy companies did the exact same thing. My thought is that if you remove the creeping ability of the government to reward the benefactors, then there may be no favoritism, as there will be no tax abatements, green energy loans, CO2 credits to curry favor or votes with. Imagine that! Of course, all those lobbyist jobs would be lost, as they will have nothing to lobby for when the Feds have no power to give their industry a dime.

      Yesterday at 12:57am ·

    • David P Thomas
      So, I wasn't as tired as I thought. I would posit several more ideas for consideration. 1. The constant promises to reduce or remove our dependence on foreign oil are not and have never been environmental but rather nationalistic and economic. Oil is the engine that currently drives much if the world's economy, and reducing our dependence on foreign sources and reducing our dependence on oil itself are vastly different things. We have to willing to accept the consequences of the second one, if we decide it is what we want, and we have reduced our usage lately, partially as a result of the overall economic slowdown, partly from changing habits (it's true, usage is down): higher energy prices. Shut down refineries, coal fired plants, great, seriously, but costs will go up. So then, as developing nations buy the oil we aren't to power their development (we don't think no one will buy the foreign oil, do we? that's naive), we invest in less potent, more expensive sources of power out of our sense of doing the right thing? Chasing pseudo-science about what is causing what warming as happened? Don't get me started there, I have yet to learn the Earth's correct temperature, so until you can tell me that very important detail, I'm not getting worked up over less than a degree. It's great to be a leader, but it's hubris to think that the US going green will affect China's thirst for petroleum-powered growth. I've done the math on the smoke particulates from wood fires heating native American household estimates, and it was stunning.

      Yesterday at 1:21am ·

    • David P Thomas ‎2. You say "taxes are at the lowest percent of GNP" like it's a bad thing.... :)
      Yesterday at 1:24am ·

    • David P Thomas ‎3. We aren't a democracy, we're a representative republic. Sorry, that's obnoxiously nitpicky, but it is a trigger for me, and it's true. My apologies for even bringing it up.
      Yesterday at 1:26am ·

    • David P Thomas ‎4. Never said Boehner had a clue.
      Yesterday at 1:27am ·

    • David P Thomas ‎5. Hard to make business-govt comparisons, isn't it? I am not one that says govt should run like business, but I find the metaphor flawed because business exists to make money, and government can't and shouldn't as that isn't it's role, is it?
      Yesterday at 1:29am ·

    • David P Thomas
      ‎6. I continue to be disturbed by the line "but if we don't raise more revenue through taxes in a way that leads to more wealth equality..." seriously. What is wealth equality? How is it a function of the federal government? Confiscating a portion of one person's income to supplement another's? Again I ask, who gets to decide? Who do we trust? With the changes in power, office holders, etc. how can that possibly work? How's the track record do far for the federal war on poverty? Don't mistake me here, I'm not saying do nothing, just pointing out that of all the ways to help those in need, using a central government is possibly the worst choice, that's all.

      Yesterday at 1:39am ·

    • David P Thomas
      ‎7. Our country is a unique experiment, there is only our short history to try to get some lessons about how our representative republic with it's focus on individual liberty and free(ish) markets have worked, but it's been pretty powerful, I think. The other ways, central planning, benevolent dictatorships, monarchies, tyrannical despots, are all there marching through history saying "tried it, failed." century after century. I happen to think that we are in many ways fighting against very basic human natures, conflicting ones: the scary, yet liberating desire to be free against the desire to have someone, anyone, take care of us, to push away responsibility and say "you decide, fix it for me, you take care of me" because that is so much easier than being an independent, self-actualized person. We head toward wanting more from our government to do stuff because it feeds that side of our nature, and our founders knew this as well. Similarly, I think that free markets are the most humane markets, they provide the most dignity and hope for those that need it, that capitalism has rescued more people from poverty than governments ever have, as it is what exists when there is no imposed economic system. Show me every poor country in the world and we will see closed market, meddling government (usually corrupt strong central, personality-driven Marxist-leaning), despots, many democratically elected.

      Yesterday at 2:01am · · 1

    • David P Thomas
      Last thought, tonight, I promise: watching Diners, Dives, & Drive-ins, and thinking how I would love to eat at all of these places, and am honest enough to know that while I may think it would be cool to run one, I don't love it enough to do all the work these people do to live their dreams that provide these amazing meals. That's it, isn't it? To have the passion to do something that leads to success? I then re-read Michael's closing and thought "no. We don't need a brave leader, it's us. We the people."
      That's what makes America unique in all of human history. All of human history is a long time. To want or expect or wait for our government, even though they are largely nice people that we chose, to take care of us isn't US!

      Yesterday at 2:12am ·

    • John E. D
      If I might enter:

      Go to the federal budget and the census data. Here is what I get: The federal government spends $12,128 for each and every US Citzen. (Since the average Teacher salary is around $50,000/year she paid around $12,500, so she is just about pulling her own weight. But add $12k each year for every person whom the govt spends money on... maybe not). So just to break even, every family of 4 needs to fork over FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. Each and every year. To pay for whatever our government chooses.

      And the debt clock says that that family of four also needs to pony up $200,000 to pay off their portion of the debt.

      (BTW, I was 18 in 1979. Adjusted for inflation, that year the government spent $2,200 for each citizen, a very do-able amount for anyone and everyone.)

      How can anyone say that spending should be maintained at current levels? What is the value in taxing ANYONE more when it is spent so irresponsibly?

      (And if you REALLY want to be fair, we should all have one equal vote and pay one equal share of our government spending, regardless of what it is.)

      Yesterday at 7:15am ·

    • David C Ok David. It looks like you are the 1% grabbing all the space. If you can't say it in one block/post maybe you need to self edit. Or maybe we need some regulation to help you control yourself.
      Yesterday at 8:01am ·

    • Michael V
      So, let's integrate a couple of different parts of our lives so the conversation doesn't become a sterile diatribe that makes this only a mental exercise and leaves out our spiritual and emotional insights (some would say our souls). It is always fascinating to me to have people suggest that we go back to the Constitution and try to apply a literal translation and application to our world and our lives today (sound familiar? There are some people who try to do that with a collection of 66 books that inspire many of us in our lives). When the document was written, what were some of the assumptions of the Founders of this country? Was there the assumption that the vast frontier would allow anyone an opportunity for a successful life? Oh, yea, we have to put the whole slavery issue aside if we believe that, don't we? Was there an assumption that shared values in a Judeo-Christian culture would guide a free society so it wouldn't become libertine--freedom to do whatever feels right to you? Likely, but unprovable. The Consitution may well be the best governing document ever written. But, it is not sacred text and it was not written, I believe, to cover all scenarios. Maybe it was meant to be a starting point. Has anything changed since it was written that may need to be addressed in a new way today? I guess others thought so. We do have the Amendments. Also, what if we critique the premise and assumptions of capitalism as it is being proposed by many today, as a system that will do the right things for the majority and provide opportunity for all people? Does it guarantee opportnity for all, or does it, as the old saying goes--Capitalism means those who have the capital will capitalize? And, here goes, my kids always tell me I'm preaching with this stuff--What about that idea of a Christian understanding of the market, opportunity and (thanks for bringing it up John) fairness? Ever heard the quote from Luke 12--"To whom much is given, much will be required." Fairness, according to this "worldview" has nothing to do with equal amounts. It has to do with proportionate amounts. Back to the idea of a percentage given for the benefit of the whole. Dare we suggest a flat tax and eliminate ALL exemptions, deductions, loopholes, etc.? It would be more fair, or would it.....

      21 hours ago ·

    • David P Thomas ‎@david, I have no self regulation, I thought everyone knew this.... Lol. Feel free to write as much as you like, as far as I know, there are no rules.
      21 hours ago ·

    • David P Thomas We are good at Socratic questioning, aren't we?
      20 hours ago ·

    • John E. 
      ‎(This is in response to the supposition that we are morally obligated to pay more taxes.)

      I sincerely believe that we are our brothers keeper and that God commands us to help our neighbor and the needy. But if we do that through taxation and redistribution of wealth, are we not commissioning the Government to execute God's commandments? That's not quite right.

      Besides, free will and the ability to disregard God's commandments are a key part of the picture... Christ never told his followers to sieze the property of others to help the needy. So the idea that we need higher taxes to help the less fortunate because we are good Christians does not hold much weight.

      But of course, the real reason that we should have minimal taxes is that we should have minimal government. There are very, very few things in life that require the cold, dead hand of the government. There are very few things that we cant do for ourselves and do for each other much MUCH more effectively than government.

      16 hours ago ·

    • David C Yes, let's leave it to the corporations to take care of those who can't because it will help their bottom line. But we have strayed from the original topic. Should all income be taxed at the same rate?
      16 hours ago ·

    • Michael V
      I guess when I read a statement like "the cold dead hand of the government" I realize that the foundation from which we build our lives and worldview can be so very different and yet claim common core beliefs. I do think of something my father once said to me that probably impacts my thinking more than I realized when I first heard him say it. A little background--he is an Italian immigrant who grew up under Musolini fascism. I think that is probably more like the "cold dead hand of the government" than anyone in this conversation has ever really experienced. My father said to me once--"You won't ever hear me complain about paying my taxes. I know what it means to live in a place without the services provided." Does the government do everything perfectly and most efficiently. Not on your life. Does it do things that corporations would never get around to doing because it is not in their best interest to making a profit? You bet it does. So, the question does remain, what is an equitable way to create revenue so the government can provide what capitalism would not?

      16 hours ago ·

    • David P Thomas
      I read John's comment twice: no mention of corporations, so I am confused, as no one else has said that, David! I think that most immigrants with experiences like your father's, Michael bring a perspective that those of us lucky enough to have grown up here need to hear over and over again, and I hear two themes usually emerge: "it's so much better here, you whiners" (similar to what you quote, if not exactly), and "don't let this place become like that place." you do speak to the crux, again, the question of the "services" the things that government would do, and how we decide that. I remain steadfast that we have been given excellent guidance about what our federal government is and isn't supposed to do, versus what lies with state and local governments, or individuals.

      15 hours ago ·

    • John E. D
      David: What's wrong with taxing everyone the same amount? Not the same rate... the same amount? The vital services of government should be shared by all. We all have an equal vote, an equal share, an equal stake.
      (And I honestly apologize if I have taken this in an unwanted direction. Although we have not spoken in years, I respect you a lot. But we obviously have pretty divergent views. Failed as I am, I actually do try to look at differing views. Tonight I googled “Wealth Disparity in America” went to the Huffington Post, and looked at a 15 slide presentation on wealth disparity. It was increasingly difficult to understand the relevance; the last slide was called “Name Based Racial Discrimination” and had to do with hiring interview call-backs. WTF, over? Huh? Stuff like this honestly befuddles me.) (It would not matter except that I believe that the US will shortly fail, and my kids will be screwed. Does it bother you that we have so much debt?)
      And why do you expect companies and corporations to care about social problems or needy individuals? That’s not what they are for. Do you expect charities to generate a profit? Of course not. The role of companies is to generate value by providing goods and services and making the shareholders a profit. There is no evil in that.
      As far as caring for the needy (and I mean actually CARING) that does not belong to corporations. That does not belong to the government. That belongs to you and me.

      14 hours ago ·

    • John E. D
      Michael: If you do not recognize the government as a “Cold, dead hand” then what do you in fact expect from it? Warm, fuzzy, nanny? Protective big brother? What positive role should it play? I cannot imagine when a normal, prosperous person would ever be glad that the government was here unless something really, REALLY bad had just happened. “I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help”. Right.
      Our civilian government controls our military (Thank God) and as such has the power to unleash several thousand Megatons of destruction, or draft you and force you to fight to the death. The government (Federal, state, and local) alone have the power to imprison or execute you or anyone else that they determine is a criminal. They have access to your earnings before you do. The US Government is the most powerful thing that has ever existed on the planet. And that is right and good; it is a necessary evil to govern and protect a society of real people.
      But the idea that your government is there for your benefit (or anyone else’s) benefit is false. It does not care about you or me or anyone else. And that’s the way that we want it because anything else (taking from one citizen to give to another) becomes tyranny and vote-buying.

      I will not presume to comment on your Father’s experience. Based on your statement, he lived in a place where the government provided no services. That’s wrong. The government should do ONLY those things that the government alone can do. Like enforce the law, mint money, defend it’s citizens and some legislation. There are clearly functions that a valid government must provide.
      But beyond that is a vastly slippery slope, and I think that we have already slid waaay off it. We have a government that spends so much money that I believe that we are in already in a real crisis and I don’t see any way out of it. Our national is too big to ever be repaid (the dollar will collapse.) Each month, I pay more in Taxes than anything else besides my mortgage, and I am far from wealthy. And our government and leaders are trying to spend MORE money (increase taxes on the rich) and gain MORE power (universal health care). And people blame the rich?

      9 hours ago ·

    • David P Thomas I am really enjoying this conversation. Seriously, this is fun for me, everybody! Good questions, good points, all that stuff.
      7 hours ago · · 1

    • Michael V
      It befuddles me--when did the government become the enemy? And, I would have to say that I consider myself a "normal, prosperous" person and I AM glad the government is here. I do not always agree with every decision made but do believe that when we speak of the government "we are they." Equal payment for services results in unequal financial support. We may be created equal but our resources are anything but equal and that is not always the result of anything but being born into the right family. Move to a percentage tax across the board and it would be more equal.

      6 hours ago · · 1

    • David C David look... I got to "like" one of your comments
      4 hours ago ·

    • David C Ah, universal health care. Wouldn't that be great since I am already paying for it. But back to the question. Show me the math where everyone paying the same amount works!
      7 minutes ago ·

      *** UPDATE*** 12/27/12

      Alright, I've been promising to post the rest of this conversation for almost a year, so here it is:

      Lisa S wow... you guys are amazing... unfortunately I haven't stayed on top of this conversation and I need to figure out a way to print this all out to catch up... D David C:

      “Show me the math where everyone paying the same amount works!”

      330,000,000 (Population of US) X $2,000 (Tax per person) = $660,000,000,000. ($660 Billion Dollars)

      This was the amount of spending in 1980. In 1980, Federal outlays were $591B, in 1981 $678B. (Current year dollars.) (White 2012 budget, table 1.3)

      And I don’t remember life in 1980 as being particularly nasty, brutish, and short without all the federal spending that we have now.

      (And I was born in 1961. That year federal outlays were 97.7B (2012 dollars) and the population was 183 million, so we were spending only $533 per citizen. Can Do E-Z.)

      So everyone paying the same amount works when spending is reasonable.


      John D Michael:

      When did the government become the enemy? I dunno, I cannot put my finger on exactly when. But I have recognized for a long time that many things that the government does are detrimental to me, and important things that I count on are neglected.

      (Social Security, for instance. They have seized 6 or 7 percent of every dime I have ever made from me and the same amount from my employer, in exchange for some miserly amount when I am 65 that I have excluded from my retirement planning because I don’t believe it will be there. It was supposed to supplant my retirement, but it’s been plundered. But what did that cost me? If I had saved and invested that 12 or 14 percent of each and every dime I would be quite wealthy today. So would you and everyone else that we care about. If not an enemy, how else would you characterize something that did that?)

      For at least the past decade our government has lost all sense of fiscal responsibility but that has been a long time in coming; the seeds were always there. The Obamacare that we got today is the Hillarycare that we defeated decades ago. Universal health care is fine idea, but does anyone think that it will actually work? What evidence is there that this will be efficient or effective?

      (And just to be honest I have worked in the defense industry for a while. I probably have more experience with how the government actually works than many. The only thing that is almost as constant as bloated inefficiency is the constant but fruitless efforts to make it efficient. Apparently it can’t be done. We cultivate inefficiency and cost growth. The people and programs that manage money wisely, prudently, and well are soon eclipsed by the programs that grow and grow. The proven principles of the free market are absolutely stood on it’s head in all levels of governments today. Even though the federal government clearly cannot afford the spending it has it has borrowed more. Think of the significance of having a debt limit. Then think of the significance of raising it… where does it end?)

      Maybe enemy is the wrong term. Maybe “Dangerously Inept but Extremely Powerful” and is a better term, but the impact on my family is the same. (And if you are not alarmed by our recent credit downgrade, you should be.)

      Thanks for taking the time to read this.

      David C You do realize that for some families this could be as high as 50% of their household income?
      David V Quite the "discussion" you all have going
      Michael V I will not deny that the government is inefficient in many areas. However, here's the curious thing for me. If we take a moment and do not objectify the government as a strange entity "out there" somewhere and recognize that the government is people--military, civil servants, even the government contractors that play the game--we realize that we are just talking about people. Some of them are greedy, self-serving, and not really concerned with being civil servants. HOWEVER, they are no different from the people that some would provide an unfettered capitalism and believe that society as a whole would be served well--you know, trickle down, and all of that malarky. I actually believe (go ahead, unleash the hounds) that at the present time, and for the first time in many years, we have a wise, educated, thoughtful President that sees things in a different way--even on a higher plane than many of the self-serving politicians who oppose his every move (two of them locally elected--did I ever tell you about the time I observed one of them in a casual moment at the airport?). I believe that the health care reform that many seek to denigrate as Obamacare is not perfect, but this is the first President who had the guts to actually do something that every President has said needed to be addressed since Harry Truman! He may have spent his political capital on doing that, and even if he does not get re-elected, I will admire him for doing what no President in a generation would do something about except give it lip service. By-the-way, the health care reform will need to be refined and reformed, but it is a start. And this brings us back to the original thought--Are we willing to just pay inflated health care costs through the bills we receive from doctors, hospitals, etc. so they can cover the costs of the uninsured? Or does it make more sense to be proactive and take initiative to cover health care in a planned, maybe not perfect, way? And, in doing so, shouldn't those who have vast resources pay more dollars into such a pot?
      Thomas V Can I get an Amen !!  good discussion. But, some of you are just plain stupid! :)) thought I'd turn up the heat.
      John D David C: "You do realize that for some families this could be as high as 50% of their household income?"

      Yes, it is theoretically possible that a family of 9 living at the federal poverty level approaches 50%. Of course, for the single poverty person it is under 18 percent and declines with each dollar he earns above that:


      People level Tax Pct

      1 $10,890 $2,000 18%
      2 14,710 $4,000 27%
      3 18,530 $6,000 32%
      4 22,350 $8,000 36%
      5 26,170 $10,000 38%
      6 29,990 $12,000 40%
      7 33,810 $14,000 41%
      8 37,630 $16,000 43%

      For the teacher in the example it is (Assume $50,000 and single) a sweet sweet 4 percent. I still submit that this is highly do-able at $166/person per month.

      "You do realize that for some families this could be as high as 50% of their household income?"

      The family of 9 that this system fails on is Octomom and her 8 bouncing tots. Do you really want to structure a tax system around that? How would you propose we accomodate them and be fair to everyone else? If you have to punish anyone with high taxes, I think that a family that CPS will dismantle shortly is the best choice.

      (But the real beauty of this is that each person gets to keep every dollar that they earn past the first 2000, rewarding success instead of puniishing it. For your teacher this is a verrrry sweet deal. The reason it works for the nation is because everyone does it, not just those who pay taxes.)

      But $2000 per person would never fly today because it would only cover a small portion of our spending.

      As I said earlier, I believe that the real problem is spending, we spend too much and do to much, but I dont think that many agree with me.

      So do you believe that it is possible for our government to spend too much or do too much? What is that limit? (If it is not possible to spend too much, spending cannot be the problem; eventually we should take everything from everyone.)

      Thanks for reading.

      David C John! Really! Look at what you are suggesting as good and appropriate. The numbers you have used are FAR worse than the ones I was going site. Thanks for making my point!
      David C Cite that is...not site
      Michael V Since John is citing statistics based on federal spending in 1980 can anyone tell me what domestic programs have been added since then that should be cut? Can I assume that the huge cost of two wars (one of which was totally politically motivated) should be part of the cost analysis and not ignored as if it has no bearing on any of this like Congress seems to do?
      John D Could you guys please answer the question? IS there any limit to how much we should spend? Or is the answer just costantly MORE?
      John D And you think that the teacher getting her taxes cut from 15 to 4% is bad?
      David C Yes to both questions
      Michael V Not the right question, John. The question is not how much. The question is what is required of us to create a society that is fair and balanced for all participants to live meaningful lives with adequate resources in the context we call the U.S.?
      John D David C: the questions are mutually exclusive. You cannot have a limit to something if you always add more.
      David C No. My yes is that there are limits to what should be spent(we disagree on what those limits are and who should pay for them) and yes to it's bad to reduce teacher tax to 4%.
      Michael V But, you cannot be focused on the right purpose or doing the right things if we begin with ourselves. My question takes us back to the founding of this country. It seems to me that yours focuses on what I want to possess.
      John D David C. Who should say what those liimits are? Based on the current national debt and the state of the federal budget, do you really think that the govt is qualified to judge wisely and well? Do you ever think that we will pay off the debt? The feds borrowed that money, do you recognize that they do not share your view that there is a limit?
      John D Michael: our nation was founded on a basis of limited government. Social security and health care are not in the constitution. Founders assumed a moral, mature, self reliant populace that looked after themselves and each other without govt programs. This is what we need to get back to. Big govt is corrosive to all parts of this.
      Michael V I believe balanced government was the goal of the constitution. And the balance was so EVERYONE could pursue their dream of prosperity and freedom. The inequalities that capitalism has created (when unregulated) have allowed top paying jobs to balloon to 400% of the average worker's pay. Corporations do not see it as their responsibility to address this--they are only to make more money for shareholders and their CEOs. So government MUST play a role--to make sure there is equality of opportunity and that basic life care issues do not fall through the cracks. It is not about people being sustained for the long term by the "safety nets" (as Romney seemed to imply) but that they are there to help until people are given equal footing and opportunity to make a living above poverty levels. Again, you can't do these things unless they are funded. Funding them is ALL of our responsibility. Still waiting to hear what was added after the 1980 timeframe that should be cut...
      John D Michael: sry for the delay. Icannot research now, ill do it tonight. Could you please cite where in the constitution you get that balance was a goal? I don't see it. THX John
      Michael V Balance of power--Executive, Legislative, judicial...
      John D Michael: This is my honest attempt to identify what has changed since 1980 using the White House Budget numbers

      Table 5.2—BUDGET AUTHORITY BY AGENCY: 1976–2016
      (in millions of dollars)
      Dept or other unit 1980 2012 estimate Change

      Legislative Branch 1,318 5,163 392%
      Judicial Branch 609 7,638 1254%
      Dept of Agriculture 39,559 145,577 368%
      Dept of Commerce 2,610 10,431 400%
      Dept of Defense 140,651 675,733 480%
      Dept of Education 15,209 68,000 447%
      Dept of Energy 10,767 27,218 253%
      Dept of HHS 70,002 886,819 1267%
      Dept of Homeland Secur 4,424 44,315 1002%
      Dept of HUD 35,852 47,199 132%
      Dept of the Interior 4,674 11,831 253%
      Dept of Justice 2,261 30,999 1371%
      Dept of Labor 29,846 108,842 365%
      Dept of State 2,411 32,390 1343%
      Dept of Transportation 18,245 128,646 705%
      Dept of the Treasury 89,463 520,330 582%
      Dept of Veterans A. 21,177 128,991 609%
      Corps of Eng-Civil Wks 3,247 4,563 141%
      OtrDefense Civil Pgmss 12,020 51,623 429%
      EPA 4,669 8,790 188%
      Exec Office ofPresident 102 569 558%
      General SVc Adm 716 576 80%
      International Ast Pgms 12,678 41,249 325%
      NASA 5,350 18,710 350%
      National Scienc 991 8,016 809%
      Office Management 15,711 81,909 521%
      Small Business Administration 2,145 981 46%
      Social Sec Admin (On-) 7,144 103,454 1448%
      Social Sec Admin(Off-) 119,278 714,830 599%
      Other (On-Budget) 28,922 33,232 115%
      Other (Off-Budget 6,205
      Allowances ...... 10,000
      Undistributed Offsetting Rcpts -31,988 -279,838 875%
      (On-budget) -28,445 -151,293 532%
      (Off-budget) `-3,543 -128,545 3628%

      Total budget authority 670,062 3,684,991 550%

      This is from the presidents 2012 proposed budget found at Table 5.2 (All Dollars are currentg year which probably means 2010. I think)

      Bottom line is that whatever we had in 1980, we are spending 5 or 6 times as much now. And while overall the figure is 550%, Defense grew slightly less at 480% and HHS grew much more at 1267%. And that's still not enough?

      I dont know how well this table will do in FB, so the links are at

      And I also cam accross the state of the union paper "Blueprint for America" that the president wrote. The president identifies the importance of American Values and has an entire section about this. According to our president, the only American Values worth mentioning are paying taxes. (

      THX for reading.

      John D I was doing my taxes. I hate doing my taxes, so instead I looked up what an average teacher makes and plugged it in. "" says $51,343.33. My program from H&R Block says that this person (Single, No deductions AT ALL) owes $6711 in Federal Tax. My calculator says that's 13.1%.
      t believe me. Look up the numbers and do the math yourself.
      John D My bad. That last line is supposed to say "Dont believe me. Look up the numbers and do the math yoursef." Thanks John
      Michael V Well, it looks like this rigorous conversation is dying down a little. Only you, John, and I seem to be the two "left standing." I looked over the table you put into your post. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that spending has risen significantly. There is no doubt, in anyone's mind that there is waste in government. These are issues to be addressed. The issue to provide services in a country that has a standard of living well above most any country in the world is ALSO an issue to address. This context, the U.S. is different from any in the world. This day, the 21st century, is different from 1980. We ALL want a country with dependable infrastructures and services. We need leaders who will do the right, and often difficult thing and provide services and support for equal opportunity for all people. These things are increasingly costly--thus your table. I continue to believe in a value system that teaches, "To whom much is given, much will be required" (Luke 12). The tax structure needs to be revamped so that those who have more pay more. I will never see that as penalizing success. It is recognizing that all of us probably have more than we deserve and giving up a portion of it for the greater good is a privilege that will allow me to be part of a legacy that invests in the future. Also, it is totally unfair and inaccurate to portray the President as one who proposes that the only "American Value" worth mentioning is paying taxes. Read his speach at the National Prayer Breakfast from last week...There is much more to this man that is good and virtuous than many want to or are willing to see.
      David C The Church, much like our government, has not done things well. There is a great deal in its history (and current) that Is "unfortunate". But I still attend and believe that through the Church god's message can be brought to the world. I am not willing to throw out the baby with the bath water both cases. People are usually willing to do what is best for themselves(put more money in my pocket). We are less willing to do what is best for the common good(for example close a military base your voting district). But talk to my dad right now and he is all for big government as it helped save my mother's life.

      We need to give the president line item veto to keep the pork belly programs out that get stuck to good bills.

      We all agree that there are things that need to be cut. A few of us agree that there is going to have to be an increase in taxes to pay down the debt. We may not "want" to but it is necessary. Your own numbers(again thanks) support the idea that the same amount of tax won't work. But some kind of sliding percent will.

      We also need a balanced budget amendment.
      Just some random thoughts.
      John D I apologize for these being so lengthy and responses taking so long. These are not Bumper Sticker or Sound Byte level issues. The picture that started this blog “There is Something Deeply Wrong Here” is a tool to generate a certain belief about something; to make us believe that there is an injustice that must be to be fought. I think that it is pretty clear that the facts do not support it. We simply MUST get these things right, and clever bumper stickers and cherry-picked (or fictional) examples will not lead us to the best choices. Better information is required, and that takes more lengthy discussion.
      I believe that a great many of our problems are because we have become a nation of adolescents who are unable or unwilling to address irksome, tedious, or unpleasant problems. It seems that the most prevalent view is the one that is the most hip, flip, and cool rather than rational, sound, and effective.
      John D Michael:
      “…There is much more to this man that is good and virtuous…”
      As for our President being a virtuous man, I have some problems with this. First, Clinton showed us that virtue and honor is irrelevant; he erred and was caught lying to appear virtuous so any appearance of virtue is suspect. (This includes Republicans and conservatives, too, BTW.) And the real problem was not Clinton, the real problem was that society, the government, and the establishment would accept his behavior. Rather than hold him accountable and hold him to the highest ethical standards, virtue was less important than politics. This is unacceptable, to sacrifice truth for political influence, just like the “Something wrong here” bumper sticker that started this.

      Secondly, I believe that some of the president’s statements are either suspect or deliberately misleading. Most recently, he used Warren Buffet’s secretary as an example of tax and income inequality. He stated that “his secretary paid taxes at a higher rate than he did” and she was present at the state of the union to represent the have nots or the the 99% or something. He used this concrete example to illustrate income inequality. Except that Warren Buffet’s secretary makes between $200,000 and $500,000 per year (possibly more than Obama does.) for this to be true. ( Obama does not tell us that, which is critical information to judge the situation correctly. Instead he misrepresents it to advance his divisive politics. (And what’s more disturbing is that nobody challenges him on it. We don’t know how much she actually makes, we are not privy to this part of the story. And above a certain level, tax rates and laws become so bizarre and convoluted as to be meaningless; the wise wealthy take advantage of this: how can you blame them?) Or maybe he does not know or bother to verify his information, which in some ways is worse… willing to make decisions without a thorough, sober, tedious analysis of the situation. Or perhaps he knows that this is wrong but feels that this falsehood is acceptable to promote some larger purpose. None of these represent virtue to me.

      And lastly, even if he is, being virtuous is not enough. You can be virtuous and still be inept.
      (And how is it that people can quote Christ’s parable “To whom much is given, much will be required" (Luke 12) but ignore his parable about the workers (Matthew 20) that clearly shows that Christ was just fine with economic inequality?)

      I hope to get away from Obama and keep focused on economics though…

      (And can you explain how the World today is so different from 1980 that we need a vastly larger government to deal with it? Don’t we all still love our families? Want a good job? Want economic freedom and prosperity? Yes, we have the internet and ipods, but gas is still expensive. The fundamentals that worked then work now. The new problems that exist now exist, I believe BECAUSE the government is 5 times larger now than it was then. The growth of Wall Street pales in comparison to growth of government.)

      (And I agree with investing in the future. I believe that ANY policy that does not place fiscal responsibility above EVERYTHING else is wrong. Follow the current course and we will leave our children a nation where jobs are scarce, goods are costly, and everything is run by the government. The stewardship of our nation belongs to us and we are failing at it.)

      THX for reading. John
      John D David C:
      “The Church, much like our government, has not done things well. There is a great deal in its history (and current) that Is ‘unfortunate’”.

      I do not believe that this is a valid statement. This statement has the same validity as “The President wets his bed.” You cannot dispute the validity of the assertion that everyone (as a child) had at least one “Accident” and that makes the statement true: the president is a bedwetter. “The Church has not done things well” and “Barak Obama is a bedwetter” are both factually correct, misleading, and lead you to wrong conclusions. (And both are hurtful.)
      Both our President’s personal hygiene and the behavior of the generic “Church” are self-correcting systems. Yes, there have been times when evil has been done by the Church in Christ’s name. This is eliminated because it is directly opposed to the fundamental teachings of Christ. It may take a while, and there may be constant, low level of people who just don’t “get it”, but “the Church” is a human institution and therefore, by definition, not able to be perfect. (And considering how many times Christ said to his disciples “You guys just don’t get it” I think that it is safe to say that this is a permanent condition.)

      And in your assertion “Has not done things well” you disregard the very essence of the church. From a society standpoint, “The Church” has given us bucket loads of hospitals, colleges, medical research, food banks, orphanages, and the moral law that we have converted into our judicial system. (Some of our most deep societal divides like abortion and homosexuality occur because the old laws are challenged.) In the context of historical significance, these benefits far outweigh our misdeeds. But the teachings of Christ as executed as community are what Christ really taught. I do not believe that it is intellectually honest to characterize the Church based on the Crusades or the Salem witch trials. (And maybe I misunderstood your meaning… that was the position of some whom I have debated in the past on how superior atheism is to Christianity.)

      (“But I Digress” seems like a vast understatement! I apologize and appreciate your patience.)

      It is a fundamental mistake to equate the Church with the government. The secular government is vastly different from the Church (or people for that matter) in fundamental ways. For example, the government can imprison people; if anyone else does that it is a crime. (Unless you’re a Muslim.) The government can print money, use violence, and seize property as it sees fit. But the biggest differences are structural; if the government does something wrong it suffers no consequence and it is not a self-correcting system. If the government manages its funds poorly it raises taxes, borrows on our good name, or prints/issues more cash: there is not an upper limit to how badly it can fail. That is scary. (If you like ecology metaphors, it is like a swarm of locust… eats and grows and eats and grows until there is nothing left to eat, then everything is gone but dead locust.) Bottom line: there is no accountability for federal government. You and I are accountable to our families, bosses, phone companies, and banks; Reverend Colaw was accountable to his congregation; and the Mariement School District is accountable to the residents who vote on school levies; but the Federal Government is accountable to no one.

      And you said that “We also need a balanced budget amendment”. That’s the same level of non-commitment that our government has had for years. The President’s “Blueprint for America” ( says: ”Pass a balanced, fair deficit reduction plan.” That’s it. That’s all. The most dangerous thing facing our nation and it gets lip service. (Which is all the Republicans do, too.) And did you realize that we have not had a budget for something like 3 years? Actually budgeting our nation was too tough; we have been running on CRAs. (And don’t blame Republicans for that, the Dems held both houses for a while.) It is pretty clear to me that nobody cares about having a budget, let alone balancing it.
      So the question remains… if there is a limit to what we should spend, what is it? I believe that spending an amount that we cannot afford, then borrowing and becoming so indebted that we will never pay it off IS too much. Don’t forget that our credit rating was downgraded. The politicians apparently cannot grapple with that question.
      THX again for reading
      David C What are you trying to say about Matthew 20? Verse 16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
      Are you suggesting it is ok that the wealthy abscond with most of the wealth on earth because they are not going to heaven?
      John D No. I was observing that Christ put no emphasis on being "fair". The owner did not treat his workers fairly. The early workers were "exploited". The late workers profited more. And it was the owners choice.
      David C I'll let Michael handle that one!
      John D So David, if you think that there should be some limit to govt spending, how would you set it?
      Mike S Just a couple comments from what I have read. 1. I believe based on facts that the rich are paying more - both in rate and definitely in amount. When 50% of our "taxpayers" are paying 2.3% of all income tax at an average rate of 1.8% and the top 1% is paying 36% of all income tax at an average rate of 24%, we can't possibly say they don't pay their fair share. 2. When all is said and done with their lives, the rich also have 35% of much of their wealth (which was already taxed) confiscated by the government. That does not happen to me.
      Tax Foundation National Press Building 529 14th Street, NW Suite 420 Washington, DC 20045-1000 202.464.6200
      John D And should'nt it be something that we ca actually afford? (Like not so high that the long term health of our nation is harmed; as in a downgrade?)
      John D Michael: in a earlier post you indicated that CEOs made 400 times the average. I did some reseach and found that there are 129 individuals where this is the case. (Cnn money article for ceo info, census info for salary avg). 129 is too few to be meaningful. Do you have other info to support the 400x assertion? Thx. John
      John D And just to be clear, I believe that Christ has given us a clear commission to help the needy, poor, widows, and orphans.... I just reject that this means the government.
      Michael V Okay, sorry that I have not been engaged but it's time to jump back into the conversation. Thanks, John, for opening the door to integrating faith in a conversation about society's greater issues, the government's role and our response. BUT, we have to go back to the Matthew 20 parable for a few moments, then we'll move forward. So, you quote a parable that Jesus uses to make a point. I'll try to be brief, but there are a couple of things that seem to be missed here. First, a parable was used to make A point. One point. Not a metaphor as we often try to do with them. Second, the context is ALWAYS important--this context follows Jesus calling the rich man to sell all he had, then follow him to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus did not tell all rich people to do so, just this one. Likely there was something in his life that giving up his possessions would re-center it. So, what is THE point of this parable? As you point out, John, it was not about being fair in life. But, I think for the opposite reason you mention. THE point is that GOD gives unmerited (regardless of how long you work for it) grace as God desires and wills. Life should not be seen as a "you get what you earn" existence. God's "kingdom" is about a much higher plane than this.
      Michael V So, here we are back to the idea of fairness and justice (or, to make Glen Beck cringe, social justice). Is there a way to live in the kind of society that encourages hard work, creative work, work that benefits society AND to realize all people should be on a level playing field to encourage such work? Is there a way to create a tax structure where one group can't claim we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world and another group can claim that this may be true, but with all of the loopholes nobody pays that rate so we actually live with much less being paid to provide services? You see, it is not about what is "merited" by any of us. What you have, what I have, are all gifts from God. We are stewards of it, called to pass it along to others. Any of you know what the real definition of "Indian giver" is?
      Michael V Mike: Thanks for the link. This is cut and pasted from that link and I think shows how the top 1% have been given a growing preferential treatment by tax laws--"Another indicator of this reversal in the income and tax shares of the top 1 percent is that, as in 2008, the top 1 percent no longer pays a larger percentage of total income tax than the bottom 95 percent. This trend was exacerbated by the aforementioned precipitous drop in AGI in 2009. During 2009, the bottom 95 percent (AGI under $154,643) paid 41.3 percent of the total collected, a larger share than the 36.7 percent paid by the top 1 percent (AGI over $343,947)."
      David P Thomas I have been away from the discussion too, and have a thing or two that has been simmering. I have like a couple of comments (not just John's) but one of his shares something I've been planning to say: "And just to be clear, I believe that Christ has given us a clear commission to help the needy, poor, widows, and orphans.... I just reject that this means the government." That is especially relevant, I think, now that the President has quoted Luke as well (was he reading this?), that Jesus would be okay with raising taxes based on the line "of whom much is given much is required." I disagree. I don't think Jesus would be okay with the idea, and I think many Americans would be uncomfortable with the notion that the Government is supposed to do the work of Jesus. We are all Bible scholars enough to know that Jesus wasn't tied to the local, regional, or Empire government, and to state, suggest, allude, or infer that He would be for one party or the other's agenda borders on sacrilege, in my book. That also speaks to what seems to me to be the essential difference between the "sides" of this excellent discussion, and it has been stated clearly several times: whose responsibility is it, these things that need to be done? I happen to think that we have ceded our responsibilities to our government, and they have proven inept, so we should observe and obey the rules and laws that exist to limit our government and limit it, and that we citizens should continue to be generous and helpful (and we are, we give generously).
      John D Michael and David:

      I still owe you, sorry for the delay.

      I found something interesting in yesterday's Bible reading (Ex 30:15 Context is payment to the Lord of each persons atonement. I think that this is a one-time thing.)

      "All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD. 15 The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives."

      "the rich must not give more than the specified amount, and the poor must not give less"

      I won't draw and conclusions from this except to say that this is an instance where God himself explictly said that the rich and poor should pay exactly the same amount, so you cannot entirely reject that concept on a religous basis.

      Thanks and I hope to respond to your queries shorlty...