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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

August 08, 2004
Still Being Bushwhacked

Turns out that such a brief discussion of the book wasn't enough to clear my mind. I had more to say. (Well, I usually do, don't I?)

I like Ivins and Dubose. I like their writing. Yeah, they have a bias against Bush, but they spent a number of years watching him dismantle Texas, then did a lot of research and learned more about him, so they have seem to know whereof they speak.

What follows is a bit of paraphrasing, a bit of me, a bit of quoting, and a lot of bile.

Ethics (Corporate and Bush)

Harken, GWBush said, was nothing like Enron. That's true. There was one major difference between the two financial frauds.

Enron executives are going on trial. The inquiry into Harken resulted in a deafening silence. Other than that, the book-cooking, profiteering, and fraudulent cover-ups bear remarkable resemblances to each other.

Remember "insider trading," the crime for which Martha Stewart is about to do time? Too bad she didn't have a daddy powerful enough to appoint people to supposedly independent investigating committees to protect her.

The head of the SEC was appointed by George, the Elder. The man 'investigating' GWBush and Harken did work as GWBush's personal lawyer before he joined the SEC.

To be fair, I should mention that the SEC never exonerated Bush. It just...stopped investigating him.

To be completely fair, when Harken knew it was going down, it formed a "Fairness Committee" to evaluate the effects of bankruptcy on small investors. Bush was appointed to the committee and we have to assume the conclusion was that bankruptcy wouldn't hurt small investors. After all, a month later Bush dumped sold his stock for an enormous profit and 'forgot' to notify the SEC. A heartbeat later, Harken went under. (Bush claims it was essentially a "clerical error' that his stock-dumping wasn't reported to the SEC but I'm aware of no documentation that has ever been produced to support his contention that he thought the report had been filed Not a memo, a note on a phone log, or even a receipt from his lawyer when he paid the bill for the work.)

The "private purchaser" who saved GW by purchasing the Harken stock has never been identified but a look at GWBush's business history suggests it's logical to conclude it was one of daddy's moneyed friends.

It's important to know who's selling, but it can be very educational to know who's buying.

We spent $70 million investigating why the Clintons lost money on a deal in Arkansas. We spent nothing investigating how Bush made hundreds of thousands of dollars from a company whose accounting procedure appear to have been a pattern for the Enron debacle.

Let's all thank the radical Republican Congressional leadership for this example of partisan politics at its worst.

Bush to Wall Street: I barely know Mr. Kenny, Number One Individual Campaign Contributor, Lay. The market dropped 7.4%. (What? Didn't they believe him?)

Three weeks later, amid a tidal wave of information about Harken's fraudulent accounting (and Bush's massive profits), the market lost almost 400 points. (Granted, there were other factors at work, but at the time it certainly seemed that the likelihood of a sitting President being indicted for insider trading was a significant factor.)

I bring the Harken thing up (again) for one reason. To point out that this was the summer of 2001. We were headed for serious economic problems before 9/11, so take it with a grain or two of salt when Bush tries to blame the poor economy on international terrorism.

Over Bush's strenuous protests, the House passed a corporate-responsibility bill to stem the hemorrhaging on Wall Street. When Bush sprains his arm patting himself on the back for pushing through "corporate reform" you just keep remembering that that wasn't the way it happened. A Democrat wrote the bill. Representatives aware of voter anger over massive corporate fraud passed it. Bush just bowed to the inevitable.

Making sanctimonious speeches about "corporate ethics" and "accounting reform" and pretending to disapprove the exact kind of fraud that has enriched you personally is a level of hypocrisy that sickens me.

The Jobless Recovery

As I write this, lath month's 200,000+ jobs forecast has just been clocked going past the post at a leisurely 32k. I know at least three people being driven nuts by abusive bosses but who are terrified of quitting, and two more on the verge of bankruptcy because they've been job-hunting unsuccessfully for a couple of years.

It's too painful to discuss.

In summary, the 2003 unemployment benefits extension was passed with no help from the Bush White House and it offered no coverage for the most needy, those whose unemployment benefits had run out while the Bush Administration pretended that tax cuts for the rich were going to save the economy.

Class Wars

Tax cuts for the wealthy are rapidly turning a paranoid fear of irreparable class divisions in this country into a reality. The farther down people go into poverty, and the longer they stay down, the longer it will take them to climb back out. Assuming they're given the means to climb back out at all.

I didn't have to read this book to learn that.

Money given to the needy stimulates 98%* of the economy. Money given to rich people stimulates the other 2%). It's as simple as that.

(* Exact percentages were made up, okay?)

In 2003, the median income in this country ("median" not "average") was $44,000 for a family of four. If you tried to live on $11,000 a year yourself, before taxes and payroll withholding, you'd get a sense of the median level of poverty in this country.

The Bush Administration (well, much of the Republican Party) favors "averages." Let's look at the New Yorker example the book quotes.

[If] Bill Gates walks into a soup kitchen where two nuns are feeding thirty-eight homeless people, the average income of the people in that room is $1 billion per person. But it's still thirty-eight penniless people, two nuns, and Bill Gates.

If 37 of the penniless people starve to death, The Radical Right will point sanctimoniously to their "average" income and demand to know if the government is supposed to make multi-billionaires out of everyone. (If you're GWBush, you also point to the nuns and the one remaining homeless person and extol the successes of faith-based initiatives.)

When someone tells GWBush that one of the dead 37 was a homeless veteran of Gulf War I, whose physical problems prevented him from holding down a job and whose (slashed) veteran's healthcare benefits couldn't provide him with care, if you're GWBush, you dash a tear from your beady little eye with a tiny USA flag and make a speech about "taking care of our brave men and women," with your fingers crossed behind your back.

Class Wars. You're probably in one when the pay of the country's top 100 CEOs is over a thousand times higher than the pay of "an average worker."

Workplace Safety

As near as I can tell, the only 'repetitive motion' that GWBush has ever experienced was playing video games and he could stop whenever he wanted. Also? He has the entire Secret Service to keep him safe while he's at work. (On his own time, he falls off of things.) (<--Cheap shot)

Workplace injuries He doesn't care and doesn't want to know about it. The ergonomics legislation passed by the Clinton Administration didn't quite make it onto the books before GWBush moved into the White House. Deciding it might hurt the feelings of his corporate campaign donors, he tossed it out.

While we're at it, let's take a quick look at how the Bush Administration views the law, shall we?

No activism here, this is "strict constructivism." Bush's Department of Labor Chief, Howard M. Radzely, made a ground-breaking 'discovery' about labor laws when he took office. He discovered that rules required employers to provide adequate restroom facilities for workers, but did not require employers to let employees actually use the facilities.

When the Bush Administration disses "activism" by the courts, this is the kind of liberal coddling of labor they're partly referring to. Some activist Liberal would have insisted those whiny workers actually be allowed to use the facilities, even though the law specifically did not say they were entitled to.

GWBush has never been cold, poor, or hungry in his life and there's no possibility he ever will be. He has no sympathy, empathy, or understanding of people living on an hourly wage or on a salary because he's never done it himself. His imagination and conscience are too barren for him to understand the majority of problems citizens of this country face.

(Removed - undoubtedly actionable passage about people reaping the rewards of graft while defrauding small investors.)

Education

Let's Leave No Child Behind in our rush to dismantle this country's social structure and replace it with a tiered system consisting of a moneyed aristocracy supported by a diligent, thrifty, voiceless underclass.

The segregation of those destined to succeed versus those destined to live in trailer parts starts with education. First, you cut school funding. Books, well-paid teachers, buildings with complete roofs and working plumbing are luxuries.

Then you pass a law saying that any school that fails to coach students to pass standardized tests loses even more funding. This weeds out the chaff of those destined for subsistence living and saves a fortune. (While you're at it, it's good to underfund that law, so schools don’t' get any help meeting the requirements. No point in wasting a lot of time and money helping the wrong kind of people try to succeed, after all.)

(Worried about bad PR from those short-sighted voters? Don't be. Just link school "success" on the new scale to school administrator jobs and bonuses, then sit back and relax. Administrators with one eye on their jobs will bury the bad news for you.)

But let's be fair. I always like to be fair. Not everyone hates the implementation of standardized tests and assessments. Companies that specialize in school testing (and that can only benefit from the economies of scale provided my national tests) are sure to be thrilled.

(But don't go all paranoid on me. I'm sure no one would be more surprised than GWBush to learn that the McGraws, with whom his family has had a 70-year relationship, are the McGraws of McGraw-Hill, of one of the biggest standardized school textbook, testing, and assessment corporations in the country. Probably when the families were vacationing together or when Harold McGraw III was serving on Bush's "Presidential Transition Team" the subject just never came up.)

Food Safety

Just shut up and eat it. The planet is overpopulated anyhow. (Warning: Reading this chapter can be detrimental to your appetite.)

USDA inspectors? They've been stripped of the authority they need to do their jobs. Smaller government, you know.

Women's Rights?

You have the right to bear children.

The Bench

Abortion, gay rights, executing minors, and worker's protection? No, thank you.

Protecting corporate "citizens"? You betcha.

If you want to see how bad it can be, read the stuff on Priscilla Owen, a Bush nominee to the federal bench. I tried to write about it but I couldn't find any way to express an opinion that wouldn't get me sued.

Another wanna-be Bush candidate for a Federal Bench appointment denied a request filed by a condemned prisoner for a new trial on the grounds that the law says the defendant is entitled to a lawyer, but nothing in the law says the lawyer can't sleep through most of the trial.

That's "strict constructionism" courtesy of the Far Far Right.

It's not scary just because there are some nuts on the Bench in this country. It's scary because these are the kinds of people Bush appoints.

Foreign Policy

Might makes right.

Taxes

The Lie: Rich people unfairly pay more taxes than anyone else.

The Truth: "Income" taxes plus "payroll" taxes take a bigger percentage bite out of the majority of American's incomes than rich people pay on their "income" taxes. Most tax revenues are payroll taxes, of which the handful of rich people in this country pays only a nearly invisible fraction.

State of the Union

Bush sees the presidency as a license to do whatever he wants. Before he ran for the office, someone really should have explained that he was running to be the country's #1 public servant.

[That's] what we do in this country, over and over. Get so scared of some dread menace--of communism or crime or drugs or illegal aliens or terrorists--that we hurt ourselves. We think we can make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free. It never works. When we make ourselves less free, we're not safer, we're only less free.

Remember the brief flurry of concern over Patriot II, the Patriot Act's bigger, meaner brother?

If there is, in fact, another terrorist attack on UsofA soil during Bush's watch, the authors predict we're going to become very familiar with Patriot II.

I'm just saying. We need to kick out the current Administration and then roll up our sleeves. November 2, 2004 is only the start for what needs to be done to clean up the mess Bush & Company have created. And while we're at it, let's see if we can't arrive at someplace even better than we were when the neo-cons started in dismantling the country.

For some suggestions on what we might do, check the last chapter of the book.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:59 PM


Comments

Only thing better than a Peevish rant is a Peevish rant chanelling an Ivins rant....

Posted by: Jonathan Dresner at August 9, 2004 01:01 AM

LOL!

I'm flattered. :)

Posted by: Anne at August 9, 2004 10:56 AM

"The Truth: "Income" taxes plus "payroll" taxes take a bigger percentage bite out of the majority of American's incomes than rich people pay on their "income" taxes."

That was a point that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet (both of whom oppossed the Bush tax cuts) tried to make to the public. Buffet said "My secretary pays a higher income tax rate than I do."

It makes me unspeakably sad that the two richest men on earth can shout "Please don't give us any more money!" and yet somehow Bush can get a lot of working-class and middle-class voters to think "Tax cuts are good for the economy!"

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at August 9, 2004 11:38 AM


To be fair, I should mention that the SEC never exonerated Bush.

It just...stopped investigating him.

Umm..did you actually read the SEC memorandum on Bush and the Harken case? In a 12 March 92 action memo, the SEC investigators wrote:

"In light of the facts uncovered, it would be difficult to establish that even assuming Bush possessed material, non-public information, he acted without scienter or intent to defraud. For the reason set forth above, the staff does not believe that an enforcement action is appropriate in this matter."

It's only 5 pages Anne..surely a quick read while on hold?

I was going to throw in the stories of Robert Rubin calling the Treasury on behalf of Enron in 2001 or Terry McCauliffe making 18M on a 100K investment in Global Crossing or 2.45M on a $100 (wow!) investment with a Union pension fund that later had to pay fines for the partnership..especially when George Bush made 850K on his Harken stock sale....but cynically, that would only show the issue is not Rep or Dem, but that the rich, indeed, get different treatment..unless they manage to irritate the public like Leona Helmsley or Martha Stewart...

As for Veteran's - I'm going to be (hopefully) a member of the Gulf War Veteran's club..and like I'm sure other "HMO" type health systems, quality of care varies by individual doctor, hospital, and personal knowledge of the "system."

Read the following (again, another short summary)

http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docID=144

Some highlights:

In Bush’s first three years funding for the Veterans Administration increased 27%. And if Bush's 2005 budget is approved, funding for his full four-year term will amount to an increase of 37.6%.

In the eight years of the Clinton administration the increase was 31.7%

Those figures include mandatory spending for such things as payments to veterans for service-connected disabilities, over which Congress and presidents have little control. But Bush has increased the discretionary portion of veterans funding even more than the mandatory portion has increased. Discretionary funding under Bush is up
30.2%.

By any measure, veterans funding is going up faster under Bush than under Clinton.

In fairness (right, trying to be fair), the article states some attempts to limit the growth by the Bush administration that Veteran's groups do not like, but concludes,

"All this means Bush can fairly be accused of trying to hold down the rapid growth in spending for veterans benefits -- particularly those sought by middle-income vets with no service-connected disability. But saying he cut the budget is contrary to fact."

My own (and family) experiences with military medicine is mixed, especially when I did not live near a military facility and had to use my military insurance plan at "civilian" hospitals (the care was fine, but the paperwork and approval was very bureaucratic)..When the government tries to run a 30B dollar medical program, I suspect there will always be some inefficiencies and problems..and if you (or your family member) has health insurance from another source, that adds another layer of complexity as the government looks to save money by forcing you to use that first in some cases..In many cases, it's a failure to understand the system (which may be both an individual and organizational fault) that prevents Veterans from getting benefits

Read the article and reassess accepting blindly what Ivins writes..

Of course, you realize in the family of 4 with the 44K that it's NOT as if each is spending the 11K..In general, housing and car payments cover all 4 with only marginal increases from the 2d, 3rd, and 4th member..

And since you don't like averages, I'm sure you will like this article about Kerry's claim that new jobs are paying 9K less "on average"

http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx?docID=228

I find it interesting you point to CEO pay compared to the "average" worker but not to entertainers and athletes compared to the average worker on the set or team..And the CEO pay/average worker difference is not a "Bush" phenomenom..plenty of Dems sit on Corporate boards that approve the compensation packages for C-level executives..

You write: 'Most tax revenues are payroll taxes, of which the handful of rich people in this country pays only a nearly invisible fraction."

IRS data doesn't support that...of course, to be more precise, one would have to back out the income tax portion paid by those who make over 90K (roughly the point where FICA stops) and their FICA contributions..but I'm sure Ivins does that level of analysis...


Type of Return
Number
Gross Collections of Returns (Millions of $)

Individual income tax 130,728,360 987,209
Corporation income tax 5,890,821 194,146
Employment taxes [1]
29,916,033 [2] 695,976
Gift tax [1]
287,456 1,939
Excise taxes [1]
812,483 52,771
Estate tax [1]
91,679 20,888


I do agree though that the FICA eligible income level should raise..I'm also of the opinion that SS is security and not retirement income and so people who live long enough and do have sufficient (and that's subjective but..) income should not get Social Security..but I also think people should have the choice (remember, choice - isn't that a good thing) to opt out (Yes, I'm aware there is a moral hazard/adverse selection issue to deal with) into a two-tier system where one can stick with SS or take a percentage out to invest themselves in return for a smaller % of SS..

You leave out property taxes which are really becoming troublesome for middle class homeowners whose income is not rising as much as their wealth (home value) and thus face greater liquidity issues or have to keep pulling out the equity...which was less problematic in an era of low rates, but that could change over the next five years..

I'm with Lawrence about this education issue - I don't know why the Reps have gone from the party that thought abolishing the Dept of Ed was a good idea to one that thinks it can run education policy from Wash DC. As for standardized testing, when Kerry/Edwards call for "holding schools accountable," what metrics do you think they'll use? Or "tests" for new teachers to ensure competence?

I'll stop and read the "recommendations"....


Posted by: Col Steve at August 9, 2004 01:02 PM

Col Steve - As I'm sure you're aware, statistical analysis can be a fuzzy topic. You can prove almost anything, depending on what you want to prove.

I don't have time to run down your references today or to compare them to the lengthy list of citations Irins and Dubose offer in the book. It may take me a week or two to get the time.

I do intend to, but in the meantime let me amuse you by nitpicking a couple of things you said that really stood out when I read your comment.

First, the cost of living (so to speak).

Of course, you realize in the family of 4 with the 44K that it's NOT as if each is spending the 11K..In general, housing and car payments cover all 4 with only marginal increases from the 2d, 3rd, and 4th member..

That's just silly, okay? How can you say that the difference in living costs for one person and for four people is "marginal" as though it's a practically invisible increase?

The car payment difference between a car suitable for a single person and one suitable for a four-person family is not insignificant. Nor is the housing space (which involves more than just tacking on another 12' x 12' bedroom) (or, two bedrooms, if we're talking children of different genders), nor is the food bill, nor is the education bill, nor is the clothing bill.

And even if the difference for each were marginal, the cumulative differences are anything but.

Add one minor health problem for one child (say, asthma) and the healthcare costs can skyrocket if the family isn't lucky enough to have comprehensive coverage.

Second, CEO pay.

I find it interesting you point to CEO pay compared to the "average" worker but not to entertainers and athletes compared to the average worker on the set or team..And the CEO pay/average worker difference is not a "Bush" phenomenom..plenty of Dems sit on Corporate boards that approve the compensation packages for C-level executives.

Quite frankly, I don't think the "entertainment" argument in relevant since I never argued that it's okay for a star to get $55 million while a bit actor starves to death making Equity minimum.

To be honest, I'm confused that you brought it up. Did you in some way think I was making a mental exception or something?

Also? I never said Bush invented the pay inequality. I'm just suggesting that massive tax cuts for the rich exacerbate it, that he knows that, and that he doesn't care. In fact, he likes it. Since he's a "have" and it's inconceivable that he'll ever be a "have-not" he doesn't have any ability to understand the true cost of poverty or the sheer hard work it takes for most people to make ends meet month after month after year after year.

Posted by: Anne at August 9, 2004 05:46 PM

As Laura of 11D as repeatedly pointed out, having kids is actually more expensive than being single. So there is no economy of scale in terms of income. From my own life, I lived adequately on my graduate school stipend when it was just me. Next year, I will make four times that and I don't think I will make ends meet. Kids are extremely expensive. And no economy of scale is going to make that less true.

Posted by: David Salmanson at August 10, 2004 09:31 PM

Anne:
Yes, please amuse me.

First, notice in my comment I only referenced housing and automobiles. Clearly, additional people add costs for individual consumption such as clothing and food.

However, take automobiles.
The car payment difference between a car suitable for a single person and one suitable for a four-person family is not
insignificant.

In general, two-seaters tend to be more or as expensive cars than a your standard compact/ mid-size automobile which can carry 4 to 5 people..Maybe you meant that incremental weight of the extra passengers were a drag on gas mileage? Or that perhaps you had to drive more places - but those are variable costs..and not my point that the single car payment (fixed cost independent of use) would be pretty much the same for the single person or family of 4.

As for housing, I agree there is additional cost going from 1 bedroom to multiple bedrooms..but it's is generally not linear - that is, the 3 bedroom apartment or home is not 3 times the cost of a 1 bedroom equivalent...hence the implied point that each person has to contribute an equal share is misleading..but I agree my wording was rather sloppy.

No, but in general, many CEOs make more of their compensation from stock options as opposed to salary while athletes and actors tend to make pure salary..and I guess I was reacting to hearing Ben Affleck reiterate how "Bush made a mistake by giving me back more money" -- to which I say, Well, nobody is stopping you from giving it back (make it out to Bureau of Public Debt) or taking your "windfall" and giving it to the charity or non-profit that you believe is best suited to fill the void the government must be leaving since the IRS is getting less of your money...

Don't hear him taking John Edwards to task when JE basically incoporated himself to limit his taxes (which I would do if I was in his shoes too)..and guys like Affleck and Warren Buffet remind me of Hugo's post about preferring to be "forced" to be virtuous..

Having been very poor when I was young and now being considered by some to be in the "rich" category (mainly through a 2d source of income from a self-run business), I get a little irritated when mostly millionaires who have never or - for sometime now have not - "understood" what "average" people tend to go through lecture me about making ends meet (and that's on both sides of the aisles)..I don't mind a progressive tax system, but I'd rather more of it stay in my locality and I'd much prefer to have both parties stop thinking more programs from Washington is the answer..

Posted by: Col Steve at August 12, 2004 02:10 AM

Just answering different points as I have the time, Col Steve.

You quoted:

"In light of the facts uncovered, it would be difficult to establish that even assuming Bush possessed material, non-public information, he acted without scienter or intent to defraud. For the reason set forth above, the staff does not believe that an enforcement action is appropriate in this matter."

No, I didn't get to the SEC memo yet, but I noticed something this morning. Stripped of the qualifying clause, the first sentence reads:

"In light of the facts uncovered, it would be difficult to establish that he acted without scienter or intent to defraud."

That seems pretty clear to me.

They go on to say:

"For the reason set forth above, the staff does not believe that an enforcement action is appropriate in this matter."

He wasn't cleared of wrongdoing, okay? They just stopped investigating him.

I was going to throw in the stories of ....

That would have been irrelevant, as you clearly figured out. The fact that a lot of people do crooked things is hardly the kind of defence I'd find acceptable.

Posted by: Anne at August 12, 2004 09:32 AM

Anne:
I'm not going to split hairs with you, but it seems hard to read the very bureaucratic memo that states there is no case here even assuming (not proven to be true) a higher level of insider knowledge.

To be fair, I can see that the memo and subsequent 93 letter could leave open the possibility if more information is discovered, the case could be revisited.

Having said that, I think complete fairness would require balancing any statement that claims Bush was never exonerated also include that the SEC did make a finding based on the available information and their investigation of that information...fair and balanced, right?

Posted by: Col Steve at August 12, 2004 07:27 PM

Col. Steve -

Well, color me aggravated, annoyed, and uncomfortable.

I finally did what I should have done days ago and googled for the meaning of "scienter" which I kept assuming was some weird typographical error.

One moment of intellectual laziness and you find yourself making irrational arguments. If I were a bit younger I'd go hide somewhere. As it is, I can only offer you an apology.

(I claim the defense of illness. I'm living inside a mental fog bank this week.)

I'm not done with the rest of your comments, but I'll try to be more careful with them.

Posted by: Anne at August 12, 2004 07:42 PM

"I don't mind a progressive tax system, but I'd rather more of it stay in my locality and I'd much prefer to have both parties stop thinking more programs from Washington is the answer.."

Of course, we could have both, a more progressive income tax and also less of it taken by Washington. Progressive income tax doesn't have to mean big Federal government. But most states currently have tax codes that are neutral or regressive. For that reason, left-of-center activists tend to see the Federal tax code as being the best way to stop the concentration of wealth going on in the country. But its true more needs to be done at the state level. There is a point of diminshing returns that kicks in at some point, and makes it so that increasing the top Federal bracket isn't enough to stop concentration of wealth, not when the states are actively promoting concentration of wealth with their tax codes. So all of us, Col Steve, who'd like to see stronger local government need to work to make our local tax codes more progressive.

Posted by: Lawrence Krubner at August 13, 2004 08:04 AM

Lawrence:
I agree with your points.

One of the interesting aspects of the Vermont school funding change to centralize education spending at the State level (Act 60) was to get the citizens of the "gold towns" mobilized and in several cases to start endowment and/or "off the tax book" funding for schools.

Some data I haven't checked for some time is the movement within wealth brackets...It was the research area of one of my advisers..she had advocated instead of an estate tax was a cap on the amount (non-business/farms) a person could inherit..to include foundations/charities.. as a policy solution to alleviate excessive wealth concentration..

Posted by: Col Steve at August 13, 2004 08:44 AM

Col Steve - A few more responses.

Veterans -

While it's false to say the veterans budget has been cut, and false to say that any veteran getting benefits has been cut off, it is true that funding is not growing as rapidly as demand for benefits, or as rapidly as veterans groups would like.

This supports what I said, that there's not enough funding to go around. It does not support my assertion (not Ivin's, you understand, mine) that the budget was "slashed." That word is incorrect, according to the data you cited and I should not have used it.

Taxes -

IRS data doesn't support that...of course, to be more precise, one would have to back out the income tax portion paid by those who make over 90K (roughly the point where FICA stops) and their FICA contributions..but I'm sure Ivins does that level of analysis...

She does. I didn't. The statement you're objecting to ('Most tax revenues are payroll taxes, of which the handful of rich people in this country pays only a nearly invisible fraction.") is mine, it isn't from the book.

Posted by: Anne at August 16, 2004 02:17 PM

Col Steve -

First, notice in my comment I only referenced housing and automobiles. Clearly, additional people add costs for individual consumption such as clothing and food.

Just a note, the example originally cited was a family of four so I wasn't changing the rules halfway through or anything. :) I thought it was clearly implied that the actual cost for a family of four was what was under discussion.

In general, two-seaters tend to be more or as expensive cars than a your standard compact/ mid-size automobile which can carry 4 to 5 people..Maybe you meant that incremental weight of the extra passengers were a drag on gas mileage? Or that perhaps you had to drive more places - but those are variable costs..and not my point that the single car payment (fixed cost independent of use) would be pretty much the same for the single person or family of 4.

I wasn't actually thinking of a two-seater. I was thinking of a smaller car versus a larger car. What some see as a minor, almost insignificant difference in payments, like $50 or $60 a month, is a huge extra expense to others.

Also it seems to me that just because some costs are "variable" doesn't mean they aren't real. (Trust me, anyhow who has covered the food bill for a teenage boy will assure you that "variable" has nothing to do with "insignificant.")

As for housing, I agree there is additional cost going from 1 bedroom to multiple bedrooms..but it's is generally not linear - that is, the 3 bedroom apartment or home is not 3 times the cost of a 1 bedroom equivalent...hence the implied point that each person has to contribute an equal share is misleading..but I agree my wording was rather sloppy.

But you can't just figure it that way. If you're single, you can have a one-bedroom apartment, condo, townhouse, or house wherever you want to live.

If you have a family you have to consider schools, bus routes (school and work), and (if you have only one car) geographic distance from place of business so you can schedule moving your kids around. You also have to consider quality of neighborhood...is this a place you can safely raise children in.

It can, in fact, quite easily triple your housing costs to move from a one-bedroom to a three-bedroom place. (With, as you point out yourself, additional extra expenses in the way of property taxes.)

You're talking statistics. I'm talking people. :)

Posted by: Anne at August 16, 2004 02:36 PM