Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Gem of an Article from the U.S. Treasury Website

Ever surfed through government websites purporting to be educational? I did, recently, and I was shocked, shocked. I found this history of the U.S. tax system at the Treasury Dept. website. The bold text is my emphasis:

"The economy boomed during the 1920s and increasing revenues from the income tax followed. This allowed Congress to cut taxes five times, ultimately returning the bottom tax rate to 1 percent and the top rate down to 25 percent and reducing the Federal tax burden as a share of GDP to 13 percent. As tax rates and tax collections declined, the economy was strengthened further. [well, no, because in the next paragraph a bad thing happens.]

"In October of 1929 the stock market crash marked the beginning of the Great Depression. As the economy shrank, government receipts also fell. In 1932, the Federal government collected only $1.9 billion, compared to $6.6 billion in 1920. In the face of rising budget deficits which reached $2.7 billion in 1931, Congress followed the prevailing economic wisdom at the time and passed the Tax Act of 1932 which dramatically increased tax rates once again. This was followed by another tax increase in 1936 that further improved the government's finances while further weakening the economy. By 1936 the lowest tax rate had reached 4 percent and the top rate was up to 79 percent. "

This is the tone of the entire history lesson: a lower federal tax burden maintained at all times leads to a stronger economy. This is right-wing bias. Lower taxes alone do not strengthen the economy, as the transition between the 1st and 2nd paragraphs hilariously indicates. The second paragraph has some redeeming qualities because it correctly describes the '32 and '36 tax increases as having worsened the Depression. Also, the phrase "the prevailing economic wisdom" alludes to the fact that in 1932, the idea of economic stimulus during recessions had not taken hold yet.

Fast-forwarding to the Reagan tax cuts, we have this rather insensitive phraseology:

"By reducing marginal tax rates it was believed the natural forces of economic growth would be less restrained. The most productive [read "wealthiest"] individuals would then shift more of their energies [read "spend more of their money"] to productive activities rather than leisure"

I'm sick of this crude language. Obviously, the Reagan tax cuts did not discriminate between hard-working rich people and lazy rich people. It gave them all the same amount of money. And wtf is this all about:

"Over the 22 year period from 1964 to 1986 the top individual tax rate was reduced from 91 to 28 percent. However, because upper-income taxpayers increasingly chose to receive their income in taxable form, and because of the broadening of the tax base, the progressivity of the tax system actually rose during this period."

Pretty sure that's a complete lie. Either that, or the article has a distorted definition of "progressivity", and it would do well to clue us in.

Now the Bush tax cuts, and the realization that this article has not been updated since '01 or '02:

"The 2001 tax cut will provide additional strength to the economy in the coming years as more and more of its provisions are phased in, and indeed one argument for its enactment had always been as a form of insurance against an economic downturn. However, unbeknownst to the Bush Administration and the Congress, the economy was already in a downturn as the Act was being debated. Thankfully, the downturn was brief and shallow, but it is already clear that the tax cuts that were enacted and went into effect in 2001 played a significant role in supporting the economy, shortening the duration of the downturn, and preparing the economy for a robust recovery."

Those were the days! -- and you knew who you were then!! Boys were boys, and men were men!

When the Obama propagandists ever get around to updating this article, I suggest they insert the part about multi-trillion dollar derivatives-trading being completely unregulated and untaxed throughout the nineties, the oughts, and even now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

White-on-white racism in the UK

This is bizarre. I mean, I know that police are racist, but white-on-white, anglo-on-anglo racism? Really? What is this, the Middle Ages?

I wonder if this would have happened in the U.S., where there are plenty of brown people to hate?