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09-23-2010, 09:51 AM   #1
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the myth of the self-made millionaire

A very thoughtful article I thought, though with a definite point of view:

The myth of the self-made millionaire Sophisticated Investor - MarketWatch

QuoteQuote:
Some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in this country say there is no such thing as the "self-made man."

With more millionaires making rather than inheriting their wealth, there is a false conceit that they haven't received outside support, a new report says.

But society's role in wealth creation is significant, therefore society has an obligation to maintain a level playing field for opportunities to create wealth, contends the report, "I Didn't Do It Alone: Society's Contribution to Individual Wealth and Success."

The idea that if government would get out of the way, then every entrepreneur would automatically succeed is wrong, the report says.
QuoteQuote:
"Pro-business economic policies and tax policies are often centered on the myth of the self-made man," the report says. But the myth of "self-made" wealth "is potentially destructive to the very infrastructure that enables wealth creation."

Individuals profiled believe that they prospered in large part thanks to things beyond their individual control, such as social investments in education, research, technology and infrastructure, the report says. Or as Jim Sherblom, former CFO of Genzyme, says, "We are all standing on the shoulders of those who came before us."

He and others profiled believe it's vital to give back to society so that others in the next generation can have the same opportunities they had. This giving goes beyond taxes to charity and mentoring programs.

"This is not so much a call for increased taxes as it is a highlight of society's role and claim upon us as individuals. We each have a responsibility to the common wealth upon which individual wealth is possible," says Chuck Collins, the report's co-author.

In prepared remarks, Collins was more emphatic: "How we think about wealth creation is important since policies such as large tax cuts for the wealthy often draw on the myth of the self-made man... Taxes are portrayed as onerous, unfair redistribution of privately created wealth -- not as reinvestment or giving back to society. Yet, where would many wealthy entrepreneurs be today without taxpayer investment in the Internet, transportation, public education, legal system, the human genome and so on?"
QuoteQuote:
Warren Buffett, founder of Berkshire Hathaway and the second-richest man in the world, says: "I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned."

And Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, says, "Lots of people who are smart and work hard and play by the rules don't have a fraction of what I have. I realize I don't have my wealth because I'm so brilliant."


---------- Post added 09-23-10 at 01:15 PM ----------

Another take, from a study by Pew and Brookings, well worth checking out the pdf... it has pictures and graphs
http://www.economicmobility.org/assets/pdfs/EMP%20American%20Dream%20Report.pdf

QuoteQuote:
Historically, Americans have believed that hard work
and talent bring a just reward, and that our society
is, and should be, constructed to provide equality of
opportunity, not to guarantee equality of outcomes.
The belief in America as a land of opportunity may also
explain why rising inequality in the United States has
yielded so little in terms of responsiveness from policy
makers: if the American Dream is alive and well, then
there is little need for government intervention to smooth
the rough edges of capitalism. Diligence and skill, the
argument goes, will yield a fair distribution of rewards.
The underlying belief in the fluidity of class and economic
status has differentiated Americans from citizens
in the majority of other developed nations. As the data
in Figure 1 suggest, compared to their global counterparts,
Americans have tended to be far more optimistic
about their ability to control their own economic destinies
through hard work, less likely to believe that coming
from a wealthy family is important to getting ahead, less
likely to think that differences in income within their
country are too large, and less likely to favor the government’s
taking responsibility to reduce those differences.
QuoteQuote:
Data on relative mobility suggest that people in
the United States have experienced less relative
mobility than is commonly believed. Most studies
find that, in America, about half of the advantages of
having a parent with a high income are passed on to the
next generation.11 This means that one of the biggest
predictors of an American child’s future economic
success — the identity and characteristics of his or her
parents — is predetermined and outside that child’s
control. To be sure, the apple can fall far from the tree
and often does in individual cases, but relative to other
factors, the tree dominates the picture.
These findings are more striking when put in
comparative context. There is little available evidence
that the United States has more relative mobility than
other advanced nations. If anything, the data seem to
suggest the opposite. Using the relationship between
parents’ and children’s incomes as an indicator of
relative mobility, data show that a number of countries,
including Denmark, Norway, Finland, Canada, Sweden,
Germany, and France have more relative mobility than
does the United States (see Figure 3).12
QuoteQuote:
Absolute Mobility: Men in Their 30s Today Earn Less Than Men in
Their Fathers’ Generation and Family Income Growth Has Slowed

Using new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, the
Economic Mobility Project has found that absolute
mobility is declining for a significant group of Americans.
We look at four generations of men born during different
periods between 1925 and 1974, and focus on their
individual incomes when they were in their thirties —
thereby holding constant the point in their careers when
measuring their economic status. Research also suggests
that income in one’s thirties is a reasonably good indicator
of what one’s lifetime income will be.
Male Income Trends: Beginning with a comparison of
men ages 30-39 in 1994 with their fathers’ generation, men
ages 30-39 in 1964, we see a small, but fairly insignificant,
amount of intergenerational progress (see first two bars
of Figure 4). Adjusting for inflation, median income increased
by less than $2,000 between 1964 and 1994, from
about $31,000 to under $33,000 — a 5 percent increase
(0.2 percent per year) during this thirty-year period.
The story changes for a younger cohort. Those in their
thirties in 2004 had a median income of about $35,000
a year. Men in their fathers’ cohort, those who are now in
their sixties, had a median income of about $40,000 when
they were the same age in 1974 (see last two bars of Figure
4). Indeed, there has been no progress at all for the
youngest generation. As a group, they have on average
12 percent less income than their fathers’ generation
at the same age.14 This suggests the up-escalator that
has historically ensured that each generation would do
better than the last may not be working very well.
QuoteQuote:
One thing is clear. A society with little or no absolute mobility is one in which for every winner there is a
loser. It’s a zero sum game. And a society with little or no relative mobility is one in which class, family
background or inherited wealth loom large. Equal opportunity is a mirage. Recalling the three hypothetical societies,
it is easy to envision why, for these reasons, high levels of both absolute and relative mobility are desirable. Society
should strive for both. But rates of growth in mature economies are often slower than they are in societies that are
still developing, and this fact makes a focus on relative mobility of increasing importance.

And there's more summary data in this pdf:
http://www.economicmobility.org/assets/pdfs/EMP_findings_summary_definitive.pdf

QuoteQuote:
ECONOMIC MOBILITY TODAY THE GOOD NEWS: For most of our history, Americans have experienced rapid economic growth and therefore upward absolute mobility (i.e., growth in real incomes). Two-thirds of Americans have higher incomes than their parents. The current generation of adults is better off than the previous one because of real income growth. (See “Economic Mobility of Families Across Generations” in Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America.) Children born into the bottom income quintile are more likely to surpass their parents’ income than children from any other income group. Eighty-two percent of children born into the bottom quintile have greater family income than their parents, compared to 43 percent of children born into the top quintile. (See Figure 2, “Economic Mobility of Families Across Generations” in Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America.) THE BAD NEWS: Over the last generation, economic growth has slowed and income inequality has widened without evidence of an offsetting increase in relative mobility (i.e., movement between the income ranks). One’s rank on the income ladder is highly influenced by that of one’s parents’. As adults, 42 percent of children born into the bottom quintile, and 39 percent born into the top quintile end up in the same quintile as their parents. This is referred to as “stickiness at the ends.”(See Figure 4, “Economic Mobility of Families Across Generations” in Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America.)
Economic growth has been unevenly distributed in the past few decades, with the most rapid growth concentrated in the top of the income distribution. Median family income in the top quintile grew by 52 percent over the last generation, compared to 18 percent in the bottom quintile. (See Figure 1, “Economic Mobility of Families Across Generations” in Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America.) Individuals in the bottom quintile are unlikely to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” More than 50 percent of individuals who start in the bottom income quintile remain there 10 years later, and 70 percent remain below middle-income status. Despite notable changes in the U.S. economy, this immobility at the bottom has remained

---

FEDERAL SPENDING ON ECONOMIC MOBILITY IS HEAVILY WEIGHTED TOWARD MIDDLE AND UPPER INCOME FAMILIES. In 2006, approximately $746 billion of the federal budget was spent on programs at least partially aimed at promoting economic mobility. Spending that reaches lower-income households, and those least likely to experience upward mobility, accounts for less than one-third (28 percent) of all spending by the federal government that the Project defines as “mobility-enhancing.” (See “How Much Does the Federal Government Spend to Promote Economic Mobility and For Whom?”)




Last edited by Nesster; 09-23-2010 at 10:19 AM.
09-23-2010, 01:33 PM   #2
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While it's true the society is who gives money to the rich, that shouldn't have government intervention. Stephanie Meyers didn't have government do a public awaresness program on vampires. She got her money from stupid emo girls. I say good for her and

---------- Post added 09-23-10 at 12:38 PM ----------

Steven King needs to shut up. She played a gimmick, worked hard while taking care of her child at home she wrote at night and was able to reap her rewards. Lots of people are like King, that these people don't deserve it. 'I'm a better writer. It took me.

---------- Post added 09-23-10 at 12:40 PM ----------

decades until I had her amount of money.' Then continues to say she is the greatest writer in a 'retarded person' voice. That sort of stuff is sick. I you listen to her interviews, she's very humble and even wrote how she became a success. That's the

---------- Post added 09-23-10 at 12:43 PM ----------

american dream at work. If she wants to hoard that money, give it to charities, that's her right. Government has no right to step in and force her to 'give back' to society by giving her a higher tax rate. There should be a flat tax rate no matter if

---------- Post added 09-23-10 at 12:46 PM ----------

you're Warren Buffet or the crazy homeless panhandler who says aliens are comimg. I don't even like Meyers, but I think she should be taxed the same as I. Even though she has many magnitudes more than I do. I will continue to say, 'government stay out!'
09-23-2010, 06:12 PM   #3
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Hi nesster, do think some individuals in agriculture fits the description and yet turn their
backs on the financial apparatas of this country (US) and the world. I have a plot of
ground that I work, dont feel overburden. When I look to other countries, I feel blessed.
I'm no millionaire, but with what my wife does and having gained much of what I have
through 35 years as an electrician,we get by without worry. I see some awfully good people
struggling to make ends meet, trying to feed their families,put away a little for kids education,
keep shoes on those growing feet,and so on. Seldom do hear from any of these individuals...
"yeah,damn taxes thats the problem" Stuff I hear is more in the vein of, and directed at my personal hero,
Leona Helmsly(R.I.P.) Pardon my sarcasim.
How much did she take with her anyway?

My Dad passed 3 years ago, 2 days after funeral, caught a financial planner stuffing
a packet of "information?" in my mothers mail box. Told him simply, "do it again, you'll need
to have few police officers with you,those people will be your best friends at that moment" It stopped. Greed never will.


To respond Ness, have done little in life without another human being's intervention.

Last edited by BillM; 09-24-2010 at 12:35 AM.
09-24-2010, 02:29 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by troglodyte Quote
While it's true the society is who gives money to the rich, that shouldn't have government intervention. Stephanie Meyers didn't have government do a public awaresness program on vampires. She got her money from stupid emo girls. I say good for her and

---------- Post added 09-23-10 at 12:38 PM ----------

Steven King needs to shut up. She played a gimmick, worked hard while taking care of her child at home she wrote at night and was able to reap her rewards. Lots of people are like King, that these people don't deserve it. 'I'm a better writer. It took me.

---------- Post added 09-23-10 at 12:40 PM ----------

decades until I had her amount of money.' Then continues to say she is the greatest writer in a 'retarded person' voice. That sort of stuff is sick. I you listen to her interviews, she's very humble and even wrote how she became a success. That's the

---------- Post added 09-23-10 at 12:43 PM ----------

american dream at work. If she wants to hoard that money, give it to charities, that's her right. Government has no right to step in and force her to 'give back' to society by giving her a higher tax rate. There should be a flat tax rate no matter if

---------- Post added 09-23-10 at 12:46 PM ----------

you're Warren Buffet or the crazy homeless panhandler who says aliens are comimg. I don't even like Meyers, but I think she should be taxed the same as I. Even though she has many magnitudes more than I do. I will continue to say, 'government stay out!'
What the hell is this, twitter?

09-27-2010, 01:17 PM   #5
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Trog, I don't believe anyone's arguing for the bad old days of 90% marginal rates.

Consider however, there are other ways to define 'equal' taxation. Warren Buffet pays approximately 2.2% of his income in taxes. A single person earning the minimum wage pays 22% of their income in taxes. Why? because of those taxes, such as social security, that only apply to the first dollars earned. A higher marginal rate for Warren would still have him paying less than 22% total, but at least the difference will be somewhat less.

I do wonder how people make the jump from a slightly higher tax rate to 'we're taking all their money'. Perhaps this is a perceptual bias: for those of us not in the $1million per year category, or even the $500K per year category, taxes are a big portion of our experience. So's making the rent or mortgage payment, the grocery and heating bills, and so on. For those with the extremely high incomes, these are all relatively miniscule items.
09-27-2010, 02:36 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Trog, I don't believe anyone's arguing for the bad old days of 90% marginal rates.

Consider however, there are other ways to define 'equal' taxation. Warren Buffet pays approximately 2.2% of his income in taxes. A single person earning the minimum wage pays 22% of their income in taxes. Why? because of those taxes, such as social security, that only apply to the first dollars earned. A higher marginal rate for Warren would still have him paying less than 22% total, but at least the difference will be somewhat less.

I do wonder how people make the jump from a slightly higher tax rate to 'we're taking all their money'. Perhaps this is a perceptual bias: for those of us not in the $1million per year category, or even the $500K per year category, taxes are a big portion of our experience. So's making the rent or mortgage payment, the grocery and heating bills, and so on. For those with the extremely high incomes, these are all relatively miniscule items.
BIGGER numbers, taken out of context ,look SCAREY......
09-28-2010, 04:00 AM   #7
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This is an interesting read:

My Tax Cut - Actual Tax Rates

And another interesting read, this one being about Warren Buffett's Federal income tax rate calculated on his taxable income:

Taxes, Warren Buffett, and Paying My Fair Share - NYTimes.com

It's interesting that all candidates for Federal office talk about tax rates - it's easier for us to compare rates even though they tell us nothing about actual dollars. It's obvious that a greater positive impact could be made on tax revenues by altering the laws governing income tax deductions and the classifications for what is income than by adjusting rates a few percentage points with the goal being to prop up a political campaign.

By the way, Warren Buffett's Federal income tax bill for 2006 was $8,142,000. Sure, his rate is similar to mine but in real dollars he paid more in income taxes than nearly everyone in my town combined.
09-28-2010, 06:50 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by B Grace Quote
It's obvious that a greater positive impact could be made on tax revenues by altering the laws governing income tax deductions and the classifications for what is income than by adjusting rates a few percentage points with the goal being to prop up a political campaign.

By the way, Warren Buffett's Federal income tax bill for 2006 was $8,142,000. Sure, his rate is similar to mine but in real dollars he paid more in income taxes than nearly everyone in my town combined.
Who cares about dollar amounts? That's the point about "fair"... Let's start w/ a flat tax.. 15% is 15%... because to one person that's $15,000 and to another it's 1,500,000 dollars is mute... it's fair. period. Now on to regressive... The "theory" is that people that make more take more advantage of what the societal infrastructure (both from gov. and private sector provides) is what increases the rates... As a simple example.. take a food chain. Each is served by roads and police/fire/water ect. protection affording the owner a larger share of tax paid benefits to keep his profits coming from each and every one. Imagine an owner having to build roads and policing/fire ect. each one of his own holdings. And every business doing the same. totally fair system.. no. A hedge fund manager has low infrastructure needs but still needs a stable and functioning society in order to conduct business profitably. That's all part of the "theory" of regressive taxation. and one that holds a lot of water.
And actually is quite universal. Bribes and payoffs to "infrastructure" in 3rd world economies is effectively a "regressive" tax w/ little social payback.
In our stable society, any large sum of money has everyone scrambling for a piece of it. They may not be "taxes" but they are "costs".. Another simple example. Buying a house. how many little (and really unnecessary) "taxes" are you hit with? From overpriced "appraisals", points, filing fees, brokers fees, ect everyone always wants a piece. The gov is no different. It's our "culture".
Over time numerous "pet" deductions have been created in order to blunt the "pain" of the regressive tax system......
Personally the amount of "loophole" are way out of proportion to the tax "plan" but of course each has it's "pet" group to appease.

09-28-2010, 07:03 AM   #9
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The hedge fund manager needs a highly organized, stable society even more than most other occupations.

More basic to this discussion, the concept of money is already a complex matter which depends upon government for its creation, maintenance and regulation. The concept of what is "my money" in this society is ever more hazy.
09-28-2010, 07:04 AM   #10
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... I think the word is 'progressive' when the rates go up with income, and 'regressive' when those making less also pay a larger percentage of their income. Social Security for example is a regressive tax, while the federal income tax is progressive.

Regressive tax - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Those loopholes are known as "tax expenditures", those one-off exemptions and tax credits that fill up the tax code.
tax.com: Featured Articles: Tax Expenditures Need to Be Cut Too
tax.com: It's Time We All Know What a Tax Expenditure Is
09-28-2010, 07:48 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
... I think the word is 'progressive' when the rates go up with income, and 'regressive' when those making less also pay a larger percentage of their income. Social Security for example is a regressive tax, while the federal income tax is progressive.
Social security is only a regressive tax if you are willing to admit that it is an insolvent program that will not fulfill its promises to the people who are paying into it. FICA stands for Federal INSURANCE CONTRIBUTION Act, you are paying into an insurance pool from which you hope to be able to draw out of in your old age. The point is to ensure that Americans have a base level of retirement savings, it is not intended to be the only savings vehicle for retirement. As long as the scope of the program remains the same, there is no point in increasing the contribution limit because increased contributions by high income people would entitle them to higher withdrawals in retirement.

I think it is a regressive tax because I think it is insolvent and it should be totally abolished. Those who support social security and call it a regressive tax demonstrate their ignorance of how the program works.

FICA also pays for Medicaid, which is a benefit that only goes to the poorest members of society, so a great many people pay into it while receiving no benefit while those who do receive the benefit pay a higher portion of their income to it. I don't know of a more progressive program that exists.

Nobody complains that State Farm charges the same rate to two people of the same age, gender, marital status, and driving history who drive the same car and live in the same neighborhood and make substantially different incomes. I don't get why they think premiums for federally sponsored insurance programs should be determined by socioeconomic factors rather than actuarial principles. I pay FEMA 5x more for my flood insurance than my parents do for there house in Texas which is not in a flood plain.
09-28-2010, 08:39 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
Social security is only a regressive tax if you are willing to admit that it is an insolvent program that will not fulfill its promises to the people who are paying into it. FICA stands for Federal INSURANCE CONTRIBUTION Act, you are paying into an insurance pool from which you hope to be able to draw out of in your old age. The point is to ensure that Americans have a base level of retirement savings, it is not intended to be the only savings vehicle for retirement. As long as the scope of the program remains the same, there is no point in increasing the contribution limit because increased contributions by high income people would entitle them to higher withdrawals in retirement.

I think it is a regressive tax because I think it is insolvent and it should be totally abolished. Those who support social security and call it a regressive tax demonstrate their ignorance of how the program works.

FICA also pays for Medicaid, which is a benefit that only goes to the poorest members of society, so a great many people pay into it while receiving no benefit while those who do receive the benefit pay a higher portion of their income to it. I don't know of a more progressive program that exists.

Nobody complains that State Farm charges the same rate to two people of the same age, gender, marital status, and driving history who drive the same car and live in the same neighborhood and make substantially different incomes. I don't get why they think premiums for federally sponsored insurance programs should be determined by socioeconomic factors rather than actuarial principles. I pay FEMA 5x more for my flood insurance than my parents do for there house in Texas which is not in a flood plain.
Social security solvency.........
QuoteQuote:
Since FDR signed Social Security in 1935, it has benefited millions of seniors, people with disabilities and survivors — 54 million people in 2010 alone. Social Security works for seniors. Poverty among the elderly has dropped from well above 50 percent in 1939 to less than 10 percent today.

Social Security also works for millions of non-seniors. Through good times and bad, it’s there, providing life insurance for the nation’s children and spouses, and essential disability protections.
QuoteQuote:
Social Security’s benefits are modest — an average of $14,000 a year for seniors — and Social Security is on track to be solvent through 2036. With slight improvements to the program, we can ensure solvency for generations. To provide some perspective on how moderate the projected shortfall is, consider that the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for individuals who make more than $200,000 annually is roughly equivalent to the cost of guaranteeing solvency the next 75 years.
Nurture Social Security's legacy | syracuse.com
Now the fact the gov has "borrowed w/ interest" is another matter.
Also may I remind you that ins on a $50,000 home is cheaper then a 5,000,000 home........
life ins. increase it's cost w/ age.
ect.............

Life is not and will not be "fair".. only mitigated.
You pick and choose and if I pick and choose none of your arguments hold water.......
09-28-2010, 08:53 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jeffkrol Quote
Social security solvency.........


Nurture Social Security's legacy | syracuse.com
Now the fact the gov has "borrowed w/ interest" is another matter.
Also may I remind you that ins on a $50,000 home is cheaper then a 5,000,000 home........
life ins. increase it's cost w/ age.
ect.............

Life is not and will not be "fair".. only mitigated.
You pick and choose and if I pick and choose none of your arguments hold water.......
I am not eligible to collect social security until well after 2036, so as far as I am concerned it is not solvent. The premium will have to be adjusted, the benefits reduced, or both in order for it to be solvent for me. I would like to see those adjustments made sooner rather than later so that the largest generation in american history can chip into that insurance pool. I have no problem with insurance premiums being driven by risk, that is fair in my opinion.

I was taking exception with the argument that social security is a regressive tax.

---------- Post added 09-28-10 at 11:04 AM ----------

I should add that if you think Social Security is a regressive tax, wait until the individual mandate for health insurance kicks in. That is the same kind of thing, mandatory participation in an insurance market, except that tax collection has been privatized with the insurance companies fulfilling the role of the IRS.
09-28-2010, 09:28 AM   #14
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"Regressive" is a technical term, as is "progressive", when applied to taxation.

Social security is a 'regressive' tax because the 'marginal rate' goes to 0 when the maximum income limit is reached. Therefore people making less than the maximum pay the full %, while people making more than the maximum go to a 0% bracket for their incremental dollars.

The term 'regressive' has nothing to do with the purpose, benefits, pros and cons etc of social security.

By the same token, if the health insurance rates go progressively higher with higher income, then they are 'progressive' in nature, regardless of how we feel about them
09-28-2010, 10:04 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikemike Quote
. That is the same kind of thing, mandatory participation in an insurance market, except that tax collection has been privatized with the insurance companies fulfilling the role of the IRS.
FOR THE RECORD:
I do not "like" the "health care reform" as is now current (we ALWAYS, as Americans, have to complicate even the simplest ideas). I DETEST the past system, view the Repubs ideas as "regressive", too simplistic and at best a band aid, at worst support for the system I detest.
I give credit to the party that ACTUALLY attempted to fix something and view it as the stupid "baby steps" necessary to get us eventually in line w/ the rest of the "civilized" world..........

Are you intentionally ignoring this, and BTW: NOBODY can see that far into the future w/ 100% certainty (and I doubt if it approaches 10%)
QuoteQuote:
consider that the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts for individuals who make more than $200,000 annually is roughly equivalent to the cost of guaranteeing solvency the next 75 years.
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