Author Topic: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?  (Read 12752 times)

GU

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Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« on: March 14, 2017, 11:47:49 AM »
Presented just for entertainment, not to impugn anyone's morals. It seems to me that your typical Mustachian is a moderate left-wing Progressive type (but perhaps I'm just projecting MMM onto his readers).  At any rate, it is pretty obvious that there are plenty of Mustachians that fit this profile.  Prior to the election of Trump*, the focus of the mainstream American left has been:  (i) reduce inequality, especially by raising taxes on the rich; (ii) protect the environment to a greater extent; (iii) decrease racial/gender discrimination; and (iv) play defense or make incremental expansions to existing social welfare programs including SS, Medicare, Medicaid, ACA, etc.

I posit that common features of Mustachianism are at odds with all of these policy aims to some extent.

First, the amount of legal but aggressive tax avoidance pushed on MMM is astounding.  Tax loss harvesting!  Back-door Roth!  And so on.  How is lowering the tax rate of admittedly wealthy people (early retirees), therefore increasing inequality and reducing the amount of money the government can redistribute to more deserving people, consistent with a commitment to eradicating inequality?  I know, most will say "I'm not really rich!" or "tax the fat cats, not me" or "tax big business"!  I'm reminded of the famous saying "don't tax him, don't tax me, tax that man behind the tree!" and the study which found that 44% of millionaires consider themselves "middle class," with another 40% saying they were "upper middle class."  www.cnbc.com/2015/05/06/naires-say-theyre-middle-class.html

If Trump did a back-door Roth, there would have been apoplectic articles in the NY Times about how crooked it is, yet Mustachians are cool with all that. 

Second, a majority of Mustachians want to retire and travel the world.  Flying in an airplane is one of the worst possible things you can do for the environment, especially in such a short amount of time.  A couple trans-oceanic flights wipe out a lifetime worth of bicycling to the grocery store.  How does flying around the world mesh with a staunch commitment to environmentalism?  Hasn't Trump been getting crap for flying to Florida all the time?  Why is better when you do it?

Third, large institutions like big businesses, universities, government agencies, etc. are subject to all sorts of burdensome and restrictive rules and regulations around race and gender, and political correctness is enforced informally but with brutal efficiency.  Mustachians get to drop out of this world and think and act as they wish.  Even if they start a side hustle or small business, they will be exempt from most of these rules and regulations.  If you support all these rules because you think it makes the world a better place, why are you in such a hurry to abandon the part of the world that is subject to those rules?  [I admit this is pretty weak]
[I deleted this because it is too weak and distracting from other issues]

Fourth, Mustachians like to exchange tips on how to get healthcare for as cheap as possible, including "gaming" various systems in place to help the destitute, not unmotivated rich people.  People with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, in their portfolios that take Medicaid or ACA vouchers intended to help poor people afford healthcare undermine support for those programs.  Imagine the reactions from the general public "why should a 45-year old nurse pay taxes to fund some rich 36-year old retiree's healthcare?    Are you kidding me?"  Imagine if Ivanka Trump qualified for Medicaid because she succeeded in sheltering all of her income from tax, and that she took it.  People would be getting out their pitchforks, yet rich Mustachians don't bat an eye. 

*I'm no Trump supporter, but since he's the bête noire of the left right now, I'll use him as a reference periodically.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 05:15:06 PM by GU »

ysette9

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2017, 12:13:00 PM »
Interesting questions. I can't speak for anyone more than myself, who I consider a left-leaning semi-mustachian. Let's see if I can conjure up some answers for you.

  • Tax Avoidance. I suppose I don't see taking advantage of the current system to be at odds of wanting to see the system changed. Sure, I could not take advantage of my 401(k) tax shelter and pay more now, but how likely is it that those extra dollars will make a positive change in society? I'd rather vote for bond measures to support local schools or elect politicians who will favor more supportive social programs. Similarly, I could use my tax savings to give directly to causes that I feel are important (like the ACLU or Planned Parenthood, as the latest election has prompted me to do. I can't speak from a perspective of altruism here since I am as greedy as the next person, but I fundamentally don't see these two ideas as being necessarily in conflict.
  • Travel the World. I think that we (MMM folks) do enjoy travel, though perhaps not everyone or maybe not even the majority of people. I certainly love it and have done my fair share of it. Your point about the environmental damage is well-placed and I don't have a good answer for that other than carbon offsets or trying to have a smaller footprint at home. That said, I think there are significant benefits from world travel that are easy to discount that may factor in. For example, learning about other countries and cultures promotes an awareness that our way is not the only way of doing things, that there are valuable ideas to be had elsewhere, that people who look different and speak different languages are people worthy of respect and interaction just like people at home. Having a global mindset and ties outside your home country/town/state may make it easier to empathize with the plight of refugees or open up your wallet when the next tsunami strikes.
  • Quote
    burdensome and restrictive rules and regulations around race and gender, and political correctness is enforced informally but with brutal efficiency
      As my large engineering company has realized and many others like it, embracing things like an open and inclusive workforce leads to better results. Better work environments, happier employees, better bottom-line returns. Having a diversity of ideas has been shown again and again to improve group problem solving. I personally would love the freedom of not having to work, but I love the aspect of my job that includes mentoring and coaching and helping others expand their careers. I have no desire to go start a small business where I am free to ignore the inclusion values that I admire at my current workplace.
  • I don't get healthcare subsidies (except what the gov indirectly gives me through my employer) and don't plan on doing so in retirement. I think this is similar to the taxes debate above though. Taking advantage of what the system offers me is not mutually exclusive of wanting the system to be fairer and treat the disadvantaged better. We would all win if we could simply do away with our catastrophe of a healthcare system and replace it tomorrow with a Canada- or UK-type system, thereby drastically reducing overall spending and improving outcomes. Think of what we could do with a few extra percentage points of GDP that could be diverted to other projects?
"It'll be great!"

jjandjab

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2017, 12:29:49 PM »
I would qualify as left leaning, Bernie-style, with some libertariansim mixed in...

1.) Taxes - I actually hope real tax reform occurs. I personally think the ultimate Mustachian policy would be a flat consumption/national sales tax. Those who consume more, pay more - on all transactions - cars, homes, stuff to go in homes, etc. That will make the rich hedge fund guys pay their fair share as they buy lots of crazy expensive stuff. And I guess for now I fall into the camp that rules are rules - so I try to pay as little tax as possible within the system without flat out lying. So I don;t hold it against the Trumps and Buffets of the world who can shelter income. But I do hope it changes soon

And the Trump and Roth - sorry, that made laugh. The guy is somehow a financial black hole. If he bothered to put away his $5500 and age related catch-up contribution in a backdoor Roth? I don't think anyone would ever notice or care. How would we? No tax returns to review... And seriously, I don't think the lost future revenue of backdoor Roth IRAs is going to be very significant

2.) Travel - most mustachians do not take their own plane. So just by flying commercial with hundreds of others, you would be doing hundreds of times less harm to the environment than Trump. I bet many mustachians are also more cognizant of how they travel and consume once they get to their destination as well..

3.) Gender/Race - Yeah, this one was pretty weak, sorry. Why would not wanting to be part of the academic/industrial machine be running away from equality? Not wanting to continue to toil away as a cog for MegaCorp doesn't make me less likely to support these ideas.

4.) Healthcare - Unmotivated rich people would just pay out of pocket for healthcare. Mustachians would qualify as very motivated people, rich or not. As a Bernie type on this, I think we should have universal health care, so early retirees are the perfect example of folks who should be able to get access to basic healthcare. We would also likely have a very robust return of small business - I know so many people that would love to try and open a store in that vacant storefront on Main St. USA (Not just on Etsy or wherever), but they don't want to get crushed by lack of healthcare if they leave their corporate job. Again, the ACA/Medicaid wasn't necessarily being gamed, but rather used in the way I think it should be (this is clearly not a libertarian position of mine)

surfhb

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2017, 12:33:50 PM »
Even though it would put off my FIRE date a bit, I would gladly pay more in taxes to support universal healthcare for every citizen.   

ysette9

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2017, 12:45:44 PM »
Quote
Even though it would put off my FIRE date a bit, I would gladly pay more in taxes to support universal healthcare for every citizen. 

I second that. The thing is though, we could actually have universal health care AND spend less than we currently do. All we have to do is look around us in the club of rich countries and pick which solution we like best. "Everyone else is doing it so why can't we?"
"It'll be great!"

TravelJunkyQC

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2017, 01:22:24 PM »
Quote
Even though it would put off my FIRE date a bit, I would gladly pay more in taxes to support universal healthcare for every citizen. 

I second that. The thing is though, we could actually have universal health care AND spend less than we currently do. All we have to do is look around us in the club of rich countries and pick which solution we like best. "Everyone else is doing it so why can't we?"

US-Canadian duel citizen here. Born and raised in the States, live in Canada since 2004. "Pay" taxes on both sides of the border (make less than the foreign income exemption as of now, so for now I only pay in Canada - however, I still file my taxes according to the law in the States).

I make 55k CAD a year. My job would probably gross me about 60-90k USD in New England, US (where I'm from). Even though after taxes I take home 37k of my 55k, I wouldn't make the trade, especially now. My taxes give me a lot. Presently, I don't use the free healthcare, cheap/free education, and all the other social services that I pay for - but they peace of mind they afford me if something were to happen to me, is definitely worth the 18k a year.

Aelias

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2017, 01:23:35 PM »
On Trump's flying to Florida: The only reason it's attracting scrutiny is because Trump and other Republicans constantly complained about Obama's golfing.  Frankly, Trump going to Florida every weekend doesn't even register as a problem when compared to everything else he's doing.

Also would GLADLY pay more in taxes to have universal health care.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2017, 01:30:18 PM »
Canadian Leftie perspective here:

1. Taxes - I use the current tax laws to moderate the taxes I pay. I don't do anything illegal and I do pay significant taxes while working and my projections show I'll be paying a lot of taxes in FIRE. If the government wants to raise taxes on me to end homelessness, improve the education/healthcare systems, reduce poverty, etc... go nuts. I'll vote for that shit and I'll happily hand over many thousands of dollars of taxes to pay for it. OTOH - if there is a seniors tax credit I'll happily take that as well. If the government cuts the senior's tax credit for anyone making over $40K/yr and I lose it that's fine since it's a reasonable test of need. If I end up in one of the many likely successful FIRE years and end up with a couple spare millions I'll donate that money to charity and support some worthy causes as a voluntary social tax.

2. Flying/Environment - well I'm not a lover of plane flight, but I do plan many roadtrips in FIRE. Firstly I did the best thing I could in terms of limiting my environmental impact - I didn't breed. There is nothing I could do [realistically] that would ever wipe out that benefit to the environment. Now it's true I could stay home and not travel, but I am not a saint. I do plan to make my road trips last months each so that the driving to get from point A to point B is amortized over many days of travel. I don't hold up my life as worthy of environmental sainthood. OTOH I don't feel like an asshole either.

3. Gender/Race - weak and not worthy of response.

4. Healthcare - I paid into our national healthcare system all my life and have used very little in the way of services. I will continue to pay in FIRE, but will likely need more help. That said I do plan to end my own life with a MAD [Medically Assisted Death] when the tide turns for my health and not drag shit out. It's only a guess, but I could easily save the country 50% of my lifetime medical costs by doing this....not to mention avoid lots of suffering.

partgypsy

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2017, 01:35:38 PM »
There are all kinds of people on these boards, but the thing that strikes me the most is that mustachians are pragmatists and optimizers. Simply put having a more equitable society is an overall net benefit to the society. In the same way immigration has been a positive force for the US, not a negative one. Universal (single payer healthcare) both costs less to the government AND provides overall better care than the mess that is the US healthcare system. As far as travel, I would imagine many mustachians would be, if they were not tied down to a job, traveling more. But probably not flying to cancun for a 4 day trip but going somewhere and doing slow travel, which both immerses one in the culture more, and is less environmentally costly.
I would imagine that most people dislike trump not because he is a Republican or right-wing, but because he is a mean-spirited ignorant, possibly psychologically unstable person whose policies are harmful.

spokey doke

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2017, 01:50:01 PM »
Quote
Even though it would put off my FIRE date a bit, I would gladly pay more in taxes to support universal healthcare for every citizen. 

I second that. The thing is though, we could actually have universal health care AND spend less than we currently do. All we have to do is look around us in the club of rich countries and pick which solution we like best. "Everyone else is doing it so why can't we?"

+1 (and I would add education, infrastructure, environmental protection, and a number of other things to the list of things I would willing pay more in taxes to support)
“The best thing about graduating from the university was that I finally had time to sit on a log and read a good book.”
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FireHiker

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2017, 02:54:04 PM »
There are all kinds of people on these boards, but the thing that strikes me the most is that mustachians are pragmatists and optimizers. Simply put having a more equitable society is an overall net benefit to the society. In the same way immigration has been a positive force for the US, not a negative one. Universal (single payer healthcare) both costs less to the government AND provides overall better care than the mess that is the US healthcare system. As far as travel, I would imagine many mustachians would be, if they were not tied down to a job, traveling more. But probably not flying to cancun for a 4 day trip but going somewhere and doing slow travel, which both immerses one in the culture more, and is less environmentally costly.
I would imagine that most people dislike trump not because he is a Republican or right-wing, but because he is a mean-spirited ignorant, possibly psychologically unstable person whose policies are harmful.

+1

EnjoyIt

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2017, 02:56:18 PM »
I fully agree that there is a portion of this community who are Hippocratic hypocrites but rationalize their actions to themselves:

1) Some here say that they are willing to pay more in taxes.  Guess what, you have the right to write a check to the IRS any day you want.  Go ahead, increase your tax burden voluntarily. Warrant buffet keeps asking to be taxed more but why not pull out his check book and write a big fat check himself. 

2) Mustachianism is about decreasing spending and living life by being self sufficient and badass.  But there is no room to cut government spending or look for ways to decrease the cost of government programs.  This country like most American's doesn't have an income problem, it has a spending problem. Yet Mustachians keep wanting to increase taxes and increase spending.

3) Those Mustachians who say they have paid into the healthcare system and retire early.  Believe me, the cost of your healthcare will far outweigh your 15 years of medicaid tax contributions that you paid at the lowest rate possible. Hard working American's will be covering your care.  That squarely puts them into the moocher class.

4) Yup, Mustachians sure love to travel and burn fuel. You can rationalize that it is not so bad since the plane is flying there anyways, but planes fill up with you on it or not which means demand is high enough and your butt could stay home and not burn the extra fuel.   

There are a few on here who actually practice what they preach and I commend you for your convictions.  The rest are just lying to themselves.

Me, I want my taxes lower, I like to travel and I don't care if I burn gas to do it.  I also want a more efficient lower cost government that doesn't burden business with unnecessary costs and doesn't meddle in other country's affairs.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 03:39:56 PM by EnjoyIt »

marty998

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2017, 03:13:47 PM »
Rebuttal inserted. I lean left but I would like some optimisation. Our governments blow billions on ideology, instead of well considered policy.

I fully agree that there is a portion of this community who are Hippocratic but rationalize their actions to themselves:

1) Some here say that they are willing to pay more in taxes.  Guess what, you have the right to write a check to the IRS any day you want.  Go ahead, increase your tax burden voluntarily. Warrant buffet keeps asking to be taxed more but why not pull out his check book and write a big fat check himself.  I doubt anyone is simply "willing" to pay more. Most people would accept an increase if it went to their priorities AND if the existing spending was optimised

2) Mustachianism is about decreasing spending and living life by being self sufficient and badass.  But there is no room to cut government spending or look for ways to decrease the cost of government programs.  This country like most American's doesn't have an income problem, it has a spending problem. Yet Mustachians keep wanting to increase taxes and increase spending. Spending hitting record highs is hardly the problem... as the economy grows everything should always hit record highs (wages, profits, tax etc). It's the comparative rates of growth that really matter. I would be happy to see the rate of government spending growth reduce or flatline and optimised across all programs. Our tax burden is enough as a % of GDP is enough, the way it is raised and from whom, and the way it is spent are 2 very different problems to be argued at the ballot box

3) Those Mustachians who say they have paid into the healthcare system and retire early.  Believe me, the cost of your healthcare will far outweigh your 15 years of medicaid tax contributions that you paid at the lowest rate possible. Hard working American's will be covering your care.  That squarely puts them into the moocher class.Same argument applies for government age pension here in Australia. People argue "I've paid tax all my life so I deserve the pension" but it's a fallacy... they don't pay nearly enough to cover what they draw plus all the other uses of their taxes. Truth is the 1% pay the lion share of taxes and subsidise everyone else. But there's the rub... at what point does society at large say "you've got too much, more than what could be considered a reasonable profit out of the society that you have generated it from".

4) Yup, Mustachians sure love to travel and burn fuel. You can rationalize that it is not so bad since the plane is flying there anyways, but planes fill up with you on it or not which means demand is high enough and your butt could stay home and not burn the extra fuel. A Mustachian who doesn't drive much and is efficient with electricity usage would still burn less fuel on a trip overseas on a passenger plane, than the average citizen of the western world in the average year.

There are a few on here who actually practice what they preach and I commend you for your convictions.  The rest are just lying to themselves.

Me, I want my taxes lower, I like to travel and I don't care if I burn gas to do it.  I also want a more efficient lower cost government that doesn't burden business with unnecessary costs and doesn't meddle in other country's affairs.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2017, 03:18:21 PM »
I fully agree that there is a portion of this community who are Hippocratic but rationalize their actions to themselves:

I have to ask. Why are you picking on doctors? ;)

kite

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2017, 03:20:09 PM »
Quote
Even though it would put off my FIRE date a bit, I would gladly pay more in taxes to support universal healthcare for every citizen. 

I second that. The thing is though, we could actually have universal health care AND spend less than we currently do. All we have to do is look around us in the club of rich countries and pick which solution we like best. "Everyone else is doing it so why can't we?"

+1 (and I would add education, infrastructure, environmental protection, and a number of other things to the list of things I would willing pay more in taxes to support)
One can always write a bigger check to the US Treasury than what the 1040 form indicates is your fair share.

Scortius

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2017, 03:25:04 PM »
Quote
Even though it would put off my FIRE date a bit, I would gladly pay more in taxes to support universal healthcare for every citizen. 

I second that. The thing is though, we could actually have universal health care AND spend less than we currently do. All we have to do is look around us in the club of rich countries and pick which solution we like best. "Everyone else is doing it so why can't we?"

+1 (and I would add education, infrastructure, environmental protection, and a number of other things to the list of things I would willing pay more in taxes to support)
One can always write a bigger check to the US Treasury than what the 1040 form indicates is your fair share.

Why do people keep using this argument?  It's disingenuous in the extreme.

Eric

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2017, 03:32:56 PM »
Quote
Even though it would put off my FIRE date a bit, I would gladly pay more in taxes to support universal healthcare for every citizen. 

I second that. The thing is though, we could actually have universal health care AND spend less than we currently do. All we have to do is look around us in the club of rich countries and pick which solution we like best. "Everyone else is doing it so why can't we?"

+1 (and I would add education, infrastructure, environmental protection, and a number of other things to the list of things I would willing pay more in taxes to support)
One can always write a bigger check to the US Treasury than what the 1040 form indicates is your fair share.

Why do people keep using this argument?  It's disingenuous in the extreme.

Probably the lack of proper education that they think other people should pay for.
"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe."  -- Einstein

EnjoyIt

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2017, 03:38:05 PM »
I fully agree that there is a portion of this community who are Hippocratic but rationalize their actions to themselves:

I have to ask. Why are you picking on doctors? ;)

Damit....stupid autocorrect and my idiot spelling :(

EnjoyIt

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2017, 03:50:35 PM »
Rebuttal inserted. I lean left but I would like some optimisation. Our governments blow billions on ideology, instead of well considered policy.

I fully agree that there is a portion of this community who are Hippocratic but rationalize their actions to themselves:

1) Some here say that they are willing to pay more in taxes.  Guess what, you have the right to write a check to the IRS any day you want.  Go ahead, increase your tax burden voluntarily. Warrant buffet keeps asking to be taxed more but why not pull out his check book and write a big fat check himself.  I doubt anyone is simply "willing" to pay more. Most people would accept an increase if it went to their priorities AND if the existing spending was optimised

2) Mustachianism is about decreasing spending and living life by being self sufficient and badass.  But there is no room to cut government spending or look for ways to decrease the cost of government programs.  This country like most American's doesn't have an income problem, it has a spending problem. Yet Mustachians keep wanting to increase taxes and increase spending. Spending hitting record highs is hardly the problem... as the economy grows everything should always hit record highs (wages, profits, tax etc). It's the comparative rates of growth that really matter. I would be happy to see the rate of government spending growth reduce or flatline and optimised across all programs. Our tax burden is enough as a % of GDP is enough, the way it is raised and from whom, and the way it is spent are 2 very different problems to be argued at the ballot box

3) Those Mustachians who say they have paid into the healthcare system and retire early.  Believe me, the cost of your healthcare will far outweigh your 15 years of medicaid tax contributions that you paid at the lowest rate possible. Hard working American's will be covering your care.  That squarely puts them into the moocher class.Same argument applies for government age pension here in Australia. People argue "I've paid tax all my life so I deserve the pension" but it's a fallacy... they don't pay nearly enough to cover what they draw plus all the other uses of their taxes. Truth is the 1% pay the lion share of taxes and subsidise everyone else. But there's the rub... at what point does society at large say "you've got too much, more than what could be considered a reasonable profit out of the society that you have generated it from".

4) Yup, Mustachians sure love to travel and burn fuel. You can rationalize that it is not so bad since the plane is flying there anyways, but planes fill up with you on it or not which means demand is high enough and your butt could stay home and not burn the extra fuel. A Mustachian who doesn't drive much and is efficient with electricity usage would still burn less fuel on a trip overseas on a passenger plane, than the average citizen of the western world in the average year.

There are a few on here who actually practice what they preach and I commend you for your convictions.  The rest are just lying to themselves.

Me, I want my taxes lower, I like to travel and I don't care if I burn gas to do it.  I also want a more efficient lower cost government that doesn't burden business with unnecessary costs and doesn't meddle in other country's affairs.

That is a solid rebuttal, here is mine:
1) I believe that most people are more willing to accept a small increase on others as opposed to themselves yet are willing to say otherwise to fit their ideals.

2) Record spending would be okay if it wasn't outside of our means.  Our deficit is rising faster than our GDP.  This is an unsustainable habit.

3) Yup, the 1% and the middle class pay for almost everything in this country. It doesn't mean that early retirees should mooch off of them.  Not fair.  Save enough to cover your own healthcare/insurance premiums then retire. Otherwise you are taking advantage of those willing to work.  It is no different than the patient I had the other day with asthma who somehow convinced the government she is too sick to work and now on disability.  I know how bad her asthma is.  Get up off your ass and get a job you leach.

4) Just because you ride a bike often does not mean you should go out of your way and pollute the Earth somewhere else.  That is just your brain trying to rationalize bad behavior to fit your needs. 

kite

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2017, 03:58:58 PM »
Quote
Even though it would put off my FIRE date a bit, I would gladly pay more in taxes to support universal healthcare for every citizen. 

I second that. The thing is though, we could actually have universal health care AND spend less than we currently do. All we have to do is look around us in the club of rich countries and pick which solution we like best. "Everyone else is doing it so why can't we?"

+1 (and I would add education, infrastructure, environmental protection, and a number of other things to the list of things I would willing pay more in taxes to support)
One can always write a bigger check to the US Treasury than what the 1040 form indicates is your fair share.

Why do people keep using this argument?  It's disingenuous in the extreme.

Probably the lack of proper education that they think other people should pay for.

Bless your hearts.  You are wrong. Week after week, more gets sent to the US Treasury than we citizens direclty (or our employers on our behalf) are required to send.  And no, they won't just send back any of those over-payments automatically.  Never have and never will.  They keep it unless or until you file a form, specifically requesting the return of your money. 

I'm calling out all the self righteous claims of "I'd gladly pay more taxes for __________."  What people mean when they say it is they don't mind if taxes get raised on everyone to support their own pet cause.  Even your local school system will accept money, directly from you, over and above what your pre-determined share already is.   If you'd gladly pay more for education, go right ahead and endow a scholarship, write the check to the PTA, pay for your nearest Jr. High to get new Marching Band uniforms or equipment in the biology lab.  Whatever public good that is mostly funded by tax dollars will also take your money.  Library, Public Health Center, Senior Center, Veterans Affairs, Foster Care System, you name it. 

Vanguards and Lentils

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2017, 04:09:17 PM »
I would say 1) and 4), tax avoidance and using Obamacare subsidies despite high assets, are pretty similar, and wouldn't say they're hypocritical. We can optimize while at the same time recognizing that these are failures of the system. For instance, probably many here would vote to close tax loopholes and perhaps include wealth in means-tested programs like ACA, even though it might hurt them personally.

I would never "donate" to the government by forgoing a deduction, but I wouldn't be opposed to donating extra money to a cause that helps hungry people around the world.


As for flights, you are completely right and it is downright silly to be fastidious with organic or sustainably-produced whatever, when a single roundtrip flight across the ocean can release 1 ton of CO2 into the atmosphere per seat. For reference that's roughly the annual emission of a person in India, or 3 people in Kenya. Just so we can have "fun" or gain a rich cultural experience.

But like above, this doesn't mean I won't optimize for myself; flights are amazingly cheap. But I would certainly vote in favor of an airplane tax which simply internalizes this externality.

ysette9

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2017, 04:44:05 PM »
Quote
Mustachianism is about decreasing spending and living life by being self sufficient and badass.  But there is no room to cut government spending or look for ways to decrease the cost of government programs.  This country like most American's doesn't have an income problem, it has a spending problem. Yet Mustachians keep wanting to increase taxes and increase spending

I hear/read the argument about massive government inefficiencies and waste all the time, but I have never seen any actual data to support the hand-wringing. I am sure that things could be more efficient, just like my for-profit corporation could be more efficient. I am not convinced we are significantly less efficient than other rich countries' governments which manage to deliver healthcare to their citizens along with other quality-of-life benefits such as paid parental leave, quality early child care and education, inexpensive university education, pension, infrastructure investments, and so much else. I'll pull some random numbers from wiki as points of comparison. I apologize for my utter inability to figure out the intricacies of tables in this forum.

Country                 Gov expenditures as % of GDP                        Healthcare exp % of GDP                           Life Expectancy
USA                           41.6                                                                            17.9                                                            79.3
Canada                   41.9                                                                            9.8                                                                    81.8
New Zealand           47.5                                                                         8.9                                                                    84.6
UK                           48.5                                                                            8.5                                                                    80.5
France                   56.1                                                                            11.2                                                            81.9
Norway                   43.9                                                                             9                                                                    84.3
Sweden                   51.2                                                                             9                                                                    84.1
Denmark           57.6                                                                            8.4                                                                    78.6
Netherlands           49.8                                                                         9.2                                                                    81.4
Israel                   44.6                                                                           7.8                                                                    82.1
Japan                   42                                                                           8.2                                                                    83.3
Argentina           40.9                                                                           8                                                                    76.1


We are not an outlier in overall government spending but we are an outlier in a) how much we spend on healthcare for less-great outcomes and b) we are one of the only countries in the world that doesn't offer paid maternity leave or mandate vacation time for workers. In my view it is not so much a matter of how much we spend but that we are not getting a good deal for the money being spent.

***
Edit: thinking about it more, I was too incomplete. We are additionally an outlier in: investment in mass transportation (high speed rail anyone?), infant mortality, % of people without health insurance, % of people killed by guns, being one of the only rich/developed countries to still have the death penalty. I am sure there are other big ticket items as well, but my brain is fried at this point.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 04:56:35 PM by ysette9 »
"It'll be great!"

Scortius

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2017, 04:44:55 PM »
...

I'm calling out all the self righteous claims of "I'd gladly pay more taxes for __________."  What people mean when they say it is they don't mind if taxes get raised on everyone to support their own pet cause.

...

Of course that's what they mean.  Everyone knows that's what those statements mean.

inline five

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2017, 04:45:54 PM »
I used to (still am a little bit) a lefty until I started seeing all the waste that was in place. The reality is even the right spends money like it's going out of style on their pet projects.

Medical insurance is a disgrace in this country and is killing our economy. Guys, throwing MORE MONEY at the problem isn't going to make it better, it's going to make it worse. With more money available prices rise, rinse, and repeat.

That is exactly what caused the housing boom/bust in 2008/2009. Too much cheap money bid prices up to unsustainable levels until one day, the house of cards fell.

Same thing is going on with student loans. The programs were expanded (under a noble cause!) but universities raised prices, rinse, and repeat. I've seen pictures of my old college - it looks like something straight out of a Silicon Valley startup magazine. Soooo much money has been spent on taking colleges to the "luxury" level.

Eric

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2017, 05:08:37 PM »
I'm calling out all the self righteous claims of "I'd gladly pay more taxes for __________."  What people mean when they say it is they don't mind if taxes get raised on everyone to support their own pet cause.  Even your local school system will accept money, directly from you, over and above what your pre-determined share already is.   If you'd gladly pay more for education, go right ahead and endow a scholarship, write the check to the PTA, pay for your nearest Jr. High to get new Marching Band uniforms or equipment in the biology lab.  Whatever public good that is mostly funded by tax dollars will also take your money.  Library, Public Health Center, Senior Center, Veterans Affairs, Foster Care System, you name it.

And if that would actually fix the structual deficiency, then I'm sure it would be a good solution.  Therein lies the problem though.  A few checks from a few people isn't going to do it.  Hence the reason your "argument" is disingenuous.  Pretty simple stuff here.

If you think education and healthcare are "pet causes" then you're in need of former much more than you realize. 

I have no idea how anyone thinks they benefit from being surrounded by idiots.  Some things are actually worth paying for.  If MMM has taught you one thing, it should be that.
"Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe."  -- Einstein

bacchi

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2017, 05:12:49 PM »
...

I'm calling out all the self righteous claims of "I'd gladly pay more taxes for __________."  What people mean when they say it is they don't mind if taxes get raised on everyone to support their own pet cause.

...

Of course that's what they mean.  Everyone knows that's what those statements mean.

It's more honest then "Our government is too big! Lower taxes!!!1!11!*"


* "Except for taxes for the pet causes that I support."

GU

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2017, 06:06:12 PM »
Thanks for the responses so far.  What actually prompted my post was this realization:  a person who ERs is likely to pay fairly high payroll and income taxes for 10–15 years, but will then pay almost zero income or payroll taxes the rest of their life (let's limit the discussion to federal income and payroll taxes, while admitting that most people will pay state/local sales tax and property tax during retirement). 

Public Finance economists have developed an elaborate way of judging tax policy called "optimal income tax theory."  This was developed by James Mirrlees, who won the Nobel prize for this work, and many other scholars. I haven't looked at this stuff for a while, but let me try to summarize. 

The problem:  how to maximize social utility (well-being) through the tax and transfer system while distorting economic decisions as little as possible ("efficient").  People are assumed to have a declining marginal utility for money, such that an extra dollar for Warren Buffet brings him a lot less utility than an extra dollar for a Somali peasant.  People are also assumed to have both different abilities (defined here to mean "ability to earn money in the labor market") and different income levels.  The tax instrument assumed to be available is essentially a wage tax; capital transactions are not part of the earliest models for simplicity.

With these assumptions and a few others, you can, through a model, mathematically define the utility functions of everyone, and how the tax-and-transfer system would impact that utility.  Solving the equation for how to maximize total utility is essentially an optimization problem (hence "optimal" income tax theory).

An interesting thing that comes out of this literature is that it would be great—if you are committed to maximizing utility at all costs—if we knew people's abilities, because if we did, we could just tax them based on ability, not on earned income. A tax on ability would be maximally efficient because it wouldn't lead to any disincentive to work the way that a tax on wages does, in the same way that a head tax is efficient.  But a tax on ability is better than a head tax, because it allows for differentiation in tax burdens that many consider fair, whereas under a head tax everyone pays the same.

People that earn significantly less than their ability implies are called "shirkers" in the literature.  They are seen as shirking their duty to earn money, which can then be taxed and redistributed to people with a higher marginal utility for a dollar.  Shirkers decrease total utility at the expense of less able people.  A Mustachian who retires early is the ultimate shirker under this worldview.  Mustachians are high ability people who drop out of the labor force and drastically reduce their lifetime tax burden, while often drastically increasing their lifetime consumption of public benefits. 

Personally I don't believe optimal income tax theory has much to offer real world policymakers, and I think many of its assumptions are unrealistic or at least incomplete.  It just struck me that Mustachians, shirkers that they are or aspire to be, are the optimal income tax theorists' worst nightmare!  But many prominent economists subscribe to the theory [see here for further reading:  https://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/piketty-saezNBER12handbook.pdf].  I say vive les shirkers!

baffi piu grandi

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2017, 06:48:54 PM »
Maybe a tax on able bodied people that don't work or are intentionally under employed, wouldn't  that be interesting.

The tax could be say work for 2-3 years rebuilding roads or bridges here in the USA for minimum wage and at the end of there stint they will have a marketable trade.

Then for there social justice work they so want they can go to Syria and donate there time to rebuild that country.

bacchi

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #28 on: March 14, 2017, 06:55:44 PM »
People that earn significantly less than their ability implies are called "shirkers" in the literature.  They are seen as shirking their duty to earn money, which can then be taxed and redistributed to people with a higher marginal utility for a dollar.  Shirkers decrease total utility at the expense of less able people.  A Mustachian who retires early is the ultimate shirker under this worldview.  Mustachians are high ability people who drop out of the labor force and drastically reduce their lifetime tax burden, while often drastically increasing their lifetime consumption of public benefits. 

Personally I don't believe optimal income tax theory has much to offer real world policymakers, and I think many of its assumptions are unrealistic or at least incomplete.  It just struck me that Mustachians, shirkers that they are or aspire to be, are the optimal income tax theorists' worst nightmare!  But many prominent economists subscribe to the theory [see here for further reading:  https://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/piketty-saezNBER12handbook.pdf].  I say vive les shirkers!

Given what we see from MMMers that retire and then take side jobs or hobby jobs or second "careers," shirkers are really a protest vote. Once FI is reached, the FIREed have determined that earning another dollar in a primary career isn't worth a boss or the rigid 9-5 schedule or the paltry 3 weeks of vacation/year (for US workers). From various semi-FI threads, it's obvious that a lot of people wouldn't mind working part-time or doing a 1yr:1yr work:play schedule but most career fields don't accommodate that freedom. The optimal economic choice for this type of individual is, then, to reach FI and be a shirker.

RangerOne

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #29 on: March 14, 2017, 06:57:41 PM »
I was surprised as well to find that a group of, what you would assume are fiscally conservative people, mostly lean left. But if you consider the demographic of the readership I don't think the split is surprising at all.

Most people here have either ample income or investments and are college educated which is just a recipe for being at least more socially liberal at a minimum. Though almost none of us are "rich", in terms of yearly income. Those that could have been income rich have also chosen to somewhat forgo that path in the interest of buying more personal time and freedom.

This kind of goes against the general consumer motivate American entrepreneurial spirit that drives many educate people to lean more conservative as they become more entrenched in the world of government regulations or high tax brackets.

This seeking of optimization over excess I think also lines up with people who have a strong logical mind set which means you see a lot more engineering and science minded types around here, both of which are groups that are overwhelming liberal. I certainly know good and even great engineers who are super religious, or strong free market constitutional conservatives but they are a minority. 

When your goal is living well and not necessarily getting rich, and you are far enough out of poverty to study the nuances of personal finance, it is easy to see that there are many different paths to living well financially some of which could involve higher taxes and better public services. Most college graduates and people working at multinational companies see so many Europeans getting so much more out of their government socially than we do that it is hard not to say the grass is greener in some respects.

But don't get me wrong. I think to a degree young left leaning people turn too much of a blind eye to the high levels of inefficiency in government and it is worth remaining skeptical of the brilliance of new laws and programs that sound good on paper. I think in general in government there is too much focus on intent and not enough on analyzing fairly actual results.

For me personally being center left, I think the current Repubs, especially under DJT simply have too much nationalist, religious and anti-environmental regulation baggage for me to get behind. Also I am kind of brown, I may get mistaken for an Italian since I have a lot of Euro features, but in the Midwest I could also be mistaken for a Muslim and get fucked with. I am sure that fear is partly irrational but I do have to grapple with the reality that too much anti immigrant nationalism could eventually negatively impact me because I don't look "white".

I would rather for now deal with the failings of the Democrats. I think from a purely logical and economic perspective there are a lot of interesting conservative ideals surrounding economics and smaller government. But I think the current Repub party is mostly a bastardization of that philosophy bent on helping our wealthiest citizens a bit too much, at the cost of our environment most helpless citizens.

And at the same time I feel like my concern about Republicans breaching the line on the separation of church and state is along the same vein as conservatives concern that Democrats are on a slippery slope to killing the second amendment.

aceyou

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #30 on: March 14, 2017, 07:03:01 PM »
We are all hypocrites in life, just about different things and to different extents. 

That said, yes I'd consider myself a left-wing Mustachian. 

Some examples:
  • LGTB rights...I want everyone to have the same freedom's I do.
  • Legalization of pot...I don't use it, nor would I be that likely to, but it'd bring in more taxes and make the whole operation less dangerous
  • Taxes...in a world of abundance, we don't have a production problem, we have a distribution problem.  Higher taxes used properly could alleviate some of that.
  • Clean air, water, soil...This will effect my happiness and bottom line more than a slightly cheaper product made with shady practices.
  • Foreign treaties...Free trade that's that's slightly skewed to favor the economics of poorer countries is good for the rich countries like us also, because it will create a less turbulent world.

That's a short list of liberal beliefs right there, and I think they all fit into the ideas this site was founded on. 

FINate

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #31 on: March 14, 2017, 07:13:22 PM »
Thanks for the responses so far.  What actually prompted my post was this realization:  a person who ERs is likely to pay fairly high payroll and income taxes for 10–15 years, but will then pay almost zero income or payroll taxes the rest of their life (let's limit the discussion to federal income and payroll taxes, while admitting that most people will pay state/local sales tax and property tax during retirement). 

Public Finance economists have developed an elaborate way of judging tax policy called "optimal income tax theory."  This was developed by James Mirrlees, who won the Nobel prize for this work, and many other scholars. I haven't looked at this stuff for a while, but let me try to summarize. 

The problem:  how to maximize social utility (well-being) through the tax and transfer system while distorting economic decisions as little as possible ("efficient").  People are assumed to have a declining marginal utility for money, such that an extra dollar for Warren Buffet brings him a lot less utility than an extra dollar for a Somali peasant.  People are also assumed to have both different abilities (defined here to mean "ability to earn money in the labor market") and different income levels.  The tax instrument assumed to be available is essentially a wage tax; capital transactions are not part of the earliest models for simplicity.

With these assumptions and a few others, you can, through a model, mathematically define the utility functions of everyone, and how the tax-and-transfer system would impact that utility.  Solving the equation for how to maximize total utility is essentially an optimization problem (hence "optimal" income tax theory).

An interesting thing that comes out of this literature is that it would be great—if you are committed to maximizing utility at all costs—if we knew people's abilities, because if we did, we could just tax them based on ability, not on earned income. A tax on ability would be maximally efficient because it wouldn't lead to any disincentive to work the way that a tax on wages does, in the same way that a head tax is efficient.  But a tax on ability is better than a head tax, because it allows for differentiation in tax burdens that many consider fair, whereas under a head tax everyone pays the same.

People that earn significantly less than their ability implies are called "shirkers" in the literature.  They are seen as shirking their duty to earn money, which can then be taxed and redistributed to people with a higher marginal utility for a dollar.  Shirkers decrease total utility at the expense of less able people.  A Mustachian who retires early is the ultimate shirker under this worldview.  Mustachians are high ability people who drop out of the labor force and drastically reduce their lifetime tax burden, while often drastically increasing their lifetime consumption of public benefits. 

Personally I don't believe optimal income tax theory has much to offer real world policymakers, and I think many of its assumptions are unrealistic or at least incomplete.  It just struck me that Mustachians, shirkers that they are or aspire to be, are the optimal income tax theorists' worst nightmare!  But many prominent economists subscribe to the theory [see here for further reading:  https://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/piketty-saezNBER12handbook.pdf].  I say vive les shirkers!

Shirker here, and proud of it. I def don't lean left.

Before FIRE I was commuting 2-4 hours each day, plus putting in hours at home on evenings/weekends/etc. I made great money, hence the FIRE part, but it was no longer worth it to me. After adding federal and state taxes, my top marginal tax rate was over 50% so obviously had zero desire to further "climb the ladder" and take on more responsibility. Beyond that, because of declining marginal utility, I valued my time (which I had very little of) a lot more than making large sums of money (which I already had a huge pile of). Add in real estate and sales taxes and how little we get in return (esp. here in California) and I got tired of feeling like a sucka.

So I FIRED at 38, got my subsidized Obamacare, and pay almost no taxes now. And I save a bunch by doing things myself (since I now have the time) and spend much less money in general.

People can use whatever pejorative labels they want, I don't care. My purpose in life is not to provide ever increasing dollars for the government.

RangerOne

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #32 on: March 14, 2017, 07:22:53 PM »
Thanks for the responses so far.  What actually prompted my post was this realization:  a person who ERs is likely to pay fairly high payroll and income taxes for 10–15 years, but will then pay almost zero income or payroll taxes the rest of their life (let's limit the discussion to federal income and payroll taxes, while admitting that most people will pay state/local sales tax and property tax during retirement). 

Public Finance economists have developed an elaborate way of judging tax policy called "optimal income tax theory."  This was developed by James Mirrlees, who won the Nobel prize for this work, and many other scholars. I haven't looked at this stuff for a while, but let me try to summarize. 

The problem:  how to maximize social utility (well-being) through the tax and transfer system while distorting economic decisions as little as possible ("efficient").  People are assumed to have a declining marginal utility for money, such that an extra dollar for Warren Buffet brings him a lot less utility than an extra dollar for a Somali peasant.  People are also assumed to have both different abilities (defined here to mean "ability to earn money in the labor market") and different income levels.  The tax instrument assumed to be available is essentially a wage tax; capital transactions are not part of the earliest models for simplicity.

With these assumptions and a few others, you can, through a model, mathematically define the utility functions of everyone, and how the tax-and-transfer system would impact that utility.  Solving the equation for how to maximize total utility is essentially an optimization problem (hence "optimal" income tax theory).

An interesting thing that comes out of this literature is that it would be great—if you are committed to maximizing utility at all costs—if we knew people's abilities, because if we did, we could just tax them based on ability, not on earned income. A tax on ability would be maximally efficient because it wouldn't lead to any disincentive to work the way that a tax on wages does, in the same way that a head tax is efficient.  But a tax on ability is better than a head tax, because it allows for differentiation in tax burdens that many consider fair, whereas under a head tax everyone pays the same.

People that earn significantly less than their ability implies are called "shirkers" in the literature.  They are seen as shirking their duty to earn money, which can then be taxed and redistributed to people with a higher marginal utility for a dollar.  Shirkers decrease total utility at the expense of less able people.  A Mustachian who retires early is the ultimate shirker under this worldview.  Mustachians are high ability people who drop out of the labor force and drastically reduce their lifetime tax burden, while often drastically increasing their lifetime consumption of public benefits. 

Personally I don't believe optimal income tax theory has much to offer real world policymakers, and I think many of its assumptions are unrealistic or at least incomplete.  It just struck me that Mustachians, shirkers that they are or aspire to be, are the optimal income tax theorists' worst nightmare!  But many prominent economists subscribe to the theory [see here for further reading:  https://eml.berkeley.edu/~saez/piketty-saezNBER12handbook.pdf].  I say vive les shirkers!

That is a pretty neat theory, might have to read that. All the same my initial issue with the idea that a person choosing not to work to their potential is a bad thing depends greatly on the context of the rest of the society.

In a perfect society where people with the most earning potential were earning that money by making a maximal positive contribution to society I would agree with the premise that Mustachians to some degree may be shirkers, though even that would depend on what we though a fair work life balance is. And at what age the older workforce should phase out or change its contribution.

But then look at our society. Large numbers of people making loads of money are doing questionable good and simply fueling a blind consumerist society. We have people conning retires out of life savings, we have investment bankers gambling away people savings, we have corporate boards dying to eviscerate public land and shirk their responsibility to take care of their negative impacts on the local community.

We see people with jobs doing a great deal of public good, community service workers, teachers and stay at home parents trying to raise their own children paid nothing or next to nothing.

But as you noted the numerous issues that one could come up with against this tax model probably stem from its incredibly idealistic nature.

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #33 on: March 14, 2017, 07:51:55 PM »
Quote
Even though it would put off my FIRE date a bit, I would gladly pay more in taxes to support universal healthcare for every citizen. 

I second that. The thing is though, we could actually have universal health care AND spend less than we currently do. All we have to do is look around us in the club of rich countries and pick which solution we like best. "Everyone else is doing it so why can't we?"

+1 (and I would add education, infrastructure, environmental protection, and a number of other things to the list of things I would willing pay more in taxes to support)
One can always write a bigger check to the US Treasury than what the 1040 form indicates is your fair share.

Why do people keep using this argument?  It's disingenuous in the extreme.

Probably the lack of proper education that they think other people should pay for.

Bless your hearts.  You are wrong. Week after week, more gets sent to the US Treasury than we citizens direclty (or our employers on our behalf) are required to send.  And no, they won't just send back any of those over-payments automatically.  Never have and never will.  They keep it unless or until you file a form, specifically requesting the return of your money. 

I'm calling out all the self righteous claims of "I'd gladly pay more taxes for __________."  What people mean when they say it is they don't mind if taxes get raised on everyone to support their own pet cause.  Even your local school system will accept money, directly from you, over and above what your pre-determined share already is.   If you'd gladly pay more for education, go right ahead and endow a scholarship, write the check to the PTA, pay for your nearest Jr. High to get new Marching Band uniforms or equipment in the biology lab.  Whatever public good that is mostly funded by tax dollars will also take your money.  Library, Public Health Center, Senior Center, Veterans Affairs, Foster Care System, you name it.

Not in my experience.

My taxes had an error and I overpayed (I believe it was in 2014 for the 2013 tax year), I received notification from the IRS and a refund of overpayment.

EnjoyIt

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #34 on: March 14, 2017, 08:28:28 PM »

...

I'm calling out all the self righteous claims of "I'd gladly pay more taxes for __________."  What people mean when they say it is they don't mind if taxes get raised on everyone to support their own pet cause.

...

Of course that's what they mean.  Everyone knows that's what those statements mean.
[/quote]

It's more honest then "Our government is too big! Lower taxes!!!1!11!*"


* "Except for taxes for the pet causes that I support."
[/quote]

You are completely correct.  The conservatives are no better than the liberals.  They choose different pet projects or different lobbyists to appease.  Liberals do it in the guise of social justice or helping others.  Conservatives do it in the guise of smaller government.  In reality neither want smaller government as that would mean less money for their pet projects or their lobbyists.  It is a sad state of affairs out there.  I think a lot of people are realizing this and the reason why Sanders and Trumps received so much support.  They both gave you the sense of antiestablishment.

The reality is that people are selfish and will do what is best for themselves first.  It is not only human nature, it is nature.


And if that would actually fix the structual deficiency, then I'm sure it would be a good solution.  Therein lies the problem though.  A few checks from a few people isn't going to do it.  Hence the reason your "argument" is disingenuous.  Pretty simple stuff here.

If you think education and healthcare are "pet causes" then you're in need of former much more than you realize. 

I have no idea how anyone thinks they benefit from being surrounded by idiots.  Some things are actually worth paying for.  If MMM has taught you one thing, it should be that.

Are you kidding me?  Pay an extra $5k in taxes by buying and building 10 new computers each year for the local inner city classroom. Or you can take some cash and buy health insurance for poor family that does not meet the requirements for subsidies or medicaid.  There are plenty of places you can spend your money on.

I hear/read the argument about massive government inefficiencies and waste all the time, but I have never seen any actual data to support the hand-wringing. I am sure that things could be more efficient, just like my for-profit corporation could be more efficient. I am not convinced we are significantly less efficient than other rich countries' governments which manage to deliver healthcare to their citizens along with other quality-of-life benefits such as paid parental leave, quality early child care and education, inexpensive university education, pension, infrastructure investments, and so much else. I'll pull some random numbers from wiki as points of comparison. I apologize for my utter inability to figure out the intricacies of tables in this forum.

A list of waste in 2016 offered by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Total $1.2 billion
https://www.paul.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Festivus2016.pdf

Here is 2015's report from USNews
https://www.usnews.com/news/slideshows/rand-pauls-festivus-reveals-1b-in-wasteful-government-spending



Bateaux

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #35 on: March 14, 2017, 08:31:32 PM »
I'll use every legal means to reduce my taxes.  I would also vote to raise my taxes for life saving programs like single payer.
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TheAnonOne

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #36 on: March 14, 2017, 08:42:32 PM »
I'll use every legal means to reduce my taxes.  I would also vote to raise my taxes for life saving programs like single payer.

Ah, but how much!?

As a libertarian myself I see single payer as a somewhat more freedom causing policy. As in- people are free to work/notwork/start a company/be a bum without being forced to work for health care.

As a libertarian I have a limit to what I would spend on these as well. What if it cost 50% payroll tax increase? 20%? 10%? 2%?

EnjoyIt

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #37 on: March 14, 2017, 09:06:38 PM »
I'll use every legal means to reduce my taxes.  I would also vote to raise my taxes for life saving programs like single payer.

Ah, but how much!?

As a libertarian myself I see single payer as a somewhat more freedom causing policy. As in- people are free to work/notwork/start a company/be a bum without being forced to work for health care.

As a libertarian I have a limit to what I would spend on these as well. What if it cost 50% payroll tax increase? 20%? 10%? 2%?

I completely agree with you. I would be thrilled to pay a little more in taxes if it definitely paid for medical care for every American.  I am not willing to pay a very large percentage.  The ACA has increased my taxes by a few percent and we still don't have everyone's medical bills covered.  Yes some got medicaid and others got subsidies for health plans with huge deductibles, but healthcare in this country is still screwed. The government's thirst to spend money is never ending. 

kayvent

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #38 on: March 14, 2017, 09:13:30 PM »
I think the dissonance OP notes in their opening post has to do with the watering-down of leftism, particularly Socialism, in the last hundred years. The greedy bourgeoisie that Marx rallied against was the middle class. As people with larger incomes gradually adopted socialist philosophies, they had to cope with the fact that they themselves were the oppressors. So they voted for social programs like free healthcare and expanding the dole. The Soul of Man under Socialism implies that this type of behaviour numbs the pain that the aggressor and oppressor should feel about the whole crooked situation. It preserves the broken system since these social programs function as an anesthesia.

Some people here will say "I'd vote for more taxes" but, and I'm not meaning to be judgmental, a large reason why they say so is because middle-class incomes have been rising slowly over the last decade. In the progressive haven of Canada, when we saw our wages rise in the 90's and 00's, we wanted lower taxes. We see growth slowing and want higher taxes now. (Especially if you want the higher taxes to be on people besides you.)

vivian

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #39 on: March 14, 2017, 09:53:14 PM »
Quote
Even though it would put off my FIRE date a bit, I would gladly pay more in taxes to support universal healthcare for every citizen. 

I second that. The thing is though, we could actually have universal health care AND spend less than we currently do. All we have to do is look around us in the club of rich countries and pick which solution we like best. "Everyone else is doing it so why can't we?"

+1 (and I would add education, infrastructure, environmental protection, and a number of other things to the list of things I would willing pay more in taxes to support)
One can always write a bigger check to the US Treasury than what the 1040 form indicates is your fair share.

Why do people keep using this argument?  It's disingenuous in the extreme.

Probably the lack of proper education that they think other people should pay for.

Bless your hearts.  You are wrong. Week after week, more gets sent to the US Treasury than we citizens direclty (or our employers on our behalf) are required to send.  And no, they won't just send back any of those over-payments automatically.  Never have and never will.  They keep it unless or until you file a form, specifically requesting the return of your money. 

I'm calling out all the self righteous claims of "I'd gladly pay more taxes for __________."  What people mean when they say it is they don't mind if taxes get raised on everyone to support their own pet cause.  Even your local school system will accept money, directly from you, over and above what your pre-determined share already is.   If you'd gladly pay more for education, go right ahead and endow a scholarship, write the check to the PTA, pay for your nearest Jr. High to get new Marching Band uniforms or equipment in the biology lab.  Whatever public good that is mostly funded by tax dollars will also take your money.  Library, Public Health Center, Senior Center, Veterans Affairs, Foster Care System, you name it.

Calling the tax system unfair and arguing it leads to inequality is not just about the total tax an individual pays. It is recognizing that our tax system creates certain types of incentives and disincentives, and the current set of incentives/disincentives actively foster extreme income inequality. Writing a check for a worthy cause will not correct these structural mechanisms of inequality.


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Hargrove

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #40 on: March 14, 2017, 10:25:07 PM »
Interesting.

First, the amount of legal but aggressive tax avoidance pushed on MMM is astounding.  Tax loss harvesting!  Back-door Roth!  And so on.  How is lowering the tax rate of admittedly wealthy people (early retirees), therefore increasing inequality and reducing the amount of money the government can redistribute to more deserving people, consistent with a commitment to eradicating inequality?

What's the hypocrisy argument? That ignorance of how to pay your taxes should be voluntarily observed to spread equality? The real argument here is that taxes should be more fair and simple. You're acting like the mom who says "there are starving children in Africa" at every meal. Really? That's awful, so what you're saying is, if I don't finish this, you're going to mail it to them, right? Oh... no?

Trump acts like his argument is the same, that he's just using the available tax code. However, Trump's taxes are governed by rules that are NOT available to everyone, or even most people. Literally anybody can shelter their 401k, which is really not something Trump is worried about. Trump is working with rules none of us have ever heard of, which were designed for only people in very specific and unusual circumstances. Almost anyone on this board has taxes simple enough to figure out without a tax lawyer. If you could only figure out your taxes with an extremely highly paid professional on retainer, then it may be evidence you're taking advantage of some relatively unevenly distributed tax rules. No, it's not necessarily hypocritical to make a fuss over Trump's case for a few reasons - one, he made taxpayers and his own workers and shareholders pay enormous bills for his own incompetence, both from his collapsing businesses and from his dodged tax bills. Two, Trump also claimed he was all over fixing our broken tax system because he knows sooo much about it. Oh, yeah, three - we are not all about taking all the handouts you can. That usually sparks a debate on the board.

Quote
If Trump did a back-door Roth, there would have been apoplectic articles in the NY Times about how crooked it is, yet Mustachians are cool with all that.

You have an amusing picture of the NYTimes' interests. Trump has access to far more tax options than any (or nearly any) here are well-versed on. Trump isn't even versed on them - he has people for that. Tremendous people. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. Huge people.

To pretend his unbelievable real-estate deduction is the same as a backdoor Roth is a liiiiittle misleading. Degree matters. Chaffetz offering you skip your iPhone and viola - health insurance is affordable - is funny because it shows an astounding failure to apprehend degree. An iPhone doesn't remotely resemble the amount needed to pay for healthcare for the average American, and a Roth backdoor does not resemble the amount dodged with far more arcane tax treatments (that last for decades, potentially), and which, again, are not available to most of us. He even took advantage of government programs for academia with a sham university (that he would have been more likely sued for if he hadn't become President). The list goes on. His tax avoidance is the anchovy atop the whole crappy cake. If the law seems to make it so one person can be dishonest and skip jail time, and another person can't be, and the variable is wealth, I don't mind openly disapproving of the abuse. Anyone can backdoor a Roth. Only real-estate moguls could do what Trump did in writing off a tax loss he made mostly other people eat for him. That's why people hold it against him. Not because sheltering taxes legally is inherently evil. It's fair to argue the social contract is frayed with every tax rule that needs its own hour of study to understand. If you want to argue that Apple sheltering billions overseas or Trump writing off hundreds of millions for decades are the same as the guy doing a backdoor Roth, heck, I'll tell you what, you can even do that, as long as we both vote (if we ever get the chance) to eliminate all of it.

The travel thing is easy, since it's not about hopping on jets every three days for Mustachians.

Quote
Fourth, Mustachians like to exchange tips on how to get healthcare for as cheap as possible, including "gaming" various systems in place to help the destitute, not unmotivated rich people.  People with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, in their portfolios that take Medicaid or ACA vouchers intended to help poor people afford healthcare undermine support for those programs.  Imagine the reactions from the general public "why should a 45-year old nurse pay taxes to fund some rich 36-year old retiree's healthcare?    Are you kidding me?"  Imagine if Ivanka Trump qualified for Medicaid because she succeeded in sheltering all of her income from tax, and that she took it.  People would be getting out their pitchforks, yet rich Mustachians don't bat an eye.

Taking advantage of others is obviously neither righty nor lefty - it's a human problem. Sure, you can find plenty of hypocrisy there.

As for shirking, most Mustachians did not become forest hermits, so are obviously still contributing, and left a high-paying workforce spot open for another person who actually needed the job...

Your suggestion that Mustachians are just John-Galting it is kind of funny (that you suggest it's lefty is even funnier). Would you rather have your educated people doing jobs they have passion for and spreading financial wellness habits or taking over the business world? Is there somehow a shortage of people waiting to take over businesses that we need Mustachians to be preoccupied with this?

(Modified for John Galt: do we somehow have a shortage of aspiring widget manufacturers, that if you stopped making your high-demand products, no one would ever step in to fill the void of your absence?)

I giggled over Rand Paul's government waste presentation. "Nearly two billion." Ok. "Well, 1.4 billion is nearly 2." Only if you can't round properly. "Also that's a lot." Only if we accept the fallacy that individual personal spending is useful in understanding just how much money the federal government handles. Two billion is an entire season of Animaniacs worth of hilarity if you're going to compare it to the total amount the federal government deals with. If THAT'S what you came up with, Mr. Paul, you're saying that our government is a shocking model of ultra-efficiency that should be praised for having so little waste as 1.4 billion dollars, even though that's an unfathomably large amount to me, because it's so small a part of the total federal budget.

That number to the US economy is actually by proportion ALMOST THE SAME AS WE PAY IN VANGUARD FEES. If that's all that's wasted, BRAVO.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 10:31:13 PM by Hargrove »

EnjoyIt

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #41 on: March 14, 2017, 11:20:27 PM »
Hefty,
Although someone retiring early and leaving the workforce may and probably will open a job for someone else, if that person then retires and lives off the taxes of others they are using the hard work of tax payer dollars to fund their retirement. I think those people are moochers (unless of coarse they were 1% income earners paying huge taxes for 10 years and then retiring.  Those people did in fact contribute into the system and deserve to reap some of those rewards.

Next, $1.2 billion is a lot of money.  And that is only waste that Rand Paul found.  What about the waste that is not so easily observed.  I see government regulation creating waste in my workplace and every other hospital I have ever worked at.  How do we calculate those billions.  As mustachians we try and make little cuts in our lifestyle that over several years get us out of debt and make us financially independent.  How is this any different? I said it earlier and I will say it again. The US doesn't have an income problem, the US has a spending problem.

The left believes if we tax just a little more we can fix every problem.  There is a limit to how much more can be taxed.  Just recently taxes were increased substantially thanks to the ACA. Although it fixed a few issues in our healthcare system such as pre-existing conditions and getting health insurance for more people, it did not even come close to fixing our healthcare problem.  So what is the answer? Increase taxes further? How much more? When does it stop?  The Gaffer Laffer Curve dictates there is a point where if taxes were to continue increasing productivity would decrease and the total of taxes collected starts to decline despite the higher tax rate.  I do not know at what percentage that becomes or if we are anywhere near it, but the fact remains that taxes can not be increased indefinitely.  I will tell you regarding myself that if those taxes increase enough I will start cutting how much I work, and no, my field is not easily replaceable.  There is a shortage of doctors in this country already.

Disclaimer: I am not a republican.  I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 10:03:10 AM by EnjoyIt »

Hargrove

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #42 on: March 14, 2017, 11:35:03 PM »
The panic about whether taxes are too high is bonkers because nobody pays the stated tax rate in corporate America. If your supermarket sold bananas for 3.99 each but they were always on sale for 0.99 a bunch, you would probably say "that's stupid" and not panic about the price of bananas.

I disagree about how much the top 1% pays in taxes. Great, you made lots of money. You did that because of the elegance of a society you inherited - you didn't build that, or fight in WWII for that, and it's okay to tax your unbelievable gains from it to give it back to that society, because the presence of that society made your fortune more than you did. I know that's unpopular with some folks, but you're not making billions of dollars in Zamibia because there aren't billions of dollars to make there.

Corporations sometimes pay NOTHING in taxes. NOTHING is a lot less than what almost anyone else pays anywhere. Many have pointed out to me "but they move money around!" as if that were a service. So does the mafia, and we don't thank them for it. Also, income taxes your staff pay aren't taxes your company is paying. You don't get any credit for that.

The left doesn't believe anything as a unified bloc. Neither for that matter does the right, or we'd already have Obamacare repeal and an end to Medicaid and Social Security.

Government regulation no doubt creates waste. It's not nimble or particularly suited for nuance that creeps up over time. It makes businesses do things they don't want to, like file onerous forms and waste time and spend extra money and jump through tax hoops... and not dump toxic waste in the river or cheat emissions rules. I'll take the good with the bad. I wish we could talk about making the good better and minimizing the bad more often. Republicans are now all about eliminating all regulation and defunding everything they can't eliminate, and Democrats never seem to get around to talking about cleaning up graft or figuring out how Social Security can keep working. At this point I think we got no answer on immigration because nobody wants the other to get credit for solving problems anymore. Both parties actually seem to do more of what they're bad at than ever when it comes to the big ticket stuff. Let's all get distracted by wedding cakes for gay people and your right to not be offended at your university.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 11:41:04 PM by Hargrove »

marty998

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #43 on: March 15, 2017, 12:51:51 AM »
The Gaffer Curve

I had a laugh here at Samwise Gamgee ranting about his "old Gaffer" being difficult for him in the LOTR.

I believe you meant the "Laffer" Curve? :)

Laura33

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #44 on: March 15, 2017, 07:58:25 AM »
OK, I'll take a crack at it (sorry in advance for the wall of text).  I am both left-wing and all about personal responsibility.  My overriding world view is that, economically, a society should be structured to provide an equal opportunity for everyone (to the extent possible), to reward people appropriately for hard work/talent, and to provide a safety net for those who can't make it; socially, I think society should guarantee the civil liberties of all of its members.

Social first, as it's "easier" (a/k/a simpler to explain in concept, not easy to implement):  to me, this means focusing on protecting the rights of the minority.  The majority always gets its way through the power of democracy.  The role of the federal government must be to protect its citizens against the tyranny of the majority in any individual state -- a LBGTQ kid shouldn't forfeit constitutional rights by moving to a red state, and a conservative Christian shouldn't forfeit rights by moving to NYC.  Etc.  This is where I conflict significantly with "states' rights" advocates -- to me, individual civil liberties trump states' rights.

Economically:  to me, the question is how do you best create a system that allows each individual an as-fair-as-possible chance to succeed?  Neither extreme works; you can take all the money from all the people and redistribute it, but then there is no incentive to work hard and learn and do better to get ahead; you can give people the absolute freedom to do whatever they want economically, but then you end up with Robber Barons and an oligarchy that just cements power within itself and doesn't give the vast majority of the populace a fair shake.  So given the system we have, and that it will never be either perfectly equal or perfectly free, where do you draw the balance?  For me, specific areas of opportunity include:

- Universal basic health care.  The number of bankruptcies in this country attributable to giant health-care bills is ridiculous.  But the opaque-ness of the process is perhaps even more difficult -- I am highly intelligent and highly trained, and I still don't have the ability to, say, ensure that everyone I deal with at a hospital is in my plan, or compare costs on an apples-to-apples basis.  The complexity of our system is an additional tax on people with lower cognitive abilities.

- Education.  Many states used to invest heavily in education as a path to economic growth; my FIL, for ex., went to school for free at CCNY.  These budgets have been cut significantly over the past 20 years as state budgets became tighter, with more of the costs shifted to the students as a matter of state law.  This also creates a perverse incentive for the schools to accept out-of-state and international students, who generally pay full price (and a much higher price to start).  I am in favor of solidifying the CC-to-state-school link, with lower prices/free CC tuition, 100% clear transferability of credits (a big issue in many states), and improved state funding of the state education system.

- Taxes.  First, they are probably going to be higher given my preferred social investments, and I'm ok with that.  But I think there are efficiencies to be gained and it might not be entirely additive -- based on a recent post elsewhere, it looks like I am currently paying about the same amount as I would in Canada at our current income level, and yet I still get to pay for health care on top of that.  Second, I think taxes are appropriately allocated on a progressive basis, meaning people like me should carry more of the burden.  I am annoyed at various aspects of the tax code, which strikes me as clearly slanted to prefer companies and rich people over normal working stiffs.  E.g., employment income is taxed at higher rates than investment income; businesses can deduct many costs that I can't as a person.  And the complexity goes back to the same issue above: it is so difficult to work through that identifying and taking advantage of those tax breaks is almost impossible for those with fewer resources.
 
- Regulation of business.  I am in favor of reasonable regulation to (i) provide a level playing field/minimum standard of conduct, and (ii) protect the individual liberties mentioned above.  My huge problem is the way this is done -- the way Congress works is it keeps adding more programs and more layers to fix problems, and it never re-evaluates the old stuff to see whether it is still useful.  I do environmental law, and the amount of money people spend just on trying to ensure compliance with the gazillion different requirements is pretty ridiculous -- not the emissions controls, mind you, just the personnel and the systems and the paperwork.  Same with tax law -- why do we need to have so many different tax-protected ways to save for retirement (and why do corporate execs get different rules than everyone else?)?  What's wrong with giving everyone a single bucket to fill as they choose?  The amount of money we lawyers make just helping people navigate the current system is a sort of ridiculous tax on the economy. 

- Social Security:  I think it should be shored up.  We need a basic safety net for people who are disabled, who don't make sufficient money to save much for retirement, etc.  I also think AFDC is important, because no child should ever go hungry just because he chose his parents poorly.

All of these issues are far more Democrat than Republican issues.  So I routinely vote Democrat.  I vote for every school improvement bond, even though I know it will raise my taxes.  I voted for Hillary, knowing that the end result would be that she would raise my taxes, because someone has to pay for this stuff, and I make more than most and can afford it.  I'm probably going to personally make out like a bandit under Trump, but that doesn't provide any appeal at all, because it means society is moving away from the values that I hold dear -- if anything, Trump has induced a "bunker" mentality, a much more selfish sense that, well, I really need to look out for myself now, so let's sock away everything I can so I have more choices if the shit hits the fan (with "choices" being anything from being prepared to retire if the economy crashes, to moving to another country, to quitting to work for the ACLU.  Note that I don't *actually* think horrible things are going to happen, but my brain naturally tends to look for the worst possible outcome so I can be prepared if it actually happens.).

To me, like an earlier poster said, it's about efficency: the way to "make America great again" is to take the maximum possible advantage of the talents of the maximum number of people possible.  So investments in education, nondiscrimination laws, and a basic safety net for the inevitable individual failures seem like the best way to unlock that talent and ability.  I was one of those kids who could have slipped through the cracks -- we were on food stamps for a while, and without them, I don't know if my mom would have been able to get her degree and have the stable employment that brought us to the MC.  Both my mom and I have more than paid back the value of that temporary investment in the amount of taxes we have paid in our working lives.  I want other kids like me to have the same opportunity, and I don't mind paying taxes to support them.

But I also don't think that is in any way inherently inconsistent with Mustachianism.  I think our health care system is broken and the ACA was a good step but in itself insufficient; ergo, the subsidies are an imperfect way of addressing the holes in our current system, so I don't have a problem with people making the best of the system we are stuck with.  I don't particularly think it's fair that our retirement system is so complex and that many people don't have good options, but that doesn't mean I should personally boycott my 401(k) -- that's cutting off my nose to spite my face.  If I choose to retire before 65 or 70, that's my own personal choice to give up a future higher standard of living in return for more freedom today.  Etc.

Tl;dr:  Politics are about what I think our system should be.  Mustachianism is about best navigating the system that we are currently stuck with.
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golden1

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #45 on: March 15, 2017, 08:52:28 AM »
Quote
I disagree about how much the top 1% pays in taxes. Great, you made lots of money. You did that because of the elegance of a society you inherited - you didn't build that, or fight in WWII for that, and it's okay to tax your unbelievable gains from it to give it back to that society, because the presence of that society made your fortune more than you did. I know that's unpopular with some folks, but you're not making billions of dollars in Zamibia because there aren't billions of dollars to make there.

100% agreed.  Having a little historical perspective is important.  A society isn't just the people who exist now, but the countless who have sacrificed in the past, as well as the unpaid and those who had their land stolen from them.  It is also important to remember the future.  What do we even have a society for? 

The one thing that has also occurred to me in with age is the sheer dumb luck of it all, in terms of having a lucrative career.  Absolutely, working hard will, IN GENERAL, reward you with more money, but not always.  And many people who do very little make more than people who work very hard.  I know many people who aren't as smart or as hard working but just have the right connections.  Why do they deserve to get more from society vs. the person who is harder working but just doesn't have the access to networks.  The other thing that I think most people never consider, is your choice of career vs. what is really going to be valuable can change between you making that choice and being employable.  I think of all the people I know who thought being an attorney would be lucrative only to finally graduate, face a glut of other young law students and end up underemployed. 

I have no idea what to tell my kids to shoot for now.  My son has a gift for coding, but I am afraid that will be yesterday's hot career now, since they are pushing it so heavily in schools.  My daughter is more artsy, with a focus on photography, and those are not generally careers that people make fun of or discourage as fluff. 

GU

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #46 on: March 15, 2017, 09:13:56 AM »

Corporations sometimes pay NOTHING in taxes. NOTHING is a lot less than what almost anyone else pays anywhere. Many have pointed out to me "but they move money around!" as if that were a service. So does the mafia, and we don't thank them for it. Also, income taxes your staff pay aren't taxes your company is paying. You don't get any credit for that.


Some corporations don't pay any income taxes, that is true.  Often this is due to the fact that they are not profitable.  Businesses pay income tax on their "net income," i.e., profits.  Sure, many large corporations use tax planning to reduce their U.S. tax bills, but the vast majority of this planning is just as legal as a back-door Roth.

But your comment is wrong in a different way.  You have to understand tax incidence. A corporation is a fictional legal entity.  Only people can pay taxes.  No one thinks the burden of a cigarette excise tax falls upon the cigarettes themselves, obviously the incidence falls on consumers.  Saying corporations pay taxes is like saying Sherlock Holmes paid taxes.  Only people can pay taxes.

There are three groups upon whom the tax incidence of a corporate income tax can fall:  owners/shareholders (via lower distributions or share prices), employees (via lower wages), and consumers (in the form of higher prices). Due to the mobility of capital, most economists believe that the lion's share of the incidence falls upon employees these days.  So raising the corporate income tax is very much like raising taxes on labor.  [further reading:  https://www.kansascityfed.org/Publicat/RegionalRWP/RRWP07-01.pdf]

ysette9

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #47 on: March 15, 2017, 09:22:37 AM »
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I giggled over Rand Paul's government waste presentation

Backing up just a bit here, we have to also remember that Rand Paul is hardly an unbiased source on this subject, so I would expect waste as determined by a source without a partisan axe to grind may very well find less. That is not to say that the system is perfect, but it feels like we can get a lot more bang for our dollars focusing on other issues. For example, let's get our healthcare spending down from 17% of GDP where it is now, not even covering everyone with people going bankrupt and dying, to the OECD average of something closer to 9% of GDP. That is $134 billion in savings right there.
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GU

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #48 on: March 15, 2017, 09:29:13 AM »


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If Trump did a back-door Roth, there would have been apoplectic articles in the NY Times about how crooked it is, yet Mustachians are cool with all that.

You have an amusing picture of the NYTimes' interests. Trump has access to far more tax options than any (or nearly any) here are well-versed on. Trump isn't even versed on them - he has people for that. Tremendous people. You know it, I know it, everybody knows it. Huge people.

To pretend his unbelievable real-estate deduction is the same as a backdoor Roth is a liiiiittle misleading. Degree matters. Chaffetz offering you skip your iPhone and viola - health insurance is affordable - is funny because it shows an astounding failure to apprehend degree. An iPhone doesn't remotely resemble the amount needed to pay for healthcare for the average American, and a Roth backdoor does not resemble the amount dodged with far more arcane tax treatments (that last for decades, potentially), and which, again, are not available to most of us. He even took advantage of government programs for academia with a sham university (that he would have been more likely sued for if he hadn't become President). The list goes on. His tax avoidance is the anchovy atop the whole crappy cake. If the law seems to make it so one person can be dishonest and skip jail time, and another person can't be, and the variable is wealth, I don't mind openly disapproving of the abuse. Anyone can backdoor a Roth. Only real-estate moguls could do what Trump did in writing off a tax loss he made mostly other people eat for him. That's why people hold it against him. Not because sheltering taxes legally is inherently evil. It's fair to argue the social contract is frayed with every tax rule that needs its own hour of study to understand. If you want to argue that Apple sheltering billions overseas or Trump writing off hundreds of millions for decades are the same as the guy doing a backdoor Roth, heck, I'll tell you what, you can even do that, as long as we both vote (if we ever get the chance) to eliminate all of it.


My post made up a hypothetical example about Trump doing a back-door Roth.  My OP was written prior to my awareness of the leaked Trump tax returns and has nothing to do with those. I don't understand the purpose of your rambling attack here.

Further, given that the Times ran multiple articles suggesting foul play with Mitt Romney's IRA, even though they had no proof he did anything wrong, I would have to bet the Times would seize any opportunity to criticize a back-door Roth by the Donald.  [here's one example of many:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/us/politics/bains-offshore-strategies-grew-romneys-wealth.html]  Given Trump's recklessness, I'd be surprised if he even has retirement accounts.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 09:31:01 AM by GU »

GU

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Re: Are left-wing Mustachians hypocrites?
« Reply #49 on: March 15, 2017, 09:36:43 AM »
I think the dissonance OP notes in their opening post has to do with the watering-down of leftism, particularly Socialism, in the last hundred years. The greedy bourgeoisie that Marx rallied against was the middle class. As people with larger incomes gradually adopted socialist philosophies, they had to cope with the fact that they themselves were the oppressors. So they voted for social programs like free healthcare and expanding the dole. The Soul of Man under Socialism implies that this type of behaviour numbs the pain that the aggressor and oppressor should feel about the whole crooked situation. It preserves the broken system since these social programs function as an anesthesia.

Some people here will say "I'd vote for more taxes" but, and I'm not meaning to be judgmental, a large reason why they say so is because middle-class incomes have been rising slowly over the last decade. In the progressive haven of Canada, when we saw our wages rise in the 90's and 00's, we wanted lower taxes. We see growth slowing and want higher taxes now. (Especially if you want the higher taxes to be on people besides you.)

Great comment that gets at what I was thinking.  It reminded me of another book in this vein:  G.A. Cohen, If You’re an Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich?   Cohen was a Socialist professor of Philosophy at Oxford.