Author Topic: Middle class and broke article  (Read 57561 times)

infogoon

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #150 on: June 19, 2013, 09:37:22 AM »
SNAP is a well intended but completely fucked up government program (although jsut about everything the govt is involved in is fucked so why would this be any different).  I don't think fraud/scamming are as big of an issue as some think (maybe with the asset test part there is)  but that is only because the qualifications are so simple and broad and it pays a lot - a family of five gets $800 a month, I have a family of five and eat crazy rich and spend a lot on friend and family gatherings and don't ever approach that number.

But the MAIN issue I have with SNAP is that it allows for non-essentials (soda, redbull, birhtday cakes, gift baskets (as long as it has at least 50% food products), processed foods, etc.  It really should be limited to basic necessities.

I was pretty surprised to see that SNAP benefits for my family of four, at least here in New York State, are significantly higher than my food budget. Heck, they're higher than my mortgage.

SNAP fun fact: In places like rural Alaska, where subsistence fishing is common, you can use SNAP to purchase nets and harpoons.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #151 on: June 19, 2013, 09:40:54 AM »
The government spends vastly more subsidizing our collective middle class lifestyle through the mortgage and healthcare deductions, higher education, and infrastructure than it does helping the needy with unemployment, food stamps, TANF.  Thus when people say they want "less government", they mean "less government for the poor.  I'll keep the government for me, thank you!"

Great. If we can take a chainsaw to taxes, I'm also in full support of eliminating all those deductions for the middle class.

So, no, you don't get to decide what those people really mean.

The mortgage deduction is largely a fallacy as the standard deductions exclude the majority of the population and then for those that qualify to itemize the tax deduction still needs to be offset by the standard deduction. Most of the people that can itemize to get over the standard deduction live in high COL/income tax/property tax areas and if they get to high it triggers AMT. 

So your wasting your energy on being mad about it, but conversely it is easy to get rid of without much consequence (and almost no additional tax revenue) once the country gets over the psycology of it.


randymarsh

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #152 on: June 19, 2013, 09:53:28 AM »
But the MAIN issue I have with SNAP is that it allows for non-essentials (soda, redbull, birhtday cakes, gift baskets (as long as it has at least 50% food products), processed foods, etc.  It really should be limited to basic necessities.

I read a study a while ago that showed restricting SNAP in such a way and making sure stores enforced those restrictions would actually cost more money than it saved.

Then there's the issue of what's acceptable and what's not. Water is a necessity for life, but should you be able to buy bottled water with benefits? Is flavored stuff like gatorade or propel ok? What about healthy foods that are expensive (berries, peanuts, etc)? You can buy a whole bag of carrots or some of those little packages that include the ranch for the same cost, but of course you get way less the prepackaged route. Is any meat at all allowed? If  yes, are "nice" cuts allowed?

Eric

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #153 on: June 19, 2013, 09:57:01 AM »
I'd also like to address this 'skin in the game'  argument.   It's true that many poor people pay no federal taxes, but they still pay state, county, city and most importantly sales taxes.   A rich man pays a fraction of a percent of his yearly income on sales tax, while a poor person pretty much pays the sales on their yearly income.   This is not optional when you have to spend 100% of your income to live.   Add the capital gains tax preference,  the SS/medicare cutoff in the low 100, and the many middle and upper class only deductions and you get a tax system where the rich do not pay astronomically more than the poor when all taxes and deductions are taken into account.


This is spot on.  As a percentage of income, your tax bill increases as your income decreases.  That's because we have tons of regressive flat taxes that treat everyone equally, and destroy the purchasing power of lower incomes.  Complaining that the tax base isn't broad enough is the so completely ludicrous that it's hard to even understand how that thought came about, but even harder to understand why it keeps getting repeated.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #154 on: June 19, 2013, 10:11:11 AM »
I'd also like to address this 'skin in the game'  argument.   It's true that many poor people pay no federal taxes, but they still pay state, county, city and most importantly sales taxes.   A rich man pays a fraction of a percent of his yearly income on sales tax, while a poor person pretty much pays the sales on their yearly income.   This is not optional when you have to spend 100% of your income to live.   Add the capital gains tax preference,  the SS/medicare cutoff in the low 100, and the many middle and upper class only deductions and you get a tax system where the rich do not pay astronomically more than the poor when all taxes and deductions are taken into account.


This is spot on.  As a percentage of income, your tax bill increases as your income decreases.  That's because we have tons of regressive flat taxes that treat everyone equally, and destroy the purchasing power of lower incomes.  Complaining that the tax base isn't broad enough is the so completely ludicrous that it's hard to even understand how that thought came about, but even harder to understand why it keeps getting repeated.

Yeah but your mixing apples and oranges when comparing federal to local taxes - sure they pay and sure they may be regressive (not always as a lot of local taxes are progressive as well or have exclusions up to certain income levels and many locales exlude food/clothing from sales taxes) but those taxes are for services provided locally not federally.  Also, it is equally ludicrous to claim that the wealthy don't pay their fair share when they pay most of what keeps the country going and servicing those that don't.


tooqk4u22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #155 on: June 19, 2013, 10:22:03 AM »
But the MAIN issue I have with SNAP is that it allows for non-essentials (soda, redbull, birhtday cakes, gift baskets (as long as it has at least 50% food products), processed foods, etc.  It really should be limited to basic necessities.

I read a study a while ago that showed restricting SNAP in such a way and making sure stores enforced those restrictions would actually cost more money than it saved.

Then there's the issue of what's acceptable and what's not. Water is a necessity for life, but should you be able to buy bottled water with benefits? Is flavored stuff like gatorade or propel ok? What about healthy foods that are expensive (berries, peanuts, etc)? You can buy a whole bag of carrots or some of those little packages that include the ranch for the same cost, but of course you get way less the prepackaged route. Is any meat at all allowed? If  yes, are "nice" cuts allowed?

That sounds like something that would come from either a beurocrat trying to keep their budget intact or someone who believes that if you are poor you are still entitled to the luxuries in life. 

Everything has a bar code so it is actually easy to exclude/include items. 

To your questions:
Bottled water? Fuck no.
Flavored stuff? fuck no.
Expensive stuff?  ok - if they wan't to spend $5/lb on blueberries but spend $0.10/lb on rice why not.
pack of carrots w. dip vs. bag of carrots?  fuck no.
Nice cuts of meat?  same as berries argument, but could exclude some things or could be based on max average $/lb of meat products.

Or you could cut the SNAP budget in half and that would force people to actual shift to stop buying those things. I would also argue that if you are depending on the government, or anyone else for that matter, then you have to accept that they can tell you what you can and can't buy and along with above I would argue that things that are high in sugar/salt/fat or not in line with a balanced diet should be excluded - no sense paying for them to eat so that we can pay for their increased healthcare costs later.  But I am sure someone will complain.

As I said, my family spends so much on food and it so NOT MMM like and we still don't hit those numbers. 


tooqk4u22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #156 on: June 19, 2013, 10:28:08 AM »
After I posted above I saw this - awesome.  Nutter is a liberal,  as are others, so cutting out the crap is something I think both sides can agree with.

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/Nutter_other_mayors_No_using_food_stamps_to_buy_soda.html

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #157 on: June 19, 2013, 10:30:43 AM »
Yeah but your mixing apples and oranges when comparing federal to local taxes - sure they pay and sure they may be regressive (not always as a lot of local taxes are progressive as well or have exclusions up to certain income levels and many locales exlude food/clothing from sales taxes) but those taxes are for services provided locally not federally.  Also, it is equally ludicrous to claim that the wealthy don't pay their fair share when they pay most of what keeps the country going and servicing those that don't.

There are also payroll taxes (SS, Medicare) and excise taxes (such as taxes on fuel), that pay the feds for services, not just income taxes.

You know who falls into the category of folks who don't pay federal income taxes? 22% are folks who are age 65 or older. 17% are students, the disabled, the long-term unemployed. 61% pay payroll taxes even if they aren't paying federal income taxes.


mpbaker22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #158 on: June 19, 2013, 10:55:51 AM »
I'd also like to address this 'skin in the game'  argument.   It's true that many poor people pay no federal taxes, but they still pay state, county, city and most importantly sales taxes.   A rich man pays a fraction of a percent of his yearly income on sales tax, while a poor person pretty much pays the sales on their yearly income.   This is not optional when you have to spend 100% of your income to live.   Add the capital gains tax preference,  the SS/medicare cutoff in the low 100, and the many middle and upper class only deductions and you get a tax system where the rich do not pay astronomically more than the poor when all taxes and deductions are taken into account.


This is spot on.  As a percentage of income, your tax bill increases as your income decreases.  That's because we have tons of regressive flat taxes that treat everyone equally, and destroy the purchasing power of lower incomes.  Complaining that the tax base isn't broad enough is the so completely ludicrous that it's hard to even understand how that thought came about, but even harder to understand why it keeps getting repeated.

Edit to fix the quotes - What are your views (idk if there is a name) of the flat tax with subsidies?  Basically, you report an income just like you do now.  If you make less than, say $20,000, you get 20% of $20,000 from the government.  The sales tax is then 20%.  So anyone making 20K pays $0 in taxes.  Anyone making less than 20K gets positive $$ from the government, and everyone else pays proportionately to what they spend.

It seems like it would encourage mustachianism too.

Edited - I definitely agree that food stamps should not be allowed for soda.  It's tough to call out the crossover point.  I lean towards only allowing it for fresh veggies and fruits.  Fresh dairy.  Fresh meats.  Etc.  But there's always the unique scenario where someone doesn't have access to those.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 11:09:09 AM by mpbaker22 »

randymarsh

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #159 on: June 19, 2013, 10:57:57 AM »
It came from the USDA itself, so obviously it can't be trusted and raises no valid points.

http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/menu/Published/snap/FILES/ProgramOperations/FSPFoodRestrictions.pdf

It doesn't say with 100% certainly if more restrictions would increase expenses, but I think it's safe to assume that they would. There's no possible way restrictions would save money unless the actual budget per person/family was reduced, which is another discussion. People would just spend all the budget on now acceptable food only.

mpbaker22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #160 on: June 19, 2013, 11:11:00 AM »
There's no possible way restrictions would save money unless the actual budget per person/family was reduced, which is another discussion. People would just spend all the budget on now acceptable food only.

No possible way?  What if it prevented people from scamming the system?  I'm not saying it would save money in practice, but it's certainly possible!

mpbaker22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #161 on: June 19, 2013, 11:14:20 AM »
It came from the USDA itself, so obviously it can't be trusted and raises no valid points.

http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/menu/Published/snap/FILES/ProgramOperations/FSPFoodRestrictions.pdf

It doesn't say with 100% certainly if more restrictions would increase expenses, but I think it's safe to assume that they would. There's no possible way restrictions would save money unless the actual budget per person/family was reduced, which is another discussion. People would just spend all the budget on now acceptable food only.

Quote
About 70 percent of all food stamp participants those who receive less than the maximum benefit
are expected to purchase a portion of their food with their own money. There is no guarantee that
restricting the use of food stamps would affect food purchases other than substituting one form of
payment (cash) for another (food stamps).

What point are they trying to make?  This means 1/3 of the participants rely entirely on food stamps and who knows who relies mostly on food stamps.  They seem to have proven the opposite point as their conclusion.
I would also point out that one could potentially receive the maximum benefit but still pay for other food out of pocket, so I'd say the statistic is altogether useless.

Quote
There is no strong research-based evidence to support restricting food stamp benefits. Food stamp
recipients are no more likely than higher income consumers to choose foods with little nutritional
value; thus the basis for singling out low-income food stamp recipients and restricting their food
choices is not clear.
This seems like another silly point.  If they were only allowed healthy foods, they're diet would clearly improve.  The point is they are receiving something for free, so it should be based on a healthy diet.  Since most these people are probably on medicaid, it would benefit the taxpayers on the health side too.
I don't think the point should be "everyone's unhealthy why should we make these people healthy?"  The point should be, "These people are getting free food so it should be the optimal and efficient foods."
« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 11:16:36 AM by mpbaker22 »

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #162 on: June 19, 2013, 11:19:45 AM »
I think this is the point they are trying to make:
Quote
Restrictions may be ineffective in changing the purchases of food stamp participants.


mpbaker22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #163 on: June 19, 2013, 11:55:55 AM »
I think this is the point they are trying to make:
Quote
Restrictions may be ineffective in changing the purchases of food stamp participants.

I don't think so.  I think the point they are trying to make is 1) restrictions would be expensive and 2) people who pay for their own food aren't restricted so why should SNAP recipients be restricted.  They don't really make the argument that restrictions would be ineffective.

Actually, they maybe mentioned that once or twice, but the evidence didn't support the conclusion.  It uses the difficulty of labeling foods health/unhealthy as reason not to implement it.  Well, at the least, you could rule out clearly unhealthy foods.

I already quoted the paragraph that talks about it being ineffective
Quote
Quote

    About 70 percent of all food stamp participants those who receive less than the maximum benefit
    are expected to purchase a portion of their food with their own money. There is no guarantee that
    restricting the use of food stamps would affect food purchases other than substituting one form of
    payment (cash) for another (food stamps).


What point are they trying to make?  This means 1/3 of the participants rely entirely on food stamps and who knows who relies mostly on food stamps.  They seem to have proven the opposite point as their conclusion.
I would also point out that one could potentially receive the maximum benefit but still pay for other food out of pocket, so I'd say the statistic is altogether useless.

And this last point is a red herring.  No one was arguing that food stamps contribute to poor health.  Rather, they SHOULD contribute to good health by discouraging  poor health
Quote
No evidence exists that food stamp participation contributes to poor diet quality or obesity.

Eric

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #164 on: June 19, 2013, 12:10:24 PM »
What are your views (idk if there is a name) of the flat tax with subsidies?  Basically, you report an income just like you do now.  If you make less than, say $20,000, you get 20% of $20,000 from the government.  The sales tax is then 20%.  So anyone making 20K pays $0 in taxes.  Anyone making less than 20K gets positive $$ from the government, and everyone else pays proportionately to what they spend.

It seems like it would encourage mustachianism too.

I think it seems like a decent idea in theory.  However, the lobby of every business in the country would be against it, as it raises sales taxes. (despite the fact that the overall purchasing power shouldn't change, they'd be against it)  The transition period would be extremely messy, and the general public doesn't like drastic changes.  Therefore, I think it has about as much chance of happening as us starting a tourist colony on Mars, and I don't really consider it a serious solution in today's political climate.

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #165 on: June 19, 2013, 12:19:07 PM »
You asked what the point was, and I figured there is no point in guessing since that is what they wrote just above the bullet point.

As to your guesses about their points, that is fine if that is what you got from that paragraph. What I got from the particular paragraph was that restricting foods would have limited success in healthier diets because 70% of SNAP recipients also purchase food with their own money. Sure, theoretical restrictions on what SNAP could go towards could limit the items bought with SNAP funds, but that doesn't mean a person couldn't spend the rest of their money on wholly unhealthy foods. The net result being no significant improvement of diet.

The premise of the report/summary is stated:
Quote
By most standards, almost all American diets are in need of improvement. Given interest in using Federal nutrition assistance programs to promote healthy choices, some suggest that food stamp recipients should be prohibited from using their benefits to buy foods with limited nutritional value.

You seem to be viewing inefficiencies from a cost perspective, but I see it as evaluating the efficacy of changing health via the restrictions.


tooqk4u22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #166 on: June 19, 2013, 12:37:17 PM »
Yeah but your mixing apples and oranges when comparing federal to local taxes - sure they pay and sure they may be regressive (not always as a lot of local taxes are progressive as well or have exclusions up to certain income levels and many locales exlude food/clothing from sales taxes) but those taxes are for services provided locally not federally.  Also, it is equally ludicrous to claim that the wealthy don't pay their fair share when they pay most of what keeps the country going and servicing those that don't.

There are also payroll taxes (SS, Medicare) and excise taxes (such as taxes on fuel), that pay the feds for services, not just income taxes.

You know who falls into the category of folks who don't pay federal income taxes? 22% are folks who are age 65 or older. 17% are students, the disabled, the long-term unemployed. 61% pay payroll taxes even if they aren't paying federal income taxes.

Still mixing apples and oranges.  Where did I say that they did or didn't pay payroll taxes or anything about who or who does not pay any taxes.  Heck, I didn't even mention expanding the base.  Clearly you have a specific view and that has caused you to make assumptions about my view - right or wrong. I live in NJ where I pay property taxes and possibly income taxes that are disproportionately high relative to the rest of the country so by your logic I shouldn't have to pay federal taxes - right? Afterall, its all one pot regardless of where it is spent.

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #167 on: June 19, 2013, 12:53:13 PM »
Yeah but your mixing apples and oranges when comparing federal to local taxes - sure they pay and sure they may be regressive (not always as a lot of local taxes are progressive as well or have exclusions up to certain income levels and many locales exlude food/clothing from sales taxes) but those taxes are for services provided locally not federally.  Also, it is equally ludicrous to claim that the wealthy don't pay their fair share when they pay most of what keeps the country going and servicing those that don't.

There are also payroll taxes (SS, Medicare) and excise taxes (such as taxes on fuel), that pay the feds for services, not just income taxes.

You know who falls into the category of folks who don't pay federal income taxes? 22% are folks who are age 65 or older. 17% are students, the disabled, the long-term unemployed. 61% pay payroll taxes even if they aren't paying federal income taxes.

Still mixing apples and oranges.  Where did I say that they did or didn't pay payroll taxes or anything about who or who does not pay any taxes.  Heck, I didn't even mention expanding the base.  Clearly you have a specific view and that has caused you to make assumptions about my view - right or wrong. I live in NJ where I pay property taxes and possibly income taxes that are disproportionately high relative to the rest of the country so by your logic I shouldn't have to pay federal taxes - right? Afterall, its all one pot regardless of where it is spent.

I have no idea how you interpreted my comments the way you did. I never said or commented anything about whether you said they didn't pay payroll taxes. My point was simply that even people who don't pay certain federal taxes (income) doesn't mean they don't pay any federal taxes (payroll, excise).

Pray tell, what is my specific view, since it is so clear? Where did I make any assumption about you or your views?

I am completely and utterly confused with how you got to this statement: "by your logic I shouldn't have to pay federal taxes - right?"

mpbaker22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #168 on: June 19, 2013, 01:10:11 PM »
What I got from the particular paragraph was that restricting foods would have limited success in healthier diets because 70% of SNAP recipients also purchase food with their own money. Sure, theoretical restrictions on what SNAP could go towards could limit the items bought with SNAP funds, but that doesn't mean a person couldn't spend the rest of their money on wholly unhealthy foods. The net result being no significant improvement of diet.
Quote
What point are they trying to make?  This means 1/3 of the participants rely entirely on food stamps and who knows who relies mostly on food stamps.  They seem to have proven the opposite point as their conclusion.
I would also point out that one could potentially receive the maximum benefit but still pay for other food out of pocket, so I'd say the statistic is altogether useless.

So that means 1/3 receive the full benefit.  As I said already, that statistic just doesn't make any sense.  Let's say the full benefit isn't enough for one to buy a month's worth of groceries.  Then that assumption results in the conclusion that 100% of recipients are using their own cash to buy food.
Let's take the opposite extreme and say 50% of the max benefit is enough for a month's worth of groceries.  Now, at a minimum, 1/3 of people rely entirely on food stamps.

The bigger point is the 70% statistic adds nothing to the argument and whoever created that report should've realize dit.

infogoon

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #169 on: June 19, 2013, 01:15:57 PM »
As to your guesses about their points, that is fine if that is what you got from that paragraph. What I got from the particular paragraph was that restricting foods would have limited success in healthier diets because 70% of SNAP recipients also purchase food with their own money. Sure, theoretical restrictions on what SNAP could go towards could limit the items bought with SNAP funds, but that doesn't mean a person couldn't spend the rest of their money on wholly unhealthy foods. The net result being no significant improvement of diet.

An additional wrench in the works is the inventory available to the SNAP user at his or her preferred grocery. I live in one of the poorest cities in America. A lot of our residents do their grocery shopping in neighborhood bodegas, where produce and other healthy options are both limited and expensive. Telling someone that they can't use SNAP for "orange drink", only for orange juice, assumes that they are buying groceries where orange juice is both available and affordable. That might be the truth in the suburban supermarkets, most of which are inaccessible to public transit users, but not in the neighborhood corner store.

How expensive is food in these neighborhoods? Well, a lot of the shop owners use the suburban Walmart as a wholesaler, and just double the prices on everything when they put it out for sale.

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #170 on: June 19, 2013, 01:18:34 PM »
Why do you think the funding for SNAP is included in the farm bill? Food stamps are a subsidy for farmers and food producers. Food stamps are also a subsidy for employers that pay their employees low wages. You are less likely to have employees demanding higher wages if they are "fat and happy". Everyone always focuses on the recipients of these programs instead taking a step back and looking at their real purpose.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 01:21:56 PM by JR »

tooqk4u22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #171 on: June 19, 2013, 01:27:23 PM »
I have no idea how you interpreted my comments the way you did. I never said or commented anything about whether you said they didn't pay payroll taxes. My point was simply that even people who don't pay certain federal taxes (income) doesn't mean they don't pay any federal taxes (payroll, excise).

Actually it was inferred by your comment "You know who falls into the category of folks who don't pay federal income taxes?" - the only reason why you would say this is because I said, which I didn't, or you think I beleive that too many people don't pay taxes.  Otherwise the comments is irrelevant.

Also, payroll taxes are intended to fund specific programs and not the vast reaches of government - and arguably are really meant to serve/protect those that don't have the means from falling into complete despair.  In theory if they are not paying federal income taxes then they are not contributing to the operations of the federal government - I say in theory because obviously every dollar put into the SSI is lent to the federal government.

Pray tell, what is my specific view, since it is so clear? Where did I make any assumption about you or your views?

Based on above.

I am completely and utterly confused with how you got to this statement: "by your logic I shouldn't have to pay federal taxes - right?"

This is an extension of the first comments to which I replied and you defended so by extension it is your view. But the point is that if I pay taxes in some form or to some agency then it should offset my federal taxes - just like you are using payroll and excise taxes as a legitmate excuse - really excise taxes, c'mon.

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #172 on: June 19, 2013, 01:40:07 PM »
I am sorry you feel my comment is irrelevant. I thought it was an interesting fact. I feel as though you and I are simply talking past each other on a number of points.

Again, I never said anything about offsetting taxes. My point was, and remains, that federal income tax is not the only way to contribute to the federal purse.

Jamesqf

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #173 on: June 19, 2013, 05:19:07 PM »
A lot of our residents do their grocery shopping in neighborhood bodegas, where produce and other healthy options are both limited and expensive.

Cause or effect, though?  Do people not buy "healthy" food because it's not in the bodegas, or do the bodegas not stock it because no one buys it?

SwordGuy

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #174 on: June 19, 2013, 05:29:08 PM »
I'd also like to address this 'skin in the game'  argument.   It's true that many poor people pay no federal taxes, but they still pay state, county, city and most importantly sales taxes.   A rich man pays a fraction of a percent of his yearly income on sales tax, while a poor person pretty much pays the sales on their yearly income.   This is not optional when you have to spend 100% of your income to live.   Add the capital gains tax preference,  the SS/medicare cutoff in the low 100, and the many middle and upper class only deductions and you get a tax system where the rich do not pay astronomically more than the poor when all taxes and deductions are taken into account.


This is spot on.  As a percentage of income, your tax bill increases as your income decreases.  That's because we have tons of regressive flat taxes that treat everyone equally, and destroy the purchasing power of lower incomes.  Complaining that the tax base isn't broad enough is the so completely ludicrous that it's hard to even understand how that thought came about, but even harder to understand why it keeps getting repeated.

It keeps getting repeated because the people with lots of money own the companies and fund the organizations that repeat it.  Duh.

dragoncar

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #175 on: June 19, 2013, 06:19:27 PM »
A lot of our residents do their grocery shopping in neighborhood bodegas, where produce and other healthy options are both limited and expensive.

Cause or effect, though?  Do people not buy "healthy" food because it's not in the bodegas, or do the bodegas not stock it because no one buys it?

I'd guess that if bodega customers only paid with cards that worked for orange juice but not orange drink, the bodegas would start stocking orange juice.  It might be very expensive though.

infogoon

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #176 on: June 20, 2013, 10:29:10 AM »
Cause or effect, though?  Do people not buy "healthy" food because it's not in the bodegas, or do the bodegas not stock it because no one buys it?

Shelf life seems to be the biggest factor in most of the inventory decisions. Orange drink and snack cakes last a lot longer than any kind of juice or fresh produce.

sheepstache

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #177 on: June 20, 2013, 10:48:37 AM »
Why do you think the funding for SNAP is included in the farm bill? Food stamps are a subsidy for farmers and food producers. Food stamps are also a subsidy for employers that pay their employees low wages. You are less likely to have employees demanding higher wages if they are "fat and happy". Everyone always focuses on the recipients of these programs instead taking a step back and looking at their real purpose.

One of the contradictions I sometimes see is that the group that claims food stamps are corporate welfare wants higher working wages--but then if anyone says, great, let's cut food stamps so that people are more motivated to get better jobs or organize to demand better treatment at their current jobs, this group screeches that people on food stamps are already miserable and it would be inhuman to cut their benefits.

I'm not saying this is your view, obviously, since your post didn't go into it that much.

El Conquistador

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #178 on: June 20, 2013, 11:47:57 AM »
I want vastly less government not more, especially when it comes to my finances.

Completely agree. The basic idea of Social Security is that I cannot be trusted to take care of myself. I would rather just be taxed a percent or two and you hold that in trust for somebody who screws up their life. Me, I'd rather have my money.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #179 on: June 20, 2013, 12:21:05 PM »
I want vastly less government not more, especially when it comes to my finances.

Completely agree. The basic idea of Social Security is that I cannot be trusted to take care of myself. I would rather just be taxed a percent or two and you hold that in trust for somebody who screws up their life. Me, I'd rather have my money.

That is exactly the intent and application of the program except that they take 16.4% of your income instead of a percent or two.

sheepstache

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #180 on: June 20, 2013, 01:19:27 PM »
I want vastly less government not more, especially when it comes to my finances.

Completely agree. The basic idea of Social Security is that I cannot be trusted to take care of myself. I would rather just be taxed a percent or two and you hold that in trust for somebody who screws up their life. Me, I'd rather have my money.

I'm currently reading a book on social security and according to one reference, surveys (in Wisconsin and New York) in 1925 and 1929 found that almost half the population 65 and older had "insufficient subsistence income."  Now, I'd love to pick that apart on a number of levels, but what it makes me wonder is: do we have the facts on what actually happens without these programs?  It's all well and good to say that theoretically everyone can manage their lives, but we have to deal with reality if the facts show that they don't.

tooqk4u22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #181 on: June 20, 2013, 01:28:14 PM »
I want vastly less government not more, especially when it comes to my finances.

Completely agree. The basic idea of Social Security is that I cannot be trusted to take care of myself. I would rather just be taxed a percent or two and you hold that in trust for somebody who screws up their life. Me, I'd rather have my money.

I'm currently reading a book on social security and according to one reference, surveys (in Wisconsin and New York) in 1925 and 1929 found that almost half the population 65 and older had "insufficient subsistence income."  Now, I'd love to pick that apart on a number of levels, but what it makes me wonder is: do we have the facts on what actually happens without these programs?  It's all well and good to say that theoretically everyone can manage their lives, but we have to deal with reality if the facts show that they don't.

People can't or aren't smart enough or don't have enough foresight to plan for when they can't work (emphasis on can't) which is why SSI was created.  But remember that when SSI was created and for several decades afterwards SSI was a minimal amount to survive AND the life expectancy was about three years past qualification age.  Now the amount isn't as minimal (debateable what minimal is) but life expectancy is now 20 years past qualification age (this is the real issue).

As to your question about what would happen without these programs, the community (non-profits, charities, religious) would step in for much of it as has been the case in the past but with a greater homelessness and inconsistent quality of application.  That said, having a single family home, a car, cable and living in relative comfort overall is not a right even if SSI has evoloved to cover such a life.  There is no reason why people can't live in shared homes and use public transit etc.

Eric

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #182 on: June 20, 2013, 01:43:47 PM »
I want vastly less government not more, especially when it comes to my finances.

Completely agree. The basic idea of Social Security is that I cannot be trusted to take care of myself. I would rather just be taxed a percent or two and you hold that in trust for somebody who screws up their life. Me, I'd rather have my money.

It's not a statement on your ability to take care of yourself.  It's a statement of society in general to take care of themselves.  Welcome to society!

mpbaker22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #183 on: June 20, 2013, 02:45:09 PM »
I want vastly less government not more, especially when it comes to my finances.

Completely agree. The basic idea of Social Security is that I cannot be trusted to take care of myself. I would rather just be taxed a percent or two and you hold that in trust for somebody who screws up their life. Me, I'd rather have my money.

I'm currently reading a book on social security and according to one reference, surveys (in Wisconsin and New York) in 1925 and 1929 found that almost half the population 65 and older had "insufficient subsistence income."  Now, I'd love to pick that apart on a number of levels, but what it makes me wonder is: do we have the facts on what actually happens without these programs?  It's all well and good to say that theoretically everyone can manage their lives, but we have to deal with reality if the facts show that they don't.

People can't or aren't smart enough or don't have enough foresight to plan for when they can't work (emphasis on can't) which is why SSI was created.  But remember that when SSI was created and for several decades afterwards SSI was a minimal amount to survive AND the life expectancy was about three years past qualification age.  Now the amount isn't as minimal (debateable what minimal is) but life expectancy is now 20 years past qualification age (this is the real issue).

As to your question about what would happen without these programs, the community (non-profits, charities, religious) would step in for much of it as has been the case in the past but with a greater homelessness and inconsistent quality of application.  That said, having a single family home, a car, cable and living in relative comfort overall is not a right even if SSI has evoloved to cover such a life.  There is no reason why people can't live in shared homes and use public transit etc.

Granted people used to mostly work till they died, but SSI didn't exist for the first x thousands of years of human existence and people managed to take care of their old just fine.  I think communities were just smaller, but they fed and clothed their old.  More than anything though, I don't think anyone was accumulating massive amounts of waste, so the community didn't have to start wars to get an extra billion gallons of gas to fuel the wasteful driving, etc.

madgeylou

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #184 on: June 20, 2013, 04:23:41 PM »
Granted people used to mostly work till they died, but SSI didn't exist for the first x thousands of years of human existence and people managed to take care of their old just fine.  I think communities were just smaller, but they fed and clothed their old.  More than anything though, I don't think anyone was accumulating massive amounts of waste, so the community didn't have to start wars to get an extra billion gallons of gas to fuel the wasteful driving, etc.

i'm pretty sure that the reason SSI was created was because people DIDN'T necessarily take care of their old. at least not since the industrial revolution hit and broke up the multi-generational family unit that used to be the norm.

that's what gets me about people saying "oh, just let people take care of the poor, old, and infirm voluntarily." that was not happening, that's the reason why these programs were started in the first place. why do we think that society would do a better job of voluntarily taking care of the needy than it did 70 years ago?

and as someone who has been responsible for an elderly person living on social security, please believe me when i tell you the proceeds were minimal indeed. my grandma got $900 a month. she was lucky that for the last 8 years of her life, she lived in subsidized housing, so her housing + utilities ended up at about $400 a month. so, $500 a month for food, clothes, medication, transportation, doctor co-pays -- everything. it was doable, but not lavish. not at all. and when out-of-the-ordinary expenses came up, like she needed new glasses or a hearing aid or something, that was on the family (aka me) to provide.

is SSI perfect? no. but damn, a lot of people would be suffering A LOT more without it.

Jamesqf

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #185 on: June 20, 2013, 04:45:30 PM »
Granted people used to mostly work till they died, but SSI didn't exist for the first x thousands of years of human existence and people managed to take care of their old just fine.

What exactly is wrong with working until you die?  You need to remember that the idea of retirement is a pretty new concept, in historical terms (mid 19th century, really), along with the idea that people should spend most of their lives doing just one industrial job until they just couldn't do it any more, at which point they were tossed on the trash heap like a piece of worn-out machinery.

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #186 on: June 20, 2013, 05:00:18 PM »
you sure about that? my undergrad anthropology class was a looooong time ago but the concept of the 'wise elder' seems to permeate most societies. Sure they dont meet our current definition of 'retired' but they are neither warriors nor gatherers after around age 60 if I recall. After that they are well respected leaders if not village planners/etc.

 Perhaps for 'western' culture it is a new concept, though.

renbutler

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #187 on: June 20, 2013, 09:34:29 PM »
that's what gets me about people saying "oh, just let people take care of the poor, old, and infirm voluntarily." that was not happening, that's the reason why these programs were started in the first place. why do we think that society would do a better job of voluntarily taking care of the needy than it did 70 years ago?

The big difference now is the explosion of middle class population and wealth in general, and the ability to quickly send money and goods to every corner of the country.

I'm not saying that volunteerism alone would satisfy all needs. But I think we're far better equipped to take care of the poor now than we were 70 years ago. If we could harness the enormous amount of charity that goes to disaster relief and spread it to more long-term needs, it would go quite a long way toward alleviating a large amount of the problem.

That's why I typically don't give to the really popular causes. Not that I disapprove of them. But when the tornado and hurricane and earthquake debris are all cleaned up, somebody somewhere else untouched by disaster is still unable to feed their kids or pay for electricity. I'd rather not wait for a cause, but rather give continuously to persistent causes.

But that does bring up another advantage we have these days: the ability to appeal to virtually every citizen with a 30-second commercial or a ten-second blurb about donating to a cause via text message.

I wish we could at least start shifting some of the responsibility from the government's general coffers (taken from some) to everybody else's own charity funds. Just a small shift at first. To prove that we can do it. Remember, this used to be a "can do" country, and sometimes I think we are losing a bit of that.

mpbaker22

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #188 on: June 20, 2013, 10:05:30 PM »
Granted people used to mostly work till they died, but SSI didn't exist for the first x thousands of years of human existence and people managed to take care of their old just fine.

What exactly is wrong with working until you die?  You need to remember that the idea of retirement is a pretty new concept, in historical terms (mid 19th century, really), along with the idea that people should spend most of their lives doing just one industrial job until they just couldn't do it any more, at which point they were tossed on the trash heap like a piece of worn-out machinery.

Not sure if this is a response to my comment, but there's nothing wrong with it.  It isn't really necessary today given how much we can produce in such little time though.

To Joet - I don't think your comments conflict.  Before the 1850s the old were taken care of by the young in the community (though I dont know what pre 19th century cities were like).  It wasn't until the industrial revolution that old people got tossed aside.

Jamesqf

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #189 on: June 20, 2013, 11:03:51 PM »
you sure about that? my undergrad anthropology class was a looooong time ago but the concept of the 'wise elder' seems to permeate most societies. Sure they dont meet our current definition of 'retired' but they are neither warriors nor gatherers after around age 60 if I recall. After that they are well respected leaders if not village planners/etc.

Leading, planning, and all that other "wise elder" stuff isn't work?  Or all the other activities in which skill is more important than strength, as for instance cooking, tool making, weaving, teaching the young...

Not sure if this is a response to my comment, but there's nothing wrong with it.  It isn't really necessary today given how much we can produce in such little time though.

But not all work is production: there are lots of things - some examples above - which really need the personal touch.  Besides, working, broadly defined, may not be necessary for production, but (IMHO anyway) it's still necessary for mental health.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2013, 10:32:12 PM by Jamesqf »

sheepstache

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #190 on: June 22, 2013, 11:38:34 AM »
But some people are saying elders used to be taken care of and some are saying they weren't.  I'm not trying to call for an exhaustive battle of throwing studies and references at each other in this thread, but I'm asking if people are basing their impressions on actual source material.  As opposed to, like, novels and movies which is how I find most people come up with their idea of what the past was like.

I don't think the fact that cultures have commonalities always means something is more right or natural or likely, so I get irritated when people look to the past as a guide to run their lives, but that's a different issue.

footenote

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #191 on: June 22, 2013, 12:42:07 PM »
sheepstache - When I hear that elders "were cared for" in the distant past, I remind myself that:

a) There simply weren't many elders in absolute numbers pre-industrial revolution because few lived past 50. A typical extended family might have had one (or zero) elder past age 50. The elder could take on many tasks like childcare, cleaning or cooking. So it wasn't as though the family was sending money to the elder in a condo in Florida. The elder was very likely contributing labor to the household.

b) In the days before widespread literacy and record-keeping, those elders who did live past 50 were a very valuable source of practical history. ("I remember we had a bad drought when I was 12. We tried growing that plant, but it died. This other plant however tolerated the drought well. We should plant more of it.") This would have been an additional way an elder could contribute.

c) When Otto von Bismarck introduced "retirement" in the 1880s, the average German lived only a few years beyond the age at which he would start receiving benefits. Only relatively recently have significant numbers of people over 60 (or even 50) lived off the charity of those under 60 for decades of life between 60 and 90.

So the entire "elders were" / "elders were not" cared for in the past is a false construct not on based historical demographic facts. The phenomenon we have today (average lifespan 79 here in the US) never existed "then."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_von_Bismarck
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy

("Average" lifespan is misleading because high infant mortality pulls the average down. However, even discounting the misleading average, it was the exception for surviving adults to live much past 50 until relatively recently.)

NYD3030

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #192 on: June 22, 2013, 01:11:05 PM »
Two interesting things about the 'social security was only supposed to cover a year or two of life'  argument.

1)  Life expectancy in the 30s did only go to about 65, but that included people who died of childhood diseases, so the life expectancy of someone who lived to 15 was actually in the 70s.  So the people of working age who were contributing did expect to collect a significant amount.

2)  the explosion in life expectancy primarily applies to the wealthy.   Life expectancy for the poor did not rise as much and has actually been declining since the 1980s.  Just like every other measure of quality of life at the bottom.

footenote

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #193 on: June 22, 2013, 01:47:40 PM »
Agree on both your points NYD3030. I was addressing the "back in the old days" construct, which I interprete as pre-1930s.

Life expectancy for poor vs middle class vs the wealthy is rarely mentioned in these discussions - thank you for raising it.

Another rarely mentioned fact: we contribute to FICA only on the first $110,100 of income. For someone making $1,000,000, this is a tiny fraction of their earnings. So those making over $110,100 contribute a smaller percent of their overall income and receive more than a shorter-lived poor person does due to living longer.

Mr Mark

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #194 on: June 22, 2013, 04:31:14 PM »
Social security is still very important to elderly people. There was no golden age. The % of retirees in poverty has fallen dramatically since the 30s.

As mustashians, we should remember we rely on a host of loopholes, publicly funded stuff and benefits we can utilize, many of which have an income threshold but not a wealth test.

NYD3030

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #195 on: June 22, 2013, 04:36:11 PM »
Personally I'd much prefer the elimination of TANF (which, face it, was pretty well killed in 97 anyway), Food Stamps, WIC, Stafford Loans, Unemployment, Social Security, etc, etc, etc... pretty much any targeted public assistance.

In it's place, guaranteed income between 20K and 30K w/o a work requirement.  This lets the "invisible hand" do its thing, removes huge layers of government bureaucracy to administer social programs, and provides a decent standard of living for all citizens.  Nobody makes a moral judgement of who deserves help and who doesn't, and everyone, whether they're Warren Buffet or an unemployed autoworker in Warren, MI, get's their 20-30k check.

Plus, Globalization and automation are rendering increasingly advanced jobs obsolete - for example, if you are a young software engineer reading this (I am, and what, 80% of us are?) and you don't think AI is going to be able to replace 90% of us before we reach traditional retirement age... you aren't paying attention.  We already live in a world where getting a job is difficult, and I think tech and social advancement is going to make it worse and worse.  You can't require people to have a job to survive when the economy can't provide enough jobs to employ everyone - I see this as the solution.

renbutler

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #196 on: June 22, 2013, 09:07:19 PM »
That's a certain way to drive the workforce participation to even greater depths. It's completely unsustainable.

We've proven that one can live on less that. Good luck finding enough people to go to work to pay for all those people not to go to work.

NYD3030

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #197 on: June 22, 2013, 09:36:02 PM »
The reason to work is that you want more than 20k, as the vast majority of people do.  There's already enough money generated by the economy to implement it tomorrow morning, especially considering that you would eliminate SS, medicare, snap, tanf, etc.

There is currently a serious jobs shortage and it's only going to get worse.   The workforce participation rate is going down, period.  We must come up with a system to still provide for people as the world further automates.   My solution is mandatory minimum income, yours may very well be soylent green...

prosaic

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #198 on: June 23, 2013, 06:02:04 AM »
I disagree with people who say that SNAP abusers are the exception.  I saw two more women this weekend using SNAP.  One had a coach coin purse (real).  The other had a Luis Vuitton handbag (likely fake, but still).  SNAP is a joke.


You can find Coach purses at Savers/Goodwill/Salvation Army for $2 or less occasionally. I have a collection of about 6 Coach purses from used stores.

My example is about as generalizable as yours. Which is to say neither is.

randymarsh

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Re: Middle class and broke article
« Reply #199 on: June 23, 2013, 11:43:41 AM »
I disagree with people who say that SNAP abusers are the exception.  I saw two more women this weekend using SNAP.  One had a coach coin purse (real).  The other had a Luis Vuitton handbag (likely fake, but still).  SNAP is a joke.


And what if they had purchased those items before ever receiving SNAP? Were they supposed to immediately sell/throw them away immediately upon receiving their SNAP card? That way, they'd look poor enough and therefore qualify for our pity and assistance?