Monday, April 25, 2011

Birther-bagger nonsense

I don't think I'd want to bag that.

The most dangerous birther-baggers are the ones with power. And the most dangerous one of all seems to be Paul D. Ryan, lead formulator of countless attacks against the welfare state in the name of solvency. I have a bone to pick with one of their arguments, namely: "Why should we raise taxes on the wealthy when they already pay the most taxes relative to their income?" I deny this argument because it doesn't take into account the marginal benefit of a dollar across socioeconomic classes.

We can say that the American Dream is to continuously climb the social ladder. There are numerous benefits with this. You get to drive a nicer car, live in a better house and neighborhood with your richer peers, as well as look down and occasionally point and laugh at those less fortunate, all in good fun since they didn't have the foresight to invest in AsiaTech at the right time or go to Yale or some cruel shit like that.

I'm not pulling the following quintile figures from my ass, however unpleasant that would be, but rather found them here for the year 2009 from the Census Bureau. I'm going to use them as a subsitute for fluid and subjective class definitions:

1st (working poor) - $0 -> $20 453 (3.4% of income)
2nd (working class) - $20 454 -> $38 550 (8.6%)
3rd (blue collar) - $38 551 -> $61 801 (14.6%)
4th (middle class) - $61 802 -> $100 000 (23.2%)
5th (upper middle)- $100 001 -> (50.3%)
Upper 5% - $201 000 -> (21.5%)

If we calculate the range of each class, we get:

1st - 20 543
2nd - 18096
3rd - 23250
4th - 38198
5th and Upper 5% - 101000

So, in my view of things, the marginal benefit of each dollar, the true measure of another dollar's usefulness, is how much closer it can get you to the next socioeconomic class. This measure would be even more useful with income decile data [reader challenge: find some reliable and recent decile data].

The formula would be (# of dollars) over (current socioeconomic range). If we let the poor have more money instead of taxing them and cutting social benefits, let's say that we increase their benefits by $100 dollars, we're going to have effected a 100/20543 = 0.5% class change in their case. But if we give that same $100 dollars to the upper-middle class person, that's only a 0.1% change in their class status, and that's not even a desirable change. A poor person is also more likely to spend that money and stimulate the economy, as opposed to the rich who use banknotes in their fireplaces because the quality of heat is better.

Personal income should be taxed to the point that the government is solvent and the marginal benefit of a dollar is equal to everybody. Here's some supporting documentation.

That's my argument against Paul Ryan's proposed tax cuts and social welfare cuts, and against the whole theory of tricklers* in general. It's a little juvenile, I guess. It's a shame we don't live in the good old days where you were simply born into a social class and didn't have to worry about motility.

*trickler - a proponent of trickle-down economics; part of the birther-bagger-trickler complex and a close relative of the dingler**

**dingler - a Republican kiss-ass