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Workable Socialism II : What is to be done?

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53 minutes ago, DMC said:

There are endless possibilities to work around this so the "gift" is not incurred on one's estate totals.  Buy your kid a car, or give your mom a credit card and pay the balance, or pay your brother's rent.  If you're giving someone over $10k a year, it's probably a close family member, which means this is circumvented, like, 99.9% of the time.  Also, according to this (which was the first google result for "gift tax"), the annual exclusion is $15k, not 10:

 

Ding ding ding. There are so many ways to move money around, especially if numerous people all agree to a system that works. And it’s 100% legal.

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3 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Can we agree on a definition of “rich”?  Doesn’t it vary depending on the circumstances of each individual?  Or are we hitting on the “heap paradox” again?

Perhaps there is a floor we can agree is “rich” (income of $1,000,000.00 per year or total assets in excess of $10,000,000.00 for example) then below those levels individual circumstances should be considered?

No Scot, we really can’t. Rich is relative.

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1 hour ago, Tywin et al. said:

No Scot, we really can’t. Rich is relative.

To me anyone with more than $50,000 in savings is rich.  Anyone making over $120k a year for sure.  Definitely relative. 

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18 minutes ago, larrytheimp said:

To me anyone with more than $50,000 in savings is rich.  Anyone making over $120k a year for sure.  Definitely relative. 

Indeed. The example that popped into my head was one of my cousins. He's a very wealth IP lawyer, but I bet the tech billionaires he occasionally interacts with don't view him as rich at all.

If we're going to agree on something, it's not about the wealth directly. It's that the wealthy person in one way, shape or form was extremely lucky.

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24 minutes ago, larrytheimp said:

To me anyone with more than $50,000 in savings is rich.  Anyone making over $120k a year for sure.  Definitely relative. 

Does that include anyone with 50k invested in housing? 

To me that is a pretty low bar, it’s barely even comfortable.

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9 minutes ago, Heartofice said:

Does that include anyone with 50k invested in housing? 

To me that is a pretty low bar, it’s barely even comfortable.

And yet that's how the bulk of the world lives.  

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7 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

I’m not claiming “need” I’m asking if we’re going to have all property owed by anyone escheat to the State upon their death?

I’m pointing out that with a unified Estate and Gift Tax such a system (everything belongs to the State when we die) would necessitate banning the giving of all gifts to be effective.  I seem to recall point this out before years ago.  

No need for a dedicated Estate Tax; just don't exempt it from regular income tax. Though an annual tax-exempt gift allowance like the US has now seems reasonable. And income tax should be highly progressive, with the lowest bracket being tax-free, and the highest (say above one million?) being 100%. So the amount a person can inherit would be limited to well under a million, with the excess going to the state. Everyone should be automatically entitled to a loan at minimal interest rates to pay tax on gifted assets (eg houses), with minimum repayments tied to income.

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3 hours ago, larrytheimp said:

To me anyone with more than $50,000 in savings is rich.  Anyone making over $120k a year for sure.  Definitely relative. 

It depends a lot on where you live. In San Francisco or New York City or similar places, $50K won't amount to a 10% down payment on a decent apartment (mind you, apartment, not house). Similarly, in some places, $120K per year is approximately the low income threshold.

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4 hours ago, Altherion said:

It depends a lot on where you live. In San Francisco or New York City or similar places, $50K won't amount to a 10% down payment on a decent apartment (mind you, apartment, not house). Similarly, in some places, $120K per year is approximately the low income threshold.

Sure, I'd just point out those figures are for families, not individuals.  And my point was that these things are relative.

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Posted (edited)

this work has been done. we have basic definitions of poverty that are seasonably updated, related to eligibility thresholds for certain public assistance programs.  the tax code also phases out certain deductions and credits and exemptions at income thresholds at the other end.  either of these items could serve as starting points for these sort of definitions, and then they could be adjusted as per a geographic locality rule, such as that used in OPM's salary adjustments. 

that said, these sorts of income thresholds rely upon a weberian definition of class, which arises out of a patterns of consumption, as determined by one's access to markets for credit, labor, and goods.it has the simplistic appeal of being denominated in units of currency, but is misleading for the reasons hinted at in this thread: at which point does incremental quantitative change transform qualitatively? because it is difficult to draw the line at any particular point, a modern zeno's paradox might be invoked to suggest that no line at all can be drawn between bezos and one of his part-time warehouse employees. the reliance on weber here is misguided, it seems, as socialism as envisioned by its adherents is not merely about the simple redistribution of assets but rather class power and control of the state.

the weberian model is probably more useful in that context than the durkheimian one, which tracks relationships to employment patterns--but both are inferior to a marxist definition of class that tracks relationships to patterns of production.  state power is not really a relevant consideration if all we're discussing is whether someone is blue or white collar (durkhiem) or whether someone prefers opera to nascar (weber); it is relevant however when we're discussing entire blocs of persons suddenly becoming part of a reserve army of unemployed laborers in a state where public assistance is not provided, all because of global production patterns changing. 

Edited by sologdin

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1 hour ago, sologdin said:

this work has been done. we have basic definitions of poverty that are seasonably updated, related to eligibility thresholds for certain public assistance programs.  the tax code also phases out certain deductions and credits and exemptions at income thresholds at the other end.  either of these items could serve as starting points for these sort of definitions, and then they could be adjusted as per a geographic locality rule, such as that used in OPM's salary adjustments. 

that said, these sorts of income thresholds rely upon a weberian definition of class, which arises out of a patterns of consumption, as determined by one's access to markets for credit, labor, and goods.it has the simplistic appeal of being denominated in units of currency, but is misleading for the reasons hinted at in this thread: at which point does incremental quantitative change transform qualitatively? because it is difficult to draw the line at any particular point, a modern zeno's paradox might be invoked to suggest that no line at all can be drawn between bezos and one of his part-time warehouse employees. the reliance on weber here is misguided, it seems, as socialism as envisioned by its adherents is not merely about the simple redistribution of assets but rather class power and control of the state.

the weberian model is probably more useful in that context than the durkheimian one, which tracks relationships to employment patterns--but both are inferior to a marxist definition of class that tracks relationships to patterns of production.  state power is not really a relevant consideration if all we're discussing is whether someone is blue or white collar (durkhiem) or whether someone prefers opera to nascar (weber); it is relevant however when we're discussing entire blocs of persons suddenly becoming part of a reserve army of unemployed laborers in a state where public assistance is not provided, all because of global production patterns changing. 

I was thinking about some of this in regards to Bourdieu's Distinction which I began reading during the spring. This is tangential to Distinction, but the book got me thinking about the problem the U.S. has where middle and working class people vote against their self-interest by voting for policies that favor the rich. It's certainly an illustration of how cultural hegemony works--the values of the elite become the values of the culture--but also, I wonder if this voting against self interests is truly about "well, I might get rich one day too." I mean, that's part of it, but for many of these people, capital is not so much the money they possess, but their declaration of character in line with the elite. Working hard, not complaining, the Judaeo Christian work ethic. This becomes the "capital" used to judge the worthiness of the working and middle class. Of course, those truly in poverty can not trade in this capital, and as that segment of the population grows, the facade of character as capital is stripped away. 

I was thinking about something Bernie said the other day about how the wages of the majority of U.S. workers has not changed at all since the 60s (longer still) while the elite's capital has ballooned massively. This puts the working class and middle class into the same position as the working poor: the facade of cultural hegemony, I believe, is being stripped away. The vote for Trump was indicative of this (though he was a con man who duped the people realizing that trading in character wasn't helpful anymore). I'd actually be interested if more work has been done on how Trump accomplished maintaining the status quo of the elite by seizing the votes of the working class. How did he dupe them so fantastically when he is literally the embodiment of the elite who controlled politicians all along?

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On 7/12/2019 at 1:00 PM, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Can we agree on a definition of “rich”?  Doesn’t it vary depending on the circumstances of each individual?  Or are we hitting on the “heap paradox” again?

Perhaps there is a floor we can agree is “rich” (income of $1,000,000.00 per year or total assets in excess of $10,000,000.00 for example) then below those levels individual circumstances should be considered?

How about we let the dead keep all that they can take with them into the grave.

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46 minutes ago, maarsen said:

How about we let the dead keep all that they can take with them into the grave.

Okay, are you saying no one can pass anything to anyone when they die, or, are you saying Estates over a certain amount should escheat to the State?

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1 hour ago, maarsen said:

How about we let the dead keep all that they can take with them into the grave.

What is dead may never die, but raises again harder and stronger in an offshore tax haven.

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7 hours ago, sologdin said:

this work has been done. we have basic definitions of poverty that are seasonably updated, related to eligibility thresholds for certain public assistance programs.  the tax code also phases out certain deductions and credits and exemptions at income thresholds at the other end.  either of these items could serve as starting points for these sort of definitions, and then they could be adjusted as per a geographic locality rule, such as that used in OPM's salary adjustments. 

that said, these sorts of income thresholds rely upon a weberian definition of class, which arises out of a patterns of consumption, as determined by one's access to markets for credit, labor, and goods.it has the simplistic appeal of being denominated in units of currency, but is misleading for the reasons hinted at in this thread: at which point does incremental quantitative change transform qualitatively? because it is difficult to draw the line at any particular point, a modern zeno's paradox might be invoked to suggest that no line at all can be drawn between bezos and one of his part-time warehouse employees. the reliance on weber here is misguided, it seems, as socialism as envisioned by its adherents is not merely about the simple redistribution of assets but rather class power and control of the state.

the weberian model is probably more useful in that context than the durkheimian one, which tracks relationships to employment patterns--but both are inferior to a marxist definition of class that tracks relationships to patterns of production.  state power is not really a relevant consideration if all we're discussing is whether someone is blue or white collar (durkhiem) or whether someone prefers opera to nascar (weber); it is relevant however when we're discussing entire blocs of persons suddenly becoming part of a reserve army of unemployed laborers in a state where public assistance is not provided, all because of global production patterns changing. 

Well, I have no desire to run the state, other than the amount necessary to accomplish the work, and I'm mostly concerned with redistribution schemes. At the same time, I don't want to subvert democracy, either. I'd rather free it up further, and see where it goes. I am concerned though with blunting the power of big money in politics.

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38 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Okay, are you saying no one can pass anything to anyone when they die, or, are you saying Estates over a certain amount should escheat to the State?

Progressive taxation is something even most conservatives agree on.
Simply go back to 1950s tax rates. The estate tax was around 75% in the US for thirty years after World War II. Surely it can't be said that the US was socialist during the Cold War, right?
 

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1 minute ago, Rippounet said:

Progressive taxation is something even most conservatives agree on.
Simply go back to 1950s tax rates. The estate tax was around 75% in the US for thirty years after World War II. Surely it can't be said that the US was socialist during the Cold War, right?
 

Yes.  You miss my point.  I’m simply confirming we are talking about progressive taxation and not all property escheating to the State when we die which is what

How about we let the dead keep all that they can take with them into the grave.

implies.

 

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