Re: Dave's Denial

From: Jeff Bone (
Date: Mon Mar 26 2001 - 11:21:34 PST

Dave Long wrote:

> I apologize for the prior wording; here's a better version:
> A/ The progressive tax system perpetuates/increases a wealth gap, because
> B/ it penalizes a certain demographic which Jeff has identified, as
> C/ they must work several times as hard to double net gain,
> .../
> F/ but the uber-rich invest instead of paying taxes
> A if F, but F contradicts A.
> (see below for discussion of C)

If by progressive you mean that, unavoidably, more income means more taxes,
with no additional loopholes or avoidance strategies for the highest income
levels, then you're right --- F contradicts A. But that's the heart of my
assertion: that our progressive system is progressive across the range in
theory, but only progressive across a portion of the range in effect.

So here's our problem: when I say "progressive tax system," I'm sometimes
using that term literally / theoretically and sometimes using it as
synonymous with "our existing tax system." I'll argue that true progressive
taxes literally (and obviously) are unfair. That's one argument. I'll then
agree that there's a Matthew effect, and I'll say that it's the result of our
progressive tax system --- but in this context, I'm really saying it's the
result of our imperfect not-literally-progressive tax system with its top-end
loopholes and avoidance strategies.

My fault for the inconsistency.

> I synthesized the argument in the belief that you
> don't knowingly make inconsistent assertions.

Oh, but I don't know if that's a safe belief for you to have. ;-)

> Upon seeing:
> 1/ Progressive taxes are evil
> 2/ FairTax(sm) is good
> I can say "wrong, but JB-consistent".

I like it --- "JB-consistent." "Zecious-Complete." ;-)

> I have to wonder "correct, but why do G & J agree,
> since J's #1 and #2 aren't consistent with #3?"

I don't think I ever said I agreed with G --- IIRC, *you* said that. ;-)
Hell, though, who cares? I'm not seeing the inconsistency between #1, #2,
and #3. But I'm pretty much done with this one except for kicking the
horse's dead body a bit. ;-)

> Finally, seeing:
> 4/ Progressive taxes perpetuate and
> increase the Matthew effect
> I must say "false", by semantics.

I would agree that theoretically-pure progressive taxation could not by
definition increase the Matthew effect. (Does that EFFIN' MAKE YOU HAPPY,
DAVE? ;-) But we don't have theoretically-pure progressive taxation. Again,
that's the heart of the argument, and something you haven't done anything to

> C would be true, if E were true, but doubling
> gross income doesn't require working twice as
> hard. Luckier, and smarter, are alternatives
> to harder.

Now, this is complete hocus.

You really can't rely on luck. As for probably anybody on this list, working
as we do with ideas, smarter = harder. I may not work as "hard" on some
level as, say, a construction worker --- I'm only humping 2x8's on my days
off for H4H, gasp, yes, Jeff is charitable --- but there's a whole different
kind of "hard" involved in managing competitive situations and intel,
creating relationships and building deals, managing strategy, putting teams
together, prioritizing, keeping teams pulled together and
appropriately-tacked, anticipating and managing changes which impact your
business, managing perceptions, etc. The gestalt moments probably are *not*
the result of hard work per se; but to quote another favorite famous Tom
"genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
While I would never be so immodest as to claim genius, I believe that
statement is true even of the rest of us; even more-so weighted towards
perspiration, perhaps. A similar and more applicable statement, one which
maps well to my observation of how things work, would be: "success is one
percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration."

At least, that was true except during the bubble. Tip-O'-Hat to Beberg.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Apr 27 2001 - 23:14:55 PDT