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BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company…

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: It's our policies and our politics that have shaped our economy, and shaped it in ways that have not served most Americans. And an important part of those policies are our tax policies.

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. We continue our conversation with Joseph Stiglitz, who’s one of the world’s most influential economists, the man who has been most often cited by his colleagues in the field. He’s a Nobel laureate, and he’s mad as hell, infuriated by America’s growing inequality as those at the top buy the politicians who write the rules that rig the system. He’s especially angry at how the tax code has been manipulated and abused to place the burden on the earners of ordinary income, instead of on the rich and powerful most able to pay.   But Joseph Stiglitz says there are solutions. Here’s what he told us in our last episode:   JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: We have a tax system that reflects not the interest of the middle. We have a tax system that reflects the interest of the one percent.   And I want to do is create a tax system that has incentives to create jobs. And if you tell a corporation, look it, if you don't create jobs, you're taking out of our system, you're not putting back, you're going to pay a high tax. But if you put back into our system by investing, then you can get your tax rate down.   They're willing to take but not to give back.

BILL MOYERS: And now Joseph Stiglitz has come up with a plan for reform, a 27-page white paper for the Roosevelt Institute here in New York City, where he’s a senior fellow. Its proposals could make the tax code fair, address our fiscal problems, shrink inequality, and help rebuild our country.   Whatever else you do this summer, read it.  Then, this fall, ask the candidates for Congress where you live if they have read it, too.   Joseph Stiglitz, welcome back.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: It’s nice to be back.

BILL MOYERS: You said in a recent speech, “An economic system that only delivers for the very top is a failed economic system.” You were pronouncing judgment: America's economy has failed. Has our system failed?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Unfortunately, that's what the numbers say. The median income of the American, median means half above, half below, median American today is lower than it was almost a quarter a century ago. Our economy has grown over the quarter century. Let's be clear about that.

In a particular sense, but all of that growth has gone to the top. So you look at the middle, they've stagnated. And if you look at, say, an important demographic group, males, median income of a full-time male worker today is lower than it was 40 years ago.

BILL MOYERS: 1972 I think you say.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: Amazing.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: It's amazing. And Americans have not yet grasped the reality of where we are. That our economic system has not been delivering for most Americans. And the fact that this has been true and that we have no longer a country where there's opportunity, where the life prospects of a young person are so dependent on the income and education of his parents, means that our view of the way our economic system works has to change.

My view is that these are not inevitable. These are not just the result of the laws of economics. You know if it were just inevitable, just the laws of economics, you'd sit back as an economist, you'd say, well, that's the way it is. You know, that's, nature didn't deal us a good hand.

But the same laws of economics are operating in other countries that have done better for their typical citizen, that have provided more opportunity for more of their citizens. So it's not a result of our, of laws of economics. Or at least not a result of the laws of economics alone. It's the way our, it's our policies and our politics that have shaped our economy, and shaped it in ways that have not served most Americans. And an important part of those policies are our tax policies.

BILL MOYERS: Can you fix a point where inequality becomes unconscionable?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: It's not just the level of equality, it's the form of inequality, the nature of inequality, the sources of inequality. So, for instance, give you two aspects of America's inequality that I find particularly unacceptable.

Corporate CEOs, that we were talking before, rather than making a more, a better product, spend their time lobbying to get their tax rates down. The bottom line is the same, if you make a better product or if you get your taxes down. It may be easier to lobby your Congressman than to produce a better product. The result of that? A weaker economy, an unfair politics undermining democracy, more inequality. But that's the direction we've been going.

So that's one example of what I call the unconscionable inequality. When it comes out of that kind of way that you can get the larger piece of the pie, not by making the pie bigger but by taking a bigger slice of an existing pie. The second aspect that is really been troubling about American inequality is the lack of equality of opportunity.

And the problem is that inequality of outcome typically translates into inequality of opportunity. America likes to think of itself as the land of opportunity, the American dream. The statistics show that America is among the advanced countries with the least equality of opportunity. It’s something that’s hard for us to accept, it's something hard for others to accept. But that's what the numbers show.

BILL MOYERS: So this is why Thomas Piketty in his book, "Capital in the 21st Century," is concerned about this enormous transfer of wealth that is about to happen from all the billionaires and multi-millionaires transferring their money to the next generation.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: That's right. And a quite legitimate concern that we are creating a new plutocracy. And so what I've been trying to argue in this paper is that doesn't have to be. We can have a tax system that can help create a fairer society. Only ask the people at the top to pay their fair share. It's not asking a lot. It's just saying, you know, those in the top one percent shouldn't be paying a lower tax rate than somebody much further down the scale. Shouldn't have the opportunity to move his money offshore and keep it in an unlimited IRA account.

And that’s what really what my work has been about, to try to explain what's going on, to try to explain that it's not inevitable, that it's not just a matter of economics, that it is a matter of policies and politics, that there are alternatives.

But that they won't happen on their own. That there are strong forces political forces trying to grab a larger share of the economic pie to exacerbate the already present distortions to favor the upper one percent. And that unless the others get together and try to act as a countervailing force things won't change.

BILL MOYERS: Wouldn't they be arguing that, well, they pay a lot more taxes because they do make this money and why they shouldn't be able to keep as much as they have, are keeping after they paid their share.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, that's the problem. They haven't paid their share. The point is that they're getting, say, the top one percent gets 22.5 percent of the income. That doesn't really fully include all these unrealized capital gains. So, it really doesn't really capture the full degree of inequality. The question is because they are so wealthy, they have the ability to pay an even larger share of the taxes to our country. But instead they're using their money to avoid paying taxes. You know, these offshore tax havens are not something that we need to make our economy grow.

We have a wonderful financial center in New York. It's wonderful both at what it does and what it doesn't do. But it certainly has the capacity of doing what any financial center offshore in the Cayman Islands.

I've never heard anybody say, oh, you know, the Cayman Islands really has a capability of managing money much better than New York. You know, those people in New York just don't know how to do those things.

BILL MOYERS: You say that we could stop these tax havens overnight. How?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, you know, we did that, something almost, very similar after 9/11. We realized that these tax havens were also being used for funneling money to terrorists. And we started figuring out what they were doing and we put the pressure on them and that stopped almost overnight. Now I was giving a talk on one occasion to, in one of these tax havens. And I don't know why, but they sometimes invite me to give a lecture. Maybe they think that it's a penance for their sins. So I was telling them how bad it was for the global economy, especially bad for developing countries because these tax havens are also used for corruption, money laundering, narcotics, you know, all of these kinds of things.

And after my talk a couple of the bankers came up to me and said, you know, you got us wrong. We don't do money laundering. We don't do corruption, we don't do narcotics. We just do tax avoidance. And that was their business model. And it gives a mindset of what this is about. And totally unnecessary. These off shore tax havens exist to avoid taxes and to avoid regulations and the other things that, so it's avoiding responsibility.

I want to put it in a broader context. Corporations, are corporations. People, should we treat corp-- you know, the point is that what the Supreme Court decision of saying corporations have the right to contribute to campaigns as if they were people. But the interesting thing is while we give them those rights, we haven't made them, given them those responsibilities. If when corporations do misdeeds, we typically don't hold them accountable. Look what the corporations, the banks did to our economy in 2008. Have they been held responsible? Not really.

So what we're saying is, oh they ought to have free speech, they ought to have the right to contribute unlimited amounts to distort our politics. But, by the way, once they do something wrong like create a financial, global financial crisis, we'll just give them more money. We won't make them accountable or their officers accountable for what they did.

BILL MOYERS: There was a remarkable moment in an interview that Jon Stewart did with Timothy Geithner about Geithner's new book. And there's a moment in which Geithner says we had to save them from their mistakes. They didn't pay for their mistakes. The country did.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Exactly. And, you know, he makes a very big point about saying they paid back all the money. Well, first of all, there was a shell game. The Federal Reserve lends the money at close to zero interest rates. They lend the money back to the government at much higher interest rates.

Look it, if the government lent me hundreds of billions of dollars at a zero interest rate, I, too, could become a wealthy person by just investing in government bonds. This doesn't take a genius, a 12 year old could do it. And yet, they walked off with bonuses for doing that. And they used that money to help pay back the government. So this is a kind of shell game that would do any con artist proud. But when somebody brought, you know, makes an accident, somebody gets injured, what we did was analogous to: we take the perpetrator, the guy who was the drunk driver to the hospital, but we leave the guy that has been hit on the street.

And then we say, oh, by the way, you don't have to pay for any damage that you've done. So even after they paid back the government the real question is who's responsible for all the damage that's been done to our economy? The people have lost their job, that lost their home? The banks haven't paid back a cent of that liability. And that's a real corporate responsibility.

BILL MOYERS: So, how did you come to bring this sense of moral responsibility to the study of economics, this notion of a social contract? Was there a defining fork in the road?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Probably was no defining fork in the road. I had the good fortune, you might say, of growing up in Gary, Indiana. An industrial town. Most people would say, that's not good fortune. But it was good fortune in that it exposed me to the real America.

My mother was a primary school teacher. Dedicated. They were both very both dedicated. And, but Gary was an industrial city, marked by a lot of poverty, discrimination, episodic unemployment, business cycle going up and down. You couldn't help but feel that the market economy, capitalism, wasn't working quite the way that some of the people who say it's this wonder of wonders.

When I was an undergraduate at Amherst College I had thought I was going to be a physics major, theoretical physics. I really loved mathematics, loved trying to understand how the world worked. In my junior year I said, you know, what really motivates me is trying to understand our social problems, our economic problems, I want to become an economist.

Then I went to MIT, and never lost that original motivation for being an economist even as I was working on some very abstract, abstruse, mathematical economics issues about the consequences of asymmetry of information.

It was all partly to try to understand why do we have so much unemployment? Why do we have discrimination? Why is the world that some economists depict, something that works like a clock, beautifully, why is that not right? Why is that so inconsistent with the world that I see? And so, that was always in the back of my mind as I was working on these more abstruse theories. And--

BILL MOYERS: So, is that the heart of what you call, or is called asymmetrical information, that contributed to your receiving the, your work in, that brought about the Noble Prize?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: That's right.

BILL MOYERS: Asymmetrical information. What is that?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: It's that some people know something that other people don't know. Very simple idea. But the whole theory of perfect markets that the devotees of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, and all these people who think that markets work perfect, totally ignored.

So, the idea was that markets where people have different information, where some people know more than others, where markets work imperfectly, are fundamentally different from this world that they had described, where there was perfect information. You know, if worlds were perfect information, wouldn't be any discrimination, there wouldn't be any of this monopolies and all, you know, those kinds of perfections are not part of the world that we live in. And so what my research did is to help clarify, and with other people's research, help clarify why our economy doesn't work quite so smoothly as the advocates of free markets have claimed.

Why we had a crisis in 2008. You know, that's not the way market economies are supposed to operate. Why it is, you know, the basic law of economics is you have supply and demand. With supply, the law of supply and demand, there's not supposed to be unemployment.

You know, we have 20 million Americans who would like a full-time job but can't get one. We have an economy where, you know, in 2009, '10 we were throwing people out of houses. We had homeless people and empty homes. That's not the way a market economy is supposed to operate. There's so many aspects that are so central to our economy that seem out of sync with that theory of perfect markets.

And the evidence is so overwhelming that our markets don't work perfectly, that markets can and are an important force. But we have to shape markets. Come back to our theme of taxes, taxes are one of the ways we shape markets.

If our tax system says speculation is going to be taxed at a lower rate, you're going to get more speculation. If our tax system says if you keep your money abroad, you don't have to pay taxes, you're going to get more money abroad and you're going to get less job creation inside America. If your taxes say we want to encourage real investments in America, then you can get more investment in America. So I'm an economist who believes that incentives matter. But I also believe that you have to shape incentives and that markets on their own don't necessarily shape them the right way.

And that when we have a distorted tax system, distorted by a distorted political system that has given a huge amount of weight to the upper one percent, to the corporations, then that kind of distorted political system leads to a distorted tax system, which leads to a distorted economic system, which leads to an economy that is not performing as well for most Americans.

BILL MOYERS: There’s a quiet urgency in this white paper. I also read an excerpt of your speech when you received the Daniel Moynihan Prize for social science research. And you said in that speech that this country is at another pivotal moment in history. What do you mean by that?

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Well, what I was referring to at that moment was there had been two periods in our history where inequality had risen to what I thought was an unconscionable level. The Gilded Age, the end the 19th century. And the roaring '20s, right before the Great Depression. In both of those instances we stepped back from the brink. We realized where we were going as a country. We said, that's not where we want to go.

And the Gilded Age was followed by the Progressive Era, anti-trust policies trying to get at the monopolies, getting at the, some of the sources of this inequality that was undermining our society. The roaring '20s was followed by the legislation creating social security, created labor legislation that, minimum wages, maximum hours. Lots of things that we take for granted now but are a part of our social fabric.

The question I asked was inequality has now gotten back to the level, that peak that it had back in 1928 before the Great Depression. Got back to that same level back 2008. So, the question I posed at that point was will we, again, pull back from the brink like we did at the end of the 19th century, like we did in the roaring '20s? I'm hopeful. But there's one note of caution.

And that is, have our politics changed? Have decisions like Citizens United changed the power of money so that the inequalities in income and wealth that are so great today translate into more political inequality than they did? That's an open question. And in my mind that's what this battle is about.

BILL MOYERS: Joseph Stiglitz, there's a lot more in these 27 pages than we have touched on in our time together. We have posted your paper, "Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity" on our website and urge people to download it and read it whole. Meanwhile, thank you for joining me and sharing your time and your ideas.

JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ: Thank you very much.

BILL MOYERS: There’s much more about tax reform and Joseph Stiglitz at our website, BillMoyers.com. I’ll see you there, and I’ll see you here, next time.

Encore: How Tax Reform Can Save the Middle Class

August 28, 2014

This week’s show originally aired on June 6, 2014.

In America right now inequality is too great, unemployment too high, public investments too meager, corporations too greedy and the tax code too biased toward the very rich.

But the Nobel Laureate economist Joseph E. Stiglitz says it doesn’t have to be this way. He has a new plan for overhauling America’s current tax system, which he says contributes to making America the most unequal society of the advanced countries.

“We can have a tax system that can help create a fairer society,” Stiglitz tells Bill in the second part of their conversation. “Only ask the people at the top to pay their fair share. It’s not asking a lot. It’s just saying the top 1% shouldn’t be paying a lower tax rate than somebody much further down the scale – [they] shouldn’t have the opportunity to move money offshore and keep it in an unlimited IRA account.”

Stiglitz believes that taxes should incentivize corporations to act in ways that benefit our country. “If your taxes say we want to encourage real investments in America, then you get real investment in America… But I also believe that you have to shape incentives and that markets on their own don’t necessarily shape them the right way.”

The economist concludes that the barriers to solving our problems are political, not economic, and we can change what’s wrong if enough of us insist.

Watch part one of Bill’s interview with Stiglitz »

Producer: Candace White. Segment Producer: Robert Booth. Editor: Rob Kuhns. Intro & Outro Producer: Robert Booth. Intro & Outro Editor: Rob Kuhns.

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  • HopeWFaith

    Excellent, excellent, excellent!

    Thank you, Bill. Another segment on how to turn this crashing bus around, and save all its occupants from going over that cliff again and again. Great work.

  • HopeWFaith

    Sometimes, just like a frustrated parent, I wish we could all just get that switch off that leaning tree, and take it after all those boards of directors who simply never deal with tragic financial problems. It seems to me they all need a good dose of sound karma.

  • Guest
  • Anonymous

    Asymmetrics huh? What could Modern Monetary Theory adherence do to correct this entire conundrum? Taxes control inflation. The House should designate where the money needs to go and the distribution simply is administered by the “government.” Less government is not the answer. More empathy is. While all men are created equal, their opportunities in life are clearly not. As human being we should see this and make allowances. At the end of the day we would all be better off.

  • http://www.glitzqueen.com Erin Harris

    Oh, dear! Even your esteemed guest, at whose knee (along with your own) I’ve learned so much in recent years, is now backing off and calling our utter ruin “an open question”. Why? If there’s any way it could be bloody worse, I don’t see how.

  • Daar Fisher

    The problem is one NO ONE speaks about, namely taxing income / payrolls. Passed in 1913, the income tax, and its proliferating (corrupted) tax code, has been responsible for holding back the Lows and the Middles from acquiring wealth. One has only to look at what implementing a “progressive consumption tax” [#FairTax® Act] would do to solve such things as: income inequality, minimum wage problems [through both an immediately higher paychecks, plus a "monthly stimulus" payment to all resident households], and guarantee that the rich would pay their fair share. The research is voluminous, and compelling: http://www.scribd.com/doc/98067394/Synopsis-of-FairTax-Research-Conclusions

  • http://www.freewebs.com/compuaid/index.htm Ather

    “Only ask the people at the top to pay their fair share. It’s not asking a lot.”

    Yeah, it is asking a lot. We’ve asked and asked, and that’s the answer we’re given. It’s class warfare. You’re godless, unAmerican socilaist, heathens. Money, money, money, money, money.”

  • David F., N.A.

    I wonder what Mr. Stiglitz thinks about how the Dodd-Frank bill had handled the Volcker Rule (reinstating Glass-Steagall rules). To me, the Democrats had a perfect chance to insert it into their bill, but they chose to kick the can down the road by letting the FDIC redefine it (water it down) at a much, much later date (maybe we’ll see something with Volcker in the title in a decade or two).

  • U Mad Bro?

    Now show us YOUR nobel price and your educational background, then we might give some credence to you. Until then, we’ll listen to the educated guy and not the Internet Troll.

  • John Klein

    David: my personal opinion is that anyone who still thinks it’s the fault of one party or the other, is simply tone-deaf and completely out of touch with the income inequality and taxation issue. Both party BENEFIT from the current system – it is not a partisan issue even though the Republicans get a lot of the blame. Obama is has been very weak but that’s because he’s part of the broken system.

  • Robert Rundle

    Stiglitz’s white paper presents an excellent rationale for tax reform and examples of useful changes. As important as these are, I am disappointed by the narrowness of his view. It reminds me of the eminent theologian John Dominic Crossan’s view of Pope Francis. At a workshop I attended, he noted that Francis’s values and actions seem admirable. But he thought it does not matter a great deal who the new pope is. The degree of corruption in the Church makes it extremely hard for any pope to create needed changes.
    Tax reform is a very important piece for improving our economy. But the larger problem is our corrupt economy that almost all of us support to some degree. This corruption flows naturally from a system whose central focus is to make more money for those with money. I certainly wish success for Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty and others building the case for tax reform. But I seriously doubt they will get far without broader changes.
    I contrast Stiglitz’s views to those of David Korten and Gar Alperovitz.. Korten notes we must recognize our own involvement in supporting our dominant economic institutions and learn how we can strengthen the beginnings of a new economy largely unhooked from Wall St. influence. The 2nd edition of Korten’s “Agenda for a New Economy” lays out a frame for assessing Stiglitz’s views as well as general strategies for creating a local based economy. Alperovitz’s book “What Then Must We Do?” describes ways we are already changing our economy.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I just had to comment on a question you posed to Mr. Stiglitz. You asserted, “well aren’t they (the 1%) right, because they pay more in taxes?”
    I realize you play the Devil’s advocate sometimes, and maybe that was one of those times. Clearly, that bogus line has been used over and over again to justify maintaining the current economy and fraudulently call it capitalism. It’s the flip side of the other bogus argument that goes, “we haven’t the right to take their money away from them because it is theirs.”

  • Chip

    His proposals will continue the destruction of our economy. He would make the USA an even less attractive place to do business than it is today. How will that help us compete more effectively in what is now a truly global economy?

  • Anonymous

    Link to the White Papers?

  • integrityco

    Chip – we have the strongest currency in the world. All other countries must base their business on the strength of the dollar. For this reason many dislike us. What makes the dollar strong is the strong middle class. However, the middle class is dropping. A true indicator of economic health is based on the upward mobility factor. The existing tax structure is destroying the middle class economic health. Example: average small business owner pays a minimum of 30% in state and fed taxes. Mitt Romney told us he paid 14%. this is a big inequity and slows down growth with small businesses. Adding to this is economics by regulations. Large corps create (via lobbyist) regulations that stifle the growth of potential competition, small business.

    All large corps we see today started out as small business. All have had some kind of government funding or “corporate welfare”.

  • Anonymous

    Download the entire report, “Reforming Taxation to Promote Growth and Equity,” which also includes Stiglitz’s plan for reforming the individual income tax.

    http://rooseveltinstitute.org/sites/all/files/Stiglitz_Reforming_Taxation_White_Paper_Roosevelt_Institute.pdf

  • Jonah Thinketh

    Well, even electing a people’s super-ticket of Sanders+Warren wouldn’t change anything. Unless we open our eyes, get together and build a citizen’s coalition that can send true representatives to Washington and to all State legislatures to pass the legislation necessary, we can’t affect change. This is how we may be able to convince the Texas, Carolinas and Georgias of this world to vote sensibly. Untill then it will be wishful-thinking.

  • moderator

    Hi Jim,

    Under the “From The Web” section you will now find a link to the white paper.

    thanks,
    Moderator

  • Jim Cooper

    THANK YOU! it took me a couple of minutes to find the “From the Web” section (!) on the left hand sidebar, down near the bottom. Always nice to read the original source material. :)

  • Chip

    Here is the Stiglitz position in a nutshell. Companies are taking investment and jobs overseas in order to get lower costs, lower taxes, and less regulation. Therefore we should increase their costs, increase their taxes, and add even more burdensome regulations. Could someone explain how the obvious and predictable result will be anything other than MORE investment and jobs going overseas? Why would anyone choose to stay in an environment that reduces competitiveness in the global market place?

  • integrityco

    Fear of them leaving automatically puts us in a non negotiable position. Better they leave than reduce our standard of living. There are many ready to take their place today.

  • michael garcia

    No one like to pay taxes ,for 28 years I was a bartender in NYC need I say more.It was a great place to work,had a group of Wall St lawyers as customers and one night a talk about the US tax code came up and one lawyer said,there is nothing wrong with code if the people wouldn’t try avoid paying their fare share.
    Also had a small business of about 4-5 employees never forget my accountant telling me after about 6 yrs in business ,have to show you made a profit this year and nothing hadn’t changed from the years before,I learned about creative accounting.
    Mr Stigiltz observation of the demise of the middle and its danger is spot on.

  • M. Brent Pittman

    The IBD editorial (8/18/14) “The GOP Needs New ‘Contract” states that “We’re all ears” to “other worthy initiatives (that) could be added to a 21st Century Contract with America”. Other more worthy initiatives should include creating good paying American jobs with good benefits for American citizens by repealing all sales/consumption taxes & replace the lost revenue with an import tax/tariff on imported labor (India & the Philippines) & manufactured goods (Mexico & Communist China, North Korea & Vietnam). Burn both the federal & state individual income tax codes & give each income receiving American citizen a $50000 standard deduction while keeping current dependent exemptions. Then tax the next $50000 at 2%, the next $50000 at 4%, the next $50000 at 6%, etc. until the federal & state budgets are balanced. Collect impact fees. NO corporate welfare. NO illegal aliens. Increase the minimum wage. Burn USA business & corporate income tax codes & place a “fair tax”
    (with a standard deduction of $10 Million) on ALL USA business & corporate sales/revenue including foreign after deducting compensation and benefits for American citizens’ labor; except for CEO’s and their immediate subordinates. Tax the second $10 Million at 1%, the third $10 Million at 2%, etc. All standard deductions & exemptions should be adjusted for inflation. Collect an export tax on natural resources/commodities such as oil, natural gas & grains. These strategies will reduce inflation, income inequality, declining real median family income and increase demand for “Made in America”.

  • Anonymous

    With
    just a little change in our tax system there would be more jobs available.

    The tax code can change incentives. Tax codes are social engineering they encourage some things and discourage other things.

    In many cases we raise taxes on things that we think are socially destructive (cigarettes and alcohol) and we remove taxes from things we think are good for society (churches and charitable organizations.) Jobs are good for society but we tax them heavily. We should try to remove all of the economic penalties (taxes) from labor.

    On the other hand:

    If a person does work, they pay several taxes. If a machine does the work it pays none. When a machine does the work of 10 people then it could be taxed at

    the same amount that 10 people would be taxed. That would be fair . . . right?

    With this system I don’t think we would be lacking for jobs. If we have enough “people jobs” available, then the discrepancy in income should be less and a minimum wage might not be necessary.

    BAD -A person paying taxes because they are working
    . . . needs a higher wage.

    BAD -An employer paying taxes because they hired a
    person . . . looks for a machine to do the

  • Chip

    Nor was that model in Acts a tax system. The Bible is very explicit that Christians should take care of the poor, not Caesar.

  • Chip

    There may be many willing to take their place, but there are not many willing and able. And if anything like the Stiglitz proposals are enacted, there will be even fewer able than now. What is so hard to understand about the concept that if we have the highest costs, and the highest taxes, and the most intrusive regulations, then US companies will be unable to compete is the global marketplace with companies from other countries that are not similarly encumbered? Why is it unreasonable for a company to seek the same cost, tax, and regulatory restrictions as its competitors face? And as for some duty to pay a “fair share,” what is that fair share and how is it determined? And if a company is operating overseas, shouldn’t it be paying its “fair share” of the costs of society there, not here? Isn’t it benefitting from the infrastructure and legal system and all those other things there instead of here? And if it is paying the tax established by law in that jurisdiction, isn’t it paying its “fair share”?

  • integrityco

    Render unto to Caesar that which is Cesar and to God that which is God’s. How many churches are going to pay a monthly check to the widow and orphans? The need is there… If we wait on the church it will never happen…history has proven this….

  • JonThomas

    Yes, Christians should remember the poor among the congregations, and also, where applicable, and without compromising themselves, help others who are truly in need of help.

    However, I’m not sure where the Bible says that it is not Government’s responsibility… would you please point that out?

    In fact, there are many, many places in the Bible which exhort those in positions of responsibility and authority to help the poor.

    Oftentimes in the Bible, helping the poor is linked to justice. Anyone who was in a position to help, regardless of the congregation or the Government being involved, would be acting unjustly to not help the poor.

    If God sees helping the poor as something good (which any interpretation of the Bible would suggest,) then even Romans 13:4-7 could be used to help a person see that Governments have a ‘God-given’ responsibility to help the poor. The authorities are temporarily allowed to rule for the general good of those over whom they do rule.

  • fedupwithpoliticians

    Incentives don’t work for the 1%. They can flee he country or invest their money overseas. That is partly why tax cuts have NOT produced the revenues that were promised. Money invested overseas does NOT stimulate the U.S. economy or produce jobs in the U.S. Perhaps that is why we are only seeing 3 to 4 % GDP growth when the U.S. used to see 10 to 14 % GDFP growth after recessions.
    In 1989 Leona Helmsley said, “Only the little people pay taxes”. She later went to jail for tax evasion.
    IF the middle class (working people) don’t pay their taxes, they have their wages garnished or go to jail. That is their incentive to pay taxes.
    See Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 speech on the New Nationalism that speaks of those that would seek to avoid paying taxes through the “vulpine cunning” that they can hire. That is precisely what corporations and the 1% have done.

  • fedupwithpoliticians

    John, you are “‘right on” that BOTH parties have been corrupted by the money. Pierson & Hacker’s book, Winner Takes All Politics, clearly documents that. Democrats used to get their money from the middle class through their labor unions. When all of those manufacturing jobs (25 % of GDP ) went overseas, funding from the labor unions dried up and Democrats also sought money from Wall Street for campaigns. They have to do the “two step”. They have to make promises to their donors to get elected and then tell the public another thing to get their votes. This system has made liars out of them all. Candidates are basically screened by the 1% BEFORE we the people can vote for them.