David Thompson
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September 10, 2012

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steve

I hate to spoil a good rant, but didn't millionaire used to be a measure of _wealth_, not income? Earn a quarter-mil for a reasonable number of years, having that sort of wealth in the form of one's dwelling alone wouldn't be at all surprising.

Steve

Other Steve,

You beat me to making the exact same point! Owen Jones was rightly pilloried recently for making the same error.

As someone who's twenty odd year carreer as a highly stressed professional in London has been rewarded by an average annual salary of around £30K, someone on £250K + per year looks like a millionaire to me! I suspect it is the same for the vast majority.

This is not to say that I agree that they should be taxed ridiculous amounts by the way!

Steve

Correction: Owen Jones didn't make the same error, he confused income with overall worth which I guess is more akin to what Sowell is accusing Obama of than the other way round.

What I, and I think the other Steve was saying is that people earning £250K+ per year will very quickly become 'millionaires' in terms of their nett worth, so it is likely that a very large number of Sowells 2.7m high earners will fall into Obama's 'millionaires' category, though obviously not all. The appearance is that TS is either playing with statistics or he is being too literal in order to make political capital. Surely neither is worthy of the great man.

TDK

Wealth is a stock, income a flow. Income tax is normally levied on the income not the saved asset. If we are talking about the ability to save money and become a millionaire then a person who bought a house in the 1980s and saved for a pension wouldn't have to earn anything like $250k/annum to become a millionaire. Thus the point is trivially true but if this is Obama's underlying idea then people of far lower incomes have cause to worry.

Simen Thoresen

Steves,

My understanding of 'millionaire' would be someone who has wealth at that size invested in stocks, bonds, gold or similar - not one who is paying the bank monthly to live in a house. The term 'millinaire' should indicate some liquidity to the wealth, and not just the potential value of a single currently-necessary asset.

As someone who's promised 'millions' in pension-benefits, I'd take objection to being thought of and taxed as a millionaire.

Yours,
-S

Steve

Simen,

I know it's pedantic but the 2 definitions of 'Millionaire' on the on-line dictionary are:

1. a person whose wealth amounts to a million or more in some unit of currency, as dollars.
2. any very rich person.

The second is obviously totally subjective and highly affected by geographical location but the first is, I think, pretty clear; wealth means assets.

I agree with your point regarding the taxing of income. I myself, being economically illiterate, cannot understand what is wrong with a flat tax system as higher earners automatically pay more tax anyway. I've never heard any explanation as to what is wrong with that.

If you have a pension promising millions in benefits then it will no doubt be taxed when it is paid to you as income. The notion of taxing it now is as obnoxious to me as it is to you.

To be fair to Obama, I expect he is only talking about raising income / corporation taxes but has to use the tax the millionaires rhetoric in order to curry favour with the growing ranks of the envious.

The 'mansion tax' proposed by the Lib Dems here is particularly obnoxious as it is a tax on assets regardless of current income and is not even proposed to have any geographic weighting so that a very high proportion of ordinary family houses in the SE of England could become subject to it whilst genuine 'mansions' in the North of England and Northern Ireland may not.

rjmadden

And so the radical thing, the righteous thing, is to demand public subsidy of your sex life, and to do this with pride.

It wasn't too long ago feminists (rightly) wanted the government out of the bedroom because their sex lives were no-one else's business. Now they want government back in the bedroom and everyone else should pay for all the sex they're having.

Sanity Inspector

If she's old enough to be sexually active, and rich enough to be in her twelfth year of college, she's old enough and rich enough not to hit up the taxpayers for the costs of her lifestyle accessories.

Sandra Fluke

The state is my sugar daddy and I am proud of this.

Anna

And so the radical thing, the righteous thing, is to demand public subsidy of your sex life, and to do this with pride.

She's 31 and still not an adult.

David

“She’s 31 and still not an adult.”

Given much of the above, what’s interesting is that Fluke has been selected as the poster girl for progressive womanhood. A poster girl who talks about the financial hardships of elite student life while tweeting holiday snaps taken in Barcelona and Pompeii with her wealthy socialist boyfriend. It’s hard to parody, yet hers is the face the Democrats have chosen to enthuse the electorate. She may even run for office. And so this narcissistic peddler of bogus victimhood – who didn’t know that a month’s supply of birth control pills can be bought for $9 – is supposedly an ideal.

I can think of better women to emulate.

Squires

Barcelona and Pompeii... and Tuscany and Hawaii and Venice and...

http://www.facebook.com/media/albums/?id=725339715.

mojo

Hell, people - didn't you ever have some fast-talking gomer try and sell you a Rolex on the street corner?

Sam Duncan

“As regulars will know, even taking everything those evil rich people have earned – every last dime – still wouldn’t balance the books.”

Exactly. And this should be the Republicans' line of attack, not arguing the toss over who is or isn't a “millionaire”. Stupidity and incompetence are far more poisonous to politicians than dissemblance and chicanery. Hell, people expect those, but they'd at least like a competent bastard to vote for.

David

Sanity Inspector,

As I’ve said before, it’s odd how so much talk about rights has shifted from a notion of individual rights (meant to restrict the power of the state or king) to group rights and entitlements, which give the state greater power over individuals and what they may say, how much of their own earnings they may keep, whose lifestyle choices and idiocies they have to subsidise, etc.

And as Silvia Morandotti noted not too long ago, “Higher taxes mean bigger government and higher spending, not lower deficits.”

dicentra

Watch this go nowhere fast: Obama may have been using a stolen Social-Security number for the past 25 years.

Quoth pw commenter BigBangHunter: "If she were to manage to circumnavigate the total firewall she’s up against, Roberts would most likely declare it null and void, finding that a citizen is not to be held responsible for an errant issuance and simply order the SS people to issue a nice new card for Jug ears."

sk60

Fluke. (Noun.)
1. A surprising piece of luck.
2. A parasitic flatworm.

dicentra

Whoops!

Snoped, for whatever that's worth.

rabbit

I don't know how Elizabeth Warren lives with the fact that she's oppressing herself.

Dom

I despise Fluke, but let's get this straight. She does not want free birth control pills. She argued against a bill that would allow institutions to exclude BC pills even if these were prescribed for medical, non-contraceptive purposes. She was wrong about a number of things, and the story about her friend who ended up in the hospital was probably a lie, but she does not want free contraceptives for herself.

David

Dom,

“…but she does not want free contraceptives for herself.”

Well, I doubt she needs freebie pills personally. I suspect her campaigning has more to do with moral grandstanding and possibly some anti-religious sentiment. (Choosing to attend a Jesuit university whose health cover doesn’t include contraceptives and then, after signing up fully aware of that fact, deciding to take umbrage on a national scale seems a little odd. A little contrarian.) But for reasons of emotional drama - the alleged “war on women” - she included herself in the terribly put-upon group that apparently deserves – and must have – more ‘free’ stuff, even when that demand infringes the religious freedom of the institution she and her peers chose to attend. Supposedly, and somewhat improbably, almost half of her female fellow Georgetown law students are “struggling” to pay for birth control. Supposedly, some of her peers were being forced to do without said items, which again seems a tad unlikely.

Free birth control pills – i.e., paid for by someone else regardless of their objections - are, Fluke claims, a pressing issue of gender equality and “reproductive justice.” Apparently, it’s a right. While making these claims, she exaggerated – almost tenfold - the cost of such items. But a month’s supply of generic birth control pills can be bought for as little as $9 at Wal-Mart and other discount stores. That’s the price of one drink at any of the bars she and her student peers frequent. Condoms, which are given away free by any number of organisations, are even cheaper to buy, about 50 cents each. None of which brings us anywhere near the baffling sums Ms Fluke conjured as typical and supposedly oppressive.

By Fluke’s reasoning, “reproductive justice” requires free birth control and a lifetime supply of spermicide and deluxe flavoured condoms, ribbed for her pleasure, obviously. (Again, free meaning some other sucker pays.) As others have pointed out, by the same kind of reasoning religious freedom would require kosher food subsidies and the right to bear arms would require ‘free’ guns. Whether viewed in terms of cost (wildly exaggerated) or principle (non-reciprocal), Fluke’s indignation seems rather contrived and disingenuous. It’s a bit like an activist gay couple seeking out adverts for an explicitly Muslim bed and breakfast, then turning up anyway and pretending to be outraged when their custom is declined.

Henry

"Sandra Fluke has been blessed with a quarter-million dollars of elite education, and, on the evidence of Wednesday night, is entirely incapable of making a coherent argument"

Perhaps she has twigged that in (particularly US) politics, reasoning is not particularly valued - but if you can sling portentous prophesies and extreme language about, you might be a winner (this also applies to the attacks on Fluke attributed to Limbaugh)

Fluke quotes several female correspondents on her tumblr blog, who need the pill for health reasons, as if she thinks this is triumphant vindication of her stance that it should be freely available for those who don't have such problems. I fear Steyn may be right to question whether her expensive education was worth it..

sackcloth and ashes

Re: The Dalrymple review of Hannan's book, one claim about the EU that deserves to be torn to shreds is that it has 'brought peace' to the European continent.

Now, it is fair to argue that Franco-German reconciliation since the 1950s (entrenched since the de Gaulle/Adenauer era) has helped stabilise Europe by removing one of the key rivalries that made European power politics so bloody. But other than that it is hard to see what effect the EU has had, particularly because the elephant in the room here is the existence of NATO.

The key role of NATO (and actually the USA, UK and France prior to 1955) was to oversee the controlled revival and rehabilitation of a democratic and constitutionally anti-militaristic Germany. This was a crucial development not only in ensuring that the Federal Republic of Germany did not go the same was as its Weimar counterpart, but also in ensuring that German reunification after 1990 did not have the apocalyptic impact that Germanophobes feared. Germany's neighbours have accepted it as a 'normal' country, and when you get to a point in which a Polish Foreign Minister expresses concerns about the lack of leadership from Berlin, you know that a lot has changed.

Add to this not only the deterrence of war and any possible temptation for the Soviets to expand their sphere of influence Westwards from the 1940s to the late 1980s (and it is only with the advantage of hindsight we can see that this threat was weaker than it actually was), but also the readiness of former Warsaw Pact states to join NATO. The Alliance has had a stabilising influence insofar as new members with past quarrels (Poland v Lithuania, Hungary v Slovakia and Romania, Bulgaria v Turkey and Greece) have had conditions imposed on membership that have made them less likely to follow the irredentist and xenophobic policies of the 1930s. They have also had to make commitments to democratisation, placing the military under civilian control etc which have ensured that the transition from Communism has been a surprisingly peaceful one. Of course, all is not sweetness and light with the new members, but belonging to NATO has provided the same restraint for them as it did for Greece and Turkey. NATO fills a security gap that the EU cannot fill, and in this respect if you are Polish or Estonian the foundation of your foreign policy is not actually membership of the EU, but the guarantee that if the worst comes to the worst Uncle Sam will protect you from any external threat.

A final point concerns the violent collapse of Yugoslavia. The EC (as it then was) proved utterly incapable of dealing with the onset of war in 1991-1992, not least with reference to the destabilisation of the Balkans by Slobodan Milosevic. Jacques Poos' ridiculous statement that 'the hour of Europe has arisen' was shown to be a sham, and it was NATO that cleared up the mess - in Bosnia in 1995, Kosovo in 1999, and in Macedonia in 2001. Eurocrats talk a good fight about how their club stops wars of aggression and genocide in Europe, yet they can't explain their paralysis during Vukovar and Sarajevo, and their inactivity over Omarska and Srebrenica. Go figure.

Q30

About Fluke: I have to give her some credit.

Despite coming-out of a Gender studies program, her activism appears to be rather devoid of the man-bashing which you typically see from that cohort. Normally, such ilk are all: "Patriarchy blah blah male privilege blah blah toxic masculinity blah blah men want to take-away our right to vote blah blah men want us shackled to the stove blah blah blah."

It's refreshing, in a way.

watcher

Even a person earning £20,000 a year can achieve the status of millionaire in their working life (if it was 50 years, and some do work that long). Of course, you never get that because you probably start out on way less than 20k a year and build up slowly. Plus along the way there all sorts of niggly incidentals like National Insurance, P A Y E, fuel tax, VAT, TV licence fee and other ways the state and its agents can take your cash. So getting to a million is hard work, as I well know.

I did the work, and trust me I rarely earned 20k a year so I am nowhere near that.

Henry

We're all in awe, I know, of the moral superiority of our betters on the left. They're showing us how to do it again, by printing Tshirts joyfully anticipating the death of an elderly woman you may have heard of. The T-shirts had messages along the lines of "Hey ho the witch is dead"

I link to the CiF article only so that you can get further evidence of the sheer niceness on display, with plenty of Guardian readers asking "where can I get one?"

David

Henry,

It’s odd that so many on the left would still have us believe that Thatcher somehow made the population “selfish” and “nasty” in some ill-defined and improbable way. It seems to me that actually she managed to reveal some rarely acknowledged but quite common motives of those who now wish her dead. Compassionately, of course.

David Gillies

Fluke's attitude is adolescent, rather than childish. She's like the teenager happy to accept room and board from her long-suffering parents but deeply resentful of any claim on her behaviour that might entail. A perpetually drawn-out youth does seem to be a feature of the entitled Left. For instance, look at how under Obamacare parents can keep their children on their policies until they are 26. P. J. O'Rourke (PBUH) wrote many years ago (in Give War a Chance) about the tendency of the right-on to hang on to youthful behaviours (tics, really) long into middle age. It's as if they're trying to flout the old maxim about socialists at age 30 exhibiting lack of brain by forever putting off the fateful day.

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