Pity the Poor Rich People

The latest theme of the right wing propaganda machine is how abused the rich people are because they pay so much in taxes. The issue is so important to the mega money political handlers that even Willard Romney, who refused to reveal his tax history when he ran for President, has opened his books.

According to the NY Post, last year Willard paid $1.9 million in taxes on an income of $14 million — and gave $4 million to charity. AND, the year before, he made $21.6 million, paid $3 million in taxes and gave $3 million to charity. Poor Willard, after paying all those taxes he will have a hard time feeding his wife’s $800,000 horse.

So here are a few things they are not telling you about Willard’s income. First of all Willard has made a big deal about how he tithes to his church and relies on the church to engage in appropriate charitable activities. In other words, if he made $4 million in contributions to his church, his gross income is $40 million. (In 2013, he made only $30 million and had fewer deductions, so he is  showing a higher income.  He is getting a lot of tax breaks to get his $40 million net gross income down to $14 million. Those breaks include the care and feeding and transportation of the horse and depreciation on the barn and so on.

Moreover, if he is paying 1.9 million on his $14 million income, he is paying an effective rate someplace under 15 percent. A family with an adjusted gross income of $50,000 pays an effective rate of over 16%. In real numbers when Willard paid a tax of $1.9 million, he had $12.1 million left to live on. The family with an AGI of $50,000, on the other hand, has $41,700 left to spend. In short, Willard is not missing any meals after having paid his taxes, neither is his horse. The other folks may also not be starving, but they do have to worry about how to send the kids to college, getting the car fixed, paying medical insurance… on and on.

Ask yourself what is more productive, putting more money in the hands of people like Willard, who are not likely to spend it, or people who need it to meet immediate needs. And do not try to feed me that bullshit about how rich people are “job creators.” In the average case, most jobs come from small businesses that do not pay anything near the taxes Willard pays (or should be paying). Willard’s specific history reveals he has killed more jobs than he has produced and many of the jobs he “created” were over seas.

Since the Busch tax cuts, most tax breaks have favored the rich at the expense of everyone else. The fact that millionaires have to actually pay taxes should be no surprise. The surprise is how little they pay in relation to the rest of us.

A Warm Place to …

Now the big Conservative Bugaboo is whether transgendered children can choose their place to pee. A school in Oklahoma had decided that a “boy” who identifies as a girl may not pee in the girl’s “bathroom” because… maybe he is a regular boy who is pretending that he is a girl so he can watch girls pee? Whatever…

All this while I am still processing all the marvels I beheld on my first trip to Europe last fall… including the rules for where you pee. Among the excellent local customs are these:
• When you are in a bar and want to pee you ask the waitperson for the toilet (OK “la toilette” which you ask with your best French accent which you have studied for minutes using the translator on your phone… so he/she will not think you are some dunderhead American). None of this bathroom stuff, or restroom nonsense. When was the last time you took a bath in your local bar? Or bothered to pause to rest in the toilet?
• There are no annoying cute designators on the doors… no “Does and Bucks” no “Sitters and Standers.” In fact there is usually only one toilette and if it’s big enough there could be girls in there peeing.
• Many towns have public toilets, usually on the town square, which cost about 20 cents. The better ones include showers in case you are biking and camping. When you are finished and close the door, the place locks up and is automatically sprayed down to make it nice and clean for the next person.
• The best town toilet was in Soissons (where an ancient local cathedral once boasted of having the Blessed Virgin’s shoe). There is a trough along the back wall so that guys who don’t want to spend the 20 cents can just pee in public.
• At a highway rest stop in Belgium there were long lines for the toilettes, which were operated by a British company and thus called “loos.” (Oddly enough the Europeans have commoditized pissing.) They had segregated pissers. Travelers who preferred not to pay were perfectly comfortable pissing on the lawn… backs discretely turned to the parking lot. I did not see any women watering the lawn and presume they chose to pay.

When I was in about the 6th grade there was a peep hole carved between the bathrooms at St. Rose School (which I was, in fact, too timid to use) so I recognize our long standing … concern regarding separate facilities… confusion regarding sex and peeing? I suspect they don’t have that problem in France. And ask yourself, if you desegregated toilets in the USA would people begin to hook up in the “restroom”?