A Thought About the NRA Magazine “American Rifleman”

Unfortunately, my father is a supporter of the NRA and, more unfortunately, we have the same name.  Because of these facts, my father’s mail comes to my house because it is easier for me to separate out our mail instead of worrying about him remembering to send any of mine he got.  This of course means that I have to deal with the NRA magazine he gets.   The covers are always bold and hard to miss.  The most recent cover; however, just reinforced to me the paranoid fear mongering that is the hallmark of the NRA political agenda.  The cover had the quote,

“if they ban one, they can ban them all”.

This statement is totally about getting their members to agree with the NRA’s actions out of fear.  There is a kernel of truth to the statement, but historical precedence shows that rarely do actions of that nature really spread to the extreme.  Yet, the NRA is unable to face the truth that the banning of some guns may not actually lead to a full ban on all guns, since that would not fit their cause.  Be that as it may, I have come up with an equally valid quote that is fear based and has the same kernel of truth to it while being opposite in agenda to theirs.

“if one can kill, they all can kill”

Thought for the Day

Everyone agrees that the Nazi’s were horrible people with completely whacked morals that allowed them to kill millions of Jews as if they were doing the world a favor.  History tells us that the United States were the good guys because we stopped them.  We are the moral compass of the world because of this great deed.  Many Americans like to say that we a better than those murdering Nazis since we would not do the kind of things they did.  We use Nazis as a synonym for all the evil things man does to man.  Wait a minute, I seem to remember millions of Negro slaves being mistreated for decades in ways almost as horrible as the Nazis treated the Jews.  I also have a feeling that the American Indians might have a few stories to tell about the atrocities our Forefathers committed in the name of Manifest Destiny.  Yet when asked, most Americans would say that these things needed to be done.  A large number would even champion the perpetrators of these deeds as pillars of the community.  What I am trying to say is that many Americans need to stop thumping the door of our greatness before the skeletons fall out into the light of day, revealing the past blood on our hands along with the blood we are adding today.

On the Lighter Side: My Cat has a Magnetic Butt

It asserts itself whenever he passes through a doorway or by a chair leg.  He can walk straight across a room, but when he nears a doorway, his behind gravitates toward the door frame and is closely followed by his tail.  That darn tail likes to wrap around things like walls, chairs, and my arm.  No matter how many times I push it away, magnetism pulls it back.  Now if only we could harness this irresistible force, we would not need nuclear power.

America, Disneyland for the Con Artists

The other day my boss and I got into a heated debate about politics.  I later felt bad because I stressed him out pretty good, which was in addition to the heavy stress from his position.  Our company recently decided to let 300 people go, including a person he had just hired that had quit their old job for the position.  While my boss and I do not see eye to eye on the situation in America, I respect him for being a good person.  Hell, he puts up with me and he spent a lot of time that week scrambling to find his people other places in the organization (he managed to place three out of five).  So I felt bad.

The points of contention were my assertion that the middle class bearing the brunt of paying taxes, no one solely builds their own business, and banks are the cause of the economic woes in this country.  His views were that the rich pay 100% of the taxes (meaning the 1%), that he built his own business, and that the mortgage mess of 2008 was the result of banks being forced to make bad loans by the government.  After his assertion that the 1% pay 100% of the taxes, he stated that he had seen data showing it, which I doubted.  However, I did concede that I had not seen specific data on the taxation by tax bracket and would look it up.  The charts and graphs that follow were found at Tax Foundation.org.

 

Income Bracket % of Total Income Tax Revenue 2011 % of Total Income Tax Revenue 2010 % of  Total Income Tax Revenue 2007 % of Total Income Tax Revenue 1984
1% 35.10% 37.40% 39.81% 21.12%
1 to 5% 21.40% 21.70% 20.09% 16.86%
5 to 10% 11.80% 11.60% 10.51% 12.58%
10 to 25% 17.40% 16.50% 15.30% 22.92%
25 to 50% 11.50% 10.50% 10.93% 19.16%
Bottom 50% 2.89% 2.40% 3.35% 7.35%
Total 100.09% 100.10% 99.99% 99.99%

 

To begin with, you may be wondering about the years I have chosen to represent here.  I could have made a continuous chart from 1984 on, but the work would have been challenging given the way the data was presented on the site.  Also, the earlier years I used have political and economic significance, while the jump in years emphasizes the changes that took place.  In 1984 I graduated from high school and Ronald Reagan (the Republican Demigod) was president.  2007 was the last year in which I received a raise of any kind at my current company.  The significance of that year did not dawn on me until I started looking up this tax data.  In 2007 we still had no inkling of the hole the Banks and Wall Street were going to blow in our economy.  In 2008, we knew and my company huddled in upon itself denying even cost of living raises to their employees.  Interestingly enough; however, they were quite able to buy up company after company and rollout new computers to us employees.  Finally, I included 2010 and 2011 because they were the most recent years available.

Let us begin analyzing the data.  The first noticeable piece of information is that the bulk of the Income Tax Revenue received by the U.S. Government is paid by the top 50% of the population, which is what I believe my boss actually meant.  The second thing to notice is that, while the top 1% contributes a large portion of the revenues, they do not cover more than the middle class.  Of course, such a statement depends greatly on how you define the middle class.  In my search, I could not find a definitive definition of the middle class that was consistently used year to year so I decided on my own.  For convenience sake I defined the middle class as the tax group between the two extremes.  From now on, the middle class is the range of tax payers between the top 1% and the bottom 50%.

Given this assumption, let us look at the data.  In 2011, the top 1% contributed 35.1% of the tax revenues, while the middle class contributed 62.1% of the revenue.  In 1984, the top 1% carried 12.2% of the load while the middle class bore 71.52%.  Actually, all the years given show similar results.  In addition, while the top 1% had a major increase in their tax burden coming into 2007, you can note in the graph below that their contribution is falling off while many in the middle class are seeing their taxes increase.  Even the bottom 50%, who have seen their taxes go down through the same period, are starting to see tax increases.

Income tax load

I was also able to find data for each of these years pertaining to the income brackets for each of the class levels denoted in the first chart (see below).

 

Income Bracket Income Cut Off 2011 Income Cut Off 2010 Income Cut Off 2007 Income Cut Off 1984
1%  $               388,905.00  $                 369,697.00  $                 426,603.00  $             100,889.00
1 to 5%  $                167,728.00  $                  161,579.00  $                 164,883.00  $                55,423.00
5 to 10%  $                120,136.00  $                  116,579.00  $                  116,396.00  $                43,956.00
10 to 25%  $                 70,492.00  $                   69,126.00  $                   69,559.00  $                29,390.00
25 to 50%  $                 34,823.00  $                   34,338.00  $                    35,541.00  $                15,998.00
Bottom 50%  $                 34,823.00  $                   34,338.00  $                    35,541.00  $                15,998.00

 

This information is better seen graphically:

tax brackets

One of the first noticeable trends is that from 1984 to 2007, all class levels saw large increases in their income.  For example, the maximum income for the bottom 50% increased 122% over the 1984 top income.  However, the bottom income for the top 1% increased 323% in the same period, of course we later found out this was at the expense of the country and does not reflect the gains of the top end of that group.  Now if we look at the overall gains from 1984 to 2011, we see that the top of the bottom 50% increased 118%, while the bottom of the top 1% increased 285%.   The latter number actually approaches numbers I have seen on the subject.  In other words, the top 1% is doing substantially better than the bottom 50% of the country even after the financial mess they created.  Further, if you look at the graph, you can see that the bottom 75% has seen very little movement in their incomes.  However, the top 1% is making a strong comeback already.

Another fascinating piece of information to me is the difference between the bottom income of the top 1% and the top income of the bottom 50% or the gap between the rich and the poor.  In 1984 the gap was 84,891 or the bottom wage earner of the top 1% made 6.31 times the top wage earner of the bottom 50%.  By 2007 the numbers were 391,062 and 12 times and for 2011 they were 354,082 and 11.17 times, only a slight improvement for the working poor.  If that does not show where the real wealth redistribution is, I do not know what else to show you.

To sum up this first part of my posts responding to my boss’s views, I feel that, using the kind of data he mentioned seeing, I have shown the validity of my point of view.  While the top 1% does pay a heavy part of the income revenues received by the Government, they do not pay the largest amount.  The middle class does.  In addition, they have benefitted far more than the bottom 50% of the U.S. population from the rules governing our economic system.  To me, this is not surprising.  Through their lobbyists they have actively participated in, if not written, the laws controlling our economy without any concern for the long term viability of our country.  Finally, it is important to remember that the income used for the top 1% is at the bottom end of their scale, which may be topped by incomes in the hundreds of millions.  One of the important facts I have learned, though I do not recall where, is that the top 1% hold 50% of the country’s wealth leaving the other 99% to scramble for the remaining 50%.

Wandering Winter Pilgram

IMG_0269 IMG_0270

Finding animal prints left upon my snow covered sidewalk overnight always brings a smile to my face.  I had a visitor!  These tracks were very well preserved and I think made by one of the felines that torment my indoor cat during the summer.  I like to picture its journey along my darkened walk, stopping here to investigate some sharp sound or there for the rustle in the grass made by a nervous mouse.  The wandering pilgrim traveling the wide world looking for adventure and excitement with the brisk winter wind urging them on.  A serious demeanor etched on its furry brow.  Will you be back soon and will I know now that I swept the walk clean?

Heads or Tails

I just finished reading a cute little story about a kitten titled “Space-Time for Springers” by Fritz Lieber that reminded me of a short story I had written.  I decided to share it with you.

 

Heads or Tails

by

Robert Garbin

Skitter, Skitter.

Can’t catch me creature from the East!

Snicker, Snicker.

How nonchalant you look lying there basking in the sun.

Prance, Prance.

I saw that ear twitch, don’t deny it!

Taunt, Taunt.

I am way to fast for you and you know it!

Flaunt, Flaunt.

See the sleek shine of my dark fur; you’ll never sink your teeth into it!

Thump, Thump.

I lay down the gauntlet!

Chuckle, Chuckle.

You have met your match and you know it!

 

Brian was startled out of his reading when Sammy, his Siamese, leaped off the floor gyrating madly as he tried to catch his tail, the black mask of his face perfectly matching the sleek blackness of his tail.  A slow smile spread across Brian’s face for the silly antics of his four legged companion.  Within minutes the entire episode was over.  The Siamese lay on the floor with slightly unfocused eyes and salved his pride by washing his black mittens.  Meanwhile, his tail twitched gently with an inner mirth.

“Oh you foolish cat” thought the tail.  “We will play this game again soon.  You are just the sucker I need to fulfill my every diabolical need.”