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 Post subject: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 01:08pm
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NBCNews

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Richest 400 Americans' net worth jumps 13 percent to $1.7 trillion

By Reuters

The net worth of the richest Americans grew by 13 percent in the past year to $1.7 trillion, Forbes magazine said on Wednesday, and a familiar cast of characters once again populated the top of the magazine's annual list of the U.S. uber-elite, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison and the Koch brothers.

The average net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans rose to a record $4.2 billion, the magazine said.

Collectively, this group's net worth is the equivalent of one-eighth of the entire U.S. economy, which stood at $13.56 billion in real terms according to the latest government data. But the 13 percent growth in the wealth of the richest Americans far outpaced that of the economy overall, helping widen the chasm between rich and poor.

Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft Corp, topped the list for the 19th year in a row with $66 billion, up $7 billion from a year earlier.

Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive of insurance conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc, stood second with $46 billion, followed by Larry Ellison, head of software maker Oracle Corp, with $41 billion; and the Koch brothers, Charles and David, who run the energy and chemicals conglomerate that bears their name, Koch Industries, were tied for fourth with $31 billion, Forbes said.

The ranks of the top five were unchanged from a year earlier.

Two notable names dropped from the top 10, however. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, also active in conservative political causes, fell to the 12 spot from No. 8 last year, and financier George Soros dropped five spots to No. 12 from the No. 7 position one year ago.

The disappointing stock market debut of Facebook Inc also took a toll on the fortune of its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. His net worth fell by nearly half to $9.4 billion, and he slid to the No. 36 slot from No. 14 a year ago, Forbes said
Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters.


Why do we have billionaires, again?



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 01:25pm
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Collectively, this group's net worth is the equivalent of one-eighth of the entire U.S. economy...

That's not comparing like units - one's dollars/year while the other is plain old dollars. It would be more accurate to say that they experienced growth of their net worth equal to 1/64th of the entire U.S. economy.

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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 03:08pm
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Flagg wrote:
Why do we have billionaires, again?

Because some people own a portion of a company, and other people are willing to pay billions of dollars in order to buy that portion. Hence the wealth of the person who currently owns that portion is billions of dollars because that's the free market value of their holdings.

This is a problem... why?

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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 03:10pm
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Magis wrote:
Flagg wrote:
Why do we have billionaires, again?

Because some people own a portion of a company, and other people are willing to pay billions of dollars in order to buy that portion. Hence the wealth of the person who currently owns that portion is billions of dollars because that's the free market value of their holdings.

This is a problem... why?

Because it's harmful to society to hoard that much money? Why should one unelected person have the power that type of money brings? Because they had a good idea? Please.



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 03:15pm
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Magis wrote:
Because some people own a portion of a company, and other people are willing to pay billions of dollars in order to buy that portion. Hence the wealth of the person who currently owns that portion is billions of dollars because that's the free market value of their holdings.

This is a problem... why?

This only applies to a select portion of the wealthy. There also a significant amount who make money from having money. The people like Mitt Romney who did something once and who's money simply makes more money every year. And other people who make money from managing other people's money, and others still who made money because they contract they signed up with at Citigroup says they make twenty million a year regardless of performance.

And still others who make money for being right about gambling on Wall-Street like those who shorted Sub prime mortgages and made literal billions in buying credit default swaps on mortgages predicting they would fail and made money from betting on red instead of black.
You might say that's only a handful of people but when the list is the top 400 Richest Americans and I name six people who made money from literally gambling on the market and you start looking more into it of that 400 I'd say no more than 60% of them made their money from starting a business and making it big.




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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 03:37pm
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Flagg wrote:
Because it's harmful to society to hoard that much money? Why should one unelected person have the power that type of money brings?

Care to justify these statements? As it is, your argument is a circular logic fallacy; you're presupposing that holding more than some arbitrary amount of wealth (and the "power" that goes with it, whatever that may be) is inherently wrong, then using that to justify some sort of earning and/or saving cap.

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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 03:40pm
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DaveJB wrote:
Flagg wrote:
Because it's harmful to society to hoard that much money? Why should one unelected person have the power that type of money brings?

Care to justify these statements? As it is, your argument is a circular logic fallacy; you're presupposing that holding more than some arbitrary amount of wealth (and the "power" that goes with it, whatever that may be) is inherently wrong, then using that to justify some sort of earning and/or saving cap.



How much money are people like Adelson and the Koch brothers spending trying to get rid of Obama? I've heard upwards of $100,000,000, which is nothing to them. And how is it arbitrary to single out the wealthiest of the wealthy and suggest maybe people shouldn't have that much power? Because don't be dense, money is power.



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 04:11pm
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DaveJB wrote:
Care to justify these statements? As it is, your argument is a circular logic fallacy; you're presupposing that holding more than some arbitrary amount of wealth (and the "power" that goes with it, whatever that may be) is inherently wrong, then using that to justify some sort of earning and/or saving cap.

Why is Flagg "presupposing" anything when there's enough solid evidence that wealth is closely interrelated with political power? It's not "power" in quotation marks, by the way. It is power.
Magis wrote:
Because some people own a portion of a company, and other people are willing to pay billions of dollars in order to buy that portion. Hence the wealth of the person who currently owns that portion is billions of dollars because that's the free market value of their holdings. This is a problem... why?

It is a problem when a company with thousands of employees, possibly millions even if we're talking about TNCs, is in the hands of a small cabal or a single dictator-like figure of the CEO or founder. Which is what we have. It is an even greater problem when these people get disproportionate political power due to the wealth they possess. At this point it is no longer "one man - one vote" but "one dollar - one vote", and it is really easy to understand why this unwritten rebirth of something like the property suffrage qualification is bad.



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 06:12pm
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Looks like we have a influx of stupid today.

Money = power...

I think we can all agree with that. You can use it to buy political power and political clout by allowing you too effectively buy politicians. Don t even bother trying to run for a position higher than local government unless you re wealthy yourself or have weathy backers.

Logically more wealth means more political power.

If the wealth is concentrated into a small elite class such that it represents a significant fraction of the total wealth, it means that this wealthy class can drown out the voices majority of society.

This is harmful to the democratic process.



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 06:21pm
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Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all billionaires are evil cackling psychopaths just waiting to run over some crippled kid with their Benz. Because they have people to drive them around.

But no, there are good people like Bill Gates who is a major philanthropist. But I don't see how society benefits from there being ultra weathly elites able to buy off entire branches of government.



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 07:06pm
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Flagg wrote:
But no, there are good people like Bill Gates who is a major philanthropist. But I don't see how society benefits from there being ultra weathly elites able to buy off entire branches of government.


The question is: what can you do about it? A cap on the amount of wealth you can personally own? Is that feasible, and what kind of consequences would that have for businesses?



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 07:26pm
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Ziggy Stardust wrote:

The question is: what can you do about it? A cap on the amount of wealth you can personally own? Is that feasible, and what kind of consequences would that have for businesses?

The same thing we had in the 1940s and 1950s, a sliding tax rate. Make 10 million a year? Fine 45% rate, 20 million? 50%, 40 million? 60%, 80 million 70% and so on all the way up to 90% tax rates at the extreme end.

That's one solution at least, the other is a massive tax inheritance tax after a certain dollar amount (Say if your estate is worth that 100 million you get hit with a 75% tax rate for every dollar after 100 million)

There's many ways (via taxes) to keep wealth accumulation down. With outs for people who donate money to causes (Like Bill gates philanthropy).

Point is we want to keep money moving, not have the rich building themselves a vault to keep their gold in.




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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 07:29pm
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I'd actually make inheriting liquid assets illegal. You can keep the property, but you don't get the fortune. Unless they had a hefty life insurance policy anyway. The goal should always be to make the wealthy pay the vast burden of the taxes because they are the ones who benefit from government services the most.



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 07:30pm
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Flagg wrote:
Magis wrote:
Flagg wrote:
Why do we have billionaires, again?

Because some people own a portion of a company, and other people are willing to pay billions of dollars in order to buy that portion. Hence the wealth of the person who currently owns that portion is billions of dollars because that's the free market value of their holdings.

This is a problem... why?

Because it's harmful to society to hoard that much money? Why should one unelected person have the power that type of money brings? Because they had a good idea? Please.


Owning shares of a company is the same as hoarding money? If some guy owns a lot of shares in a company that he founded, and the value of those shares skyrockets, and the person becomes a billionaire, does that mean he's "hoarding money"? Maybe it means that he still wants to have control over his company. Should he be forced to sell some of them? Should they be confiscated? How does it benefit society to prevent people from owning shares of private companies?

Instead of arguing that billionaires shouldn't be allowed (whatever that means), it would make more sense to argue for changes in the political system that prevents wealthy people from having so much political power. I think this can be almost entirely accomplished with campaign finance regulations. I've never heard of the rich buying politicians in Canada, and we have billionaires here, too.

Stas Bush wrote:
It is a problem when a company with thousands of employees, possibly millions even if we're talking about TNCs, is in the hands of a small cabal or a single dictator-like figure of the CEO or founder.
I think this is rarely or even never the case, because large companies typically have millions of shareholders. But even if the scenario you present is realized, how is that inherently bad?

Stas Bush wrote:
It is an even greater problem when these people get disproportionate political power due to the wealth they possess.
I agree. So maybe the solution should involve the actual problem - the financing of the political process.

Mr Bean wrote:
This only applies to a select portion of the wealthy.

Okay. But the question in the OP didn't concern "the wealthy", it concerned billionaires. Virtually every billionaire is a billionaire because they owned stocks or real estate that increased in market value. It's not like people have billions of dollars of cash stuffed inside a mattress that they've hoarded over a lifetime. If someone owns a lot of shares and those shares become worth billions, that process doesn't harm anyone and doesn't even take money out of anyone else's hands. It's not a zero-sum game. Entirely "new" wealth can appear in this way and nobody else is any worse off.

Flagg wrote:
You can keep the property, but you don't get the fortune.

What if the fortune is the property?

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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 07:38pm
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Magis wrote:
Flagg wrote:
Because it's harmful to society to hoard that much money? Why should one unelected person have the power that type of money brings? Because they had a good idea? Please.


Owning shares of a company is the same as hoarding money? If some guy owns a lot of shares in a company that he founded, and the value of those shares skyrockets, and the person becomes a billionaire, does that mean he's "hoarding money"? Maybe it means that he still wants to have control over his company. Should he be forced to sell some of them? Should they be confiscated? How does it benefit society to prevent people from owning shares of private companies?

Instead of arguing that billionaires shouldn't be allowed (whatever that means), it would make more sense to argue for changes in the political system that prevents wealthy people from having so much political power. I think this can be almost entirely accomplished with campaign finance regulations. I've never heard of the rich buying politicians in Canada, and we have billionaires here, too.


Those shares can be sold at any time, and if they are, they should have the everloving shit taxed out of them. And what good is it to the economy for people to be sitting on huge piles of money instead of investing it? And I agree that we need tighter (or any) campaign contribution regulations, but unfortunately those are unconstitutional and I can't see an amendment getting by any time soon. Maybe we'll get lucky and a few of the rightwing fucktards in the SCOTUS will retire and we can appoint some sane people. But until then, there's nothing unconstitutional about taxing the uber-rich into oblivion.

Quote:
Flagg wrote:
You can keep the property, but you don't get the fortune.

What if the fortune is the property?

Lucky you?



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 07:44pm
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In easy solution: they tax income, companies are moving offshore, seems like a good combination to tax the hell out of them. At least that is the way it seems anyways.

/kneejerk reaction



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 08:13pm
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Magis, I've given your last quote about all of the inheritance being property and how that can be used as a tax dodge some more thought. It would be a good thing. If someone is old and buys a shitload of property for their heirs, that at least puts money into the economy.



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 10:14pm
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Performance of the wealthy tends to run in tandem with the stock market. If they means 1 year as in past 12 months my diversified index funds are doing 16-18%.



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-19 10:28pm
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ArmorPierce wrote:
Performance of the wealthy tends to run in tandem with the stock market. If they means 1 year as in past 12 months my diversified index funds are doing 16-18%.

No. The wealthy hire people to find ways to make money even when the market has a bad run.

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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-20 05:04am
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The very wealthy don't tend to pay inheritance tax in the UK. If you have that much wealth, it's easy enough to settle your estate well in advance of your death so that it is not subject to the tax. The residual estate can be placed in a charitable trust thus avoiding tax on this.

IIRC the Duke of Westminster's family (one the richest in the country) has never paid a penny in inheritance tax in its history.

I don't know if the rules in the USA are similar (any money passed on over 7 years prior to death is no longer subject to IHT) but I would imagine so.

The problems with the tax system in general is down to the fact that the very wealthy can always find loopholes in the system. Politicians, being funded by these people, are not really in any rush to close them, unsurprisingly. This is essentially the problem - we allow wealthy people to influence the governance of the country, which they do to profit themselves, resulting in a less fair and equitable society.



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-20 05:35am
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Hillary wrote:
The very wealthy don't tend to pay inheritance tax in the UK. If you have that much wealth, it's easy enough to settle your estate well in advance of your death so that it is not subject to the tax. The residual estate can be placed in a charitable trust thus avoiding tax on this.


and yet it was inheritence tax that bankrupted most of the old noble fanmiles, forcing them to sell the manor's to the national trust. Where they are now accessible and open for the general public to enjoy.
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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-20 05:45am
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Magis wrote:
Owning shares of a company is the same as hoarding money? If some guy owns a lot of shares in a company that he founded, and the value of those shares skyrockets, and the person becomes a billionaire, does that mean he's "hoarding money"? Maybe it means that he still wants to have control over his company. Should he be forced to sell some of them? Should they be confiscated? How does it benefit society to prevent people from owning shares of private companies?

Even more shareholders (ideally - the most widespread possible shareholding, which would also include the workers of the company) would certainly make the decision process more democratic and reduce the potential for abuses as well - since shareholders have a right to information disclosure, it would be harder to bury bad deeds in secrecy.
Magis wrote:
Instead of arguing that billionaires shouldn't be allowed (whatever that means), it would make more sense to argue for changes in the political system that prevents wealthy people from having so much political power. I think this can be almost entirely accomplished with campaign finance regulations. I've never heard of the rich buying politicians in Canada, and we have billionaires here, too.

Seriously, Magis, that's not the point you'd want to make. United States - 412 billionaires. Canada - 24. Even in per capita terms the difference is 1:2, one billionaire per a million and a half in Canada and 1 per 700 000 in the US. And you haven't heard of lobbying problems in Canada - really? Less severe issues do not mean "no issues".
Magis wrote:
I think this is rarely or even never the case, because large companies typically have millions of shareholders. But even if the scenario you present is realized, how is that inherently bad?

Ever heard of the robber barons? Or about giant corporations fucking over entire cities, and sometimes entire nations - literally, sometimes with the support of military forces of a (former) colonial or neocolonial imperialist? No?
Magis wrote:
I agree. So maybe the solution should involve the actual problem - the financing of the political process.

I would agree, but many nations fail to erect such a barrier. In others, this barrier is then slowly eroded by the wealthy since they see it as curtailing of their power. It has to be a pretty good piece of legislation without loopholes and it also has to actually work as intended, you know.
Magis wrote:
If someone owns a lot of shares and those shares become worth billions, that process doesn't harm anyone and doesn't even take money out of anyone else's hands. It's not a zero-sum game. Entirely "new" wealth can appear in this way and nobody else is any worse off.

Does it not? If in the prior exchange two people treated each other as equals since they were in fact equals, and later first person becomes a billionaire with enough money to buy the second person almost in a literal sense, this is not harming anybody only so as long as the first person does not actually do something bad. And of course we should inherently put our trust into billionaires, they never did bad things to get where they are?



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-20 06:15am
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madd0ct0r wrote:
Hillary wrote:
The very wealthy don't tend to pay inheritance tax in the UK. If you have that much wealth, it's easy enough to settle your estate well in advance of your death so that it is not subject to the tax. The residual estate can be placed in a charitable trust thus avoiding tax on this.


and yet it was inheritence tax that bankrupted most of the old noble fanmiles, forcing them to sell the manor's to the national trust. Where they are now accessible and open for the general public to enjoy.
comrade.

Really? I'd like to see a source for that. It's my understanding that they simply became too expensive to run as labour costs rose and the buildings themselves got older and needed more attention.



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-20 07:03am
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Death and taxes; whose idea was it to put them together?

Pitt the Younger was the Tory prime minister when "legacy, succession and estate duty" came in as long ago as 1796. The scope of estate duty was gradually extended in the 19th century. However, unless the assets were valued at £1,500 or more (perhaps £500,000 in today's terms), the taxes were often not collected. Legislation in 1853, 1894 and 1909 (the so-called "people's budget" of David Lloyd George) further reformed the system, in the latter case to help pay for dreadnoughts and the newly introduced old age pension.

After the Second World War punitive death duties led, among other things, to the demolition of many stately homes. Capital Transfer Tax was introduced in 1975 to curtail people gifting assets to others while still alive to avoid tax.


http://www.independent.co.uk/money/tax/ ... 95725.html



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 Post subject: Re: How The Rich Have Suffered Under Obama PostPosted: 2012-09-20 09:35am
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I'm reluctant to interfere on threads, but the idea that people should be taxed for the purpose of actively preventing them from obtaining more than a certain amount of wealth (I'm only discussing this narrow area- NOT when the money is being taxed for some other purpose to similiar degrees) has problems I'm not willing to ignore.

In an attempt to make my contribution to this discussion as purely 'logical' (not the right word, but the closest fit I can think of), defining my terms:

Moral Individualism- Humans have various Human Rights- any action which violates said rights is morally wrong. These rights are not 'positive rights' in the sense of creating active obligations in others to enforce them. Hence, people have the right to do anything which does not harm others, even if it harms themselves.

Moral Communitarianism- A moral viewpoint in which humans are formed into 'societies', and have an obligation to contribute to said societies. 'Society' as a whole has the right to regulate the people in said society for their own good. People do not have a right to 'opt out' of society without physically leaving the state.

Aside from the arguments already pointed out (Magis has one part of the argument covered so I'm ignoring that part), the question arises- is it better to be a Moral Individualist or a Moral Communalist? I'm not sure if anybody would dispute it, but I contend that if Moral Individualism is the assumption the argument for punitive taxation almost completely goes out the window. If you care to disagree, please make your case.

If dealing with Moral Communalism or a similiar view, I would ask you to establish the philosophical foundations of said view. If assuming Moral Communalism for the sake of argument, things don't look good for my posistion admittedly (I will concede a point- from a purely utilitarian perspective, the argument for punitive taxation wins out in my view). However, if said view is assumed I would contend:
a- Society should make it more obvious that it is Moral Communalist if it's view is, so people do not grow up making a mistake on the issue. (Part of the reason I get pissed off at Moral Communalists is that I raised in an environment where I had no reason to believe Moral Communalism existed)
b- The degree to which the problem of wealthy contributors should be considered a problem
c- It would provide a large part, although not all, of the solution if the political power of the Unions was restored (including their ability to raise money from workers) as a financial counterpoint. Under current governments both this and crippling the wealth of the rich are pie in the sky anyway.

Basically, I'm arguing that the morality of taxing the rich, especially for the sake of reducing their wealth alone, is of sufficient moral uncertainty to justify debate on the topic. This debate essentially comes down to Moral Individualism vs Moral Communalism in my view.

If somebody involved in this thread has a posistion that is not Moral Communalism nor Moral Individualism nor close to it, please elaborate on it and how it affects your views. If somebody has a posistion that IS close to one of these, please explain in your response where you differ.

(If anybody actually goes so far as to support 'Liberty, Egality, Fraternity' to the point of believing that people of a nation-state have an obligation to be metaphorically brothers to each other, and that the state actually has the right to enforce this, then I would probably both swear at and punch you if we met in person. None the less, hypothetical totalitarian, please give your views)

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