The Widdershins

Hypocrisy: It’s What’s for Dinner…

Posted on: July 13, 2012

Good Friday morning Widdershin friends — here’s hoping your day is a great one.

Perhaps it is just me, but it seems as though the level of political discourse has sunk next to the belly of a snake in a wagon rut — can it possibly go any lower?  The answer is obvious — of course it can.

With the polls showing both candidates locked in at a rock solid 47%, it looks as if a couple of billion dollars will be spent on swaying the remaining six percent of voters.  For those of us who admire the head-splitting mathematical wizardry of the shoppers on Extreme Couponing, that’s around $330,000,000 for every percentage point — disgustingly obscene.  What makes it all the more odious is the fact that to move these voters, the exhortations will be little more than thinly veiled lies.

Since it is all too easy to point out the hypocrisy involved — given that I have the metabolic rate of a lethargic sloth, I gladly take up the task.

I’m looking for Harold Hill of Gary, Indiana…

Being a recovering political operative, I believe I have a little insight on the mating dances of “pander bears.“  For example, Governor Romney’s appearance before the NAACP convention on Wednesday was a perfect example of what doesn’t meet the eye.  His speech wasn’t directed at  anyone in the room, it was directed at who wasn’t in the room.  There are two possible explanations for his ursine minuet:  One, his remarks were calculated to illicit a “boo” to energize the tri-cornered hat wears who caricature President Obama as a Kenyan witch doctor; or two, to show Independents that he really cares and won’t leave anyone behind.

Just as reprehensible, President Obama is skipping the NAACP convention and sending Joe Biden.  Can his political motivation be little more than trying to avoid the converse of Governor Romney’s objective?  In other words, by skipping the convention he won’t risk ginning up the Tea Party or risk turning off Independents by seeming too beholden.

Take your pick — equally abhorrent, equally disgusting, equally craven, but equally laser focused on sussing out a de minimis six percent of the electorate.

What has gotten us here — why have we become so controlled by a fraction of the population — why have we come to expect so little?

Let’s begin by looking at who is calling the shots when it comes to something like tax policy.  Let’s be honest here, at the end of the day, this election is going to be about who promises the least in taxes for the most in services.

Tax policy has been dictated for the last thirty years by the top one-percent and because of their dictates, there is the greatest concentration of wealth in the fewest hands since the Gilded Age.  We have hedge fund managers who are making millions of dollars of income and paying a lower marginal tax rate than soldiers, nurses, firefighters, or school teachers.  Even a proposal to raise taxes about four percent on those earning more than a quarter of a million dollars a year is met with unshakable, undying obstinacy.

The next time you hear some politician braying about hurting “job creators” just know these things.  First, it’s not about “job creators” at all — every time you hear the words “job creators,” it is merely code for the straw men being used as scapegoats by the one percent crowd.

Second, the number of “small business job creators” earning over $250,000 a year is about three percent, that’s right, ninety-seven percent of small businesses aren’t affected.  This is because no one is taxed on costs and expenses — people are only taxed on pure profit.

Third, the way marginal rates work — there is not a single cent of additional taxes on the first $250,000 in profit  — not until you earn $250,001 is there an additional cent in taxes.  In other words, if you earn $250,100, the only additional taxes are on the one-hundred dollars over the first two hundred fifty thousand in profit.

Finally, and this is the big one for me — we are allowing tax policy, in the face of deficits and cutting services in the social safety net, to be dictated by the personal accounting preferences of three percent of small business owners who are looking out for their own bottom lines.

Okay, what does that mean?  It’s pretty simple when it is explained.  These three percent of small business owners have decided to file as individuals so obviously there is a tax benefit to them filing as individuals.  There are a myriad of partnership, Subchapter S, or other avenues under which they may file, but they have chosen for whatever personal reason to file as an individual.

No one — not the government, not the Pope, not Kim Kardashian, not the black helicopter crowd — dictates to them

Did I hear someone say, “Job Creator?”

under what status to file.  They have chosen to be taxed as individuals for their own, personal benefit — meaning a lower overall tax burden.  And yet, it is upon these fictitious Knights Templar Guardians of etheric job creation that form the basis of denying any revenue generation from the very segment of our population that has gained the most over the last ten years from the Bush tax cuts.

Of course, this is way deep in the weeds and you will never hear it coming from the mouths of politicians. The long and short of it is this — it is all hokum, hooey, and hogwash, but this is the fare upon which pander bears flourish.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld said, “Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.”  During the next four months, the hypocrisy mills in the minds of politicians will be working overtime to keep any semblance of virtue from being underpaid by the masters of vice.

This is an “all skate” open thread.

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18 Responses to "Hypocrisy: It’s What’s for Dinner…"

You have to ask just what is being taught in business schools today. The cost of educating an upcoming MBA must be worth it since it is from these vaunted halls of learning that the current crop of the “masters of the universe” are derived.

Apparently integrity is something that is tossed aside if you are to live your dream of untold wealth without accountability, the same wealth that buys you access to officials who are there merely to pave your path by bending every rule and enhancing every law that allows your to flourish.

But pay no attention to me. I’m just one of the common people who just doesn’t understand.

The curriculum at these business schools must exclude “integrity” since these new “masters of the universe” appear to lack that essential.

The cost of educating a future MBA must be worth it since the bottom line appears to be “it’s never enough”. Are there statues erected bearing the likeness of Bernie Madoff in these bastions of learning? Because it seems that they pattern much of their success on the principle of “grab and greed”.

But what do I know? I’m just one of the “common people” who just does not understand.

Prolix – thanks for reducing the foofaraw to perfectably understandable plain language. Another well thought out essay – thanks again. Lots to mull over.

Here’s a good example of what Pat calls “grab and greed.” I was reading an article about Kenneth Feinberg, the guy who is the go-to guy for victim funds and mediation (he did the 9/11 fund, the Virginia Tech fund, etc.).

In the article it was talking about real Texas cage match stuff of fight-till-the-death matches he’s had with people. The example was when he was appointed as a “special master” by the government in determining what was the right salaries to pay after the bailout. His example was of an energy derivative trader from a Citigroup subsidiary — nothing to do with banking, nothing to do with investments, nothing to do with creating anything of worth, nothing to do with protecting the assets of Citigroup — just betting paper against other paper bettors.

Now mind you this wasn’t his salary — this was just his bonus for one year — pure unadulterated bonus for betting paper — $95 Million. Feinberg said no and Citigroup sold the subsidiary away. And you know what’s the kicker here — this paper energy trader will be taxed at 15% on the $95 million as “carried interest” income — a special tax loophole for Wall Streeters. If you wondered why Mitt Romney only paid about 16% tax rate — all his income from Bain is eligible for the “carried interest” tax rate.

Here’s the article on Feinberg:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/06/24/kenneth-feinberg-calculating-what-a-life-is-worth.html

That is obscene. People are losing their homes, their livelihood, living on the streets or in cars …..words fail me.
I’ve told this before, however once again with feeling. My companion, the Wonder Dog came to me from a rescue operation close to me that is working overtime with all the animals that are being shipped across the border. She was found wandering the streets in a Kentucky town – she was emaciated, yet the vets and rescue operation in the states knew she had lived with a family because of her behaviour. They shopped around to find a placement in the states and when that failed, they shipped her north. The rescue operation where I got her travels to the border every week to pick up more abandoned animals to place them here – every single week! Point of the story – imagine walking away from a beloved animal because you’ve lost your job, your home has been foreclosed upon and you cannot afford to feed it. And this character gets $95Mil as a bonus and only pays a pittance in tax that would benefit his fellow citizens?
I’m probably over-reacting (deep breaths)
Another chap down in the maritimes follows the fluctuations in gas prices on a daily basis. He’s not an economist, however from what he’s observed in his years of tracking – it’s all due to speculators – paper pushers – gamblers – who add nothing to the value of anything but make out like bandits. Legalized theft to my mind.
Time for the swooning couch (and a cold beer – sheesh it’s hot today)

Excellent post Prolix. Morning Schmoe always mentions the “small business man” and yet I’ve never heard any of the other talking heads speak of the $250,000 + 1.

It also crossed my mind about the Romney thing. That will play well to the tea-party crowd.

“chuck”: you got caught in spammy and you are now free…free! FREE!! ;-)

HT — I believe in Connectedness — your faithful Wonder Dog is right where it was meant to be — heaven is always referred to as up, little did we know that “up” meant north to Canada.

Fredster, I have almost reached my limit on Morning Joe. I used to watch it for the relatively intelligent conversation, but as of late, it has turned to the mush of a pumpkin cleaning party.

The other day, Steve Rattner, smart guy, was making a nuanced, but cogent point about the very subject of taxes — Joe interrupted and said, “If you are making that argument, it’s correct, but too complicated, and then you are losing the argument. The Republicans never make such complex arguments and they are winning the argument on taxes.”

And there is the crux of the problem as stated by Scarborough, “If I can win the political argument with a low-brow factually lacking and bad policy argument, that is the one I take every time.” Idiotic lunacy — it is saying, “I want to be a winner at the loser argument.” Forget policy, forget what is good for the country! Maddening!

Move over on that swooning couch HT — I’m feeling a bad case of the vapors coming on.

Prolix: Exactly! And I’ll add: “don’t throw facts in here because it then negates the validity of my argument.”. I think what Joe does is to reduce everything to one sentence mantras and keeps repeating them.
And, I’m equally tired of his “when I was in Congress” schtick. You aren’t anymore Joe and that was then, this is now.

Excellent post, Prolix. NPR did a segment on the 3% of affected businesses the other day. Must be time for the truth to be out!

For me, here’s the money line from your post:

why have we come to expect so little?

SophieCT @11:You are soo right my sister.

BTW folks, Lounge tomorrow night so come around.

Lounge tomorrow night

Hooray!!!

SophieCT: Yeah, trying to gather up the “goofy”/oddball or whatever news now. Taking politics off the table definitely hurts though. ;-)

I teach MBAs all the time. I still think a lot of it has to do with the Ivies where they save so many slots for legacies. Most of the MBAs I know get completely warped when they get their management jobs. I don’t think it’s the curriculum in the big public universities as far as I can tell. I’ve never hit the assholiness in school. Just in corporate work.

Just as an anecdote, my husband turned psycho-MBA about 5 years into his investment officer career at Mutual of Omaha. The education didn’t do it. It was the reformatting that happened at work. He wanted more money and a promotion and he just did what he was told and then eventually became the typical asshole. He was a total hippie freak who worshiped John Lennon and read Vonnegut until then. He had hair to his elbows when I met him.

Oh dakinikat!! Where were you the other day when I tried to do some ‘splaining on the TPP thingie? ;-)

I’m in a perpetual paper grading hell realm right now. It’s severely cramping my blogging style.

dk@17: Okay…I more than understand. I saw your comment on the TPP and after that I had bookmarked some sites regarding it. There has been so little ( if nothing) in the MSM about this and when they have to keep something “secret” it’s more often than not, something not in our best interests. Well, I gave it the ole college try so a few more people are aware of it now. Stil seems like a lousy treaty for us.

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