Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
The Social Contract
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: September 22, 2011
This week President Obama said the obvious: that wealthy Americans, many of whom pay remarkably little in taxes, should bear part of the cost of reducing the long-run budget deficit. And Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan responded with shrieks of “class warfare.”
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
It was, of course, nothing of the sort. On the contrary, it’s people like Mr. Ryan, who want to exempt the very rich from bearing any of the burden of making our finances sustainable, who are waging class war.
As background, it helps to know what has been happening to incomes over the past three decades. Detailed estimates from the Congressional Budget Office — which only go up to 2005, but the basic picture surely hasn’t changed — show that between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. That’s growth, but it’s slow, especially compared with the 100 percent rise in median income over a generation after World War II.
Meanwhile, over the same period, the income of the very rich, the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution, rose by 480 percent. No, that isn’t a misprint. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million.
So do the wealthy look to you like the victims of class warfare?
To be fair, there is argument about the extent to which government policy was responsible for the spectacular disparity in income growth. What we know for sure, however, is that policy has consistently tilted to the advantage of the wealthy as opposed to the middle class.
Some of the most important aspects of that tilt involved such things as the sustained attack on organized labor and financial deregulation, which created huge fortunes even as it paved the way for economic disaster. For today, however, let’s focus just on taxes.
The budget office’s numbers show that the federal tax burden has fallen for all income classes, which itself runs counter to the rhetoric you hear from the usual suspects. But that burden has fallen much more, as a percentage of income, for the wealthy. Partly this reflects big cuts in top income tax rates, but, beyond that, there has been a major shift of taxation away from wealth and toward work: tax rates on corporate profits, capital gains and dividends have all fallen, while the payroll tax — the main tax paid by most workers — has gone up.
And one consequence of the shift of taxation away from wealth and toward work is the creation of many situations in which — just as Warren Buffett and Mr. Obama say — people with multimillion-dollar incomes, who typically derive much of that income from capital gains and other sources that face low taxes, end up paying a lower overall tax rate than middle-class workers. And we’re not talking about a few exceptional cases.
According to new estimates by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, one-fourth of those with incomes of more than $1 million a year pay income and payroll tax of 12.6 percent of their income or less, putting their tax burden below that of many in the middle class.
Now, I know how the right will respond to these facts: with misleading statistics and dubious moral claims.
On one side, we have the claim that the rising share of taxes paid by the rich shows that their burden is rising, not falling. To point out the obvious, the rich are paying more taxes because they’re much richer than they used to be. When middle-class incomes barely grow while the incomes of the wealthiest rise by a factor of six, how could the tax share of the rich not go up, even if their tax rate is falling?
On the other side, we have the claim that the rich have the right to keep their money — which misses the point that all of us live in and benefit from being part of a larger society.
Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer who is now running for the United States Senate in Massachusetts, recently made some eloquent remarks to this effect that are, rightly, getting a lot of attention. “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she declared, pointing out that the rich can only get rich thanks to the “social contract” that provides a decent, functioning society in which they can prosper.
Which brings us back to those cries of “class warfare.”
Republicans claim to be deeply worried by budget deficits. Indeed, Mr. Ryan has called the deficit an “existential threat” to America. Yet they are insisting that the wealthy — who presumably have as much of a stake as everyone else in the nation’s future — should not be called upon to play any role in warding off that existential threat.
Well, that amounts to a demand that a small number of very lucky people be exempted from the social contract that applies to everyone else. And that, in case you’re wondering, is what real class warfare looks like.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Another tidbit in that book "A Billion Wicked Thoughts'' is that romance novels generated $1.37 billion in sales in 2008. The romance genre has the single largest share of the fiction market. At least 74.8 million people read romance novels in 2008. And more than 90 per cent are women.
To put those numbers in perspective, about 100 million men in the U.S. and Canada accessed online porn in 2008 only a quarter more than the number of women who read romance novels. About 25 per cent of the porn watchers are women. But women won't pay for porn and the companies often flag credit cards with female names that try to pay for porn. But they will spend over $1billion on romance novels.
Another interesting thing is that sex is not absolutely essential to a romance novel. But the sex scene is important. The heroine is sexually inexperienced until her lover introduces it to her. The awakening to love is that much more powerful when it's accompanied by a sexual awakening as well.
Since our readers tend to be kinky, do you like a romance novel with no kink?
There's more on what women like in their romance novels, but I thought I'd ask my readers what they like and see if it fits with what the authors say they like.
And who knew romance novels are a billion dollar industry? Hmmm. Maybe I should try to write one. LOL.
Your thoughts on romance novels.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
As regular readers know, I like to ask questions and so many of you have been kind enough to provide your thoughts and observations. I started this blog a couple of years ago at the urging of the lovely PK at elisnewbeginnings.blogspot.com and never expected to get the feedback I have gotten. I also want to thank all those lurkers who stop by and don't comment. I appreciate you reading the blog and ask you not to be so shy. Feel free to comment or become a follower. I should also thank Bonnie at bottomsmarts.blogspot.com for starting her Love Our Lurkers Day, which convinced me to start commetning.
As some of you know, I started this blog as a home for my Training Lisa series of fiction stories and somehow have let a year go by without updating it. One of these days, I plan to do that too.
Anyway, once again, I want to thank everybody who has welcomed me to this community. It is nice to find like-minded folks here to share our thoughts. And if you read but don't blog, feel free to start one of your own. We like to make everyone feel welcome.