"Paul" a high school teacher, wonders
whether we have a spending problem or a tax collection problem.
"Paul" (name changed by Mish) writes ...
I subscribe to your blog and refer to it a lot.
I'm having an argument with a friend who says the problem with the deficit is
that many people do not pay their fair share in taxes. For example, my friend
notes that Mitt Romney pays taxes at a 13% rate despite his huge riches.
My friend believes that if tax rates were adjusted higher for the rich and
super rich we'd be out of debt. He is even a business owner who is part of
Can you challenge what my friend says?
I have another question: You did a post that listed all the government funded
programs you thought should be eliminated. Do you have a link
to that article?
Hello Paul ...
There is a big information gap at play, actually several of them.
First, let me ask a question: Can you conceptualize $1 trillion? Other than
"it's an enormous number", what does $1 trillion mean to you?
Bear in mind the US National Debt Clock shows public debt, not counting
unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security $16 trillion.
Forget about that $16 trillion for a bit and simply focus on the current budget
Notice that the US has had four consecutive budget deficits over $1 trillion.
I expect 2013 will be the fifth.
Conceptualizing $1 Trillion
An excellent way to conceptualize a million, vs. a billion, vs. a trillion is
in terms of time. Without doing any calculations, how long is a million seconds,
a billion seconds, and a trillion seconds?
Here are the answers.
1 Million seconds is 12 days.
seconds is nearly 32 years.
1 Trillion seconds 31,688 years.
Think about that while noting the deficit increased from $161 billion to well
over $1 trillion for four years running.
Fair Share Tax Hikes
I have a set of questions for the "fair share" tax proponents.
fair share tax hikes be enough to fund US government spending?
What if we
took 100% of the profits of Walmart and Exxon
the corporate tax rate was 100% for every corporation?
we confiscated 100% of the wealth of the super-wealthy including Warren
Buffet and Bill Gates?
we did ALL of the above? Would that balance the budget?
A recent Tony Robbins video making the rounds answers all of those questions.
It is about 19 minutes long and well worth a play in entirety.
To meet total spending requirements of $3.2 trillion, but not counting $117
trillion in unfunded liabilities, not only would we have to do everything in
the five point list above, but we would have to take the combined salaries of
all players in the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL, cut
military spending by $254 billion, and tax everything people make above
$250,000 at a 100% tax rate.
That's what it would take to meet the 2012 budget of $3.8 trillion. It would
do nothing to pay down the existing national debt of close to $16 trillion. It
would not come remotely close to meeting $117 trillion in unfunded
Robbins gives credit in his video to the post Feed Your Family
on $10 Billion a Day by IowaHawk.
In turn, I give credit to Michael Snyder for his writeup
Half A Brain Should See That A Gigantic Economic Collapse Is Coming
Snyder, referencing Ron Paul and Tony Robbins, writes ...
For the past four decades, the United
States has been enjoying a 15 trillion dollar party. All of this borrowed
money has enabled us to live far, far beyond our means.
If our politicians voted to severely cut spending or to raise taxes
dramatically at this point, our economy would suddenly readjust to a more
realistic standard of living. But that would be extremely painful and most
Americans voters would be absolutely furious. They would demand that someone
“fix” the economy immediately. But the truth is that what we have
been enjoying all these years has not been real. It has been bought with
trillions of dollars stolen from future generations. But most of our
politicians just want to keep the party rolling as long as humanly possible
so that they can keep getting voted back into office.
Some hard choices will have to be made, and there will be a lot of pain. The
false prosperity that we are enjoying now is going to disappear.
Now is the time to prepare for the massive economic shift that is coming. In
the coming economic environment, those that are currently living month to
month and those that are 100% dependent on the system are going to be in a
huge amount of trouble.
Instead of wildly spending money as if the good times will never end like
most Americans are, now is the time to get out of debt, to become more
self-sufficient and to set aside the money, resources and supplies you will
need to weather the storm that is rapidly approaching.
I certainly agree with Snyder regarding hard choices. And over the course of
the next decade, the projected budgets show the choices are going to get much
2012 Budget vs. 2022 Budget
Please consider projected
budgets for the
next decade, straight from the White House Office of Management and Budget.
In particular, note Table S-5 on page 210.
The projected cumulative budget for the next 10 years is an unbelievable
$46.956 trillion dollars. Government spending is projected to escalate to a
whopping $5.8 trillion a year in 10 years.
Noting the difficulty Robbins had in coming up with $3.8 trillion, pray tell
what kind of "fair tax" hikes would it take to meet expenses of
So, do we have a spending problem, or a problem of not taxing enough?
The answer is pretty clear.
To answer the second question by "Paul", I have written a number of
articles about waste in the state of California (easily applicable to all
other states), and waste in the US government budget as well.
Map: Paul Ryan vs. Obama Budget Details; Path of Destruction
to Cut Military Spending and Help Balance the Budget
Budget Balancer Interactive Map from LA Times Misses the Mark