“Punitive” marginal tax rates and collective benefits

Sometimes the commenters write comments that I’m just plain jealous of.  In this case, David has used my original post on the inefficiency of wealth concentration to write some great stuff that I think deserves highlighting as a main post.  Take it away, David:

1)  I do not want to tax the rich (slightly) more because I want to punish them, rather, I want more people to have the opportunity to succeed and move from low and moderate income to middle and upper-middle incomes, and hopefully some of those to have the opportunity to become fabulously wealthy. But that requires we take some of their income so that everyone not already born into wealth can have a decent shot at getting where they want to be.

2) There is not a soul on this earth who arrived at their position solely by their own efforts. You and I were both educated by someone else’s money.

Rich “people” and poor “people” are taxed at the same rate. They pay the same rate of tax on the first $10,000 of income. It is marginal income, not people, that is taxes.

3) You keep presuming that I want to tax the rich because I want to punish the rich because they are rich. I have no problem with them accumulating wealth, so long as they did so by their own work (not inherited). I’d like to remind you that under the tax rates of the Clinton-era, the wealthy were still pretty freaking wealthy. You seem to not understand the concept of declining marginal utility. That is why I want to tax the wealthy at higher rates than we currently do. This is where the money is. And this is where we can tax generate a lot of revenue with smallest amount of damage to the overall economy. Guess what though? We all benefit from collective goods. We all get to enjoy police, the military, fire protection, education, infrastructure, a clean environment, health and income insurance when we’re old, among other things. If you don’t think that the wealth benefit from those things also (and benefit more from them then the poor), I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Convince the rich to move to Somalia, and then maybe I’ll concede your point that somehow taxes are separate from the collective benefits they supply.

Which I had written all that myself.  But hey, I’ll take the easy way of enticing one of my readers to write all that.  Thanks, David!

Photo of the Day

From an amazing series of German Christmas photos at In Focus.  Just love the look on the face of the “angel.”

Volunteer Santas and angels attend their annual meeting at the Komoedie am Kurfuerstedamm theater in Berlin, Germany, on November 26, 2011. The event was organized by Studentenwerk Berlin, a student organization at the city’s technical university (Technische Universitaet Berlin), that sends out between 400 and 500 students and alumni dressed as Santas and angels every year to visit company parties in December and families on Christmas Eve. The students, who must complete a Santa workshop, participate as a way to make a little money to help fund their studies. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Drink up before that surgery (as long as it’s Sprite)

My brother-in-law recently had an outpatient surgery procedure.  I’m pretty confident he was told not to eat or drink anything after midnight the evening before the surgery.  Thing is those recommendations aren’t actually based on any actual evidence and the evidence that there is suggests that clear liquids up to a few hours before surgery is fine.  From the Times:

The well-known rule that a preoperative patient should have “nothing by mouth after midnight” was not based on scientific evidence, and many medical organizations now have more flexible guidelines. For example, American Society of Anesthesiologists guidelines generally permit clear liquids until two hours before surgery.

A ban on eating and drinking too close to the time of general anesthesia has a practical reason: to prevent aspiration of stomach contents, resulting in pneumonia. But it turns out that this problem is “rare in healthy patients having elective surgery,” according to a 2000survey of recommendations in the online journal Update in Anesthesia.

The midnight cutoff was applied to both eating and drinking sometime in the 1960s, “although the reasons for it have been lost in the mists of time,” the authors wrote. Before that, clear liquids had long been permitted until two hours before surgery.


What’s especially frustrating is that there’s published studies on this that are pretty clear, but status quo bias is a powerful thing.  This newer data has been around since at least 2003,  but my family certainly has not benefited in any medical procedures.  I may push back on this next time Alex a brain MRI under anestheia (he’s not about to lay still in an MRI machine) so that we don’t have to fight him begging for something to drink unnecessarily before the procedure.


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