May 13, 2014

Taxes and guns

There is a case to be made that the 1% have played their hand badly.  After all, as Matt Yglesias points out, this guy made more last year than every kindergarten teacher combined.  Robert Reich does the math and suggests that Tepper made in the neighborhood of $1,750,000 an hour.  An hour.  Can anyone even imagine that much money?  I can't.  Yet, this guy pays a lower income tax than we do, since his wealth is considered capital gains and not income.  Add to that, the constant whining of the very same people that anyone talking about taxes is emulating Hitler, and you have a group of people who might be losing the perception war.

For the most part, our discussion on taxes has always focused on revenue and fairness.   Despite that approach, the right has chosen to depict calls for higher taxes as "class warfare," where we want to "punish success."  Of course, that isn't true, but maybe it should be.  Not to punish success, but at a certain point, perhaps we have to start taxing these super rich simply to keep them from being super rich.  Matt Yglesias, again, seems to be the first one to suggest it, but I think that more bad actions from these rich people, and the growing inequality is going to breed more resentment.  (Beyond the Laffer Curve — the case for confiscatory taxation - Vox)  Which, of course, is why many conservatives through history have called, at least, for a robust safety net, simply to keep lower class resentment from growing.  Or to make sure those lower class people can purchase the goods that make the wealthy wealthy.

But maybe at some point, we tax them simply because we don't like them.  I am not sure that is the best policy, but we are headed there--or we are headed toward complete oligarchy.

So why guns?  We are further away on this issue, but I would contend that the gun culture's tendency lately to wave their guns and gun rights in our faces will ultimately create a backlash.  Most non gun owners I know are content to support 2nd amendment rights, though they find, like I do, the NRA to be a group of fascist sociopaths.  They know that most gun owners are not like that.  But if the right decides to turn every street into an armed street, and every public building into one filled with gun people--at some point, that constitutional right might be amended.  Gun rights people might want to learn from watching the 1% annoy everyone.

I am quite confident that the NRA will continue to be offensive and horrible.  Just as I am pretty convinced the 1% will continue to wave their money in our face.  We will see how the people respond.


steves said...

I doubt that most Americans care about the NRA, at least in regards to their day to day activities. Yes, there are a small number of bloggers, pundits, and critics that seem to enjoy "exposing" them and following Ted Nugent around, waiting for him to say something stupid (which I will admit is far too often). Outside of a vocal minority, I don't think that most people think the NRA are fascist sociopaths or horrible.

You seem to believe that gun owners are divided into two groups. Those that say they support the 2nd Amendment, but are ok with hundreds of restrictions that are designed to make people feel good, and fascist, sociopaths that presumably are just waiting to go on killing sprees. I think the reality is more complicated. If you spent any time in a real dialog with gun owners, you would find that there a lot of groups that don't always support each other.

There are the open carry (OC) people. I'll admit that I am not an expert on this group, nor can I say that you could even call them a group. While some are politically motivated and are activists, there are many that are not and just OC because they live in an area where that is more common or acceptable.

There are the concealed carry (CC) people. They may be political, but they aren't as "in your face" as the OC people. This is probably due to the fact that they are carrying and no one else knows. These two groups don't always get along and there is frequent bickering and arguing.

There are the hunters/sport shooters. They may or may not have an interest in other kinds of guns, but traditionally, they have only been interested in protecting gun rights as it relates to the specific kinds of guns they use. Over the years, they have become more political because legislatures have started to go after some of "their guns."

I could go on and on and describe the motivations and quirks of the NFA guys, the black rifle folks, etc. My point is that there are a huge variety of politically motivated "gun people" and a fair number of them are not fans of the GOP and are either independent, libertarian, or of some other political group.

As for what will happen or what should happen, I think that is a good question. I can honestly say that there are many in the gun community that wonder the same thing that you are wondering and that is if there could be some backlash in terms of restrictions if people push too hard. So far, there hasn't been much of one. OC people will say that no state has made OC more difficult or passed any restrictions, despite several attempts. In Michigan, OC is legal in most places, including public places where CC would not be permitted. There have been some efforts to change this, but they have not gotten anywhere.

Another thing that needs to be considered is that the public isn't all that interested in gun control. Most polls that I have seen rate gun control near the bottom of the concerns that voters have. Look at what happened post-Sandy Hook. There were some changes, but most gun control measures failed. In some of the places where it did pass, we are seeing a high degree on non-compliance.

Streak said...

I appreciate that you want to dismiss my view of the NRA. I would submit that most people, if they are aware of the gun issue, are aware of the NRA, and if they are not a far right conservative, they are going to see the NRA as far right. And I honestly don't know how you continue to assert that they are not horrible. You saw the same speech I did. They welcome Sarah Palin and her words on torture. They love it.

I also really resent your assertion that only people like you value the constitution.

As for the polling on gun control, I understand the polls aren't there now. I have said that before. My point is that if the gun crowd continues to be defined by jerks waving guns or crowds cheering torture, that will change.

steves said...

Where did I say that I was the only one that values the Constitution? The gun crowd shouldn't be defined by the actions of a tiny minority, but it isn't as if they are some kind of church that can just excommunicate the bad apples.

Streak said...

Boy, this new template seems to have problems with comments. I might have to go back to an older model here.

I think you have suggested that people who believe you can have gun control don't value the constitution. Perhaps I am wrong.

And I fully understand you guys can't excommunicate the nuts. But your self-admitted pragmatism says that you will absolutely tolerate the NRA even though they endorse torture because they are consistent on protecting gun rights. That is the part I don't understand. The right wing wack jobs have taken over the most visible gun rights organization and the moderates just stand by and go with it. Which, of course, mirrors what has happened to the GOP.

steves said...

Yeah, I am not a fan of this template, either.

I don't know that I have said people that were favorable towards gun control don't value the constitution. I think it would be more reasonable to say that a person favoring strict gun control either has limited understanding of the constitution or favors an interpretation of laws that holds the constitution is very weak. To be fair, there are plenty of people all over the political spectrum that hold these views, so it just isn't gun-control.

Palin's stupid comments says more about her than the NRA. I don't think the NRA has a position on torture. I don't doubt that there were an unfortunate number of people in the audience that agreed with her.

What is so hard to understand about my position? Do you 100% support the actions/positions of every group that you are affiliated with all the time? I don't. I am hard pressed to think of any professional group or advocacy group that I agree with all the time. I am not saying that I will excuse any behavior, but it would depend on whether I believe what the group does balances out any negatives and what kinds of alternatives are out there.

For the most part, the NRA is the only game in town. There really aren't any other groups that come close in terms of influence and power. There are a few others, like the Gun Owners of America and the Second Amendment Foundation, but they are mostly unknown or focused on a very narrow area. As for the NRA, I do what little I can. I only vote for Board members that are reasonable and intelligent (not Ted Nugent) and I speak out when I can.

What would you do?

Streak said...

Our difference appears to be about what Palin's statements say. You say they are more about her stupidity. I suggest that the cheering crowd says more about just how horribly partisan the NRA has become. Any person who booked Palin to speak had to know that she only has red meat for right wing crowds, and they were ok with that because that is the NRA crowd. They are the same thing.

What would I do? I wouldn't be a member of an organization that thought torture was funny. And the NRA's political wing absolutely thinks that.

Streak said...

Probably too flip. But I would say that I think you are mistaken to believe that Palin is some kind of aberration. I understand, and have noted before, the good work that NRA instructors do. But the political wing of the organization is evil. Palin kind of demonstrates that. A grownup organization would have distanced themselves--at the very least. A real organization wouldn't have invited a sociopath to speak.

steves said...

I think we agree more on this topic than we disagree. If I were in charge, I wouldn't book Palin. I also don't think it helps gun rights in any way to condone torture and I don't understand why any speaker to an NRA event would even be talking about it.

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