The Mindboggling Contortions of Nanny Staters

Beyond her many ways of saying “raising taxes” without saying “raising taxes,” note the convoluted language that this advocate of poverty uses to confuse voters (emphasis added):

Kate Brewster, executive director of the Poverty Institute in Providence, which analyzes tax and budget policies on behalf of low-income people, said, “State leaders need to take a balanced approach to solving our financial problems, which includes carefully reviewing our tax policies. We agree with RIPEC that the state should avoid a piecemeal approach to tax policy. However, there are several reasonable policies that could be enacted that would generate much-needed revenue in a fair and responsible manner, such as ending corporate giveaways, modernizing our sales tax and considering the hundreds of millions of dollars we forgo each year through tax expenditures.”

Would any casual reader understand that not forgoing expenditures means raising taxes? Hopefully a reader who does will understand that, by Brewster’s reasoning — which, to be fair, appears to have been the dominant perspective of those who determine Rhode Island’s budgetary and spending policies — every dollar in the private economy is ultimately just tax revenue that the state chose not to collect and every decision not to collect it is an “expenditure.”
Here’s another interesting tidbit from the same article, by the way:

Taxes paid by businesses in tax year 2008 amounted to 5.7 percent of the state’s gross state product for that year, compared with 4.2 percent for Massachusetts, 3.7 percent for Connecticut, and a national average of 4.9 percent. “We have a very heavy business-tax burden,” Simmons said.

We must stop this now, or everybody who remains in the state of Rhode Island is going to suffer, the poor and working class most of all.

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Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

“From each according to their ability; to each according to their need.” — Kate Brewster
Or was that Pat Crowley?
Or was that Barack Hussein Obama?
Or was that Karl Marx?
Oh, no matter. What’s the difference? They’re all looney birds of a feather.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Hey, who said this? “There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure.” (a guy named Jesus) “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” “Give, and it shall be given to you. For whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return.” Marx, by the way, is a respected historical philosopher and historian. What people did with his ideas is another story altogether. In fact, he would have been with the Tea Party, as he claimed “socio-economic change occurs through organized revolutionary action – The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence” His guess was that capitalism would be killed by it’s own excesses – like the Great Depression we are now in – and that people would eventually adopt Socialism as a more classless society. As with anyone who tries to guess the future, he was partially correct. People in America do not like the idea of class. In fact, we consider ourselves a classless society even though we are not! Also, the most advanced countries in the world today are tending toward Social Democracy (Norway, Denmark, Germany, France, etc.). Marx was German, not Russian, and has absolutely nothing to do with the totalitarianism that folks in Russia adopted. He was long dead when others used and abused his ideas. Anyway, back to RI. I suspect that it is not just the high tax structure which keeps businesses out. That is a game you can never win, because corporations will just as soon move to the middle east, india or anywhere else in the US when someone… Read more »

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

>>Hey, who said this?
”There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure.”
(a guy named Jesus) “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” “Give, and it shall be given to you. For whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return.” >>Nice try. But Jesus was preaching about individual action, not (inherently coercive) secular government action (remember “render unto Caesar”). In fact, I’ve not heard any priest / minister / preacher ever say that a nation could “enter the kingdom of God” under any circumstances, much less due to tax policy or “social services” policy or fabricated “healthcare is a right” policy. >>Marx, by the way, is a respected historical philosopher and historian. What people did with his ideas is another story altogether. Perhaps respected in the insulated halls of academia and labor union halls, but not elsewhere. Particularly not amongst the citizens who have been the beneficiaries of his concepts put into real-world practice, such as people in Poland, the Czech Republic, Cuba, Cambodia, Venezuela and China. >>In fact, he would have been with the Tea Party, as he claimed “socio-economic change occurs through organized revolutionary action – The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence” As the Tea Party is opposing centralized government, which is the central tenet of Marxism, I feel safe in saying the Marx would not have approved of the Tea Party movement, any more than his spiritual successors in today’s Democrat Party do. >>His guess was that capitalism would be killed by it’s own excesses – like the Great Depression we are now… Read more »

Swazool
Swazool
11 years ago

I think we should all be like the Donald and leave this state and go to Florida!

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>>Other small areas (Singapore, Hong Kong) enjoy world-class prosperity
Ragin, you are 100% wrong. If RI’s policies were so horrible, then why is Ma. doing alright (relatively on a national basis) when it has a lot of the same policies and history?
As to Singapore – where they WHIP and TORTURE people with their extremely right wing government, and Hong Kong, which is Communist Chinese, you must know that these are extremely dense city-states that don’t relate to RI and have historical basis for any success they have. If RI was the only city or port on the east coast, we could have the same success – but we are not! As I said in the first post, there is nothing RI is better at than the other ports, cities or states. A lot of that is purely an accident of geography and history.
I don’t deny that RI has excesses in the public sector – that is happening everywhere in the USA due to the Great Depression, and yes it has to be taken care of. But that will not save RI. What the state needs is some big thinkers and future planning.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Well,Stuart,you talk a good game,but what exactly have you shared with those less fortunate in your quest for the classless society?Probably nothing.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Joe, that’s a personal question, but I have paid up to 100K and more in taxes some years – without complaining.
And I do volunteer for many causes and give to many.
And I don’t constantly vote selfishly – but rather for what I think benefits the society as a whole.
And I give freely of my time, advice and opinions.
And I teach my kids (taught, actually, since they are adults) not to think of themselves as being above anyone…just because of the “accident” (luck) of their birth.
And I try to be accepting of others in bad situation, knowing that could be me.
Is that enough? Or do you have other suggestions for me?
I was thinking today of setting up some charitable trusts, since it is likely I will pass away with money (and who needs it then?). I thought of one to benefit a famous hospital that we used (ear) and maybe another local scholarship for a kid who is on a path to something in the clean energy or environmental field.
What do you think?

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I didn’t ask how much exactly-I wouldn’t give that out either.
I never had a six figure income,but the taxes I pay aren’t reduced by any “shelters”.
Whatever we give,it is probably as much of an inroad on our income as what you give,although how can I know that?
I don’t think I’ve complained about taxes,per se,but the way they are misused.
Free food for the f**kin’ pigs in the Statehouse.That’s good use of public funds,ey?
Charles Levesque might starve,ya know.
Rhoda Perry needs her snacks during hearings.Such good government brought to us by the liberal Demoncrats in RI!!
The car tax is ridiculous-I’ve never seen such a thing anywhere else I lived.
In Illinois we had city or town “stickers”-a road use annual tax on each vehicle. One price fit all.That was okay-like a user fee,but in RI,you’re essentially repaying sales tax each year!!And the roads suck.
If you can PAY $100,000 in taxes,you lack for nothing.
But people like you push tax increases that eventually come down hard on modest
income middle class people.
I don’t resent helping the people who really can’ help themselves,but lazy welfare queens can go roll a seven for all I care.I was in too many houses during my career where no one worked but they had all the toys.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

People have been complaining about taxes, and rightfully so, since they could talk. Nothing new.
No one can honestly say they approve of each and every little or big use of tax money. It will never happen. That is why we have representative democracy.
As far as car tax, South Carolina, where Dan and friends may be going, has one. So do many other states. Ma. taxes your car as property tax – every year.
If those snacks are 1/100 of 1% of the state budget, personally I would suggest saving your breath. Little things can add up, but not things that small. Saving 2 cents per year per taxpayer is not worth our time.
The big bucks, as you know, are schools and infrastructure.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

See,Stuart,your supposed “broad”mind misses the appearance of things.The freebie gluttony doesn’t add up to much,sure.But it looks dismissive and it has a “fiddle while Rome burns”air about it.Not everything is dollars and cents.I guess that swine Levesque is your Senator given your zipcode.
He’s a filthy rich lawyer.
If I want something to eat I BUY it.I am sure you do..Why can’t they?Perks for those serving us(allegedly)sucks.
Free parking is reasonable,but anything else-NO WAY.As each journey begins with a single step,so must responsibility in public service.

kathy
kathy
11 years ago

This state is so uninhabitable for so many reason.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>>>This state is so uninhabitable for so many reason.
So why do you live here? And why is real estate still relatively expensive?
Supply and demand….
Joe, I’m with you on leadership and symbolism, however that is just show. I’d rather he have all the pork chops he can eat and save millions, than bring soy nuts to the state house, and spend millions on pork. I’m practical – but I know many are not, and so they like that symbolism.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

>>Ragin, you are 100% wrong. If RI’s policies were so horrible, then why is Ma. doing alright (relatively on a national basis) when it has a lot of the same policies and history? Wrong again Stuart. MA has a pocket of prosperity – the Rt. 128 belt and Boston. Basically this is legacy prosperity thanks to the centuries-long presence of prestigious universities and spin-off medical and technical enterprises. Even those have been relatively stagnant since the “dot-com” bust of 2000, particularly tech, which has been gravitating out of 128 and toward Austin and Research Triangle. As for the medical side, now that it is being socialized it will begin to ossify. >>As to Singapore – where they WHIP and TORTURE people with their extremely right wing government, and Hong Kong, which is Communist Chinese, you must know that these are extremely dense city-states that don’t relate to RI and have historical basis for any success they have. If RI was the only city or port on the east coast, we could have the same success – but we are not! As I said in the first post, there is nothing RI is better at than the other ports, cities or states. A lot of that is purely an accident of geography and history. Hong Kong is prosperous because of its British capitalism legacy, which the Communist Chinese have wisely concluded not to mess with (just as they’ve wisely commenced to embrace capitalism, albeit a form of authoritarian capitalism). >>I don’t deny that RI has excesses in the public sector – that is happening everywhere in the USA due to the Great Depression, and yes it has to be taken care of. But that will not save RI. What the state needs is some big thinkers and future planning. RI’s public… Read more »

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>small government and its accompanying individual liberty
I don’t know how you group those two things! If you look the world over, those with the smallest and least powerful governments have the most strife, mayhem, murder, genocide, poverty – while those with larger and more powerful governments (Northern Europe, US, Canada) have more security and higher quality of life.
Hong Kong, for instance, is #12 in the world and SIngapore is #7 for percentage of GDP that the government uses (Government SIZE).
Seems to negate your point 100%.
However, looking closer at the ratings, there seems to be almost NO correlation between Government size and success/liberty.
http://chartingtheeconomy.com/?p=417
shows our size compared to the EU, Germany, France, etc…….pretty damn close, and last time I looked they were free over there.
If you don’t agree, maybe you can give some examples of large countries where you consider the population to be free – and why?

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“Yes, RI needs big thinkers that learn from history and so draw the inevitable conclusion that free-market capitalism and small government and its accompanying individual liberty maximize increases in living standards and general prosperity.”
Indeed we do.
Unfortunately, the handling this week of the supplemental budget indicates that we have the opposite on Smith Hill; that we have, rather, a leadership quite willing to grow government and diminish the general prosperity so as to take care of a small group of their friends.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

Stuart,
The average family’s tax burden in now somewhere in the range of 45% of their gross income.
De facto working almost one-half of the year for the government means that we are effectively serfs for that period, laboring to support the politicians who dole out the money to favored constituencies … depriving us of a substantial portion of the fruits of our labors and therefore depriving us of the individual liberties of choices that we would have if those economic resources remained in our control.
Am I advocating anarchy and no government? Absolutely not. Government, like alcohol, is beneficial in moderation, but ultimately harmful (and often fatal) when in excess of moderation for extended periods.
In the 1950’s we had national defense, roads, bridges, police and fire etc., and the average household tax burden was something less than 10%. There is the benchmark.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Ragin, in the 1950’s we had 90% plus income taxes on millionaires!’ Rates below: 1951 91 1952 92 1953 92 1954 91 1955 91 So, as you and your rightie friends have championed giant tax cuts – now down to 15-20% for the vast capital gains most millionaires and billionaires make – you have brought the burden on yourself! “Top marginal tax rates stayed near or above 90% until 1964 when the top marginal tax rate was lowered to 70%. The top marginal tax rate was lowered to 50% in 1982 and eventually to 28% in 1988” Your figure about the 10% tax burden does not make sense because JUST THE MILITARY in the 1950’s was 10% or more of the GDP. Therefore, it would have been impossible to provide even a single fed, local or state service if the average tax rate was 10%. You are, of course, adding up all your local and state taxes to come up with that 45% or 50%. We didn’t have an interstate highway system in the 50’s. We didn’t have a space program and GPS. We didn’t have an internet, nor an FAA anywhere near the size of today. We didn’t have many of the amazing vaccines and disease prevention programs which the NIH oversees today. We didn’t have Medicare, which makes certain that people are not allowed to die without some care. We didn’t have seat belts or air bags, which save tens of thousands from pain. We didn’t have a strong FDA, which helps keep those bad drugs off the market. We didn’t have a LOT of things that we take for granted today. Sure, you or I might want to pick and choose which of them we want and which we do not want. But a society does not… Read more »

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