Taking it to the limit

Here and abroad, governments frighteningly test what citizens can stand

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A robber steals your money. A government taxes it.

The effect is the same. It’s gone.

Of course, in the case of taxation, you hope something good comes of it. Taxing is a necessary evil that produces communal good – roads, sewers, the protection of police and courts, and more.

In addition, taxation is a societal contract: In most cases, you are agreeing to it.

But there are limits to everything, and when you reach the limits of taxation, society’s contract frays.

Eurozone leaders, for example, recently decided to bail out Cyprus in part by requiring the island nation to tax bank accounts there up to 9.9 percent.

A man walks into a bank and pulls out a gun and demands money. Another man walks into a bank and pulls out a government order to hand over money. The effect is the same.

Well, except for the amount of fear they instill. In the case of the robber, employees and visitors in that bank are temporarily frightened. In the case of government taxation of bank accounts, the entirety of Cyprus is rightly afraid, and a tidal wave of fear is possible across various nations in the eurozone.

If their leaders can confiscate bank customers’ money in Cyprus, where can’t they take it?

It also makes you wonder if such government-approved larceny could spread beyond Europe.

Conservatives here, for instance, worry that a voracious government might, like the eurozone, eye the easy money in our 401(k) retirement funds. Sounds maybe a little paranoid – but ask the folks in Cyprus if it is.

“Many in Washington,” Investors Business Daily wrote in November, “see our investment accounts not as the expressions of well-planned, disciplined decisions but as untapped reservoirs of wealth they can drain to fix the problems that they caused.”

A starving animal will look for food anywhere.

Hopefully, even America’s far-left has its limits. Even rabid liberal commentator Bill Maher – who once wrote that “The next rich person who publicly complains about being vilified by the Obama administration (should) be publicly vilified by the Obama administration” – may have seen the light. Complaining about taxes on the wealthy, particularly in California, Maher recently changed his tune:

“You know what? Rich people ... actually do pay the freight in this country. ... I just saw these statistics. I mean, (top earners pay) something like 70 percent (of federal income taxes). And here in California, I just want to say liberals – you could actually lose me. It’s outrageous what we’re paying – over 50 percent. I’m willing to pay my share, but yeah, it’s ridiculous.”

Well, one supposes it depends on whose Oxnard is being gored. Little by little, even liberals in California are waking up to the audacity of government confiscation of wealth.

We hope that awakening isn’t coming so late that Washington or other liberal strongholds will have already hatched plans to seize more of our money. They’ve already pilfered our Social Security savings.

We also hope the people of Cyprus make themselves a human firewall against the spread of naked confiscation of families’ savings – in time to protect the crackling dry and tender financial reeds on the continent.

Indeed, a run on banks forced Cyprus to close them at least until Thursday. Reuters also reported that analysts feared the attack on Cypriots’ savings “could spark contagion across peripheral regions with the potential for widespread outflows of deposits.

“‘If I were a saver, certainly in Spain or maybe Italy, I think I’d be looking askance at these measures and think this could yet happen to me,’” Reuters quoted one global economist as saying.

Have they just run up against the limit of what even civilized people will accept?

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Riverman1
84261
Points
Riverman1 03/19/13 - 04:28 am
8
1
The Vikings Had An Evil Chieftain

Those who don’t pay taxes have a desire to take from those who do and those who have saved. They will try to take by any means possible in order to obtain other people’s money. It reminds me of the current mini-series, The Vikings. The evil Chieftain has the Vikings raiding villages of hard working peaceful people taking what they possess. When we have the leader of the modern day raiders telling the people, those with assets didn’t build their own businesses and create their own wealth, he is excusing the future pillage he wants to see.

carcraft
26016
Points
carcraft 03/19/13 - 05:36 am
6
0
Riverman you are correct.

Riverman you are correct. The thing about the Viking mini series is that in true Viking society of the time the mini series is supposed to depict, the Viking Chieftian was limited in power and the Vikings were under orders to remove him from power if he over steped those limits. The new thing for Vikings was having an absolute ruler and rejection of the dictates of the past. Soound familier with Obama, the left and the constitution?

Bodhisattva
6242
Points
Bodhisattva 03/19/13 - 06:33 am
3
11
Why no peep about removing

Why no peep about removing the Viking Chieftian[sic] who overstepped his limits in 2001?

KSL
130194
Points
KSL 03/19/13 - 06:50 am
5
2
About time to remind, or in some cases, to inform

I am going ahead and providing this via the Snopes link.

I remind the uninformed liberals reading the AC that Snopes is allegedly hugely funded by a lib.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/dontlike.asp

Rhetor
1015
Points
Rhetor 03/19/13 - 07:01 am
2
9
We're not Cyprus

The situation in Cyprus is truly a mess. Fortunately, we have our own sovereign currency, so the mistakes that led to it are unlikely to repeat here in the USA. Overall, the Eurozone's hitherto conservative fiscal and monetary policies have been a disaster. Why, then, does the Tea Party caucus want to adopt similar policies here? A good question to which there is no real answer...

Bodhisattva
6242
Points
Bodhisattva 03/19/13 - 07:24 am
2
8
Investors Business Daily again???

"ASPPA members - including brokerage firms such as UBS, AG, and Bank of America, Merrill Lynch"- A trade group lobbying for its own self interest. Imagine that. Lobbying to make sure their clients pay a max of 15% while working people get the shaft.

The only proposed, repeat proposed, change in 401k is a cap at the lesser of $20,000 per year or 20% of income vs the current lesser of $49,000 or 100% of income on the tax preferred portion. You can save as much as you want, you'd just get to dodge taxes on $20,000 instead of $49,000.

Somehow we managed to grow the greatest economy on earth while simultaneously growing a large middle class with tax rates that were almost triple today's maximum rate. A tax dodge here, a tax dodge there, millionaires paying under 14%, corporations paying zero while making record profits, spend $4 or $5 trillion on a couple of wars, spend 40% of our budget and 60% of our revenue on defense, yet we need to make cuts in Social Security and Medicare which are the only parts of our revenue that have a dedicated tax?

Bodhisattva
6242
Points
Bodhisattva 03/19/13 - 07:28 am
2
9
Yeah, we know, Any

Yeah, we know, Any non-partisan source that does any fact checking is liberal. A convenient out for posting "facts" from email sources. Try the Nigerian prince one.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 03/19/13 - 08:56 am
4
0
The ol' mattress is looking

... pretty safe compared to the banking system, isn't it?

deestafford
27789
Points
deestafford 03/19/13 - 09:10 am
7
1
It's obvious that history and economic understanding has escaped

some commenters. However, weathy envy seems to have replaced them.
As far as our savings and retirement accounts being confiscating by the feds, that is in active discussion in DC right now. The other day the Consumer Protection Commission, or whatever it's called, that was set up by the Dodd-Frank stab in the financial heart legislation, was quoted they were ACTIVELY reseaching the possibility of "managing" the peoples retirement accounts. Their rationale? The retiring baby boomers sometimes fall prey to financial schemes and make bad decisions with their retirement accounts so the government needs to "protect" them. Once again, some elitist government agency shows that it thinks the American people are stupid.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 03/19/13 - 09:28 am
4
2
"Why no peep about removing
Unpublished

"Why no peep about removing the Viking Chieftian[sic] who overstepped his limits in 2001?"

Explain who that would be and how he overstepped his limits please.

allhans
23688
Points
allhans 03/19/13 - 09:30 am
3
0
With the Feds pumping out

With the Feds pumping out money at the current rate making the economy "look better" trying to keep the country afloat while devaluing our currency, along with a bloated stock market, who knows.

As for the old "what if", it is impossible to know if things would have been better -or even worse-had Cyprus taken some other tact...

Our own country "might have been" in better shape had Obama used the stimulus money to create long term jobs - not the temporary fixes.
On and zzzzzzz

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 03/19/13 - 09:30 am
6
1
"Fortunately, we have our own
Unpublished

"Fortunately, we have our own sovereign currency, so the mistakes that led to it are unlikely to repeat here in the USA. "

Do we really. More and more of our "sovereign" currency is backed by the yuan, so what happens when China demands payback?

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 03/19/13 - 09:32 am
4
2
Rhetor....do you care to tell
Unpublished

Rhetor....do you care to tell us all specifically what conservative policy lead to disaster in the Eurozone?

A good question, to which I doubt I will get an answer.

dahreese
4717
Points
dahreese 03/19/13 - 10:05 am
2
7
"The evil Chieftain has the
Unpublished

"The evil Chieftain has the Vikings raiding villages of hard working peaceful people taking what they possess."

Oh!, Say it isn't so!

Say it isn't so............!

The U.S. would never do such a thing...or would it?

"...soon after the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, told the press that war was our only strategic choice. "We had virtually no economic options with Iraq," he explained, "because the country floats on a sea of oil."

Alan Greenspan...the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, safely out of office, confessed in his memoir, "Everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." He elaborated in an interview with The Washington Post 's Bob Woodward, "If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands, our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first Gulf War."

How did, our oil, get under, their sand?

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 03/19/13 - 10:12 am
4
2
So NOW you believe Greenspan
Unpublished

So NOW you believe Greenspan and Rumsfeld's deputy? Why do you only post opinions from Republicans when they agree with you, and call it "drivel" (with no supporting documentation I might add) when they disagree with you?

nofanofobama
6825
Points
nofanofobama 03/19/13 - 10:43 am
3
0
its too bad that those who

its too bad that those who keep repeating that old tired line about tax rates years and years ago dont investigate a little more..back then you could almost get a tax deductuion for a sneeze..REAGAN traded to lower rates for less meaningless deductions..this tired old story about higher rates is frankly getting qiute boring..less complicated taxes, lower taxes creates a growing economy...what we have under obumler is an illusion of an improving economy..its based on the FED pumping billions in the economy each month under quey 3 and deficit spending of a trillion dollars or so. look at food, energy ..there is inflation..and NO PRIVATE SECTOR GROWTH...as MONDALE said of the republicians back in thE 80"s giive me a 200 billion credit card and i will make the economy look good too....only thing about MONDALE.. it was the dims in control of CONGRESS that went on a spending spree when the taxes started rolling in because of REAGAN and private sector growth....thats what caused the deficit not the lower rates..govt cannot grow the economy , it may bump it, but when you take too much from the private sector it will stifle growth and eventually retard growth.

Regina Phalange
42
Points
Regina Phalange 03/19/13 - 10:51 am
0
0
"so what happens when China
Unpublished

"so what happens when China demands payback?"

LOL nothing. If China destroys us then they destroy well over half of their own economy. China taking us out would be like a pimp taking out his best hooker. Wouldn't make much sense. Except maybe in Fox News land....

prov227
3157
Points
prov227 03/19/13 - 11:38 am
2
0
A couple of comments on the comments ...

The comments have about covered the subject, so I'll comment on the comments

"Fortunately, we have our own sovereign currency, so the mistakes that led to it are unlikely to repeat here in the USA." Silver and gold money used to make the holders of same "sovereign". What we predominantly use now are government-enforced (fiat) transaction tickets (they are called Federal Reserve Notes) that have no value within themselves and are insufficient stores of value for future purchases. This makes the large banks and the Federal Reserve "sovereign" over most US citizens (and the government).

"As far as our savings and retirement accounts being confiscating by the feds, that is in active discussion in DC right now." This is correct, however, most likely the only way this approach could be "sold" to US citizens is by "protecting" us from the stock market and other investments by providing us with "safe" US Treasury bonds paying "adequate" interest rates. This approach will bring new money to Washington to spend on the interest on the debt and on new programs. Remember, 401(k) and IRAs are "government-regulated" retirement funds.

dichotomy
33130
Points
dichotomy 03/19/13 - 01:25 pm
6
0
" the Eurozone's hitherto

" the Eurozone's hitherto conservative fiscal and monetary policies have been a disaster."

I suspect the problem is more with the socialist government's of the member countries than it is with the Eurozone's monetary policy. I don't care what kind of monetary policy you have, if you keep spending more than you make, LIKE WE DO, you will eventually go broke and nobody will lend you money.

ultrarnr
914
Points
ultrarnr 03/19/13 - 02:22 pm
0
0
Reply to HA
Unpublished

The conservative policy that led to disaster in the Eurozone is called austerity.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 03/19/13 - 02:40 pm
0
0
Some libbies
Unpublished

haven't got the sense God gave rocks!

burninater
9609
Points
burninater 03/19/13 - 03:41 pm
1
4
"As far as our savings and

"As far as our savings and retirement accounts being confiscating by the feds, that is in active discussion in DC right now." This is correct, however, most likely the only way this approach could be "sold" to US citizens is by "protecting" us from the stock market and other investments by providing us with "safe" US Treasury bonds paying "adequate" interest rates. This approach will bring new money to Washington to spend on the interest on the debt and on new programs. Remember, 401(k) and IRAs are "government-regulated" retirement funds.
------
Isn't this part of the proposed mechanism for the partial privatization of Social Security (specifically, allocations to bond holdings)?

Darby
25798
Points
Darby 03/19/13 - 03:43 pm
3
1
"Why no peep about removing...

the Viking Chieftian[sic] who overstepped his limits in 2001?"
.
If I had to offer a supposition, I'd say that it was because those who feel that way were in the vast minority.

burninater
9609
Points
burninater 03/19/13 - 04:20 pm
1
5
"Why no peep about

"Why no peep about removing...
the Viking Chieftian[sic] who overstepped his limits in 2001?"
.
If I had to offer a supposition, I'd say that it was because those who feel that way were in the vast minority.
--------
And I would offer a corollary: that vast minority WAS as vocal as the current vast minority calling for the new Chief's head. That vast minority was vocal in partisan outlets, just as this new vast minority is vocal in partisan outlets.

Nothing new in partisan vitriol and hyperbole -- the left does it to the right, the right does it to the left. They both do it at their own peril, as they push more and more people to the center. When voters are in the center, it's no longer enough to mouth snappy little platitudes to the true believers -- you've actually gotta walk the talk.

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 03/19/13 - 04:33 pm
4
1
"Isn't this part of the
Unpublished

"Isn't this part of the proposed mechanism for the partial privatization of Social Security (specifically, allocations to bond holdings)?"

The proposed privatization of SS is the opposite of the government confiscating your money.

burninater
9609
Points
burninater 03/19/13 - 05:03 pm
1
3
The proposed privatization of

The proposed privatization of SS is the opposite of the government confiscating your money.
------
Not in the context of this editorial, that gov't may soon tax existing private account assets. If that pretext is true, it doesn't matter where your money is.

The proposed privitization of SS is designed to make private money managers more money. The big financial houses don't help pay for people to get elected out of the kindness of their hearts.

Darby
25798
Points
Darby 03/19/13 - 05:29 pm
5
1
"The proposed privitization...

of SS is designed to make private money managers more money"
.
Now that's just plain silly, arbitrary, biased and agenda driven twaddle.

I don't give a tinker's damn about "private" money managers (whoever they are). I certainly do care that whatever a person puts into Social Security is lost to him if he should die before recovering it. (This is where you insert the liberal whine, "But it's for the common good.")

On the other hand, privatization would mean that his family would inherit the whole enchilada. (Less whatever the government might be able to steal in taxes.)

Knee jerk liberals and progressives want control of that money because control of money equates to control of people and their lives.

If you control your own money, you control your own life. If anyone tells you differently, they are flat out lying to you.

burninater
9609
Points
burninater 03/19/13 - 05:28 pm
1
6
Knee jerk liberals and

Knee jerk liberals and progressives want control of that money because control of money equates to control of people and their lives.

Now that's just plain silly, arbitrary, biased and agenda driven twaddle.

Darby
25798
Points
Darby 03/19/13 - 05:44 pm
4
1
Oh, Burn....

I'm so impressed. How original! How ever did you come up with that?

Oh, wait, you didn't!

Since you like my stuff so much, you might want to look back at the last paragraph of that post. It was also my own work.

deestafford
27789
Points
deestafford 03/19/13 - 05:51 pm
4
0
There is an example of what happens when SS is privatized

and that is when Galveston, TX opted out of SS for its employees. That was during the time a municipality could decide to not contribute to SS and set up their own employee retirement program. I'm not sure when that option ended but it was pretty quick once the feds saw how well it was working and the number of municipalites were doing it.
Here is what I remember of what the retirees there are getting (I'm doing this from memory so it will not be exactly 100% on the number.): they are getting three times what they would have been getting from SS and when they die either before or after they retire the money in their fund goes to the family as outlined by the retiree's wishes.
When Pres Bush was talking about privatizing a portion of SS in a way that the individual could have control over their own investments, there were people interviewed who said, "Oh, I don't want that. I don't want to have to think about what to do with my retirement money. It's best for the government to make those decision." That is the mentality we are dealing with. By the way, a person would have had the option to take the portion and invest it or continue to allow the government to do it.
Paul Ryan's plan would not effect those currently retired or within 20 years of retirement. It would affect those only younger than 45. Keep in mind we have only two people supporting each SS security recipient. In a few years it will be 1:1. Now how can we exist with that?

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