Letter - Wealthy get taxes reduced and we pay more ‘fees’

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Evidence of what Robert Reich is talking about is the fact that we are now required to pay for the use of parks, recreation areas and the enjoyment of natural wonders that use to be free.

Think about it when you are asked to pay “the fee” while the wealthy hide behind unfair laws and loopholes. The fee system was put in place so the wealthy could get their tax rates reduced.

Bill Zweig

Walla Walla

Comments

PearlY 4 months, 4 weeks ago

You really thought your enjoyment of our parks and natural wonders was free? Or do you mean simply that you thought (and obviously still think) someone else should pay for your pleasures?

Why? You can pay for a subscription to the U-B, which is what? $9 a month? A Discover Pass is $30 a year and admits a whole car-load. So you could drop your U-B subscription and pay for four families' Passes. Or maybe you think "the rich" should be paying for your U-B subscription, too?

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fatherof5 4 months, 4 weeks ago

The U-B is a private company. The parks are owned by "we the people." It is good for our society that we should have some things open and easily accessible to all as part of the "commons."

This letter points out the reality that we are living in tight economic times and are being asked to make do with less and less, while the wealthy are paying a smaller percentage of their income than at any time in recent memory as the income inequality in this country surges to record levels.

There isn't money to pay for things like parks and higher education anymore, in part, because middle class wages are being suppressed, while the wealthy have gotten some great breaks in the tax code, which is largely due to their growing political influence.

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PearlY 4 months, 4 weeks ago

My point was that Mr. Zweig clearly has the resources to contribute his share of the cost of maintaining the parks, so they still are "easily accessible" to him. He chooses to budget his funds so as to buy a subscription to the U-B instead. Why should someone else pick up the cost of his enjoyment of the parks, so that he can give his money to the U-B?

Nice recap of the talking points, but the reality is that the combined take at federal, state and local levels is near its all-time high. And considering that high was supposed to be a one-shot massive effort to prevent a catastrophic crash, that high was pretty darned high.

"The wealthy" have far fewer breaks in the tax code than any other economic class, and what few breaks benefit them disproportionately are recognized by economists as necessary for the continued investment of capital into the economy.

Middle class wages are "being suppressed" by flawed efforts at economic recovery and efforts at redistribution of wealth. For decades, we've been warned that certain actions, no matter how well intentioned and "compassionate", reduce economic growth and jobs formation. Yet, we've continued to take those actions, and now we are experiencing the consequences. We punish productive effort and reward dependency, so naturally, we get less of what we punish and more of what we reward. You've had five kids, surely you know how that works.

Besides, there'd be plenty of money to pay for things like parks and higher education if we didn't insist on paying an entry level grounds-keeper or receptionist a compensation package that easily exceeds $60,000 a year and hire three supervisors to manage each of their jobs. Not to mention having 30+ different agencies at the federal level alone, managing one particular interest, such as Native American affairs, or energy conservation.

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MyFamNews 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Pearly: You need to look at the wage grade, pay scales, before you start throwing out outrageous numbers. Most entry level, often part time, jobs with the Park/Forest Service are WG 1, $9.55 an hour, which at 40 hours a week makes $19,864 annually... most are not yearly and often equate to 7-9 months of employment. At WG4, that number increases to $29,000, if it is full time and a full year of employment. Hardly close to the $60,000 that you stated.

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wallyworldguy 4 months, 3 weeks ago

probably start at 9.55 but quickly jump from there, like any other fed., or state job. then you have to add all the benifits and pension coasts. PearlY, your points are right on target.

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PearlY 4 months, 3 weeks ago

In 2010, the average compensation of a federal civilian employee with a high school degree or less was about $40,000, about 36% higher than comparable private sector employees, and despite touted pay freezes, etc., compensation has climbed considerably since then.

At every level of education until you get up to professional degrees or PhDs, federal employees are compensated considerably better than equivalent private sector employees. And that doesn't even take into account the value of their job security, which far outpaces that in the private sector. It's very very had to fire a federal employee, and their rate of lay-off is a fraction of that in the private sector. If you added the value of job security to the rest of their compensation package, it would be even more obvious that the federal worker is a member of an elite group.

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fatherof5 4 months, 3 weeks ago

So since the private sector jobs have become less and less secure over the years and pay less than they used to (as adjusted for inflation) and since fewer people get pensions or other benefits anymore, we should resent the government employees, who have the distinction of having had their buying power almost keep up with inflation. Yes? Let's make sure to bring down whatever strongholds remain in the middle class, so that life is equally untenable for all.

Or

We could take steps to boost the relative share of the economy that goes to regular folks working in the private sector.

The Koch brothers and the Heritage Foundation and others don't want wages to rise, and are working hard so that poor folks will tear each other down so that wages get as low as possible. Break up the unions, cut pensions, lower benefits, promote anti-government resentment, all while boosting CEO pay by millions. That's their game, and it is working marvelously.

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PearlY 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The Koch brothers? Oh, puh-leeze. The monsters in the closet of every scaredy-cat leftist. Use common sense: The Koch brothers derive their wealth from companies that produce consumer goods. Higher wages are good for their business. Why wouldn't they want higher wages? The additional amount they might have to pay their employees is trivial in comparison to what higher wages overall would do to their revenues.

No, fatherof5, it's not a matter of resentment. But basic economics should tell you that in periods of rapid growth, wages (like the prices of many other items) can become excessive. Periods of recession allow mini-resets, of which wages must necessarily be a part. Exempting government employees from this process makes them a favored elite, at the expense (especially during a recession) of the private sector workers whose job opportunities and wages are suppressed by the higher taxes or higher government debt required to support that elite.

Do you really believe recessions are some evil invention of your boogey-men, the Kochs? Don't you understand why they happen? My nephew, the would-be personal trainer who, instead of wasting his time whining about how bad things were, at 19 easily found two jobs earning him over $30,000 a year between them, explained to me simplistically how muscle development works in exercise - you are mildly damaging the muscle and during the rest you must give it, it rebuilds itself stronger than it was before. Economies are a little like that: exuberant growth makes businesses wasteful and inefficient, and recessions force them to heal themselves or reorganize themselves for greater efficiency and greater future growth. Unfortunately, we have exempted government from that process for so long it has become terminally inefficient.

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fatherof5 4 months, 3 weeks ago

First, if the Kochs want higher wages then why is so much Koch money behind the efforts to get rid of unions? The stats are clear on what happens to wages when the unions are broken.

And do you believe that what is happening to the middle class just started with this recession? If that's what you think I'm saying, then you have misread me.

Finally, one way we "heal ourselves" is to recognize the path we have been on starting in the late '70s and vote our way out of it. It starts with getting the big money out of politics, which is the opposite of direction in which we are headed.

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PearlY 4 months, 3 weeks ago

fatherof5, the reason so much big money is now in politics is because politics controls so much money now. Starting in the 1960s, we've ratcheted government spending as a share of GDP from around 21% to nearly 49% this year. It's ridiculous to think that when government controls half the economy, people aren't going to spend money hand over fist to influence how it's spent.

You assume that "getting the big money out of politics" will dramatically change how people vote - that's they'll vote the way you want instead of the way I want. Out of curiosity, why? Do you assume that one side of the political battle will thereby be unable to get its message out? Your solution to votes you don't like is to shut down the voices of those you disagree with?

No, what's happened to the middle class didn't start with this recession. It started with the New Deal. Not that the entitlements created by the New Deal were at all excessive, but that it created a market for politicians who would promise to take money from one group to give to another. The process of doing that over the past 60 years has so severely distorted our economy that it is frankly unlikely it will be able to dig its way out. The American middle class will continue to see higher structural unemployment, reduced buying power, and a less vibrant and flexible job market into the foreseeable future. And the more your ideas are implemented the worse it will be. But take comfort, I'm pretty sure your ideas WILL prevail. At least, sure enough that I invest accordingly.

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PearlY 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I see I didn't answer your first question - why is so much Koch money behind efforts to get rid of unions. First, you are conflating opposition to unions with opposition to high wages. They aren't necessarily the same thing.

Second, give me a source for how much that is and how that compares to what unions spend to expand their memberships, and then tell me how that is spent to "get rid of" them. You, for example, might view "right to work" laws as an effort to get rid of unions, while I might see it as an effort to keep them honest and to force them to prove their worth to their members, not to mention a protection of the liberty interests of those who don't want to be forced to join unions.

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namvet60 4 months, 3 weeks ago

fatherof5 - It is amazing of your infatuation with the Koch brothers and the Republicans but you fail to take into consideration the big money that funds the DNC. Just to name a few Labor Unions, Soros, Bloomberg, Hollywood elites . . . . . . . . For one Labor Unions only fight for higher wages so that they can rake in more money for the Union and I don't see George Soros out fighting for higher wages unless if it makes him money.

A person of your stature one would think that you would take off your liberal blinders and consider the whole picture and not just the Harry Reid version.

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fatherof5 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Boy, I step away for a few days and see all the hubbub when I mention the Koch brothers. To respond to you both, in 2012 the Koch brothers and their organization spent approximately $407 million to influence elections, whereas unions - all combined - spent roughly $400 million (see link at bottom). In other words, two men and a few of their friends waged a comparable political influence to 14.5 million middle class union workers. The "one man one vote" ratio is staggering. (George Soros seems to have spent a few million dollars in the 2012 election, though I'm having trouble tracking down a hard figure. He has spent more in other years, but nothing approaching the Kochs.)

My concern with the growing influence of the Koch brothers is not just about the corrupting influence of money in politics (left and right), but that their causes are anti-labor, anti-environment, anti-regulation, anti-healthcare for all, and pro-survival-of-the-fittest capitalism, all of which is leading us in the direction of a plutocracy.

As an anecdote, if you wonder why the vast majority of climate scientists (i.e. the ones who know what they are talking about) are in agreement about the realities of climate change, but only half of Americans think it's real, one only has to look as far as the Koch brothers and their organizations to see how this confusion has been manifested among our citizenry. In my view, despite the monies they have donated to universities and their noble efforts in joining with the ACLU to fight Bush on the Patriot Act, their overall influence is detrimental to our nation.

http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/04/06/fact-checker-koch-brothers-spend-unions/7285981/

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PearlY 4 months, 3 weeks ago

fatherof5, I read the story you linked to. You would do well to read it more carefully, too. It does NOT say that the Koch brothers spent $407 million. It says that something it refers to as the "Koch-backed network" RAISED $407 million. So if the Koch brothers made a $1000 contribution to, say, the Club for Growth, then the $100 contribution I made to that group is part of the $407 million, and in your eyes, counted as evidence that the Koch brothers control me, the Club for Growth, and every candidate that group backs.

And don't give me that fairy tale about all union workers supporting the goals of union leaders. I've had my money stolen by unions and given to candidates I abhorred, and I certainly wasn't being represented by them in the process.

So what if, in your view, their overall influence is detrimental to our nation. In my view, it's the opposite. Neither of us has any right trying to shut each other, or the Kochs, up. It's their money. If they want to spend it advocating for their views, I, for one, am happy they do.

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fatherof5 4 months, 3 weeks ago

PearlY, I referred to the money as being raised by the Koch brothers and their organization, and later I wrote it was by them and their friends, so perhaps you need to read more carefully? The point is that the Kochs and a very small group wield tremendous influence when compared to the individual worker, whose voice grows more faint in Washington these days.

Under the Constitution, the Kochs have the right of free speech, which I support. Under this Supreme Court, they also have the right to give unlimited funds, much of it as "dark money," which the Supreme Court equates to "speech," a decision which is among the most destructive in American history. As former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis is alleged to have said, " “We may have a democracy or we may have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

Look at how the Kochs and others like them have an army of poor and middle class people fighting for their ability to accumulate more wealth, while the masses themselves are losing their upward mobility at alarming rates. Virtually all of the monetary gains over the past decade have gone to the top 1%, yet folks like you and namvet are going after middle class union workers and government employees, just like the Kochs drew it up. They've got you right where they want you. The future under their vision - and yours - will lead to excessively greater wealth for .01% of Americans and greater struggle for the rest of us. It needs to stop.

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PearlY 4 months, 2 weeks ago

How do you know the Kochs' friends consist of a "small number"? Millions of people contribute to the same groups the Kochs do, which makes all of us "friends" of the Kochs in your book. But that's no different than saying that anybody who contributes to the Center for American Progress is a "friend" of George Soros.

Look, you believe my vision will lead to greater wealth for the .01% or whatever. I believe your vision is doing so right now. You've already admitted that politics has gotten a lot worse since the 1970s. Coincidentally (or not) that's when government started trying to micromanage campaign and political funding. How's that working out for you?

fatherof5, it is hard not to resent your assumption that the Koch brothers are somehow pulling my strings. We may not agree on much, but I don't believe I've ever insulted your intelligence or the independence of your opinions. You're wrong, but I give you credit for getting to your wrongness on your own, and not as someone's puppet. Please do me the same courtesy.

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namvet60 4 months, 3 weeks ago

In regards to your plutocracy is just plain bogus. The majority of Americans do not want a government employee in ever household. The government has a stranglehold on Americans that must be reduced in order for this country to survive.

The clear thinking Americans are tired of the government introducing overzealous regulations that is ruining the economy and curbing job creations, tired of nefarious environmentalism that is destroying this country and now we have a healthcare law in place that will destroy the total health system. The healthcare system will collapse under the weight of Medicaid and not having enough revenue to survive without government subsidies costing the taxpayer more money.

Also if the Koch brothers have so much input - WHY - do the Democrats have more money from fundraising and donations than the opposing parties at the end of the of the campaigns? I suppose all of these donations come without some kind of favor involved when that party gets elected?

If you need the government to come to your house and tell you that you can have a $10.00 bill for gas or maybe $50.00 to buy groceries you just keep going with the train of thought that you have going.

Less government = American freedom.

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fatherof5 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Namvet, I'm beginning to get the feeling that you and I see things differently.

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namvet60 4 months, 3 weeks ago

fatherof5 - I have noticed that - Thank you.

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GeneandCassie 4 months, 3 weeks ago

What 'fee' is the topic of interest here? Is it the 'voluntary' fee which shows up on the Auto License renewals each year; or another pay at the gate fee?

The 'voluntary' fee can be deducted before paying the bill due; at least that's how I interpret the verbage on the renewal notice......

Where might one find more information on the '$60,000 entry level jobs?' Sounds like an interesting job to apply for.....

So far I have not found anything specific......

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