Archives For wealth

Pile of MoneyThe U.S. government and Switzerland have reached an agreement that could expose Americans who have used Swiss banks to avoid paying taxes….

The crackdown began in 2009 after a whistleblower notified U.S. authorities that UBS, the largest Swiss bank, was enabling Americans to evade taxes.

UBS settled the case later that year. It turned over account records on 4,500 U.S. customers and paid a $780 million fine

SOURCE:  Swiss, U.S. reach deal on outing tax evaders – CBS News.

I have absolutely no sympathy for those caught trying to hide their wealth in swiss banks in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.  It is about time that the Swiss were held accountable for their part in this activity. I certainly celebrate those who through their own initiatives have become wealthy in the country. For the most part they deserve to have the fruits of their labor. But as the bible says for whom much is given much is expected.

Prior to the establishment of personal income taxes in 1913 (yes, just a hundred years ago) almost all the money needed to run our government in doing the people’s business came from inheritance taxes and import taxes. I wonder what this country would look like today if that means of funding had continued? I kind of think we would probably be  better off than what we are now.  Instead of taxing those who have little or no discretionary income why not depend on wealth returning to where it came from after someone dies?

Getting back to the point of the post, it seems that the more money someone has just increases their fixation on getting more and more and paying out less and less. They let money become the idol of their lives. In that regard  the sickness is much worse than the cure. It does my heart good to see that those who try to hide their wealth in order to avoid taxes are getting caught more frequently today thanks to the revised Swiss practices. But I’m sure there are many more than the 4,500 who were turned over. Probably orders of magnitude more…..

Taking It From Somebody….

February 27, 2013

Banner - Will Rogers

The difference between our rich and poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. . . . A man can make a million over night and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells you who give up the million he got. You can’t get money without taking it from somebody. – 1 June 1930  Will Rogers

WealthAs Will points out here the difference between the rich and the poor has always been greater than many of us would like to see but I really don’t think in Will’s day it was even remotely as wide a gap as it is today.   The latest statistics show that there is about $58 trillion of wealth in the U.S.  But as the chart to the right shows 80% of the population  controls only 7% of the wealth. That is about $10,000 per person for 80% of us. The top 1% average $7,000,000/person.

But as Will further points out that there is just so much wealth that can be owned. There has been a twenty fold increase in billionaire in the last twenty years.  In order for the money to come to them it had to come from someone else. Of course we all know where it came from. It came for the wages and benefits of the 80% that have actually decreased over that same period of time.

I’m not a financial wizard but it really doesn’t seem like rocket science to me to understand that if we want to grow our GDP we must have citizens who have the money to buy additional goods and services. The 1% can only buy so many jets and yachts. :)   In fact most of their increased wealth is likely just sitting in off-shore accounts accumulating interest.  When the elite among us insist on stagnating wages there are no additional resources to grow our economy. It is a Catch-22 and that I can understand so why can’t the big shot economists in the gOp figure it out?

I am adding a new category starting with this post. It is entitled “The Shrinking Middle Class”.

Here is one of the reasons why I am doing that. It is well into the Fall season here in the Midwest and soon all the outside work will be over. That means about five months of pretty much staying in the “cabin”. To ward off cabin fever I usually try to take on a special project for each in-door season. The project this year will be to learn as much as I can about the history of the middle class and the possible causes of its recent decline. ” Continue Reading…

via Jack Welch: I was right about jobs report – Oct. 9, 2012.

Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, had previously contributed content to Fortune, but following critical coverage of his comments on the jobs report and tenure at GE, Welch said in an e-mail Tuesday that he was terminating his contract with Fortune.

In his WSJ op-ed, Welch suggests that the reaction to his criticism of “the ruling authorities” was something he would expect in Soviet Russia or Communist China. “Nope,” he wrote, “that would be the United States right now, when a person (like me, for instance) suggests that a certain government datum (like the September unemployment rate of 7.8%) doesn’t make sense.” Continue Reading…

How About Some Changes….

October 17, 2012

I guess I am still fixated on the post from yesterday about how so many very sparsely populated States in the U.S. now have so much power. It seems that our country is quite out of balance right now as a result of past decisions.  Maybe it is time to revisit some of that stuff.  Being that I am the fool who rushes in where angels fear to tread I will take a stab at this. If you want to call this the Walters’ Doctrine go ahead. I will take the blame for all of it. Here is my list of things that need to change: Continue Reading…

Mighty Rich But….

October 11, 2012

We can get mighty rich, but if we haven’t got any friends, we will find we are poorer than anybody. – June 1, 1930  Will Rogers

I am totally embarrassed that it has been so long since I used any of my hero Will Roger’s quotes on this blog. He is my inspiration for sitting down and doing this on a daily basis. When I lose track of Will my writing tends to drift over more to the dark side of life. Our lives are just too short to live over there for long. So here I am back to talking about a quote from Will. Continue Reading…

Dressing For Dinner…

June 1, 2012

There is a great tendency all over the country now to be high brow. More people should work for their dinner instead of dressing for it  — Will Rogers

This quote caught my attention because for the last few months I have been watching the PBS series “Downton Abby”. Here is how Wikipedia describes the series:

The series is set in the fictional Downton Abbey, the Yorkshire country house of the Earl and Countess of Grantham, and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the reign of King George V. The first series spans the two years before the Great War beginning with news of the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, which sets the story in motion. Continue Reading…

The difference between the rich and the poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time. A man can make a million and he is on every page in the morning. But it never tells who gave up that million he got. You can’t get money without taking it from someone.  – 1933 Will Rogers

This is one of the most provocative quotes I have in my collection from Will Rogers. Given the statistics that show in the last ten years that the wealth of the 1%ers has more than doubled while the rest of us have seen our wealth, if you comically want to call it that, go down.  It is pretty much a zero-sum game. For the wealthy to get wealthier the rest of us must get poorer. That is just plain old economics.  When will our government stand up for the common guy??

But what do I know….

More From James…

December 4, 2011

 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?  If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing right.

Another place in the Bible (the Beatitudes) it says  Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  James is re-enforcing  those words here. The rich have exploited the poor before Jesus’ times and continue to do so today.  Many places in the Bible tell us to focus on helping the poor rather than praising wealth.  Will we as Christians ever really learn that lesson?

Poor Little Rich Kids…..

October 8, 2011

This excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article peaked my senses. It seems the rich, who we give massive tax breaks,  are aware that their kids will probably blow through their inherited wealth after they are gone.  What a bind to be in!  I bet they take all this planning and  trustees as tax deductions. It seems very ironic that while most of us are just trying to stay out of the poor house, and in any other house at all, there are those who worry about the other end of the spectrum.

Instead of “cleverly written trusts” and “carefully chosen trustees” how about just letting them make their own way in life like the other 98% of us do? Who knows, maybe Paris Hilton would even be a productive member of our society if she had not inherited so much of granddaddy’s wealth. :) Up until recently (the 1980s that is) the government taxed wealthy estates so that a significant part of the accumulated money could go back for the common good.  Our country was even established around the ideas that aristocracies are a drain on society. They thoroughly renounced the European version when we formed our country. In fact it was not long after our revolution that the French also rebelled against their aristocracy in a very bloody fashion.  So how is it now that we do so much to retain our version of aristocracy that makes up the top 1% of our population but controls almost 50% of the country’s wealth?

OK, here I go again with the “Walters plan” for accumulated wealth.  I know we can’t force the super rich to allow their children to make their own way in the world. But let’s treat the money they pass on to their children as “income” and therefore subject to the usual income taxes.  To me income is income no matter where it comes from. If you get money that you didn’t work for and you haven’t paid any taxes on  it is considered income to you. Another part of the “Walters Plan”  is where we establish a more equitable income tax structure. Don’t tax the billionaires at a lower rate than the people who empty their trash. Let’s set a level of tax free income so that a person can get the basic necessities and then tax everything else at a certain rate and with no tax deductions. These big tax loop holes that congress seems to endlessly write for the rich, and for many others for that matter,  are one of the reasons we are in the deficit hole we are in.

But what do I know.