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Old April 17th, 2009, 01:42 AM   #1
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US taxes - would you pay more to get more?

For me, a major and time-consuming event this week was doing my income tax return and filing it. Mine are fairly simple, and I use tax software, so it isn't too onerous. But it started me thinking about our tax structure.

The US has an extremely low personal income tax rate. Much as we complain about it, what we pay in total pales in comparison to what people pay in most developed countries. However, the other developed countries all provide medical care for everyone, and have much more generous social support for people.

Their has alwalys been an attitude in the US that if you give people too much support, they will become lazy and not work, yet no one thinks of the Swiss or the Dutch as lazy, and they have very generous programs.

So, would any of you who are American be willing to pay more taxes to have some of the European style benefits?
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Old April 17th, 2009, 12:17 PM   #2
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I'm not American, but Canadian. But, if I were to have to answer as an American, then I would say that I would pay more for government provided healthcare - this is something I would not want to live without and is one of the top reasons I like Canada.

As for social assistance like welfare, I'm not so sure - there are a lot of people out there who abuse the system, and I'm sure there would be a lot more if the benefits were to rise. A system needs to be set in place to stop the people abusing it, and only give it to those who are genuinely in need... I mean, there's people out there popping out babies just to get bigger cheques.
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Old April 17th, 2009, 12:22 PM   #3
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No. Simple as that. Socialism has not every worked, nor will it ever. Those countries that you mentioned are A LOT less productive than the United States, their people have less freedom, and their debt continues to grow each year. Furthermore, they have longer wait times and the quality of healthcare is not as good as a free market alternative would be.
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Old April 17th, 2009, 12:27 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by myp View Post
No. Simple as that. Socialism has not every worked, nor will it ever. Those countries that you mentioned are A LOT less productive than the United States, their people have less freedom, and their debt continues to grow each year. Furthermore, they have longer wait times and the quality of healthcare is not as good as a free market alternative would be.
Well... I'm not sure we have less freedom than the U.S. and I'm pretty sure Canada's national debt has been falling for quite some time now, while the US's is growing.

What I will agree on you with is that we have longer wait times - far longer... sometimes hours for just a check up... and you'd have to wait usually at least a month, sometimes up to 3 months to see a specialist (like a dermatologist). I'm also not sure as to the quality of healthcare, but I can only guess that it is marginally better in the States.
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Old April 17th, 2009, 12:37 PM   #5
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Well... I'm not sure we have less freedom than the U.S. and I'm pretty sure Canada's national debt has been falling for quite some time now, while the US's is growing.
Taxes are essentially restrictions on freedoms, but even on top of that many socialized countries tend to move away from freedom in order to support big government. When I said this I was thinking more of the European countries than Canada, but a capitalist system is still by far a lot freer.

As for the debt, the comparison between America and Canada is not valid unless you look at specific costs. Our debt is growing so much because we are spending on other things- many of which I also do not support. My point was that socialist programs also cost a lot and continue to cost more and more as populations grow, which eventually creates large debts. Some of the European nations are currently in very binding situations because of this.

Before someone says that with population growth comes tax revenue growth, let me just say that with that also comes more bureaucracy, which means more money wasted in transition as well (not to mention the free loaders.)
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What I will agree on you with is that we have longer wait times - far longer... sometimes hours for just a check up... and you'd have to wait usually at least a month, sometimes up to 3 months to see a specialist (like a dermatologist). I'm also not sure as to the quality of healthcare, but I can only guess that it is marginally better in the States.
Sadly the United States is far from a free market healthcare system. In a free system, the quality would be noticeably better than the socialized alternative.
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Old April 17th, 2009, 01:54 PM   #6
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I personally wouldn't. This would assume that the government could provide something that I couldn't. That said, I would be willing to pay more state taxes (or any...sorta don't have a lot of income as a student) since that supports things like fire and police protection. The schools also really deserve more funding.

If we really want to get into socialized medicine, then we should probably do a separate thread for it. On the whole, it's not terrible. I don't think that our system could ever handle it though. There's pros and cons and it usually boils down to one's political philosophy. We do need to revamp ours though. I think some type of government subsidized program could work well, meet a lot of needs, and ultimately give us a healthier workforce. A few places back home were doing some cool things with a clinic system. You paid them a set amount of money per month and got all the healthcare you needed from them. Things like that probably have a better chance of really changing things.

There's one more thing to remember MYP. We really aren't that productive. We generally have a small boost in productivity over European countries. The thing is...they have a lot more vacation time, shorter work days, and a less stressful regiment. We really aren't getting much bang for our buck. A number of British citizens I've heard have been quite happy to take their leisure time in exchange for slightly lower production.
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Old April 17th, 2009, 08:23 PM   #7
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Paying more to get more? More likely like save more to get more?
I can say, if I were there, I will not pay more to get more. Because of poverty, people really need to have more money to pay for their bills and buy foods. The normal tax is just fine.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 01:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myp View Post
No. Simple as that. Socialism has not every worked, nor will it ever. Those countries that you mentioned are A LOT less productive than the United States, their people have less freedom, and their debt continues to grow each year. Furthermore, they have longer wait times and the quality of healthcare is not as good as a free market alternative would be.




What you are saying is that in the following list of IMF countries, only the US has true freedom:
  1. [COLOR=#0066cc]Iceland 0.968 (▬)
  2. [COLOR=#0066cc]Norway 0.968 (▬)
  3. [COLOR=#0066cc]Canada 0.967 (▲ 1)
  4. [COLOR=#0066cc]Australia 0.965 (▼ 1)
  5. [COLOR=#0066cc]Ireland 0.960 (▬)
  6. [COLOR=#0066cc]Netherlands 0.958 (▲ 3)
  7. [COLOR=#0066cc]Sweden 0.958 (▼ 1)
  8. [COLOR=#0066cc]Japan 0.956 (▬)
  9. [COLOR=#0066cc]Luxembourg 0.956 (▲ 9)
  10. [COLOR=#0066cc]Switzerland 0.955 (▼ 3)
  1. [COLOR=#0066cc]France 0.955 (▼ 1)
  2. [COLOR=#0066cc]Finland 0.954 (▼ 1)
  3. [COLOR=#0066cc]Denmark 0.952 (▲ 1)
  4. [COLOR=#0066cc]Austria 0.951 (▲ 1)
  5. [COLOR=#0066cc]United States 0.950 (▼ 3)
  6. [COLOR=#0066cc]Spain 0.949 (▼ 3)
  7. [COLOR=#0066cc]Belgium 0.948 (▼ 1)
  8. [COLOR=#0066cc]Greece 0.947 (▲ 6)
  9. [COLOR=#0066cc]Italy 0.945 (▲ 1)
  10. [COLOR=#0066cc]New Zealand 0.944 (▼ 1)
  1. [COLOR=#0066cc]United Kingdom 0.942 (▼ 5)
  2. [COLOR=#0066cc]Hong Kong 0.942 (▼ 1)
  3. [COLOR=#0066cc]Germany 0.940 (▼ 1)
  4. [COLOR=#0066cc]Israel 0.930 (▼ 1)
  5. [COLOR=#0066cc]South Korea 0.928 (▲ 1)
  6. [COLOR=#0066cc]Slovenia 0.923 (▲ 1)
  7. [COLOR=#0066cc]Brunei 0.919 (▲ 3)
  8. [COLOR=#0066cc]Singapore 0.918 (▼ 3)
  9. [COLOR=#0066cc]Kuwait 0.912 (▲ 4)
  10. [COLOR=#0066cc]Cyprus 0.912 (▼ 2)
Most of these countries have what you would probably call a socialist system, in that they provide universal health care and generally high social support, including unemployment and welfare benefits. I doubt that the citizens of most of them would consider us more free. Do you really think the citizens of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK are oppressed? Do you think the Dutch and the Swiss have all turned into lazy bums because they have national health and generous unemployment benefits?

You sound like Sarah Palin, telling the world that if you want national health, go live in Sweden, as if Sweden were some third world hole.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 01:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myp View Post

Sadly the United States is far from a free market healthcare system. In a free system, the quality would be noticeably better than the socialized alternative.
So, there are a lot of countries out there with true free market health care systems, where you don't get medical care unless you can pay the market price. Almost all of Africa, for instance. Which African nation has this high quality health care you get from a free market system?

And the issue isn't whether you will get better care, but whether people in general get adequate care. The US is not supposed to be some country with a two-tier society, where the wealthy squander money while the peons suffer, it's not supposed to be Dickens' London here.

And the point about quality of life is well-taken. We are, I believe, not only the only developed country without universal health care, but the only one that doesn't require a minimum amount of paid vacation per year. Our laws encourage employers to force people to work long hours with no overtime pay. We offer less paid maternity leave than most countries.

And I think we are obsessed with money, not with living.

Last edited by curious; April 18th, 2009 at 01:49 AM.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 02:04 AM   #10
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A lot of those countries you listed curious are ranked among the top 10 "happiest" in the world - Denmark being number one and Sweden at number seven and Canada at 10. As far as I'm concerned, happiness is one of the most important things in life. According to the study - good health care plays a large role. America - 23.

Here's an interesting quote as well:
Quote:
Capitalism, meanwhile, fared quite well. Free-market systems are sometimes blamed for producing unhappiness due to insecurity and competition, but the U.S. was No. 23 and all the top-ranking European countries are firmly capitalist?albeit of a social-democratic flavor.
Anyway, I despise the mentality of money is all that maters and I think it's definitely true that many people are more concerned with money than with living. There needs to be a balance.

http://www.businessweek.com/globalbi...011_072596.htm
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Old April 18th, 2009, 03:30 PM   #11
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MYP, the problem is that so many adopt an all or nothing philosophy. What seems to work best is a mix of the best parts of both systems. I don't see how a free market health care system would work better. All socializing it does is make the demand fairly constant. There aren't that many people here who shop around for the best hospital (and actually find it). I do think they need to look more into handling specialized cases, but that's pretty easy to fix under their system.

As to everything else posted, I'll go ahead and throw my hat into the ring by saying that they're right. These somewhat socialist countries are doing pretty well. The only problem is that their system doesn't have enough doctors to handle the larger demand. That will probably be handled over time.

We actually have a similar problem anyway, with too many specialists and not enough GPs. So it's not really system specific anyway.

Last edited by The Parakeet; April 18th, 2009 at 03:32 PM.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 03:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Parakeet View Post
There's one more thing to remember MYP. We really aren't that productive. We generally have a small boost in productivity over European countries. The thing is...they have a lot more vacation time, shorter work days, and a less stressful regiment. We really aren't getting much bang for our buck. A number of British citizens I've heard have been quite happy to take their leisure time in exchange for slightly lower production.
The per hour productivity may be closer, but my point is that overall our economy is a lot more productive and definitely stronger.
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Originally Posted by curious View Post
What you are saying is that in the following list of IMF countries, only the US has true freedom:

...

Most of these countries have what you would probably call a socialist system, in that they provide universal health care and generally high social support, including unemployment and welfare benefits. I doubt that the citizens of most of them would consider us more free. Do you really think the citizens of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK are oppressed? Do you think the Dutch and the Swiss have all turned into lazy bums because they have national health and generous unemployment benefits?

You sound like Sarah Palin, telling the world that if you want national health, go live in Sweden, as if Sweden were some third world hole.
First off, I am not saying that we are truly free. Second of all, we are a lot freer than most socialist nations. The left wing seems to forget that the right to do what you want with your money is a huge freedom and with more and more taxes, that freedom is slowly taken away.

As for the countries you mentioned, why don't you look at the direction they have been heading in the past 10 years in terms of freedom and rethink your question. Also, keep in mind that Bush was also a big government president so that United States has also lost a lot of its freedom due to things like the Patriot Act and such.
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So, there are a lot of countries out there with true free market health care systems, where you don't get medical care unless you can pay the market price. Almost all of Africa, for instance. Which African nation has this high quality health care you get from a free market system?
The argument you make here is very weak because you are looking at one part of the whole equation, when in reality you need to look at the big picture. There are far bigger problems in Africa that are causing worse health like unstable governments, gang wars, etc. Anyway, if you really want to stoop to that level why don't I bring up the Soviet Union? How are they doing compared to the United States? Oh, wait...

Quote:
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And the issue isn't whether you will get better care, but whether people in general get adequate care. The US is not supposed to be some country with a two-tier society, where the wealthy squander money while the peons suffer, it's not supposed to be Dickens' London here.
Did I say I am for that two-tier society? No one who cares about freedom and equality wants that sort of system, what I am saying is that a free market system would be more beneficial than what we have now or than a socialist system. We DO NOT have a free market system right now in case you didn't know. The health industry is one of the most regulated markets in the United States.

Quote:
Originally Posted by curious View Post
And the point about quality of life is well-taken. We are, I believe, not only the only developed country without universal health care, but the only one that doesn't require a minimum amount of paid vacation per year. Our laws encourage employers to force people to work long hours with no overtime pay. We offer less paid maternity leave than most countries.

And I think we are obsessed with money, not with living.
And this is why I believe in the free market- because it gives the most freedom. The government should not tell corporations to give certain hours of vacation time- the workers should demand it if they really want it that much. If enough people don't care about it enough to say something, then maybe we shouldn't have the mandatory vacation time because the people don't want it anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta View Post
A lot of those countries you listed curious are ranked among the top 10 "happiest" in the world - Denmark being number one and Sweden at number seven and Canada at 10. As far as I'm concerned, happiness is one of the most important things in life. According to the study - good health care plays a large role. America - 23.

Here's an interesting quote as well:

Anyway, I despise the mentality of money is all that maters and I think it's definitely true that many people are more concerned with money than with living. There needs to be a balance.

http://www.businessweek.com/globalbi...011_072596.htm
Happiness is a very hard thing to measure because it is not quantitative. I can find you studies that show people here are happier. A free market would make everyone responsible for themselves and would essentially create a system of checks and balances within the market with everyone standing up for what they want. Just like in Democracy, the majority views would usually win and get what they want.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 04:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Happiness is a very hard thing to measure because it is not quantitative. I can find you studies that show people here are happier. A free market would make everyone responsible for themselves and would essentially create a system of checks and balances within the market with everyone standing up for what they want. Just like in Democracy, the majority views would usually win and get what they want.
Well I guess it comes down to personal morals. Sure, it would make the rich happier and the overall country happier because at the end of the day - all the poor and sick would be dead and naturally - their votes wouldn't count.

I guess I see a problem with letting people die because they aren't as well off as someone else. I guess on the other hand - it would promote the survival of the fittest and evidently lead to a far more productive and advancing human race.

Edit: we should really start a thread on healthcare.

Last edited by Delta; April 18th, 2009 at 04:58 PM.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 05:03 PM   #14
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Just a few quick things

MYP - This isn't the first time. People have generally listed those European countries as being happier.

It's actually quite interesting, since it shows in other things. Just look at Sweden. It's almost an atheist paradise. Studies have shown that people steadily abandon religion when they're happy and without worries toward their future and their safety. Lots of different analysis actually. It works both ways, with frightened people seeking supernatural thinking and secure people just doing standard stuff (applies in European countires and small African societies).

It follows that the high level of atheism in Europe would mean relative security and happiness.
--
Another thing is that this isn't a lost "freedom". They decided to have socialized medicine. They couldn't provide it through their own means, so they asked their sovereign power to provide it. They've continued to elect representatives who support it too.

That's standard social contract theory. It actually works the same way with business. If the workers want something to be universally done, then they use their total power to have a stronger force do it. There isn't a general union of businesses, so they went to the government.
--
Delta slipped in before me

Yeah. That's the one thing that ultimately made me lean away from free market thinking. I don't like Micheal Moore, but he made a good point in Sicko. We don't have long waiting lines, but that's because a large portion of people just aren't getting healthcare. If you think that's alright, then that's fine. Vote with your morals. I'll vote with my morals. Then let social contract theory take over

Last edited by The Parakeet; April 18th, 2009 at 05:05 PM.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 05:10 PM   #15
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It's actually quite interesting, since it shows in other things. Just look at Sweden. It's almost an atheist paradise. Studies have shown that people steadily abandon religion when they're happy and without worries toward their future and their safety. Lots of different analysis actually. It works both ways, with frightened people seeking supernatural thinking and secure people just doing standard stuff (applies in European countires and small African societies).

It follows that the high level of atheism in Europe would mean relative security and happiness.

Funny you should bring that up. I actually made a blog post about this a few months ago. Sweden was number 1 on the list of most atheistic countries. Denmark number 3, Norway 4 and Finland 7.

Unfortunately there are a few countries that probably aren't ranked too high on the happiness scale (although I don't know their actual placement) that made the top 10 as well (Vietnam - 2nd and Estonia - 10th for instance).

http://www.atheistmind.com/avoid-the...stic-countries
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Old April 18th, 2009, 05:20 PM   #16
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I assume Vietnam falls in as a "How could god let this happen" mixed in with standard atheism as a part of communism. No idea on Estonia.

The same thing supposedly happened in Russia. The number of truly religious people plummeted because 2 generations were brought up without it. They tended to drift toward new age stuff though.

I always found this interesting. The analysis I read was about one particular African culture. The fishermen who went out to sea had tons of gods and rituals. It was dangerous and the returns could be great or dismal. The fishermen who traveled to the lake had no such rituals. They were just fishermen. Their returns were also standard and their risk low. Farmers fell in the middle with a lot of agricultural science mixed in with a few rituals for luck.

This actually was present in a study of baseball too. I believe pitchers and hitters usually had tons of lucky charms and rituals. More reliable positions, like outfielders, didn't have any.

All pretty cool really.
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Old April 19th, 2009, 03:02 AM   #17
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Funny you should bring that up. I actually made a blog post about this a few months ago. Sweden was number 1 on the list of most atheistic countries. Denmark number 3, Norway 4 and Finland 7.

Unfortunately there are a few countries that probably aren't ranked too high on the happiness scale (although I don't know their actual placement) that made the top 10 as well (Vietnam - 2nd and Estonia - 10th for instance).

http://www.atheistmind.com/avoid-the...stic-countries
I was really surprised about France. And especially being ahead of Sweden, Finland and Norway.
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Old April 21st, 2009, 12:56 AM   #18
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I was really surprised about France. And especially being ahead of Sweden, Finland and Norway.
France wasn't mentioned.

I've talked to a lot of Europeans about this, and they are proud of being citizens of countries that take care of their people. They don't mind the high taxes because they know they are providing things they think are basic rights for everyone.

A woman from Denmark told me that America seems so strange, because when she visits it is obvious that it is a rich country, but we have so many obviously poor people. And, she said, I'm not used to that. We don't have any actual poor in Denmark.
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Old April 21st, 2009, 04:51 AM   #19
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France wasn't mentioned.
I don't understand. France was listed No. 8 out of the 10 in the link Delta provided. Perhaps you missed it?

I much prefer the freedom and open spaces of the United States to the congestion and overpopulation of Europe. I also prefer capitalism to socialism and being taxed to death. I don't think you can have the excitement and progressiveness of entrepreneurship alongside socialism. I think Europe is getting old with older people, less children and one of these days will be falling behind younger and more progressive countries of the Middle and Far East. So I am very thankful the United States is still a capitalist country.
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Old April 23rd, 2009, 12:46 AM   #20
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I scrolled right on by it, I guessed. But it wasn't ahead of Norway or Sweden. The list was presented in reverse order. Sweden is the most atheistic country in the world, so France can't be ahead of it.

As far as innovation and socialism goes, European countries consistently come up with new drugs and other inventions. Americans tend to think that when they come out, they must have been invented here. Most don't even know which drug companies arene't American. And all those socialist countries in Europe have a much better cellular phone network, and cellular phones penetrated the market much faster than in the US.

I do think they go way overboard in some things, but I don't think that the people who depend on the government for their total support are people that are going to be innovative in any system.

I'm not sure how not being able to get adequate medical care or having a family bankrupted just by copays and other uncovered expenses makes us a more innovative country.
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