Not the post, but the clickbait title. I mean, c'mon, can't we have a proper headline anymore?! When extraterrestrials really are discovered I want to read "ALIENS DISCOVERED!," in all caps (and imagine it spoken in a 1940s-newsreel voice), not this ridiculous "click me to read the thing I could have just told you right now, but didn't" crap!
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Which parts of the garlic are actually relevant? Yes, garlic is antiseptic, but do any of its components interact with other parts of the concoction? How does the wine play into this? Does this concoction have any long-term side effects? (After all, one of the active ingredients is a heavy metal.) What if it's used repeatedly? Does its behavior differ when used internally? Which parts need to be isolated in order to achieve maximum effectiveness with the minimum number of chemical compounds? (A more complex medication means more chances for people to be intolerant to some ingredient so a chemically simpler formulation actually has benefits.) Under which circumstances should this stuff not be used despite being otherwise indicated? Are there, for instance, any adverse interactions with other medications?
Can you answer any of those questions with certainty right now? I don't think so. You may think that this stuff isn't important but a doctor would want to know whether it's known-unsafe to use this stuff on a patient who is on medications A, B and C and suffers from known medical conditions D and E.
No, big pharma is not nice. But that doesn't mean that they are completely useless and just dick around with flawless medicines in order to make them more expensive. They do a lot of rather expensive testing to make reasonably sure that this stuff is actually safe to use and its failure modes are well-understood.
Your pining for the benefit of the doubt is simultaneously amusing and passe.
You're mixing income tax with consumption tax. If you want to tax income, tax income. But if we're taxing consumption, then those who consume more pay more than those who consume less, and those who consume least because they have the least to spend pay the least in taxes because of the baseline exemption. The upper middle class guy who's busting his butt to pay off his student loans, and who saves as much as he can, is not going to pay a disproportionate amount in taxes.
The only reason the particular middle-class guy in your example isn't paying a disproportionate amount in taxes is because he took out a bunch of loans before he became middle class, and thus shifted his spending backward in time to qualify for the exemption.
Or, another way of looking at it would be to say that the guy with student loans isn't really middle-class yet, because $0 income for 4 years plus $75K income for one year averages out to be "equivalent" (in some sense) to a guy making $15K each year. And if the guy had $60K in loans to pay back, and they had to be paid back in one year, then it pretty much would be equivalent.
But I digress: even in the case of somebody with student loans, there are only two possibilities: either the loan payments are a large fraction of income such that the person is "poor" after paying them as in the example above, or the loan payments are a small fraction of income such that the person is still "middle class" after paying them and is inflating his lifestyle and thus paying a disproportionately tax rate anyway.
If he pays off his student loans and still chooses to live modestly, he continues to pay a low tax rate. If he instead decides to start living large, then he'll start paying more in taxes. Either way, he essentially chooses his tax bracket, because he chooses every day what to buy, and how much to spend on it.
Here's the problem: on average, nobody does that! Did you see the graph I linked? The average savings rate, across the entire bottom 90% of the population, is about 2.5%. To say "just save more" is a non-solution because it ignores human nature.
Now, you're right that some people -- weird people -- would save a large fraction of their income and thus make out like bandits. As one of those weird people myself (I'm a big fan of mrmoneymustache.com and plan to be wealthy enough to retire at age 45 or so), I completely agree that it's entirely possible to do. However, I also realize that, when considering society as a whole, people like me are a negligibly tiny fraction. What's advantageous for me and what works for society are very, very different things.
This tax is progressive in that people who choose to live modestly or who cannot afford to live extravagantly pay very little in taxes. Those who are able and choose to live extravagantly pay much more in taxes.
You're ignoring the third category, which is "people who can afford to live comfortably" (but not extravagantly). (And by "afford" I mean "live paycheck to paycheck, saving very little" -- which is a poor definition of "afford," but nevertheless the one most people use.) That category describes pretty much the entire middle class (again, except weird people). Unless you make the exemption cutoff so high that only true "luxury" goods are taxed, they are screwed by your plan.
Finally, although up to this point we've been avoiding discussing why it's important for taxes to be progressive in the first place, I'd like to reiterate that is is indeed important. Money is power, and without a way to siphon off and redistribute excessive wealth, runaway compound interest allows the most wealthy people to become so obscenely powerful that it destroys the political system (and eventually society itself). It happened before the French Revolution, it happened before the Soviet Revolution, and it's happening in the US right now. Insufficiently progressive taxes are dangerous.
This. The class I'm taking right now has videos that consist entirely (except for the intro) of the professor writing on the screen with a Wacom tablet. It's exactly like watching a lecture, except the whiteboard is a computer. By the way, I've previously taken an in-person class taught by the same guy [when I was an undergrad], so when I say it's the same I know what I'm talking about.
And no, if you want to make a consumption tax regressive, you don't have to make it complicated. You can exempt the first $X of purchases, where $X is some "living wage" line according to some politician's favored theory. You now have a progressive tax.
That's not progressive; that's regressive with a discontinuity. For example, assume the sales tax rate were 25%. In that case, a middle-class person making and spending 2*$X pays 12.5% (25% * 50%), which is a higher tax rate than a rich person who makes 10*$X and spends 5*$X, who pays 10% (25% * 40%). And the really rich person making 100*$X but who ran out of things he wanted to buy at 10*$X has a tax rate that's even lower than that: 2.25% (25% * 9%).
By the way, I wrote that example using easy numbers to illustrate my point. The actual difference in saving rates between normal people, the rich, and the very rich is large, but not quite that large (see the second chart on this page). However, even at realistic savings rates (2.5% for the bottom 90%, 15% for the top 10 to 1%, and 35% for the top 1%) the principle is still valid.
And since everybody would be helping to carry the load of the government they ask for, the big winners in this system are the upper middle class, who are currently getting screwed from both ends of the income spectrum.
On the contrary! As you can see from my example above, the middle class person making significantly more than $X, but not enough to easily save a large fraction of his income, pays the highest tax rate of all. The peak tax rate would occur somewhere around the 50th income percentile, while if the goal were to be progressive it should occur at the 99th percentile.
First of all, quit being obtuse.
Second, train engineers are not the "original" engineers. The original engineers were people who designed siege engines (hence the name) for warfare -- ballistas, trebuchets, battering rams, etc. -- as well as fortifications. Military engineers predate trains by several thousand years.
Third, the second-oldest type of engineering is "civil engineering," and is named such because "civil" is the opposite of "military." Civil engineering is also several thousand years older than trains.
Oh, and by the way: the word "engine" didn't originally have anything to do with internal or external combustion; the Latin root word translates roughly as "a produced thing," or an object created by ingenuity. So in the truest sense, an engineer is anyone who uses his ingenuity to build something.
The only reason railroad engineers are called such is because presumably the earliest ones built the damn locomotive as well as operated it. Besides, the US and Canada are the only places that call people who drive trains "engineers" anyway -- everywhere else calls them "drivers," "operators" or "pilots."
Mind you, the Matt 4:9 has little relevance here. The Devil wasn't robbing banks. There is no coercion here. Jesus was free to walk away from the Devil's deals (and he did). What was happening was simply free market capitalism doing its work.
Couldn't agree with you less. It's the same human soul, tempter, and temptations.