Taxes on the top 1%

From Conor Clarke is this chart plotting the effective federal tax rate of the upper 1%.

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First off, never trust a chart that doesn’t start at 0 but anyway. What’s interesting is that this is the effective rate being paid (not the marginal rate).
Here’s some related information that shows how income has grown for the wealthy. This is also the chart that makes a great argument that income inequality isn’t representative of an educational gap. Presumably, the top 10% have all received comparable educations — yet the top 1%’s income has grown even more.

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And in the most recent past, the very highest earners did very well indeed, capturing almost three-quarters of total income growth in the economic expansion of 2002 to 2006, while the remaining 99 percent of the U.S. population split among themselves the final 25 percent of the increase.

Unemployment post-recession

This graph has been making the rounds (I got it from Barry Ritholtz’s). It shows the percentage change in unemployment (Y-axis) and the months since the official start of the recession.
What’s particularly dramatic about this is employment continues to worsen and over a much longer period of time than past recessions. E.g. this recession is going to be deeper and longer than past ones.

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What I don’t like about this chart is that it is the percentage change in a rate. For example, the unemployment in 1960 was ~6%. A 50% increase brings it up to 9%. In 2007, unemployment was 4.5%. A 100% increase brings it up to 9%, too.

‘Cash for Clunkers’ Passes House

So the cash for clunkers is getting closer. It passed in the House:

In addition to having stricter fuel economy requirements, the Senate bill contains three major differences. The first is the maximum fuel economy of the trade-in vehicles, which is 17 miles a gallon. The second is there are three voucher amounts ($2,500 to buy a new car that gets at least seven miles a gallon more, $3,500 for 10 m.p.g. more and $4,500 for 13 m.p.g. more). Finally, the Senate bill also offers a provision for buying a used car.

So maybe that new car smell isn’t so far away. Here’s a comparison of the House and Senate version of the bill.
The estimate is that it’ll increase auto sales by 625,000. It’ll work for me!

That new car smell

I’m closely keeping track of that cash-for-clunkers program. It sounds like the Senate is close to approving a plan that provides a $3,500 subsidy for trading in an old gas guzzler for a more efficient car!

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a plan and the Senate is likely to do the same this week. It looks like the plan would provide a $3500 subsidy to anyone trading in a car getting less than 18 miles per gallon as long as there is at least a 4-mpg improvement. (I think I got yardage on my old car, not mileage.) A 10-mpg improvement would get you another $1000.

Closer to a new car?

It’s one step closer to happening! Getting a new car based on a trade in might actually happen. It hasn’t passed the House yet (much less the Senate) but the leadership of both parties agree on doing it.
From House Reaches a Deal on ‘Cash for Clunkers’ Program:

Under the House plan, a car trade-in that improves fuel efficiency by at least 10 miles per gallon would qualify for a $4,500 voucher, as would the trade-in of a small truck that improves efficiency by 5 miles per gallon. The new vehicle must have a minimum fuel efficiency rating of 22 miles per gallon for cars and 18 miles per gallon for small trucks.

The Banality of Bush White House Evil

Frank Rich in the NY Times does a great job reminding us tat the Bush Whitehouse desire to invade Iraq drove so many things:

Five years after the Abu Ghraib revelations, we must acknowledge that our government methodically authorized torture and lied about it. But we also must contemplate the possibility that it did so not just out of a sincere, if criminally misguided, desire to “protect” us but also to promote an unnecessary and catastrophic war. Instead of saving us from “another 9/11,” torture was a tool in the campaign to falsify and exploit 9/11 so that fearful Americans would be bamboozled into a mission that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. The lying about Iraq remains the original sin from which flows much of the Bush White House’s illegality.

Going Galt? Give me a break

I have a friend who seems to believe in Ayn Rand Objectivist philosophy and talks about Tea Parties and Going Galt.
I’m guilty of not having read Atlas Shrugged though I did like this 1000 word summary of Atlas Shrugged . I certainly enjoyed this discussion from Ezra Klein
Here’s a great review from Whittaker Chambers reviewing in 1957 Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged on National Review Online:

Its story is preposterous. It reports the final stages of a final conflict (locale: chiefly the United States, some indefinite years hence) between the harried ranks of free enterprise and the “looters.” These are proponents of proscriptive taxes, government ownership, labor, etc., etc. The mischief here is that the author, dodging into fiction, nevertheless counts on your reading it as political reality. This,” she is saying in effect, “is how things really are. These are the real issues, the real sides. Only your blindness keeps you from seeing it, which, happily, I have come to rescue you from.”
Since a great many of us dislike much that Miss Rand dislikes, quite as heartily as she does, many incline to take her at her word. It is the more persuasive, in some quarters, because the author deals wholly in the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. In this fiction everything, everybody, is either all good or all bad, without any of those intermediate shades which, in life, complicate reality and perplex the eye that seeks to probe it truly.