Friday, May 16, 2008

Farm Subsidiaries
"The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to approve a five-year, $307 billion farm bill, sending it to President Bush for what is expected to be his futile veto."

"Mr. Bush had sought an adjusted gross income limit of $200,000 above which farmers could not qualify for any subsidy payments. The bill passed by the Senate and House, however, allows farm income of up to $750,000 and nonfarm income of $500,000 per individual."

I know we are both against farm subsidiaries, but this is over $1000.00 per person to farms. What gets me is this has such overwhelming support (from congress). $750k AGI before they can't get the money? Looks like I'm becoming a farmer.

"Some critics have also pointed to earmarks in the bill, including a tax break for racehorse owners added by the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky"

As pissed as I am about this, that Kentucky race horse tax break is pretty funny.

So I started to do a bit more reading into farm subsidies, mainly I wanted to see what their pros were (there had to be pros).

"The majority of the arguments in favor of agricultural subsidies are based largely on social and cultural values. Farm subsidies have the effect of transferring income from the general tax payers to farm owners. There is a common perception in many countries that farmers are among the hard working poor, thus there is often public support for using tax dollars to supplement farmers' incomes. (In most developed countries however, the majority of farm owners are not poor, and many are quite wealthy. Also, in many cases farm subsidies benefit rich farmers at least as much, and sometimes significantly more than poor farmers.)"

'They're hard working people, so let's give them more money?!' Pure insanity. I read the whole 'benefits' section on Wikipedia, and there wasn't anything worthwhile. In fact most of it was more criticisms of it. I have to hope in this case Wikipedia is just biased or something. We give an average of $16 billion every year to farms, there has to be a reason other than lobbyists.

On a slightly related note I didn't realize how fucking crazy high top tax rates had been until recently (94% !):
"The apportionment requirement made income taxes on property practically impossible, and Congress did not want to limit the income tax solely to a tax on wages. Therefore, in 1909 Congress proposed the Sixteenth Amendment, which became part of the Constitution in 1913 when it was ratified by the required number of states. The Amendment modified the requirement for apportionment of direct taxes by exempting all income taxes—whether considered direct or indirect—from the apportionment requirement. Congress re-adopted the income tax that same year, levying a 1% tax on net personal incomes above $3,000, with a 6% surtax on incomes above $500,000. By 1918, the top rate of the income tax was increased to 77% (on income over $1,000,000) to finance World War I. The top marginal tax rate was reduced to 58% in 1922, to 25% in 1925, and finally to 24% in 1929. In 1932 the top marginal tax rate was increased to 63% during the Great Depression and steadily increased, reaching 94% (on all income over $200,000) in 1945. During World War II, Congress introduced payroll withholding and quarterly tax payments. Top marginal tax rates stayed near or above 90% until 1964 when the top marginal tax rate was lowered to 70%. The top marginal tax rate was lowered to 50% in 1982 and eventually to 28% in 1988."

Also I found this graph rather interesting:

Friday, May 9, 2008

So I did some reading on highways. If you want, you can start here:

But that isn't what I wanted to mention. I discovered the purpose of counties. They manage unincorporated areas.

It turns out that pretty much the whole north east (and all of NJ) is covered by municipalities (towns), and thus counties aren't very strong. But apparently out west they are used a lot more, as there are areas which aren't part of any town. I like how being from NJ it seems insane to me that there would be be an area which isn't part of a town or city. In theory I guess this would mean you wouldn't pay property tax.