[p2p-research] Building Alliances

Ryan Lanham rlanham1963 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 6 18:53:17 CET 2009


These income skews have become particularly hateful and egregious since
1990--Clinton and Bush admins.  I hadn't seen this, but there is little
doubt that the US system is highly broken and that rich ought to pay more
income.  I agree with that...I am a liberal Democrat...(and democrat) in US
terms.  My politics (and economics) would fall fairly close to a Robert
Reich/Paul Krugman in conventional terms.  On that list, that makes me about
6 standard deviations to the right of center.

But we are talking about burden...not justice.  Justice...that's a whole
different ballgame.   For me, the issue is whether there is P2P economics
and political philosophy.  I am still making up my mind about that while I
try to understand the futurism that gets thrown around here a lot more
thoughtfully here than on most other sites I follow.  I think the
singularity types are interesting but very tech focused.  The transhumanists
in general are comparable.  The social networking types (Cory Doctorow,
TechCrunch etc. are more famous but a step or two behind in my view.)



On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 12:46 PM, Paul D. Fernhout <
pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:

> Ryan-
> Take a look at this:
>  http://www.lcurve.org/
> """
> Tour of the US Income Distribution, "The L-Curve"
> The red line represents a graph of family income across the population. The
> height of the curve at any point is the height of a stack of $100 bills
> equalling that income. Unless you have a very old browser you will be able
> to zoom. Be sure to zoom both in and out.
> """
> Would that surprise your students too? :-)
> Income is only one aspect of the situation; absolute wealth is another.
> Besides, why suddenly start talking about a "fee for service" idea with
> social security and health care? To begin with, social security and medicare
> in the USA are pyramid schemes that is unfair to the young, because people
> take much more out of it (in the past) then what they paid in. It started
> with about 10 people paying in per recipient, and now it is down to about
> three people (the figures are different for social security and medicare).
> In any case, when Western Europeans talk about high taxes, they include
> stuff like that. People in the US don't. As I see it, in the USA, we pay
> about as much taxes as in Europe, but get a lot less for it.
> It's convenient to just redefine terms of social equity as needed. :-)
> --Paul Fernhout
> http://www.pdfernhout.net/
> Ryan Lanham wrote:
>> Hi Michel:
>> With regard to income tax, the top 50% in the US pay 97% of taxes.  Here's
>> a
>> source http://www.ntu.org/main/page.php?PageID=6  (as an aside I disagree
>> with that organization's policies, but their facts are accurate.)
>> The top 1% in income pay 40% of all income tax.
>> Payroll taxes do fall disproportionately on the middle class, but service
>> use is almost totally per capita (e.g. Medicare.)  The brunt of Medicaid
>> (medical for the poor) is paid by middle income persons.  Source:
>> http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/background/numbers/revenue.cfm
>> Income tax, in the US, makes up almost 47% of the total revenue.  Thus,
>> 25%
>> of the government's revenues are paid by the top 1% of income earners.
>> That's even higher in most European countries and Japan.  It would take me
>> longer to find those numbers but I have them as I used to teach them in a
>> budgeting course.  They nearly always surprised my students.
>> Ryan
>> On corporate taxes,
>> On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 11:18 AM, Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004 at gmail.com
>> >wrote:
>>  Hi ryan,
>>> i think the moral principle is very simple: the public's money should go
>>> to
>>> the public, and the people who produce wealth, the workers and
>>> enterpreneurs, should get taxed less than those who make money through
>>> speculation,
>>> here's the gist of the 2nd argument, applying to the US:
>>>  - "Under current law, income from investments gets taxed at 15 percent.
>>> Income from work gets taxed at up to 35 percent. No coherent moral
>>> justification exists for such an enormous tax preference for income from
>>> wealth."
>>> I'm not sure what non-controversial evidence you have, but here is some
>>> that shows there is a bit of controversy involved:
>>> from
>>> http://www.alternet.org/workplace/136592/tax_day%3A_you_pay_your_taxes_--_why_don%27t_the_rich_pay_their_share/(source:
>>> http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/#1207)
>>> what this shows is that the very rich pay comparatively low taxes, see:
>>> - if you look in Who Pays Taxes<
>>> http://www.opednews.com/articles/Who-Pays-Taxes-by-PrMaine-081210-57.html>(Figure
>>> 5) you will see that there has been a truly impressive decline in
>>> income taxes paid by corporations.
>>> Even in actual dollars though, the very rich get away with paying
>>> proportionally less in taxes than the merely rich. In Figure 7, you will
>>> see
>>> that the percent of income one pays in income taxes reaches a peak at an
>>> income of about $600,000 and it steadily declines as incomes grow above
>>> that
>>> level.
>>> This may be falling into propaganda trap of thinking that only income
>>> taxes
>>> matter, however. Clearly the very rich only pay a negligible portion of
>>> their income in payroll taxes, while this is the major tax on the many
>>> making less than $100,000 (according to Figure 6a, that is more than 80%
>>> of
>>> us).
>>> If you look in Who Pays Taxes II<
>>> http://www.opednews.com/articles/Who-Pays-Taxes-II-by-PrMaine-081214-854.html
>>> >,
>>> you will see that in 2006, 10% of the income in the U.S. went to the tiny
>>> 0.025% of the population making $5 million or more, but this tiny
>>> minority
>>> paid only 8.9% of the combined income and payroll taxes, not even the 10%
>>> that is the very least that fairness would dictate they pay.
>>> It is worth note that while those with incomes in the $42,000 to $62,000
>>> range paid a greater tax rate than those making over $5 million, they
>>> still
>>> paid only roughly the same rate as the entire population of the U.S.
>>> If some groups pay less than average, other groups have to pay more than
>>> average taxes, and the charts in the second article make it clear that it
>>> is
>>> the people with incomes in the range from $2 million to $5 million who
>>> are
>>> making up for those who pay less.
>>> People making over $2 million a year are quite able to pay a bit more in
>>> taxes and I do not see them as in need of tax relief. However it is hard
>>> to
>>> see why those making over $5 million should pay so much less, unless it
>>> is
>>> these people who have the best political connections and propagandists.
>>> In
>>> fact, many of them probably are politicians and propagandists.
>>> the excerpts:
>>> Few Americans realize just how incredibly little, historically speaking,
>>> our nation's wealthy now pay in taxes.
>>> In 1955, the year April 15 became the IRS tax-filing deadline, America's
>>> top 400 taxpayers paid three times more of their income in taxes than the
>>> top 400 of 2006, the most recent year with IRS data available.
>>> According to a new Tax Day report that we co-authored, if the top 400 of
>>> 2006 had paid taxes at 1955 rates, the federal treasury would have
>>> collected
>>> -- from these 400 taxpayers alone -- an additional $35.9 billion more in
>>> revenue in 2006.
>>> The 139,000 U.S. taxpayers who made over $2 million in 2006, our report
>>> also notes, averaged $5.9 million in income. They paid 23.2 percent of
>>> their
>>> total incomes in federal income tax. The comparable rate for equivalent
>>> high-income Americans in 1955: 49 percent.
>>> If the over-$2 million set in 2006 had paid taxes at the same rate as
>>> their
>>> 1955 counterparts, the federal treasury would have collected $202
>>> billion.
>>> We've now lived through 30 years of "shrink, shift and shaft" federal
>>> budget and tax policies. Right-wing pols, aided by Democrats who should
>>> have
>>> known better, have shrunk government and the share of taxes paid by the
>>> wealthiest 1 percent. The tax burden, consequently, has shifted off
>>> wealth
>>> and onto wages, off the federal tax system and onto the regressive tax
>>> systems of states and localities.
>>> The direct result: States and localities have gotten the budget shaft --
>>> and that has forced years of chronic underfunding for mass transit,
>>> education and myriad public services.
>>> So what can we do, as a nation, to start turning this situation around?
>>> Our
>>> Institute for Policy Studies report -- "Reversing the Great Tax Shift"<
>>> http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/#1207>advances a set of specific steps
>>> that would generate over $450 billion in
>>> annual revenue, dollars that would help finance our recovery fairly.
>>> We recommend that lawmakers:
>>> *Tax income from capital gains and dividends at the same rates as wage
>>> income*. Under current law, income from investments gets taxed at 15
>>> percent. Income from work gets taxed at up to 35 percent. No coherent
>>> moral
>>> justification exists for such an enormous tax preference for income from
>>> wealth. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, taxing all forms of income
>>> the same would generate $80 billion a year.
>>> *Create a new top tax rate for incomes over $2 million. *Presently, a
>>> person with an income of $300,000 faces the same tax rates as a person
>>> with
>>> an income of $3 million. Instituting a top tax rate of 50 percent on
>>> incomes
>>> over $2 million would generate more than $60 billion a year.
>>> *Levy a progressive estate tax on large fortunes. *The federal estate
>>> tax,
>>> our nation's only levy on grand accumulations of private wealth, will
>>> expire
>>> in 2010 and revert to the 2000 status quo. Lawmakers aren't going to let
>>> that happen -- if, for no other reason, to take inflation into account --
>>> and that reality creates an opportunity to make the estate tax more
>>> progressive.
>>> One reform would be to institute graduated tax rates on large estates,
>>> while exempting estates worth less than $2 million, $4 million for a
>>> couple.
>>> Such an approach would generate over $100 billion a year a decade from
>>> now
>>> -- while taxing no more than 1 of every 200 estates.
>>> All these steps, we believe, would enjoy widespread public support.
>>> On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 10:53 PM, Ryan Lanham <rlanham1963 at gmail.com
>>> >wrote:
>>>  Hi Michel,
>>>> It is certainly not the case in the United States where most taxes are
>>>> paid by the rich both in dollar terms and in percentage terms.  It's not
>>>> controversial and readily discoverable.  I recommend the CBO numbers.
>>>> I think we'd have to agree to disagree on exploitation and value
>>>> extraction.  But I don't see where that is the point.
>>>> The point is that P2P folks often rail against the market, the system,
>>>> and
>>>> the government.  Why then would they be funded by it?
>>>> Ryan
>>>> On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 9:36 AM, Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004 at gmail.com
>>>> >wrote:
>>>>  Hi Ryan,
>>>>> most big companies and rich individuals pay much less taxes than
>>>>> average
>>>>> income people, they have access to plenty of loopholes, but even if
>>>>> they
>>>>> paid, their money didn't come from the sky, but from the value they
>>>>> first
>>>>> extracted from working people. Since working people create the value,
>>>>> and
>>>>> are the ultimate source of taxation, there is absolutely nothing wrong
>>>>> with
>>>>> public funding, on the contrary, it is a moral obligation. We must end
>>>>> the
>>>>> neoliberal corporate welfare state, but rather than just restoring the
>>>>> sometimes paternalistic and disempowering welfare state (which as a
>>>>> baseline
>>>>> to be restored needs to be reformed  against bureaucratic control), we
>>>>> need
>>>>> to augment it with partner state productions, so that more wellbeing
>>>>> and
>>>>> wealth can be created by civil society. The preferential treatment by
>>>>> the
>>>>> neoliberal state of the speculatively richest to the detriment of the
>>>>> producing enterpreneurs and working people would be the way forward.
>>>>> Being against public funding is also an argument for the pure
>>>>> commodification of art as a pure market commodity ... that would be
>>>>> truly
>>>>> immoral,
>>>>> Michel
>>>>>  On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 6:48 PM, Ryan Lanham <rlanham1963 at gmail.com
>>>>> >wrote:
>>>>>  Wouldn't it be immoral for people who believe in P2P to take money
>>>>>> from
>>>>>> tax payers who are mostly the selfish rich and corporations?
>>>>>> Ryan
>>>>>> On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 6:28 AM, Kevin Flanagan <
>>>>>> kev.flanagan at gmail.com>wrote:
>>>>>>  Hey Paul,
>>>>>>> State support for the arts is common in europe.
>>>>>>> Im most familiar with the Irish and UK Arts Councils.
>>>>>>> Im not advocating further state support for 'artists'.
>>>>>>> Im interested in putting together an strong argument for state
>>>>>>> support
>>>>>>> for free culture and hacker spaces.
>>>>>>> Using already in place institutions and infrastructure such as arts
>>>>>>> councils.
>>>>>>> I support the idea of a basic income for all.
>>>>>>> But Im suggesting what I see as a practical and achievable short term
>>>>>>> goal.
>>>>>>> If we could specifically get these institutions to recognise the
>>>>>>> social value and put in policy the importance of commons oriented
>>>>>>> production for free culture and hacker spaces then maybe in time we
>>>>>>> can get the state to recognize the value and importance of commons
>>>>>>> based production on a broader scale.
>>>>>>> Lets get these arts councils to expand their remit to support
>>>>>>> specifically free culture and hacker spaces.
>>>>>>> Surely we can show how the skills developed in hack labs are useful
>>>>>>> and transferable and worth state economic investment. Hacker spaces
>>>>>>> in
>>>>>>> in disadvantaged communities could be a great outlet for young
>>>>>>> people.
>>>>>>> I dont have time to look up a good links at the moment because I have
>>>>>>> to go now.
>>>>>>> For example it would be nice to see some research on how Brazil has
>>>>>>> got on with its effort in supporting acces to digital technology.
>>>>>>> Brazilian minister for digital culture Gilberto Gill supporting the
>>>>>>> creation of 650 cultural spaces giving citizens access to computers
>>>>>>> cameras to share music and culture.
>>>>>>> http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9786370-7.html
>>>>>>> Ok Im off for now.
>>>>>>> Kevin F
>>>>>>> On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 6:07 PM, Paul D. Fernhout
>>>>>>> <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>> Kevin-
>>>>>>>> As I see it, more support for the arts is a good idea, but a
>>>>>>> half-measure.
>>>>>>>> As you say at the end, we could look at expanding it to all sorts of
>>>>>>> commons
>>>>>>>> production, but it is hard to judge what is "worthy". A "basic
>>>>>>> income" for
>>>>>>>> all is probably a better general solution than trying to decide what
>>>>>>>> projects a person wants to do are worthy of support. References:
>>>>>>>>  http://www.basicincome.org/bien/aboutbasicincome.html
>>>>>>>>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income
>>>>>>>>  http://www.usbig.net/whatisbig.html
>>>>>>>> A basic income just for "artists" is possible:
>>>>>>>>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income_in_the_Netherlands
>>>>>>>> but in the end, is a mother or father any less an artist for helping
>>>>>>> sculpt
>>>>>>>> a young life than someone who works in clay and sculpts statues?
>>>>>>>> And,
>>>>>>> it is
>>>>>>>> hard to judge a person's worth or a project's worth at the time. It
>>>>>>> may only
>>>>>>>> become clear 1000 years later if something is "worthwhile". And
>>>>>>> besides,
>>>>>>>> worthwhile to whom? Maybe it is enough that an individual's life is
>>>>>>>> worthwhile to themselves?
>>>>>>>> For me, a big changeover point is if everyone could get laws about a
>>>>>>> basic
>>>>>>>> income passed everywhere. So, rather than have artists fighting
>>>>>>> against
>>>>>>>> mothers and fathers and mimes and songwriters and so on over who
>>>>>>> should get
>>>>>>>> the most subsidies, we have both working together, as an alliance,
>>>>>>>> to
>>>>>>> have a
>>>>>>>> basic income for artists, mothers, fathers, writers, journalists,
>>>>>>> mimes, and
>>>>>>>> everyone else, even rich CEOs.
>>>>>>>> It's been said:
>>>>>>>>  http://quotationsbook.com/quote/31495/
>>>>>>>> "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
>>>>>>> poor, to
>>>>>>>> sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread. "
>>>>>>>> Well, a basic income, in its majestic equality, allows both the rich
>>>>>>> as well
>>>>>>>> as the poor to paint local bridges, to mime in the streets, and to
>>>>>>> give away
>>>>>>>> home-baked bread. :-) Maybe financially obese people won't want to
>>>>>>>> do
>>>>>>> those
>>>>>>>> things compared to poor people who know how important those things
>>>>>>> are, but
>>>>>>>> with a basic income, rich people could. :-)
>>>>>>>> See also:
>>>>>>>> "[p2p-research] Basic income from a millionaire's perspective?"
>>>>>>> http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-August/003949.html
>>>>>>>> Is it possible you could make some freely licensed art about that
>>>>>>> issue? :-)
>>>>>>>> --Paul Fernhout
>>>>>>>> http://www.pdfernhout.net/
>>>>>>>> Kevin Flanagan wrote:
>>>>>>>>> Hello,
>>>>>>>>> It was great to finally get to meet some of you in person at media
>>>>>>>>> ecologies.
>>>>>>>>> I have some suggestions and questions regarding building alliances
>>>>>>>>> that Id be interested in thrashing out here on the list.
>>>>>>>>> My question here is how can we incentivize government to support
>>>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>>>> building and protection of the commons?
>>>>>>>>> My suggestion is this -
>>>>>>>>> As an artist Ive been involved in and worked with several artist
>>>>>>>>> led
>>>>>>>>> organisations. Most of these organisations could not survive
>>>>>>>>> without
>>>>>>>>> government subsidy through bodies such as arts councils. Naturally
>>>>>>>>> there is pressure from government on arts councils and hence on
>>>>>>>>> artists and arts organisations to be accountable for this
>>>>>>>> investment.
>>>>>>>> In order to receive financial support artists and arts organisations
>>>>>>>>> are required to fulfill certain criteria to prove the social value
>>>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>> their work. So the better an organisation is at proving the social
>>>>>>>>> value of their work the more likely it is that they will receive
>>>>>>>>> support. This means that lots of artists end up working to
>>>>>>>> governments
>>>>>>>> agenda through Public Art and Community Arts projects. Maybe this
>>>>>>>>> sounds a bit harsh but sometimes I think of community arts as a
>>>>>>>>> kind
>>>>>>>>> of goverment funded social band aid for disadvantaged communities.
>>>>>>>> The
>>>>>>>> criteria for funding are usually that such projects support , social
>>>>>>>>> inclusion, multiculturalism, intercultural relations. Often what is
>>>>>>>>> produced in the creative process if immaterial affect so its not
>>>>>>>>> always easy to show how these arts projects fulfill these criteria.
>>>>>>>>> What Im wondering is can free culture centers, hack\fab labs, maker
>>>>>>>>> clubs, do this better. I think so. The added advantage of such
>>>>>>>> centres
>>>>>>>> is eductaion in transferable skills. Goverment likes transferable
>>>>>>>>> skills that help peoples job prospects. Whether in electronics,
>>>>>>>>> programming, media. Some research into how the EU and UNESCO
>>>>>>>>> promote
>>>>>>>>> social inclusion through culture would be useful. Are these
>>>>>>>>> policies
>>>>>>>>> IP biased? Can we as advocates of free culture and the commons
>>>>>>>> propose
>>>>>>>> ammendments or new policies that incentivize governments to provide
>>>>>>>>> financial support for free culture spaces, hack labs and to
>>>>>>>> recognize
>>>>>>>> the intercultural importance of the shared commons oriented
>>>>>>>> production
>>>>>>>> of these spaces? Any ideas who might already be working on this?
>>>>>>>>> Existing models perhaps that can be used as examples?
>>>>>>>>> How might dialogue about the commons interface with current
>>>>>>>>> thinking
>>>>>>>>> on multiculturalism? Does breaking down financial barriers to entry
>>>>>>>>> promote social inclusion locally, nationally, internationally? Of
>>>>>>>>> course but how do we measure this?
>>>>>>>>> I dont know how this sounds or even if its interesting but I
>>>>>>>>> thought
>>>>>>>>> Id just put it out there.
>>>>>>>>> Maybe the the current system of support for the arts is one to look
>>>>>>>> at
>>>>>>>> expanding for supporting the commons based production? Maybe
>>>>>>>> alliances
>>>>>>>> can be built with existing cultural organisations?
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Ryan Lanham
rlanham1963 at gmail.com
Facebook: Ryan_Lanham
P.O. Box 633
Grand Cayman, KY1-1303
Cayman Islands
(345) 916-1712
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