What is wrong with this argument?

Gov’t expenditures nationally are about $17,500 per person depending on where you live (NYC it’s $20,000). So unless your family is paying $20,000 a year in taxes per person in the U.S. (for a family of 4 that’s $80,000 in taxes), you are being taken care of by the hard working high earning elite (only 80% of U.S. millionaires are 100% self-made). Can you begin to grasp what this means for most people who pay no taxes (other than Social Security payments which are really mandated insturance premiums, not taxes)? A family of 4 in NYC paying $10,000 in taxes is getting $70,000 a year in benefits from the generous wealthy. And then families of 4 on welfare? They are getting anywhere up to $150,000 in imputed gov’t benefits thanks to the US hard working wealthy. And how do welfare families [all of whom are Democrats] typically behave? Drugs, deliquency, crime, and more children to exacerbate the burden they are on the hard working U.S. wealthy.

This showed up as a comment on Kevin Drum’s blog.

I think we just need to take it sentence by sentence.

Gov’t expenditures nationally are about $17,500 per person depending on where you live (NYC it’s $20,000)

Hmmmm… let’s see how those expenditures break down:

21 percent defense. That’s the money that goes to send predominantly poor kids into battle. Not sure how this is a “benefit” to the poor.

21 percent social security. This benefit is only offered to the extent that you pay in. Therefore the poor don’t benefit disproportionately to their contribution

19 percent medicare/medicaid. Medicare is like social security, and only benefits the elderly. Not relevant to poor/working families. That’s two-thirds of that 19 percent. So about 6 percent of our $20,000 in federal expenditures so far benefit the poor.

Looking over the rest of the chart from that site, a generous estimate suggests an additional 23 percent of the budget benefits the poor. The poor, therefore, only benefit from 29 percent, or about $5,000 of the $17,500 per person spent by the federal government. To that you have to add in whatever they get out of Social Security/ Medicare. Let’s be generous and say they get about $2,000 per year in value from these programs. Do the poor pay $7000 a year in federal tax? No, but if the median income for the 20th income percentile is about $20,000, they do pay around $1000 a year according to Drum’s table.

But should we accept that $17,500 figure? The government spent $2.7 trillion in 2006. Divide that by our population of 300 million and you get $9,000, not $17,500. The poor person’s share is just $2,600.

So unless your family is paying $20,000 a year in taxes per person in the U.S. (for a family of 4 that’s $80,000 in taxes), you are being taken care of by the hard working high earning elite (only 80% of U.S. millionaires are 100% self-made).

Ahem. Unless they are paying $10,400 per family. And don’t forget, a family has four members for only about 20 years or so. Once the kids are gone, the family’s burden is much less. The average household size in the US is 2.59, which equates to a per-poor-household burden of $6,800.

Can you begin to grasp what this means for most people who pay no taxes (other than Social Security payments which are really mandated insturance premiums, not taxes)?

MOST people? Even the poorest 20 percent pay $1000 a year! The next 20 percent pays $5,160 per person! A working couple with two kids in this group is paying $3,500 more than the benefits they receive.

And then families of 4 on welfare? They are getting anywhere up to $150,000 in imputed gov’t benefits thanks to the US hard working wealthy.

$150K? From the Federal government? Really? Most of this money is actually paid by the states. And most people who receive “welfare” today are disabled. There might be some child-care benefits for a mother in a workfare program, but that’s about it. The “hard working” wealthy might be better characterized as lucky that they didn’t get a career-ending illness or injury.

And how do welfare families [all of whom are Democrats] typically behave? Drugs, deliquency, crime, and more children to exacerbate the burden they are on the hard working U.S. wealthy.

My sister works for the Seattle public housing authority. People convicted of a crime or possessing drugs are evicted. Crime prevention is a benefit to the rich — and arguably the rich benefit disproportionately from it. They live in crime-free neighborhoods, while the crime rate in poor neighborhoods is much higher. Meanwhile, the rich benefit from cheap labor from the poor, as well as an army of the poor to defend their cheap oil in the mideast.

{update} I see now that the commenter is referring to all government expenditures. That becomes a more complicated argument, but a couple thoughts are in order. First of all, the poor pay a much larger share of local taxes, including sales tax, income tax, and so on. As you can see from Drum’s chart, the poorest group pays more local tax than federal tax. So the argument that they’re not paying their share is harder to make. Second, they still don’t get the same benefits as the rich. Poorer school districts spend less per child. Freeways and other improvements largely benefit wealthy suburbs, not poor inner cities.

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