IRS data shows that in 2007—the most recent data available—the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 40.4 percent of the total income taxes collected by the federal government. This is the highest percentage in modern history. By contrast, the top 1 percent paid 24.8 percent of the income tax burden in 1987, the year following the 1986 tax reform act.
Remarkably, the share of the tax burden borne by the top 1 percent now exceeds the share paid by the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers combined. In 2007, the bottom 95 percent paid 39.4 percent of the income tax burden. This is down from the 58 percent of the total income tax burden they paid twenty years ago.
To put this in perspective, the top 1 percent is comprised of just 1.4 million taxpayers and they pay a larger share of the income tax burden now than the bottom 134 million taxpayers combined.
Some in Washington say the tax system is still not progressive enough. However, the recent IRS data bolsters the findings of an OECD study released last year showing that the U.S.—not France or Sweden—has the most progressive income tax system among OECD nations. We rely more heavily on the top 10 percent of taxpayers than does any nation and our poor people have the lowest tax burden of those in any nation.
via The Tax Foundation – Tax Burden of Top 1% Now Exceeds That of Bottom 95%.
Jack Toftness was working in the family’s Tip Top orchard one rainy June morning five years ago. As he worked, he wept and talked to his granddaughter, Skylar Rae Toftness, who died of congenital heart failure just three months earlier, after living only 49 days.
The rain stopped and a rainbow appeared over the orchard planted on the rugged hills of Halverson Canyon, between Wenatchee and Mission Ridge. Toftness said he followed the rainbow to where he knew it would end. It was near an unusual tree that he had thought about cutting down because it didn’t look the same as the hundreds of Sweetheart cherries planted in the block two years before.
via The Wenatchee World Online – Out of grief, a new cherry is discovered.
In the pre-modern Middle East, there was a functional separation of church and state. The ulama were legal scholars and custodians of Shariah law while the sultans exercised political authority. The sultans conceded they were not the ultimate source of law but had to live within rules established by Muslim case law. There was no democracy, but there was something resembling a rule of law.
This traditional, religiously based rule of law was destroyed in the Middle East’s transition to modernity. Replacing it, particularly in the Arab world, was untrammeled executive authority: Presidents and other dictators accepted no constraints, either legislative or judicial, on their power.
The legal scholar Noah Feldman has argued that the widespread demand for a return to Shariah in many Muslim countries does not necessarily reflect a desire to impose harsh, Taliban-style punishments and oppress women. Rather, it reflects a nostalgia for a dimly remembered historical time when Muslim rulers were not all-powerful autocrats, but respected Islamic rules of justice—Islamic rule of law.
via Francis Fukuyama: Iranian constitution democratic at heart – WSJ.com.
The son of a decorated Vietnam veteran, Hector Veloz is a U.S. citizen, but in 2007 immigration officials mistook him for an illegal immigrant and locked him in an Arizona prison for 13 months.
Veloz had to prove his citizenship from behind bars. An aunt helped him track down his father’s birth certificate and his own, his parents’ marriage certificate, his father’s school, military and Social Security records.
After nine months, a judge determined that he was a citizen, but immigration authorities appealed the decision. He was detained for five more months before he found legal help and a judge ordered his case dropped. “It was a nightmare,” said Veloz, 37, a Los Angeles air conditioning installer.
via U.S. citizens wrongly detained, deported by ICE.
Heineken sales sank 18% from the previous year in grocery, convenience and drug stores during the two-week period ended July 5, followed by Budweiser at 14%. Corona Extra sales dropped 11%, while Miller Lite declined 9% and Bud Light fell 7%. Coors Light sales held up better, falling less than 1% from a year ago.
Meanwhile, sales of “subpremium” beers including Busch, Natural Light and Keystone posted “substantial gains”, according to Ad Age, which didn’t provide the specifics.
via Sorry, Bud: Natty Light Isn’t Just for College Anymore – Real Time Economics – WSJ.
AdViews is a digital archive of thousands of vintage television commercials dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Reformed black-hat hacker Michael Calce, better known as the 15-year-old “mafiaboy” who, in 2000, took down Websites CNN, Yahoo, E*Trade, Dell, Amazon, and eBay, says widespread adoption of cloud computing is going to make the Internet only more of a hacker haven.
“It will be the fall of the Internet as we know it,” Calce said today during a Lumension Security-sponsored Webcast event. “You’re basically putting everything in one little sandbox…it’s going to be a lot more easy to access,” he added, noting that cloud computing will be “extremely dangerous.”
“This is not the last you’re going to hear of this,” he said.
via ‘Mafiaboy’: Cloud Computing Will Cause Internet Security Meltdown – DarkReading.
The idea of followers of Jesus getting to join him in heaven upon dying probably didn’t take shape until about a half-century after Jesus died. To be sure, Jesus’s followers believed from early on that the faithful would be admitted to the “Kingdom of Heaven,” as the New Testament calls it. But “Kingdom of Heaven” is just Matthew’s synonym for what an earlier Gospel, Mark, had called the “Kingdom of God.” And this kingdom was going to exist on Earth, when God righted history’s many wrongs by establishing an enduringly just rule.
Had Christian doctrine not evolved in response to this challenge, it would have lost credibility as the Kingdom of God failed to show up on Earth—as generations and generations of Christians were seen to have died without getting their reward. So the Kingdom of God had to be relocated from Earth to heaven, where generations of Christians had presumably gotten their reward—and you could, too, if you accepted Christ as your savior.
immediate reward in the afterlife—must have come from somewhere, and the likely source is one of the religions with which Christianity competed in the Roman Empire.
via The Evolution of God – by Robert Wright.
Nouriel Roubini, the New York University economist who accurately forecast the bursting of the housing bubble and the resulting economic contraction, has become famous for his pessimism—he has been the gloomiest of the doomsayers. Which is what makes his current outlook surprising: Roubini believes that the Obama administration’s policy makers—and especially the much-maligned Tim Geithner—have gotten a lot right. Pitfalls may still abound, but he is now projecting an end to the recession, and he sees growth ahead.
via Dr. Doom Has Some Good News – The Atlantic (July/August 2009).