In the least surprising development in modern political history, Occupy Wall Street seems to be better at spending your money than they are maintaining hygiene. As evidence, I present their first demand:
Jobs for ALL - A Massive Public Works and Public Service Program
We demand a massive public works and public service program with direct government employment at prevailing (union) wages paid for by taxing the rich and corporations, by immediately ending all of America's wars, and by ending all aid to authoritarian regimes to create 25 million new jobs to:
- Expand education: cut class sizes and provide free university for all;
- Expand healthcare and provide free healthcare for all (single payer system);
- Build housing, guarantee decent housing for all;
- Expand mass transit, provided for free;
- Rebuild the infrastructure—bridges, flood control, roads;
- Research and implement clean energy alternatives; and
- Clean up the environment.
- These jobs are to be open to all, regardless of documentation/immigration status or criminal record.
After sifting through the standard ultra-progressive nonsense, one can pull out some interesting numbers. To pay for 25 million jobs at the median union salary, you’re going to have to come up with about $1.194 trillion. That is about 25% more than the entire income tax currently brings in. It also would add more than 1/3rd to our already completely bloated budget.
To put it another way, the very first proposal from Occupy Wall Street would cost around 50% more than Medicare and Medicaid combined, which is currently our largest expense.
But they say it’s paid for…right? How? It’s simple!
The cost of the plan is $1.192 trillion.
First, get rid of those evil wars: savings $171 billion.
Then, end all “aid to authoritarian regimes.” I’m not exactly sure what Occupy Wall Street considers an “authoritarian regime” (with the exception of Israel…I’m pretty sure they don’t like Jews that much). But let’s be generous and say they think EVERY country we give aid to is authoritarian. Safe bet, right? That saves us a hefty $49 billion.
What’s left? Only $972.1 billion! That’s it! That’s still more than the entire income tax brings in every year...but don’t think about that too hard. How do we close that gap? With an unspecific plan of “taxing the rich and corporations.”
At this point, the idea becomes so ridiculously stupid, it’s impossible to seriously model. You would have to jack up the tax rates so high to bring in that kind of cash, the entire economy would shut down. (See Curve, Laffer.) But, let’s assume that a doubling of the tax rates would bring in twice as much money. It wouldn't, but let's do it anyway to humiliate them.
You have a choice—you can either:
a) Raise income tax rates from 35% to 114%.
b) Raise corporate income tax rates from 35% to 148%.
c) Raise both income tax AND corporate tax rates from 35% to 82%.
Of course, both A and B are literally impossible—but C is something that this crowd would seriously consider. They pine for the days when evil rich people dumped 90%+ of their cash to the federal government. It’s happened before—in the 1940’s and 1950’s--reaching a peak of 94% in 1944-45. For every year from 1936 to 1981 the top income tax rate was over 70%. Fabulous!
There’s just one problem—this only covers the salaries for these new jobs. It doesn’t cover the free college education for all. It doesn’t cover the free “single payer” health care for all. It doesn’t cover any of the raw materials for the “guaranteed decent housing for all” or “bridges, flood control, roads” etc. The point is, even if you assume that no additional people would go to college when it started being free, and no one would stop paying for their health care when it was available for free---you’d still have to raise both tax rates to about 114%. That means for every $1 you earned, you’d have to pay $1.14 in taxes.
It might just be time to occupy the calculator aisle at Staples.