Thursday, June 7

Friday Not-So-Random Ten: Don't Say Nothin' Just Listen, I Got a Plan to Break Hilton Out of Prison.

That was quick.

Three days. Three freakin' days.

That's how long Paris Hilton lasted in the pokey before being released due to medical reasons. "Medical reasons" meaning a "fragile . . . mental state." "Fragile mental state" meaning "not liking jail." An extremely rare condition suffered by only about 99.99% of the people currently housed in U.S. correctional institutions.

Instead, she was released to spend the rest of her sentence under house arrest (contravening a direct order from the presiding judge). Yeah, Paris Hilton's house sounds like a horrible place to be. You could probably take all the homes and all the material goods I will ever own at any point in my life and it probably wouldn't be as much as what Paris Hilton has right now. The L.A. County sheriff defended his decision thusly: "My message to those who don't like celebrities is that punishing celebrities more than the average American is not justice." Well, OK, how about punishing celebrities at all? That doesn't offend your delicate sensibilities, does it?

My guess, and it's just a theory at this point, is that Hilton blew the court-ordered psychiatrist who diagnosed her "fragile mental state." Probably the sheriff, too.

Fortunately, Paris may have to go back to jail and serve the remainder of her sentence, but until then, I'm just going to laugh at anyone who suggests we need to repeal the federal estate tax. And here's Paris's Not-So-Random Ten, disinfected and full-body-cavity-searched:

1. Johnny Cash, "In the Jailhouse Now"
2. A Tribe Called Quest, "Stressed Out"
3. Morrissey, "You Know I Couldn't Last"
4. The Clash, "Should I Stay or Should I Go"
5. Fatboy Slim, "Because We Can"
6. Pet Shop Boys, "I Made My Excuses and Left"
7. The Las, "There She Goes"
8. Bent, "I Can't Believe It's Over"
9. Electronic, "Getting Away With It"

And the obvious #10:

10. Dead Kennedys, "I Fought the Law (And I Won)"

Your own Tens, be they Random or Not-So-, in the comments.


Anonymous said...

It's such a shame that Paris is so stupid that she doesn't see the silver lining... she could have done a girl-girl prison flick to add to her repertoire or had the Richie bimbo stay with her and they could have shot the next season for Simple Life. Lastly, she could have used the experiences in jail to come up with a rich tapestry of songs for her next album- maybe a rap or bluegrass album since both like to reminisce about the pokey.

1. Sublime - Doin' Time
2. Folsom Prison Blues - Johnny Cash
3. U2 - A Sort of Homecoming
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Someday Never Comes
5. Croweded House - Locked Out
6. Madonna - Girls Just Want to Have Fun
7. Creed - My Own Prison
8. A (wo)Man of Constant Sorrows - The Soggy Bottom Boys
9. Rolling Stones - 19th Nervous Breakdown
10. Foo Fighters - Breakout

Josh M. said...

I think it's a shame that liberals equate "rich" with Paris Hilton, and Paris Hilton only. Oh right, and Brandon Davis. That's some short-sighted, intellectually dishonest shit right there.

So let's tax people's money when they earn it, and then tax that same money again when they die?

I love a society which punishes success. Even Hilton's money came from her family working its ass off, and why shouldn't Daddy Hilton's hard work be able to support his family and give them a better life?

Jealousy is a stinky cologne, and that's what seems to drive this inate hatred of the country's wealthy.

Anonymous said...

Get a grip Josh. There's nothing wrong with people making money, and there's nothing wrong with their estate passing it along. But the estate tax isn't a tax on a dead person, it's a tax on someone else getting money they didn't have before - and the state provides the mechanisms that make it possible to make, keep, and transfer the money (without recourse to Scrooge McDuck safes and armed guards) in the first place, so this is a small service fee for supporting wealth accumulation.

In absolute terms, a heavy tax on estate transfer of large wealth is one that the super wealthy can easily afford.

This is usually where people crack out the arguments about people who aren't super-wealthy, and are small business owners, and most of those arguments are bunk. There are plenty of legal ways to work around it by putting your money in economically productive enterprises, or charitable enterprises, and using estate planning to transfer ownership or control with very little tax exposure.

As for Paris Hilton in particular, that's a matter of taste, but I wouldn't qualify her as a productive use of capital, at a minimum.

Anonymous said...

@Josh: Being rich isn't the problem - hell, I'd love to be rich. The problem is expecting such preferential treatment just because you're rich.

Paris lives her life like she's the only one that matters, expecting to be worshipped like the princess she thinks she is.

There are plenty of filthy rich families with filthy rich kids who don't put themselves out there in the public eye, and who enjoy their rightfully earned better life without trying to rub that better life in anyone else's face. Other than wanting to be them, I don't have any problem with them.

Paris, on the other hand, has been flaunting herself around like she's above the law, and she deserves the smackdown. Nobody should be able to buy themselves out of jail. It's bad enough that they had placed her in a separate wing reserved for high-profile prisoners - although I understand that it was for her safety rather than for her comfort. Letting her serve her sentence in her home is like letting her serve her sentence in a day spa. Unless they disconnect all the phone lines, the TV/cable/satellite, the internet, etc, then there's no punishment there at all.

Josh M. said...

But who are you to decide what somebody "can easily afford" with their money?

Are you all really starting to believe your "working people" nonsense? The vast majority of wealthy people work too (probably a much larger percentage than the bottom 10%), and they deserve to keep their money and pass it on to their heirs just as much as anybody else does.

I just don't get where somebody has the balls to say, "Hey you, I have decided that you have too much money. You need to give some of that money that you worked for to somebody else."

Josh M. said...

Duff: Honestly, who cares about Paris Hilton? She shouldn't be part of the debate when the debate over "the top 1%" is concerned, because the VAST, VAST, SUPERVAST majority of wealthy people aren't like her, Nicole Richie, Brandon Davis, etc. Trying to make it seem like that is just a Democrat ploy to demonize those they wish to steal money from.

Anonymous said...

Um, isn't the problem that she skirted the law/legal process, not that she isn't sharing her mass volumes of cash with others? I don't care how rich you are, you shouldn't be able to buy your way around the law/legal process. I hope nobody's actually bothering to debate that part.

Moving on... I got greedy and decided to pick 12 songs instead of just 10, which seemed appropriate when talking about Paris:

1. Beastie Boys, “Fight For Your Right”
2. Cake, “Let Me Go”
3. Depeche Mode, “Master and Servant”
4. Dusty Springfield, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”
5. Elton John, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”
6. Joni Mitchell, “Urge For Going”
7. Kaiser Chiefs, “I Predict a Riot”
8. Norah Jones, “Little Room”
9. Radiohead, “Exit Music (For a Film)”
10. Simon & Garfunkel, “Homeward Bound”
11. The Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Skating”
12. Tom Petty, “Breakdown”

Will said...

I disagree with your theory and propose a counter:
I've (sadly) seen a good bit of Paris's "film" and...well, she doesn't strike me as particularly skilled in the felatiotory arts, nor is she really that attractive.

However, I wouldn't be shocked at all to find massive amounts of points and free hotel credits on the sheriff's Hilton Honors card...

Kanu said...

1."Your Girl" by Mariah Carey, from 'The Emancipation of Mimi'

2. "Three MCs and One DJ" by The Beastie Boys, from 'Hello Nasty'

3. "Desilusao Dum Amdjer" by Cesaria Evora

4. "New Sun" by Long Beach Dub All Stars, from 'Right Back'

5. "Daylight" by Coldplay, from 'A Rush Of Blood To The Head"

6. "Ain't Got A Lot Of Money" by Slightly Stoopid, from 'Closer To The Sun'

7. "The Art Of Easing" by Digible Planets, from 'Blowout Comb'

8. "You Can Run" by Mos Def, from ' Urban Thermodynamics'

9. "Spaghetti Junction" by Outkast, from 'Stankonia'

10. "Migra" by Santana, from 'Supernatural'

A happy weekend to all.

Anonymous said...

We don't tax them at death, we tax the transfer of wealth that occurs at death, the same way we tax every other transfer of wealth.

Anonymous said...

Josh, I'm not deciding anything. We have the best political system that money can buy, and I don't have that kind of spending power.

As for your question about how I concluded that the very wealthy can afford estate taxes, it's pretty simple: if you have a net worth of let's say $100 million, and you completely fail to protect any of it for estate purposes, and your heirs end up paying 33% or whatever (after they get their first $1 million tax free), you're still talking about roughly $65 million. That's still a huge amount of buying power, and the difference is more than most people make in a lifetime. So, yes, I think that is affordable. Get the 52 foot yacht instead of the 75 footer; times are tough all round.

That is also the logic behind progressive taxation: that the shortcoming of flat tax rates is that they have the greatest effect on people who have least money. So it's not a question of whether I have the "balls" to decide that someone makes "too much" money, it's a question of whether each person who earns money, whether from labor or investment, has to cough up a portion of their income to support the government and the benefits that it provides to their fellow citizens.

Is that difficult to understand?

BTW, nice job trying to introduce a point that I didn't make about who works for their money. You can bleat about how unfair it is that the wealthy pay more because they are wealthy but you'd have a stroke if someone said it was unfair that the poor got paid less because they were poor - it's equally inane.

Anonymous said...

I just remembered that "These Boots are Made for Walkin'" is by Nancy Sinatra, not Dusty Springfield. Doh! That's what I get for trying to do this from memory instead of looking at my iPod. I have learned a great deal from this ordeal and hope that others have learned from my mistakes.

Sundawg said...

Josh, got a rich relative about to kick the bucket? Sounds like it.

I'm sure you don't want to hear this, but think of it as an income tax, only you didn't put in 40 hours to get it. Closer maybe to the tax on interest in your savings account.

If you've figured out how to pay off Bush's debt by continuing to do away with these pesky taxes, would you please share that knowledge with the rest of us?

Josh M. said...

That income has already been taxed, when the "rich relative" earned it. That same money should not be eligible to be taxed a second time. The money I earn in my lifetime is not only for me, but for my children as well - and you're saying the government has more right to it than they do (even though the government has already taken its cut).

Anonymous said...

Josh, I don't see the logic of "taxed for a second time" as you describe it. Looking into my future: I am on my deathbed, I have money that is mine. The government took a cut from me when I earned it. I die. The money goes to my children. It is, for all intents and purposes, income for them. They get taxed on it. Not outrageous.

And, as I pointed out, even if I did object to that, it's not like I can't shield the money from estate taxes. For instance, I could roll the money into a LLC which holds various investments, and give a share of the LLC to my children under annual gift rules. Provided I name a trusted individual as the director of the LLC, the IRS no longer considers it "my" money, and any income derived from LLC investments is now only subject to regular income tax.

Kanu said...

Rejoice! Back to the pokey for Queen O' The Skanks.

Paris Hilton was taken from a courtroom screaming and crying Friday seconds after a judge ordered her returned to jail to serve out her entire 45-day sentence for a parole violation in a reckless driving case.

"It's not right!" shouted the weeping Hilton. "Mom!" she called out to her mother in the audience.

Hilton, who was brought to court in handcuffs in a sheriff's car, came into the courtroom disheveled and weeping. Her hair was askew and she wore a gray fuzzy sweatshirt over slacks. She wore no makeup and she cried throughout the hearing.

Her body also shook constantly as she dabbed at her eyes. Several times she turned to her parents, seated behind her in the courtroom, and mouthed, "I love you.";_ylt=AvdPDE0rw.i5kPlxnF9VbmAE1vAI

Anonymous said...

I would like too add an 11th song in light of new events...
11. The Bitch is Back - Elton John

ACG said...

Josh, the same income gets taxed all the time. If you make $20 at work, your income gets taxed. If you then use the remaining $15 to buy a brat and a beer at the baseball stadium, it becomes the vendor's income, and he gets taxed. And when he takes the $11 to his wholesaler to buy more brats and beers, not only does he pay sales tax on them, but the wholesaler gets taxed on his income, too. That's all inheritance is - dad pays money to son, but just doesn't expect goods or services in return. If the government has the right to tax you, the hot dog man, and the wholesaler for the same $20, why not your kid?

ACG said...

"It's not right!" shouted the weeping Hilton. "Mom!" she called out to her mother in the audience.

And honestly, I do feel bad for Paris. She's going through a real shock right now - she's being held accountable for her actions, and she's not receiving preferential treatment because she's a celebrity. That's really going to shake up her world, and being forced to finally grow up is going to be traumatic for her.

That doesn't mean I don't think she should be getting what she's getting. But trying to put myself in her place, I can imagine she's going to have a really hard time dealing with it.

Anonymous said...

I’m so inspired by recent developments that I have a brand new 10:

1. Otis Redding, “I Can’t Turn You Loose”
2. John Mayer, “3x5”
3. Norah Jones “Humble Me”
4. U2, “Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”
5. Patsy Cline, “I Fall To Pieces”
6. Coldplay, “In My Place”
7. Muse, “Hysteria”
8. Depeche Mode, “In Your Room”
9. Etta James, “At Last”
10. Lenny Kravitz, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”

I'm greedy all over the place today, weaseling 22 songs into the Random 10. Again, seems fitting considering the subject matter.

Anonymous said...

You all haven't even mentioned the most obvious song:

"Hello Dad? I'm in Jail" by Was (Not Was)

Anonymous said...

Josh, the estate tax is a tax on the transfer of money from the estate to another person. It is not a tax on death, it is a tax on the transfer of wealth. It would be difficult to think of another transfer of wealth (other than a gift of under $12,000 in a single calender year) that isn't taxed. You earn income, it is taxed. You spend what it is earned, it is taxed. Every time money is moved it is taxed. For those taxes we get to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Our taxes are lower than a lot, more than some, but we are still the greatest country on earth. I think it is high time the right wingers stopped whining about paying taxes, but I would settle for them just being honest and admitting the estate tax is only on estates worth over 2.5 million at the present time and for the most part doesn't effect the average person. Why do you guys work so hard to give Paris Hilton a tax break?

Josh M. said...

Again, "rich person" = "Paris Hilton." That's not only stupid, it's tired.

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact Josh, the formula you are looking for is "Paris Hilton = Someone who will get an enormous break if the estate tax is repealed." It matters not whether she is already rich or not. To redefine it as some sort of "the left is out to get the rich" is not only moronic, it is a twisting of the truth usually reserved for politicians and Foxnews casts.

Erik Tylczak said...

I'd be curious as to which rich person josh would like to discuss, and why he thinks these arguments wouldn't be equally valid.

Go ahead josh, pick your best case.

Universal Remonster said...

Josh, I think you're standing up for Paris Hilton. And you're not joking. If you can't comprehend that taxing a transfer of wealth from one relative to the next is neccesary then I feel very sorry. You really think that we should take the silver spoon children, give them a shit ton of money, and then make it essentially tax free for them to live in the country? Sure, they'll pay sales tax on the Acura NSX they buy, but the Federal Government, who takes away a third of my paycheck, will not tax their "income"? No way.

Also, what liberal equates Paris to rich people? That's complete Bologna.

Bill Gates = Rich Person

Paris Hilton = Dumb Person

DAve said...

My reason for repealing the estate tax is simpler: Even a bleached-blonde coke-snorting dumbass like Paris Hilton would make better use of the tax-break money in question than our federal government would.

It would also help the federal government's case if there was actually some kind of law that says they can tax income (including inheritances), which there isn't.

Anonymous said...

Dave, check 26 USCA sec 1 thru 7872 (f) (b).. all of those laws (7872 of them) say you can tax inheritances.

As to the constitutional issues check Knowlton v Moore 178 US 41 (1900) where the Court found that inheritance tax was an excise tax on the transfer of wealth, not a direct tax.

As to a law that says the government can tax incomes, well there are a plethora of those, but the one you want is probably 26 USCA (whole damn book), or if you prefer to take a constitutional approach try looking at the "tax and spend" clause of Article 1. Congress's power to tax income in the form of an excise tax was first upheld in Springer v US, 102 US 586 (1880) and has been upheld by every Court since then.

Who or what led you to believe there were no laws allowing taxation of income by the federal government? If your accountant told you that, fire him.

Anonymous said...

BTW Dave, when you say "Even a bleached-blonde coke-snorting dumbass like Paris Hilton would make better use of the tax-break money in question than our federal government would." are you saying that it would be better to give money to Columbian drug lords than to buy the appropriate armored vehicles for our troops in the field? They are out there fighting and dying everyday and when they hear you would rather give money to Columbian drug lords that make sure they are paid a decent wage, you might as well say you would rather give the money to Al Quida.

Why do you hate America?

Josh M. said...

Believe it or not, but Paris Hilton actually contributes more to the economy than any person here. Her clothing line is responsible for employment. Her TV show, ditto. Even her CD and awful movies employed producers, marketers, on down to the local label rep. If you want to translate that to a defense of Paris Hilton, fine. It just serves, though, to shed a light on a very basic fact you all would love to continue ignoring: Without rich people, we'd all be fucked.

Unless, of course, you'd like the government to manage all earnings and cash flow. Which, yeah, you probably do.

Anonymous said...

To be persnickety, Josh, Paris Hilton is a product. The people who enable a clothes line (well known for creating high paying US jobs, eye roll), the television series, etc., are in fact finding a way to sell crap to the general population. I doubt that Ms. Hilton could find her way out of a paper bag without two assistants to shout directions and provide her with depilatory cream.

As for your other assertion, funny you should mention it. I was just working up a 5 year plan for the collectivization of all Beltway Bandit firms. You may have heard of this anti-capitalist manifesto, it's called Lockheed Martin's M&A plan.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Here's my question: Say you win the million dollars (or, hell, only a couple hundred thousand) on "Deal or No Deal." The government's gonna take a big chunk out of that; there's no way around it. You bitch about it, but you pay it.

How is that any different from someone falling bass-ackwards into an inheritance? I mean, on "Deal or No Deal" you actually picked some cases, but with this inheritance you're just dumb-lucking your way into money somebody else earned. Not only that, but you can inherit up to $2.5M and not pay any tax on it at all -- in fact, it'll go up to $3.5M in a couple years -- whereas your "Deal or No Deal" prize will get taxed whether you win $1,000,000 or $1,000.

Call me a neo-Marxist class warrior if you like, but especially given that only 1 in 200 people ever have to pay any estate tax to begin with -- it'll be more like 1 in 300-something once the higher threshholds kick in -- I'm not losing any sleep over it. Even if you think such a tax is a horrible injustice, which I obviously don't, it ranks about 3,856,367th on my list of all-time societal outrages.

Josh M. said...

The difference is that somebody worked for that money that is given in an inheritance.

I'm switching jobs right now with the aim of getting a higher paycheck. If things go right, my income could be much higher. So say I work for 30 years and save up a couple million. Why am I working so hard? Well, the biggest reason is that I am providing for my loved ones - wife, kids, etc. I am working so hard to make sure they are taken care of for their entire lives, if need be.

Now during those 30 years, every dollar I make is taxed. Too much, I'm sure I'll say, but I'll pay it. And I'll work that much harder to make sure my family won't have any worries.

Now, let's say in 31 years, I keel over. Because I worked long and hard for that money, I believe to the bottom of my soul I should be able to give it IN WHOLE to my family, and not have the government take their second cut. It was MY money that I earned, and I have already paid the taxes.

Your "Deal or No Deal" analogy doesn't work, because that's money taxed on the first go-round. What we're talking about is a second tax on the same earnings.

Anonymous said...

Well Josh if you are giving it to your wife as joint tenant and if she is also on all the accounts then it's not taxed anyway. Beyond that if you save a couple of million, your stated goal above, it's not taxed either as it is below the current 2.5 million unified credit. So Doug's Deal or No Deal analogy actually makes more sense in practical terms than your own example in that game show winnings are taxed and the stated amount of your inheritance isn't. Also if you want to avoid the inheritance tax, just give it away or place it in trust before you die. That way you can actually see the joy you bring to your children rather than just imagining the look on their faces after you are dead.

Josh M. said...

As long as it affects only 1 in 200 people, no big deal, right?

So hell, capital punishment shouldn't be an important issue anymore either. And how many people out there personally have abortions? And child porn certainly affects less than 1 in 200 people personally. No need to concern ourselves with any of that.

Anonymous said...

Josh, how many of these pointless and irrelevant comparisons do you have to make? I'm just trying to budget my time for the week, and since you seem to be drawing from the "obfuscation" chapter of your manual on how to pursue an argument, this may take a few more pithy comments on all our parts.

Astronaut Mike Dexter said...

Like I said, there are a few million societal injustices I'd like to tackle before we get around to addressing the estate tax.

Now, if you want to make the case that 0.5% of the population getting pinched for taxes on a portion of the assets they inherit is as important as, say, potentially innocent people being put to death or children being scarred for life by pedophiles, then have at it. If you can convince me, I'll consider ratcheting estate-tax abolition up a few notches on my priorities list.

Josh M. said...

Zen, the argument is pointless. It's just a difference in ideology. I believe the government shouldn't have a right to take already-taxed money upon death, and you do.

Anonymous said...

It is better framed as you believe Paris Hilton is above paying taxes and I don't, but I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree.

Josh M. said...

So you don't think Paris Hilton pays taxes?

And if you continue to equate all those that have above $2 million in the bank with Paris Hilton, the level of discourse here is below the ground floor.

Anonymous said...

At this point, Josh, the only person still equating Paris Hilton with people who have $2 million in the bank is you, as you continue to try and explain by the state should provide legal mechanisms for the transfer of wealth from someone who earned it, to someone who didn't, without taxing the person who is receiving the money.

Nice try trying to change this to a question of tone, but the fact remains that you have been unable to provide a rational, as opposed to emotive, case for eliminating the estate tax. That's not a question of tone, nor does it really rise to the level of ideology - it's trying to put a rational mask on grasping behavior.

Anonymous said...

Thanks DC, couldn't have said it better myself.

And that's 2.5 million, and it's not the money she has in the bank. It's the money her father and mother have in the bank, which they inherited, which Josh would like to see passed without taxation to her. 2 million isn't enough to trigger the estate tax.