Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Working for the government
Published on September 1, 2004 By Draginol In Politics

Often times I see people describe those who vocally support tax cuts as being "greedy". But it isn't "greed" that drives that generally IMO. It sure isn't for me. It's about labor. The average tax payer works 10 to 12 hours per week for the government. That's quite a bit of "community service". But here's a fact that most people don't realize: Most people who are "rich" work a lot more hours per week - hence work even more hours for the government.

A lot of people who are considered "wealthy" are that way because they work a lot of hours. Personally speaking, I typically work between 10 to 16 hours per day, 5 to 6 days per week.  I've time sheeted it before and the total hours comes out to being between 60 and 75 hours per week depending on how busy things are. Let's say it averages to around 65 hours per week.

To convert this this to a 5 day work week and you have 13 hours each day, 5 days per week. 

So a person like me, working a 13 hour, 5 days per week schedule is working for the government for the first 6 hours each day.  That's 30 hours per week that I spend working for the government. I am almost a full time employee for the government. My "payment" from the government comes in the form of living in a nation that has the infrastructure and created an environment where someone like me, who grew up very poor, could start his own business and become well off.  So I don't begrudge that -- except when people try to argue that I'm not doing enough.  Because I'm not just paying a lot more in raw dollars to the government, I am working a lot more hours for the government -- nearly 3 times as many each week!

Statistically, people who make over $200,000 per year work more than 40 hours per week -- a lot more than 40 hours per week. Contrary to what some people will tell you, ones income is largely tied (directly or indirectly) to how much wealth they create which is a function of their productivity and time. Those at the top end of the scale tend to be people who are both very productive in their wealth generation and work a lot of hours.

According to the department of labor, those making $200,000 per year or more have a mean work week of 59 hours (I wish I had the link handy as it had a lot of other very handy stats in the report). And if you shave off those who earn a substantial part of their money via investments that number would undoubtably go higher.

Needless to say, when you're working 20 to 30 hours per week for the government, you tend to look darkly on those who suggest that a cut of say 3 to 5 hours you spend working for the government as "welfare" or a "giveway".

That's also a reason why people like me get up in arms when someone starts comparing real welfare to things like "corporate welfare". 

Let me illustrate that point with an analogy:

3 neighbors are working 5 hours a day to build a community play ground. One person is sitting on a chair watching us working. They will be using the playground when it's done but they're not helping build it.  One day, they get a note saying that they only have to work 4 hours per day on the playground. At hearing this news, the person who's been sitting on a chair the whole time says "Aha! See, you're no different than I am. That hour you just got off is welfare!"

That sort of thinking rankles me.  When someone argues that a tax cut/tax incentive is really no different than welfare it ticks me off. Because at the end of the day, it's labor we're talking about. One person is doing labor for the community and the other isn't.

You can debate whether that person should be doing more or less labor for the community, but you cannot deny that they are doing labor for the community. By contrast, the welfare recipient (defined as someone who is not paying income taxes but receives financial aid) is not putting in that labor.  And if you want to quibble on that point, I think most people would agree it's absurd for someone who's either not working at all or at best is working an hour or two each week (for the community) to pick too much on the guy who's working 20 to 30 hours per week for the community -- or to try to equate the labor of the two. 

The average # of hours the "working poor" put in each week total is 15 hours. That's total hours. I'm doing 20 to 30 hours each week for the community and then the other 30 to 40 hours for my family. And so are millions and millions of other people.

I am not suggesting that we should eliminate such welfare programs. On the contrary, I strongly support safety nets. The United States is a wealthy nation and the opportunities it provides should make every citizen feel they have a duty to the community to ensure no one goes hungry or lives without shelter.  But at the same time, don't describe a cut in the number of hours I'm working for the government as "welfare".

So next time you see someone complain about "corporate welfare" or demonizing "the rich" or arguing for higher taxes for "the wealthy" remember this - they're not just paying more than others, they are, statistically, working more hours for the community as well.

Comments (Page 3)
on Sep 03, 2004
(how rich?)

Anything more than a million dollars a year.
on Sep 03, 2004

It never ceases to amaze me how bad at math some people are.

Let's walk through it:

State taxes: 6% of your income. Very few deductions.

Sales Tax: 8% (varies from state to state)

Right there, before we even talk about property taxes, federal income taxes, hidden fees, etc. you're at 14%.

According to the 2000 Census Bureau the average person making more than $100,000 per year averaged paying 28% in taxes. Now that's gone down a bit since the tax cuts but let's say it went down to 26%, you're still at 40% right there and that is still not counting property taxes.

Which is totally besides the point of this discussion: We're talking of HOURS of service.  People who make a lot of money tend to work a lot more hours.  Even people who make "only" $50,000 are statistically more likely to work a lot more hours than others.  So those people are, in effect, working more hours for the government. And thankfully they do because they are the ones who generate the wealth and prosperity in the United States.

on Sep 03, 2004

BTW, someone did correctly point out that in this particular article I don't list a bunch of sources.

That's because it's my blog and I assume that people who would respond to my blog and challenge my numbers would, at least, take the time to look at my past articles. If I have to repeat the same sources over and over it interferes with the flow of writing and greatly increases the time it takes to write it when people coudl simply look at my other articles and see that I've cited a source/link in them.

So when I say statistically, most people who make over $200,000 per year work more than 40 hours per week you can assume I've linked to that stat. In that particular example, it was the US Department of labor stat and a search on Google will likely lead you to where I got the stat in the first place.

Similarly, the % of ones income people have taxed away isn't just from personal experience (hence I tend to get very skeptical when someone claims they're "rich" but then turns around and argues that they're only paying 18% of their income in taxes in ALL FORMS). It comes from the US census bureau.

What I find most frustrating in these discussions, and one reason I'm going to start being more aggressive in black listing who can participate, is that often times, these facts are not hard to look up. 

Or even more annoying, when common sense should be telling you that someone is full of BS.  Simply put, I don't want dumb people participating on things I write. So someone who spouts off that most people only pay 18% of their income in taxes (ALL FORMS) then common sense should tell you that's an idiotic thing to say.  But then again, we're also talking about people who think that tax cuts are the same as welfare.

on Sep 03, 2004
Statistically, people who make over $200,000 per year work more than 40 hours per week -- a lot more than 40 hours per week.

Forty hours per week is actually less than the average working week in Britain. I know my employees work around forty-three hours per week on average.
on Sep 03, 2004
Sales Tax: 8% (varies from state to state)

You can't add the 8% from sales tax to the 6% of state income tax and come up with 14%, Draginol. It's apples and oranges.

Example: If you make 100K then you owe 6K to the state in income tax. Let's say you spend 50K. You then owe 4K in sales tax. The total would be 10%, not 14%. Even if you spent everything you made, you would still only be spending ~70K after federal/state income tax which comes out to 5.6K in tax.

You can't simply add sales tax to income tax.
on Sep 03, 2004

A reminder: This discusison is not about the tax rate. It's about labor being given to the government and that people who make more money tend to work more hours.

So even if we all paid the same amount in taxes as a percent, which we don't, those who work more hours end up working more hours for the government. And since the wealthy tend to work more hours than the poor, it makes it more understandable why a lot of people tend to resent the griping about "tax breaks" for "the rich".

on Sep 04, 2004
I am confused as to where the problem lies with this. There is so much inconsistency here. Let me try to clarify my problem,

- You argue that those who earn more often work longer hours
- Therefore you argue that they are discriminated against in terms of the hours of their work the government gets in taxes

I disagree. Working longer hours to earn more money is a voluntary decision. It's not discrimination.

Likewise spending all my money on luxury goods and having to pay a larger fraction of my salary on sales tax would be a voluntary decision.
Likewise buying a gas guzzling car and having to spend more of my salary on petrol taxes would be a voluntary decision.

The vast majority of high earners who work long hours choose to do so.

If your article had been about the unfairness of high rate tax bands then I'd agree with you, but being about paying a fixed rate tax irrespective of how much you earn, or how long you work, or how much you spend makes no sense to me. Why should you be allowed pay a lower tax rate just because you can work longer hours to increase the value of your company?


on Sep 04, 2004

What I am saying is that we need people to work long hours because they create a good chunk of the wealth we all benefit from.

But they also end up working a lot more hours for the government as a result.

And it is one of the reasons why people who work hard and pay a lot of taxes tend to complain more about it - not because they're "greedy" but because they're working so many hours for the government only to be told they're not doing their "fair share" by cynical politicans.

on Sep 04, 2004

BTW, regarding the quoting of stats:

I don't require people to quote stats. But if someone makes an outrageous claim such as saying that most people making over $200k per year only pay 18% total of their income in taxes from all forms they bloody better have a way of backing that up. 

By contrast, most people who have frequented my blog have seen federal income tax posts by me in the past that have link after link to the IRS or census bureau. I don't expect to keep having to dig up the same URLs but will if the person asking really seems to be putting forth an argument backed by strong evidence.

However, I'm not going to go back and dig up link because some ass demands I prove his ridiculous 18% tax rate claim (from all sources) wrong.  Similarly, I'm not going to spend time digging up proof that we landed on the moon because some kook claims it was all staged.

on Sep 08, 2004
I think what what the hardcore Socialists fail to consider is the fundamental greed and smarts of the people in the society. "From each that which he can give and to each each that which he needs" (paraphraesed, and butchered I know. sorry) just does not work with "the people" for very long. Having all that you need and nothing more and nothing less sounds warm and fuzzy for a while, until folks figure out thats all they will ever have. For example, in this ideal society, when I figure out that no matter what I do I can never get ahead and even if I work hard and try to succeed that what I get is the very same as the bum down the street that is just more content to sit back and take welfare rather than work, my motivation to work goes right out the window. Some greed is a good thing! It drives people to succed and and therefore an economy to thrive and a country to rise to the top. A government and the taxes that come with it is not a bad thing as we all use government services to some extent but for the most part I would rather I spend my money on me. Every American has the right to health care? Sure, I agree with that. Every American has the right to go out and get good enough job to get the health care they need and put away money for those leaner years. Want better heath care? Get a better job. These government services and taxes are quite enough where they are at. Lets not dig ourselves any deeper into the hopeless hole of Socialism
on Sep 13, 2004
I suppose you're including writing blogs as "working"?
on Sep 14, 2004
JeremyG: No.
on Sep 18, 2004
Your illiustrations and analogies are interesting but made of straw. Welfare is out of the equation because it drains revenue not create it, though granted it does recycle in consumption. In your case, the 13 hour day is unquestionably true for hard working entrpreneurs, but most of the 200K section is derived in the main from "unearned" income with far greater opportunity to shelter real income and that's where the idea of "corporate welfare" is ascribed. Yet even the small business man such as yourself with greater surplus income than the average Joe can reduce your taxable income by legitimate means--reinvesting in your company, pensions, college funds, etc. If after that you still have a taxable income of 200K, you should be grateful. 
on Sep 18, 2004
Very doubtful in my mind that Brad would have a taxable income of 200K - most bigE's don't take all that much out of their businesses in the early years - and Brad's house looks rather economical given his (almost) undoubted ability to purchase more (if he was draining his business of more cash).

on Sep 18, 2004
Excellent point, Jay.