At the beginning of 2011 there were over 400 sawmills in Missouri. Now, because of legislation signed into law in July, there are none.
Oh, there are places that look like sawmills. They do all the things that sawmills used to do. But they are not sawmills. Depending on your point of view, they are farms or flower shops.
Stay with me here.
Missouri has been blessed with a lot of woods. In rural parts of the state, you can't swing a cat without hitting a tree. The practice is not legal in Missouri because that sort of animal experimentation is cruel. Especially in southeastern Missouri, where there are lots of trees.
That meant that back in the good old pre-Bush/Cheney days, when folks still bought houses, lots and lots of wood was sold for those houses. And the cutting, planing, and general preparation for that wood had to be done by sawmills. So more than 400 sawmills arose in response to the demand. There were big sawmills, small sawmills, and cut-for-profit-in-the-back-of-the-garage sawmills. Especially in southeastern Missouri, where there are lots and lots of trees.
The recession hit hard in 2008 during the last part of the Bush/Cheney administration when families began switching from large wooden structures to much smaller on-the-street cardboard boxes. Missouri was third hardest hit of all 50 states. That's over 400 sawmills in some economic trouble.
Most states give tax breaks to farmers. They pay less in property taxes than other businesses. It's part of a series of programs to preserve small family farms. It turned out to help large mega-farms the most, buts that's life in these times. In Missouri, flower shops somehow got slipped into the mix, being classified as a sort of farm, if you squint and look sideways.
Missouri legislatures wanted to give similar tax breaks to sawmills to tide them over until the recession ended. That would be the recession that started in 2008. In the last part of the Bush/Cheney administration.
School districts had a bit of a problem with that, since educating kids will tend to suffer without the funding that comes from property taxes. So a lot of procedural obstructions would likely come up with the major revision of adding a new property classification to the property tax code. So David Dey, a Republican from Dixon, came up with a solution. It got bi-partisan support, and it was signed into law by the Democratic governor. We would just change all the sawmills to flower shops, or maybe farms.
So now, all Missouri sawmills, all 400 plus, have flashed out of existence. They are all transformed, Cinderella style, into farm/flower shops. Especially in southeastern Missouri, where there are lots and lots of trees. If you want wood to be professionally cut and ready for use, you now go down to your local flower shop, the one everyone thinks is a sawmill.
I was thinking about those flower shops that are not really flower shops when I happened upon one of the persistent Republican myths about Bush/Cheney tax cuts for the extremely wealthy. This one is stated eloquently by our own T. Paine who, sadly, seems to watch FoxNews. "...only 15% of Bush' tax cuts went to the fabulously wealthy. (Those making $250K or more) The rest went to us middle class guys."
He's absolute right, if you make two minor adjustments.
- First, it wasn't 15%, it was 38%. Now, where I took arithmetic classes, 38 is a little more than 1½ times more than 15.
- And you can't define middle class as $250,000, as conservatives do. You have to increase it to $645,000. Those numbers are bigger, so I have to think longer. let's see. $645,000 is 1½ times more than $250,000. You have to be impressed if you take my word that I did that in my head.
That $645,000 mark happens to be the top 1% of economic beneficiaries in America. That may not be middle class by everyone's standards.
To get those figures, you have to go beyond the Heritage foundation, Austrian economists who don't really like measurements and figures, and Fox News, all of whom actually have a single source. They rely almost exclusively on claims made by the Bush administration in April 2001, when the first tax cut for the wealthy was proposed, and on claims made a couple of years later as the administration sold a second round of cuts.
The real figures aren't classified. Lots of folks have been looking at them. One group out of many, the Economic Policy Institute (pdf), performed an exhaustive analysis.
Part of the conservative miscalculation goes beyond the "1½" errors. It is flat out omission. You see, conservatives don't talk about all the cuts. Cuts in, then elimination of, estate taxes, for example, are left out of the calculation. So are tax breaks on capital gains.
That's how you find out that a waitress gets enough reduction to buy a coke during her workday while the average billionaire sees a drop of over a third.
What everyone leaves out is the effect of Federal cuts on local taxes. As aid for police, schools, emergency responders, and block grants have dropped, sales and property taxes have risen. Even taxes on onetime sawmills that have become flower shops that cut wood.
So conservatives come up with bogus figures by aggressive redefinition.
- The middle-class earn a high six figure annual income.
- Estate and other taxes are not really part of tax cuts for the wealthy.
- A Republican sales pitch made in 2001 is more real than actual measurements since then.
You can win almost any argument if you simply define what you don't like into something else.
You can buy your wood from the same place. But call it a flower shop.
They are already getting out their brooms.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go sort my biscuits.
In that spirit, he spent the night in confession (he used the politically correct term: church meeting, to be precise) and then he booked a flight to Denver.
In his absence, I am offering his preemptive concession. I consider T. Paine a friend and I think it is what he would want me to do.
Regarding turning sawmills into flower shops, as a conservative, I see this as evidence that taxes affect behavior. Unlike progressives, who mock the Laffer Curve, and apparently believe you can raise taxes to increase revenues and there will be no impact on the behavior of taxpayers to avoid those higher tax rates.
While you seem to lament the increase in flower shops and the decrease in sawmills -- as well as blame Bush/Cheney for legislation in Missouri signed last month -- I see a dynamic economic environment that is putting buildings to use as the economy struggles to achieve its former glory.
Regarding T.Paine's statements about only 15% of the Bush tax cuts going to the wealthy, I make it a general rule not to defend other people's statements. I will let him defend himself if he so chooses.
I think it's a little unfair to start lumping in estate taxes, capital gains taxes, and local taxes when almost every time taxes are being discussed, everyone involved is talking about federal income tax rates. So to suggest that T.Paine was propagating a myth is disingenuous, because his statement was explicitly about income tax rates.
Burr, I would love it if you would define middle class. I once performed an analysis that put the middle class between $50k and $100k and was told that my definition of middle class was not reasonable. I did not receive a specific suggestion for an alternative.
I support the Bush tax cuts because they affected all taxpayers. The rich benefited the most from the tax cuts because the rich pay the most taxes. The rich will always benefit most from the smallest tax cut simply because of how much they currently pay. The rich did not benefit because they were the only ones to receive a tax cut, which is what most progressives insinuate.
Conservatives oppose estate taxes because they are a double tax. All of the wealth accumulated has already been taxed, probably more than once. Why should we tax it as it is transferred from on dead person to a live person?
Lastly, I saw your analysis (last month?) that showed the distribution of taxes across all income groups, and inclusive of all taxes, not just income tax. I found it very enlightening, and was pleased to see that current taxes are essentially flat, and therefore fair. Maybe it's the same PDF you link above from the Economic Policy Institute (can't click right now).
So Burr, what do you object to? Do you object to fair taxation? I presume you would like a more progressive tax system. How progressive? And at what point, in your opinion, does a progressive system become unfair?
John, I predict that I will not get a serious response to this.
I predict Mr. Heathen will not post a rebuttal to any one of his posts that I request he rebut.
I predict Mr. Heathen will not include a few kind words about God in one of his posts.
You did not asked me the question, Heathen, thank God, but I will volunteer my opinion anyway.
It seems to me that you define a fair tax (not to be confused with most unfair tax of all, ironically known as FairTax), as a flat tax (everyone gets taxed at an equal rate).
As I have pointed out, that form of taxation is abominable because it unfairly distributes the burden of paying taxes. I will not debate this with you again, as I have soundly defeated you in several former attempts, and yet your opinion did not budge.
I will say that you and liberals have an axiomatically different concept of fairness and there is no way for a liberal to have a truly intelligent debate with you regarding the matter.
Or at least, if there is a way to crack through the thick conservative plates in your skull, my tire iron is too puny to do it.
I mean no disrespect at all.
Quite the contrary. My tire iron is perfectly adequate for its purpose, which is dealing with flats.
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