Dumb quote of the day--going Galt edition

>> Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This is precious:

But if you tax achievement, some of the achievers are going to pack it in. Again, let’s take me. My corporations employ scores of people. They depend on me to do what I do so they can make a nice salary. If Barack Obama begins taxing me more than 50 percent, which is very possible, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to do this. I like my job but there comes a point when taxation becomes oppressive. Is the country really entitled to half a person’s income?
-Fox News entertainer Bill O'Reilly,
as quoted by Steve Benen,
"If top rates return to Reagan era, O’Reilly might quit",
Washington Monthly, September 20th, 2011.

Benen goes on to point out three things wrong with O'Reilly's blather--that we don't know if the President would propose a fifty percent marginal rate (and it wouldn't pass if he did); that marginal income tax rates just don't work the way O'Reilly seems to think they do; that historically the marginal tax top rate was fifty percent under Reagan and ninety-one percent under that commie, Eisenhower--but of course the funniest part of the whole thing (as Digby points out) is that this whining is coming from Bill O'Reilly, a media personality, not some genius entrepreneur.

You know, this guy:

I'm not going to say it doesn't take talent to do what Bill O'Reilly does--no, seriously. But the reason you probably laughed at the previous sentence is that while it really does take talent to do what O'Reilly does, it's not like there aren't several million professional radio and television news casters all over America who can't do the same exact thing O'Reilly does; it's quite likely, actually, that a number of them can do it better. Talking heads like O'Reilly are disposable, they're fungible goods. Hell, ask Glenn Beck.

Digby mocks O'Reilly with, "He may be irreplaceable to curmudgeonly old FOX News, but it won't make a bit of difference to the economy," but this is only half true: O'Reilly isn't even irreplaceable to the network. There's guys like him in newsrooms and behind microphones all over America, guys with radio voices and smooth hair and reassuringly plain names who deliver weather reports or get into on-air fights with long-time-listener-first-time-callers. Young guys, old guys, white guys, black guys; and that's assuming Fox wants a guy, I mean you open it up to the bubble-headed bleach blondes who can tell you about plane crashes with gleams in their eyes and you double the competition. Hell, guest hosts on The O'Reilly Factor have included Laura Ingraham, Mike Huckabee and Juan Williams, among others: Bill O'Reilly isn't even irreplaceable on his own show.

O'Reilly says he employs "scores" of people: forty, eighty, who knows? Most people would say they employ more than a hundred if they employ more than a hundred people, but maybe O'Reilly thinks counting by twenties is classier than counting by dozens. I'd hate to see eighty people lose their jobs because Bill O'Reilly doesn't want to to pay the kind of abusive, socialist taxes he would've paid under that old fellow-traveler and class warrior, Ronald Reagan, but I also can't help wondering how many jobs would be created if Fox News had to replace Bill O'Reilly; it's actually conceivable that if Fox decided to replace The Factor with a couple of new shows in the wake of O'Reilly's Galting that it could have a net job creating effect, I'm just sayin'. I don't know exactly how that works economically, though: what has a more positive economic effect, giving 85% of Bill O'Reilly's former salary to three or four new guys (for instance) or Bill O'Reilly remaining on the job and getting the same salary, which he presumably spends on throat lozenges or falafel or whatever?

I know, I know: this is all just idle chatter, because Bill O'Reilly's threat is as hollow as his sense of decency. Which is the other funny thing about this, it's not just O'Reilly's obviously misplaced sense of self-importance, but also the fact that we all know the gasbag isn't going anywhere. Truth is, he'd do what he's doing for free, if he really had to, because he needs the attention and he needs the forum. He'd be posting webcam clips on YouTube if it was the only place he could get foamy about pinheads. I'm sure his salary is horribly inflated because he and Fox do this whole dance every time his contract comes up for renewal--how much advertising does he bring in, how well is The Factor performing in its time slot, blah-blah-blah--and power to O'Reilly's agent for convincing Fox that O'Reilly is a vital and necessary talent who adds value to their programming schedule and reliably reels in however-many-viewers in whatever-essential-demographic; that dude is really earning his commission and fees, y'know, and I'm not begrudging O'Reilly or his agent whatever they can chisel out of the network bosses. But I'm reminded of that great old Gillian Welch song where she confesses she'd still play and write songs even if everybody stole them and the best she could make was tips at some dive or even had to go back to working straight jobs--because she's an artist, and that's what you do when you're cursed by the creative demon; it's more than a little unfortunate that Bill O'Reilly's artistic passion is for acting like a total prat in public, instead of something intrinsically awesome like writing gorgeous songs and trading sweet guitar licks with someone like Dave Rawlings, but I guess we creative types all find ourselves called in different ways.


Steve Buchheit Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 12:27:00 AM EDT  

I seem to remember Rush Limbaugh promising to go away if something happened. And he didn't. People don't move because of taxes.

But, can we take up a collection to get O'Reilly to go Gault? I'm in for a few bucks.

understa - more of that word than most conservative blow hards are actually able to do.

Tom Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 2:34:00 PM EDT  

I think Bill O'Reilly himself has just given us the best incentive to back a large tax increase on better off people: If there's a big tax increase, Bill O'Reilly will quit! Come on, President Obama, let's find out exactly what that will take, and peg it to him!

WendyB_09 Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 2:40:00 PM EDT  

Is the country really entitled to half a person’s income?

For some reason I seem to remember something about many of the European contries taxing the wealthy well OVER the 50% rate. Which at one point was why so many (particularly the British) pop stars were becoming American or Canadnian residents at an alarming rate a few years back.

And they don't have the maze of deductions either. How much did you make? Pay this much...

Anyhow, without the time to look it up over lunch, doesn't seem like any other system is easier on the wealthy, we've just been giving them the legal means to avoid taxes for decades!

Eric Wednesday, September 21, 2011 at 10:54:00 PM EDT  

Wendy, the British tax system at one point was taxing the wealthiest residents up to 95%, hence the "that's one for you, nineteen for me" line in the Beatles song "Taxman". There was a bit of a brain drain throughout the '60s and '70s, with a number of Brits becoming part-time residents in order to evade higher tax brackets (e.g. sometime around '79 or '80, the members of Pink Floyd ended up scheduling their residency around the minimum terms they could spend at home without incurring an increased tax liability).

So a particular kind of pseudo-Galting has been known to happen historically in some situations, yes. Though as far as I know, the British situation didn't involve marginal tax rates. And nobody in Washington is talking about a 95% marginal tax rate anyway, much less a 95% rate on all income.

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