Everyone had a great time last night.
Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent. […]
I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.
Neil deGrasse Tyson on Why Lawyers Shouldn't Be in Congress
- Neil deGrasse Tyson: You know what my concern is about Congress? I checked these numbers: 57% of the Senate, 38% of the House cite "law" as their profession. And, when you look at law, law is … well what happens in the courtroom? It doesn't go to what's right, it goes to who argues best. And there's this urge, the entire profession is founded on who the best arguers are.
- Maher: Right, a courtroom is not about the truth, it's about … the theory, if I get what you're saying, is that each side argue their version and then the truth somehow emerges.
- Tyson: That's the *premise*; however, the practice, which, for example, is bred in debating teams, for example, where you know the subject, but you don't know which side you're going to be put on to argue. And so the act of arguing, and not agreeing, seems to be fundamental to that profession, and Congress is half that profession. And I realized this when I was a kid. I was 12 and I said, "I wonder what profession all these Senators and Congressmen were." Law, law, law, law, businessman, law, law. And I said, "There's no scientists? Where are the engineers? Where's the rest of life represented?" And so when I look at the conflicts, the argumentative conflicts, I just sit back and say, ya know, "Can I buy an engineer, please? Or scientist?" Put somebody … a businessman … a business person, who knows how to make a hard but significant financial decision because at the end of the day they've got to make their books work. I'm screaming, I'm sorry.
First of all, let’s clarify what the NASA budget is. Do you realize that the $850 billion dollar bailout, that sum of money is greater than the entire 50-year running budget of NASA?
And so when someone says, “We don’t have enough money for this space probe,” I’m asking, no, it’s not that you don’t have enough money, it’s that the distribution of money that you’re spending is warped in some way that you are removing the only thing that gives people something to dream about tomorrow.
You remember the 60s and 70s. You didn’t have to go more than a week before there’s an article in Life magazine, “The Home of Tomorrow,” “The City of Tomorrow,” “Transportation of Tomorrow”. All of that ended in the 1970s. After we stopped going to the Moon, it all ended. We stopped dreaming.
And so I worry that the decision that Congress makes doesn’t factor in the consequences of those decisions on tomorrow. Tomorrow’s gone. They’re playing for the quarterly report, they’re playing for the next election cycle, and that is motgaging the actual future of this nation, and the rest of the world is going to pass us by.