DVD Talk
100 years ago, the US had very few taxes. [Archive] - DVD Talk Forum

PDA

View Full Version : 100 years ago, the US had very few taxes.


Trevor
05-17-08, 04:07 PM
Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Perm it Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax,
Medicare Tax
Privledge License Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What happened?

Ok, this is just one of those forwarded things that I keep getting in my email, but most of it checks out as true.

Anyone have a quick rebuttal? Or a quick explanation as to what the hell happened to this country?

Ranger
05-17-08, 04:13 PM
Yeah, we had a war over some damn tea tax and now look at us.

Trevor
05-17-08, 04:20 PM
Yeah, we had a war over some damn tea tax and now look at us.

That was 200 years ago.

DVD Polizei
05-17-08, 04:27 PM
If you look at how much politicians were paid 100 years ago, and then compare their salaries today, you might find answer to all these taxes.

In addition, there was more transparency when money was spent back then because we didn't have such a massive economic structure, where today, it's so confusing, this fact is used to funnel money to ridiculous projects and very little backlash because even news reporters don't have the time to report on all the stories.

But lucky for you, there isn't a Forum Sig Tax.

Yet. :D

Houstondon
05-17-08, 04:35 PM
What happened?
Or a quick explanation as to what the hell happened to this country?
People decided they wanted the government to "do more" for them, be it at the advice of politicians, well meaning advocates, and/or special interests. If you would make a similar list of all the services that forms of government did not provide back then, you will have your answer in more detail.

slappypete
05-17-08, 04:54 PM
What happened?

WWI
The Great Depression
WWII

Superboy
05-17-08, 05:09 PM
What happened?

WWI
The Great Depression
WWII

You forgot:

The New Deal
The Korean War
The Vietnam War
The Iran-Iraq conflict
The first Gulf War
The Serb/Albanian/Palestinian/Muslim conflict
The second Gulf War

movielib
05-17-08, 05:31 PM
People decided they wanted the government to "do more" for them, be it at the advice of politicians, well meaning advocates, and/or special interests. If you would make a similar list of all the services that forms of government did not provide back then, you will have your answer in more detail.
We'd be much better off without the taxes and the "services."

Groucho
05-17-08, 05:43 PM
Hey, I got an uncle lives in Taxes.

DVD Polizei
05-17-08, 05:57 PM
You forgot:

The New Deal
The Korean War
The Vietnam War
The Iran-Iraq conflict
The first Gulf War
The Serb/Albanian/Palestinian/Muslim conflict
The second Gulf War

You forgot the Iran War. :D

slappypete
05-17-08, 06:19 PM
You forgot:

The New Deal
The Korean War
The Vietnam War
The Iran-Iraq conflict
The first Gulf War
The Serb/Albanian/Palestinian/Muslim conflict
The second Gulf War

I didn't forget about them, they just didn't have as much of an impact on taxes. The two World Wars are responsible for the huge increase in permanent military spending. I almost included Vietnam since the horrors created by that draft led to the need of a larger standing military, but even that didn't have as large an impact as the 3 I listed.

Prior to WWI we didn't need a military ready to respond to threats on other continents.

Prior to the Great Depression we didn't need any social safety nets.

Prior to WWII we didn't need to build permanent military installations all over the world.

Everything since then has been minor changes on the same themes. Some believe we don't need these things now, but those 3 events are why the Federal government has grown so large.

Houstondon
05-18-08, 07:45 AM
I didn't forget about them, they just didn't have as much of an impact on taxes. The two World Wars are responsible for the huge increase in permanent military spending. I almost included Vietnam since the horrors created by that draft led to the need of a larger standing military, but even that didn't have as large an impact as the 3 I listed.

Prior to WWI we didn't need a military ready to respond to threats on other continents.

Prior to the Great Depression we didn't need any social safety nets.

Prior to WWII we didn't need to build permanent military installations all over the world.

Everything since then has been minor changes on the same themes. Some believe we don't need these things now, but those 3 events are why the Federal government has grown so large.

I don't always agree with the sentiments of separatists or "looking out for #1" types but it is considered reasonably certain that our decision to play world police made much of the global economy more competitive (more so than the additional markets it opened up to our goods were worth). By providing Japan & Europe with massive amounts of military spending, we kept them from having to spend as much on protecting their interests (military) and rebuilding their infrastructure with all new manufacturing plants with handouts while our own had to invest profits in a competitive environment has had lasting effects. There were some good reasons to do so but these decisions have come back to haunt us time and again too.

What people "need" and what they "want" are rarely the same thing. Taxes are ultimately just a means of redistributing wealth by force (or threat of force) for a great many things that people refuse to buy directly. How many people out there think we should be involved in most wars? How many think we should take ~40%+ of everything a worker earns to fund many things he doesn't want, can't use, or is otherwise opposed to?

Nick Danger
05-18-08, 09:36 AM
A hundred years ago, the sort of things that got Enron executives sent to jail were ordinary business practices.

A hundred years ago, people could sell people a vial of motor oil and call it medicine. People could make paris green (arsenic) colored candy or sell grade D meat. Five-story buildings were built with no fire escapes. A factory owner would rather have an employee lose an arm than damage a box of shingles, because the shingles cost the owner a dollar fifty and the arm nothing. Banks were uninsured, and everyone in town could lose their savings in an hour. A lot of technologies barely existed, like broadcast radio and paved roads.

Citizens decided that they wanted these conditions changed. It costs money to enforce all those laws.

Also, we weren't in a permanent state of war. There wasn't a military base and a military contractor in every congressional district.

Finally, Americans in some parts of the country died of malnutrition. Citizens felt that this country should do better than a third-world nation. They created a financial cushion for everyone. Over the years, that cushion has become a bedroom set.

al_bundy
05-18-08, 09:57 AM
Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Perm it Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax,
Medicare Tax
Privledge License Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.
We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What happened?

Ok, this is just one of those forwarded things that I keep getting in my email, but most of it checks out as true.

Anyone have a quick rebuttal? Or a quick explanation as to what the hell happened to this country?

most of these are use fees to pay for government services and they are state and local taxes which have been around a lot longer than the federal tax

Houstondon
05-18-08, 03:48 PM
Citizens decided that they wanted these conditions changed. It costs money to enforce all those laws.
Citizens felt that this country should do better than a third-world nation. They created a financial cushion for everyone. Over the years, that cushion has become a bedroom set.
Agreed, I just think too many people have become dependent on some services that the government really has no business providing (and does so far less efficiently than the private sector). The incremental increases in services have been getting expensive a lot quicker in the last few decades, pushing a lot of people over the edge in the "lower taxes=nirvana" age.

kvrdave
05-18-08, 05:19 PM
Couple of things to look at. Though there weren't many taxes, in 1989, the top mariginal income tax rate was 77%, which is quite high. In 1945 it was over 90%. Even in 1980, it was 70%.

Granted there were many loopholes, but I would say that just having one tax does not necessarily make things better.

JasonF
05-18-08, 07:16 PM
Couple of things to look at. Though there weren't many taxes, in 1989, the top mariginal income tax rate was 77%, which is quite high. In 1945 it was over 90%. Even in 1980, it was 70%.

Granted there were many loopholes, but I would say that just having one tax does not necessarily make things better.
The top marginal tax rate hasn't been 77% since 1964. In 1989, the top marginal rate was 28 or 33 percent, depending on how you count it.

In the 19th century, we got a significant portion of our tax revenues from tariffs. Those tariffs are mostly gone now. So if you're going to complain about the current tax regime, keep in mind that there was a different tax regime that it was replacing.

The Bus
05-18-08, 07:35 PM
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

Debatable.

Jason
05-18-08, 08:13 PM
100 years ago, we didn't have the military industrial complex.

Rockmjd23
05-18-08, 08:21 PM
They created a financial cushion for everyone. Over the years, that cushion has become a bedroom set.
Around here, that cushion has become a big screen TV and brand new rims.

VinVega
05-18-08, 08:34 PM
I keep hearing that Americans are better off than ever before in our history. Look at all the crap we can buy. Maybe those evil taxes didn't hurt as badly as some would have us believe.

Rockmjd23
05-18-08, 09:26 PM
We can buy a lot of crap because of taxes? I think many programs have helped raised the standard of living but some are disturbingly wasteful.

VinVega
05-18-08, 10:52 PM
We can buy a lot of crap because of taxes?
No...

Complaint: "Look at all the taxes...oh the humanity!"

Me: "They're not really hurting as badly as some would like to make it."

MartinBlank
05-18-08, 11:07 PM
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.


Debatable.

Really? How is that debatable?

Rockmjd23
05-18-08, 11:40 PM
No...

Complaint: "Look at all the taxes...oh the humanity!"

Me: "They're not really hurting as badly as some would like to make it."
I don't think they have to hurt the country directly to be a bad thing. Imo many taxes are used to line the pockets of bureaucrats which I consider immoral.

Hank Ringworm
05-18-08, 11:53 PM
Really? How is that debatable?

Yeah. If it's debatable, then debate it. Don't just tell me it's debatable.

Not referring to The Bus (who I think is rather smart) or anyone in particular, but everything's debatable if you find a big enough idiot.

Red Dog
05-19-08, 07:39 AM
What happened? A lot more got read into Article I Section 8 of the Constitution than is actually there. While the tax now & then tax list is nice, you should compare how many federal agencies existed 100 years ago compared to today.

classicman2
05-19-08, 07:45 AM
One might argue that times have changed in 100 years. The country has grown up a little. Some of our members seem to have a problem accepting that. No names need to be mentioned. You'll know who they are. ;)

movielib
05-19-08, 08:06 AM
One might argue that times have changed in 100 years. The country has grown up a little. Some of our members seem to have a problem accepting that. No names need to be mentioned. You'll know who they are. ;)
Oh, we get it. As societies get more complex, there is less and less room for individual freedom. I am looking forward to the time when complexity reaches the point that "1984" is necessary. Then the country will be completely mature.

classicman2
05-19-08, 08:09 AM
:lol:

The Bus
05-19-08, 10:04 AM
Really? How is that debatable?

It was debated in one of the economics threads over the past few months. I'm not saying that it's right or wrong, but it was debated iirc.

Just from a brief search, it looks like the US was in the middle or bottom of the top 5 nations in per-capita GDP at least in 1820 and 1900. We were #1 in 1950. We're now in the top ten.

fujishig
05-19-08, 06:48 PM
I keep hearing that Americans are better off than ever before in our history. Look at all the crap we can buy. Maybe those evil taxes didn't hurt as badly as some would have us believe.


Isn't that a little something called Credit? I'm pretty sure easy access to lots of credit has contributed to Americans living above their means for a while now.

Th0r S1mpson
05-20-08, 11:24 AM
100 years ago, women couldn't vote. Blame the women!

JasonF
05-20-08, 11:39 AM
100 years ago, women couldn't vote. Blame the women!

You're probably kidding, but John Lott actually wrote a paper purporting to show a correlation between women's suffrage and government spending.

Th0r S1mpson
05-20-08, 12:00 PM
You're probably kidding, but John Lott actually wrote a paper purporting to show a correlation between women's suffrage and government spending.

Did he ever get laid after that?

kvrdave
05-20-08, 12:42 PM
The top marginal tax rate hasn't been 77% since 1964. In 1989, the top marginal rate was 28 or 33 percent, depending on how you count it.


Oops, I meant 1979. But that isn't right either. Anyway, I screwed up.

Th0r S1mpson
05-20-08, 12:45 PM
Oops, I meant 1979. But that isn't right either. Anyway, I screwed up.

It's too late to refile.

Gcomeau
05-23-08, 10:16 AM
100 years ago, we didn't have the military industrial complex.


This is why wars occur..search Louis T. McFadden. It's off topic but according to what I've been able to gather he was silenced for the fact that; wait if you research it you will know what it is I'm talking about.

Parcher
05-24-08, 12:41 AM
I love how modern welfare is sometimes attributed to taxes. Taxes are not the cause.

The cause is simple: productivity, growth of the economy.

I am not an economist so my explanation won't be accurate or technical, but basically with a ~2 % growth in the economy per year things are going to get cheaper and cheaper - because more things are being produced.

The world today is QUITE a lot richer than say 10 years ago.

That's the biggest upside to being born young. a 2% CONTINUED growth per year makes a huge difference. My money (my actual wage, not the dollar amount) is going to buy almost 1.5 times as much in a little over 20 years...

inflation has nothing to do with it I might add. Corrected for that.

Parcher
05-24-08, 12:44 AM
Oh, we get it. As societies get more complex, there is less and less room for individual freedom. I am looking forward to the time when complexity reaches the point that "1984" is necessary. Then the country will be completely mature.

Scary thing is: it IS going to become a reality. If the timeline is long enough the mass surveillance society is definitely going to become a reality.

The question is when. With current rate of technological development, people's changing temperament towards privacy ("hey, we don't care") and adopted legislation I'd say it won't be long. 20-30 years and our society will look quite different.

grundle
05-24-08, 05:26 PM
That's the biggest upside to being born young.


What's the downside of being born old?

hitmanjules
05-24-08, 06:42 PM
I really don't understand the appeal of "rims."

coli
05-28-08, 06:16 AM
Because of so many taxes now, the days of one parent working are pretty much over, although I do know some stay at home moms. When I was growing up everyone could could afford a nice house, a nice car, and a nice living, and most of my friends moms didn't work, or maybe worked part time while we were at school. My parents told me in the 60's, they paid about 4% of their gross income to taxes, now we all pay (if are you not in the rich bracket) about 30-40% of state, local, federal taxes, sales,gas, etc, as that is the difference between our generation and our parents generation.

I do agree that as much as people want smaller government, once you start naming programs to cut, people scream not that one! So in a sense, I don't think people want big government, yet they don't want no government either.

JasonF
05-28-08, 10:01 AM
Because of so many taxes now, the days of one parent working are pretty much over, although I do know some stay at home moms.

:hscratch: "There's no such thing as a single-earner family, although I know some single-earner families."

When I was growing up everyone could could afford a nice house, a nice car, and a nice living, and most of my friends moms didn't work, or maybe worked part time while we were at school. My parents told me in the 60's, they paid about 4% of their gross income to taxes, now we all pay (if are you not in the rich bracket) about 30-40% of state, local, federal taxes, sales,gas, etc, as that is the difference between our generation and our parents generation.

Your parents are mistaken, or they're lying to you, or they were poor in the 1960s, or they were cheating on their taxes. Tax rates for the middle class are roughly where they were in the 1960s (they are considerably lower for the wealthy and the poor).

wendersfan
05-28-08, 10:04 AM
Your parents are mistaken, or they're lying to you, or they were poor in the 1960s, or they were cheating on their taxes. Tax rates for the middle class are roughly where they were in the 1960s (they are considerably lower for the wealthy and the poor).Federal income tax rates might be roughly the same, but there seems to have been considerable creep in other taxes like FICA, property, sales, etc. I don't have firm numbers on this handy (:() but I'm sure they could be obtained.

orangecrush
05-28-08, 10:07 AM
Federal income tax rates might be roughly the same, but there seems to have been considerable creep in other taxes like FICA, property, sales, etc. I don't have firm numbers on this handy (:() but I'm sure they could be obtained.
And property taxes can vary wildly depending on where you live. We have mill levies ranging from 1.9ish % to over 3% on residential properties here.

coli
05-28-08, 12:18 PM
Federal income tax rates might be roughly the same, but there seems to have been considerable creep in other taxes like FICA, property, sales, etc. I don't have firm numbers on this handy (:() but I'm sure they could be obtained.

Yes, I was talking about all taxes: In my state of NJ, the sales tax is 7%, the first state sales tax in NJ was instituted in the 70's by Brendan Byrne. Medicare wasn't started til 1965, and I'm sure at the beginning the tax on that was very small. The FICA tax was raised in the 80's because the Social Security Trustfund was in a deficit. The Gas Tax was raised in 1982, 1990 & 1993 from 5 cents to 19 cents. All the fees we pay on cars has been increased by state governments in the last 15 years due to state budget deficits.

I will have to research what the federal income tax was for the middle class in the 1960's, but I know most of the taxes and we pay today were either very small or nonexistent 30-40 years ago.

JasonF
05-28-08, 12:27 PM
My apologies, coli. I was indeed thinking only of income taxes.

The Bus
05-28-08, 12:43 PM
When I was growing up everyone could could afford a nice house, a nice car, and a nice living, and most of my friends moms didn't work, or maybe worked part time while we were at school.

You realize that the homes of the 1950s were 1200-1500 sqft? And that today's Honda Civics are better than the "nice" cars of 20-30 years ago?

The median square footage of a home in 1985 <a href="http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?contentID=80051">was 1500 square feet</a>.

Did your house have central heating and air?

coli
05-28-08, 02:01 PM
You realize that the homes of the 1950s were 1200-1500 sqft? And that today's Honda Civics are better than the "nice" cars of 20-30 years ago?

The median square footage of a home in 1985 <a href="http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_details.aspx?contentID=80051">was 1500 square feet</a>.

Did your house have central heating and air?

I do agree with you that our generation has gone 'overboard' with the bigger houses, luxury cars, and all of the other perks that we enjoy today. Where I grew up in NJ in the 70's/80's was a perfect example of the American Dream, where my parents did WAY better then my grandparents. Most of my friends parents including mine grew up in the city, were pure middle class, and moved out to the suburbs, bought a 'big' house at that time, and were able to make it with most of the families having the mom at home with the kids. That same American Dream now, moving to a 'bigger' house, in a better neighborhood results in both parents working, kids in daycare, etc. So in a way, I will agree with you that the square feet of house in 2008 is bigger then the square feet of a house in 1958, but that same argument could have been made comparing the avg in 1978 to 1958 too.

The Bus
05-28-08, 02:52 PM
So in a way, I will agree with you that the square feet of house in 2008 is bigger then the square feet of a house in 1958, but that same argument could have been made comparing the avg in 1978 to 1958 too.

You are correct. There was progress from 1958 to 1978 and progress from 1958 to 2008.

There's also been progress from 1978 to 2008.

orangecrush
05-28-08, 03:53 PM
You are correct. There was progress from 1958 to 1978 and progress from 1958 to 2008.

There's also been progress from 1978 to 2008.
At what point does progress (in terms of square footage) become outlandish? Do we really need 1000+ square feet/person?

MartinBlank
05-28-08, 04:14 PM
At what point does progress (in terms of square footage) become outlandish? Do we really need 1000+ square feet/person?

I guess it depends on one's definition of outlandish..."live simply so that others may simply live" :hippie:

The more you have the more the gov't thinks you should "give" ;)

The Bus
05-28-08, 04:47 PM
At what point does progress (in terms of square footage) become outlandish? Do we really need 1000+ square feet/person?

:shrug:

That's what I have but I live alone. At its most crowded, 3 other people lived here.

The Bus
05-28-08, 04:49 PM
At what point does progress (in terms of square footage) become outlandish?

I like how the conversation turned from "life was better before" to "when will our progress become outlandish"?

orangecrush
05-29-08, 09:23 AM
I like how the conversation turned from "life was better before" to "when will our progress become outlandish"?
I totally agree with you about life being sooooo much better now. I was recently regaled with stories about my grandfatherís life on the farm. They had an outhouse where they had a choice of Searís catalogs or corn cobs for toilet paper. I just think that the idea that my kids have to have an easier/better life than I did can only go for so many generations. My life is pretty darn comfortable and I am quite lazy as a result. I hope my kids have to face at least a little adversity so they can develop discipline and a good work ethic (not that adversity is required, but it helps).

coli
05-29-08, 09:42 AM
At what point does progress (in terms of square footage) become outlandish? Do we really need 1000+ square feet/person?

It's funny you said that, because I have noticed in the past year, they are finally starting to build smaller houses in new neighborhoods since the Housing Market Bubble has burst. In the past 10 years, I can drive through my township and see the evolution of each new neighborhood by which set of houses is bigger, and I think the builders finally learned that it was getting ridiculous.

I think we need to put in perspective, the 'bigger' house. Back when I was growing up, the only people that had the McMansions were rich people, because they could afford it without any problem. Now I am seeing the upper-middle class stretch themselves out to buy these McMansions, and they have handcuffed the rest of their life on this 30 year mortgage. Hopefully this trend of smaller houses continues because some of these houses were getting outrageously big.


Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.2.0