Patterico's Pontifications

1/26/2011

“Should Five Percent Appear Too Small, Be Thankful I Don’t Take it All”—The (Cartoon) Beatles v. the Taxman

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:03 am



[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

Consider this a follow up to my angry post last night.

Did you know that there was a cartoon based on the Beatles?  I actually remembered watching it as a kid, and not thinking much of it.  And now looking back, um, wow, this is pretty badly done.  Still it gives you the Beatles complaining about how high their taxes are, getting high getting hit in the head and hallucinating that they are in the days of Robin Hood.  And this results in them singing their classic song “Taxman:”

Of course if you want a more straightforward performance, there is this:

By the way, those lines in the song are not hyperbole, if Wikipedia is to be believed:

The Beatles’ large earnings placed them in the top tax bracket in the United Kingdom, liable to a 95% supertax introduced by Harold Wilson’s Labour government.

So when he says “[t]here’s one for you, nineteen for me,” well, do the math.  One twentieth is 5%, so saying you only get one out of twenty is another way of specifically describing the tax rate they were subject to.  And as if that isn’t obvious enough, there is the line I quoted in the title.

(The wiki article also explains who Mr. Wilson and Mr. Heath are.  I admit to always being curious.)

Anyway, remember folks.  You’re working for no one but me (the government).

Mr. President, if you ever wondered why there is a Tea Party, well there it is.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

34 Responses to ““Should Five Percent Appear Too Small, Be Thankful I Don’t Take it All”—The (Cartoon) Beatles v. the Taxman”

  1. I’ve long thought that three of the biggest mistakes the GOP made while in control was (1) to not eliminate the budget rule that reductions in planned increases in government spending count as ‘cuts’, (2) to not have forced through dynamic scoring of changes to government spending and tax rates, and (3) to not have eliminated the pretext that cuts in taxes are a ‘cost’ to the country.

    Maybe they’ll get it right next time

    steve (369bc6)

  2. Today’s Dem/Lib/Left Party is brought to you by those who believe culture in America FTMP started with the introduction of John/Paul/George/Ringo to the great unwashed masses of Amerikan’s.
    But, history is never important to a Leftist, since it is only what was; whereas, what is important, is what they say it is!

    “We know the future, it is only the past that is indeterminate!”- (paraphrase)Old Soviet-Era saying.

    AD-RtR/OS! (d66a06)

  3. An especially appropriate line in the song, “Don’t ask me what I want it for, if you don’t want to pay some more.”

    You peons don’t need to concern yourselves with how the government spends it. If you’re nice, and if you stand quietly in line, and if you fill out lots of forms, we might even toss a little coin your way.

    Gesundheit (cfa313)

  4. Comment by steve — 1/26/2011 @ 7:14 am

    There are calls among the Young Turks in the House-GOP (and leadership) for the repeal of the Budget Act of 1974 which imposes those rules upon the actions of Congress.
    And, since that Act was a spiteful response to actions of the Nixon Administration by a Dem Congress, it should be axed – especially considering that it was both bad policy and bad economics.

    AD-RtR/OS! (d66a06)

  5. “1.I’ve long thought that three of the biggest mistakes the GOP made while in control was ..”

    I love to break it you, the GOP was NEVER in control. Not in our lifetimes my friend.
    Congress just doesn’t CONSTITUTIONALLY work that way.
    Get back to me when the GOP has a solid 75% in both Houses, and then I’ll agree they are in control.
    Until then, I won’t. I can’t, it’s not true,

    SiliconDoc (7ba52b)

  6. Wilson & Heath were prime ministers. Am I dating myself?

    The irony is that it’s a George Harrison tune, who did get quite wealthy (and deservedly so) but was also a lefty. If you want all those social welfare programs George, don’t complain about having to pay for them.

    rbj (9f3937)

  7. The funny thing about that onerous tax rate in Britain was that while the Beatles sang songs complaining about it, the Stones actually moved to France to get the hell away from it (aka Exile on Main Street). When they finally changed the tax codes Jagger moved back home, while Richards stayed in NYC and has made no secret of his dislike for Labor and it’s policies over the years. And remember, Jagger’s always been a bit of an upper class toff since their success, while Richards has never thought of himself as anything but a working bloke.

    Dmac (498ece)

  8. Dmac, you beat me to it. Eric Clapton’s book talks about this taxation problem, for music and movie artists in particular, because of their royalty income. Apparently the royalty income was taxed as regular income, but then taxed again because it was unearned. If an artist was successful enough to be in the top bracket, it was possible to be taxed at greater rates than 100%!

    Quite a few British musicians and actors moved to the U.S. at this time to escape this crushing tax problem. My favorite of them all being Mick Ralphs of Bad Company.

    In conclusion, I believe this excessive taxation is racist. (© JD)

    TimesDisliker (caf8eb)

  9. I think some times the idea is if you have a high income you must be rich, which isn’t necessarily so. One may be rich because of accumulated assets, etc., and current income is not all that important to one’s standard of living, hence 95% income tax may be a small amount in the grand scope of things, but someone who starts out with little then hits it big like an entertainer, they’re just killed by a 95% income tax because, not only does Richards feel like a “working bloke”, but his take home pay is that of a “working bloke”!

    Just goes to show that it’s easier to like the idea of someone else’s money being spent.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  10. And, since that Act was a spiteful response to actions of the Nixon Administration by a Dem Congress, it should be axed – especially considering that it was both bad policy and bad economics.

    Comment by AD-RtR/OS!

    The principle aim of the law was to prevent the president from holding back spending by rescission. Prior to the act, the president (Nixon) was withholding spending to balance the budget and cut inflation pressure from LBJ’s Great Society.

    David Niven was denied an award by the Queen because he had moved to France to avoid taxes. This was done even though he had abandoned his Hollywood career just as it was taking off to join the Army in 1939. He was a graduate of Sandhurst and served as an officer the rest of the war. He returned to the US after the war. It has always been believed that this was revenge by Labour, most of whose leadership sat out the war at home.

    One factor believed to be responsible for Churchill’s loss in 1945 was the fact that the Tory leaders were all still in the army and other services while Labour’s leaders were all home, as they had been throughout the war.

    Ted Heath was the Conservative leader opposing Wilson. Heath later became PM when Labour lost the next election. He was a bit of a wet but he was a famous sailor, having won the Sydney-Hobart Race with a 34 foot boat. Margaret Thatcher defeated him for party leader.

    Mike K (8f3f19)

  11. The “one for me nineteen for you” refers to the pre-decimal currency in Britain whereby there were 20 shillings to the pound. There were 12 pennies to the shilling so a pound was 240 pennies. It all went decimal around 1971 (from memory) and then there were 100 pennies to the pound and shilling and florins and half crowns and crowns were a thing of the past.
    As noted above it was also possible to be taxed at a rate of 105% and resulted in what was known as the “brain drain” which was a loss of the most talented individuals in a mass exodus. Sound familiar?

    Gazzer (1b7d21)

  12. Weren’t the democrats talking about a 95%ish tax bracket after the financial melt-down?

    Newtons.Bit (d4b383)

  13. newton’s

    not that i heard of, but i could be wrong. jeez, i hope i am [not].

    [opps, left out a crucial “not.” -aaron]

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  14. 12.Weren’t the democrats talking about a 95%ish tax bracket after the financial melt-down?
    Comment by Newtons.Bit — 1/26/2011 @ 9:10 am

    No. Perhaps you are thinking about O’s specious claim to give a tax break to 95% of “working families.”

    TimesDisliker (caf8eb)

  15. There was a 95% tax bracket in 1972 when I began private practice. Fortunately, it was effective at an income I would never see but it was still a bit of a negative influence. In Sweden, where they had such a rate at a much lower gross income, the senior doctors all hit the income level about October 1. They all left for three month vacations in the Mediterranean. You could not get a senior doctor in Sweden the last three months of the year. They finally wised up and have cut their tax rates quite a bit lately.

    Mike K (8f3f19)

  16. If you add in income tax, capital gains, and then estate tax, some people do wind up approaching 95% today. And a lot of those people are smart enough to simply not bother. That’s one reason revenue went up as cap gains rates went down. It’s a reason why revenue could go up if we did away with the death tax.

    A lot of people have great earning potential towards the end of their lives, but the only incentive is their benefactors getting wealth. They should be able to earn without their investments being robbed.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  17. Coincidentally, the new 5% witholding for IL hit me to day.

    Mike K – great example about the Swedish doctors.

    carlitos (a3d259)

  18. One of my specific arguments against high taxes with one of my brothers is just this. How many Beatles songs were never written or recorded because of this. If 95% of your earnings are stolen from you why would you strive to make your product when you can just as easily fo fishing. (Or in the Beatles case visit a guru in India.)

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  19. have blue

    mmm, yeah, i am pretty conservative and obviously dislike high taxes, but that theory that the beatles would have made more music but for taxes doesn’t really fly with me.

    I mean think of how many great albums they have. i personally own mostly the later stuff, so rubber soul, revolver, Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour (my personal favorite), the White Album, Abbey Road, Let It Be.

    And that’s not all of them, because mostly i don’t like their earlier stuff as much. So okay, that is 7 albums. This discography lists just in the UK releasing… 14 albums before breaking up (and that is counting the white album as one album, a debatable choice).

    http://www.aboutthebeatles.com/discography_lp.php

    That’s all in 7 years. most years have them releasing two albums in england alone, the only exceptions being when they released the white album (which is a double album), and their last album.

    by comparison, a band i like alot, 3 doors down, has released i think 3 (studio) albums since 1999. So its kind of hard to believe that they would have written more if only they weren’t taxed so badly.

    So they made so much music, i doubt they could have made very much more, or if they tried whether it would be worth a damn. i tend to think that you need time between songs to build up enough “juice” to use a vague term, to come up with another concept. and even then some of their songs, just before rubber soul and revolver, seemed pretty tired.

    Btw, if you are enough of a fan, i admit it is a blast to play “Beatles Rockband.”

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  20. I always thought it was interesting that three out of the four Beatles moved to the United States. They could have lived anywhere, and lived like kings anywhere, and they chose the US. Think about that the next time some moron is telling you how great Europe is.

    Charlie Davis (00d0d8)

  21. One of my favorite Bible passages is I Samuel 8, where you learn that God thought we would all be so offended by a ten-percent tax that we would see the error of our ways in desiring a King to rule over us.

    w3bgrrl (12f86d)

  22. Aaron, you may disagree with Have Blue’s specific example, but his point of higher taxes discouraging work and productivity is valid. A famous example from Old Hollywood and Reagan comes to mind…

    Former President Ronald Reagan used to tell the story of his experiences as an actor in the high tax era of the 1950s. He found that his income from being the lead actor in five feature film productions each year left his family with a comfortable income. However, if he made a sixth movie the additional income earned from that movie would push him into a higher tax bracket (which was in the 90% range in those days) which, after paying the higher tax on that portion of his income, left him and his family with very little additional income for that year. The 90% tax on his income earned by making more than five movies per year was the same as having his pay for additional movies cut by 90%. Faced with the choice of spending time home relaxing with his family or working on location for a few weeks for 10% of his normal pay, he choose to limit himself to five films. This, of course meant that many of the other workers on the set whose jobs and income were tied to Reagan’s movies were also limited to five films per year and, since they were in lower tax brackets, they suffered a cut in income due to less work.

    TimesDisliker (caf8eb)

  23. Liberals mugged by reality. The Lads from Liverpool all moved to a country they hated in order to escape the Queens taxes. Of course, that didn’t stop them from going back to accept knighthood!

    Chuck Roast (d5e092)

  24. I like Have Blue’s metaphor.

    Even though it is simply amazing to contemplate to amount of music the Beatles made.

    Anyhow, people are always shifting away from taxes. One can actually figure out the tax code if they just look at a society, like an archeologist analyzing some hidden element that evaporated a million years ago.

    In Germany, many houses protrude over the first floor. When I first saw it, I joked that they must tax the houses on the basis of their first floor footprint. My wife informed me that this is actually exactly right.

    When I built a structure in my backyard, the tax ramifications had an impact.

    That our tax code is unwieldy is a bit of an injustice. Only certain people have enough power to affect the tax code. I’d rather have the fair tax.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  25. Times

    oh absolutely. i was only quibbling with that individual case. i believe i posted here before about how when maryland put in a tax on millionaires, the millionaires left. that is actually more of the issue than straight loss of productivity.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  26. 20.I always thought it was interesting that three out of the four Beatles moved to the United States. They could have lived anywhere, and lived like kings anywhere, and they chose the US. Think about that the next time some moron is telling you how great Europe is. Comment by Charlie Davis — 1/26/2011 @ 10:22 am

    Let us not forget that the one Beatle who stayed in Jolly Olde had his house broken into by a heroin-addicted nutjob, and was stabbed multiple times and nearly killed for defending himself and his home. Harrison’s taxes paid for his attacker’s legal defense, mental treatment, and prison housing. Tut, tut, old shoe!:-)

    TimesDisliker (caf8eb)

  27. Oh great – something for me to look forward to this week.

    Dmac (498ece)

  28. Timesdisliker,

    Harrison was alo an American resident

    They all moved here for tax purposes

    EricPWJohnson (13b18d)

  29. Harrison did move to the U.S. for radiation treatment in his last months. So much for that British healthcare.

    OK, taxes, crime, legal system, healthcare…I’m done cr@pping on England for the moment.:-)

    TimesDisliker (caf8eb)

  30. song:

    Should five percent appear too small,
    Be thankful I don’t take it all.

    Obama in April:

    “In all, we passed 25 different tax cuts last year. And one thing we haven’t done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year — another promise that we kept,” he told supporters at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. “So I’ve been a little amused over the last couple of days where people have been having these rallies about taxes. You would think they would be saying thank you.”

    Arrogant jackass.

    Nate Whilk (c4437c)

  31. For those who care… (probably not many)..
    In those days the pound sterling had 240 pennies. A shilling was 12 pence, (pennies). So there are 20 shilling to the pound. The tax man took 19 shillings and the citizen got to keep one. ( If I’m not mistaken, the excahnge rate was the pound was around $2.50US)
    This is a fairly early song. I guess once you get so much it doesn’t matter. Without a doubt maybe a reason why Lennon took up residence in NYC.

    Cheshirecat (0cd6a2)

  32. I’m impressed the Beatles could do college-level math in their songs and expect people to understand it. How times have changed!

    tehag (c9c7bc)

  33. In all fairness, in the ’70s “here’s one for you, 19 for me” was fourth grade math. Social promotion and grade inflation, times have indeed changed.

    TimesDislaiku (e0445b)

  34. The 95% tax rate is rather meaningless for income earners such as the Beatles. This rate applies only to UK sourced income. Outside income is not taxed at this rate – only if it is remitted to the UK. Most entertainers, executives, etc. keep their non UK generated income outside to avoid taxation. Unlike the US, which taxes income worldwide, except for corporations. That’s why if Obama waived the corporate overseas tax requirement one time, we would create millions of jobs from corporations bringing back their overseas earnings. Some economists estimate those profits to be in the multiple of trillions.

    hstad (58736e)


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