The best treatment for mental health distress we have to date

A word on the DSM and it’s credibility: It is my opinion, as someone actually at a university who is studying mental health care, is that there is scientific evidence being incorporated more and more into the DSM. But, diagnosis in general is considered by many, past and present day, in the mental health industry as possibly unnecessary, and possibly even damaging.

For example, regardless of if you have schizophrenia or not, regardless of if it’s mostly genetic, the treatment that is most effective doesn’t drastically change. Cognitive behavioral therapy has the most research behind it, and has now been shown to be more effective than medication for a long, exhaustive list of disorders.

Here is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in a simple, easy to understand visual. Although it includes a vast array of techniques, this is a good 101.

CBTgraphic

(Source)

Basically, boiled down for time, everything affects everything. An event happens > followed by thoughts > followed by emotions, behavior, and physical reactions. So the thinking is, you can’t control the situation, but you can alter your thoughts. And thinking alternative, evidence based thoughts, actually tends to make people healthier. This reduces the negative emotions, behaviors, and physical reactions that result from the event and the thoughts.

CBT is solution focused and action oriented. Instead of looking for unconscious meaning behind behaviors and diagnosis, Behaviorism (part of CBT) thinks of something for example, depression, as a connection between a feared stimulus, an avoidance response. This results in a conditioned fear. Cognitive therapists think conscious thoughts influence behavior. The Cognitive and Behaviorist approach were combined to create what we now call Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. (Source)

What are some CBT techniques?

Some coping skills that are taught in CBT are challenging or debating patterns and beliefs, and replacing them with healthier patterns and beliefs.

For example, some unhealthy thoughts might be overgeneralizing, looking for evidence of the negative only, minimizing positives, and catastrophizing. Coming up with more realistic explanations or cognitions decreases emotions distress and self-defeating behavior. (Source)

Other techniques are distraction, imagery, motivational self-talk, relaxation, minimizing negative or self-defeating thoughts, slow exposure to anxiety-provoking events, and goal setting.

This causes cognitive restructuring. The brain has neuroplasticity and can change. CBT actually modifies the neural circuits involved in regulation of negative emotions and fear extinction. It is able to change dysfunctions of the nervous system. This was discovered using neuroimaging techniques on neurobiological changes related to CBT before and after treatment. (Source)

These are some of the condition CBT has shown to be effective for:

  1. mood
  2. anxiety
  3. personality
  4. eating
  5. addiction
  6. dependence
  7. tics
  8. psychotic disorders
  9. schizophrenia
  10. fibromyalgia
(Lambert MJ, Bergin AE, Garfield SL (2004). “Introduction and Historical Overview”. In Lambert MJ. Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of Psychotherapy and Behavior Change (5th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 3–15)

CBT in the short term is equivalent in effectiveness as medication. Long term, it is superior to medication. In a meta-analysis (comparison of many studies), after 16 weeks of treatment, 58.3% of patients felt relief from depression, versus 57.5% for the antidepressant. Later, medication patients were switched to placebo over the course of 12 months. The CBT group discontinued therapy except for 3 “booster sessions” over the course of the same 12 months. After 1 year, 76% of patients on the placebo relapsed into depression, while only 31% of CBT clients relapsed into depression. (Hollon SD et al, Arch Gen Psychiatry 2005;62(4):417–422)

What causes autism and what is the most effective treatment?

First of all, how does autism manifest?

Behavioral: inappropriate social interaction, poor eye contact, compulsive behavior, impulsivity, repetitive movements, self-harm, or persistent repetition of words or actions
Developmental: learning disability or speech delay in a child
Cognitive: intense interest in a limited number of things or problem paying attention
Psychological: unaware of others’ emotions or depression
Also common: anxiety, change in voice, sensitivity to sound, or tic

Autism rates have been going up since we first started diagnosing it as autism.

AutismPrevalence

Why is this?

Initially, we want to say it’s because something is causing it to grow in number. Which might be true, might not be true, there is still research being done on the topic. But something that is interesting to note is diagnosis has changed since 1975.

What is the DSM and who writes it?

The DSM was originally created from collecting census and psychiatric hospital statistics, as well as a United States Army manual.

However, it is controversial.

The National Institute of Mental Health criticizes the manual as being unscientific and subjective. They state that the DSM has a lack of reliability because unlike physical symptoms such as heart disease or AIDS, the measures are on a consensus of clinical symptoms and not any objective laboratory measure. “In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever.

More and more, psychologists are finding the “biopsychosocial model” to be a more accurate representation of mental distress. The idea is that there are more than just a hand full of superficial criterion that make up mental health. It used to be that biology was considered the biggest factor at play, but these days, with all of the newest research coming out, we are finding that it’s more complex than that, and many, many factors contribute to it.

Here are some examples

BioPsychoSocial

(Source)

The DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is published by the American Psychological Association, is the Bible to the medical community. It is used to diagnose mental disorders.

And it’s changed over time.

DSM-I (1952) Autism-like symptoms were first classified as, “childhood schizophrenic“.

DSM-II (1968) The diagnostic criteria for childhood schizophrenic became broadened to include, “autistic, atypical, and withdrawn behavior.”

DSM-III (1980) “Infantile autism” was now included. Only 6 characteristics were listed and all must have been present in order to receive the diagnosis. “These changes in the field yielded a rapid increase in the number of individuals being diagnosed with autism” (Factor, Freeman, & Kardash, 1989)

DSM-IV (1994) Subtypes were added to the autism diagnosis. It grew from 6 to 16 symptoms and only 6 were needed for diagnosis. Now “qualitative impairment of social interaction” was included. It also included repetitive behavior, an impairment in communication. Onset must have been prior to age 3 though.

Here are other symptoms that were listed:

  1. lack of social or emotional reciprocity
  2. stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic lanaguage
  3. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.

DSM-5 (2013) Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified, which were previously considered as part of the autism spectrum, were removed.

Now, in order for diagnosis, a person must show all symptoms of social interaction and communication impairment, and additionally, 2 signs of repetitive behavior.

Asperger’s Syndrome has also been added under the umbrella of the autism spectrum.

So this is at least part of the responsibility for why incidence of autism have gone up. The diagnostic criteria has changed to become more broad. It’s not clear in the research if autism prevalence is also going up besides diagnostic criteria changing.

A word on the DSM and it’s credibility: It is my opinion, as someone actually at a university, who is studying mental health care, there is scientific evidence being incorporated more and more into the DSM. But, diagnosis in general is considered by many, past and present day, in the mental health industry as possibly unnecessary, and possibly even damaging.

For example, regardless of if you have autism or asperger’s, regardless of it being genetic, the treatment that is most effective doesn’t drastically change. Applied Behavioral Analysis has been shown to be more most effective, and the sooner the treatment is received, the better.

The most effective treatment for autism: Applied Behavioral Analysis

Specifically the Lovaas model, is a type of Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) created by a psychology professor at UCLA. It incolved breaking down skills to their basic components, rewarding positive performance with praise and reinforcers, and then generalizing skills in a natural setting. The results are gaining language, academic, and basic living skills, while some children can even fully recover!

Applied behavioral analysis includes this model as well as data collection and replacement behavior strategies in order to understand and change behavior.

The evidence for effectiveness

EffectivenessOfABA

As you can see in the graph above, Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention has been shown to be superior to the control group of children who did not receive the treatment. In 47% of children receiving the treatment for an average of 40 hours a week, they were placed in regular classroom and considered, “indistinguishable” from their peers in follow-up studies.

The unfortunate part of this highly effective treatment is that the estimated cost for 40 hours of treatment a week is about $4,000 a month, with an average yearly cost of $40,000. However, many, many healthcare providers providing a sliding scale payment system based on the income of the family coming in for services.

Now. The biggest question we all have. What causes autism?

Just like the biopsychosocial model, there is not one cause of autism.

  1. It seems to be mostly genetic. It tends to run in families, or the families have related disabilities. It is not a single gene that contributes, and scientists and researchers are currently looking for irregular segments of genetic code. Genetics is currently considered the most significant cause of autism spectrum disorders. Studies of identical twins have shown heritability to be 90%. However, most cases of ASD have no recent evidence of family history

GenetisADS

(Source)

2. Brain shape and structure. Brain scans have shown a different shape and structure of the brain than neurotypical children.

3. Certain medical conditions such as fragile X syndrome (found in 20% of boys with autism), tuberus sclerosis, congenital rubella syndrom, and phenylketonuria.

4. Some ingested harmful substances during pregnancy.

5. De novo copy number variation (CNV) is when deletions and duplication occurs in DNA. This gene has been shown to contribute to 5-10% of cases of ASD.

6. Coding protein mutations are observed in approximately 20% of individuals with autism.

7. Age of the father, because sperm and eggs tend to mutate and wear down as they age. Chromosomal abnormalities also increase with age. ASD children of men over 40 years or older were 5.75 times more likely to have ASD after controlling for year of birth, socioeconomic status, and maternal age. Maternal age was not found to be associated with ASD, but is associated with chromosomal abnormalities.

Egg abnormalities increase with age 

EggAbnormalities

(Source)

MenBirthDefects

(Source)

8. Prenatal causes: in a meta-analysis of 40 studies, it has been connected that autism is also contributed to pregnancy such as diabetes, bleeding, psychiatric drugs, and stress.

9. Out of all the non-genetic factors for infectious processes, prenatal viral infection seems to be the principal cause of autism. Exposure to rubella or cytomegalovirus are viruses that activate the mother’s immune response and greatly increases the risk for autism, as well as schizophrenia. If this happens earlier in pregnancy, the chances increase.

10. Fetal testosterone levels in amniotic fluid have exhibited in several reports to be a contributor. This may also explain why boys are more likely to develop ASD than girls. One hypothesis is that it moves brain development closer to ability to see patterns, analyze complex systems, and diminishes communication and empathy. These behaviors are shown in individuals with autism.

11. Lead blood levels are significantly higher in autistic children than neurotypical children, some think this is what leads autistic children to develop pica, eating things such as chalk, glue, or dirt. However, it is not known for sure.

Things that do not cause autism

  1. Vaccines. Study after study after study has not proven a single connection between vaccines and autism. One or two particular studies showed a correlation but they were debunked, and the people who made the studies had their medical licenses taken away for fraud. Most children are diagnosed with autism around the same age that vaccines are introduced, leading parents to believe the vaccine is the cause of ASD. There is no sound evidence of this.
  2. Mother’s age is not correlated with autism.
  3. Ultrasounds
  4. Other things that do not cause autism: gastrointestinal (even though autistic children are more likely to have GI symptoms than atypical children) or immune system abnormalities, “vaccine overload”, allergies, exposure of children to drugs, mercury, dental fillings, infection, certain foods, or heavy metals. (Source, Source)
  5. Mothers not being affectionate with their children. (Bettelheim B. The Empty Fortress: Infantile Autism and the Birth of the Self. Free Press; 1967.)

.

What causes birth rates to go down in developing countries?

Nobody knows every detail, and the research out there is limited on what has caused fertility rates to go down in developing countries. There are some educated guesses though.

1. As incomes have risen over time, birth rates have been declining. Child labor has gone down as well.

GDPDeveloping

Historic_world_GDP_per_capita

FertilityRatesWorld

ChildLabor

Why is this?

One possibility is what we saw in the industrial revolution in Western countries. As incomes rose, more and more children weren’t needed to work in sweatshops, and instead, families had the luxury to send their children to school instead. Not only did that keep children out of the workforce, but it allowed their children to have increased incomes for their own future because of their newly acquired education.

SchoolCompletion

2. People who live in urban areas tend to have lower birth rates than those in rural areas. Another reason is that populations in rural areas need their children to work in order to survive, and more children provides more income or labor.

UrbanFertility

3. Increased education rates are correlated with lower birth rates. I think this is correlated because not only are women busy getting and education instead of getting married and having babies, but with their higher education, it increases the likelihood of increased income, because their education provides better paying jobs.

I keep seeing again and again that poverty is related to so many different factors. It seems like if we eliminate poverty, we eliminate a lot of social problems as well.

Enrollment

EducationBirthRates

4. In areas with lower infant mortality rates, we see lower fertility rates. This is because mothers don’t need to have more children to get their desired number of children, because the children were dying as infants.

ChildMortality

5. Religion. In majority Muslim countries, there tend to be lower birth rates.

MuslimFertility

6. Average age of marriage influences birth rates around the world.

MarriageAgeFertility

7. Contraceptive use around the world is one possible factor but I couldn’t find sound research showing more contraceptive use over time. So we cannot assume this. Also, here’s a look at what methods people are using around the world, as well as, why people choose to not use contraceptives.

ContraceptiveWorldUse

ContraceptiveUse

NoUseReasons

The peer reviewed journal Science just came out with a study showing exactly how we can eliminate poverty

OR How to eliminate poverty without forced taxation (which hasn’t eliminated it anyway).

Here’s a cool fact: we now have evidence for the best way to reduce poverty in the world.

The journal Science has done a rigorous meta-analysis of different types of charities and concluded that the scientific evidence is statistically significant and we can eliminate poverty without forced taxation. Here is the pdf without the whole needing to login thing: (Source) Also, here’s a simpler article explaining the study in case you’re not interested in the jargon: (Source)

Cash, livestock, and training.

That’s it. 3 things.

Now let’s delve into what the heck that means.

1. Cash

People in 6 different countries were each given a cash grant of $150. That’s it, $150. 2 years later, households doing the program now had a total of $202, or the equivalent in purchasing power of $500.

How did they do that?

2. Livestock

The subjects were given a choice between sheep, goats, chicken, cattle, etc. A market analyst would sometimes help them make the decision as to which livestock to choose. Which leads me to the training part.

3. Training

The training provided about livestock included: how to manage a business with their livestock, including feeding, how to rear them, vaccines, and treatment of diseases.

Training also included: health education in nutrition, hygiene, clean water, psychosocial counseling, prenatal health, HIV prevention and medicine; traditional and financial education such as investment and savings; emotional support; and staff supervision for running their business.

What doesn’t work

The study found that microloans don’t increase quality of life or incomes significantly, because the people getting the loans cannot afford to pay them back. Especially at the very high interest rates, microcredit lending charities have to charge to stay open. These programs usually take 18 years to break even. (Source)

Just donated livestock alone was not enough to lift people out of poverty alone.

Just cash while a short term solution, it did not help long term.

Services alone was not efficient enough as well.

Cost-benefit analysis

Most charities do not pass the cost-benefit analysis test. Most charities are costly to run and require high amounts of fundraising money to operate. Very often, it costs more to operate than the benefit the charity gives to others.

What am I supposed to do? How could someone like me help with extreme poverty in the world?

I did an exhaustive search of the best charities that do the cash, livestock, and training programs. The best rated one I found that had the best benefits was easily FXB International.

And here is why I like them so much:

  1. They only help the poorest of poor families in the world.
  2. Their model was developed with input by Harvard University experts.
  3. Their program is based on eliminating the five drivers of poverty: nutrition, health, education, housing, and income.
  4. They’ve already lifted 83,500 people out of poverty; the size of small city.
  5. They have a proven track record that 86% of the people they help STAY out of poverty 4 years later.
  6. They’ve been around for 27 years.
  7. They have great transparency for where their money goes.
  8. Only 12% of the money goes to overhead. That means for every $1 you donate, .88 cents goes to the actual person you’re helping.
  9. It only costs $140 per year to help lift one person out of poverty, for a 3 year program.

So, if you have $140 lying around that you weren’t going to spend in a better place. Here is their donation page: https://fxb.org/donate/

The fucking economy

This is how you get more government social programs and safety nets:

1. Raise taxes, which will reduce growth in the economy because people  won’t have enough hours, which leads to not enough wages to go spend and create more jobs and it would reduce the number of jobs because people will have less money to pay them.

Here is a diagram showing how tax is dispersed and deadweight loss of efficiency arises.

TaxDeadweight

2. Cut spending on important programs, especially social security, medicaid, and/or medicare because they by far take up the vast majority of the budget and we already can’t pay for it without loans from china and japan AND taxes.

Here’s a goddamn graph. We’re completely reliant now on government spending.

BushTaxCut

Largest federal spending we can’t afford anymore:

HousingSpending

 

And tax revenue that’s not enough to pay the bills

USTaxShortfall

Income taxes and taxes on businesses make up the majority of the revenue. Corporate taxes may seem low but the U.S. corporate tax is the highest out of all the developed nations.

TaxRevenue

3. Inflating the currency by printing more so there’s more money in the marketplace, which pays the bills, and makes us look like we can pay our bills, but it really just makes the money less valuable, which really hurts poor people the most, because they go to buy food, and $1 can buy a loaf of bread instead of a loaf of bread and milk like they could have before the printing of the money.

With inflation, we can go into debt FOREVER!!!

USInflation

Consumer Price Index broken down

CPIFood

But the world banks and the people who make the biggest investments are firm believers always having moderate amounts of inflation and I’m more middle of the road.

I’m not for or against inflation and/or deflation. I think it’s best when it’s balanced. When $1 = $1 instead of $1 being able to buy $2 worth of food or $1 being able to buy .25 cents of food.

The 1960’s. The golden age of wealth, the closest to not to much inflation, not too little, and the baby boomers having it pretty sweet.

1960sinflation

3. But the economy will save us! GDP growth will go up forever!!!

RealGDPgrowth

(Source)

Oh.

Hey wait a minute… 

If GDP growth has become smaller since 1960, and the average these days seems to be 4%… and the average inflation rate is 3.22%… that means… 4%-3.22% = .88%… THE ECONOMY IS ONLY REALLY GROWING AT .88% PER YEAR OH MY GOD SOMEBODY TELL THE PRESIDENT!

GDP growth WOULD increase tax revenue due to an increase of income. Too bad our inflation rate is too high for that to happen.

Trade offs

So you see, this is why I think there are trade offs and pros and cons to both inflation and deflation.

I don’t know of a time in history that it was ever popular to have a balanced rate of inflation.

What’s so bad about deflation, Federal Reserve, World Bank and IMF?

With deflation, the currency is more valuable and can buy more things and it encourages savings which people do because their money will be more valuable tomorrow than it is today, so it’s a good idea to keep it in a bank account earning even more valuable with interest. People produce higher quality things, not plastic made in China, though they’re working on it.

Have you ever seen a coat that was made in the 60s? They would last forever. People would go to get alterations to tailor them to their bodies, and they knew how to sew when holes eventually did get in them, because it was more cost effective to learn to sew at home and repair things, than just throw it away and get a new one, because it’s so cheap and then when THAT gets a hole in it, throw that away because it’s essentially worthless.

I think capital is best when it comes from BOTH savings and credit and a little of both. Savings shrinks the growth of the economy though. People spend less money because they’re saving their money so they can do things like earn interest and start a business or have retirement money for their future.

Interest rates and real GDP growth looks a whole lot like supply and demand. (IS stands for Investment-Savings and LM stands for Liquidity Preference-Money Supply) In my ideal economic fantasy world, these things meet at equilibrium.

InvestmentSavings

So wages do get lower because people are hoarding their money and there are less jobs to go around because the money isn’t being spent on hiring new people. But prices go down so poor people can afford more food. And in a contraction of credit, jobs in inefficient sectors are going to more efficient sectors. (Horse and buggy, anyone?)

It’s like inflation is giving people a sugar cube when they have cancer and telling them it will help. Sure, sugar tastes good, but the bitter medicine (deflation), actually helps cure the disease. The governments of the world like to feed us sugar cubes and tell us it’s medicine, when really we need the bitter medicine.

Imagine I got a loan to have a horse and buggy business. They didn’t sell well because of an auto saturated economy. Now, there’s a bust in the natural business cycle, and the credit is drying up. People are becoming wiser that horse and buggy is the wave of the past. So people stop buying and they save their pennies for a more expensive but more practical car. The horse and buggy operation either chooses to foreclose, or they go into the automobile industry to stay afloat.

Pros and cons

There are pros and cons to inflation AND deflation and anyone who tells you there’s not is drinking the kool-aid (which is most people probably).

With inflation, the currency is less valuable, poor people’s wages do go up, but it just looks like they’re getting wealthier because the money is worth less and you have to spend it fast because it’s not going to be as valuable tomorrow. So it looks like the economy is growing and everybody’s happy.

But poor people can buy less “stuff” like food, and their bills are higher, and wages are worth less.

DollarValueFed

The above shows how the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve have decreased the value of the dollar down to pennies. That’s from decades of inflation.

But inflation does encourage people to invest because they have a larger quantity of money so they spend it on opening a business and lenders are more willing to lend to people with lower credit scores because they are making a shit ton off the interest of people’s credit cards and loans and shit. It does encourage debt though, which is why we live in a debt-based economy.

4. Borrow and get in debt.

Here’s who owns all our debt

LoansFromChina

(Source)

Basically we live on inflation, debt, and ponzi schemes like medicaid, medicare, social security, banks, and the financial industry in general and we’re all fucked and there’s nothing the 3 of us reading this can do about it. I love you.

Insurance companies don’t really make that much profit but real estate developers do OR: who should I be mad at more?

Insurance companies don’t really have that high of profit margins. It’s important to look at profit margins because if you look at revenue alone, it can look like they make a lot more than they do. But after paying their employees, the lease, the costs of sales, taxes, etc., they’re left with the net: the profit margin. In the insurance industry their profit margins are about 3.3%.

To put it in perspective, for small businesses, which make up 99.7% of the U.S. economy, 10-15% is considered financially vulnerable. 15% is stable. However, pharmaceutical companies make a net profit margin of 17%. Much higher than the insurance industry, but still vulnerable. The highest is the real estate development profit margins with 38% profit. That’s insane. I’m not mad at them for being profitable; I just think with profit margins that much higher than the average, it’s a market signal that it’s too good to be true.

Remember?

Inflation-Adjusted-U.S.-Home-Prices-Since-1900

My thoughts are that housing developments are probably over-valued and going to crash again. Businesses in the market will probably default or foreclose on these developments when it makes more sense to close them than keep building them, because they are losing more money than they are making.

Just an idea.

If you don’t have healthcare in America, then fuck you

With the exception of two other countries, out of all the OECD countries, the U.S. doesn’t have universal healthcare. That’s fine. The U.S. doesn’t have to do everything the OECD countries do. But the current system? There has got to be a better way. Something. Anything. It’s better than, “bite down on this piece of bark.”

Here are some statistics for fun: Yes, the United States is #3 on the list of healthcare spending per capita ($8,608 per person). But Norway ($9,715) and Switzerland ($9,276) are in the top 2, and they both have universal healthcare. In fact, 58 countries in the world have universal healthcare, and they’re all near the top of the healthcare spending per capita list as well.

Healthcare is simply expensive.

The U.S. is #10 on the list of wealthiest countries in the world with a median household income of $53,657.

And…

60-65% of healthcare spending goes to the poor, the disabled, children, senior citizens and veterans. These populations require more health care than the other 35-40% of the population. Poor people have higher rates of health problems, as well as the disabled and senior citizens. Children require vaccines and check ups, and veterans are dying while on a waiting list to get medical care at VA hospitals.

HealthSpending

The U.S. does spend the most as a percentage of our GDP, by far.

But…

“Of 17 high income countries studied by the National Institutes of Health in 2013, the United States has the highest or near-highest prevalence of obesity, car accidents, infant mortality, heart and lung disease, sexually transmitted infections, adolescent pregnancies, injuries, and homicides.”

Here are some good things:

We are good at medical technology that’s really expensive. We are better at treating people with cancer, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure than other developed countries. We’ve also received more Nobel prizes in medicine than any other country in the world.

So it’s not all bad. But that stuff is really, really expensive.

Some more unfortunate facts though?

62% of people in the U.S. file for bankruptcy due to medical debt. 1 in 4 senior citizens declare bankruptcy due to healthcare expenses. And 43% of those people have to sell their homes or mortgage them.

My thoughts as to why healthcare is so expensive is that we have way more unhealthy people than healthy people. 2/3 of the population is overweight or obese. American food tastes good, but it’s garbage food that belongs in the trash if you want to live.

With insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, it requires more money coming in than is going out. This is the definition of a Ponzi scheme. So insurance companies cut corners. They raise their prices, pay medical field workers such as doctors less (leading to physicians leaving the industry), and cover less services.

There is no better solution to fixing the American economy. Sorry.

Sure, we have safety nets like social security, welfare, medicaid, medicare, and unemployment programs. The U.S. is middle of the road to the lighter end of tax rates compared to other industrialized nations.

tax rates world ranking 300k

(Source)

Here are the real numbers on how taxed we really are:

We have a 35% corporate tax rate, 0-12% corporate tax rate for state-local taxes. The global corporate tax rate, for comparison, is 24%. (Source)

We have a 0% to 55.6% income tax rate that includes federal, state and local taxes. (Source)

Payroll tax pays 15%-19% for social security and 2.9%-3.8% for medicaid/medicare. (Source)

25% of the GDP goes to taxes. (Source)

I’m not saying the country should have higher tax rates. But I do think that having moderate tax rates and fewer safety nets than other industrialized countries shows a lack of efficiency in how the money is being spent.

This is which taxes make up the government’s tax revenue:

2010 Federal Revenues Pie

(Source)

Your income tax and your employer’s payroll tax bill make up the majority of the pie. Even though we have the highest corporate income tax among the OECD countries, it still makes up a small percentage of the revenue. Corporations are already taxed 39% of their revenue/profit. Making it higher, in fact, does causes businesses to move their operations elsewhere, where costs are cheaper, so they don’t have to decide to raise their prices, and lose customers who come across a cheaper product made overseas.

Here’s how our taxes are spent:

GovSpendingWeb

This sucks.

It really fucking sucks. Because what are we going to cut? The biggest pieces of the pie are health, social security, and defense. It might be nice to have less of an imperialist boot in the face of every country on earth, but even if we cut half of that, it’s still only 8%, and that money would probably need to be swallowed up to pay for social security and healthcare for people who really need it.

I also find it sad that 16% is spent on military but only 4% on veterans. I’ve never been in the military. I don’t know what that’s like. But I imagine watching your friends die in front of you for some rich politician’s political aim deserves more than 4% of the entire budget. Especially when 16% is being spent on starting or maintaining more intervention. I think if you work any job where your risk of dying or being injured is high, you should probably have more benefits than someone working a cushy white collar office job where they sit at a computer all day like me.

SuicideVeterans

(Source)

It makes sense to me more now why we are so in debt. Because who wants to deliver the bad news? So we keep borrowing, printing, and inflating.

What about raising taxes on the rich? (There’s a graph for that too.)

RichTaxes

The rich actually do pay the majority of the taxes.

Let’s go over the list of why all the great solutions are not great solutions at all:

  1. The U.S. doesn’t pay income taxes that are too high OR too low. It’s more moderate to light, compared to the rest of the world.
  2. Income and business taxes already pay 40% of what they earn.
  3. Corporate taxes make up only 8% of the government revenue but they are already taxed 39% on what they make. Too much and they could move overseas, resulting in higher unemployment, meaning even less tax revenue, and people needing to collect on government programs even more. Detroit is an example of this.
  4. Wasteful spending is not the culprit. The majority of taxes are being spent on healthcare, social security, and to a lesser degree, defense.
  5. The rich already pay the vast majority of the taxes. 97% if the tax revenue comes from the richer, top 50%.

I thought when I started this, after I dug into the research, I would be able to find the most common sense solution. Now, I don’t.

But what I have gotten out of the research, is that any politician giving you any of these solutions is full of shit and just trying to get votes to stay in power OR they’re uneducated on the real research on the topic.

Another thing I understand more now is why we borrow so much money from China and Japan. It buys time until someone smarter than us comes up with a better solution.