Archive for taxes

Senator Chuck Schumer Is Appalled

Posted in Economics, Government, In the News, Patriotism, Philosophy, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2012 by Xajow

Via, I came across an article in the politics section of the Huffington Post about Senator Chuck Schumer being “appalled” that his proposed plan to punish people for renouncing their citizenship would ever be compared to, frankly, similar legislation that was passed in Germany in 1931. According to the video at the top of the Huffington Post article, Senator Schumer believes that and similar comparisons are “absurd” and “odious”. Why? Senator Schumer explains in the video:

The law Mr. Norquist refers, references in Nazi Germany was purely discriminatory. It targeted a particular race of people, the Jewish people, and punished them for nothing other than being Jewish and exercised freedom of movement. It was meant to constrain that freedom by forcing Jews to reside inside Germany. Our proposal targets no single race, creed or class. It doesn’t punish you for factors beyond your control, like who your parents were. It applies based on actions you take, namely disowning the United Stated to avoid taxes. Our law is not triggered by a wish to travel beyond America’s borders, or even reside permanently in a foreign country. It’s the act of renouncing one’s U.S. citizenship for the purpose of avoiding taxes that triggers our bill.

Don’t be so sure. According to the Wikipedia page about the German law:

The Reichsfluchtsteuer (“Reich Flight Tax”) was a capital control law implemented in order to stem capital flight from the Weimar Republic. The law was created through decree on 8 December 1931 as part of the “Fourth Decree of the Reich President on the Protection of the Economy and Finance and on the Defense of Civil Peace” (“Vierten [Not-]Verordnung des Reichspräsidenten zur Sicherung von Wirtschaft und Finanzen und zum Schutze des inneren Friedens”), as published in the Reichsgesetzblatt 1931 I, pp. 699-745. The Reichsfluchtsteuer was assessed upon departure from the individual’s German domicile, provided that the individual had assets exceeding 200,000 RM or had a yearly income over 20,000 RM. The tax rate was set at 25 percent.

During the Third Reich, the use of the Reichsfluchtsteuer shifted away from dissuading wealthy citizens from moving overseas. Rather, the departure of Jewish citizens was desired and permitted by the Nazi government — even after the Invasion of Poland — until a decree from Heinrich Himmler forbade Jewish emigration on 23 October 1941. The Reichsfluchtsteuer was used as a “partial expropriation” of the assets of Jewish refugees who were persecuted and driven to flee their homeland.

In other words, the German law was initially passed before the Nazis came to power and, at least initially, targeted people of wealth rather than race.

Senator Schumer also goes on to say

I know a thing or two about what the Nazis did. Some of my relatives were killed by them. And saying that a person who made their fortune specifically because of the positive elements in American society, in turn, has a responsibility to do right by America is not even on the same planet as comparing to what Nazis did to Jews.

Basically Senator Schumer is trying to claim his proposed legislation is nothing like the Reichsfluchtsteuer because he is not doing what the Nazis did to he Jews. Yes, no one is claiming Senator Schumer or Senator Bob Casey (the cosponsor of the bill) are out to kill people who are renouncing their U.S. citizenship. That does not mean, however, that the proposed legislation bears no resemblance to the Reichsfluchtsteuer. And the fact that Senators Schumer and Casey are being more egalitarian in who they seek to punish does not mean this law is patriotic or a good idea.

But the good senator was not finished. In the video he also says:

Mr. Saverin is, in essence, an economic tax dodger. And once upon a time, the right-wing castigated draft dodgers for failing to heed their nation’s call. Those who fled the country were vilified as cowards, as self-absorbed traitors. Yet in this case, the same exact kind of unpatriotic, un-American behavior is actually being defended by the right-wing. It’s off the deep end.

Wow. Several objections immediately come to mind. The left once lauded draft dodgers. They also have tended to disprove of criticism of draft dodgers. And no, a person renouncing U.S. citizenship to avoid taxes (if that was Mr. Saverin’s intent) is not exactly like avoiding conscription by leaving the country. Obviously just leaving the country is not the same as renouncing U.S. citizenship. What is telling in this is that the senator wants to equate conscription, something we stopped doing in the U.S., with his notion that people who are economically successful in the U.S. automatically owe the U.S. government anything the U.S. government says they do. Which is does not put a favorable light on the proposed legislation.

But wait, there’s more.

According to the article:

Schumer added that he found it troubling that conservatives would lionize someone like Saverin, who was called an American hero on Forbes’ website.

“Can you believe it? An American hero? Renouncing your citizenship now qualifies as heroic for the hard right wing?” Schumer said.


“This has gone so far, this idolatry they have taken to such an extreme end, [that] they make Eduardo Saverin into their patron saint,” Schumer said. “In the name of low taxes for the wealthy, they have lionized an inherently unpatriotic person.”

“It is scary. It is a scary, absurd place where even a tax dodger who renounces America for his own 30 pieces of silver is celebrated as a patriot and an American hero. It is perverse,” said the senator. “I am appalled by making heroic a man who renounces citizenship to escape a tax rate of capital gains of 15 percent.”

Whoa there, senator. You are the one clearly going off the deep end. Thirty pieces of silver? What is scary is a U.S. senator trying to equate Mr. Saverin’s renunciation of U.S. citizenship with the betrayal of Jesus. People should be appalled by the senator’s serious lack of perspective. His comments are absurd and border on the asinine.

Mr. Saverin dropping his U.S. citizenship (for which he turned in the paper work in January of 2011 let us not forget) is not a betrayal. The man will still be paying taxes to the U.S. government. That Senators Schumer and Casey are having a hissy fit over the fact that Mr. Saverin managed to escape merely the capital gains tax is ridiculous. And if Mr. Saverin renounced his U.S. citizenship to avoid taxes, I wish he would take this opportunity to throw this back in the faces of the senators and claim his expatriation as a protest against unfair taxation. Which would be a protest with a great American tradition. (Boston Tea Party ring any bells?)

Tax “Avoidance” by Apple Computers and President Obama

Posted in Economics, Fairness, Government, In the News, Philosophy, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by Xajow

A few days ago, The New York Times ran a lengthy article about, according to the headline, “How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes”. There is some predictable whining in there about how Apple Computer is avoiding paying taxes. Where was the whining about President Obama avoiding paying taxes?

Although the Times article itself is interesting, there are some spots of sad cluelessness in it. For example:

A mile and a half from Apple’s Cupertino headquarters is De Anza College, a community college that Steve Wozniak, one of Apple’s founders, attended from 1969 to 1974. Because of California’s state budget crisis, De Anza has cut more than a thousand courses and 8 percent of its faculty since 2008.

Now, De Anza faces a budget gap so large that it is confronting a “death spiral,” the school’s president, Brian Murphy, wrote to the faculty in January. Apple, of course, is not responsible for the state’s financial shortfall, which has numerous causes. But the company’s tax policies are seen by officials like Mr. Murphy as symptomatic of why the crisis exists.

“I just don’t understand it,” he said in an interview. “I’ll bet every person at Apple has a connection to De Anza. Their kids swim in our pool. Their cousins take classes here. They drive past it every day, for Pete’s sake.

“But then they do everything they can to pay as few taxes as possible.”

Yeah. Of course Apple tries to pay as few taxes as possible. Anybody with a modicum of income and sense does. (And, oddly but not surprisingly, that includes President Obama.) The California budget crisis has pretty much nothing to do with what Apple pays in taxes and everything to do with massive California government spending. But once again we see this odd attitude that if people and/or businesses cared about their city/state/country, they would pay more taxes. The question I want answered, and which the article does not address, is: does De Anza College president Brian Murphy claim deductions on his personal income taxes? In other words, does he do everything he can to pay as few taxes as possible? If so, he is a hypocrite to then complain about Apple.

Some days back, President Barack Obama’s tax records were released, and apparently he paid about 20.5% of his income in taxes, which was, we were assured, slightly higher than the rate paid by his secretary. Somehow this proves we need to raise taxes on the wealthy. I suggest that this proves first that the taxes the secretary pays is probably too high, and second that Obama is choosing to claim deductions on his taxes. The reason his tax rate was so low, we were told, is because he donated lots of money to charity. But those deductions are voluntary. No one forced him to claim those deductions on his tax return. So if, as we were told, Obama believes he should pay more in taxes, then why did he not do so? Even if he had someone else prepare his tax return, he could very easily tell that person to claim no deductions. Apparently he did not do this.

So what about Obama contributing money to the U.S. Treasury? As I pointed out the other day, President Obama is not going to do that because, according to David Axelrod anyway, that is not the way things are done. Yet Obama says the wealthy, including himself, ought to pay more taxes to the government. Why they must be forced to do so rather than choosing voluntarily to do so, no one has yet explained.

Back to the Times article and Mr. Murphy’s whining:

“When it comes time for all these companies — Google and Apple and Facebook and the rest — to pay their fair share, there’s a knee-jerk resistance,” Mr. Murphy said. “They’re philosophically antitax, and it’s decimating the state.”

Again we come to the “fair share” argument. Fair is entirely subjective. Apple does actually pay billions in taxes and contributes millions of dollars to various organizations and charities. Were I a betting man, I would bet Google and Facebook and Intel and Cisco do the same. The idea that somehow the financial crisis is all their fault because they’re just not paying enough in taxes is silly. That is sort of like a person who makes a $50,000 per year salary spending $70,000 and then blaming his massive debt on his employer for not paying him more.

In any case, again and again and again I have to come back to the idea that if you want government have more of your money, then you should give the government more of your money. Take responsibility for yourself. If Obama and Warren Buffet want the government to have more of their money, why are they not writing checks to the U.S. Treasury? I’m not sure what Buffet’s problem is, but I can guess at Obama’s motivation. He is, after all, a politician.

In Obama’s case, the obvious answer is that what he wants is for government to have more control. He probably also wants to be able to claim he cares about middle-class voters by sticking to the wealthy. He does seem to like his class warfare rhetoric. But mostly, in my opinion, he believes the government needs more control. His intentions may well be entirely good. But good intentions are not enough. Good intentions do not mitigate bad and unintended consequences. The problem, in general terms, is that Obama and people like him believe the solution to everything is more government control. And all the evidence that more government control does not help in the long run (and often not in the short run either) is simply ignored.

If you think this is somehow not about controlling other people, then I will point again to Obama not choosing to take zero deductions on his taxes and his choosing not to give more money to the U.S. Treasury. If he genuinely believed the government needed to have more of his money, he would have given it to the government. People act on what they believe. When they say one thing and do another, they indicate a lack of belief in what they say. There is a word for this. I’ll give you a hint. It starts with an h and ends with ypocrisy.

“We don’t run bake sales” Addendum

Posted in Economics, Fairness, Morality, Philosophy, Taxes with tags , , , , , , on April 19, 2012 by Xajow

Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation made a excellent point:

If Buffett has trouble putting his money where his mouth is, he’s not alone. Obama’s tax returns (released last week) show that he paid a 20 percent effective tax rate on his $790,000 income — slightly lower than his secretary’s and a whole four points lower than the average rate for people in his income category. He could have easily avoided this by filing his tax returns the way he advocates millionaires do — by forgoing all deductions. But he didn’t. Not only did he claim a $47,564 mortgage deduction on his $1.6 million home in Chicago, he also claimed tax breaks on the $172,130 — about 22 percent of his gross adjusted income — he gave to charity.

This would be perfectly legitimate for someone who didn’t believe that the government is the best vehicle for doing good. But the president does. He has repeatedly said that the Buffett Rule is not about raising revenues to pay down the country’s massive deficits and debt.

After all, 250 years of Buffett revenues wouldn’t so much as pay for last year’s deficit.

Rather, Obama insists that the rule is about “fairness,” ensuring that the rich pay at least the same tax rate as middle-income people. But if that’s the case, why didn’t he hand Uncle Sam the donations he gave to charity or at least not take deductions for them?

The rest of the op-ed can be found at The Daily.

“We don’t run bake sales”

Posted in Economics, Fairness, Government, Morality, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , on April 19, 2012 by Xajow

Back on Sunday (April 15, 2012), David Axelrod, the chief Obama presidential campaign strategist, was asked if the President would voluntarily give money to the U.S. Treasury in light of the fact that the President’s secretary paid a higher percentage tax rate than the President did. Let’s go the transcript.

WALLACE: It turns out that [President Obama] paid a tax rate of 20.5 percent, which is a lot less than the 30 percent he talks about and yes, it is lower than what his secretary pays.


WALLACE: And the president has — if I may, David, the question I have for you is: if the president feels so strongly about tax fairness, is he going to he contribute money to the Treasury and they have a special department just for this, to help with the deficit?

AXELROD: Listen, Chris, first of all, the reason that his tax rate was so low was in part because 22 percent of his income was donated to charity, mostly to these Fisher Houses around veteran hospitals. So —

WALLACE: Mitt Romney contributes a lot to charity as well. It’s not the issue.

AXELROD: That’s right. Not quite yes. But there’s no proportionality there. 

But here is the larger issue: the president’s proposal would have him pay a higher rate of taxes in the future. Governor Romney’s proposal would make him pay a lower rate in the future. So, that’s fundamentally different.

We are arguing for a system that is fair. He’s arguing for a system that would exacerbate the great gaps that we have in our system today.

WALLACE: I take it that he’s not going to contribute money to the Treasury to help with the deficit.

AXELROD: Listen, well, that’s not the way we operate our tax system, OK? We don’t run bake sales. It’s not about volunteerism. We all kick in according to the system. And the system allows that — look, the fact that Mitt Romney pays 14 percent on $20 million income is not the issue. The issue is that the system permits it and he would perpetuate that and he would enhance it.

Got that? The President is not going to voluntarily donate money to the Treasury because that just is not the way things are done. Wow. What a pathetic excuse. Maybe, just maybe, the President of the United States of America could show some leadership and donate some money? Why is that so crazy? But no, that just is not the way we do things around here, young man.

This is just one more piece of evidence that Obama and his team believe they are better than everyone else. They are guilty of hubris. Not crazy cool hubris like the Rat Pack, uncool tyrannical hubris that believes they deserve to tell you how to run your life. “It’s not about volunteerism.” It should not be a choice, the man is saying, but it should be a coerced action. This is why I do not believe these people give a flying leap about fairness. They want control, not fairness. 

Lies My President Told Me (part one)

Posted in Argumentation, Deregulation, Economics, Fairness, Government, Morality, Philosophy, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2012 by Xajow

In my previous post I mentioned the bit about the President claiming we pay money for tax cuts. That came from his April 14, 2012, weekly address. The video is available at Your Weekly Address, and the transcript is also available at “the press office”. So since this is my blog, let’s go over some of the other things I think are wrong with what the President had to say.

First up, the first sentence of the address.

One of the fundamental challenges of our time is building an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.

So many things wrong just in that one sentence. The federal government cannot build such an economy. Only individuals working cooperatively and voluntarily something like that. There is nothing voluntary about government taxation. “[E]veryone does their fair share” according to whom? By people like Obama who know what is best for you is what he means. “[E]veryone plays by the same rules.” Except that Obama is not actually promoting that everyone play by the same rules. He is promoting one set of rules for these people, the poor, another set of rules for those people, the middle class, yet another set of rules for this other group, “the wealthy”, and still yet another set of rules for yet another group,“the wealthiest Americans”. And that is just with rules about income taxes. In no way, shape or fashion has he proposed anything resembling everyone playing by the same rules.


  1. being identical in amount, type and/or kind
  2. being identical to or being the thing mentioned
  3. unchanged in condition, nature or character
  4. very similar or identical manner

What about progressive tax rates and the “Buffet Rule” and things of that nature is everyone playing by the same rules? Answer: nothing.

And as many Americans rush to file their taxes this weekend, it’s worth pointing out that we’ve got a tax system that doesn’t always uphold the principle of everyone doing their part.

According to whom? Who is deciding what qualifies as someone doing his or her “part”? The top 50% of tax payers pay something like 98% of all money the IRS takes in. The bottom 50% of taxpayers pay something in the neighborhood of 2% of all the IRS takes in. Who is not doing their part?

Now, this is not just about fairness.  This is also about growth.  It’s about being able to make the investments we need to strengthen our economy and create jobs.  And it’s about whether we as a country are willing to pay for those investments.

No. This push the President is making is not about fairness at all. And it is not about “whether we as a country are willing to pay for those investments.” It is about deciding to forcibly take more money from some people because it will make Obama and people like him feel better. That is what they mean when they talk about fairness. They have decided on a subjective and probably arbitrary idea of what seems fair to them, and they want to force other people to conform to that idea. That is not fair, nor is it compassionate or moral or most of the other gussifications (words to gussy up) they want to hang on such ideas.

In a perfect world, of course, none of us would have to pay any taxes. We’d have no deficits to pay down.  And we’d have all the resources we needed to invest in things like schools and roads and a strong military and new sources of energy – investments that have always bolstered our economy and strengthened the middle class.

But we live in the real world, with real choices and real consequences. Right now, we’ve got significant deficits to close.  We’ve got serious investments to make to keep our economy growing.  And we can’t afford to keep spending more money on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them.

What he means is, he believes the people in the federal government (who agree with him) are the ones who have to plan and shape the economy and society to keep them from breaking down, and some how getting at best about $100 billion (and then probably only in the short term) from wealthy people is somehow going to magically make a $15 trillion (with a ‘t’) debt crisis go away. Understand that 15 trillion is 15 thousand billion. One billion is this: 1,000,000,000. One trillion is one thousand of those. $100 billion is not going to make a $15 trillion debt managable. Let me put this in smaller terms. Zack gets himself in debt to Judy for $15,000. Zack then says, “I know. I will get $100 dollars from Steven, and that will take care of the debt.” Obviously, that is not enough. But that is pretty much what Obama is selling. Snake oil if ever I saw it.

Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest men in the world.  But he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.  That’s just the way the system is set up.  In fact, one in four millionaires pays a lower tax rate than millions of hardworking middle-class households.

As Warren points out, that’s not fair and it doesn’t make sense.  It’s wrong that middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires.

I will agree with that. The tax rate for most people should be dropped considerably. But then there is also the something like 45% of the U.S. adult population which does not pay any taxes at all. For many of them, their tax rate should go up. I mean, we are talking about people doing their part, paying their fair share, right?

It’s simple:  If you make more than $1 million every year, you should pay at least the same percentage of your income in taxes as middle-class families do.  On the other hand, if you make less than $250,000 a year — like 98 percent of American families do — your taxes shouldn’t go up.

I have a better proposal. Close the loop holes and tax almost everyone with an income at a rate of no more than 10%. I think 8 or 9% would probably be enough. And, of course, every tax payer pays the same rate. You know, everyone playing by the same rules.

That’s all there is to it.  It’s pretty sensible.  Most Americans support this idea. One survey found that two-thirds of millionaires do, too.  So do nearly half of all Republicans.

This is what government should protect us from, not what it should be doing. Popularity does not make right.

I know they’ll say that this is all about wanting to raise people’s taxes.  They probably won’t tell you that if you belong to a middle-class family, then I’ve cut your taxes each year that I’ve been in office, and I’ve cut taxes for small business owners 17 times.

I wonder how much we “paid” for those tax cuts? Anyway, how is the “Buffet Rule” not about raising taxes?

But the thing is, for most Americans like me, tax rates are near their lowest point in 50 years. In 2001 and 2003, the wealthiest Americans received two huge new tax cuts.  We were told these tax cuts would lead to faster job growth. Instead, we got the slowest job growth in half a century, and the typical American family actually saw its income fall.

If I may use one of Obama’s favorite excuses, “It would have been worse if we hadn’t.” Maybe not, but I could not resist. Anyway, as I recall, in 2001 and 2003, almost everyone got a tax cut. My father did, and he is certainly not one of the wealthiest Americans. He is not a millionaire, and only makes a five digit salary. And slowest job growth in 50 years, eh? You mean like how the unemployment rate went up past 9% after the stimulus (spending) bill that was supposed to prevent that was passed? Oh wait, that happened on Obama’s watch. Which is to say, Obama’s record on job growth is not the high ground he would have you believe.

So what about job growth? Yep, it sucked under Bush and Obama. We also got massive increases in government spending and, despite what some will claim, a lot more regulation. This has a significant effect on job growth. Making operating a business more expensive is not going to help job creation growth.

On the flip side, when the most well-off Americans were asked to pay a little more in the 1990s, we were warned that it would kill jobs. Instead, tens of millions of jobs followed.

We were told the stimulus bill would keep unemployment below 9% too. Anyway, this is a severe over simplification. The 1990s also saw NAFTA passed, which was a tiny step in the right direction. Less protectionism helps job growth. Bush and Obama have done the opposite. The 1990s also saw an increase in a lot of businesses moving jobs overseas. Lots of things happened in the 1990s that had positive and negative effects on job growth. We also had economic bubbles, like the tech bubble that popped, which first lead to job growth and then to job losses when the bubbles popped. What I’m saying is, Obama is not giving you the whole story.

You know how “scientific” studies by tobacco companies that “proved” smoking cigarettes was not harmful are highly questionable? The President’s comments here are questionable for the same reason. He is only telling you the part that helps his case and ignoring anything else. And for about the same reason: self-serving bias.

So we’ve tried this trickle-down experiment before. It doesn’t work.

We’ve tried flying before. The flying machines all crashed. Flying doesn’t work. What I mean is this thing where government tries to control the trickle-down effect does not work because that is not how trickle-down actually works. Leave people alone, and it works just fine. If it did not work, no one would being buying boats and fancy cars and designer clothes. But people do buy those things. And the people who make those things buy other things. And so on. Yes, it does work. It is not speedy, neither is it a cure all, nor a get rich quick plan. But that does not mean it does not work. 

And middle class families have seen too much of their security erode over the past few decades for us to tell them they’re going to have to do more because the wealthiest Americans are going to do less.

Security eroded thanks in large part to a meddling government, who thinks propping up economic bubbles in definitely is somehow how capitalism is supposed to work; and who thinks massively spending the country in trillions of dollars of debt that the government promises it will eliminate in 30 years is some how a good plan for the economy of the nation; and who thinks that the government coercing banks into “affordable housing loans” (i.e. subprime lending) not working out is somehow all the fault of Goldman-Sachs; and who thinks the people who provide 98% of the federal government’s tax revenue are somehow doing less than those who pay 2% of the federal government’s tax revenue. Okay, I am starting to get a bit sarcastic, but hopefully you get my point. Obama’s comment is a bit like an alcoholic accountant with a gambling addiction saying, “I know I wasted most of the money you gave me before now, but this time, this time I’m really going to make things right.”

Also, Obama is basically arguing that letting you keep your money is not as good for you as the government taking it from you and spending it as the government sees fit. It’s more of that “government knows best” hubris.

We can’t stop investing in the things that will help grow our economy and create jobs – things like education, research, new sources of energy – just so folks like me can get another tax cut.

From my admittedly very libertarian position, those are not things in which the federal government should be investing. But beyond that, the very arrogance of Obama’s comment almost makes be nauseous. He says this as if only the federal government can invest in these things, which is, of course, not at all true. To be sure, America in general should not stop investing in these things. We should just stop trusting the federal government to do it for us.

So I hope you’ll ask your Member of Congress to step up and echo that call this week by voting for the Buffett Rule. Remind them that in America, prosperity has never just trickled down from a wealthy few.  Prosperity has always been built by a strong, thriving middle class.  That’s a principle worth reaffirming right now.

He is almost right. Prosperity has never just trickled down from a wealthy few. Much has been made by people working from the bottom up. Something that requires freedom, not hobbling. But the thing is, prosperity is made by many things working together in an unplanned order, arising organically and voluntarily as desires and necessities and whims direct. Of course it is never made just by the trickle-down effect. It is never made by any one thing alone. Which is why the government can never effectively control it.

This is a lesson made painfully and demonstrably obvious by history. Which is what makes the lies from the President so particularly execrable. He should know better. And I cannot help but wonder if he does. Or is he like the Richard Attenborough character in the movie “Jurrasic Park”? Believing that he can control life even to the point of thinking after each disaster the next time he can finally get control. Either way, he is entirely wrong.

John Hammond: You’re right, you’re absolutely right. Hiring Nedry was a mistake, that’s obvious. We’re over-dependent on automation, I can see that now. Now, the next time everything’s correctable. Creation is an act of sheer will. Next time it’ll be flawless.

Ellie Sattler: It’s still the flea circus. It’s all an illusion.

John Hammond: When we have control again—

Ellie Sattler: You never had control! That’s the illusion!

There is value in liberty. There is value in being free from the coercive control of others. There is value in recognizing the illusion of control does nothing to make us safer. There is value in voluntary cooperation with others. There is value in a free society. Those, Mr. President, are values worth recognizing and reaffirming right now.

More “Fair Share” Nonsense

Posted in Argumentation, Economics, Fairness, Government, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by Xajow

According to a Yahoo News/ABC News article:

“The president’s secretary pays a slightly higher rate this year than the president on her substantially lower income, which is exactly why we need to reform our tax code and ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share,” Amy Brundage, a White House spokeswoman, told Yahoo News by email.

Sigh. There is no question of whether or not perhaps the secretary’s taxes are too high. Which to me would be the obvious question. Why does the secretary have to pay a higher tax rate? No, the White House says we need to “ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share.”

Fair according to whom? Why is what the POTUS paid in taxes deemed unfair but what the secretary paid deemed fair? If what you want is fair, then have a simple flat tax of no more than 10%. No loopholes, no constant fiddling with the tax code, no tax credits, none of that. Anything over a base income of, say, $20,000 per year, is taxed at 10%. Period. That would be fair. Because fair is to treat people the same. Punishing people for having more money is not fair. 

And don’t give me that “but the wealthy ought to pay more” silliness. What is 10% of 20,000? Answer: 2000. What is 10% of 200,000? Answer: 20,000. What is 10% of 2,000,000? Answer: 200,000. And 200,000 is more than 2000. In fact is it 100 times more. So if the person making $20,000 is taxed at 10%, and the person making $2,000,000 is taxed at 10%, then the person making $2,000,000 is already paying more. Ta-da! The wealthy pay more, and the tax code remains actually fair. Problem solved.

So if the goal is fairness then why is the Obama administration not pushing for something like that? Because fairness has nothing to do with what the Obama administration wants. What the Obama administration wants is more control. The purpose of the current tax code is to provide government with control. And the Obama administration wants more of that.

No, it is not a vast conspiracy. It is simply what government does. Right-wing or left-wing, all politicians do it. Tax breaks for this. Tax credits for that. Reward for this. Punishment for that. All about control. Listen to the politicians talk. They want to buy votes. They want to control society. One way to accomplish this is via the tax code. Tax breaks and tax credits, reward this, punish that, all so they can control things. And they want to control things all for your own good. And it almost never actually is any good.

And we refuse to learn from this. We keep electing the “electable” candidate for “practical” reasons. Why rampant corruption of the republican (small ‘r’) process and ever more control in the hands of a minority which should rightfully be called the political class is considered “practical” when it produces demonstrably disastrous results over and over and over again, I do not know.

More Proof the Obama Administration Doesn’t Get It

Posted in Economics, Morality, Patriotism, Politics, Taxes with tags , , , , , , , on April 13, 2012 by Xajow

Over at The Caucus, the (a?) political blog at The New York Times, is a quote from a recent Joe Biden speech.

“Wealthy people are just as patriotic as middle-class people, as poor people, and they know they should be doing more,” Mr. Biden said. “We’re not supposed to have a system with one set of rules for the wealthy and one set of rules for everyone else.”

For the love of pizza… Really? Later on the Times blog post says,

But aides to Mr. Obama are hoping that Mr. Biden’s speech will begin to shift the debate about taxes on the wealthy from an abstraction to one that focuses directly on Mr. Romney.

Mr. Obama’s aides hope to achieve that by using the term “Romney Rule,” which they believe will force Mr. Romney to acknowledge that opposing the president’s proposals would benefit him personally.

So the Obama administration is supporting this speech. Clearly the Obama administration does not get it.

First of all, if some wealthy people want to be patriotic and give more money to the U.S. government, no one is stopping them from doing so. They are free to write the IRS a bigger check than required. They are, as even a lowly schmoe like me was able to find out, free to send money as a gift to the U.S. Treasury. For those of you wealthy folks who missed my earlier comments on this, the address is:

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

If you think I am making this up, feel free to go to the U.S. Treasury’s own website and see for yourself.
Yep, that is a .gov web address.

The point here being that if some wealthy people want to give more money to the U.S. government, then they should do so without insisting on higher taxes. If this is really about patriotism and supporting the country, then stop making it about taking other people’s money. Because when you push for taxes, you are exactly making it about taking other people’s money. The desire to tax—i.e. force—other people to do something you apparently cannot be bothered to do voluntarily is not patriotism.

Second, if we are “not supposed to have a system with one set of rules for the wealthy and one set of rules for everyone else,” then why is the Obama administration pushing for exactly that? A “Buffet Rule” by its very definition is a different set of rules for the wealthy.

I wonder if these politicians even care about the duplicitous nature of the things that come out of their mouths. They are brazen about it. The more they talk, the more convinced I am that they believe the American people are idiots. And for some reason, we keep propping these politicians up. So long as they promise us something for nothing, apparently we don’t care about the lies they tell either. Maybe we are idiots.