Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tax Reform

I think most people can agree that the United States Federal Tax Code is too complex. I'm becoming a fan of the Flat Tax even while I'm still a supporter of the Fair Tax.

The Flat Tax doesn't require the repeal of the 16th Amendment, so it would be an amazing step in the right direction toward the implementation of the Fair Tax. To be done correctly, it would still require the elimination of all other forms of Federal taxation:
  • Payroll Tax
  • Corporate Tax
  • Social Security Tax
  • Medicare Tax
  • Estate Tax
  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Dividend Tax
  • (probably others -- my ignorance of taxation doesn't mean I support it)
Elimination of most of these taxes would also eliminate the vast majority of Corporate loopholes in the tax code now.  That's an excellent outcome, because right now the Federal Government exerts too much control on which companies are favored and which ones aren't.  

The next step would be to eliminate all tax exempt loopholes and deductions as well.  To accomplish this, the following rules might work:

  • All perks must be made available to all employees at the same price (even those with no scheduled hours, or who are contract)
  • All perks must be optional, where the employee keeps the value of the perk as salary
  • That salary, whether it is used for a perk or not is taxable like all salary
  • The salary used for the perk is still taxable at the flat rate
This would be simple, only 3 rules, and would introduce market forces into the provision of perks.  Let's take the example of driving a company car for personal use.  Companies would be very cautious about letting just anyone have those vehicles, especially if they have branding on the exterior.  The company wouldn't want to be in the business of leasing vehicles to people, so the prices would naturally be raised.  The Government should not be involved in setting the value of those perks. 

Another example would be health insurance.  Actually, this example is probably the part that makes the whole idea worth while.  One of the problems with health insurance is that it is too frequently tied to employment.  People are not responsible for selecting, paying for, and maintaining their own health insurance coverage.  This rule change would eliminate the incentives for companies to hide the costs of health insurance from their employees.  Employees could accept group coverage if it was financially responsible to do so, and there wouldn't be a discussion of whether full time or part time people were offered the coverage.  It would all be offered at a price.  That price wouldn't impact income tax, and that price wouldn't be different for different people. 

The net change with all of this is that many people's reported income would rise.  One thing that may have not been obvious in all of this is that there is now no such thing as non-taxable income.  If you choose to invest your taxed income into stocks, bonds, gold, whatever, you've already paid your taxes, the rest is now yours to manage.  In the end, all of this may actually be an argument why the Fair Tax would be preferable in many people's minds.  Consider this:

Flat Tax

I earn $100,000 (theoretical round numbers)
The flat tax is 20%
I pay $20,000 in taxes on this income
I only need $50,000 to live on, so I invest the other $30,000
That eventually grows to $60,000, so I spend it on whatever I want, and the Federal Government doesn't get any more.
Total taxes: $20,000
Total stuff: $110,000

Fair Tax

I earn $100,000
I pay no taxes yet
I buy about $50,000 worth of stuff, and pay another $10,000 in sales taxes
I have $40,000 left to invest
That eventually grows to $80,000 (assuming an arbitrary doubling of investment over a somewhat long period)
Now I spend that $80,000 on stuff (here's where the timing of taxing gets a little tricky)
OK, so I theoretically get about $66,666 dollars of stuff, while paying about $13,333 in taxes.
Total taxes: $23,333
Total stuff: $116,666

Now of course, I made a bunch of assumptions in all of that, and it's possible that the Fair Tax taxation rate wouldn't be the same as a Flat Tax rate.  I used 20% for both.  I also calculated the Fair Tax as an exclusive tax instead of the inclusive rate which is proposed by the plan. I also ignored the effects of the prebate upon the whole scenario.  I think a bunch of the increase in the Fair Tax nominal rate is the expense of the prebate. The principle that remains the same in both examples is that there is no double taxation.  Taxing people again because they were frugal and invested their money is morally wrong, and it also sacrifices our country's future wealth for consumption today.  Both plans reward investment by eliminating double taxation, which will be an amazing improvement in our country's future.

In summary, I think both the Fair Tax, and the Flat Tax would be excellent plans to shoot for, with the Flat Tax seemingly slightly more achievable in the short term.  It would be nice if we could even dream about returning to an apportioned tax, where the States were responsible for all tax collection, and full competition in taxation strategies could create even more freedom, but for now, I think the Flat Tax would be a huge amount of progress from where we are now, and we could fight to move to the Fair Tax if we ever got there.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

NDAA Vote TODAY

I wrote my Representative and Senators today to vote NO on the NDAA.
Repeal the detainee provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (Sections 1021 & 1022).

It has come to my attention that the conference committee led by Senator McCain has stripped the Feinstein-Lee amendment supported by Rand Paul in the Senate, and passed in the Senate.

Because there is doubt about the ability of the military to exclude people on OUR SOIL from the rights to due process, you must vote NO today on the NDAA.

The NDAA, coupled with the AUMF have created the ability for the President, or the Military to arbitrarily decide that someone is a threat, and kidnap them.

This is the United States of America! No level of Government should ever behave in this manner. I am outraged that anyone would ever demand that "other people" give up these most basic rights in the name of National Security. If you're not careful, some future President may just take it upon themselves to declare members of the Senate that oppose the regime to be "enemies of the state" and kidnap you.

Vote NO on passage of the NDAA until it has solid, clear protections against military kidnapping, indefinite detainment, and any other attack on the rights of an individual to due process, no matter what the accusation is, or who it is made by. All human beings on our soil are afforded the right to due process. We are not Soviet Russia, or Communist China, we are the FREE and Prosperous United States of America, and we do NOT lock people up solely on the word of someone in power.

I will be watching how you vote on this. This is a litmus test. A YES vote on this measure today will prevent me from supporting you in any endeavor, no matter what measures you may take to explain your vote, or attempt to make up for it in the future. You MUST vote NO today.

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Saturday, December 01, 2012

Saturday's Congressional Pressure

I've been thinking that Billy Long, Roy Blunt, and Claire McCaskill don't hear from us enough, so I wrote them again today.  5 times.

The first was three in one, RTBA, OSTA, and WTLA
Please sponsor the following bills . . .

* The Read the Bills Act (S. 3360)
* The One Subject at a Time Act (H.R. 3806 & S. 3359)
* The Write the Laws Act (S. 3361)

You've been hearing from me frequently lately. That's because I haven't seen any change in the way that you in Washington DC are doing business.

The pressure is on, and I want you to follow the concepts of these three proposed bills, RTBA, OSTA, WTLA.

When it's time to make a deal about the budget, I don't want any new laws unrelated to the budget. I want Congress to Write the Budget. I want Congress to READ the Budget, and I want you to pass a budget that has significant cuts, and no new laws.

Follow Rand Paul's lead, trade loophole closing for tax rate reductions. Trade Foreign Military Occupation cuts for Domestic cuts. Fix Social Security and Medicare because they're broken, not as part of some deal. Raise the Social Security eligibility age on people that haven't retired yet. Make it click up a year every 4 years for the next 20.

Follow Justin Amash's lead. Start rejecting bills if they don't follow these three principles, and tell everyone WHY you voted no! It's OK to vote no on bills that are done badly. A bill that gets rejected can always come back later after it's been fixed. Vote no when you're in doubt about what your constituents will think about a YES vote.

The bottom line is that you need to be more responsive to the people. Stop sending out laws that people cannot follow. Repeal more laws, especially the laws that create Federal Bureaucracies with the ability to write regulations that have the force of law. Introduce, Sponsor, Co-Sponsor, and PASS the RTBA, OSTA, and WTLA.
Next, I fired off a message about the Enumerated Powers Act
Please bring John Shadegg's 'Enumerated Powers Act' (HR 450) to a vote as soon as possible, and please do all you can to support the passage of this bill.

I want a new EPA. Not the Environmental Protection Agency, the Enumerated Powers Act! I want you and all of your colleagues to have to site where in the Constitution the Federal Government is granted the authority to enact the law that you are putting before Congress.

For far too long, the Congress has acted with complete contempt toward the Constitution which each of you swore an oath to uphold and defend! I'm tired of this kind of behavior, and according to polling, so are 80+% of the American public! Your approval ratings have been stuck in the abysmal category for year after year.

Pass the new EPA, eliminate the old EPA, and start regarding the Constitution in every bill proposed. I'm watching.
Up in the third slot, I asked them to tie their pay to the budget
I urge you to re-introduce The Fiscal Responsibility Act (formerly HR 4336, in the 111th Congress) to fight deficit spending.

If you are serious about cutting Federal spending, I want you to put your own money where your mouth is. I want you to take a pay cut toward eliminating the deficit if you vote for an unbalanced budget that passes. I know it won't do anything to balance the budget, but if you can't keep the Federal Budget in order, you don't deserve the American Public's money for doing a bad job.

Maybe this kind of a bill would be symbolic and raise your approval rating above 20%.
Next, I wrote again about the Dollar
Please co-sponsor the "Free Competition in Currency Act" (HR 1098).

Your complicity in the Federal Bailouts, Quantitative Easing ad infinitum, and the reckless Federal Budget have brought not only the United States, but the world to the brink of financial ruin. The Dollar is weak and weakening. The Federal Reserve is dragging it down actively and has been for over a decade.

Allow the American People to conduct business and trade in whatever currency they see fit. Make Gold and Silver legal tender again, and repeal the laws that enable the IRS to confiscate money from currency exchanges. The people of these United States deserve to hold whatever currency they see fit.

While you're at it, eliminate the Dual Mandate of the Federal Reserve, and cause them to only focus on Price Stability. Make the Dollar strong again, and people will come flooding back to it as a safe haven. If it weakens, people will be free to flee to another currency.

We deserve this freedom. Eliminate the monopoly on currency by the Federal Reserve, a private banking cartel that we cannot control.
Finally, I decided to write about the Budget and Debt
Do NOT raise the debt ceiling ever again.

I do not consent with you spending money you do not have. Dramatic cuts to the spending by Federal Government will renew the economy by providing the real economy, the private sector, with over a TRILLION dollars of new capital to invest in our recovery and growth.

Pretending to cut ONE TRILLION over TEN YEARS is not cutting spending. I want you to cut ONE TRILLION from the budget in ONE YEAR. Cut everywhere, cut deep. You should even cut taxes. You should be able to balance the budget in two years.

I withdraw my consent from Deficit Spending. Stop now.
All five of these subjects are part of the core agenda of Downsize DC. If you like anything I wrote here, you would probably enjoy reading the more eloquent appeals provided by Downsize DC.

Thanks for Reading!

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Pressure on Congress

I shared my thoughts with Representative Billy Long, Senator Roy Blunt, and Senator Claire McCaskill in response to Thursday's Downsizer Dispatch:
Do NOT raise the debt ceiling ever again.

Don't raise taxes either. Tax increases are used to increase spending. They're NOT used to balance the budget or reduce the national debt.

* When Reagan agreed to tax increases in 1986 the national debt continued to rise.
* When the elder Bush agreed to tax increases in 1991 the same thing happened.

Don't try to scam us. We know the truth. Tax increases AREN'T used to balance the budget or reduce the national debt!

Instead, maintain the debt ceiling and you can balance the budget right now.
After that, I wrote 4 more times:
RTBA
Rand Paul has introduced the "Read the Bills Act" (S. 3360) in the Senate. Please co-sponsor this bill.

I want you and every member of Congress to sign an affidavit for every bill, that affirms they have read and agree to every portion of that bill if they vote yes.

You can start in the spirit of this concept, even before the Read the Bills Act is passed. If you haven't been given the time to read the full text of a bill PERSONALLY, not just your staff reading it for you, then you should vote no. I won't try to claim you hate this or that because you voted no on a bill you didn't get to read.

Do your job. Only vote yes on bills you have personally read, and become a co-sponsor of RTBA as soon as possible!
OSTA
I would notice and appreciate your co-sponsorship of the "One Subject at a Time Act" (OSTA), HR 3806 & S. 3359.

I'm tired of bad laws being attached to spending bills, or unpopular laws being attached to "must pass" legislation. Just stop. If a law cannot stand or fall on its own merits then it shouldn't be a law.

I want you to vote NO on every single bill that comes to the floor and contains legislation that is unrelated to the Title and Summary of the bill. This means you will have to READ THE BILL before you can vote YES, but it also means it's an easy decision to just start voting NO more often.

I promise that I'll begin to respect you and your colleagues far more if you just vote no on all bills that have multiple subjects.

Follow Justin Amash's lead. He publishes his reasoning behind every single vote on Facebook. Start voting no, and tell the world that you won't vote YES on bills until they're separated out into properly Titled and Summarized bills.

Do you wonder why Congress has sub 20 approval ratings? It's because you lie cheat and steal to rip the American Public off!

One Subject at a Time! You don't have to wait for it to be passed, just start telling the people that you won't vote YES for a bill that is cluttered with unrelated laws. Start offering amendments that remove unrelated laws from these bills. You might not win friends in Washington DC, but, hey, everyone hates those guys.
WTLA
Rand Paul has introduced the "Write the Laws Act" (S. 3361) in the Senate. Please co-sponsor this bill.

Here's a news flash: There are too many laws and regulations in the United States. I think it's because you and everyone else in Washington DC have delegated far too much authority to The Agency of This, and the Foundation of That. Stop giving open ended authority to Executive Branch departments to write rules, regulations, and allowing them to come with guns to enforce them.

We hired you to write the laws of this nation. We don't want you handing off that responsibility. Start repealing laws, removing departments, and allowing the people to breathe in the air of Freedom once more.

It is impossible for someone to feed, clothe, and shelter their family without breaking the voluminous laws that have been created. The situation is so bad that nearly any Federal Department can arbitrarily decide that they don't like what someone is saying or doing and find a rule or law that they've violated.

Roll it back. Repeal laws. Only allow new laws that have been written by the members of the House of Representatives. Even the Senate shouldn't be writing the laws.

Write the Laws
Free Competition in Currency
Please co-sponsor the "Free Competition in Currency Act" (HR 1098).

1913 was a bad year. We created the Federal Reserve, we passed the 16th Amendment allowing the Federal Government to tax us directly, and we removed one of the checks and balances to Federal Power by allowing the direct popular election of US Senators.

I'm only actually wanting to focus on one of those right now, the Federal Reserve. I want you to free the American People to conduct business in whatever currency they deem fit. I want you to break the monopoly control that the Federal Reserve has over the US economy by controlling the Dollar.

By allowing Americans to do business in the best currency they can get their hands on, it would require the Federal Reserve to improve the strength of the Dollar to prevent flight from it. A stronger Dollar would improve the position of the United States everywhere in the world. All People in the US would be allowed to hold the currency that they thought best suited their financial aims.

Can you really argue against freedom? Are you going to try to tell me that we don't deserve that freedom? Are you going to tell me that we can't handle that freedom?

The reality is that this freedom decentralizes the power over money. This is a very large win for the public, and a very big hit to you and Washington DC's power over us. So of course I want you to pass this bill.

I know you won't. You don't answer to your constituents. You're in Washington DC.

Won't you join me in pressuring Congress to be more accountable, and make Freedom legal again?

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

CISPA

I shared my thoughts with Representative Billy Long, Senator Roy Blunt, and Senator Claire McCaskill using Downsize DC's Educate the Powerful System:

Representative Long has defied the will of his constituents, by voting for H.R. 3523 which is also known as CISPA. I am truly FED UP with the way he has rushed to behave like everyone else in Washington D.C.

CISPA is an assault on the rights to privacy given to us by our creator, and acknowledged and protected in the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

I can only hope that Senators Blunt and McCaskill will fight to prevent this dangerous bill from moving beyond the Senate in any form.

If you want to make amends to your constituents, please block further movement of CISPA, and repeal the detainment portions of the NDAA. Our nation is in grave danger, and it's not because of people in foreign countries, it's because of people like you in Washington DC, taking away our rights and freedoms.

If you are ever uncertain of how to vote on a bill, please follow the lead of Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, Representative Ron Paul of Texas, or Representative Justin Amash of Michigan. These fine statesmen make me have a glimmer of hope that these United States of America may once more return to greatness.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and The Tea Party

I've been following the Occupy Wall Street situation lightly lately, and I think there are portions of this blog post that have some significance.

The best part is the venn diagram near the bottom. I think that true freedom lovers (of which some Tea Parties are not), should be reaching out to the OWS crowd to attempt to bring them to a better understanding of the consequences of centralized power. I commented on the above post, and in that comment I suggested that people read two different books by very different authors.

1) The Wrecking Crew by Thomas Frank
I also began a review of this book in the past but failed utterly to complete it.

2) The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek
I am still reading this book, but even the introduction(s) deal directly with the topic at hand.

In The Wrecking Crew, he talks about the noble bureaucrats that went to D.C. to make a great government work, but that evil people (he claims that this is just how conservativism works) have gone through and appointed people to these positions to benefit corporations and other entities.

My response to the whole of this novel is "How could you imagine that it would work any differently when you concentrated so much power in one appointed office?" I think it really comes down to the flawed notion that anyone in Washington D.C. can be "accountable to the people". They are too far away and too secretive to ever trust with any power.

In the introduction to The Road to Serfdom, F. A. Hayek begins to address exactly this premise, especially the one that was rampant in Europe in the early 20th Century. In the early 20th century, many nations attempted various forms of socialism. It was a philosophy whose time had come. Unfortunately, it suffered from exactly the dangers outlined in The Wrecking Crew. "The People" set up a powerful central government that could take care of directing the economy, setting wrongs back to right, and generally helping people. Unfortunately, as it is inevitable to happen, ruthless and evil men came to power (in different ways and to different results in the various countries), and the results were disturbing. In Germany, it gave rise to Hitler, Italy, Musolini, and Russia, Stalin.

The things that these countries had in common were that the people were convinced that they would benefit from central control of the economy. I think this is the core fallacy that some (many?) in OWS are falling prey to. If more can have their eyes opened to history, and the fact that this is not a new idea, nor an untried one, we can convince them that they are correct that there is a problem in America, but that the solution is slightly different than they may have imagined.

I'd like to reach out to OWS people locally to attempt to establish common ground and find out which Presidential candidate they'll be supporting this time around.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Invitation for Obama to "go Unilateral"

I for one think that the Republicans trying to tempt President Obama into showing that he has zero respect for the Constitution and the Rule of Law is a good idea. I'd like to see the House Republicans refuse to pass anything, President Obama try to make an executive signing statement, and then we impeach him. It would just make him the third President in a row that deserves impeachment.

Executive power has grown to extremely dangerous levels, and drastic measures need to be taken to reassert the Constitutional limits.

As many who have knowledge of the situation have stated, the August 2 "deadline" isn't really a deadline. It's when the Federal Government must stop sending out 100% of the payments it plans to send out. It doesn't flip over to 0% at that point. It flips over to not being able to send out checks that exceed income. Since the wonderful IRS milks money from everyone in the country every paycheck, the Federal Government will have plenty flowing in to continue to make payments on plenty of programs.

Maybe they'll stop being able to afford some of the un-Constitutional ones and things will be better. The choice on which ones to stop paying for does rely upon the President. Therefore, if Senior Citizens stop getting Social Security checks it will be completely the Executive Branch's mismanagement that causes it.

I'm sure most conservatives could go down a list of all the different Departments of x y and z that they'd like to see not get any money.

The bottom line is that the powers in Washington are playing the game of fear, and we have to be bold and courageous enough to call their bluffs and force our Congressman to vote against every debt increase.

I urge you to support Capping the Debt.

Thanks for having me on air this morning, even if it was brief with three people waiting.

Don't fear the "Drop Dead Date". No one will die, except the un-Constitutional spending.

(This is a reproduction of an email I sent this morning to Nick Reed with KSGF, the local radio talk show host)

Edit: The title refers to 15:15 into the President's address to La Raza.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Public Grocery Stores

From Cafe Hayek, Grocery School

Suppose that we were supplied with groceries in same way that we are supplied with K-12 education.

Residents of each county would pay taxes on their properties. A huge chunk of these tax receipts would then be spent by government officials on building and operating supermarkets. County residents, depending upon their specific residential addresses, would be assigned to a particular supermarket. Each family could then get its weekly allotment of groceries for “free.” (Department of Supermarket officials would no doubt be charged with the responsibility for determining the proper amounts and kinds of groceries that families of different kinds and sizes are entitled to receive.)

Except in rare circumstances, no family would be allowed to patronize a “public” supermarket outside of its district.

Residents of wealthier counties – such as Fairfax County, VA and Somerset County, NJ – would obviously have better-stocked and more attractive supermarkets than would residents of poorer counties. And, thanks to a long-ago U.S. Supreme Court decision, families would be free to shop at private supermarkets that charge directly for the groceries they offer; such private-supermarket families, though, would get no discount on their property-tax bills.

When the quality of supermarkets is recognized by nearly everyone to be dismal, calls for “supermarket choice” would be rejected by a coalition of greedy government-supermarket workers and ideologically benighted collectivists as attempts to cheat supermarket customers from out of good supermarket service – indeed, as attempts to deny ordinary families the food that they need for their very survival. Such ‘choice,’ it would be alleged, will drain precious resources from the public supermarkets whose (admittedly) poor performance testifies to the fact that these supermarkets are underfunded.

And the small handful of people who call for total separation between supermarket and state would be criticized by nearly everyone as being, at best, delusional and – it would be thought more realistically – more likely misanthropic devils who are indifferent to the malnutrion and starvation that would sweep the land if only private market forces governed the provision and patronizing of supermarket. (Some indignant observers would even wonder aloud at the insensitivity of referring to grocery shoppers as “customers”; surely the relationship between suppliers of life-giving foods and the people who need these foods is not so crass as to be properly discussed as being ‘commercial.’)


I've been enjoying the posts at Cafe Hayek. This one put a nice twist on the Government School debate, arguing from my position.

See also Alliance for the Separation of School and State

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