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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Saving our Democracy

In 300 days we can flip the house and maybe the Senate. If we don't we may flip into a full bore kleptocracy run by kakakrats. I'm not exaggerating. Trump is a plague of Russian Style Mobocracy backed by ambitious criminals, bribery and extortion. He's talking about ending democracy and ruling by decree already. His models are dictators worldwide.

Saving our Country

We have to save our democracy. That starts by defeating the fascists who are dominating the GOP

They are already dismantling our defined benefits, going after Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, giving power and wealth to their top 400 and effing not only the middle class but many small business-people and real farmers. The man is a serious narcissist but otherwise the only promises he keeps are those that promote dictatorship. We have to defeat him this year, or we won't have a Republic with the integrity to defeat him til his degradation has run its course.

Blue Wave

So the task is clear. Every single Frigging Republican in the Country that isn't willing to jump off the Trump Train has to be removed from office. We have to impeach him or we will start disappearing. This is not hyperbole. The man admires Russian Oligarchy. His followers have that in mind here. We can expect misinformation, disinformation, defamation

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Moon over Washington -- Dictator Trumpenfűrer as Standup Comic

Dr Strangelov meets Standup Comedy

Trump is fracking Crazy. He essentially is daring an equally narcissistic Kim Jung Uhn to test whether he can blow up the USA. Someone noted that he's trying to please his core followers. That means we elected a Dictator who is also a Standup Comic. This is Dr. Strangelov meets Standup Comic meets "Moon Over Parador."

He's a Fracking 3rd Rate Standup Comic!!!

Tweet Address: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/948355557022420992 taken 1/2/2018

Moon Over Parador: [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0095654/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl]

Further Readings

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Choice of Nature's Tax Collectors

Setting the Choice

Life sets choices before us. The world has set before our Oligarchs, Political leaders, Wealthy and Mafioso a choice:

Either Act for the Good of all the People, or for "Private Separate Advantage"

Moses says in Deuteronomy:

"30:19: I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live"

They can continue the path of conflict, aggregation of power and wealth and autocracy. Their wealth and their governing powers give them raw power and that power is the power to levy private taxes on property, which means:

"Since the power to tax is ultimately the power to destroy, tax collectors need great enforcement powers."

Indeed this is why the Right Wing was created. The purchase of think tanks, universities, professors and politicians, all was to enable millionaires to become billionaires and to protect their control over the forces of government necessary to enforce their private taxes (rent, interest on loans, money power to issue loans from thin air, etc...) on ordinary people (tuition loans, housing loans, rents, inflated insurance premiums, "financialization", in the first place. Crazy wealth is not possible without government grants of monopoly either through taking advantage of laws, corrupt law and corrupting legislators, judges and law enforcement. Allowing millionaires to become billionaires and oligarchs was a monstrous mistake, but it took years of propaganda, conditioning and astroturfing to make it easier.

The Power to Destroy

Now we have oligarchs who exercise "the power to destroy" in secret and in background. Corrupting utilities, newspapers, television, radio and overtly through this new President.

"Right now, the world's leading nuclear powers (the U.S. and Russia) are supporting their respective oligarchies, and therefore are parasitic world dominators."

A Choice:

But there is always a Choice. Wealthy people could act for the general good, their own selfish interests alone, or for perverse purposes. To this date they are not. But they could act for the good of the people around them. As my friend Rick DiMare puts it:

"But they have power to change that role by viewing themselves as "nature's tax collectors" who should be supporting a property right for wage-earners, and collecting most taxes by demanding the unearned income and estates of their oligarch buddies."

Some wealthy individuals donate millions (still chump change to a billionaire) to worthwhile causes. At one time most of them at least pretended to have a duty to the public good, to pay their own fortunes forward and were involved in progressive causes and charity. Unfortunately the spread of Randian Privateering ideology has led to many of them deciding they don't need to do anything for anybody. But they could change all that and simply acknowledge that there is a reason that the government needs to collect a portion of the taxes they collect. As Rick says:

"Stated differently, Trump and Putin could become great leaders by re-inventing themselves as the world's leading tax collectors of Henry George's "single tax," where "single tax"

Where single tax is a progressive taxation of unearned income from property privileges

Private Separate Advantage

Sources and Further Reading

The quotes in this post come from my friend Rick DiMare's facebook page:

Doc 133:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-133-henry-georges-single-tax-a-tax-on-land-values-a-tax-on-economic-rent-a-t/918244508288693/
Doc 159:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-159-updating-henry-georges-meaning-of-single-tax/1470776836368788/?hc_location=ufi

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Benefit Versus Ability to Pay

I wrote on the question of Taxation based on ability to Pay or Fee for Service in 2015. It laid out the role of Edwin R.A. Seligman (1861-1939) who was a young disciple of Henry George. This subject comes up again as the question of "Benefit versus ability to Pay" that is the subject of this piece. This piece is a follow on the last post on

Nature's Tax Collectors

Who I identify with Pirates

In that piece I noted that according to the author, taxes should be:

  • Taxes are a duty of citizenship.
  • Taxes should be proportionate to the "faculty" or ability to pay of taxpayers.

Nature's Tax Collectors or Oligarchs?

What I didn't completely understand when I wrote the previous post in 2015 was the role of rent seeking, privilege, or the privateering that goes into the income of the wealthy and connected. Fortunately a number of my friends and a great man and his disciples, Henry George, Edwin Seligman and Thomas G. Shearman captured the extreme peril of not taxing privilege.

If you don't regulate or tax unearned income from privilege, then you get corruption, bad economic outcomes and oligarchs.

The Benefit of Unearned Income

People have been conditioned into embracing bogus ideas. There is a strong effort to forget the former and embrace the following pseudo-principles, that aren't really as old as they are argued to be. "Classical Economics" never really taught them. And Neo-liberalism teaches them, but they are propaganda:

  1. Those who benefit from a thing should pay for it.
  2. No one should pay for another person's benefits.
  3. A person earns whatever he gains, however he gains.
  4. The exception is the poor, who never deserve to keep what they earn.
  5. Taxation is the government stealing from the privileged.
  6. Taxation should be a "fee for service," and no more.

But guess what, rent seeking means that:

  1. The wealthy benefit from a well fed, healthy and prosperous customers, renters and employees.
  2. Almost everyone is paying for the benefits of the wealthy.
  3. Unearned income means unearned. Income derived from privileges and properties like land, corporate, contract or monopoly is only partly early earned. But for the most part is almost entirely unearned. Most great wealth earn money from money, debt or ownership instruments. Pirates and privateers don't always deserve to keep what they took.
  4. The people who deserve to keep their income are those who labor, sell, and work for a living.
    And those who are poor, ill, young or aged, deserve our support.
  5. Privateering rent seekers are essentially stealing from government. Hence me calling them pirates.
  6. Taxation is about regulating excessive issues of private money and privilege not just a "fee for service."

Benefit Versus Ability to Pay or Taxing Unearned Income

Related to the tax shiftability concern [See Progressive Versus Regressive] is the debate over whether the Single Tax was based on the “benefit theory of taxation,” where one is taxed on the benefits received from holding a land parcel vs. the “faculty” or “ability to pay theory,” where a tax on land gains is only collected when the taxpayer can easily pay the tax (without losing his land or going into debt to pay the tax). But that question is resolved when sees this as a tax on privilege and for regulating money.

The tax needs to be based on ability to pay. And it has to provide enough revenue to prevent inflation and regulate the money supply [see Money Privilege and Loot] The 1890 Plank says:

"To carry out these principles we are in favor of raising all public revenues for national, state, county and municipal purposes by a single tax upon land values, irrespective of Improvements, and of the abolition of all forms of direct and Indirect taxation." [Georgist Constitution]

Although many Georgists believe the Single Tax to be a form of property taxation, Henry George objected to property taxes because they targeted both land use (i.e., labor) and land ownership (i.e., potential ground rents) at the same time. George was concerned that, because a property tax is a direct tax on all aspects of land use and ownership, and demands a tax whether or not the landowner has access to the gain and is able to pay, that the tax would end up being falling on labor/wages. Any tax that can be shifted to ordinary people is not very progressive or fair and just. Thus what George was talking about was:

"not a tax on land, and therefore would not fall on the use of land and become a tax on labor."

Not a tax on land but on the:

"premium which the user of land must pay to the owner, either in purchase money or rent, for permission to use valuable land."

Which means that it was intended as a tax on what we now call capital gains. Thus anyone arguing over ability to pay/facility" versus paying for benefits, is missing the point. Taxation is also for the sake of regulating privilege. And also for making sure that such taxes were not shifted to consumers, workers or rent payers. More importantly, that such taxes weren't grabbed by Tongue eating Trolls.

Sources and Further reading

https://www.cooperative-individualism.org/george-henry-page.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollock_v._Farmers%27_Loan_%26_Trust_Co.

For those with Facebook:

Rick's pages:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-120-the-1890-georgist-constitution/813168725462939/?hc_location=ufi
http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-georgist-constitution.html
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-161-poverty-is-caused-by-regressive-taxes-and-prevented-by-progressive-taxes/1498599096919895/
https://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/09/taxation-ability-to-pay-fee-or-taxing.html
Cooperative Individualism webpage [https://www.cooperative-individualism.org/george-henry-page.htm]]
Georgist Constitution
His copy is on facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-120-the-1890-georgist-constitution/813168725462939/?hc_location=ufi
Where he explains the tax is on unearned economic rent:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-133-henry-georges-single-tax-a-tax-on-land-values-a-tax-on-economic-rent-a-t/918244508288693/

Natures Tax Collectors or Rent Seekers?

Nature's Tax Collectors

As noted Henry George put considerable effort working out principles of taxation. He wrote an opus about tax reform and gathered a huge following of progressives under the populist wing of the Democratic Party. Two of those were scholars and lawyers who would go on to support his movement after he died in 1897. After Henry George died in 1897 Shearman and Seligman went their separate ways. Though both articulated clear Gerogist Principles. They differed on some particulars.

"Henry George’s lawyer, Thomas G. Shearman, in “Natural Taxation” (1898) [referred to] certain kinds of people (rent-seekers)" as “nature’s tax collectors,”

A Grossly Unfair Tax system taxes unearned takings

Shearman noted that:

"if government failed to heavily tax (really, retrieve or reclaim) their unearned takings (while leaving their wages untaxed), a grossly unfair tax system would result."

It should be noted that the word rent and the word tax were once pretty much the same thing. The ability to collect rent was once a feudal right associated with barons, counts, dukes and kings. Economic rent is a privilege. Private collection of economic rent is privateering. During the late middle ages, sovereigns began to farm out taxation to "tax farmers" who collected taxes (rent) in return for a cut. There is a case to be made that tax farming was one of the reasons for the French Revolution. But that is another essay for another day.

Privateering

That term applies because it is private persons performing government functions. Privateers were originally pirates authorized to wage war on an enemy by stealing from them on the high seas. But as I explain in a series of articles on the East India Companies took privateering to a whole new level by privatizing war and colonialization in the East Indias. One of their first acts was to usurp the Mogul ability to tax people in the province of Bengal (now Bangladesh and neighboring provinces in India). Pirates and wealthy adventurers (legal pirates) are after loot.

Economic Rent

The easiest way to loot is to get the government to put property into their greedy little hands. The technical term for this is Rent seeking. Economic rent is the premium owners of vital public property charge for using vital public goods. Such people set themselves up with the privilege to provide a monopoly service that rewards themselves heavily. They are like the tongue lice that eat a fish's tongue, except they "eat" and acquire or usurp governmental powers. Sitting pretty such people live on economic rent.

Examples of Shearman’s concept that rent-seekers are “nature’s tax collectors:”

"Part of the rent a tenant pays to a landlord is a tax, and is really intended for the government so it can provide for the health, education, training, retirement, etc. of the tenant, but the tax is shifted onto the tenant if not collected by government from the landlord."

Of Course landlords and other rentiers don't see any mutual responsible to tenants, labor or those paying them economic rent.

An Ideology of Loot

My Friend Rick DiMare writes:

"Under neoliberal theory we’ve been duped into believing that rent-seekers (i.e., landlords, lenders, employers and speculators) are entitled to keep most or all their income, whether earned as a wage, or taken as unearned income.... We’re taught that government is terribly inefficient and inept when it comes to providing social services."

The con of Neoliberalism

This is a bait and switch argument, as the rentiers and their shills who make this argument don't feel any need to provide social services efficiently or at all. But it is the kind of deflection and distraction that pays people to shill for them. Part of economic rent is used to buy an ideology that justifies privateering. This ideology is rightly named neoliberalism. Although a more accurate term would be "faux liberalism" because it isn't intended to work as a body of policies and theory. It is just intended to justify the accumulation of loot by the privateers. The real justification for neoliberal policies is simply the Nietzchean "Will to Power" and unadulterated Darwinism sometimes justified by grossly heterodox theologies. [Ironically these are usually some of the same people who preach against Darwin].

For the Public Good becomes for Private Loot

Examples:

Land Property Power

"Part of the capital/land gain paid for an inflated land parcel by a land buyer"... ought to be "a tax which belongs to government for the benefit of the public at large, and ... not intended for the landlord or land speculator, so tax unfairness ... result[s when] ... land gain is not collected from the landlord by government."

That is just one example,

Banking Money Power:

"Part of the interest a borrower pays to a lender is a tax paid by the borrower to the government, but is intercepted or privatized by the lender if the government fails to collect the lender’s net unearned income.

Natures Bounty belongs to all of us

natural resources in private hands such as oil, trees, etc... all have a component that by natural right belongs to the public at large, or at the very least to the people who work to extract those resources, process, move and sell them. The ideology of privateering shields owners from any social responsibility. The ideology demonizes any public benefit as "socialism" and thus distracts people from even appreciating that they have a right to any reward beyond the peanuts thrown to them by monopolists or employers under their control. Nature's bounty should belong to all of us. But privateers covet and covet such properties in order to extract value from them they can convert to loot.

There are beautiful mansions in Britain that belong to people who using the British East India Company as their vehicle, systematically looted India. Castles and Mansions, world wide are built with loot gained from taking a good idea and building it into a vast and gargantuan fortunes. Much of that wealth is turned into treasure and unavailable to anyone. Pirates literally would bury their treasure. Modern looters bury their treasure in offshore banks.

Shifting Taxes to Rent

An unfair tax system is setup so that even taxes ostensibly intended to punish or control excessive wealth get shifted from the pirate captains to the crew. Avoiding that becomes difficult because of the armies of shills the wealthy will hire to gaslight the subject. But also because most people, even many Georgist, don't really understand the progressive principles behind taxing unearned rent, making taxes affordable and the principle of Shiftability. Sometimes what is intended as a luxury tax or punishment for bad behavior becomes ineffective at stopping the behavior but oppresses labor and capital instead. Moreover, much of what makes some people phenomenally rich is hidden private taxation. Rick notes:

"in addition to actual (overt) taxes on wages paid by an employee, an employee also pays a hidden (covert) tax whenever forced to accept a low or unfair wage for work performed (because of the employer’s monopoly advantage over land, corporate privilege, capital, etc.). Of course, the employer is entitled to a wage, which may be substantially higher than that of employees, but the employer should not be allowed to keep unearned net income or profits produced, nor should the employer be allowed to pay the net income to shareholders in the form of dividends. If this unearned income is not taxed or reclaimed by government, the tax system will be unfair, and the tax will have been shifted onto to ordinary consumers and the poor. A general “inflation tax” is shifted onto ordinary consumers if Congress does’t tax income received in Federal Reserve notes using highly progressive tax rates (under the currency-regulating Springer income tax)."

The only taxes that are not shiftable are:

  1. Taxes on unearned income, i.e., Henry George’s “single tax,” which includes taxes on net rental income, net interest income, dividends, net corporate profits, capital/land gains, gambling winnings, etc.
  2. Taxes on luxury goods
  3. Taxes on estates, prior to 1916 known as legacy, succession or inheritance taxes

Further Reading

https://www.cooperative-individualism.org/george-henry-page.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollock_v._Farmers%27_Loan_%26_Trust_Co.

For those with Facebook:

Rick's pages:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-120-the-1890-georgist-constitution/813168725462939/?hc_location=ufi
http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-georgist-constitution.html
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-161-poverty-is-caused-by-regressive-taxes-and-prevented-by-progressive-taxes/1498599096919895/

Genuine Tax Reform I: Principles

Principles of fairness in Taxation

We just saw a parody of tax "reform" in the Republican's Tax bill in 2017. Anyone can call anything "reform." But to be actual reform one has to be applying strategies that minimize public misery and optimize the public good. If we want to avoid corruption, we need to define what the parameters (boundaries & rules) of tax reform are about.

  • Taxes should encourage actual capital investment*,
  • Facility or Ability to Pay, be affordable to the ones paying them,
  • regulate behavior, (encourage beneficial spending/discourage waste, fraud and harmful behavior)
  • not hurt people.

Additionally Taxation must take into account:

If they meet those criteria then one can say they are fair. Once we understand these principles we can debate the details and come up with a tax system that is fair and sustainable. When taxes don't meet those criteria they are oppressive.

Sources and Further Readings

https://www.cooperative-individualism.org/george-henry-page.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollock_v._Farmers%27_Loan_%26_Trust_Co.

For those with Facebook:

Rick's pages:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-120-the-1890-georgist-constitution/813168725462939/?hc_location=ufi
http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-georgist-constitution.html
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-161-poverty-is-caused-by-regressive-taxes-and-prevented-by-progressive-taxes/1498599096919895/

Progressive Versus Regressive Taxation

Marginal Taxes

Progressive taxation is a tax burden that increases as the taxable amount increases and reflects the taxpayer's ability to pay the tax. Progressive taxation is also referred to as marginal taxation.

For example if there are three tax brackets and a person is wealthy. Example Say:

  • first bracket is from 0-15,000$ @ zero tax,
  • the second from 15,000$ to 30,000$ @ 5% tax
  • the third is from 30,000$ to 100,000$ at 10% tax.

Example

If I make 100,000$, then I pay zero on my first 15,000.00. 5% x 15,000 or 750$ on my next 15,000 and $7000.00 on the third bracket. My total tax burden would be 7750.00$. That is called "marginal taxation".

Shiftability and Incidence

But that is not the only feature of progressivity. My friend Rick explains:

"Whether a tax is “progressive” or “regressive” is" [also] "related to the tax shiftability issue.... Stated differently, a regressive tax is one that can be shifted onto ordinary consumers and the poor, and a progressive tax is one that stays put when levied on a taker of unearned income."

The reformer economist Henry George and his disciples laid out basic principles of fair taxation, starting with the issue of Shiftability. He believed that government should avoid taxes which could be shifted onto consumers and wage earners.

"His main goal with his Single Tax (on unearned income only) was to avoid taxes which could be shifted unto consumers and wage-earners, except that he condoned a tax on consumers of luxury goods and services, because if the tax targeted only luxury items, it would not be shifted onto ordinary consumers."

The most obvious example of this:

"a general sales tax on grocery items would be shifted onto ordinary consumers and the poor, whereas a restaurant or meal-preparation tax would likely not." [Rick DiMare]

Another Example:

For example, a 50-cent per gallon tax on gasoline will not detract from the net profits or dividend pay-outs of oil companies, but WILL be passed on or “shifted to” the consumer. In other words, the incidence of the tax, or who ultimately pays the tax, is the consumer and the poor. The same goes for sales taxes, property taxes, tariffs, imposts, duties, excise taxes, and one of the U.S. income taxes (the Springer income tax which targets wages).

The general principle is that when a tax can be shifted to others, it may be collected by a grocer or landlord, but it is the renter or person buying groceries who is paying it. George died in 1897 and his disciples sometimes argued over details, but all were seeking to implement his principles. His disciple, and tax scholar Edwin Seligman:

"referred to George’s tax shiftability concerns as the “tax incidence,” and if you’re interested in exploring further, he well-explained the concept in “The Shifting and Incidence of Taxation” (1899)."

Note

Because George referred to all of Nature's bounty as "land." I agree that what he meant by the Single Tax is as my colleague Rick DiMare Calls it:

"The most accurate modern meaning of “Single Tax” would refer to a single global uniform tax on unearned income, broadly interpreted to include all forms of income that are unearned, but would not refer to any tax on wages." [...or actual capital]

Sources and Further Readings

https://www.cooperative-individualism.org/george-henry-page.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollock_v._Farmers%27_Loan_%26_Trust_Co.

For those with Facebook:

Rick's pages:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-120-the-1890-georgist-constitution/813168725462939/?hc_location=ufi
http://holtesthoughts.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-georgist-constitution.html
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-161-poverty-is-caused-by-regressive-taxes-and-prevented-by-progressive-taxes/1498599096919895/
https://www.facebook.com/notes/common-wealth-tax/doc-159-updating-henry-georges-meaning-of-single-tax/1470776836368788/?hc_location=ufi