Category Archives: Taxes

The “Working Rich” Are Not Like You and Me–or the Oligarchs, by Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith’s hypothesis about income inequality is probably all wet, but he makes some good points about the working rich, wealth, and taxes in the US. From Smith at oftwominds.com:

Rising income inequality may be a reflection of the changing nature of work.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story The Rich Boy included this famous line: “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” According to a recent paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Capitalists in the Twenty-First Century (abstract only), the “working rich” are different from you and me, and from the Oligarchs above them who pay little in U.S. income taxes due to offshore tax havens and philanthro-capitalist tax avoidance scams.

Before we start complaining about the rich not paying their fair share, let’s note that the top 3% of taxpayers–mostly “working rich”– pay more than 50% of all income taxes. The latest available IRS data is from the 2016 tax year, as reported by Bloomberg: Top 3% of U.S. Taxpayers Paid Majority of Income Tax in 2016.

The top 1% paid 37% of all income tax collected,the top 5% paid almost 60% and the top 10% paid about 70%. What’s striking is the progressive nature of taxes compared to the income of each bracket: the top 1% earned about 20% of total income but paid 37% of the income tax, the top 5% earned 35% and paid almost 60% of the income tax and the top 10% earned 46% of the income and paid 70% of the tax.

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Venezuela – A Case Of Socialist-Organized Theft, by Daniel Lacalle

Setting aside the issue of whether or not the US should be trying to force regime change in Venezuela, the economy there is a disaster and would be even in the absence of economic sanctions from the US. From Daniel Lacalle at dlacalle.com:

Much has been written about the economic disaster perpetrated by the Maduro-Chavez regime in Venezuela. The magnitude of it is simply difficult to match. A sad global example of how to destroy a rich country.

The mistake that many make is to think that this wreck has been caused by a combination of incompetence and folly. And they are wrong. The Venezuelan socialist regime has carried out the largest organized robbery in history and has done so with a perfectly designed plan.

The plan was always to expropriate the wealth of the whole country for the benefit of a few political leaders through plundering, destruction of currency and decapitalizacón of the state oil company

What has happened to Venezuela is not a disaster or a coincidence, it is socialism.

It is important to start by debunking the lies of the regime propaganda:

The nonexistent blockade. The United States is one of Venezuela’s largest trading partners. Trade between the United States and Venezuela in 2018 grew by more than 9%. Venezuela has bilateral trade agreements with more than 70 countries. Chavismo, like the Castro regime in Cuba, manipulates its followers by calling the sanctions against members of the regime and the fraudulent use of the country’s funds a “blockade”. The only blockade suffered by Venezuela is that of Chavismo against its citizens.

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Government Spending Doesn’t Create Economic Growth, by Frank Shostak

The key question: where does government get the money that it spends to support economic growth. From Frank Shostak at mises.org:

According to many commentators, outlays by government play an important role in the economic growth. In particular, when an economy falls into a slower economic growth phase the increase in government outlays could provide the necessary boost to revive the economy so it is held.

The proponents for strong government outlays when an economy displays weakness hold that the stronger outlays by the government will strengthen the spending flow and this in turn will strengthen the economy.

In this way of thinking, spending by one individual becomes part of the earnings of another individual, and spending by another individual becomes part of the first individual’s earnings.

So if for some reason people have become less confident about the future and have decided to reduce their spending this is going to weaken the flow of spending. Once an individual spends less, this worsens the situation of some other individual, who in turn also cuts his spending.

Following this logic, in order to prevent an emerging slowdown in the economy’s growth rate from getting out of hand, the government should step in and lift its outlays thereby filling the shortfall in the private sector spending.

Once the flow of spending is re-established, things are back to normal, so it is held, and sound economic growth is re-established.

The view that an increase in government outlays can contribute to economic growth gives the impression that the government has at its disposal a stock of real savings that employed in emergency.

Once a recessionary threat alleviated, the government may reduce its support by cutting the supply of real savings to the economy. All this implies that the government somehow can generate real wealth and employ it when it sees necessary.

Given that, the government is not a wealth generator, whenever it raises the pace of its outlays it has to lift the pace of the wealth diversion from the wealth-generating private sector.

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The Unprofitably Incompetent, by Robert Gore

Those who can’t do, demand.

Profit propels civilization. When a producer can make an item or provide a service at a cost lower than a customer values that item or service, and the customer has the means and the freedom to buy, the difference between what’s paid over cost is profit. That profit is the producer’s incentive to produce, and in turn funds the producer’s consumption, savings, and investment, which creates other producers’ profits. Profit is the necessary prerequisite for consumption, savings, investment, and consequently, progress.

Many of us profit every day. We offer services and provide goods, supporting ourselves at a cost that is lower than what we’re paid. We’re profitably competent, engaging in honest production and peaceful, voluntary exchange. The only alternatives to profitable competence are living off of someone else’s profitable competency via inheritance or charity, or criminality—theft via fraud or violence.

Criminals cloak their thefts in all sorts of justifications, some of which, like socialism, become full-blown political doctrines. Ironically, a larcenous litany of demands and rationalizations are efflorescing at a time when whatever is left of the overall profit pool has been drained. It has been mortgaged multiple times, just as hordes of the unprofitably incompetent, who had no hand in producing it, clamor for their “fair share.” They’ll insist the profitably competent figure out how to pay for it, but the fair share of nothing is nothing, political promises to the contrary notwithstanding.

“Your means, my ends; I wish, you fulfill,” is the foundational fantasy of modern governance. The favored groups shelter in their safe spaces—government and its rackets, crony corporations, academia, the media, and Hollywood—living on the delusion that there will always be someone who will produce, without question or protest, for their benefit. Upon that foundation they’ve constructed a phantasmagorical edifice of illusory constructs and passages to nowhere.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: A Danger to the Nation, by Bill Bonner

Many Americans desperately want to believe there’s some painless way out of the nation’s financial and economic mess. The latest snake oil: socialism. From Bill Bonner at internationalman.com:

A big, new danger appeared in Congress this month: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the newest representative of New York’s 14th district.

At 29, she is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress; she will doubtless be there for decades to come.

Eighteen months ago, she was working as a waitress. Then, even though her opponent outspent her 15-to-1, she won the race to sit in the House of Representatives.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has a pleasant look about her. We’d probably like her if we met her. But she is clearly a danger to herself, her constituents, and to the nation.

When the mainstream flim-flam financial policies fail, people look for scapegoats and solutions on the edges.

Now, they turn their sore eyes to New York’s 14th district, where Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has been elected to Congress. The product of the Puerto Rican Enlightenment, she believes there is no problem that a government program can’t solve.

Got healthcare issues? She would offer Medicare for All.

Need a job? She proposes a Job Guarantee.

Want to go to college? Get ready for Tuition-free College.

Worried about global warming? How about a large-scale “green infrastructure” program?

Wait a minute… You’re probably wondering, how can we afford all these things?

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Debt and Deficits: They’re Unsustainable, by Bob Luddy

There’s a certainty to increasing debt and compounding interest: eventually they must end. Either the debt is repaid or repudiated. From Bob Luddy at spectator.org:

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Illinois’ lethal combination: Rising property taxes and stagnant incomes, by Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

Illinois property owners are seeing an increasingly large share of their incomes, which are not growing, going to property taxes. From Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner at wirepoints.com:

By: Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner

A lethal combination of rising property taxes and stagnant incomes has forced many Illinoisans to rethink their relationship with their state. More than 1.5 million net residents have already fled the state since 2000 – and you can’t blame others for thinking about joining them.

Property taxes have become punitive in Illinois. We’ve written about how these taxes have destroyed the equity in people’s homes across the state. Many families have done the math, and whether they’re in the struggling south suburbs of Chicago or the affluent North Shore, they’ve decided to leave Illinois behind.

The traditional method for measuring the burden of property taxes is to look at a household’s property tax bill and compare it to a home’s value. Under this method, Illinoisans pay the highest property taxes in the nation. At 2.7 percent, Illinoisans pay far more than residents in neighboring states – twice more than those in Missouri and three times more than residents in Indiana.

That fact is outrageous on its own.

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