Category Archives: Taxes

The new deal is a bad old deal, by Alasdair Macleod

The Internet’s best economist explains why the New Deal was a huge mistake, and why we’re about to repeat it, except this time only huger. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

So far, the current economic situation, together with the response by major governments, compares with the run-in to the depression of the 1930s. Yet to come in the repetitious credit cycle is the collapse in financial asset values and a banking crisis.

When the scale of the banking crisis is known the scale of monetary inflation involved will become more obvious. But in the politics of it, Trump is being set up as the equivalent of Herbert Hoover, and presumably Joe Biden, if he is well advised, will soon campaign as a latter-day Roosevelt. In Britain, Boris Johnson has already called for a modern “new deal”, and in his “Hundred Days” his Chancellor is delivering it.

In the thirties, prices fell, only offset by the dollar’s devaluation in January 1934. This time, monetary inflation knows no limit. The wealth destruction through monetary inflation will be an added burden to contend with compared with the situation ninety years ago.

Introduction

Boris Johnson recently compared his reconstruction plan with Franklin D Roosevelt’s New Deal. Such is the myth of FDR and his new deal that even libertarian Boris now invokes them. Unless he is just being political, he shows he knows little about the economic situation that led to the depression.

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Major Tax Increases are About to Slam America as Cities and States Want You to Pay for Covid Fallout, by Isaac Davis

Cities and states have locked down economies and allowed rioters to destroy businesses, and now they want their taxpayers to pick up the tab. They can’t squeeze blood from stones, though. From Isaac Davis at wakingtimes.com:

Just prior to the global Coronavirus outbreak, serious signs of an emerging financial crisis began to emerge. As people were beginning to realize that yet another central bank engineered ‘bust’ was coming down on us, we were thrown into lockdown, shuttering millions of businesses and sending millions of people to the unemployment line.

Now, a few months later, we are starting to realize just how deep the economic fallout will be, and Americans are scrambling to adjust their lifestyles to a totally new world order. At the top of the food chain, though, is government. City, county, state and federal.

In the midst of such a bizarre and frightful socioeconomic crisis, the tax man is hurting too. Tax revenues at all levels of government have plummeted like never before, and the pain is especially acute for city budgets who’ve seen sales tax revenue nosedive. While the American citizenry is seeing a drastic drop in income, so is Uncle Sam and all of his bureaucratic agencies.

Take a look at some of the numbers.

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Was the American Revolution a Mistake? by Gary North

A non-standard look at the American Revolution from Gary North at lewrockwell.com:

I did not celebrate the Fourth of July today.

This goes back to a term paper I wrote in graduate school. It was on Colonial taxation in the British North American Colonies in 1775. Not counting local taxation, I discovered that the total burden of British imperial taxation was about 1% of national income. It may have been as high as 2.5% in the southern Colonies.

In 2008, Alvin Rabushka’s book of almost 1,000 pages appeared: Taxation in Colonial America (Princeton University Press). A review published in the Business History Review summarizes the book’s findings.

Rabushka’s most original and impressive contribution is his measurement of tax rates and tax burdens. However, his estimate of comparative transatlantic tax burdens may be a bit of moving target. At one point, he concludes that in the period from 1764–1775 “the nearly 2 million white Colonists in America paid on the order of about 1% of the annual taxes levied on the roughly 8.5 million residents of Britain, or 1/25th in per capita terms, not taking into account the higher average income and consumption in the Colonies” (p. 729). Later he writes that on the eve of the Revolution, “British tax burdens were 10 or more times heavier than those in the Colonies” (p. 867). Other scholars may want to refine his estimates, based on other archival sources, different treatment of technical issues such as the adjustment of inter-Colonial and transatlantic comparisons for exchange rates or new estimates of comparative income and wealth. Nonetheless, no one is likely to challenge his most important finding: the huge tax gap between the American periphery and the core of the British Empire.

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Slash California’s $54 Billion Deficit by Enforcing Immigration Laws, by Joe Guzzardi

Gavin Newsom locked California down, destroying businesses, jobs, and tax revenues, has repeatedly disparaged Trump, and refuses to enforce immigration laws, but now he wants a bailout from the feds. From Joe Guzzardi at theburningplatform.com:

California’s Department of Finance announced that the state faces a mammoth $54 billion COVID-19-created deficit which will, going forward, put the state’s countless public services at risk. Gov. Gavin Newsom projected an 18 percent unemployment rate, a 21 percent drop in new housing permits and a 9 percent decline in personal income.

The grim statistics are worse than at any time during the Great Recession. Newsom described the newest economic forecast as “jaw-dropping,” with COVID-19 wiping out California’s $16 billion rainy day fund and General Fund revenues projected to decline over $41 billion.

Gavin Newsom, 2007, San Francisco

State officials anticipate that K-12 schools, community colleges, health care and social service programs are in jeopardy unless California gets a federal bailout. California’s critics who claim Newsom’s over-reaction to COVID-19 contributed to the deficit – Newsom is the first governor to demand that all his 40 million residents stay at home – nevertheless credit the governor with moxie for petitioning the feds for billions in emergency funding. This is the same Newsom that has sued President Trump’s administration more than 60 times, and has at various times called the president “a bully,” “a joke and a racist.”

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Welcome To The Third World, Part 31: California Makes Its Case For A Bailout, by John Rubino

California lawmakers are trying to make it look like they’re cutting expenses so they can run to Washington for a bailout. However, they’re not touching the biggest expense—state pensions—which tells you all you need to know about the sincerity of their effort. From John Rubino at dollarcollapse.com:

Just a few months ago, California was running surpluses and spreading the wealth around — at least to its affluent voters and public sector employees — as if the good times were here to stay.

Fast forward to the present and it’s all over. Tech stock IPOs – a huge source of capital gains tax revenue for the home of Silicon Valley – have evaporated. Those “unicorn” companies – not yet public but worth over a billion dollars each – are doing “down rounds” that value them as the risky start-ups most of them are. The formerly booming housing market has ground to a halt. And thousands of service industry businesses like restaurants and nightclubs have closed permanently.

But the state government still has to pretend to balance its books, so now comes the tragicomedy of negotiations between the governor and state legislators over where to find the needed $50+ billion. Here’s how the Associated Press covers it in an article bafflingly titled California lawmakers agree to close $54.3 billion budget gap:

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Crime Is Crime, by Robert Gore

You can fool most of the people most of the time, but you can’t fool reality any of the time.

The reigning chaos reflects perfectly what passes for thought in millions of minds. Minds that have been taught that reality is whatever one believes it to be. That reason is a superstition and is inferior to random feelings and emotions. That observation, hypotheses, experimentation, discovery, and science itself are akin to voodoo rituals. That consumption precedes production and is morally superior to it. That anyone’s work, income and wealth are subject to anyone else’s proclaimed need. That actions have no consequences.

Rioters and looters are faithfully adhering to the distilled essence of what our rulers and intellectuals have been telling them for decades: If you need it, or just want it, it’s yours to have or destroy. They are simply eliminating the government middleman. The only surprise is that it didn’t happen long ago.

The Age of Chaos has arrived. Violence is accomplishing what violence always accomplishes—destruction, ruin, and death. The only theoretical justification for government is that it employs force to protect its citizens from violence—invasion, violence against persons or property, and the indirect violence implicit in procuring and keeping value through fraud or extortion.

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Let the Battle for the Tax Producers Begin, by Tom Luongo

States are soon going to be so desperate for revenues that they may actually start making their states attractive for productive, tax paying people. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

The great Murray Rothbard cut through the fog of modern class warfare with his observation that in a place with governments issuing edicts the citizenry breaks down into two classes — tax producers and tax consumers.

And if you want to know which group you belong to just ask yourself two simple questions, “Where’s the gun? And is it pointed at you?”

Most of us don’t even think to ask those questions because it’s the world we live in. Government jobs are safe jobs. They’re part of the landscape and dominant economic theory holds that the government can be a source of stability when the free market fails, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.

The truth is most of us hate to ask these questions because it forces us to be honest about where we earn our living. No one likes looking in the mirror and asking hard questions about whether the job they perform is truly useful to someone else.

No one wants to believe they’re a leech upon the riches conferred to society through voluntary exchange between the truly productive and its transformative ability to better people’s lives.

With governments in control of the production of money and so deeply intertwined with our lives, the lines between tax consumers and producers has blurred a bit. But, as I said at the outset of this, in the end, if your salary depends on you or someone else acting on your behalf pointing a gun at someone else then you’re one of the bad guys.

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California county launches snatch-and-grab program, by Simon Black

They’re coming to take you away, hey, hey, they’re coming to take you away. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Are you ready for this week’s absurdity? Here’s our Friday roll-up of the most ridiculous stories from around the world that are threats to your liberty, your finances, and your prosperity… and on occasion, poetic justice.

Ventura County, CA to hire dozens of Covid spies

19 residents of Ventura County, California have died so far from Covid. That’s 0.002% of the population.

Most places would consider this a rounding error. But in Ventura County, it’s 19 too many.

So the county government has now launched a ‘contact tracing’ initiative to hire 50 investigators, and perhaps more later, to track down people who might have Covid, “immediately isolate them,” and then “find every one of their contacts” to isolate those people as well.

They also state that, if someone has Covid and is living in a home with other family members, “we’re not going to be able to keep the person in that home. . .”

This is a mass surveillance apparatus that effectively amounts to a snatch-and-grab. You get a knock at the door and are forcibly removed from your home and taken away from your family because some county bureaucrat traced you to someone who might have the virus.

It’s like “pre-crime”, but even more ridiculous… I mean, look at the words they’re using– it’s up to the government now to decide who gets to stay in their own private property with their families.

Click here to watch it yourself.

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What Happens as State and Local Tax Revenues Crater? by Charles Hugh Smith

As state and local government revenues crumble, expect politicians to start reconsidering their draconian restrictions on business and economic activity. Somebody has to pay for all that government! From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

We can anticipate a federal bailout of pension funds and one-time aid to state and local governments, but bailouts won’t repair the eroding foundations of tax revenues.

As we all know, the federal government can “print” money but state, county and city governments cannot. The Treasury can sell bonds to fund deficit spending, and the Federal Reserve can create currency out of thin air to buy the bonds, so federal spending can increase even as tax revenues crash.

State, county and city governments do not have this printing press. Yes, states and counties can sell municipal bonds for infrastructure projects, but they can’t sell bonds to support General Fund (i.e. everyday government services) expenditures.

As a result, massive declines in State, county and local tax revenues are already baked in as sales and payroll taxes drop and capital gains taxes–an essential source of revenues for many states–are set to collapse along with the stock market.

Longer term, the other primary source of tax revenues–property taxes–will fall off a cliff as the commercial real estate bubble and Housing Bubble #2 implode later this year. Lower sales, lower employment and lower profits all undermine the fundamentals of real estate, and the institutionalization of remote work and education will gut demand for commercial space.

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The Young Have Nothing to Lose But Their Chains, by Robert Gore

The road to freedom is paved with repudiation.

Tuesday The Burning Platform website posted an article, “Your Government In Action,” that had a Twitter video of a long line of cars in Albuquerque, the people in them waiting for coronavirus tests. I posted the following comment:

I live in Albuquerque and was not one of the idiots in line. Yesterday was a beautiful day and I rode my mountain bike for 40 minutes in the sun. It was just right, not too cold, not too hot. We have an arroyo near our house and I did some dirt biking on the loose sand, great exercise for the legs. My gym sent an email last night and it’s closing for an indefinite time. Looks like mountain biking will be the exercise for awhile. but I could tell that the fresh air and sunlight were doing me more good than time spent in my hyper-sanitized gym or cooped up in the house. I felt great. The schools have been closed and I found it disturbing that I didn’t see one kid outside playing. Sunshine and fresh air are known disinfectants, but parents are keeping their kids indoors and the world is locking up people in quarantines. No sunshine, no fresh air, only insanity.

Read a Wall Street Journal article this morning about the younger generation in Europe rebelling against the insanity, going to bars and restaurants and having dinner parties. Why not, they aren’t getting coronavirus, and when they do it amounts to a cold or minor flu. My son is 22 and has the same attitude. What all the grim statistics no longer categorize is the age of the people dying. The media still begrudgingly admit that it most severely afflicts those with compromised immune systems, i.e. primarily older people. Our gerentocracy is panicking because they’re the most at risk. One among many issues most boomers refuse to face is their own mortality. I’ve told my son several times that if his generation sits still and pays the taxes and debt service that’s going to be required to fund our generation’s “entitlements” without repudiating the debt, slashing the entitlements, and perhaps out and out revolution, his generation will deserve its fate and its shame. Boomer removal indeed. Party on kids, maybe the coronavirus will lighten the load my generation has foisted on you.

Yojimbo, a Burning Platform commentator, posted the following:

Maybe since you are against Socialism, write a simple, concise argument in an essay about why repudiation of the debt is a far better answer than the Socialism that Bernie is advocating.

Perhaps if it were short, simple, and cogent, it might circulate among the young and truly inform them and turn them away from Socialism?
Just a thought.

I replied:

That’s a good idea. I’ll see what I can do.

Here’s the article. It’s short, by my standards; I hope readers find it “simple, and cogent.”

The Young Have Nothing To Lose But Their Chains

According to usdebtclock.org, the on-the-books’ debt of the US government is almost $23.5 trillion, or over $72,000 per citizen. The four biggest items in the government’s budget are Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, defense, and interest on the debt. The government’s unfunded liabilities are over $128 trillion, or over $397,000 per citizen. Now it is true that national assets stand at $151 trillion, or over $468,000 per citizen. Unfortunately, many of those assets are debt, equity or contractual claims (like insurance and pensions) on insolvent governments or businesses, or real estate, often subject to a mortgage. The problem is that all these assets are valued at current market, which can shift dramatically in a very short time—as we’re now seeing—while the nominal value of the debt doesn’t go down, it just continues to grow, and with the coronavirus outbreak its growth rate will increase.

Taking a cue from their parents and grandparents, the younger generation wants to grant itself new entitlements—higher education, medical care, guaranteed incomes, etc. They’ve flocked to Bernie Sanders, the most prolific promiser of free stuff. The older generation owns most of the assets and because they’re retiring, whatever they “contribute” towards taxes and debt services will be far outweighed by what they’ll draw in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Consequently, for whatever it grants itself, the younger generation will be either be paying taxes or adding to its already staggering debt and unfunded liability burdens. It will be shooting itself in the foot.

There is another way that will do much more for them. Instead of voting for supposedly “free” stuff for which they’ll wind up paying, the younger generation would be far better served by repudiating the older generation’s debt and unfunded liabilities. By refusing to be debt slaves to pay for their elders’ entitlement promises to themselves, and for the forever wars they’ve waged since World War II (which the younger generation is now expected to fight), the younger generation could opt for a clean slate. There is already an undercurrent from the fringes promoting debt jubilees and the like.

For the young to be truly better off after a debt repudiation and to solidify its moral basis, they would have to swear off entitlements for themselves, to be paid for by their children and grandchildren. However, that seems like a fair trade—no entitlements, but no crushing debt service and tax loads either, and undoubtedly a far healthier economy than what now lies in prospect. In other words, more freedom, much more so than if their elders’ schemes run according to plan.

The growing debt load is not sustainable; repudiation is going to happen one way or the other. If the older generation wants to make its oft-expressed bromides about the “children,” “grandchildren,” and “future generations” anything more than self-serving pieties, it will support repudiation in a way that benefits their posterity. If they oppose it, they should at least quit lecturing the young about Sanders and “no free lunches.” They’ve been giving themselves free lunches for decades.

As for that posterity, instead of voting for an old guy who’s only going to enslave them more, the younger generations should coalesce around candidates who promote debt repudiation, rescind or eliminate taxes, and freedom. Unite and repudiate, you have nothing to gain from the bankrupt and corrupt status quo and nothing to lose but your chains.

 

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