Tag Archives: tax rates

Why Not Shop Around for the Best Government? By Simon Black

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting and engineering skills were so highly renowned that he was in extremely high demand among European nobility in the early Renaissance.

Leonardo started in the independent city-state of Florence as an apprentice artist, where he worked for the famous Medici family.

Then in the early 1480s, da Vinci went to Milan to work for Duke Ludovico Sforza (the man who commissioned The Last Supper).

At the turn of the century, the Venetian Republic briefly engaged da Vinci’s services as a military adviser. He then relocated to the Papal States to work as a military adviser for Pope Alexander VI’s son, Cesare Borgia.

By 1503, he was back to work in Florence, and in 1515 moved to France, where he lived the remainder of his life working for King Francis I.

But Leonardo da Vinci was far from the only renaissance man who could take advantage of governments competing for talent.

The leaders of Italian city-states wanted to show the world how advanced and cultured they were, and therefore would extend tax breaks, land, and even titles to talented individuals, including artists, inventors, scientists, and engineers.

And this concept still exists today as well.

For example, US cities and states competed a few years ago to attract the new Amazon headquarters to their area.

New York City was initially chosen for Amazon’s ‘HQ2’ site before New York’s crazy politicians led a revolt, and Amazon decided it wasn’t worth the political hassle.

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Escaping Serfdom, by Jeff Thomas

Most of us would swap tax rates with the serfs in a heartbeat. From Jeff Thomas at internationalman.com:

The concept of government is that the people grant to a small group of individuals the ability to establish and maintain controls over them. The inherent flaw in such a concept is that any government will invariably and continually expand upon its controls, resulting in the ever-diminishing freedom of those who granted them the power.

When I was a schoolboy, I was taught that the feudal system of the Middle Ages consisted of serfs tilling small plots of land that belonged to a king or lord. The serfs lived a meagre life of bare subsistence and were subject to the tyranny of the king or lord whose men would ride into their village periodically and take most of the few coins the serfs had earned by their toil.

The lesson I was meant to learn from this was that I should be grateful that, in the modern world, I live in a state of freedom from tyranny, and as an adult, I would pay only that level of tax that could be described as “fair”.

Later in life, I was to learn that, in the actual feudal system, some land was owned by noblemen, some by common men. The commoners typically farmed their own land, whilst the noblemen parcelled out their land to farmers, in trade for a portion of the product of their labours.

As a part of that bargain, the nobleman would pay for an army of professional soldiers to protect both the farms and the farmers. Significantly, unlike today, no farmer was required to defend the land himself, as it was not his.

There was no exact standard as to what the noblemen would charge a farmer under this agreement, but the general standard was “one day’s labour in ten”

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Phillips Curve R.I.P. by Paul Craig Roberts

What supply-side economics is and isn’t. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.com:

For a decade central banks have printed enormous quantities of new money. The excuse is to stimulate the economy by reviving inflation. However, the money has, for the most part, driven up the prices of financial assets instead of consumer and producer prices. The result has been a massive increase in the inequality of income, wealth, and opportunity.

The quantitative easing policy followed by central banks is based on belief in an economic relationship between inflation and GDP growth—the Phillips curve—that supply-side economics disproved during the Reagan administration. The belief in the Phillips curve persists, because supply-side economics was misrepresented by the financial media and neoliberal junk economics.

The fact that something as straightforward and well explained as supply-side economics can be misrepresented for 35 years should give us all pause. When successive chairmen of the Federal Reserve and other central banks have no correct idea what supply-side economics is, how can they formulate a workable monetary policy? They cannot.

The Phillips Curve is the modern day version of the Unicorn. People believe in it, but no one can find it.  The Fed has been searching for it for a decade and the Bank of Japan for two decades.  So has Wall Street. 

Central banks’ excuse for their massive injections of liquidity in the 21st century is that they are striving to stimulate the 2% rate of inflation that they think is the requirement for sustained rises in wages and GDP.  In a total contradiction of the Phillips Curve, in Japan massive doses of central bank liquidity have resulted in the collapse of both consumer and financial asset prices.  In the US the result has been a large increase in stock averages propelled by unrealistic P/E ratios and financial speculation resulting in Tesla’s capitalization at times exceeding that of General Motors.

In effect pursuit of the Phillips Curve has become a policy of ensuring financial stability of over-sized banks by continually injecting massive amounts of liquidity. The result is greater financial instability.  The Fed is now confronted with a stock market disconnected from corporate profits and consumer disposable income, and with insurance companies and pension funds that have been unable for a decade to balance equity portfolios with interest bearing debt instruments.  Crisis is everywhere in the air. What to do?

To continue reading: Phillips Curve R.I.P.