Category Archives: Republics & Reichs

The Zealous Pursuit Of State-Sponsored Collapse

Government intervention into a nation’s economy is as foolish as attempting to control the sun’s rise and fall by law or force. But that doesn’t mean governments don’t meddle each and every day with the best – and worst – of intentions.  The United States government is no exception.

Over the years, layers and layers of interference by various federal, state, and local agencies have built up like grime on a kitchen window. The grease shines and smells of something fierce.  The layers of government grime also drip and ooze into every crack and crevice of the economy.

These days, for example, it is impossible to carry out a simple private transaction with your barber or barista without some form of government interference. Has your barber obtained the required license and paid the obligatory fees to be able to legally taper your neck line?  Has your barista’s espresso bean grinder passed city health inspection?

Is the hot Cup of Joe served in a paper cup of appropriate recycled material composition? Did the hot beverage exceed the legally accepted temperature standard?  Did state and local governments receive their tax exaction upon payment?

When it comes to more complicated matters, where real money’s on the line, government interference is an absolute disgrace. Did you know that it costs 10 times more to have an appendectomy in the United States than in Mexico?  Is the procedure 10 times better?

Obviously, this is nothing new. Governments have been regulating and impressing their fingerprints all over commerce since society first granted its leaders the opportunity.  People are so accustomed to it that they accept government intervention as necessary to better their lives.

When it comes to price fixing, wage controls, and dictating oil production, things quickly go haywire. This is because prices, wages, and resources have their own independent relationships beyond what can be legislated.

When the price of a certain good or commodity is artificially fixed below its natural equilibrium, scarcity and shortages follow. In short, when the price of bread is decreed below the cost of the wheat that goes into it, bakers go fishing.

Credit Market Intervention

Perhaps the most nefarious of all government intervention, is that which directly affects a nation’s money stock.  Many people don’t recognize its occurrence.  But they do misdiagnose its effects.

Wage stagnation, for instance, is often blamed on greedy executives off-shoring their production.  In reality, this is merely a consequence of a forced monetary regime that inhibits genuine capital formation and earned savings in favor of asset price inflation. Of course, only a complete killjoy would bother scratching below the surface to uncover such minutiae.

Without question, the last decade has brought forth some of the craziest monetary policy experiments in human history.  If you recall, the Federal Reserve dropped the federal funds rate to near zero in December 2008, and kept it there until December 2015 – exactly seven years.

Since then, the Fed has hiked the federal funds rate four times – 0.25 percent each time – bringing the federal funds rate up to 1.25 percent. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets on December 12 and 13, and will likely raise the federal funds rate another 0.25 percent.

It is also anticipated that the Fed will raise rates three times in 2018, assuming financial markets and the economy don’t break down before they can accomplish this.

Concurrent with the Fed’s interest rate raising efforts, they’ve also begun to reduce their balance sheet.  They’re selling some of the roughly $3.6 trillion in Treasury and mortgage-backed securities purchased as part of their Quantitative Easing program. This reversal of the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing program reduces the pool of available credit in the financial system.

It doesn’t take much imagination to visualize the effect this will have on an economy and financial markets that are wholly addicted to cheap and abundant credit.  So where does the GOP’s tax bill fall within this landscape?

The Zealous Pursuit of State-Sponsored Collapse

Here we turn to David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan.  Stockman’s more than four decades of in-the-trenches experience, study, and contemplation of taxes, budgets, and deficits, and how these all influence and affect the economy, is unrivaled. As he explains:

“All tax cuts are not created equal.  Their impact for good or ill depends on: (1) which taxes are cut; (2) how the revenue loss is financed; (3) when they occur in the business cycle; and (4) how they impact that nation’s underlying fiscal posture.
 
“Our point today is that the GOP gets an “F” on all four components of the test.  That’s because a deficit-financed tax cut is never a good idea, but is especially counter-productive if done late in the business cycle in the face of a structural deficit that is high and rising (owing to inexorable demographic pressures on entitlement spending); and in the teeth of an unprecedented cycle of monetary contraction, which is exactly what the Fed’s interest rate normalization and balance sheet shrinkage (QT or quantitative tightening) amounts to.”
To clarify, if you’ve been out of school for a while, “F” stands for fail.  Most notably, financing tax cuts with money borrowed from the future is doomed to fail.  Hence, the great GOP tax cuts represent but another fail milestone in the zealous pursuit of state-sponsored collapse.
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Bureaucratic Windbags

Disgraced Senator Al Franken resigned today amid a firestorm of sexual misconduct allegations.

I really have no broader opinion on Senator Franken’s resignation other than this:

It reflects everything wrong with smug politicians.

First, Senator Franken didn’t apologize to the women he abused in his speech. That reveals everything you need to know about the man.

But, in case that wasn’t enough…

Second, he claimed he was resigning for sexual misconduct while someone guilty of the same thing was sitting in the White House.

So, he’s basically pouting: “He’s a sexual predator! Why can’t I be one! This isn’t fair!”

Good riddance, Mr. Franken.

A Species of Robbery—John Taylor, 1852

There is also another political party, who desire, through the influence of legislation and coercion, to level the world. To say the least, it is a species of robbery; to some it may appear an honorable one, but, nevertheless, it is robbery. What right has any private man to take by force the property of another? The laws of all nations would punish such a man as a thief. Would thousands of men engaged in the same business make it more honorable? Certainly not. And if a nation were to do it, would a nation’s act sanctify a wrong deed? No; the Algerine pirates, or Arabian hordes, were never considered honorable, on account of their numbers; and a nation, or nations, engaging in this would only augment the banditti, but could never sanctify the deed.

I shall not, here, enter into the various manners of obtaining wealth; but would merely state, that any unjust acquisition of it ought to be punished by law. Wealth is generally the representation of labour, industry, and talent. If one man is industrious, enterprising, diligent, careful, and saves property, and his children follow in his steps, and accumulate wealth; and another man is careless, prodigal, and lazy, and his children inherit his poverty, I cannot conceive upon what principles of justice, the children of the idle and profligate have a right to put their hands into the pockets of those who are diligent and careful, and rob them of their purse. Let this principle exist, and all energy and enterprise would be crushed.


John Taylor. Government of God, 1852, p. 23.

Overtaxation

The only people who need 75% of your money are people who cannot manage money.

In my opinion, you are participating in organized crime if your government takes more than 40% of your wealth.

Really, more than 30%.

It is amazing how many people lecture others about not being greedy…

right before they demand the lion’s share of their wealth.

That said: obey the law. Pay your taxes.

Vote to lower them in the meantime.

Corporate Tax Rate: 20 Percent Is Better

The House and Senate have passed bills cutting the federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent. This overdue reform will spur capital investment, strengthen the economy, and reduce tax avoidance. Republicans have long championed this reform, and President Trump had proposed an even lower rate.

So it was surprising that the president commented Saturday that a 22 percent rate would be fine. That would be snatching a defeat from the jaws of victory. Congressional Republicans should stick with their 20 percent. Senator Marco Rubio is incorrect that there is no economic difference between a 20 and 22 percent rate. Economics is all about decisions at the margin, and in an increasingly competitive world, every cost reduction for American businesses helps.

Policymakers need to remember that in America state taxes pile on top of federal. So while in Britain the federal rate of 19 percent is also the overall rate, our overall rate in California would still be 27 percent even as we cut our federal rate to 20.

A Council of Economic Advisors Report on corporate taxes noted that international investment flows are “highly responsive to cross-border differences in tax rates.” And further that “an additional margin along which changes in corporate tax rates are likely to affect growth is through profit shifting by U.S. firms to foreign subsidiaries … This profit-shifting has increased substantially since the 1990s.”

So for more investment flowing in, and less paper profits flowing out, we should cut our corporate tax rate as low as we can. Most other countries have figured this out, as the chart below shows.

According to KPMG, the average corporate tax rate across 171 countries today is just 24 percent. The United States with a federal-state rate of 40 percent is the outlier at the top of the chart. Rates have fallen in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. American businesses generally face their biggest competition from businesses in Asia and Europe, and those are the regions with the lowest rates.


Chris Edwards is the director of tax policy studies at the CATO Institute and editor of http://www.DownsizingGovernment.org. He is a top expert on federal and state tax and budget issues. Before joining Cato, Edwards was a senior economist on the congressional Joint Economic Committee, a manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and an economist with the Tax Foundation.

The World is Not Flat

Yes, the world is round, just as the Bible tells you it is.

That aside, it is fascinating the people who fall for the bait of the Flat Earth argument, and who rail so vociferously against it, are they themselves people who routinely peddle flat ideas defended by 1-dimensional thinking.

So, apparently the world cannot be flat but their politics, science, and morality can be.

Odd.