Statistics: Posted by singular — Fri Jun 14, 2013 6:32 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Daniel J. Mitchell
I periodically post TV interviews and the second-most-watched segment – edged out only by my debate with Robert Reich on Keynesian economics – was when I discussed how President Obama’s statist policies are bad for young people.
So there’s obviously some concern about the future of the country and what it means for today’s youth.
The Center for Freedom and Prosperity has examined this issue and taken it to the next level, cramming a lot of information into this six-minute video.
The video highlights four specific ways that government intervention disadvantages younger Americans.
1. Labor market interventions such as minimum wage mandates make it more difficult for young people to find employment and climb the economic ladder.
- 2. Obamacare harms young people by requiring them to pay substantially more to prop up an inefficient government-run healthcare system.
3. Young people are trapped in a poorly designed Social Security system and politicians such as Obama think the answer is to make them pay more and get less.
4. Government has created a major third-party payer problem in higher education, putting young people on a treadmill of ever higher tuition and record debt.
What makes this situation so surreal is that young people – as noted at the start of the video – are the one group who think the “government should do more”!
I hope you share this video with every young person you know and help them understand that statism is the enemy of hope and opportunity.
And maybe also show them this poster if they need some extra help grasping the problem.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
Both scandals are examples of a government which is much too large. But the neocons fear (as they always have) that Americans will come to understand that “big government” includes much of the military and pretty much all of the burgeoning surveillance state. The neoconservatives, who believe in an activist “big government” so long as it is their kind of big government, who have their roots in Toskyite political theory, who have cheered Mr. Obama’s actions in the Middle East, are afraid that Americans might just put 2 and 2 together. Wasting money on wars which result in dead working class kids, while defense contractors pad their profits isn’t very “conservative.” In fact it’s it’s pretty awful.
View full post on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org
People like different things, and that’s a problem. It’s one that only exists, of course, in a world with scarce resources having alternate uses. Competition over resources means everyone cannot get everything they want.
Although my libertarianism has many different “foundations,” I want to focus on this one in particular. I take it as a truism that people like different things, and likewise that the world is full of scarce resources with alternate uses. Any system of human “governance” (in the broadest sense of the term) must come to terms with these two facts. I am a libertarian, at least partially, because I believe the market system tends to better rationalize different tastes and to produce more abundance of those scarce things.
What is an example of the problem that people like different things? Take trees. Some people value trees as beautiful things having as much a right to live as we do. Others value trees as paper, firewood, or houses. These values seem to clash.
How can we solve this problem? We could have tree-lovers and tree-harvesters physically fight over the trees. This happens in many cases of value disagreement, of course, but it is far from an optimal solution. We could try to convince tree-harvesters that there will be bigger environmental effects to tree-harvesting, thus eventually harm something tree-harvesters love, such as oxygen. Also, of course, we could simply ban tree harvesting.
But there is only one solution that produces a rational, socially optimal result: property rights and rights of transfer. Those who own trees are free to do what they want with them, and if someone would rather do something else with the trees, then they can acquire those property rights. As an added bonus, property rights in trees will engender tree cultivation, thus rewarding both harvesters and conservationists.
Those points are often made but less often understood. Property rights create social cohesion because they keep us from fighting over how property will be used. They are a socially optimal solution to the problem that people like different things, and they can be endorsed by people with severely contrasting tastes. I let you have dominion over your property because I want dominion over mine. I’ll let you play your Barry Manilow if you let me play my Bob Dylan. And if you’re playing your music too loud, I’ll knock on your door.
Yes, this doesn’t solve all the problems that come with people liking different things, but it does an amazing job of solving most of them. Moreover, a system of respect for property rights does not invent new, unnecessary problems. Under normal situations, it is not a problem that you listen to Barry Manilow and I listen to Bob Dylan, as long as we respect property rights. If we politicize music preferences, however, we will invent a problem out of thin air, namely what are “we” going to listen to?
But some people aren’t happy with property rights as a socially optimal solution. They aren’t happy because property rights allow people, such as Barry Manilow fans, to persist in liking different things. Some people want to have sex in strange ways with people of the same sex, and others don’t like that. Some people want to raise their children with different beliefs, and others don’t like that. Some people want to ingest certain substances so they feel better, and others don’t like that. They don’t realize that property rights help both Barry Manilow and Bob Dylan fans, gay and straight couples, creationists and evolutionists, and teetotalers and potheads.
Those who cannot accept people liking different things then look for a solution to this “problem.” What they need is a type of physical force (because they can’t seem to convince others not to like different things) that doesn’t put them in danger (because physically stopping undesirable behavior yourself is scary), and is seen as legitimate by those whose behavior they are trying to change. They quickly find their way to politics. If they just get 50% +1 to agree with them, then they can wield the state’s considerable power against those who insist on liking different things. It is easy to see why this option is so attractive.
With politics in the picture, the whole game changes. The equilibrium of a property rights system is based on the mutually beneficial theory of “stay out of my way; I’ll stay out of yours.” When politics intrudes the question changes to “whoever can win the political game is free to get in everyone’s way.”
And that game has high stakes. Losers don’t just walk home with their tails between their legs, they lose the ability to live their lives according to their values and consciences. Being on the wrong side of 50% +1 can mean you will not be able to educate your children how you want, that you cannot marry who you want, that you can’t work in your chosen profession, and that you cannot listen to Barry Manilow.
No wonder politics is so vicious.
After something is politicized, “keeping to yourself” is no longer an option. Instead, you have to play the political game if you want to live your life according to your values. Energy that could be spent building new and exciting technologies or beautiful art is now invested in trying to defend your way of life in the political process. A fleeting victory—for example, legalizing gay marriage—may cause you to hold your hands up in a pose of victory, and rightfully so. But why did you ever have to play this game in the first place?
I am a libertarian because I hate the game. We live in a time that increasingly fetishizes democratic choice as a method of rationalizing our disparate preferences. This is ludicrous. Democratic choice is at best a method of solving some collective action problems that are truly problems, and it is hardly ever a real problem that people like different things.
View full post on Libertarianism.org
At stop lights, yellow lights being shortened to increase revenue for ticket cameras, people have died
We have documented the flat out abuse of the the motorist at the hands of municipalities which employ stop light cameras. Often there is a revenue sharing deal with a company which gets as much as 50% of all tickets issued by the cameras. There is real incentive for cities and towns to abuse the system.
But shortening yellow lights to increase revenue is just disgusting. This is happening in Florida (and likely other places.) At least one death is blamed on the department of transportation policy.
They are a cash cow. But a “for-profit business between cities and camera companies” that incentivizes making the roads more dangerous for citizens doesn’t sound like a particularly ethical undertaking for the government. As it turns out, “ethical” is not a word often associated with how the traffic cameras are operated. As Holman Jenkins recently explained in the Wall Street Journal, the cameras have become a sleazy new form of taxation, and “When governments are engaged in sleazy new forms of taxation, sleaze happens.”
View full post on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org
10 MILLION PEOPLE
May 18, 2013 by calamity3039
The Bengal famine of 1770 had dire consequences for the rest of the world. The Bengal providence first became trading partners with the British Empire in the early eighteenth century. Through force, the British military overthrew the government. Since the British East India Company had influence in the region they became the de facto rulers. They had a military, the right to make and enforce laws, and the right to tax the people.
Before the famine began, the land taxes in the region rose sharply. Taxes had gone from 10% to 50% within a decade. To oppress the people more, the Company imposed harsh tariffs on the region. Not being able to compete with the Company, their local economy eroded. Within six months people began to starve. During the same time the Company’s profits grew by 50 percent.
As the famine worsened, the Company started to lose revenue because of a declining tax base. To remedy this problem, they decide to increase the land taxes. The people who hadn’t starved to death saw their taxes go up another 10 percent. Despite a good harvest the people’s starvation increase. The death wave accelerated.
At this point the Company had a serious problem on their hands. They didn’t care about starving people, but they found that dead people are bad for business. They started to realize that dead people don’t pay taxes. The don’t make the best slaves either. Also, dead people are quite costly. Not only do they require resources to be buried, but they tend to spread disease. Unable to bury the dead quickly tends to result in more dead people.
It wasn’t so bad for the Company though, another business venture was presented to them. The Chinese government had banned the growing of poppy plants. This was good for the Company because the Chinese population had an addiction problem. So they decided the best solution to their revenue problems were to expand into the opium market. With limited labor they decided cut back on growing crops. So more Bengals died in the millions.
Even though the Company thought the opium trade was a good idea, they underestimated the Chinese. Despite being addicted to narcotics, but they were very clever businessmen. Instead of trading with the Company based on good faith, they had all commodity prices based in silver. This hindered the Company, they had a hard time making money at fair market prices. They assumed that they would be able to get cheap tea from the Chinese for the West. In exchange, they wanted to make money off the Chinese by hyper inflating the price of opium.
It didn’t work out in their favor. They were going bankrupt. Their influence in the East was deteriorating rapidly. Even though they kept all the Bengals tax money for themselves, they had to be bailed out by their government. To pay for the bailout a tax increase on tea went into effect for all British subjects. The Colonists were paying for the bailout the most. Harsh tariffs on the colonies were imposed at the same time. Just like the Chinese, the Colonists weren’t idiots either. They started a rebellion against their government.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat May 18, 2013 10:01 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
Andrew J. Coulson
The Christian Science Monitor suggests this lesson be drawn from the Obama administration’s recent scandalpalooza:
Congress should use this IRS scandal to beef up civics education for federal workers as well as for public school students. Lesson No. 1: Government cannot restrict or discriminate against political causes that it disagrees with.
I think the scandals teach a different lesson: Government will misbehave because it, like Soylent Green, is made from people. Fallible, foible-ridden people. Therefore, government’s unique powers must be strictly limited to avoid miscarriages of justice.
One of these days, someone should build a nation on that lesson….
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
New poll: Young people don’t trust the government, Poll from 2010: Young people trusted government more than any other group.
What happened. Did young people tack on a few more IQ points over the past 3 years because they started eating organic? Or is it that they have seen what the Obama machine has done and the crony capitalist policies it has implemented?
View full post on AgainstCronyCapitalism.org
According to Washington Post Exposé, People Who Utilize Tax Havens Are Far More Honest than Politicians
Daniel J. Mitchell
Since I’m the self-appointed defender of low-tax jurisdictions in Washington, this caught my attention. Thomas Jefferson wasn’t joking when he warned that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” I’m constantly fighting against anti-tax haven schemes that would undermine tax competition, financial privacy, and fiscal sovereignty.
Even if it means a bunch of international bureaucrats threaten to toss me in a Mexican jail or a Treasury Department official says I’m being disloyal to America. Or, in this case, if it simply means I’m debunking demagoguery.
The supposedly earth-shattering highlight of the article is that some Americans linked to offshore companies and trusts have run afoul of the legal system.
Among the 4,000 U.S. individuals listed in the records, at least 30 are American citizens accused in lawsuits or criminal cases of fraud, money laundering or other serious financial misconduct.
But the real revelation is that people in the offshore world must be unusually honest. Fewer than 1 percent of them have been named in a lawsuit, much less been involved with a criminal case.
This is just a wild guess, but I’m quite confident that you would find far more evidence of misbehavior if you took a random sample of 4,000 Americans from just about any cross-section of the population.
We know we would find a greater propensity for bad behavior if we examined 4,000 politicians. And I assume that would be true for journalists as well. And folks on Wall Street. And realtors. And plumbers. Perhaps even think tank employees. Anyhow, you get the point.
Citing a couple of anecdotes, the reporter then tries to imply that low-tax jurisdictions somehow lend themselves to criminal activity.
Fraud experts say offshore bank accounts and companies are vital to the operation of complex financial crimes. Allen Stanford, who ran a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, used a bank he controlled in Antigua. Bernard Madoff, who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, used a series of offshore “feeder funds” to fuel the growth of his multibillion-dollar house of cards.
The Allen Stanford case was a genuine black eye for the offshore world, but it’s absurd to link Madoff’s criminality to tax havens. The offshore funds that invested with Madoff were victimized in the same way that many onshore funds lost money.
Moreover, there’s no evidence in this article – or from any other source to my knowledge – suggesting that financial impropriety is more likely in low-tax jurisdictions.
We then get some “hard” numbers.
Today, there are between 50 and 60 offshore financial centers around the world holding untold billions of dollars at a time of historic U.S. deficits and forced budget cuts. Groups that monitor tax issues estimate that between $8 trillion and $32 trillion in private global wealth is parked offshore.
So we have offshore wealth of somewhere “between $8 trillion and $32 trillion”? With that level of precision, or lack thereof, perhaps you now understand why the make-believe numbers about alleged tax evasion are about as credible as a revenue estimate from the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Speaking of make-believe numbers, the article mentions one of Washington’s worst lawmakers, a Senator who pushed through a law that has united the world against the United States.
Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) has been holding hearings and conducting investigations into the offshore world for nearly three decades. In 2010, Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act requiring that U.S. taxpayers report foreign assets to the government and foreign institutions alert the IRS when Americans open accounts.
He justifies bad policy by claiming that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the tax haven rainbow.
“We can’t afford to lose tens of billions of dollars a year to tax-avoidance schemes,” Levin said. “And many of these schemes involve the shift of U.S. corporate tax revenues earned here in the U.S. to offshore tax havens.”
But FATCA is predicted to collected less than $1 billion per year, and it probably will lose revenue once you include Laffer Curve effects such as lower investment in the American economy from overseas.
The most interesting part of the article, as least from a personal perspective, is that the Center for Freedom and Prosperity is listed as one of the “powerful lobbying interests” fighting to preserve tax competition.
The efforts by Levin and other lawmakers have been opposed by powerful lobbying interests, including the banking and accounting industries and a little-known nonprofit group called the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. CF&P was founded by Daniel J. Mitchell, a former Senate Finance Committee staffer who works as a tax expert for the Cato Institute, and Andrew Quinlan, who was a senior economic analyst for the Republican National Committee before helping start the center. …The center argues that unfettered access to offshore havens leads to lower taxes and more prosperity.
Having helped to start the organization, I wish CF&P was powerful. The Center has never had a budget of more than $250,000 per year, so it truly is a David vs. Goliath battle when we go up against bloated and over-funded bureaucracies such as the IRS and the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The reporter somehow thinks it is big news that the Center has tried to raise money from the business community in low-tax jurisdictions.
According to records reviewed by The Post and ICIJ, the organization’s fundraising pleas have been circulated to offshore entities that make millions by providing anonymity for wealthy clients, many of them U.S. citizens.
Unfortunately, even though these offshore entities supposedly “make millions,” I’m embarrassed to say that CF&P has not been able to convince them that it makes sense to support an organization dedicated to protecting tax competition, financial privacy, and fiscal sovereignty.
But maybe that will change now that the OECD has launched a new attack on tax planning by multinational firms.
Let’s close by returning to the policy issue. The article quotes me defending the right of jurisdictions to determine their own fiscal affairs.
Mitchell, the co-founder of CF&P, added that nations shouldn’t be telling other countries how to conduct their affairs and noted that the United States is one of the worst offenders in the world when it comes to corporate secrecy.
My only gripe is that the reporter mischaracterizes my position. Yes, there are several states that are “tax havens” because of their efficient and confidential incorporation laws, but that means America is “one of the best providers,” not “one of the worst offenders.”
This is something to celebrate. I’m glad the United States is a safe haven for the oppressed people of the world. That’s great news for our economy. I just wish we also were a tax haven for American citizens.
“The United States is one of the biggest tax havens in the world,” Mitchell said. “In general, the United States is impervious to fishing expeditions here, and then the United States turns around and says, ‘Allow us to do fishing expeditions in your country.’”
But I’m not a hypocrite. Other nations should have the sovereign right to maintain pro-growth tax and privacy laws as well.
Other nations shouldn’t feel obliged to enforce bad American tax law, any more than we should feel obliged to enforce any of their bad laws.
P.S. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that “onshore” nations are much more susceptible to dirty money than “offshore” jurisdictions. Which is why you have a hard time finding any tax havens on this map showing the nations with the most money laundering.
P.P.S. On the topic of tax havens, you won’t be surprised to learn that Senator Levin is not the only dishonest demagogue in Washington. If you pay close attention around 1:25 and 2:25 of this video, you’ll see that the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue also has an unfortunate tendency to play fast and loose with the truth.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty