September 30th, 2011
Oddly, one never hears Republicans praise those countries where people are lucky duckies — those where taxation is a small fraction of what it is here.

I’d Rather Be an Unlucky Ducky
Bruce Bartlett 

Equatorial Guinea: According to the Republican-leaning Heritage Foundation, those who live in this small country in sub-Saharan Africa are lucky duckies indeed. Because of recently discovered oil deposits, the citizens of Equatorial Guinea pay less than 1 percent of the gross domestic product in taxes. The comparable figure for the United States is 26.9 percent of G.D.P., according to Heritage.

However, Equatorial Guinea doesn’t seem to be a very pleasant place to live. The people are poor and have little freedom. Heritage says that “persistent institutional weaknesses impede creation of a more vibrant private sector” and “the rule of law is weak.” This sounds suspiciously as if government is too small to do its job properly. But I’m sure that the citizens of Equatorial Guinea don’t mind having a dysfunctional government; after all, they’re lucky duckies.

Myanmar: The people who live in this small country in Southeast Asia are also lucky duckies, if not quite as lucky as those in Equatorial Guinea. According to Heritage, taxes in Myanmar are 3 percent of G.D.P.

Oddly, this also doesn’t sound like someplace one would want to live. Heritage says “longstanding structural problems include poor public finance management and undeveloped legal and regulatory frameworks.” Apparently, the government doesn’t protect property rights very well, the infrastructure is poor, and there is a lot of corruption. But at least the people get to keep almost all their earnings.

Libya: Why the people revolted in this North African fiscal paradise is a mystery. According to Heritage, government revenues are just 3.4 percent of G.D.P.

ChadHeritage says the people of this African nation pay just 5.3 percent of G.D.P. in taxes. But for some reason, the nation is mired in poverty. Perhaps because, as Heritage says, “the efficiency and quality of government remain poor.” I wonder why.

Republic of Congo: The people of this country in Africa also pay 5.3 percent of G.D.P. to the government. But it is also very poor. Heritage says a key reason is “the government has failed to provide basic public goods and infrastructure.” This doesn’t really make much sense by the logic of Republican candidates, who seem to agree that all government spending is bad unless it goes to the Defense Department and that public works are nothing but worthless pork.

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(via manicchill)

This, to me, is pretty much a direct refutation of the Anarcho-Capitalist school of Libertarianism.  According to the popular wisdom of that school, minimal regulation and taxation should be causing these countries to thrive.  And yet their standard of living compared to 1st-world countries with strong central governments is abysmal.

With that being said: you could very reasonably make the argument that the minimal governments of these countries are nonetheless oppressive and larcenous, so what little wealth is accumulated in the market tends to be appropriated by the elites.  But the question then becomes *how* that wealth is being appropriated; is it through official channels?  Then it would show up as taxation.  Is it through thuggery?  Then how could the problem be solved without reverting to Somalia-style balkanization (which is better only when compared to the more awful government preceding it)?  

The question, then, is one of form: without a strong Constitution to limit government power, and an intellectually vibrant, Independent Judiciary to keep government in check, there is no way for the rights of citizens to be guaranteed as against their unscrupulous peers, and as against the government itself.  

Yet courts in of themselves are Government.  All of these mechanisms cost money.  A minimalist State can be just as dangerous to Liberty and freedom as an oppressive one.  Norway, whose government accounts for 40% of its GDP, nonetheless has a very libertine criminal justice system.  There can be no question that people in Norway are more free than even people in the U.S. (who live under the Patriot Act, the War on Drugs, and the Military Commissions Act).  Yet the U.S. government accounts for closer to 20% of GDP.

Does that mean government spending as a % of GDP is dispositive with respect to freedom?  Of course not.  Form matters.  But if you aren’t bringing in enough tax revenue to support the “right” form, then Bartlett’s observation is right: you end up with a government too weak to provide a mechanism for enforcing the rights of its own citizens (i.e. an independent and well-funded judiciary paired with an enumerated Constitution).

(via letterstomycountry)

(Source: manicchill, via letterstomycountry)

September 23rd, 2011

Income  inequality is more severe in the U.S. than it is in nearly all of West  Africa, North Africa, Europe, and Asia. We’re on par with some of the  world’s most troubled countries, and not far from the perpetual conflict  zones of Latin American and Sub-Saharan Africa. Our income gap is also getting worse,  having widened both in absolute and relative terms since the  1980s.

Income inequality is more severe in the U.S. than it is in nearly all of West Africa, North Africa, Europe, and Asia. We’re on par with some of the world’s most troubled countries, and not far from the perpetual conflict zones of Latin American and Sub-Saharan Africa. Our income gap is also getting worse, having widened both in absolute and relative terms since the 1980s.

(via stfuconservatives)

stfuconservatives:

But only if the sprinkles are deregulated.
-Joe

stfuconservatives:

But only if the sprinkles are deregulated.

-Joe

(Source: benjaminldaniel, via stfuconservatives)

September 20th, 2011

stfuconservatives:

paxamericana:

 

It’s class warfare!
Yeah right. Three decades of laissez-faire economic polices have allowed the rich to double their share of the national income while paying tax rates a fifth lower than before. The result,notes Kevin Drum, was “wage stagnation for everyone else, a massive financial collapse that ravaged the middle class, an enormous deficits that they’ll be asked to pay off eventually.” If the millionaires tax is the only blowback, the wealthy should count their blessings.

It’s a tax on small business
“Don’t forget that most small businesses file taxes as individuals,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Fox News Sunday. “So when you are raising top tax rates, you are raising taxes on these job creators.” Except when you aren’t. ThinkProgress’s Pat Garofalo points out that fewer than 2 percent of the nation’s small businesses fall into either of the top two tax brackets. Plus, many of the small business filers in the upper brackets are merely investors who have nothing to do with running the business. And if small businesses don’t want to pay taxes as individuals, they can file always as corporations.

It reduces incentives to work and invest
Experience shows otherwise. As Nancy Folbre points out over at Economix, “average annual rates of growth in gross domestic product in the high tax era between 1950 and 1980 exceeded those of the last 30 years. Increases in the top tax rate under President Bill Clinton were followed by robust economic expansion.”

It’s an unstable source of revenue
recent essay in the Wall Street Journal argued that the high volatility of upper-level income makes it impractical to rely on taxing it. But this concern is vastly overblown and can be easily dealt with by establishing rainy day funds.

It’s unfair
In the libertarian view, the rich are entitled to their gains because they worked for them. But this ignores how structural changes in the economy such as globalization, financial deregulation, and the rise of the knowledge-based economy has disproportionately rewarded the wealthy. At the same time, we’ve failed to reinvest in government programs that once leveled the playing field, such as financing for community colleges and public universities.

The rich will leave the country
Good riddance, writes Don Peck in a recent Atlantic essay on how to save the middle class: “America remains a magnet for talent, for reasons that go beyond the tax code; and by international standards, none of the tax changes recommended here would create an excessive tax burden on high earners. If a few financiers choose to decamp for some small island-state in search of the smallest possible tax bill, we should wish them good luck.”

ALL OF THIS

(via stfuconservatives)

wannabechomsky:

Republicans on Sunday decried the notion of a new minimum tax rate for millionaires as “class warfare,” saying the proposal by President Obama may be intended to portray Congressional Republicans who resist it as being callously indifferent to the hardships facing many Americans.

Okay, GOP, let’s clear up what qualifies as “class warfare,” shall we?

These are just a few examples of the class warfare being waged today. President Obama’s tax proposal? That’s more like deploying one infantry unit against a fleet of drones. And of course Republicans aren’t callous, don’t be ridiculous. Both they and Democrats keep themselves soft and smooth - just the way CEOs like their bedmates.

(Source: theflaminglabia, via geekvariety)

September 18th, 2011

stfuconservatives:

herblondness:

WASHINGTON — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Sunday that House Republicans would oppose President Barack Obama’s payroll tax cuts for both employers and employees, arguing that the policy had already failed to provide a sufficient boost to the economy. “It hasn’t worked,” Ryan said, suggesting the current temporary tax cut should be allowed to expire, which will amount to a 50 percent tax hike on workers making less than $106,000 per year.

He also said he opposes the president’s proposal to require millionaires to pay the same tax rate as the middle class, known as the Buffett plan. “Class warfare might make for good politics, but it makes for rotten economics,” Ryan said. (Read More.)

Because tax hikes are only okay when they are on the middle class. Right. NOW I understand.

A 50% tax hike on ME!? Are you fucking kidding me? I actually put money into this goddamn economy, you take 50% more of my money and that’s games, electronics, and food I can’t buy! I’m not hiding my money in offshore accounts, I’m putting it into my local retailer! That’s a reduction in everything I waste my money on that keeps this economic system limping along.

They call the rich these illustrious job creators, but you know how most of them got rich? From shmucks like me buying their products and services. You raise my taxes by 50% and they will get 50% less of my business, and not from lack of enthusiasm for their products and services. When their businesses receive 50% less of my money then they cut back production, which in turn cuts jobs. You want to get this economy back on track? Give people like me more money to piss away, that’s how stimulus works! Shit, that’s how economics works!

And he has the fucking gall to say it’s class warfare?

FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!

-Joe

(via stfuconservatives)

August 16th, 2011

WE’RE DOING EVERYTHING ALL WRONG.  i just don’t see how people are so afraid of change.  if it’s not working, fix it!

letterstomycountry:

Nouriel Roubini worries about the state of the global marketplace:

So Karl Marx, it seems, was partly right in arguing that globalization, financial intermediation run amok, and redistribution of income and wealth from labor to capital could lead capitalism to self-destruct (though his view that socialism would be better has proven wrong). Firms are cutting jobs because there is not enough final demand. But cutting jobs reduces labor income, increases inequality and reduces final demand.

Recent popular demonstrations, from the Middle East to Israel to the UK, and rising popular anger in China – and soon enough in other advanced economies and emerging markets – are all driven by the same issues and tensions: growing inequality, poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness. Even the world’s middle classes are feeling the squeeze of falling incomes and opportunities.

To enable market-oriented economies to operate as they should and can, we need to return to the right balance between markets and provision of public goods. That means moving away from both the Anglo-Saxon model of laissez-faire and voodoo economics and the continental European model of deficit-driven welfare states. Both are broken.

How about a surplus-driven welfare State? Like Sweden?

In the last decade, from 1998 to present, the [Swedish] government has run a surplus every year, except for 2003 and 2004. The surplus for 2011 is expected to be 99 billion ($15b)kronor.[31] 

August 15th, 2011
August 8th, 2011

iheartchaos:

If you’re worried about further troubles in the American economy, don’t worry. Rick Perry and Jesus are on this shit. Recently, Governor Perry, 30,000 of his constituent pals and Jesus all showed up at Reliant Stadium in Houston to pray America’s troubles away.

Read More