Estate Taxes and Social Security – are the Dead People or Cash Piñatas?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 18th, 2010

The Lord Taketh Away.  And the Lord Giveth.

I sat in some construction meetings for a small church building a new nave.  I learned a few things about churches.  And construction.  First of all, church projects have a lot of alternates in their bid proposals.  Because they always want more than their budgets can pay for.  But they’re ever hopeful.  When they pass that basket around.  To add some of those alternates.  Even ask for donations during construction.  From the contractors building their new nave.  But the biggest thing I learned was the value of dead people.

This church had grandiose plans.  A pipe organ.  A light dimming system.  A sound system.  And some really nice (and expensive) chandeliers (they install some plain-Jane lights until they could afford the more spectacular lighting).  But, alas, they did not raise enough money to include all of these things.  And to make matters worse, they ran into some unexpected costs.  They had to make cuts.  Even some of the things that they had already approved.  The owner’s representative was not a happy camper.  He had to sit in a lot of meetings to reach a consensus on what to cut from the project.  But there was never any consensus.  Then, one day, he came to the construction meeting with a big smile on his face.

Someone had died.  And he was a parishioner.  A well-to-do parishioner.  The owner’s rep got a heads up on what the dead guy had bequeathed to the church.  And it was enough to not only keep the approved alternates.  But big enough to add a few other things.  And he smiled.

Death and Taxes – A Liberal’s Favorite Things

In all fairness to the church, they did a lot of charitable work in their community.  But there are other people who smile when old people die.  And they’re not helping the community as much as stuffing their pockets and the pockets of their friends.

Social Security is a great cash piñata for the government.  That’s why they are dead set against privatizing Social Security.  You see, it’s a numbers game.  Or racket.  Working people pay into a ‘retirement fund’ while they work.  Then when they retire, they get ‘benefit payments’.  And if you die the day after retiring, the government gets a big smile on their face.  Why?  Because they get to keep your ‘retirement fund’.  And that just wouldn’t happen if you had your retirement in a 401(k).

Private retirement investments (IRA, 401(k), insurance policy, etc.) are private property.  If you die before using those benefits, they go to your spouse, kids or other next of kin.  It’s your money.  And it stays in your family.  Well, some of it, at least.

When people use other investments other than the federal government, the government has other ways of getting your money when you die.  It’s called the estate tax.  The government sees the death tax as a statement of their generosity.  Instead of a 100% tax rate upon your death like with Social Security, it’s closer to 50% (depending on the current tax code).  Like George Harrison sang in Taxman, the government is basically telling us that we should just be thankful they’re not taking it all.

The Final Solution for Efficiency’s Sake

Liberal Democrats are obsessed with death.  To them it’s convenience and efficiency.  They like euthanasia.  They talk a lot about dignity at the end of life, but it’s also a great money saver.  As some sick and dying people can take a long time to die.  And Medicare and Medicaid pay for a lot them while they’re taking their time to die.  But euthanasia can change that.  And has.  In some of the more ‘bluer’ (i.e., liberal) states.

They like abortion, too.  They talk about it empowering women.  But is also a great money saver.  When unmarried teens get pregnant and they carry their baby to term, that baby will consume a lot of government benefits.  Of course, this is a double-edge sword.  The use of abortion (and birth control) has reduced the birthrate.  At a time the size of government has been expanding.  Which means there will be fewer taxpayers down the road to pay for that expanding government.

Of course, Obamacare brings it all home for the liberal Democrat.  The government will make healthcare a model of efficiency.  By deciding who should get treatment.  And who should get a pill to help them manage their pain.  Until they die.

Scary, isn’t it?  They deny it.  And they don’t use the word ‘death panels’ in the Obamacare legislation, but there are boards.  Who make healthcare decisions.  Based on cost.  And the only way to make healthcare more efficient is to spend less.  And you spend less when more sick and old people die.  And when it comes down to it, what is an old person?  Someone who is no longer a useful taxpayer.  But, instead, is a tax consumer.

And keeping them alive is just bad business when you’re in the business of life and death.

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LESSONS LEARNED #19: “Philosophical debates can be effective but character assassination is more expedient, especially when no one agrees with your philosophy.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 24th, 2010

THOMAS JEFFERSON HATED Alexander Hamilton.  So much so he hired Philip Freneau as a translator in his State Department in George Washington’s administration.  You see, Jefferson did not like confrontation.  So he needed a way to slander Hamilton, his policies and the Washington administration without getting his own hands dirty.  And that was what Freneau was supposed to do with the money he earned while working in the State Department.  Publish a newspaper (National Gazette) and attack Hamilton, his policies and the Washington administration.  Papers then were partisan.  More so than today.  Then, lies and libel were tools of the trade.  And they knew how to dig up the dirt.  Or make it up. 

Another scandalmonger, James Callender, was slinging dirt for Jefferson.  And he hit pay dirt.  Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds of Philadelphia had a lucrative business.  They were blackmailing Alexander Hamilton.  Mr. Reynolds had his wife seduce Hamilton.  Which she did.  And did well.  They had an affair.  And Mr. Reynolds then blackmailed him.  Jefferson pounced.  Or, rather, Callender did.  To keep Jefferson’s hands clean.  Hamilton, Callender said, was using his position at the Treasury Department for personal gain.  He was using public funds to pay the blackmailer.  They found no proof of this.  And they did look for it.  Hard.  But when they came up empty, Jefferson said that it just proved what a good thief Hamilton was.  He was so good that he didn’t leave any traces of his treachery behind.

Of course, when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.  And Jefferson’s association with Callender would come back and bite him in the ass.  In a big way.  Upset because Jefferson didn’t appropriately compensate him for all his loyal dirt slinging (he wanted the postmaster’s job in Richmond), he publicized the Sally Hemings rumors.  And after breaking the true story of the Hamilton affair, many would believe this scoop.  That Jefferson was having an affair with one of his slaves.  It was a dark cloud that would forever hang over Jefferson.  And his legacy.

Hamilton admitted to his affair.  Jefferson admitted to no affair.  Hamilton would never hold public office again and would later die in a duel with Jefferson’s one-time toady, Aaron Burr.  This duel resulted because Hamilton was doing whatever he could to keep the amoral and unscrupulous Burr from public office (in this case, it was the governorship of New York).  When the election of 1800 resulted in a tie between Jefferson and Burr, Hamilton urged the House to vote for Jefferson, his archenemy.   Despite what had appeared in the press, Hamilton did have morals and scruples.  Unlike some.  Speaking of which, Jefferson would go on to serve 2 terms as president.  And all of that angst about Hamiltonian policies?  They all went out the window with the Louisiana Purchase (which was unconstitutional, Big Government and Big Finance).

RONALD REAGAN WAS routinely called old, senile and out of touch by the entertainment community, the media and his political foes.  But he bested Mikhail Gorbachev and the Soviet Union, something Jimmy Carter never did.  He said ‘no’ at Reykjavik because he told the American people that he wouldn’t give up the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).  He knew the Soviet Union was bleeding.  Communism was a farce.  It inhibited human capital.  And impoverished her people.  SDI may have been science fiction in the 1980s, but capitalism wasn’t.  It could do it all.  Including SDI.  The Soviet Union was on the ropes and Reagan would give no quarter.  The days of living in fear of the mushroom cloud were over.  And capitalism would deliver the knockout punch.

Reaganomics, of course, made this all possible.  Supply-side economics.  Which follows the Austrian school.  Say’s Law.  ‘Supply creates demand’.  You don’t stimulate the economy by taxing one group of people so another group can spend.  You stimulate it by creating incentives for risk takers to take risks.  And when they do, they create jobs.  And wealth.

Tax and spend is a failed Keynesian, zero-sum economic policy.  When you take from the earners and give to the non-earners, we just transfer purchasing power.  We don’t create it.  For some to spend more, others must spend less.  Hence, zero-sum.  The net some of goods and services people are purchasing remains the same.  Different people are just doing the purchasing.

When Apple invented the Macintosh personal computer (PC), few were demanding a PC with a graphical user interface (GUI).  But Apple was innovative.  They created something they thought the people would want.  And they did.  They took a risk.  And the Macintosh with its mouse and GUI took off.  Apple manufacturing increased and added jobs.  Retail outlets for the Macintosh expanded and created jobs.  Software firms hired more engineers to write code.  And other firms hired more people to engineer and manufacture PC accessories.  There was a net increase in jobs and wealth.  Just as Say’s Law predicts.  Supply-side economics works.

Of course, the Left hates Reagan and attacked Reaganomics with a vengeance.  They attacked Reagan for being pro-rich.  For not caring about the poor.  And they revised history.  They say the only thing the Reagan tax cuts gave us were record deficits.  Of course, what those tax cuts gave us were record tax receipts.  The government never collected more money.  The House of Representatives (who spends the money), awash in cash, just spent that money faster than the treasury collected it.  The record shows Reaganomics worked.  Lower tax rates spurred economic activity.  More activity generated more jobs and more personal wealth.  Which resulted in more people paying more taxes.  More people paying taxes at a lower rate equaled more tax revenue in the aggregate.  It works.  And it works every time people try it. 

Because Reaganomics worked and showed the Left’s policies were failures, they had to attack Reagan.  To discredit him.  They had to destroy the man.  Except when they’re running for elected office.  Then they strive to show how much more Reagan-like they are than their conservative opponents.  Because they know Reaganomics worked.  And they know that we know Reaganomics worked.

GEORGE W. BUSH was routinely called an ‘idiot’ by the entertainment community, the media and his political foes.  Yet this ‘idiot’ seems to have outwitted the elite of the liberal Left time and time again.  I mean, if their policies were winning, they would be no reason to have attacked Bush in the first place.  The Left hated him with such vitriol that they said he blew up the Twin Towers on 9/11 as a justification for invading Iraq for her oil.  It was Big Oil’s lust for profit, after all, that was driving this Texan’s Big Oil policies.  And taking Iraq’s oil would increase Big Oil’s sales and give her even more obscene profits.

If Bush was an idiot, he must have been an idiot genius to come up with a plan like that.  Then again, gasoline prices crept to $4/gallon following the Iraq War.  Had all that oil gone on the market according to plan, that wouldn’t have happened.  Unless the plan was to keep that oil OFF of the market, thus, by rules of supply and demand, the price of oil (and the gasoline we make from it) would go up thus enriching Big Oil through higher prices resulting from a lower sales volume.  My god, what evil genius.  For an idiot.  Of course, gas taxes, numerous summer gas blends (required by the government’s environmental policies), an aging and over-taxed pipeline infrastructure and insufficient refinery capacity (the government’s environmental policies make it too punishing even to consider building a new refinery) to meet increasing demand (soaring in India and China) had nothing to do with the rise in gas prices.

IS THE POLITICAL Left evil?  Probably not.  Just amoral.  They have an agenda.  They survive on political spoils and patronage.  Old time politics.  Enrich themselves through cronyism.  If tribute is paid they’ll extend favorable treatment.  If tribute is not paid, they will release their wrath via hostile regulation, litigation, Congressional investigation and punitive taxation.  Just like they did to Big Tobacco (and, no, it wasn’t about our health.  They could have just made tobacco illegal.  But they didn’t.  Why?  It just brings in way too much money to the government.  Via sin taxes.  And federal lawsuits.  And with it being addictive, it’s a frickin cash piñata for them.)

They know few agree with their philosophy.  But they don’t care.  It’s not about national prosperity.  It’s about power.  And they want it.  That’s why they can’t debate the issues.  They know they can’t win.  So they attack the messenger.  Not the message.  If you don’t believe that, you can ask Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and just about any other Republican.  Well, you can’t ask Lincoln or Reagan.  But you can guess what they would say.

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