Excessive Sin Taxes on Alcohol in Britain does not create Higher Tax Revenue

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 23rd, 2012

Week in Review

Potheads want to decriminalize marijuana because they like getting high.  Especially high school kids and college kids.  Who aren’t known for making responsible decisions.  Binge drinking, drunk driving, smoking cigarettes, stealing prescription drugs from their parents, unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.  Things that just don’t happen much to married men and women raising a family in the suburbs.  Who actually grew up and became responsible adults.

But it’s just not the kids getting high.  There are a lot of ‘responsible’ adults who want to decriminalize marijuana, too.  Most of who spent their high school and college years stoned.  But they make a more responsible argument for the decriminalization of marijuana.  For it would end all of our budget woes if the government regulated and TAXED marijuana.  Equating getting high with responsible governing.  And if there is one thing we know whenever the government regulates and taxes something it encourages people to buy more of that something, flooding government treasuries with cash (see Alcohol duty fraud: Action needed, say off-licences by Emma Forde posted 12/22/2012 on BBC News Business).

UK tax authorities are not doing enough to tackle alcohol duty fraud, claims a leading off-licence chain.

Bargain Booze told the BBC that the number of stores telling HM Revenue and Customs that they face illegal competition is rising…

Alcohol duty fraud in the UK often involves exporting alcohol to the EU – untaxed – and then bringing it back into the UK with false paperwork.

This method exploits EU rules which state duty does not have to be paid on alcohol when it is being transferred between registered producers or wholesalers – it is only paid when it enters the marketplace.

But the BBC’s 5 live Investigates programme has learned that some lorries containing duty-unpaid alcohol meant for export never even leave the UK…

The illicit alcohol ends up in the hands of rogue wholesalers and retailers who then sell it on at prices which legitimate traders say are only possible if duty has been evaded…

Representatives from the alcohol retail industry claim the total cost to the Exchequer could be billions of pounds: “HMRC view the loss of revenue to the Exchequer at £1.2bn, but that excludes wine. Within the trade, the real cost to the Exchequer is viewed as something in excess of £4bn a year,” says Keith Webb…

The cash-and-carry owner, who did not want to be named due to fear of reprisal from criminal gangs, says it would have to pay around £19.35 for a box of six bottles of Echo Falls Chardonnay – of that, £11.40 would be duty.

The same amount and brand of lager would cost £16.56, with duty at £9.36 per case.

You just can’t add a 57-59% excise tax on something and expect the criminal element not to take advantage of that.  That’s just too juicy a profit to pass up.  And an easy and safe profit to make.  For they don’t have to traffic in an illegal substance.  They’re just doing the tax evasion part of illegal drug trafficking.  Making it a far less risky crime.  So why wouldn’t they exploit the government’s regulating and taxing of alcohol?  This is a gift handed to them on a silver platter.  And the same thing would happen with marijuana.

There is a problem with sin taxes.  The purpose of a sin tax is to dissuade people from participating in an unhealthy behavior.  Such as drinking and smoking.  So as they raise these taxes people buy less of these things.  Meeting the goal of a sin tax.  But if you use that same sin tax for revenue purposes you have a problem.  For the more you dissuade that behavior (i.e., the more you raise the tax rate) the less people will participate (i.e., the less tax revenue they collect).  The two (dissuading behavior and raising tax revenue) are mutually exclusive.  You can dissuade unhealthy behavior.  Or you can raise revenue.  But you can’t do both.  Which is why we have sin taxes and not outright prohibitions on these behaviors.

Governments are less interested in their stated purpose (dissuading unhealthy behavior) than they are in raising revenue.  For they are desperate to find new sources of revenue to pay for their irresponsible spending ways.  Which is why alcohol and tobacco products in the U.S. have very high excise taxes.  As well as laws setting minimum prices.  They say these are to protect the consumer from predatory pricing.  Something few consumers ever complain about.  Low prices are good.  The lower the better.  The only people hurt by predatory pricing are businesses that can’t compete at those lose prices.  And governments trying to collect confiscatory excise taxes on sinful behavior.  To avoid the problems they’re having in the UK with their alcohol duty fraud.

Governments don’t want criminals profiting off these high excise taxes by selling alcohol to consumers at lower prices.  They want the consumers to pay higher prices so they can give more of their income to the government.  To help pay for their irresponsible spending.  Which they never consider cutting to solve their budget problems.  They only consider new sources of revenue.   Or raising tax rates.  Which will happen with marijuana.  Opening the door for less risky profit taking for the criminal element the more they decriminalize it.  And the more they tax it.

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Britain’s Liberal Democrats propose Lowering the Voting Age to bring in more Irresponsibility into Parliament

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 27th, 2012

Week in Review

A teenage girl goes home to live with mom after her boyfriend left her.  And her unborn child.  Another teenage girl in high school saves her allowance for cigarettes.  A high school friend dies in a DUI accident that he caused.  A high school kid overdoses on drugs he took from his parent’s medicine cabinet.  Kids make a lot of bad decisions.  A lot drink while underage.  A lot drive while drunk.  A lot use drugs.  A lot engage in casual sex that results in a pregnancy or an STD.  This is why drugs are illegal.  And why we have a minimum age to drink.  And to smoke.  To minimize the effect of their bad decisions.  Because high school kids are really, really irresponsible.  Always putting ‘having a good time’ ahead of acting responsibly.  So based on that here’s a good idea.  Let’s have these same irresponsible kids vote (see Give 16 year olds the vote, say peers by Christopher Hope posted 10/22/2012 on The Telegraph).

New legislation published on Monday would extend the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds in all elections and referenda in the United Kingdom…

Lord Tyler, who was the Liberal Democrats’ former shadow Leader of the Commons, said: “It isn’t good enough for Scots young people to be heard, just once, on this vital question, and then ignored thereafter, and worse still that English, Welsh and Northern Irish young people will continue not having a say at all…”

He added: “What about the expected referendum on Europe? I visit sixth forms regularly, and find students there more engaged and knowledgeable about current affairs, the state of the world and the state of our country, than many of the older people I bump into here in the House of Lords. It is time to give them a say.”

Those old people in the House of Lords?  They probably are refusing to vote for more irresponsible spending.  Like more subsides for university students that they simply can’t afford.  And other government benefits.  Of course if you can replace the responsible people in Parliament (or Congress in the US) with irresponsible people you can probably keep spending money you don’t have.  And having irresponsible kids vote can make that happen.  Because they are always putting ‘having a good time’ ahead of acting responsibly.  And would love to have free college.  Including room and board.  And some spending money for after classes.  All paid for by government.  As well a lower drinking age (“if we’re responsible enough to vote at 16 we’re responsible enough to drink”).  A lower smoking age.  Even decriminalize marijuana.  And champion other pressing concerns high school kids have.

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The US and UK following Keynesian Policies and Suffering Jobless Recoveries

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2012

Week in Review

The US is not the only country suffering through a ‘jobless’ recovery.  Which is just another way of saying continued recession.  Or double-dip recession.  The UK is having the same problems we’re having.  And using inept government policies to try and fix them.  Just like in the US (see A recession made in Downing Street – but not caused by cuts by ALLISTER HEATH posted 4/26/2012 on City A.M.).

The first problem has been the composition of the austerity package. Much of the tightening has been via tax hikes rather than spending cuts – capital gains, national insurance, stamp duty, value added tax, and now pasties and the rest. That was the wrong choice: lower taxes are good for growth, higher taxes are bad. The trick is to deliver austerity by cutting spending, not by hiking taxes.

The next issue is that the government’s supply-side agenda has failed miserably. By now, developers should have been set free to build new airports and even cities; the labour market should have been liberalised; job-reducing red tape eliminated; the top rate of tax abolished; mad EU rules abolished, and so on and so forth. Britain needed a revolution; it was granted a few over-hyped reforms…

…excessive inflation has slashed real incomes and real wealth; this, rather than cuts, is what has depressed spending the most…

Last but not least, banking rules. It was right to ensure banks held more capital and that credit became priced rationally – but the reforms have spiralled out of control…

What is most depressing is that the double-dip (if that is indeed what it is) will wrongly discredit austerity, even though the state remains incredibly profligate…

President Obama has broken deficit and debt records.  While he chastises the Right for irresponsibly spending beyond their means.  Demanding that they raise taxes to pay for this irresponsible spending.  That somehow higher taxes will fix all of America’s ills.  Or, at the least, address the social injustice of prosperity.  And happiness.

Both the UK and the US are steadfastly following the failed policies of John Maynard Keynes.  Demand-side Keynesian economics.  Tax and spend.  Because they’ve ‘worked so well’ in the past.  Of course they haven’t.  They never have.  And they never will.  What works are supply-side economics.  Those policies embraced by Margaret Thatcher.  And Ronald Reagan.  Who enjoyed real economic recoveries.  The kind that created jobs.

Politics never change.  Politicians dumb down public education so the people never learn the lessons of history.  That all of their policies are tried and failed.  So they make the same arguments every election cycle.  And the young believe in the goodness of these policies.  The fairness of these policies.  Never knowing the lives they have destroyed through the years.  Which is why politicians work so hard to get the youth vote.  Before they learn the truth.  And become conservative.

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Some say the Germans should Remember that Austerity gave them Hitler and should therefore Forgive some Greek Debt

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 19th, 2012

Week in Review

There are more Nazi comparisons in the continuing saga of the Greek debt crisis as people keep picking on Germany.  The strongest Eurozone state.  And the only one who can bail out the weaker ones (see Germany has forgotten the lessons of war reparations by Jeremy Warner posted 2/17/2012 on The Telegraph).

While on the subject of historical parallels, there’s another which has not yet been given sufficient an airing. This was the vexing question of German war reparations after the slaughter of the First World War, brilliantly identified by John Maynard Keynes at the time in his polemic, “Economic Consequences of the Peace”, as fundamentally unfair on the Germans. Keynes branded the Treaty of Versailles a “Carthaginian Peace”.

True.  The Treaty of Versailles did treat the Germans unfairly.  A word commonly bandied about at the time in Germany was humiliated.  And betrayed.  Even stabbed in the back.  Because the Germans didn’t start that war.  Everyone was eager to go to war.  And nearly everyone did thanks to those entangling alliances that George Washington warned us about.  And another thing.  The Germans didn’t lose the war.  No one did.  And no one won the war.  It ended in an armistice.  Much like the Korean War.  And yet during the treaty process they identified Germany as the sole culprit that caused the war.  And the allies all tried to recoup their losses and rebuild their empires by bleeding Germany dry.

Part of Germany’s purpose during interminable attempts to renegotiate these debts on less oppressive terms was to demonstrate that the German economy was in no position to pay – ergo, the creditor was at some stage going to have to take an almighty hit. Indeed, it is sometimes argued that the Weimar hyperinflation was deliberately engineered in order to demonstrate this fact beyond doubt. There can be no other explanation for the bizarrely ruinous policies of deficit financing pursued by the Bundesbank at that time. No sane central banker could possibly have sanctioned such a strategy…

Given its history, it is quite strange that Germany has such difficulty in grasping this reality. It is sometimes said that German attitudes to the economy and the current crisis are instructed by experience of Weimar inflation and its catastrophic consequences. Yet it wasn’t hyperinflation that brought Hitler to power, but rather the depression of the early 1930s, which in Germany’s case was greatly exaggerated by the pro-cyclical austerity the government of the time insisted on applying to the problem. Those who who [sic] don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

The Weimar hyperinflation played a part.  But what really motivated Hitler was the Versailles Treaty.  Hitler was a veteran of WWI.  He served bravely.  Was promoted to corporal.  Suffered temporary blindness from a gas attack.  And he knew the Germans weren’t beaten.  Exhausted?  Yes.  War weary?  Yes.  But militarily defeated?  No.  It was the humiliation of the Versailles Treaty that drove Hitler.  So much so that when his panzer armies conquered France he met the French in a special rail car to sign the instrument of surrender.  The same rail car the Germans signed the humiliating Versailles Treaty.

Many Germans rallied around Hitler because they felt the same way.  Germany had grown to be the dominating European power.  And that treaty did what Germany’s enemies couldn’t do.   Change the balance of power in Europe.  To reverse the German successes of the last century or so.  This is what brought Hitler to power.  Vengeance.  To right the wrongs done to Germany.  Had they not been so wronged it is unlikely that a gifted orator would have risen to inflame the masses.  For there may have been no hyperinflation without those punishing reparations in the first place.  And without that economic crisis the world wouldn’t even know the name Adolf Hitler.  (Probably.  Unless a prosperous Weimar Germany liked and bought his art.  Then instead of remembering him as a crazed mass murderer we would remember him as an artist.)

In contrast nobody wronged Greece.  They got into this mess on their own.  By irresponsible government spending.  And the cure for irresponsible spending is responsible spending.  Not forgiving debt so they can keep spending irresponsibly.  German hyperinflation resulted from unjust war reparations that destroyed the German economy.  The Greek crisis resulted from irresponsible spending that destroyed the Greek economy.  Spending is the problem.  It needs to be cut.  So they stop running deficits.  And stop growing their debt.  But cutting government spending is easier said than done.  For once the government makes the people dependent on government benefits the people tend to not want to give them up.  But they must.  It’s the only way to fix the underlying problem.  Irresponsible spending.  And forgiving debt not only misses this central point.  It encourages more of the same.

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‘More Taxes, Regulations, Uncertainty and Spending’ is the Mantra of the Obama Administration

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 21st, 2011

Obama’s Proposed Aviation Fees will Fall Predominantly on the People who can Least Afford It

In Obama‘s deficit reduction plan he plans to tax the rich.  Those who can most afford it.  Rich people.  And by rich people he means anyone who has any money to spend (see Airline groups attack Obama proposals to boost fees for aviation security, air traffic control by Associated Press posted 9/21/2011 on The Washington Post).

The aviation fees are part of Obama’s deficit-cutting plan that was released Tuesday. The plan would:

— raise the passenger security fee — now $5 to $10 per round trip — to $15 by 2017 and give the Homeland Security Department the power to push it higher.

— impose a surcharge of $100 per flight to help pay for air traffic control.

But college students fly.  Middle class families fly on vacation.  Non-rich people everywhere fly to visit family members that have moved away.  A lot of people fly.  And an interesting tidbit about the flying public?  They’re not all rich.

The rich people that Obama wants to tax?  Because they can most afford it?  Those well-to-do folk who fly those private jets?  Well, a lot of them do just that.  Fly private jets.  And, therefore, do NOT fly on commercial planes.  So they won’t be paying these new taxes/fees.  So these taxes/fees will fall predominantly on the people who can least afford it.  Imagine that.

The Air Transport Association, which represents large airlines, said it’s unfair for airlines and passengers to pay for security against terror attacks that target the U.S. and not the airlines themselves. The trade group says a typical $300 round-trip ticket already includes $60 in taxes and fees.

The Regional Airline Association, a group of smaller carriers, said the fees could lead to a loss of flights to smaller cities. The group’s president, Roger Cohen, said the $100 surcharge would cost more than regional airlines earned last year, threatening service to smaller cities.

The groups also complained that some of the money raised from airlines and passengers would be used to pay down the federal budget deficit and not to improve the air-travel system.

The airlines have a vested interest in protecting their planes.  Because they bought them.  And planes that blow up or crash in terrorist attacks don’t help the bottom line.  There’s the loss of an expensive airplane.  And the future revenue from that airplane.  The cost of replacing that airplane.  And the lost business from passengers who tend to shy away from an airline whose planes are easy pickings for terrorists.

So let them hire a security contractor to secure their planes.  Using the Israeli model.  Ask very pointed questions and observe people’s responses.  It works well for the Israelis.  Couldn’t be any worse than what the TSA is doing.  I mean, what passengers are going to complain about being groped less?

The administration estimated that boosting passenger security fees will raise $24.9 billion over 10 years. It proposed to spend $15 billion of that to reduce federal debt.

This is telling.  The airlines did not run up that federal debt. So there’s something really troubling about this.  Taking $15 billion from the airlines under the auspices of national security.  Just so they can continue their irresponsible spending ways in Washington.  This is no different than an addict stealing from his mother’s purse to support his habit.

This is Washington’s problem.  Not the airlines.  Washington has a spending problem.  And they can’t stop spending.  Or simply choose not to.  Instead they look for other people to steal from.  Like an addict.  While denying that they have a problem.  And always blaming others.  Like the rich who don’t pay their fair share.  And by rich they mean anyone that has any money to spend.

Tax Cuts Stimulate, not Keynesian Stimulus Spending Funded by Taxes

So how bad is this spending?  How much of a debt problem has it given us?  That the president is shaking down the airlines for $15 billion (see Committee Searches for Economic ‘Tipping Point’; Prefer Not to Find It by Jim Angle posted 9/20/2011 on Fox News)?

“We know that the debt is now 100 percent — approximately 100 percent of (gross domestic product),” said Allan Meltzer, a professor of political economy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “That doesn’t include the unfunded liabilities. It doesn’t include (mortgage lenders)Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It doesn’t include a number of other things.”

By unfunded liabilities, Meltzer means entitlement programs. Social Security and Medicare alone have $46 trillion in unfunded liabilities, meaning that much more is promised in benefits than the government — and taxpayers — have as a plan to pay for them.

Oh.  It’s that bad.  We owe a dollar for every dollar our economy produces.  But it’s even worse than this.  All of those unfunded liabilities that don’t appear in the official budget.  Fannie and Freddie.  And let’s not forget the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.  Which are filled only with IOUs from Uncle Sam.  Because Uncle Sam spent our money.  That money we put aside with each paycheck.  Those FICA and Medicare withholdings.  That money they forced us to save.  Because we were untrustworthy with our own money.  As they apparently are, too.

Chris Edwards, Director of Tax Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, argues that U.S. debt is so far out of control that it must be contained soon.

“We’ve had five trillion (in) deficit spending since 2008, the most enormous sort of Keynesian stimulus you can imagine, and yet we’ve had slower growth than any time since World War II. So I don’t think spending helps.”

So the government owes more money than taxpayers can fund.  And yet that didn’t stop them from spending $5 trillion more.  For stimulus.  Which is just code for throwing money at political cronies.  I mean, it’s obvious that it didn’t stimulate anything.  Because the economy is still in the toilet.

And there’s a very good reason for that.  Because tax cuts stimulate.  Not Keynesian stimulus spending funded by taxes.

Meltzer pointed to three “fiscal changes that really did enormous good.” One was the tax cuts from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, the most effective part of which were business tax cuts.

“They got the biggest bang for the buck,” he said.

The second were the Reagan-era tax cuts which came in two rounds and boosted a flagging economy. Meltzer said a completely different option worked well too.

“(The) third policy that gave people confidence were the Clinton tax increases, which assured people that their future tax rates were not going to go up, that they had seen what they were going to have to take, and there wouldn’t be anymore.”

Meltzer said the increases gave people certainty about what tax rates would be, which reassured businesses they wouldn’t go higher, allowing employers to plan and create jobs with confidence.

The Clinton tax increases?  That’s not why the Nineties were booming.  It was because of greedy capitalists.  Looking to strike it rich in the dot-com boom.  The economy was smoking hot because of irrational exuberance.  Not higher taxes.  And the budget went into surplus when all those dot-com people cashed in their stock options.  And they paid a boatload of capital gains taxes.  Before the dot-com bubble burst.  And threw the economy into recession.

But he’s right on the Kennedy and Reagan tax cuts.  Both used good Austrian supply-side economics.  Which exploded economic activity.  And similar policies could do that again.  If we would just stop with the Keynesian nonsense.  And the belief that crippling regulations will spur economic growth.

Business Owners Hate Uncertainty because, Unlike Uncle Sam, they can’t Print Money

And speaking of regulation, remember the Dodd-Frank act?  Have you read it?  Probably not.  For I doubt anyone in Congress has read it in its entirety (see Dodd-Frank and Uncertainty by Veronique de Rugy posted 9/20/2011 on National Review).

Remember how President Obama promised that the Dodd-Frank bill would provide certainty, stability and growth…?

It’s 1,623 pages long. It is very heavy. If it could fit it in my purse, I could use it as a protective weapon. Whatever else this will do, however, it will not make lending cheaper or credit more readily available, and it will not protect us from another financial crisis. And it will not protect consumers or taxpayers.

What it will do, and already does, is continue injecting gigantic uncertainty into the economy, paralyzing entrepreneurship and job creation. Imagine how long it will take for all the rules to be written and for U.S. businesses to figure out how they are supposed to operate from now on. The vagueness of the law as written means that even business owners and consumers who have the courage to pick up this book and try to figure out what’s in their future won’t get the answers they are looking for.

Really, is there any doubt that some of the $2 trillion in cash that companies are sitting on is a direct result of this uncertainty?

That’s right.  If you don’t know what tomorrow may bring you save your money.  You deleverage.  Pay down debt.  And hoard cash.  Because cash is king.  It’s the only thing you can pay your employees with.  The only thing you can pay your suppliers with.  The only thing you can pay for your insurance with.  And it’s the only thing you can pay Uncle Sam with.  So if you don’t have enough of it around during bad times you may not be around for the good times.  When they return.  If they return.

Business owners hate uncertainty.  Because, unlike Uncle Sam, they can’t print money.  So they have to be very careful with what they have.  To survive things like recessions.  Depressions.  And Dodd-Frank.

In these Tough Economic Times, it is the People that are Suffering, not Rich Liberals

‘More taxes, more regulations and more uncertainty’ is the mantra of the Obama administration.  And, of course, more spending.  Always more spending.  Is it any surprise the economy is not responding well to Obama’s policies?

There is no way businesses will grow in this environment.  Or create jobs.  And without new jobs the economy will never recover.  People understand this.  That’s why Democrats are losing elections.  Even in New York.  It’s a repudiation of Obama.  And the liberal Democrat agenda.

For though the mainstream media has been a loyal propaganda outlet for the liberal elite, the people aren’t buying it anymore.  For in these tough economic times, it is the people that are suffering.  Because of Obama’s policies.  While rich liberal elitists are living well everywhere.  And continue to fly on their private jets.  While the common people will be paying Obama’s new aviation fees.

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LESSONS LEARNED #73: “Politics is about overspending and vote-buying while getting some poor dumb bastard to pay for it.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 7th, 2011

Great Britain’s Costly World Wars

The 18th century was a time for adventure.  Exploring brave new worlds.  Discovering new species of plant and animal.  And new peoples.  But most of all it was a time for war.  World war.  As the great mercantilist empires raced to establish colonies in those brave new worlds.  And bumped into each other in the process.  Great Britain, Prussia and Portugal fought against against France, Spain, Austria, Russia and Sweden in the Seven Years’ War.  They fought for control of trade routes.  And each other’s colonies.  They fought from 1756 to 1763.  In Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, North America, the Caribbean, the Philippines and on the high seas.

Great Britain’s secretary of state, William Pitt, committed to total war.  He went all in.  Thanks to his allies fighting in Europe on land he had armies available for the colonial theaters.  And he had the Royal Navy.  That ruled the seas.  It was a formidable force.  And the British Empire grew.  From Gibraltar to the Indian subcontinent to the Philippines to the Caribbean.  And, of course, Canada.  It was a great victory.  But a costly one.  As total war tends to be.  And with more empire to manage and protect, Britain needed a larger standing army.  And a larger Royal Navy.  Costing even more money.  Especially in North America.  Where there was a lot of Indian activity on the frontier.  It only seemed fair to King and Parliament that their American colonists paid their fair share.  And the taxation started coming. 

The king needed money.  And the landowners in England were already overtaxed from years of war.  Taxing them further could cause problems in Parliament.  Because they had representation with their taxation.  But there was a lot of untapped wealth across the Atlantic Ocean.  The American colonies.  And they had no representation in Parliament.  So they would tax them to replenish the royal coffers.  And to help maintain the sprawling empire.  So they taxed.  And the Americans balked.  Then Parliament passed some acts to punish the colonists.  One thing led to another that led to a shot at Lexington that was heard ’round the world.  The American Revolution for independence from the British Empire was on.  And it, too, would be costly for Great Britain.  Eight more years of war.  And it would end with the loss of the American colonies.  Worse, it gave the French some ideas that led to the French Revolution.  And, ultimately, Napoleon.  That would plunge Great Britain back into another costly world war. 

Rhode Island:  Smallest State but Biggest Pain in the Ass

But Great Britain wasn’t the only nation with a large war debt.  The new United States of America also had a huge war debt.  And her finances were a mess.  People had debts.  States had debts.  And the Confederation Congress had debt.  Millions borrowed from Holland and France to fight the war.  And money was owed from before the war.  Including to British merchants that had to be honored for America needed trade with the British Empire.  And the protection of that trade provided by the Royal Navy.  So a lot of money was owed to a lot of people.  Which a lot of people didn’t have.  State legislations passed debtors’ laws that provided some relief to debtors by making it okay for them not to repay their loans.  Of course, this destroyed the credit markets.  Because people won’t loan money if the law says no one has to pay it back.  Worse, states were printing their own currencies.  And forcing people to accept it as legal tender.  Even though it wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.  States were charging import duties on interstate trade.  Other states were charging some states more for their goods.  The love was gone.  States circled the wagons.  The war was over so they said screw the confederation .  It was a mess.  And soon after the war the economy was collapsing.

The United States was the Rodney Dangerfield of the international community.  It got no respect.  And most thought it was only a matter of time before they fell on their face and rejoined the British Empire.  The new nation needed legitimacy.  Which is hard to do when you’re broke.  You have no army or navy.  And the individual states were making their own treaties.  Making their own currency.  Collecting their own tariffs.  Life was simpler for the rest of the world when the Americans were British Americans.  For then she had a single seat of government to treat with.  A single currency.  A uniform tariff.  The Articles of Confederation just wasn’t getting it done.  So there was a drive to revise them to address some of these shortcomings.  Such as a national tariff to help pay down the national debt.  But one of the shortcomings was the revision process itself.  Any change required unanimous consent.  Which was a problem when it came to tariffs.

You see, tariffs are a source of revenue.  Imported goods come in on ships.  That have to dock.  In a port.  Before they offload a customs official reviews the manifest.  And verifies the cargo.  It’s simple math.  You have a list of what’s on a ship.  You apply a tariff.  Get your money.  Then you let the ships unload their cargo.  It’s very straight forward.  All you need is a port.  Which Rhode Island had.  And she refused to give up her right to collect those tariffs.  Because they collected a lot of revenue.  From her merchants.  And from all the merchants in the land-locked states that used her port.  It was very lucrative.  Her taxpayers loved it.  Because someone else was paying their taxes.  They were getting a free ride.  Thanks to those tariffs.  Which was great for them.  But it almost doomed the fledgling new nation.  Because whenever the Confederation Congress tried to amend the Articles of Confederation to include a national tariff, Rhode Island always voted “no.”  She refused to give up her cash cow.  Even if it meant the collapse of the new nation.  (Eventually delegates would meet in Philadelphia in 1787 and write a new constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation.  And some 100 years later America became a superpower.  No thanks to Rhode Island, of course.)

The EU and their Mercantile Emissions Trading Scheme

A clever government is always trying to think of ways to get other people to pay for their excessive spending.  And by ‘clever’ I mean devious.  To find some dumb bastard to pick up their tab.  Preferably not their own taxpayers.  Especially taxpayers who vote.  Because that’s the funny thing about taxpayers.  They don’t like paying taxes.  They will because they understand certain public goods require public funding.  Like an army and a navy to protect their nation from foreign enemies.  They’ll pay for these because they don’t want to be invaded or have their cargo ships boarded by pirates on the open seas.  But they’re not going to willingly pay for a big fat welfare state.  Not if they have to make sacrifices in their own lives so others don’t.  That’s just slavery by another name.  People just don’t like oppressive governments that take their money.  Or their liberty.  But if they could get some nice government benefits without having to pay for them, why, that’s a different story.

This is a lesson governments have learned well.  This is the basis for socialism (from those according to ability to those according to need).  And the progressive income tax (the more you earn the more you pay).  You get the smaller group of rich people to pay more than their fair share.  Then you take their money and spend it on the larger group of poor people who will forever love you.  And vote for you.  It’s a sound theory.  Until you can’t raise taxes anymore without throwing the economy into recession.  Or causing a taxpayer revolt.  So advanced nations that can’t tax anymore have found other sources of revenue.  Thanks to global warming.

Global warming is a hoax created to impose more government control over our lives.  To create more fees.  And a font of new taxation.  The University in East Anglia led the charge in this false science.  Leaked emails have since proven that they did play with the numbers to advance their agenda.  Though debunked it still has deep roots in the UK.  And Europe.  They refuse to let it go because of the riches it promises to deliver.  And with the UK and Europe suffering debt crises, they need those riches.  And the European Union is acting bold.  And extralegal.  They created an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).  Anyone that produces carbon dioxide has to pay for that privilege.  And that ‘anyone’ is pretty much everyone in industry and transportation.  By buying permits that ‘allow’ you to emit this product of combustion.  Including all international flights flying into EU airspace.  Which the non-EU airlines have a problem with.  Who are already struggling under the high cost of fuel.  But the EU is standing firm.  To save the planet.  And coincidentally pouring vast sums of money into their coffers.  So they can transfer the cost of their irresponsible government spending to non-Europeans buying tickets to travel to Europe.  But this can’t end well.  Other nations will respond with some measures of their own to ‘tax’ EU planes coming into their airspace.  Worse, when they can no longer sell the fraud of global warming to a gullible people, the nations who bought those permits may want their money back.  To help with their own irresponsible spending.  And with the sums involved, they will no doubt exhaust no legal avenues.  Perhaps even exploring other avenues.  Something extralegal.  Just like they did in the EU when they set up their ETS.

Spend First, Pay Later, then Suffer the Consequences

That’s the problem with spending first then trying to figure out clever ways to get someone to pay for that spending later.  Politicians tend to look at short-term benefits.  Not long-term consequences.  Had Great Britain known what the ultimate price would be for their tax policies they no doubt would have pursued a different course.  And avoided the 8 years of the American Revolutionary War.  And the subsequent Napoleonic Wars.  Which all added up to quite the pretty farthing.

Of course, Great Britain’s woes go back to the costly Seven Years’ War.  Which grew out of a trade war.  Resulting from the mercantile policies of competing empires for overseas colonies.  And trade.  The EU’s ETS is sort of a throwback to those mercantile policies.  That may very well result in a trade war itself.

Funny how history repeats.

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2010 Midterm Election: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 3rd, 2010

Big Cities, Big Union and Big Government

If you look at a map of the House election results (provided by The Washington Post), you can see the two Americas.  What you see is a red map with small dabs of blue.  And where are those blue areas?  The Big Cities, the big colleges, the big unions and the big urban concentrations of poor and minorities.  And, of course, the liberal elite in and around the Big Cities.  In other words, where you find Big Union (manufacturing, trade unions, school teachers and government employees) and Big Government.  And it’s the dynamic between Big Union and Big Government that empower the liberal elite.   Big Union provides campaign money and foot soldiers for Big Government.  And Big Government rewards Big Union by favoring their small minority over the majority of Americans.  It’s a throwback to before our Founding when kings and nobles ruled nations.  Political power is devolving into fewer and fewer hands. Into those little dabs of blue.

To get a perspective of how bad and how oppressive this ruling minority elite has gotten, consider two races.  Two people nationally despised won their reelections.  Barney Frank, who is largely responsible for giving us the subprime mortgage crisis, won in liberal Massachusetts.  And Nancy Pelosi, who forced her liberal agenda on the American people against their wishes, won by a whopping 80% in San Francisco.  This is what the Founding Fathers meant when they spoke of the tyranny of the minority.  These two have caused great harm to the American people.  Yet they represent such a sliver of minority thought in this nation.  They could not win a national vote.  Yet they can destroy a nation by winning their local vote.

But it’s not all bad.  If you look at the map, you see a lot of red in once dominate blue areas.  New England is not completely blue anymore.  New York State isn’t as blue as New York City.  Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan are red outside of the Big Cities.  Chicago, in fact, is a small pocket of blue adrift in a sea of red.  And in Washington, Oregon and California, if you move in from the Big Money coast, you see mostly red.  More importantly, if you click on the governors tab in the map, you see change, too.  New York and California are blue, yes, but there’s more red than blue overall on that map.  Which gives one hope that the republic the Founding Fathers gave us is not yet dead.  It will be hard to gerrymander those congressional districts around the Big Cities to give such little, elitist, local voices a large national voice anymore.

It’s the Economy, Stupid.  Was, and still is.

So, outside of the blue Big Cities, what do we know?  Well, the exit polling told us what we already knew.  It’s the economy, stupid.  We’ve lost too many jobs.  And that’s what we want.  Jobs (see Exit poll: Economy the big dog for worried voters by Connie Cass, Associated Press, posted on Yahoo!

About a third of voters said their household suffered a job loss in the past two years.

And as we lost our jobs, we lost our homes (see Homeownership at lowest level in a decade by Alan Zibel, AP Real Estate Writer, posted on Yahoo! News). 

The nation’s homeownership rate is at the lowest level in more than a decade, hampered by a rise in foreclosures and weak demand for housing.

And while we lose our jobs and our homes, what is the president doing?  Going on vacation to an exclusive 5-star resort.  And it’s going to cost the American taxpayer a pretty penny (see US to spend $200 mn a day on Obama’s Mumbai visit posted by Press Trust of India. 

The US would be spending a whopping $200 million (Rs. 900 crore approx) per day on President Barack Obama’s visit to the city.

Does the royal family feel our pain?

Not only do they govern against our will, but they flaunt it in our faces.  We struggle because of the likes of Barack Obama, Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi.  We lose our jobs and our homes (which is ironic considering we’re in this mess to begin with because of Washington’s policy to provide affordable housing to those who could not afford to buy a house).  And what does the ‘royal’ family do?  Go on vacation that will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars per day.  I guess they can’t feel our pain.  Or that they just don’t care.  So think back to last summer when you spent your family vacation in your backyard because money was tight.  And that team Obama will probably raise your taxes come January 1 to be ‘responsible’ to pay for their irresponsible spending.  Take solace in the fact that at least he could live large on your dime.  Even if you had to spend summer ‘staycation’ in your backyard.

As we proceed from the 2010 midterm elections, do not forget the dynamic between Big Government and Big Union.  It won’t be easy, but they’ll continue to try to help fund those under-funded union pension plans.  And they will point to the Republicans as obstructionists.  That they need to compromise.  Put partisanship behind us.  Especially now.  Since they lost the House of Representatives, the Left can’t be partisan anymore.  Like they have been the last two years.

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