Aging Populations and Replacement Birthrate

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 28th, 2014

Economics 101

(Originally published July 8th, 2013)

Trying to follow a Baby Boom with a Baby Bust creates Problems in Advanced Economies with Large Welfare States

In the late 1960s began a movement for zero population growth.  It called for women to have only enough babies to replace the current population.  Not to have too many babies that would increase the population.  Nor have too few babies that the population declines.  Something that women could easily do because of birth control.  And, later, abortion.  The drive behind this was to save the planet.  By keeping large populations becoming like a plague of locusts that devour the earth’s resources and food until the planet can no longer sustain life.

China did these zero population growth people better.  By promoting a negative population growth rate.  Limiting parents to one child.  They did this because during the days of Mao’s China the country set some world records for famine.  Their communist state simply couldn’t provide for her people.  So to help their communist system avoid future famines they tried to limit the number of mouths they had to feed.  Of course, trying to follow a baby boom with a baby bust creates other problems.  Especially in advanced economies with large welfare states.

China’s one-child policy and the preference for boys have led to a shortage of women to marry.  Some Chinese men are even looking at ‘mail-order’ brides from surrounding countries.  But China is going to have an even greater problem caring for her elderly.  Just like Japan.  Japanese couples are having less than 1.5 babies per couple.  Meaning that each successive generation will be smaller than the preceding generation.  As couples aren’t even having enough children to replace themselves when they die.  Leaving the eldest generation the largest percentage of the overall population.  Being paid and cared for by the smallest percentage of the overall population.  The younger generation.

States with Aging Populations are Suffering Debt Crises because they Spend More than their Tax Revenue can Cover

As nations develop advanced economies people develop careers.  Moving from one well-paid job to another.  As they advance in their career.  Creating a lot of income to tax.  Allowing a large welfare state.  Which is similar to a Ponzi scheme.  Or pyramid scheme.  As long as more people are entering the workforce than leaving it their income taxes can pay for the small group at the top of the pyramid that leaves the workforce and begins consuming pension and health care benefits in their retirement.  And there is but one requirement of a successful pyramid scheme.  The base of the pyramid must expand greater than the tip of the pyramid.  The wider the base is relative to the top the more successive the pyramid scheme.  As we can see here.

Babies per Generation - Constant Replacement Birthrate

Generation 1 is at the top of the pyramid.  It is the oldest generation.  Which we approximate as a period of 20 years.  In our example Generation 1 are people aged 78-98.  They’re retired and collecting pension, health care and other benefits.  Some combination of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, heating assistance, etc.  All paid for by Generation 2 (58-78), Generation 3 (38-58) and Generation 4 (18-38).  Each generation is assumed to bring 6 children into the world.  So these couples are not only replacing themselves but adding an additional 4 children to further increase the size of the population.  Which really makes running a pyramid scheme easy.  For if we assume each member in Generation 1 on average consumes $35,000 annually in benefits that Generations 2 through 4 pay for that comes to $555.56 per person annually.  Or $46.30 per person monthly.  Or $10.68 per person weekly.  Or $1.53 per person daily.  Amounts so small that Generations 2 through 4 can easily pay for Generation 1′s retirement.  Now let’s look at the impact of a declining birthrate with each successive generation.

Babies per Generation - Declining Replacement Birthrate

When all couples in each generation were having on average 6 children this added 1.9 billion new taxpayers.  Which greatly reduced each taxpayer’s share of Generation 1′s retirement costs.  But thanks to birth control, abortion and the growing cost of living each successive generation has fewer babies.  Generation 2 only has 3 children.  Enough to replace themselves.  And add one new taxpayer.  Generation 3 has only 2 children.  Only enough to replace the parents.  Providing that zero population growth that was all the rage during the late 1960s and the 1970s.  While Generation 4 only has 1 child.  Not even enough to replace the parents when they die.  Causing a negative population growth rate.  Which is a big problem in an advanced economy with a large welfare state.  For instead of adding 1.9 billion new taxpayers they only add 217.5 million new taxpayers.  Greatly increasing each taxpayer’s share of Generation 1′s retirement costs.  Instead of paying $555.56 per taxpayer they each have to pay $5,384.62 annually.  Or $448.72 per taxpayer monthly.  Or $103.55 per taxpayer weekly.  Or $14.79 per taxpayer daily.  Numbers that prove to be unsustainable.  The state simply cannot tax people this much for Generation 1′s retirement.  For if they did this and added it to the rest of government’s spending they’re taxing us to fund it would take away all of our income.  This is why advanced economies with aging populations are suffering debt crises.  Because their spending has grown so far beyond their ability to pay for it with tax revenue that they borrow massive amounts of money to finance it.

If you want a Generous Welfare State you need Parents to have More Children

If you carry this out two more generations so every generation only has one child the per taxpayer amount tops out at $14,736.84 annually.  Or $1,228.07 per taxpayer monthly.  Or $283.40 per taxpayer weekly.  Or $40.49 per taxpayer daily.  Amounts far too great for most taxpayers to pay.  This is what an aging population does in a country with a large welfare state.  It makes the population top-heavy in elderly people who no longer work (i.e., pay taxes) but consume the lion’s share of state benefits.  When couples were having 6 children each across the generations there was a ratio of 84 taxpayers per retiree.  When there was a declining replacement birthrate that ratio fell to 15 taxpayers per retiree.  If we look at this graphically we can see the pyramid shape of this generational population.

Generational Population - Constant Replacement Birthrate

With 84 taxpayers per retiree we can see a nice and wide base to the pyramid.  While the tip of the pyramid is only a small sliver of the base (Generation 4).  Making for a successful Ponzi scheme.  Far more people pay into the scheme.  While only a tiny few take money out of the scheme.  This is why Social Security and Medicare didn’t have any solvency problems until after birth control and abortion.  For these gave us a declining replacement birthrate over time.  Greatly shrinking the base of the pyramid.  Which made the tip no longer a small sliver of the base.  But much closer in size to the base.  That if it was an actual pyramid sitting on the ground it wouldn’t take much to push it over.  Unlike the above pyramid.  That we could never push over.  Which is why the above Ponzi scheme would probably never fail.  While the one below will definitely fail.

Generational Population - Declining Replacement Birthrate

If you want a generous welfare state where the state provides pensions, health care, housing and food allowances, etc., you need parents to have more children.  For the more children they have the more future taxpayers there will be.  Or you at least need a constant replacement birthrate.  But if that rate is below the rate of a prior baby boom the welfare state will be unsustainable UNLESS they slash spending.  The United States has a replacement birthrate below the rate of a prior baby boom.  While the Obama administration has exploded the size of welfare state.  Especially with the addition of Obamacare.  Making our Ponzi scheme more like the second chart.  As we currently have approximately 1.75 taxpayers supporting each social security recipient.  Meaning that it won’t take much pushing to topple our pyramid. We’re at the point where a slight breeze may do the trick.  For it will topple.  It’s just a matter of time.

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Colorado’s Marijuana Tax Revenue likely to fall over time like New York’s Cigarette Tax Revenue

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 22nd, 2014

Week in Review

States with huge budget deficits are watching Colorado and their marijuana sales tax.  As they consider following Colorado.  The proponents of marijuana decriminalization point to Colorado and say, “See?  Make it legal and tax it.  And everybody wins.  People can smoke until they get lung cancer.  And the state can rack up tax revenue to pay for, of course, schools.  It’s always schools, you see, because if you oppose tax revenue for schools you hate children.  And taxing sin is good, too.  Because we shouldn’t be doing those nasty things anyway.  So sin taxes work.  Just look at how well those cigarette taxes are working (see As taxes on cigarettes go up, so does smuggling, study finds posted 3/22/2014 on FoxNews Politics).

More than half of the cigarettes for sale in New York are smuggled into the state illegally – the highest percentage in the country, according to a recent report from the Tax Foundation.

According to the non-partisan research group, increased excise taxes on cigarettes to discourage smoking have, in fact, created lucrative incentives for black market trafficking between states…

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, even though authorities have taken steps to reduce cigarette smuggling, nearly $5 billion in revenue in 2010 was lost because of smuggling.

Well, as it turns out, sin taxes don’t work as well as they thought they would.  They increase crime.  Because smuggling cigarettes is less risky than smuggling class one narcotics.  For cigarettes aren’t illegal.  So criminals can turn from something more risky, like smuggling class one narcotics, to something less risky.  Smuggling legal cigarettes.  Tax revenue from Colorado’s marijuana tax will probably decline over time.  As a black market comes to Colorado to sell tax-free marijuana.  Just like a black market sells lower-taxed cigarettes in higher taxed cities.

So you have additional crime on the one hand.  A black market drug-dealer network much like what exists today.  But one that can operate in less fear as the penalty for getting caught is a lot less than what it used to be.  Making it easier for our kids to smoke marijuana.  Either by buying it from a better supplied illegal drug dealer.  Or stealing some from their parent’s stash.  Or someone else’s stash.  For there will be a lot of stashes to steal from.

So the crime element is bad.  But as the black market takes off tax revenue will fall from legal sales.  Just like it has for cigarettes.  Leaving an over-spending state still short of tax revenue.  But now with a marijuana black market that they must police.  And a state full of potheads that will likely NOT help the state produce the best and brightest for the high-tech jobs in their economy.  The higher-paying kind of jobs that pay more income taxes.  Because once you have your weed and some cool tunes what do you need a high-stressed job for?  Which will probably make the experiment in Colorado not go as they thought it would.  Something other states should consider before following Colorado down this road.

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Guns, Butter and Abortion

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 24th, 2014

Economics 101

Democrats will cut Defense but not Entitlements because fewer People in Defense vote Democrat

A cornerstone of the Obama presidency is social justice.  Primarily through redistribution of wealth.  Raising taxes to fund a growing welfare state.  To help those not lucky enough to have won life’s lottery.  Such as expanding the food stamp program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).  Which has grown over 70% under President Obama.

Of course, this costs money.  A lot of it.  Added on top of an already costly welfare state.  Driven by entitlement spending.  Social Security.  And Medicare.  The biggest portions of federal spending.  And it only keeps growing.  Making the welfare state unsustainable without entitlement reform.  But the politicians won’t touch entitlements.  The third rail of politics.  Because they’re afraid of losing votes in the next election.  So they’d rather the country implode instead of reforming entitlements.  And hope that implosion comes after they’re dead and buried.  For as long as they get to enjoy their lives they could give a rat’s behind about future generations.

But they will touch defense spending.  And often do when they are looking for more money for the welfare state.  Even now.  The Obama administration is proposing spending cuts in defense spending.  That will shrink the size of the military.  And cut pay and benefits for some of the lowest paid people in the country.  The people who go in harm’s way for their country.  They won’t touch entitlement spending because it may hurt people that typically vote Democrat.  But they have no problem doing just that to those who wear a uniform to serve their country.  Who don’t always vote Democrat.  Just so they can have a generous welfare state like the European social democracies they so admire have.  Who can have them because they don’t have large defense budgets.  For the United States has been protecting them since World War II.

People can’t pay Taxes to fund a Welfare State without a Job that Provides an Income to Tax

If you watch television you’ve probably heard New York State’s commercials to attract new businesses to New York.  Where the state is promising that businesses will be “100% tax-free for 10 years.  No income tax, business, corporate, state or local taxes, sales and property taxes, or franchise fees.”  Which is a clear admission from the state with the second highest tax burden in the country that high taxes hurt business.

The tax burden is so great in New York that some businesses have moved their operations out of state.  And people with vacation homes in New York who only visit them a couple of weeks out of the year are selling them.  As the state is taxing their incomes as if they are permanent New York residents.  But despite these high taxes New York has suffered great budget deficits.

New York City is a Democrat city.  Their high taxes pay for a large welfare state.  A large public sector.  And the enormous costs of their public sector benefits.  In particular, health care and pension costs.  But their high tax rates have shrunk the tax base.  Because people can pack up and move out of state.  Just as businesses can.  Which is why they are doing a 180-degree turn on taxes.  In a desperate attempt to get businesses to come to New York.  For even if these businesses aren’t paying taxes their employees will.  Income taxes.  Sales taxes.  Property taxes.  Liquor taxes.  Cigarette taxes.  Etc.  None of which they can pay if there are no jobs to give them an income the state can tax.

The Number of Abortions is having a Direct Impact on the Economy and Tax Revenue

New York City released its SUMMARY OF VITAL STATISTICS 2012 THE CITY OF NEW YORK PREGNANCY OUTCOMES this month.  In it you can find why New York City, New York State and the federal government are having such a difficult time paying for their welfare states.  It’s because of liberal Democrat policies.  Not on the spending side of the equation.  But on the revenue side of the equation.

In 2012 there were 73,815 abortions.  Which are future taxpayers that weren’t allowed to be born.  That’s right, before anyone pays the high tax rates of a welfare state they have to be born first.  And when they are not born that’s future tax revenue the government cannot collect.  If we look at a 20 year period (about a generation) and assume 73,815 abortions each of those 20 years that’s 1,476,300 people that never will pay taxes.  If they earned on average $30,000 each that’s $44,289,000,000 of economic activity they never created.  And at a New York State tax rate of 11.7% that’s $5,181,813,000 in lost tax revenue for the state.

But it gets worse.  If you divide this number by two you get the total number of couples (a man and a woman) that could have started a family.  If each couple had 3 children this lost generation could have brought in another 2,214,450 taxpayers into New York City.  Adding them to their parent’s generation and assuming a median family income of $53,046 (an older generation established in their career earning more and a younger generation just starting their career earning less) brings the total lost economic activity for these two generations of possible New Yorkers to $195,779,524,500.  And lost tax revenue for the state of $22,906,204,367.  So the number of abortions is having a direct impact on the economy.  And tax revenue.  Making it necessary to cut guns to pay for more butter.  Whereas if these taxpayers were born we could have both our guns and butter.  And live in a world made safe by the most powerful military in the world.  Peace through strength.  The Ronald Reagan way.  And not a world where our enemies are constantly testing our resolve.  The Jimmy Carter and President Obama way.

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Obamacare will require more Tax Revenue just as it Shrinks the Tax Base

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 9th, 2014

Week in Review

President Obama’s economic policies have given us the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  With some of the greatest economic carnage coming from the Affordable Care Act.  Obamacare.  The great hiring dissuader.  Because of the high cost of compliance for employers.  And now people will even be choosing to leave the labor force.  For it will be less costly for them not to work and collect subsidies for their costly Obamacare (see Obamacare will push 2 million workers out of labor market: CBO by Stephen Dinan posted 2/4/2014 on The Washington Times).

Obamacare will push the equivalent of about 2 million workers out of the labor market by 2017 as employees decide either to work fewer hours or drop out of the job market altogether, according to estimates released Tuesday by the Congressional Budget Office.

The analysis set off a furious debate in Washington. The White House argued that the reduction is positive because it means Americans will forgo jobs or extra work to stay home with their children or strike out on their own as entrepreneurs…

“This is one of the perverse incentives in this terrible law. It actually encourages able-bodied people to not work,” said Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican. “We should be doing all that we can to increase labor force participation. The health care law actually pushes it in the opposite direction.”

Taking the budget as a whole, the CBO said Congress has made substantial headway on cutting spending and raising taxes, which will reduce the deficit to $514 billion this year and $478 billion in 2015.

But it will rise by 2016 and steadily grow to more than $1 trillion in 2022.

If these people choose not to work and become entrepreneurs who will they hire if others like them choose to leave the labor force?

People choosing not to work is a very bad thing for a big-spending government.  Because government taxes workers to pay for all of that spending.  And if people are leaving the workforce leaving fewer workers in the workforce to pay the taxes government needs that can mean only one thing.  Higher taxes on those with jobs.  To help offset the loss in tax revenue as people leave the labor force to spend time with their kids.  Or become entrepreneurs.

Of course anyone becoming an entrepreneur in this economic climate is a glutton for punishment.  For President Obama has created a very anti-business environment.  Higher taxes, more costly regulatory policies and lest we forget, the Affordable Care Act.  To quote Jed Clampett in the Beverly Hillbillies when he asked cousin Pearle if he should move to Beverly Hills after discovering oil on his property.

COUSIN PEARL BODINE

Jed, how can you even ask? Look around you. You live eight miles from your nearest neighbor. You’re overrun with skunks, possums, coyotes, and bobcats. You use kerosene lamps for light. You cook on a wood stove, summer and winter. You’re drinkin’ homemade moonshine, and washin’ with homemade lye soap. And your bathroom is fifty feet from the house. And you ask should you move!?

JED CLAMPETT

Yeah, I reckon you’re right. Man’d be a dang fool to leave all this.

This is how a lot of people feel today about the Obama economy.  “Man’d be a dang fool to” try and be an entrepreneur in this economy.  Especially with the Obamacare Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads.  So those 2 million people plus leaving the economy is not a good thing.  It is a very bad thing.  Which will require some large tax increases.  Or massive cuts in government benefits.  Because federal tax revenue will fall if people leave the tax base.  It’s just that simple.

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Abortion and Tax Revenue

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 27th, 2014

Economics 101

(Originally published January 21st, 2013)

The Population Growth Rate fell during the Sixties and Seventies from 19% to 11% due to Birth Control and Abortion

Taxpayers are born.  Yes, immigration helped populate America.  But it was really the children of immigrants that made the country grow.  For a large population having babies will increase the population far more than immigration can.  Why?  Where do immigrants come from?  Babies.  Having babies is like compounding interest.  For babies grow up and have babies of their own.  So babies are good.  Especially for a government that wants to spend money.  Because the more babies we have the more taxpayers we will have.  So high-spending governments need a growing population growth rate.  To provide ever more taxpayers.  Who provide ever more tax revenue.  But sometimes the population growth rate doesn’t always increase.  Sometimes it even falls.  (See Population, Housing Units, Area Measurements, and Density: 1790 to 1990.  The population numbers are from the decennial census numbers.  The population growth rate is the percentage of population growth from one decade to the next.)

Although the population has always grown the population growth rate has not always grown.  In fact, the rate of growth has been falling over time.  Taking steep declines during war.  During the American Civil War the growth rate fell from 36% down to 23% by the time of the next census.  The census before and after World War I saw a decline from 21% to 15%.  The rate plummeted from 16% to 7% before and after the Great Depression.  With so many people out of work and struggling to survive the last thing families needed was another baby to feed.  The rate actually increased during World War II.  But that had more to do with people not having babies during the Great Depression for economic reasons.  After World War II the rate rose to 14%.  Which was still a point less than after World War I.

The following table shows the decrease in population due to war.  (Raw numbers are pulled from United States military casualties of war.)

Note that the most devastating of American wars was the American Civil War.  Where approximately 2% of the population died.  In terms of percentage loss of population the next costliest war was the Revolutionary War.  Then World War II.  Then World War I.  These wars saw millions of men in uniform (except for the Revolutionary War).  Away from their wives for years.  Which put a crimp in baby making.  And the large number of wounded and dead compounded that problem.  Resulting in large dips in the population growth rate during these wars.  Despite the large loss of life in numbers of America’s other wars those losses were all less than 0.10% of the population.  Making the impact on the population growth rate negligible.  One thing these numbers don’t explain, though, is the decline in the population growth rate after 1960.  During the Sixties and the Seventies the growth rate fell from 19% down to 11%.    But it wasn’t the Vietnam War that caused that decline.  So what did?  Birth control.  And abortion.

Couples having only 2 Children can’t Support an Expanding Welfare State but Couples having 3 Children Can

The U.S. approved the sale of the birth control pill in 1960.  Which corresponded with the era of free love and the sexual revolution.  People were having more sex.  While having fewer babies.  Then Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973.  Since then there have been on average about 1.4 million abortions a year.  Dwarfing the 156,250 killed a year in America’s most devastating war.  The American Civil War.  Which has brought the population growth rate to its smallest numbers that weren’t due to war or depression.  Because of that compounding nature of babies (growing up to have babies of their own).  And because babies become taxpayers this has a big impact on future tax revenue.  We can see this by looking at how 100 abortions ripple through the population.

Let’s assume those 100 abortions happen in Year 1 (Y1).  Had these abortions not happened these babies would have grown up and entered the workforce about 20 years later (Y1+20).  And split off into pairs to have babies of their own.  (If each couple has one baby they have a total of 50 babies.  If each couple has two babies they have a total of 100 babies.  Etc.)  Who would grow up and enter the workforce about 20 years later (Y1+40).  And so on.  The above graph adds up all the people for each 20-year period produced by the Y1 babies (children, grandchildren, great grand children, etc.) divided by 100 (those original babies not aborted).

If the Y1 people only have one baby they and their descendants disappear from the world in about 2 centuries.  If they have 2 children the population never grows larger than 4 times the original Y1 people.  Two children to replace two parents.  It’s not until you get to three children that you see an increase in population.  As well as an increase in tax revenue.

Assume each of the people, or taxpayers, at 20-year intervals earn a median income of $50,000.  They pay an effective federal income tax rate of 18%.  In addition to 12.4% for Social Security taxes (both employer and employee).  And 2.9% for Medicare.  Added together they total 33.3%.  This tax rate on total income at each 20-year interval produces the tax revenue in the above graph.  Note the revenue graphs are the same shape as the population graphs.  Showing a direct correlation between tax revenue and the population growth rate.  The tax revenue provided by couples having only one child disappears within two centuries.  Revenue provided by couples having only two children peaks out at $6,660,000.  As couples only have enough children to replace themselves.  Maintaining a constant of 4 taxpayers (2 parents and 2 children) after 80 years.  Showing that couples having 2, 1 or 0 children cannot support an expanding welfare state.  But a couple having 3 children can.  As long as it’s not too big of a welfare state.

You just can’t have an Expanding Welfare State with a Falling Population Growth Rate

The more children a couple has the greater the tax revenue.  For the more children they have the more people enter the workforce and become taxpayers.  If 50 couples have 3 kids each (as do their descendants) they will add $30.4 million in federal tax revenue in one century.  If they have 4 kids they will add $99.9 million in revenue.  If they have 5 kids they will add $264 million.  And if they have 6 kids they will add $599.4 million.

In two centuries these numbers are even more profound.  Couples having 4 kids will provide $3.2 billion in federal tax revenue.  While couples having 5 kids will provide $25.8 billion.  And couples having 6 kids will provide $145.6 billion.  If, that is, 100 pregnancies weren’t aborted 2 centuries earlier.

In the long-term revenue would soar if people simply started having babies again.  For birth control and abortion have greatly reduced the number of babies we’re having.  Causing tax revenue to fall.  We can bring revenue back up by having more babies.  But after some 30 years this baby dearth has pushed us into the flat part of these graphs.  Requiring up to a century or more to make large population gains.  And large gains in tax revenue.   And without these gains in revenue we simply cannot afford an expanding welfare state.

It is rather ironic that two tenets of liberalism clash here.  Liberals believe in both a welfare state.  And free birth control and abortion on demand.  They believe in one thing that requires women to have a lot of babies.  And another that helps women to have as few babies as possible.  Which is another reason liberalism will ultimately fail.  Paradoxes like this.  For you just can’t have an expanding welfare state with a falling population growth rate.  If you try you get trillion dollar deficits.  And $16.4 trillion in accumulated debt.

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Progressive and Regressive Taxes and Marginal Tax rates

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 6th, 2014

Economics 101

(Originally published July 9th, 2012)

The Beatles fled Britain to Escape a Confiscatory Top Marginal Tax Rate of 95%

George Harrison wrote Taxman.  The song appeared on the 1966 Beatles album Revolver.  It was an angry protest song.  For George Harrison was furious when he learned what exactly the progressive tax system was in Britain.  In the song the British taxman is laying down the tax law.

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman

That’s one for you, Mr. Harrison.  And nineteen for us.  The government.  Meaning that for every £20 the Beatles earned they got to keep only £1.  This is a 95% top marginal tax rate.  A supertax on the super rich imposed by Harold Wilson’s Labour government.  So if the Beatles earned £1 million because of their incredible talent and hard work touring in concert, working on new albums in the studio and making movies, of that £1 million they got to keep only about £50,000.  While the government got £950,000.  If they earned £10 million they got to keep about £500,000.  While the government got £9,500,000.  As you can see 5% is a very small percentage.  Which is why George Harrison got so angry.  The harder they worked the less of their earnings they were able to keep.

Is this fair?  George didn’t think so.  Nor did his fellow Beatles.  For they fled Britain.  Moved to another country.  Becoming tax exiles.  For they were little more than court minstrels.  Who the government forced to entertain them.  Earning a lot of money so they could take it away.  To help pay for an explosion in social spending Harold Wilson unleashed on Britain.  Socializing the UK like never before.  And all those social benefits required a lot of taxes.  Hence the progressive tax system.  And marginal tax rates.  Where the super rich, like the Beatles, paid confiscatory tax rates of 95%.

The Top Marginal Tax Rate was around 70% under President Carter and around 28% under President Reagan

As social spending took off in the Sixties and Seventies governments thought they could just increase tax rates to generate greater amounts of tax revenue.  For governments looked at the economy as being static.  That whatever they did would result in their desired outcome without influencing the behavior of those paying these higher tax rates.  But the economy is not static.  It’s dynamic.  And changes in the tax rates do influence taxpayer behavior.  Just ask the Beatles.  And every other tax exile escaping the confiscatory tax rates of their government.  Because of this dynamic behavior of the taxpayers excessively high tax rates rarely brings in the tax revenue governments expect them to.

Even when it comes to sin taxes government still believes that the economy is static.  Even though they publicly state that taxes on alcohol and tobacco are to dissuade people from consuming alcohol and tobacco.  (The U.S. funded children’s health care with cigarette taxes clearly showing the government did not believe these taxes would stop people from smoking).  Perhaps some in government look at sin taxes as a way to discourage harmful habits.  But the taxman sees something altogether different when they look at sin taxes.  Addiction.  Knowing that few people will give up these items no matter how much they tax them.  And that means tax revenue.  But unlike the progressive income tax this tax is a regressive tax.  Those who can least afford to pay higher taxes pay a higher percentage of their income to pay these taxes.  For sin taxes increase prices.  And higher prices make smaller paychecks buy less.  Leaving less money for groceries and other essentials.

Most income taxes, on the other hand, are progressive.  Your income is broken up into brackets.  The lowest bracket has the lowest income tax rate.  Often times the lowest income bracket pays no income taxes.  The next bracket up has a small income tax rate.  The next bracket up has a larger income tax rate.  And so on.  Until you get to the high income threshold.  Where all income at and above this rate has the highest income tax rate.  This top marginal tax rate was around 70% under President Carter.  Around 28% under President Reagan.  And 95% under Harold Wilson’s Labour government in Britain.  An exceptionally high rate that led to great efforts to avoid paying income taxes.  Or simply encouraged people to renounce their citizenship and move to a more tax-friendly country.

When the Critical Mass of People turn from Taxpayers to Benefit Recipients it will Herald the End of the Republic

Progressive taxes are supposed to be fair.  By transferring the tax burden onto those who can most afford to pay these taxes.  But the more progressive the tax rates are the less tax revenue they generate.  What typically happens is you have a growing amount of low-income earners paying no income taxes but consuming the lion’s share of government benefits.  The super rich shelter their higher incomes and pay far less in taxes than those high marginal tax rates call for.  They still pay a lot, paying the majority of income taxes.  But it’s still not enough.  So the middle class gets soaked, too.  They pay less than the rich but the tax bite out of their paychecks hurts a lot more than it does for the rich.  Because the middle class has to make sacrifices in their lives whenever their tax rates go up.

As social spending increases governments will use class warfare to increase taxes on the rich.  And they will redefine the rich to include parts of the middle class.  To make ‘the rich’ pay their ‘fair’ share.  And they will increase their tax rates.  But it won’t generate much tax revenue.  For no matter how much they tax the rich governments with high levels of spending on social programs all run deficits.  Because there just aren’t enough rich people to tax.  Which is why the government taxes everything under the sun to help pay for their excessive spending.

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Don’t ask me what I want it for
If you don’t want to pay some more
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
And you’re working for no one but me.

This is where excessive government spending leads to.  Excessive taxation.  And confiscatory tax rates.  Taking as much from the wealth creators as possible to fund the welfare state.  And as progressive tax systems fail to generate the desired tax revenue they will turn to every other tax they can.  Until there is no more wealth to tax.  Or to confiscate.  When the wealth creators finally say enough is enough.  And refuse to create any more wealth for the government to tax or to confiscate.  Leaving the government unable to meet their spending obligations.  As the critical mass of people turn from taxpayers to benefit recipients.  Heralding the end of the republic.

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Governments turn People into Addicts to generate Tax Revenue

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 4th, 2014

Week in Review

During the days of the British Empire Great Britain had a problem.  They loved Chinese tea.  But the British had nothing the Chinese wanted in trade.  Except for one thing.  Silver.  Hard money.  Which was a problem for Britain.  They were running out of hard money.  So they came up with an ingenious way to solve that problem.  By getting as many Chinese hooked on opium as possible.  So they could trade Indian grown opium for Chinese tea.  It worked out great for the British.  But the Chinese didn’t like it.  And fought two opium wars with the British.  Which did not end well for them.

North Korea has a hard money problem, too.  And they, too, turned to drugs.  Crystal meth.  Which North Korea manufactured in state-run labs.  Destined for China.  Where they tried to get as many people addicted to crystal meth as possible.  So they can sell it in exchange for Chinese currency.  Which they could use to buy Chinese food.  To help ward off famine in North Korea.  This worked pretty well for North Korea.  But only gave China another addiction problem.

In the United States the government found other ways to raise revenue.  The first two big sources of addiction-revenue were cigarette and alcohol taxes.  But it soon proved not enough.  They then got people addicted to playing the lottery.  When that revenue proved to be insufficient they then got people addicted to casino gambling.  But government spending had grown so great that this revenue was still not enough.  So the government is looking at other things to get people addicted to (see Why Legalizing Marijuana Is a Smart Fiscal Move by Bruce Bartlett, The Fiscal Times, posted 1/3/2014 on Yahoo! News).

Perhaps the dominant factor driving marijuana legalization is the desperate search for new revenue by cash-strapped state governments. The opportunity to tax marijuana is potentially a significant source of new revenue, as well as a way of cutting spending on prisons and law enforcement. The California Secretary of State’s office, for example, estimates savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars from both factors. The following summary is from a proposed state ballot initiative in California (No. 1617)…

It is not surprising that revenue considerations should be critical in the marijuana legalization movement. That was previously the reason why cigarettes were not banned until the 1920s despite a strong nationwide movement to do so. In the wake of Prohibition, governments simply needed cigarette tax revenue too badly. And when Prohibition ended, the need for new revenue after the Great Depression decimated government budgets was a driving force.

Indeed, according to author Daniel Okrent, expectations of the revenue from taxing legal liquor were so great in 1932 that some people thought it might permit the repeal of income taxes. It’s worth remembering that in 1900, taxes on alcohol and cigarettes constituted half of all federal revenues. Indeed, the only reason Prohibition was possible in the first place was that the income tax established in 1913, which was greatly expanded by World War I, would replace the revenue lost from the liquor tax after Prohibition.

There have been no great cuts to revenue like that following Prohibition.  Government spending has just grown so great that it far exceeds the nation’s ability to pay for it with current taxes and borrowing.  So they are looking to make people addicted to marijuana to help pay for their large public sectors.  As well as their vote-buying welfare state.  And when this proves insufficient they can turn to other sources of revenue.  Such as decriminalizing and taxing heroin.  Cocaine.  Crack.  Crystal meth.  Opium.  Even prostitution.  People are already doing these things.  So they can’t be any worse than marijuana.  As long as only responsible adults indulge in these activities.  Just as only responsible adults will smoke marijuana in Colorado.  For think of the tax revenue heroin, cocaine, crack, crystal meth and opium could generate.  For those drugs are really addictive.  And just think how much old rich men would enjoy 18 year old prostitutes.  Prostitution would be a booming business to tax.  These young women could generate great tax revenue for the government by just doing what consenting adults want to do.

We could do these things to find new sources of revenue.  Or we could NOT make people addicts.  Or NOT sell women into prostitution.  Instead we could cut the size of the public sector and the welfare state.  So we can cut spending.  Which would eliminate the need to produce new tax revenue in the first place.  Allowing people to keep their hard-earned money instead of handing it over to the government.  To pay for generous pensions and retiree health care for others.

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Even the French feel they are Taxed too Much

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 28th, 2013

Week in Review

President Obama is sick and tired of the Republicans, conservatives and the people who don’t give him everything he wants.   The fiscal year ends Monday so he has to fight with the Republican controlled House of Representatives to get them to pay for his increased spending.  And because he’s spending so much we have to raise the debt limit again so we can borrow the money to pay for his out of control spending.  How he wished the United States was more like France.  They don’t have these problems.  Why, the French will even elect a socialist president.  While President Obama has to veil his contempt for capitalism France can just tax and tax and then tax again.  And no one bitches about high taxes.  Well, that may be changing (see Why do the French tolerate such high taxes? by S.P. posted 9/24/2013 on The Economist).

The government is planning an extra €3 billion ($4 billion) of taxes next year, which will push up the overall tax take in the economy to 46.5% and make 2014 the fifth consecutive year that the tax burden in France has grown. François Hollande, the Socialist president, was elected last year on a promise to tax the rich, with a scheme for a top income-tax rate of 75%. But the tax bill is now wearing holes in the pockets of not just the rich but the rest, too. Why do the French put up with paying so much tax..?

Historically, the French have tolerated high taxes as the price of decent public services and a proper universal safety-net. All those fast trains, first-rate hospitals and public crèches do not come for nothing, and the French are the first to defend a way of life subsidised by the public purse that can often only be bought privately in Britain or America. Moreover, the French make a firm distinction between taxes and social-insurance contributions. Only half of households have to pay income tax, but everybody pays social charges… Indeed, the longstanding tolerance for taxes has underpinned the solidity of French sovereign debt, since it is a fair bet that France’s government can efficiently collect the taxes it needs…

This social contract, however, could be on the verge of breaking down. Over the past year, as taxes on beer and cigarettes have risen, tax-free overtime abolished, tax deductions squeezed and tax-band thresholds frozen, even the French have started to grumble. Polls suggest that tax increases have become the top worry among voters, and chief reason for Mr Hollande’s calamitous popularity ratings. The sharp rise in taxes, which began under Nicolas Sarkozy, the previous president, as part of an effort to reduce the government’s budget deficit, is all the more resented at a time when the French are no longer convinced that their public services—underperforming state schools, overcrowded commuter trains—are so much better than those that cost less in other countries. What is the point of paying Swedish-style taxes (or more) if you do not receive Scandinavian-style public services in return?

The new mood has not passed the politicians by. Mr Moscovici acknowledged recently that the French are “fed up” with taxes. Mr Hollande even conceded in a television interview that tax increases have been “too much”. Most of the effort to reduce the budget deficit in 2014 will now fall not on tax increases but public-spending cuts. Mr Hollande has promised a “tax pause”, which will be part of the message in the 2014 budget.

Yes, even the French are tiring of constantly rising taxes.  Especially when they keep paying more for less.  Which is what happens with socialism.  High taxes are a disincentive.  When you have “decent public services and a proper universal safety-net” it takes away a person’s ambition to do more and achieve more.  They may want to.  But if half of their income from this extra effort goes to taxes why put in any extra effort?  After all, there are already “decent public services and a proper universal safety-net” available.  Why work twice as hard to have virtually the same things?

This is the price of the welfare state.  It makes people less willing to take risks.  To start a business.  To create something new that everyone will want to have.  Socialism kills the entrepreneurial spirit.  And stalls the engine of job creation.  With all those small businesses going uncreated huge amounts of wealth goes uncreated.  Wealth that they can never tax.  Tax revenue doesn’t grow to keep up with the growth in spending.  So they increase tax rates.  And find other ways to make people pay more taxes.  While the quality of services fall.  Just like they are in France.  Just as they are in the United States.

And they will only get worse in the United States with the addition of Obamacare.  Which will explode the deficit while throwing the country back into recession.  With a corresponding fall in tax revenue the government will look for other ways to make people pay more taxes.  It’s happening in France.  As it has happened in every other socialist country.  And will happen in the United States.  Because of President Obama’s veiled contempt of capitalism.  The kind of contempt for capitalism shown by socialist President François Hollande.

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FT187: “It’s odd how we can never afford a tax cut but we can always afford new spending.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 13th, 2013

Fundamental Truth

The Democrats’ idea of Bipartisanship is Republican Capitulation

It’s that time of the year again.  Summer is winding down.  The weather is starting to cool.  The harvest is coming in.  The stores are already stocking their shelves with Halloween decorations.  Yes, it’s the end of the government’s fiscal year.  The time the government will run out of money unless Congress passes a new budget.  Or what passes for budgets these days.  Continuing resolutions.

This that magical time of year when Republicans and Democrats come together to negotiate the government’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  The give and take process where they sit down and work with each other.  Civilly.  Saying things like, “Yes, that is too costly.  We need to spend less there.”  And, “You’re right, that is important to the people and we should spend more there.”  And the occasional, “I agree.  That program is no longer needed and we can remove it from the budget entirely.”

I am, of course, lying.  These are things that are rarely, if ever, said to each other.  For when it comes to these budget battles it is always the same.  The Republicans try to be responsible and cut spending.  The Democrats then call them greedy corporate toady Nazis.  The Republicans will then suffer a general emasculation and give the Democrats their spending hikes.  And perhaps a tax hike or two.  While asking them to please like them and invite them to the cool parties.  And the Democrats will then commend the Republicans’ bipartisanship.  What others would call capitulation.  Happy that things are once again right in the world.  With the Republicans once again the Democrats’ bitch.

Entitlement Spending creates a Permanent Underclass that keeps the Privileged Class in Power

John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, known more simply as Lord Acton, said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Great men are almost always bad men.”  And boy was he on to something there.  For something happens when some good conservatives go to Washington.  They enter a world like no other.  Nothing they could ever have dreamed of.  A world that once belonged only to the nobility and the aristocracy.  Those things Americans fought for their independence from.  And here they are.  After winning an election to rein in the kind of government spending that makes this living possible.  And they say, “What, end all of this?  Are you mad?”

So many cross over to the dark side.  Sell their souls.  Forsake their constituents.   Do great dishonor to our Founding Fathers.  All because they like the money and the power.  Especially the power.  Some resist.  Those from the Tea Party seem more immune than most when it comes to the corrupting influences of Washington.  But these people who stand on principle?  Those who serve their constituents honorably?  The left will fling every invective upon them.  A figuratively flinging of excrement.  To try to beat them down and break them.  To get them, too, to forsake their constituents.  And to join them as they drop trou and defecate on the Constitution.  Figuratively, too, of course.  At least I hope so.

So this is what makes the budget process so adversarial.  You have those who are trying to do the right thing for the people.  And those on the other side who want to corrupt these people.  To get them to quit fighting against them and to join them.  So they can maintain their privileged class.  This is what all that entitlement spending is all about.  It’s nothing but alms.  To keep the people content enough so they don’t rise up.  But not too content that they don’t fear that those greedy corporate toady Nazis may take away their meager alms.  And once they get someone to think like that they have a voter for life.

There comes a Point when Raises in Tax Rates actually Reduce Tax Revenue

The key, then, is keeping people poor.  For the whole privileged class thing those in Washington have doesn’t work unless they have poor people who need them.  Which is why they spend so much time reminding the poor how much they need them.  The Democrats in Congress.  Who are always there fighting for them.  Keeping their alms flowing.  But also keeping them poor.  Which a welfare state does well.  Because if you have enough to subsist lethargy will do the rest and destroy the spirit.  Getting the poor to accept their place as a permanent underclass.  That needs a permanent privileged class taking care of them.

There is only one problem.  This destroys lives.  People in this permanent underclass may have gone on and done great things.  They may have been doctors.  They may have been engineers.  They may have been entrepreneurs.  But they will never be those things because the left sacrificed them to maintain their privileged class.  Forever consigning them to the underclass.  So the privileged class has someone to take care of.  No matter how costly it gets to maintain this entitlement culture.  No matter how great the deficits get.  Or how great the national debt grows.

So there is another problem. As you convert taxpayers into tax-consumers you have to keep raising taxes on those remaining in the tax base.  But as you raise tax rates you put the brakes on economic expansion.  And with reduced economic activity there is reduced tax revenue.  There comes a point when raises in tax rates actually reduce tax revenue.  And we’ve passed that point.  Which is why we have record deficits.  A record national debt.  And the worst economic recovery since that following the Great Depression.  Because we are spending, taxing and regulating too much.  Which is why uncorrupted conservatives want to cut taxes, defund Obamacare, roll back other costly regulations and reduce spending.  Things the left bitterly opposes.  For doing so means we don’t need them as much as they need us to need them.

So as the budget battle commences you will hear the usual refrain from the left.  We can’t afford tax cuts.  As they equate tax cuts with government spending.  But we can always afford new government spending.  So the left will call for bipartisanship.  That is, capitulation.  And eventually make the Republicans their bitch.  Again.  And increase the national debt.  Again.  Putting the nation on the path to bankruptcy.  What the left considers a small price to pay to maintain their privileged class.  As long as that bankruptcy comes after they’re dead and buried.  After they enjoyed their time in the privileged class.  Which is why the left is also less likely to believe in God and life after death.  For it is easier to be bad when there is nothing to fear after a bad life.

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To avoid Detroit’s Fate Chicago looks at Revenue Generation from Speed Cameras

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 11th, 2013

Week in Review

The City of Detroit bankruptcy shows how the massive costs of a city’s public sector are strangling these cities.  Promises of generous pensions for a long retirement and free health insurance up until you die are just promises these cities can’t pay for.  So some (like Detroit) raised their tax rates so high that people left the city in droves.  Further reducing the tax base.  While other cities turn to other revenue generating schemes (see Speeders were plentiful in camera test run by David Kidwell and Bill Ruthhart posted 8/12/2013 on the Chicago Tribune).

As Mayor Rahm Emanuel rolls out his long-delayed speed camera plan, new numbers his office released suggest that drivers who speed in Chicago could rack up way more in fines than a cash-starved City Hall initially projected.

The mayor had hoped to bring in $30 million this year. But results from a monthlong test of the automated camera system indicate the city could reap well into the hundreds of millions of dollars in the program’s first year.

City transportation officials argue that estimate is overblown, but the test period statistics the mayor’s office released Friday reinvigorated critics who argue that the program is more of a cash grab than the child safety measure Emanuel sold it as…

City transportation officials put estimated first-year revenues at $40 million to $60 million, arguing that several factors will cut down on the number of tickets actually issued.

For starters, they argue that it’s incorrect to estimate revenues based on the test program. They suggest the money will never reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars because of a number of factors. The most important: the fast learning curve of Chicago drivers…

Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th, who voted against the speed camera program, said the number of speeders captured on the test cameras supports her insistence that the main motivation is to generate more city revenue.

“I guess this is just going to be a city for wealthy people, that’s where we’re headed,” she said…

The speed camera rollout was scheduled for closer to the start of the year, but it was delayed after City Hall came under scrutiny following Tribune reports of an alleged bribery scandal involving its 10-year-old red light camera program.

Making the streets safer for children is a noble goal.  But like their red light camera program it’s all about the Benjamins.  The money.  And they love cameras because they can rake in the money without having to put more costly public sector workers (i.e., cops) onto the streets.  That is, they’re outsourcing these costly union jobs to machines.  To minimize their labor costs.  Just like corporations try to minimize their labor costs.  Because union workers are very, very expensive.

But like every government revenue policy they’ve overstated the expected revenue from these cameras.  Just like a higher cigarette tax rate reduces cigarette tax revenue.  Taxes, and these revenue cameras, change human behavior.  Actually achieving the stated purpose for them (better health if people don’t smoke and safer streets if speeders are punished).  Which means though they have a burst of revenue in the beginning it will eventually taper away.  Requiring a new revenue generating scheme.  And then another one to replace that one.  And so on.  On and on.  Forever and forever.  Instead of doing the simpler thing.  And the thing that would work best.  Forever and forever.  Just stop spending so much.

If the public sector union enjoyed pensions and health care benefits like they do in the private sector there would be no Detroits going bankrupt.  Because there would be no generational theft.  These workers would provide their own pensions—401(k)s—and pay a much larger portion of their health care expense.  And they would work into their Sixties (or more) like the rest of America.  Instead of retiring in their 40s or 50s.  To enjoy a retirement that in some cases lasts longer than their working career.  This would solve the budget problems of the big cities.  Instead of passing it on to future taxpayers who were not included in those generous contract negotiations that they find themselves stuck paying for.

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