Here’s an interesting thought experiment regarding voter-ID laws: Obtaining a single government document (the ID) is supposed to be prohibitive enough that minorities and the elderly would be disenfranchised. This seems to be the sole reason for Democratic opposition to voter-ID laws, and if it’s true, helps explain why some Republicans are so in favor of them.
However, assuming that acquiring an ID makes it impossible for someone to cast a vote, how much more difficult is it for someone to start a business and comply with all of the various licensing, permitting, registration, taxation, and regulatory hurdles? Surely if one form is a bridge too far, wouldn’t reams and reams of paperwork be that much harder for people to overcome?
For the record I have no opinion one way or the other regarding voter-ID. I don’t vote and would prefer others abstained as well.
Last week Kyle James, son of Kansas City’s mayor, Sly James, was the topic of local talk radio hosts after his latest run-in with the police. His car was towed from in front of the family home and impounded after he failed to pay for taxes and registration. After some phone calls and a seven hundred dollar payment to the tax collector, the vehicle was returned, although a two hundred dollar fee was waived.
Despite claims from the mayor’s spokesman to the contrary, many suspect there was preferential treatment shown to the younger James. It seems others have not had such luck getting around impounding fees and feel like the mayor’s son shouldn’t enjoy such a privilege.
But in defense of the guy, no one should have to pay the cops two hundred bucks for the inconvenience of retrieving his vehicle after they stole it. Property taxes are evil enough, but paying thieves to get your stuff back is just piling on.
In all the commentary regarding this story no one suggested that we all ought to be free from such gangsterism. Instead, there was a lot of whining about how James should have to pay up. Of course it’s unethical for the political class and their family to take advantage of their station, but why should we expect any different? So yes, special privileges should be done away with, but not in the way so many are calling for. This case demonstrates why it’s critical to strike the root, rather than try and reform this rotten system.
Today is Tax Freedom Day. In a sense, everything else that is produced from here until the end of the year, is ours.
Reuters recently reported that staffers at the White House claimed the spending cuts* set to be effective in March would harm Americans. Among the affected programs are “law enforcement, small business assistance, food safety and tax collection.” Yeah, tax collection.
No doubt the IRS offices in question will be those processing tax refunds, since that’s the only conceivable way in which cuts to tax collection could possibly hurt any of the citizens. The other items on this list aren’t any more crucial either.
Take so-called law enforcement. Presumably there would be fewer arrests or prosecutions for drug offenses, and immigrants could be deported at lower rates. These two issues represent nearly half of all federal law enforcement activities, if judged on the basis of incarceration, so cuts should be welcome.
As for small business assistance, the single greatest thing the federal government could do would be to get out of the way. A vast amount of wealth is never realized for small businesses thanks to the enormous taxing and regulating activities carried out by federal bureaucrats. Again, rolling these back would only help the situation.
That the USDA and FDA, two of the agencies responsible for regulating the food supply, would be given reduced budgets ought to be cause for celebration. Maybe then peaceful farmers can go about their business selling to willing buyers without the threat of their SWAT teams getting in the way.
This was a preview of the president’s address on Tuesday, in which he warned that other crucial services would be subject to cuts, should congress not act within the month. Again, there’s no reason to fear these non-cuts, except to the extent we won’t get our money back. The $85 billion reduction in growth represents roughly $586 per tax payer, or somewhere close to $275 for every man, woman, and child.
*Not actual cuts.
Recently the Food Network aired an episode of Chopped, a competitive cooking show, in which the contestants were professionals who worked for non-profit food banks and charities. The host and the judges each made a point to thank the chefs for serving their fellow man and commended them essentially, for ”giving back to their communities.” The assumption being that for-profit organizations don’t serve others or are somehow less praiseworthy.
The truth is that both kinds of organizations provide valuable services. For-profit firms, along with offering value to willing customers, take their profit and reinvest it, thereby increasing the capital stock and with it, future productivity. Living standards can rise only when production increases, and profit makes this possible.
It seems that Rush Limbaugh has been criticizing non-profits, and those who go to work for them. This is in part because of the misconception that those organizations are more “socially responsible” or some other such cliché. But Limbaugh’s ire is also largely due to the tax exemption that they receive, as if the problem is that there are just too few companies being forced to hand over money to the government.
During one of his recent shows, Limbaugh said this about non-profits:
[T]he people that run nonprofits earn lots of money. They have nice new buildings. They have cars. They have expense allowances. […] You know what, nonprofits don’t pay taxes. The Harvard Endowment is a nonprofit. They claim to be. The Harvard Endowment makes about $10 billion in profit every year. They don’t pay a penny in taxes.
The irony of a guy spewing pro-tax rhetoric against “the rich,” who stereotypically rails against liberals wanting to impose punitive taxes on the wealthy, is rich indeed.