Top Navigation  
 
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
 
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
 
 
Backwoods Home Magazine, self-reliance, homesteading, off-grid

Features
 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues
 Print Display Ads
 Print Classifieds
 Newsletter
 Letters
 Humor
 Free Stuff
 Recipes
 Home Energy

General Store
 Ordering Info
 Subscriptions
 Kindle Subscriptions
 ePublications
 Anthologies
 Books
 Back Issues
 Help Yourself
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

Advertise
 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

BHM Blogs
 Behind The Scenes
 Ask Jackie Clay
 Massad Ayoob
 Claire Wolfe
 Where We Live
 Dave on Twitter
Retired Blogs
 Oliver Del Signore
 David Lee
 Energy Questions
 Bramblestitches

Quick Links
 Home Energy Info
 Jackie Clay
 Ask Jackie Online
 Dave Duffy
 Massad Ayoob
 John Silveira
 Claire Wolfe

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Enter Forum
 Lost Password

More Features
 Meet The Staff
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address
 Write For BHM
 Disclaimer and
 Privacy Policy


Retired Features
 Country Moments
 Links
 Feedback
 Radio Show


Link to BHM

etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore



Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

 

Bleed me fast or bleed me slow

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Last week, someone sent me the following graphic:

I expect it was intended to convince me Republicans are better than Democrats because they are, on average, more fiscally responsible. But that is not how I see it.

What I see is that Republicans are a little less fiscally irresponsible, but so what? They are still fiscally irresponsible.

If the graphic concerned murders rather than money, would anyone think Republicans were somehow better because they only killed 159 people while the Democrats killed 372?

The fact is, for far too long, both parties have been spending taxpayer money like drunken sailors on leave in a whorehouse. (And isn’t ‘whorehouse’ the perfect metaphor for Congress?)

Keep in mind that the numbers in the graphic reflect only state debt. The $15 trillion federal debt is a horse of a different color. Heck, it’s a whole ‘nother animal entirely.

Neither party has anything to be proud of and would have much to be ashamed of, if any of them had any shame. But they don’t. Except, perhaps, for Ron Paul.

I suppose, as voters, we can use the numbers above to decide in November, when it comes time to vote, how deeply in debt we prefer our state be, but really, it’s just a matter of bleed me fast or bleed me slow.

Either way, we inevitably end up dead.

Or am I missing something?

 

Are you part of the 16.8%?

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Times were good when I was in my late-teens and twenties back in the ’60’s and ’70s. Yes, we were all a little crazy back then, but we sure had fun and anyone who wanted a job could find one. Even when unemployment peaked in the mid 70s at 9%, it seemed like there were jobs to be found if you really wanted one. Or perhaps we were just lucky here in Eastern Massachusetts.

Times are not so good for young people today. New unemployment figures released by youth-focused Generation Opportunity peg the unemployment rate in the 18-29 year old group at 12.8%. And that’s just for those who are still looking for work. Add in the 1.7 million young folks who’ve given up looking for a job and you get a real unemployment rate of 16.8%!

Generation Opportunity President Paul T. Conway, a former Chief of Staff for the US Department of Labor and US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), had this to say:

“For young Americans, through no fault of their own, their story is one of few opportunities, delayed dreams, and stalled careers. Today’s unemployment numbers tell the story of millions of young Americans who are paying the price for the failed policies coming out of Washington that have inhibited economic opportunity and job creation.”

He’s correct, of course. Government spending and regulations have always been job killers. Franklin Delano Roosevelt couldn’t seem to grasp that simple concept in the 1930s just as Barack Hussein Obama can’t understand it today. True, there was then and is now much blame to be spread throughout the halls of Congress as well as in the White House, but it is to the White House people have come to look for leadership and only terminal myopia can allow anyone to suggest the current President has done anything but a horrendous job of anything but playing golf since taking office.

I’m no fan of Mitt Romney nor of most of the Republicans who vied for the nomination. If I had my druthers, I’d install Ron Paul in the Oval Office. But that’s not going to happen so the next best thing is to not reward incompetence by voting against another four years of socialist, pie-in-the-sky Obamanomics.

What we really need in Washington is to sweep out the entrenched politicians and bureaucrats at every level. Unfortunately, that can’t happen in one election. But what can happen is to send a clear message by giving the boot to all those up for re-election who had a hand, or even a finger in the economic disaster of the past three years, starting with the Apologizer-in-Chief.

If you’re part of the 16.8%, you really have to be a little crazy to vote for four more years of failure. And if you’re working, think about the 16.8% and how you could contribute to pushing the number even higher if the nation is subjected to four more years of job-killing, trillion-dollar deficits and failed economic policies.

Are you part of the 16.8%?

Either way, how will you be voting in November, and why?

 

So…what will Congress next decide to tax you for not buying?

Friday, June 29th, 2012

By now you’ve heard or read that the Supreme Court essentially upheld Obamacare. They did it by first telling Congress they can’t force you to buy health insurance or anything else. But they can tax you for not buying health insurance.

See the difference?

No. I don’t either.

By converting the mandate to buy insurance into a tax for not buying it, the Court told Congress they can tax you for not doing something Congress wants you to do.

Apparently, five of Justices thought this was a perfectly reasonable interpretation of what the Founders intended when they penned the Constitution.

What’s the next thing we’ll be taxed for not buying?

Let’s look at some hypothetical future taxes Congress could well decide to impose:

$$$ Any adult citizen who does not own a late-model, General Motors automobile or truck will have to pay an annual tax of $500. Late model is defined as less than six years old.

$$$ Anyone who does not buy a pair of Nike sneakers each year will be taxed $130.

$$$ All adults who don’t own a smartphone will incur an annual tax of $690

$$$ All taxpayers who do not purchase at least one round-trip airline ticket annually must pay a “non-support of the airline industry” tax of $999.

$$$ All families that cannot provide per-person proof of purchase of 1460 servings of fruit and 1460 servings of vegetables will incur a healthcare offset tax of $1500 per family member.

I could go on and on and on, but you see the point.

The Supreme Court essentially declared freedom of choice dead in America. Or maybe not dead, but taxable.

Can’t you just see all the heads in Washington spinning with visions of all the taxes they can impose, now that you can be taxed for not buying something…or anything?

The conversion of America to socialism, which FDR began in the 1930s, is nearly complete, now.

Comments? Or not.

Does it really matter anymore what any of us “little people’ think?

 

Why are Sunkist, Welch’s, California’s Wine Institute, and many other businesses using your tax dollars to advertise overseas?

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

By the time you finished reading the headline, you probably already guessed the answer. They’re spending the money because the dopes you elected to Congress, and the myriad bureaucracies they’re created, think it’s just fine that you have to work a little harder, pay a little more, do without a little more often, so private companies, corporations, and associates won’t have to spend their own profits to promote their businesses.

Along with those mentioned in the title, oodles of companies like Blue Diamond Growers, Tyson Foods, Purina, Del Monte, and the Cotton Council International receive millions of taxpayer dollars every year to spend overseas promoting their businesses. That last one, the Cotton Council, received $20 million to create a game show that’s supposed to promote cotton use, in India, a country that produces so much cotton, they are a net exporter of the stuff.

Below is a link to the report published this month by Senator Tom Coburn titled Treasure Map: The Market Access Program’s Bounty of Waste, Loot and Spoils Plundered from Taxpayer.

In the report, Coburn writes:

Dear Taxpayer,

At the request of Congress, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has spent more than two billion dollars on the Market Access Program (MAP), a government program that uses your tax dollars to subsidize the advertising costs of profitable agriculture companies and trade associations doing business overseas.

Many Americans might respond with disbelief that we are paying for private companies to market their products in the first place. That we are doing so overseas is even more troubling.

With a host of other agricultural priorities, it is time to reduce funding for this program. At a time when we are cutting funding for our troops, taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize the filming of Reality-TV shows in India, wine tastings for foreign journalists, pet food advertising, and even to advertise pet shampoo anymore. We need to make tough choices.

As the federal government has amassed more than $15.6 trillion in debt, or nearly $50,000 per American, and as Congress borrows more than 40 cents of every dollar it spends, it is now time to scrutinize every federal program, no matter its size, shape or beneficiary. Congress has a duty to root out duplicative and inefficient programs. It must also learn to set priorities as budgets inevitably constrict and determine whether programs are consistent with a proper constitutional role for the federal government.

The time has come to debate whether the federal government should be in the business of promoting private market goods to foreign buyers.

While I agree with Coburn that Congress should be eliminating duplicate programs, I’d go one further and eliminate ALL programs that use taxpayer dollars to benefit businesses and individuals. And I strongly disagree that it’s time to debate anything. It’s time to act.

America can no long afford to waste tax dollars, 40% of which are being borrowed.  It is time to eliminate programs and the bureaucracies that administer them and not just those which relate to agriculture or food. The Federal government has grown into a bloated behemoth and the time has come for emergency bariatric surgery.

What do you think?

Click Here to read Senator Colburn’s report.

 

 

Facebook co-founder renounces citizenship. Thousands joining him.

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Facebook Co-Founder Saverin Gives Up U.S. Citizenship Before IPO

Eduardo Saverin, the billionaire co- founder of Facebook Inc. (FB), renounced his U.S. citizenship before an initial public offering that values the social network at as much as $96 billion, a move that may reduce his tax bill.

Facebook plans to raise as much as $11.8 billion through the IPO, the biggest in history for an Internet company. Saverin’s stake is about 4 percent, according to the website whoownsfacebook.com. At the high end of the proposed IPO market capitalization, that would be worth about $3.84 billion. His holdings aren’t listed in Facebook’s regulatory filings.

Saverin, 30, joins a growing number of people giving up U.S. citizenship ahead of a possible increase in tax rates for top earners. The Brazilian-born resident of Singapore is one of several people who helped Mark Zuckerberg start Facebook in a Harvard University dormitory and stand to reap billions of dollars after the world’s largest social network holds its IPO.

“Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” said Tom Goodman, a spokesman for Saverin, in an e-mailed statement.

Saverin’s name is on a list of people who chose to renounce citizenship as of April 30, published by the Internal Revenue Service. Saverin made that move “around September” of last year, according to his spokesman.

Besides helping cut tax bills stemming from the Facebook, the move may also help him avoid capital gains taxes on future investments since Singapore doesn’t have a capital gains tax.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

There was once a time when talented, wealthy individuals, and many others, fled their home countries for the security and freedom the United States offered. Now, thanks to three or four generations of creeping socialism, intrusive laws, burdensome regulations, and confiscatory taxes, the trend has reversed. Now, the successful find it more advantageous to live anywhere but in America.

We lose much more than tax dollars when the best and brightest, and even the luckiest, abandon the nation that sees them as little more than a revenue source for social engineering fantasies. We lose their drive, their work ethic, their capacity for innovation, and their ability to create much-needed jobs, to name a few things.

While those on the left seek to gather power by giving away the store to the disadvantaged and those on the right seek to give it away to the already wealthy and powerful, those of us who sit between them find ourselves squeezed tighter and tighter, our standard of living decreasing, and our security, rights, and freedom threatened from within.

Is it any wonder so many are abandoning America for more welcoming nations? Or writing books to help people leave?

What do you think about this?

Under what conditions would you renounce your citizenship?

Or have you already done so?

 

It’s official: 41% not paying their fair share of taxes

Friday, April 20th, 2012

I missed this story last Saturday. I was too busy filling out forms as I figured out how much I had to “voluntarily” pay in taxes.

Using IRS statistics, the Tax Foundation determined that those who’ve raised a hue and cry about many Americans not paying their fair share of taxes are absolutely correct. But it’s not the 1%. It’s the 41%.

Americans Making Over $50,000 a Year Paid 93.3 Percent of All Taxes in 2010

Americans making over $50,000 paid most of the federal taxes that were paid in the U.S. in 2010.

According to statistics compiled from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by the Tax Foundation, those people making above $50,000 had an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, and carried 93.3 percent of the total tax burden.

In contrast, Americans making less than $50,000 had an effective tax rate of 3.5 percent and their total share of the tax burden was just 6.7 percent.

Americans making more than $250,000 had an effective tax rate of 23.4 percent and their total share of the tax burden was 45.7 percent.

Out of the 143 million tax returns that were filed with the IRS in 2010, 58 million – or 41 percent – of those filers were non-payers.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

That’s right. 41% of those filing tax returns paid zero dollars. And in many, perhaps most cases, they actually received money from the IRS in the form of refundable tax credits, $105 billion worth!

There was a time when I was a strong supporter of the flat tax. Everyone would simply pay the same percentage of what they earned with no deductions or loopholes. It seemed eminently fair. But at some point, I thought about how that would play out in the real world. Paying 10% of a $15,000 income has far more impact on a taxpayer’s standard of living than paying 10% of $150,000 or $1,000,000.

Apparently, those who write the tax code felt similarly, but they carried it too far, because everyone should pay something, no matter how small an amount, to support the nation in which they live.

We value and care about things we pay for far more than those we get for nothing. Perhaps that truism goes a long way toward explaining why so many Americans appear to care so little about what happens in Washington, DC, and in their own statehouses and city halls.

I believe everyone should pay something, if only to make them aware that it really does cost money to run a country, a state, and a town. We can dump all the deductions and close all the loopholes if we all agree and have a simple, graduated scale of percentages based on total income. Start at 1% for those at poverty level and step up from there. Then, everyone pays something, but those who benefit more also pay more.

I’d also end all the “withholding,” which only serves to hide the true cost of government. I’d rather see us all have to write a check each month when we pay our bills, which would probably make more of us wonder what government is doing with the money we send them. And that would be a good thing.

It sounds pretty fair to me.

Or…we could cut the size and scope of government by 70% to 80%, returning it to it’s actual Constitutional limits, and fund it through import duties and such, as it was in the beginning.

That sounds even better to me.

What do you think?

How would you structure income taxes if you were given the power to do so?

 

Do You Really Care About Your Kids?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I’m turning today’s blog post over to my favorite talk show host, Michael Graham, from whom this post is shamelessly stolen in its entirety, and to Rep. Paul Ryan, who appears in the video at the end.

Our first grandchild will be born near the end of July. This is not what I want for him or his parents.

Is this what you want for those you love? If not, please share this post. Nothing is more important to the nation than the debt the current administration and congress continue to refuse to address.

***

Paul Ryan Asks: Do You Even Care About Your Kids?

OK, that’s not exactly how he’s putting the question. He’s too politically smart for that. But the Republican leader on budget issues is going to put the question forward: Do we have enough Americans left who care more about their kids than themselves to actually do something about the fiscal screwjob our children are facing?

Here’s what that screwjob looks like:

These are President Obama’s own numbers. If we pass his 2013 budget, as proposed, our $16 trillion debt will become our $100 trillion debt. We will become Greece. On purpose. Because we choose to keep spending, to leave the impossible Medicare/Social Security/Public Pensions mess just like it is.

And that’s what the White House is proposing. They’re open about it, too:

After the Obama White House released its 2013 budget plan last month, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner went to testify before the House Budget Committee. He told the committee’s chairman, Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the following: “We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to that long-term [budget] problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours.”

Not only does Team Obama not have a plan (other than to make it worse), they’re running ads called “Medicare Madness” attacking Republicans for trying to save the system before it goes broke.

This is the fiscal equivalent of the Nazis and Japanese sweeping across France and the Pacifiic, and President Roosevelt saying “Well, I’M not going to do anything about it. I’m just going to attack whatever YOU suggest we do about it.”

Love him or hate him, Rep. Ryan is trying to do something. He’s made a serious budget proposal that changes the chart above into this:

From Rep. Ryan’s op-ed in the WSJ:

As shown in the nearby chart, our budget tackles this crisis head-on by cutting debt as a share of the economy by roughly 15% over the next decade, putting the nation’s finances on a path to balance, and paying off the debt. By contrast, the president’s budget pushes debt as a share of the economy even higher. In his budget’s own words, it allows the government’s fiscal position to “gradually deteriorate” after 2022….

It is rare in American politics to arrive at a moment in which the debate revolves around the fundamental nature of American democracy and the social contract. But that is where we are. And no two documents illustrate this choice of two futures better than the president’s budget and the one put forward by House Republicans.

The president’s budget gives more power to unelected bureaucrats, takes more from hard-working taxpayers to fuel the expansion of government, and commits our nation to a future of debt and decline.  The contrast with our budget couldn’t be clearer: We put our trust in citizens, not government.

Once again, you can hate Ryan’s plan and attack it all you want. But then, if you care at all—even the least bit—about your kids, you have to answer the question “So what’s YOUR plan?”

President Obama has announced he simply refuses to have a plan. The Democrat-controlled Senate hasn’t even passed a budget in more than 1,000 days!

So what do you say to your kids? “Sorry, but scaring Granny about Medicare was more important that dealing with the debt—have fun paying off that $100 trillion!”  Is that leadership?

Forget GOP vs. Democrat: Politicians who screw our kids like this, and refuse to even try and prevent it, don’t deserve to be re-elected. Period.

Watch this video. Make sure your friends and family see it. For me, this is the overwhelming issue of the 2012 election.

 

Electric cars – no progress in 115 years

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Greenies, including Our Dear leader, have been pushing electric cars for quite awhile. Much hot air and even more ink has been expended in extolling the virtues and benefits to the environment and everything else.

As it turns out, electric cars are nothing new, and the 35-miles-per-charge limit the Chevy Volt boasts is no better than was was achieved way back in 1896. That’s not a typo — 1896. Check out the following short piece I founded today on the Daily Caller.

115-year-old electric car gets same 40 miles to the charge as Chevy Volt

Meet the Roberts electric car. Built in 1896, it gets a solid 40 miles to the charge — exactly the mileage Chevrolet advertises for the Volt, the highly touted $31,645 electric car General Motors CEO Dan Akerson called “not a step forward, but a leap forward.”

The executives at Chevrolet can rest easy for now. Since the Roberts was constructed in an age before Henry Ford’s mass production, the 115-year-old electric car is one of a kind.

But don’t let the car’s advanced age let you think it isn’t tough: Its present-day owner, who prefers not to be named, told The Daily Caller it still runs like a charm, and has even completed the roughly 60-mile London to Brighton Vintage Car Race.

If you didn’t know there are electric cars as old as the Roberts, you aren’t alone. Prior to today’s electric v. gas skirmishes, there was another battle: electric v. gas v. steam. This contest was fought in the market place, and history shows gas gave electric and steam an even more thorough whooping than Coca-Cola gave Moxie.

But while the Roberts electric car clearly lacked GPS, power steering and, yes, air bags, the distance it could achieve on a charge, when compared with its modern equivalent, provides a telling example of the slow pace of the electric car.

Driven by a tiller instead of a wheel, the Roberts car was built seven years before the Wright brothers’ first flight, 12 years before the Ford Model T, 16 years before Chevrolet was founded and 114 years before the first Chevy Volt was delivered to a customer.

As the New York Times reported September 5, “For General Motors and the Obama administration, the new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid represents the automotive future, the culmination of decades of high-tech research financed partly with federal dollars.”

Like “green technology’s” most powerful proponent, President Barack Obama, the 1896 Roberts was made in Chicago. Obama, who supports the $7,500 tax credit for the Volt, is not fazed by its 40-mile electric limit — he only drove the car 10 feet.

Interesting, eh? The car of the future gets less mileage-per-charge than the car of the long-past. Unless, of course, you do as Chevy has done and build-in a gasoline generator.

For someone who lives in a city and never ventures very far outside its borders, the Volt might be a good choice…if it really doesn’t spontaneously catch fire sometime after an accident. But I would bet most of us regularly need to travel significantly farther than 40 miles when we hop in our vehicles. So you are still going to regularly be burning gasoline. And you’re going to pay $40,000 for a Volt instead of $16,000 for, say, a Toyota Corolla, the car my wife is very happy driving. Of course, if you buy a Volt, the taxpayers will help pay for some of it via a $7500 tax credit.

In a free society, shouldn’t it be up to the people to decide what they want? Shouldn’t it be the government’s job to make sure nobody tries to force citizens to make choices they don’t want to make. Shouldn’t it be government’s job to ensure a level playing field for business where each is free to compete and free people making free choices in a free market will determine the winners and losers?

The answer, of course, is yes, unless you are the American government. Then, because politicians and bureaucrats are so much smarter than the rest of us, it’s your job to decide what you think is best and use the power of government to force the rest of us to toe your ideological line.

We’ve reached the point in America where government no longer even pays lip service to the idea of freedom. It spends all it’s time picking winners and losers and taking from those who produce and giving to those who do not.

Is it any wonder that so many long for a new American Revolution, one way or another?

What do you think?

Do you own or would you consider a Chevy Volt?

And what do you see as government’s job?

By the way, Discovery has a History of Cars timeline on their website, if you’re interested.

 

Have a job? Thank an entrepreneur.

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner, Kentucky Kid.

***

Some of you outside New England may remember Scott Brown, the upstart Republican who, in an incredible upset thanks in large part to Tea Party Movement support, won the Massachusetts Senate seat vacated when Ted Kennedy died. The victory stuck in the craw of pretty much every Democrat in the region except for those who voted for him. And from the moment he was declared victor, the machinations began to “take back” the seat.

The bright bulbs in the Democratic Party decided socialist Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren might make a good challenger so she’s been out and about blathering about the usual things lefties do in hopes she’ll gain some traction and support. No surprise, she’s been following the socialist playbook and blaming the rich for everything even as she denies she’s engaging in class warfare. Her latest defense for raising taxes on the wealthy is “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own, nobody,” referring to entrepreneurs, who, she claims do not produce wealth.

I expect many of us could ably respond to that, but there’s no need. Tom Keane has a column in The Boston Globe that demonstrates just how clueless — or dishonest — are Warren and her ilk about basic economics.

I’m reproducing the short column here, in its entirety.

When you’re done, please let me know what you think about what Keane had to say.

***

An economics lesson for Warren
By Tom Keane
November 12, 2011

THE VIDEO in which Elizabeth Warren, de facto Democratic nominee for the US Senate, rebuts GOP claims that taxing the rich is “class warfare,’’ continues to be a sensation. “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own,’’ Warren tells supporters. “Nobody!’’

Her claim is that it is not entrepreneurs who create wealth. They play a role, she acknowledges, but the credit really belongs to all of us. And that becomes the rationale for why they deserve to pay a premium in taxes: We deserve a share of their wealth because we helped create it.

Elizabeth Warren, apparently indicating how much she knows about basic economics.

It’s a beguiling idea, but Warren is wrong. My taxes may have helped pay for the roads on which Steve Jobs shipped his iPads, but without Steve Jobs – no matter how many roads my taxes might have paid for – there never would have been an iPad. Indeed, the only reason I have a job that enables me to pay taxes is because of past entrepreneurs, who created the companies and the technologies that in turn created a wealthier society that in turn could provide me with a job. If Steve Jobs owed his wealth to anyone else, it was to those past entrepreneurs.

Economics got named the “dismal science’’ because some of its earliest, greatest thinkers – Thomas Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, Karl Marx – concluded that society was doomed to a stagnant existence. Although each had far different world views, each concluded there was, essentially, a finite amount of wealth. There might be bubbles up or down, but in the end, each generation would be no better off than the last. It was a gloomy prognosis, with seemingly the only battle left being who got what.

Those airtight academic arguments were confounded by the real world, however. During the Industrial Revolution, per capita wealth was plainly growing. It took economists such as Alfred Marshall and Joseph Schumpeter to explain why. The way out of the stagnation was productivity. If more could be accomplished with the same resources (or, if the same could be accomplished with fewer resources), then wealth would grow. And who made that happen? Schumpeter said it was entrepreneurs.

Schumpeter had a broad definition of entrepreneurs. They included the stereotypical lone inventors, but also were those who developed new products, processes, organizations, or ways of doing things – any sort of innovation. And, he stressed, those folks could be found not just in small start-ups, but also in the midst of large organizations. Absent entrepreneurs, he argued, economies couldn’t grow. We would be in a stationary equilibrium, where the wealth of no one would ever improve.

Of course, none of this means we shouldn’t tax wealthy entrepreneurs. But the reason we do so is not because, as Warren would claim, that they somehow owe us. Rather, we tax the rich for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks (“Because that’s where the money is,’’ Sutton allegedly explained). Nor does it mean that government can’t help create the conditions in which entrepreneurship flourishes. As Warren notes, those conditions include stable legal systems, safe streets, and an educated populace. But they also include flexible labor rules, open markets, a refusal to countenance protectionism, and a regulatory system that minimizes burdens on businesses – usually not high priorities for left-wing politicians.

Still, the key point is that it is not government or we the teeming masses that create wealth. It’s entrepreneurs. Warren says entrepreneurs should “pay forward’’ to the rest of us in gratitude for their success. If anything, the thanks should go the other way.

 

Pity the poor public employees in Massachusetts

Friday, November 4th, 2011

I’ve been thinking about retirement a lot since I turned 60 earlier this year. Specifically, I’ve been thinking how unlikely it is that I’ll ever actually get to retire until the day my luck runs out and I’m permanently retired.

Part of the problem is I’ve been self-employed for thirty-five years and never could seem to find the extra money to fund an IRA or 401K. I blame my wife and children, of course, and their unreasonable daily demands for food and clothing and a heated house with a roof that doesn’t leak. And electricity. Don’t get me started on that.

I realize now that when I was young, I should have applied for a job with the Commonwealth. Forty years ago, folks working for the state made less than those in the private sector but they figured it was a fair deal because they got good benefits, got to retire at the ripe old age of 55 — no, that’s not a typo —  and were pretty much guaranteed they’d never be laid off or fired unless they committed some heinous crime, were discovered to have actually served the public, or were caught voting for a non-Democrat.

Then a funny thing happened. Public employees, thanks to their unions, started making more and more. They negotiated with other public-sector employees, politicians to whom their unions give large donations and turn out workers to help them get re-reelected, for  more and better benefits. Pretty soon they were making more than their public sector counterparts. And they still got the retire at 55! Hmm..maybe it wasn’t so funny after all.

The reason I bring this up today is because yesterday I read that politicians here are working on raising the retirement age! Really!, I thought. Who could have imagined that here in The People’s Republic such a thing could happen? Then I read on.

It turns out the retirement age will be raised only for new hires, not for existing workers. So the whole exercise is essentially meaningless for about thirty years when most of the people voting on it will be dead or retired with their own cushy, taxpayer-funded pensions.  Nevertheless, the House and Senate are negotiating over whether the new age should be 57 or 60. My guess is they’ll compromise on 58 1/2.

When I read things like this (and I do all too often), I really feel like a dope for not jumping on the gravy train when I had the chance. Ah, well. We all have to pay for our choices. Except, of course, public sector employees.

The rest of us pay for theirs.

What’s the public sector retirement age in your state?

And at what age do you expect to retire?

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
Copyright © 1998 - Present by Backwoods Home Magazine. All Rights Reserved.