• TAXES RISING SHARPLY: A congressional economic survey, "Inflation and the Consumer in 1974," made public on Feb. 10, discloses that sharply increased tax payments rose much faster than all other price increases in the 1974 consumer budget, and that this burden had greatest impact on low-income and middle-income taxpayers. The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) report noted that for a family with an "intermediate" income of $14,466 in 1974, personal income taxes rose 26.5 percent while Social Security taxes jumped by 21.6 percent; this compared with increases of 14.3 percent in transportation, 13.5 percent in housing and 11.9 percent in food costs. For a family of four with an income of $9,320, total federal, state, and local income taxes rose an average of 31 percent over 1973.
The boost in income taxes came about because dollar incomes continued to rise to compensate workers for price inflation, which pushed taxpayers into higher and higher tax brackets—thus causing a sharp decline in disposable income. According to Senator Hubert Humphrey, chairman of the JEC, "this is the first recession in history during which the tax burden on families and individuals has increased." Senator Humphrey did not mention the pernicious effect of the graduated income tax system as providing an incentive for government to continue to inflate the money supply—since government tax revenues continually increase without the need to vote a tax hike, as workers are thrust into higher tax brackets by salary increases designed to compensate them for inflation. The Christian Science Monitor (Feb. 11) reported that the JEC figures underline an emerging debate in Washington: "How much will Americans willingly pay to support government spending programs?" Unfortunately, we can't identify either the Democrats or Republicans as siding with the long-suffering taxpayer as we drift more rapidly towards a controlled economy.
• ABACO EXAMINED: The Abaco Independence Movement (AIM) which is attempting to set up a laissez-faire enclave on the island of Abaco in the Bahamas (see "Abaco: Birth of a New Country," REASON, Oct. 1974) was the subject of a story, "The Amazing New-Country Caper," in the Feb. 1975 issue of Esquire. Written by Andrew St. George, the article contains a number of untrue charges concerning AIM, and in next month's issue, REASON plans to carry a response by Mike Oliver, a key backer of AIM.
• ARTICLES OF INTEREST: Contributing Editor Alan Reynolds has a fascinating article, "A Kind Word for 'Cream Skimming'" in the Harvard Business Review, Nov.-Dec. 1974. Reynolds discusses the common plea of monopolists seeking to have the government ban new competitors or prevent them from charging lower rates by accusing the newcomer of skimming the "cream" off the business.
REASON contributor Dennis Chase had an article in the Dec. 1974 issue of the Chicago Journalism Review dealing with a consumer advocate's view opposing nuclear energy. The article looks at the issue whether journalists treat statements from the "left" with less skepticism than they show toward the "right." The piece will also appear in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Another Chase piece on "Future Schlock"—bogus forecasts that are picked up uncritically by journalists—is now being used as a part of a senior journalism course at Michigan State University.
Garrett Harden has an intriguing article, "Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor," in Psychology Today, Sept. 1974, which focuses on the dangers of enthusiastic but unrestricted generosity.
• SIEGAN COLUMN: Bernard Siegan, professor of law at the University of San Diego Law School and author of the landmark book, Land Use Without Zoning, is writing a syndicated column on "Land and Law" which discusses such topical issues as the environmentalist movement, land use controls, zoning laws and nuclear power. The weekly column is now carried in 20 newspapers and has a combined readership nationally of one million people per week. Siegan was interviewed in the April 1973 issue of REASON on the subject "The New Approach to Planning: Nonzoning" and he is much in demand as a speaker on land use issues.
• BRANDEN WORKSHOPS: Dr. Nathaniel Branden, innovative Los Angeles psychotherapist, is giving a workshop on Biocentric Therapy in London, England on May 17-18 (Quesitor, 187 Walm Lane, London NW 2) and in Amsterdam on May 24-25 (The Center, Kromme Waal 14, Amsterdam 1001). Branden has twice been interviewed in REASON, the most recent interview, "On Self Discovery and Self Responsibility," appearing in the May 1973 issue.
• GOVERNMENT SEWAGE STUDY: The Environmental Protection Agency wants to dump up to 180 million pounds of sewage sludge into an uncontaminated stretch of ocean twelve miles south of New York's Fire Island. According to the Los Angeles Times (Nov. 17), the program has been advocated to determine if the sludge is lethal to marine organisms. It's not surprising that the EPA research scientists who proposed the program are not headquartered in New York (they're in Corvallis, Oregon). And the way things have been going, perhaps we should be grateful that at least these bureaucrats are telling us up front what they're dishing out.