Taxes

The Militant Left (Update and Bump)

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Forget extraordinary rendition or arresting Internet gambling executives, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston argues in Mother Jones that if the laws of another country conflict with those of the U.S., we should just invade them.

Okay, so he's talking about the Cayman Islands. Still, it's a pretty astonishing proposal.

In 1983 just 10 percent of America's corporate profits were funneled through places that charge little or no corporate income tax; today more than 25 percent of profits go through tax havens. The Obama administration could tell the Caymans—now fifth in the world in bank deposits—to repeal its bank secrecy laws or be invaded; since the island nation's total armed forces consists of about 300 police officers, it shouldn't be hard for technicians and auditors, accompanied by a few Marines, to fly in and seize all the records. Bermuda, which relies on the Royal Navy for its military, could be next, and so on. Long before we get to Switzerland and Luxembourg, their governments should have gotten the message.

Johnston then seems to get an inkling of just how preposterous his idea is and backs down a bit, just before proposing more bad ideas:

Barring gunboat diplomacy (tempting as it is), there is no reason we cannot pass laws to block financial transactions with tax havens or even, Cuba-style, make it a crime for Americans to visit or do business with them without special permission. Congress could declare the hiding of funds a threat to national security and require that anyone with offshore assets disclose them to the IRS within 30 days and pay taxes, interest, and penalties within 180 days. For the holdouts, temporary special teams in the IRS and Justice Department could speedily pursue civil or criminal charges.

 Thanks to Chris Muir for the tip.

Via email, Johnston responds:

Wow, what reactions—many of them full of venom and personal attack, but without any substance on the issues in my article. BTW, for those who make wild guesses and get it wrong, I am a registered Republican and chairman of a corporation I founded with one of my sons. The issue: our federal government forces employees to pay taxes on their wages through a rigorous withholding regime, but Congress lets people with non-wage income and corporations assess themselves with little or no verification and then lets them defer paying their income taxes for decades (with inflation reducing the value collected) and to outright evade taxes, a crime. We have two income tax systems, separate and unequal in their enforcement and reporting regimes. And of course in my Mother Jones piece I am jesting about actually invading the Caymans, as Radley sort of notes, but I am joking not about the need to enforce the law and stop helping calculated cheats get away with their felonies.

I apologize for getting Johnston's political leanings wrong. I'm not sure the jest of his invasion proposal was all that apparent, particularly given the severity of his actual proposals, which include a possible Cuba-like trade embargo on a country like Switzerland.

I happen to think countries that offer secret banking and tax shelters serve an important function.  Their value may not be as apparent to everyone in the U.S., but I'd imagine even a skeptic like Johnston might see things differently if he lived in a country where the government was more callous about how it appropriated its citizens' possessions (which isn't to say there's nothing callous about taking money from taxpayers and, for example, using it to help failed financial houses pay out bonuses to their executives).

It's also pretty arrogant to think the U.S. government should simply impose its own laws on the rest of the world, be it with military force or by restricting the ability of its own citizens to engage in voluntary trade with the citizens of other countries.

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  1. Bermuda, which relies on the Royal Navy for its military, could be next

    Um…what? Isn’t a that a little…oh, what’st the word?

  2. Bermuda, which relies on the Royal Navy for its military, could be next, and so on.

    Because what the United States really needs right now is a war with the UK.

    What the fuck is this guy on?

  3. And it begins. “Now our guy is in charge, it’s time to use force for our purposes!”

    So unsurprising. This guy needs to be punched in the cock, repeatedly. Not by me, of course, as that would be an initiation of force. Maybe by GREENMAN.

  4. Because what the United States really needs right now is a war with the UK.

    Did you see what happened to our economy after the last world war? I say we go for it. We can call it, Falklands II, Caribbean Boogaloo.

  5. what a johnson.

  6. OT:

    Looks like Gov Patterson’s proposed replacement for Hillary as US Senator (D-NY) is a pro-gun NRA “A” rated anti-baliout conservative Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.

    I can believe in that change.

  7. I dunno, sounds like a bunch of political mumbo jumbo to me!

    RT
    http://www.privacy-tools.net.tc

  8. Episiarch,

    I seriously doubt David Clay Johnson considers Barack Obama “our guy.”

    Here, look at this, from the story: President-elect Obama has offered some interesting ideas to make the tax code more fair-but by and large, his proposals amount to tinkering around the edges, not the kind of serious restructuring previous presidents, most notably Reagan, undertook.

  9. Whoa. Fuck you, Johnston, you frightening piece of shit.

  10. In the extremely unlikely event that war with the Cayman Islands comes, I will betray the US and side with the Caymans.

    And the membership of the Cayman Popular Resistance Front will mark well the names of those who advocated aggression!

  11. Nigel: Whatever he’s on, give me some.

  12. No Blood for Taxes!

  13. joe, he wouldn’t have even suggested it if the president was a Republican. Obama may not be ideally “his guy”, but he’s as close as a schmuck like Johnson is going to get.

    It’s like some paleoconservative suggesting homos be jailed because there’s a Republican in charge. He would never suggest it with a Dem there.

    This isn’t a reflection on Obama, it’s a reflection on assholes like Johnson. We’ll see more of this.

  14. I live in Gillibrand’s district. She has been all those things you said and on record for them. But she needed to be to win election in this conservative district.

    Since she will need the whole state to reelect her in two years, I think a shift to the left will be likely. Hopefully not, but only time will tell. So far, I’ve liked the fact that she has actually represented the people of our area, knowing it was a requirement for her to continue getting elected. That dynamic changes now that she represents the whole state which is more union/lawyer dominated than our upstate region. She has not been shy about being friendly to unions and she’s a lawyer, so…

  15. We cant defeat Switzerland in a war.

    It would make Iraq and Vietnam look like Grenada.

  16. Sorry to get off topic. Fuck Johnston. Maybe the fact that companies want to keep their money offshore should clue in our government that their tax laws are better than ours and we should follow suit.

    (holds breath….keels over)

  17. We cant defeat Switzerland in a war.

    There was somebody else who knew better than to invade Switzerland.

  18. Obama in 2012: “I thought they had weapons of mass tax evasion in Jamaica.”

  19. There was somebody else who knew better than to invade Switzerland.

    Absolutely.

    You can kill all the Swiss. You cant conquer them.

    And if you are ever on a rowboat with a captured Swiss resistance leader and a storm comes up, do not untie him so he can row you to shore. Doesnt work out as well as you might think.

    To tie this whole post together, Austrian tyrants are stupid.

  20. Uh, Johnson, Americans already have to disclose their off-shore accounts to the IRS.

    So, who are the special teams supposed to go after. Everyone who hasn’t declared off-shore assets?

  21. And the membership of the Cayman Popular Resistance Front will mark well the names of those who advocated aggression!

    Splitter!

  22. Wow. What an idiot.

  23. Of course the whole point of a place like the Caymans is to store your overseas profits until its a good time to bring them into the country… not exactly the devilishly evil purpose the author supposes. The easier thing to do would be to design the tax system so that companies don’t get an advantage from parking profits off shore until the feds announce a tax amnesty.

  24. Wow. For once, I’m speechless.

  25. This isn’t a reflection on Obama, it’s a reflection on assholes like Johnson. We’ll see more of this.

    Yup, this. All the bluest team-blue mouthbreathers will be clamoring to spout off some nonsensical proposal and in the end look like idiots. It should be pretty entertaining!

  26. “Congress could declare the hiding of funds a threat to national security”

    LOL

    Congress itself is a far greater threat to national security than any corporation using offshore tax havens.

  27. I seriously doubt David Clay Johnson considers Barack Obama “our guy.”

    But Kevin Drum, who very approvingly linked to Johnston’s piece a few weeks ago, would definitely consider Obama ‘his guy’.

  28. It should be noted the any taxes that corporations pay are rolled into overhead costs and charged to end consumers, so if we did invade the Caymans/Jamaica/Switzerland/Luxembourg, we’d not only be paying for another idiotic war, we’d also be paying more for the goods and services that corporate entities provide.

  29. Here, look at this, from the story: President-elect Obama has offered some interesting ideas to make the tax code more fair-but by and large, his proposals amount to tinkering around the edges, not the kind of serious restructuring previous presidents, most notably Reagan, undertook.

    And there Obama is wrong. Simplification of the tax code, like weeding the garden, should be done regularly. Kill the embedded favors and lame social/economic engineering attempts (by both parties), money will then go to more productive uses.

    Some tax attorneys being required to find honest work is the biggest economic downside.

  30. I like that his reasonable back-down is self-described as “Cuba-style.”

  31. robc,

    I actually asked a real Swiss once about their citizen army. To hear him tell it, Switzerland could have effectively resisted invasion up to perhaps 1914. Today, a large nation like the US could overwhelm them quite easily.

    Hitler’s could have too. The Swiss kept Hitler from invading by doing his dirty work–providing a convenient place to hide Jewish gold, for example.

  32. Wouldn’t the improved growth from a lessened tax burden across the board allow those now unemployed accountants to find work within companies that are getting to large for their current accounting staffs to handle? So maybe less people go into the field in the future, but the current accountants should be able to find work helping companies become more efficient in their operations.

    I don’t really give a rats ass for the attorneys.

  33. Just advance the Caymans a little mustard gas and nation-build their sorry asses based on the 1% “mushroom cloud” threat to the US.

    It worked for Rummy and Cheney.

  34. I agree with J sub D: the tax code is due for another 1986-style round of mucking out the stalls.

    I’ll just note that in 1986, neither Reagan nor the Democrats ran on anything that remotely resembled the deal they ended up putting together. Reagan came in with his tax reform plan, and O’Neil and the Dems came in with a Democratic tax reform plan, and what we got was worked out between them.

  35. The tax code is a mess but I think a lot of the policy makers prefer it that way.

  36. I think you would be hard pressed to name a country more deserving of being invaded than the Swiss. Fondue eating pricks. They are well armed, though – I think I remember reading that their rate of gun ownership is higher than the US.

  37. Ack.

  38. Another theme is that lefties aren’t againt war. They are against difficult wars.

    Kill 100,000 Iraqis on the highway, and that’s ok.

  39. The tax code is a mess but I think a lot of the policy makers prefer it that way.

    Well, the special interests that benefit (or think they benefit) from all the provisions prefer it that way. The policy makers prefer the votes and cash funneled their way for looking the other way.

  40. “The tax code is a mess but I think a lot of the policy makers prefer it that way.”

    They absolutely do.

  41. LOL, go after the swiss. if we can’t handle the iraqis and al qaeda, there is no way we could handle a mountain country that has mined their roads and has SUPPLIED assault rifles to their people along with training.

  42. We should invade Greenland. They should be easy to beat, and it’ll remove the threatening presence of the Danes from North America. No more Danegeld!

  43. the swiss also have 2 nuke bunker spaces per citizen, hidden aircraft hangars in mountains which can use highways for take-off + proxy nuclear deterrence from countries (like Pakistan , India, Russia) whose leaders keep their money there…

  44. since the island nation’s total armed forces consists of about 300 police officers, it shouldn’t be hard for technicians and auditors, accompanied by a few Marines, to fly in and seize all the records.

    …and the coconut revenues will be more than enough to cover the cost of the invasion! The topless hula dancers will welcome us as liberators! We will make the Caymans a beacon of hope in the Polynesian world!

  45. This is the most brilliant satire since Swift’s modest proposal. And you dumbasses were fooled by it! Good show, good show.

  46. They should be easy to beat, and it’ll remove the threatening presence of the Danes from North America. No more Danegeld!

    Loki be praised!

  47. Damn you, Episiarch, and your pro-Danish leanings! You’ll be rounded up with the Danish-Americans, buddy, just you wait!

  48. I actually read that whole article without gouging my eyes out; it was tough sledding, but I made it.

    It’s always fun to see how different people can look at the same “data” and come to spectacularly divergent conclusions about what it means.

  49. An Ottawa Reader

    I lived in Switzerland for a while. The Swiss would probably agree with you or not, depending on their mood and amount of honesty they were in.

    I do know, German reunification didnt make them at all happy (I was there in 1991).

    Sure, Hitler could have taken Switzerland, but at a price on the level of taking Russia. In other words, it wasnt worth it.

    I did find the WW2 era tank traps between the buildings in all the towns along the German border to be interesting. They were there for “historical” reasons or because “they never got around to removing them”. Yeah, right. The Swiss were a bunch of procrastinating lazy asses. Gotcha.

  50. i>We will make the Caymans a beacon of hope in the Polynesian world!

    Holy crap! If we can pull that off, we’re gooood.

  51. No, Bubba, they are against wars that have even a tangential relationship to US interests and/or are initiated by a Republican administration. See: Kosovo.

    A war for Darfur, if launched this afternoon, would be lauded as further evidence of Obama’s wisdom, competence and all around coolness.

  52. They are well armed, though – I think I remember reading that their rate of gun ownership is higher than the US.

    Watching a Swiss teen (lets call him 19) running thru a train station with his rifle and throwing it casually on the rack above the seats [he was heading to on duty, from what I could figure] makes you reconsider a lot of things. Normally Im fine around people with weapons, I carry myself. Not in that case.

    However, I was there before they got rid of the bicycle cavalry. Seeing the bike units out on maneuvers was always cool.

  53. All this is an amusing sideshow – meanwhile, Obaam’s new tax-cheater Treasury secretary designee is busy pissing off the Chinese by explicitly stating China is manipulating it’s currency in a written response to Senate questions during his confirmation hearing.

    If the Chinese start yanking their money out of U.S Treasury securities – or even refrain from continuing to buy them at the rate they’ve been doing, Johnston would find out what a real “national security” threat was.

  54. Send the Marines into NYC to get Rangel.

  55. GM,

    Arent the chinese manipulating their currency. I dont think it floats freely. Seems like a pretty accurate statement to me.

  56. the swiss also have 2 nuke bunker spaces per citizen, hidden aircraft hangars in mountains which can use highways for take-off + proxy nuclear deterrence from countries (like Pakistan , India, Russia) whose leaders keep their money there…

    As if that weren’t enough, deep within Lake Geneva the Swiss have a giant atomic-fire breathing dragon monster, which periodically arises and wreaks havoc upon invading armies. You don’t want to fuck with him.

  57. Damn you, Episiarch, and your pro-Danish leanings! You’ll be rounded up with the Danish-Americans, buddy, just you wait!

    My great-grandmother’s last name was either Anderson or Andersen. So it could be Scandinavian–no one is sure. Just sayin’ is all.

  58. the Swiss have a giant atomic-fire breathing dragon monster

    Mock all you want, but ask the Hapsburg’s what happens when you mess with the Swiss.

    Also, Im pretty sure the dragon is in the Vierwaldst?ttersee, not Lake Geneva.

  59. “Arent the chinese manipulating their currency. I dont think it floats freely. Seems like a pretty accurate statement to me.”

    Of course they are – but it isn’t the thing to do to officially label them as curreny manipulators. The Bush administration advoided doing that because doing so would, by law, require the Treasury dept. to begin negotiations with them to reduce their trade surplus. There is an article about this today on CNBC’s web site.

    Starting a trade war with China in this global economy with a nation that were are not only counting on to finance a huge chunk of our current national debt but also a huge chunk of all the massive additional “stimulus” spending that Obama and the Dems want to do isn’t exactly a brilliant move.

  60. It’s okay, Episiarch. The Scottish side of my family comes from the part of Scotland that was occupied by the Danes (which means that I almost certainly have Danish/crazed Viking blood). So I will only with reluctance order you taken to the camp in International Falls.

  61. Johny,

    Well you can’t guard the gold hoard properly without a Dragon!

  62. Here there be dragons.

  63. Hey, Jormungand has to hang out somewhere.

    Of course, our real enemies are those Gouda-breathed Dutch!

    Kevin

  64. David “Cay” Johnston? “Cay”man islands? I think somebody’s trying to get restored to his throne.

    I do find his writings a very helpful How-To for ditching taxes. He’ll adopt this pose of moral outrage over some loophole, and I’ll think “ooo, how to I get me some’a that sweeet action?”

  65. Laugh, if you want. The gnomes will eat you alive if you fuck with them.

  66. robc,

    Wow, that looks nice. Road trip!

  67. there is no reason we cannot pass laws to block financial transactions with tax havens or even, Cuba-style, make it a crime for Americans to visit or do business with them without special permission

    These people are completely hopeless, groping the dark with pure assertions.

  68. So I will only with reluctance order you taken to the camp in International Falls.

    You’ll have trouble catching me as leader of Le Resistance.

    Of course, our real enemies are those Gouda-breathed Dutch!

    Everyone picks on the Dutch. What about the fucking Luxembourgers?

  69. Tulpa, the Cayman Islands are in the Caribbean. Polynesia is in the Pacific Ocean, basically the other frickin’ side of the world. Hope you were kidding.

    Ottawa Reader: I’ve actually been to Switzerland. Andy has a much better take on the situation than your contact…the mountains are honeycombed with bunkers, etc. The country is a terrain nightmare — think Afghanistan, only with a modern army which has focused on repelling invasion.

  70. Pro Lib,

    I want to go back. The hiking is excellent (and steep) in that area too. All the William Tell events occurred around that lake. Including the real events. 🙂

    I know the pound is weak, how is the Swiss Franc doing?
    Maybe I need to start planning a trip.

  71. Re: Greenland. As the descendant of vikings, I can say with pride that we are the only Europeans kicked off their land by Native Americans.

  72. a modern army which has focused on repelling invasion.

    What a novel concept.

  73. They Caymans are in the Caribbean, so if we turn them into a beacon of hope in the Polynesian world, what does that actually mean?

  74. In David Brin’s novel, Earth, the UN invades Switzerland to claim hidden funds. I don’t have that book handy, but searching Google books, here’s an excerpt from his 1999 book The Transparent Society:

    At this point let me drop even a pretense of scholarly detachment. Since World War II, Switzerland and its fellow banking havens have sheltered lucre for the world’s tax cheats, drug dealers, dictators, and mafias. In exchange for this money-laundering scam, the banks could charge large fees and, above all, get away with paying scant interest, a major unfair competitive advantage. Many Third World countries have been stripped on working capital by corrupt officials, entrenched elites, and criminal gangs. Out of these ill-gotten gains, the pittance that was not squandered — perhaps a few tens of billions of dollars — arguably rests at this moment in coffers alongside “dormant” accounts of Nazi warlords and their hapless murdered victims. One might envision these poor nations someday demanding justice — as depicted in my novel Earth — but real pressure can come only from the West. Recently, the bankers of Berne and Vaduz have begun loosening the ignominious shroud of secrecy just enough to eliminate some of their most disreputable clients, a few notorious drug lords, as a sop to Western governments. But this gesture may not suffice when hard-pressed U.S. and European taxpayers estimate how much of their own burden might ease if aristocratic tax cheaters had to account for their fair share.

    Whether or not this scenario actually comes to pass, it is credible enough that the world’s elites should go on notice. Caching their reserves in such havens may be self-defeating in the long run, creating a dossier that will later haunt them when secret lists are handed over to placate an angry world. From now on it might be better to invest the money, whether ill gotten or not, in real estate.

  75. “Ottawa Reader: I’ve actually been to Switzerland. Andy has a much better take on the situation than your contact…the mountains are honeycombed with bunkers, etc. The country is a terrain nightmare — think Afghanistan, only with a modern army which has focused on repelling invasion.”

    Well that still wouldn’t save them under certain cirmcunstances. If the attacking nation possesed large quantities of nuclear weapons and it’s objective was simply to destroy the country rather than occupy it, their mountain bunkers wouldn’t save them.

    The old Soviet Union could have simply rained down H-bombs on them from air all day long. If the blasts didn’t get them, the radiation poisioning would.

  76. the CHF has had its ass kicked as well due to UBS and credit-suisse buying american CDOs….

    Maybe they shouldn’t have left the gold standard in 1999….

    So if you want to visit, it’s cheap right now. Do it before the dollar collapses…

  77. Quoting myself from 2 hours ago:

    You can kill all the Swiss. You cant conquer them.

  78. David Cay Johnston has been a shill for the IRS in his “reportage” of tax protesters.

  79. “You can kill all the Swiss. You cant conquer them.”

    Doesn’t killing them also count as conquering them?

  80. fx,

    Yeah, exchange rate is below where it was in 1991. Looks like recent peak was around 2001. It has rallied since it bottomed out in December, however.

  81. GM,

    Not really, you cant rule over a corpse.

  82. Johnston as a local beat reporter: “It’s so unfair when greedy people lock their cars at night!”

  83. “GM,

    Not really, you cant rule over a corpse.”

    Sure you can.

    All you have to do is pump some of that juice they used in the movie “Re-animator” into it and get it moving again.

  84. Worcestershire sauce?

  85. by restricting the ability of its own citizens to engage in voluntary trade with the citizens of other countries.

    What makes foreigners so special? The fed restricts our ability to engage in voluntary trade with citizens of this country, too. They can get screwed just like we do.

  86. All you have to do is pump some of that juice they used in the movie “Re-animator” into it and get it moving again.

    No, you just have to have them bitten by a Sumatran Rat-Monkey.

  87. I, for one, would be fascinated to hear Johnston’s take on the EU’s whining about the unfairness of Irish (and, presumably, Estonian) tax laws.

    Much of what he said in that article makes sense, in its individual parts, but he draws unjustifiable conclusions, based on his apparent belief that the government can, and should, decide what each individual “deserves” to earn, and keep.

  88. And- if your article gets run by Mother Jones, yer a fekkin’ LEFTY.

  89. Bill, as much as I respect David Brin as a novelist, the passage you quoted cuts both ways. The world’s richest and most powerful people pretty much all have their money in Swiss banks. Thus, everyone at the top has a stake in ensuring that nobody messes with the Swiss. Anyone who did mess with the Swiss would face the wrath of everyone else with funds there.

    Trying to make an analogy to MAD, but not finding it. Anyone? Epi? Epi?

    Sure, they’re putting on a show of freezing the worst of the worst, but that’s just window dressing.

  90. robc, No I think it was Tobasco.

  91. Trying to make an analogy to MAD, but not finding it. Anyone? Epi? Epi?

    Tonio, it’s kind of like when, in The Uplift War, humans are glad to hand over gorilla uplift to the Thennanin, because now they’ll be allies and nobody sane would fuck with the Thennanin, even the Tandu. Understand now?

  92. I hate to break it to Johnston, but he is a festering example of all that’s wrong with the GOP and those who call themselves conservatives.

    He freely admits that the government is planting the IRS boot heel firmly in the working man’s face and his solution to the problem is to fuck everyone else too.

    As a Republican he should be calling for tax relief, tax abolition, a reduction in the size of government, and all the things that Republicans and conservatives used to stand for.

    It isn’t any surprise that Balko didn’t recognize him as a Republican.

    [turns and spits]

  93. “His name is Ed, and he hates the Swiss!”

    We should invade Greenland.

    PL, do you want to imminentize the Ragnarok?

  94. If we were to kill all the Swiss, then move some other people into Switzerland, then they would be the new Swiss, whom we could oppress and “conquer.” I don’t see the problem.

    For any Swiss reading this, I’m only speaking hypothetically. I personally love all of our European allies and not-so allies.

    BP,

    Absolutely.

  95. GM,

    I think it was Tobasco.

    Woooooosh.

    (the sound of a south park reference flying over your head)

  96. Tonio | January 23, 2009, 12:14pm | #

    Bill, as much as I respect David Brin as a novelist, the passage you quoted cuts both ways.

    Just quoting, not making an argument either way.

  97. (the sound of a south park reference flying over your head)

    In his defense, that is a very old one.

  98. And- if your article gets run by Mother Jones, yer a fekkin’ LEFTY.

    How many times has Radley Balko written for FoxNews.com? Over 5,000. That craven neocon.

  99. In his defense, that is a very old one.

    1. There are no old South Park episodes
    2. They show it every halloween

  100. The Swiss are not allied to anyone. They are just that badass. Hell, they barely managed to join the UN coupla years ago.

  101. Wait, so knowing South Park episodes by heart is a prerequisite for commenting now?

  102. I said not-so allied.

  103. The guy is crazy for wanting to invade the Cayman islands. But his solution does not detract I think from his accurate assesment of a problem, and that is the two-tier tax code in the United States. I mean, if you’ve got some coin and connections, you can get away without paying your taxes. Look at the Geitner tool, or Charlie Rangel. Or Mizz Kennedy…word around the Hyannis camp fire is that there were some “tax problems” potentially derailing her coronation bid. So for the rich, not paying your taxes is problematic for securing a Senate job by fiat, but not a whiff of criminal anything apparently. If I run a small business and have an “error” pop up in my protection-payments for a quarter, its time to meet the IRS guy for a “come to Jesus” moment if you know what I mean. Definite double-standard there.

    Offshore banks are at first blush a handy libertarian valve for capital to escape stupidity, and operationally that is what they do. However their existence prolongs the stupidity, because the Establishment gets to escape the consequences of that stupidity while inflicting it on everyone else. When everyone has skin in the game, including the lucky elite who make up the rules of the game, things change faster.

    For instance, if I was Prez and wanted to launch a political initiative of sorts to change America’s drug laws, the first thing I would do is get as big and bad of a drug-dragnet going to nab me a clutch of the Rich Kids. All those Congressmens’ kids in the nice colleges, or nepotistically ensconed in some cush job (thanks Daddy!) – they all do drugs as much as most poor people. One night BAM! a couple hundred no-knocks get served across the land, all at tony addresses. The uproar would be significant in the talking-head sphere the next day, given its THEIR kids who are now on the front-line of the war on drugs. Nothing changes and opens minds to liberty and fosters hostility to the state like a couple nights in GULAG

  104. Okay, Tulpa; how about this:

    If your article about imposing Social Justice through confiscatory taxation gets run by Mother Jones, yer a fekkin’ LEFTY.

  105. “(the sound of a south park reference flying over your head)”

    It’s kind of hard for me to get references from I show that I have never watched.

  106. So, his response to companies, productive, lucrative, profitable companies, leaving this country for greener pastures aren’t to green our own a bit, but to salt those other pastures?

  107. Isn’t that what liberalism has always been about?

    Achieving “equality” by dragging everyone down to the same miserable level.

  108. I am a registered Republican and chairman of a corporation I founded with one of my sons.

    Oooh, he registered his affiliation. And he’s a corporatist to boot! None of those on the left. Whoopie. His solution to tax inequity is to impose those inequities on everyone else. I’m reasonably confidant he voted for the big O. But hell, a vote for McCain wouldn’t really prove anything either.

    When he actually espouses something non leftist I’ll concede that he’s not a flaming leftist. Until then color me unconvinced.

  109. “Isn’t that what liberalism has always been about?

    Achieving “equality” by dragging everyone down to the same miserable level.”

    No, you’re confusing liberalism with socialism.

  110. I scoff at David Cay Johnson being anything other than a populism-inclined NY Times leftie, no matter what his party affiliations might be. Johnson is an arrogant, self-righteous prig (his run-in with the late Cathy Seipp springs to mind) who routines squeals at any suggestion that he might be anything other than a selfless truth-teller. Anybody whose books are endorsed by Paul Krugman is nowhere near the mainstream of Republican, much less conservative thought. He’s a “Republican” in the same sense that Kevin Phillips is–solely as a means to artificially gain credibility in the eyes of other liberals.

  111. “No, you’re confusing liberalism with socialism.”

    There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two.

  112. David Cay Johnson is the NY Times writer who has covered the tax honesty movement. I think this article illustrates just where his bias lies.

    Johnson at one point in his coverage asked the IRS Commissioner why they did not simply answer the questions that the tax honesty people are asking. He received points for journalistic integrity for this, but he quickly squandered those integrity points by consistently misrepresenting the legal issues presented by the tax honesty folks.

    A good bit of his dishonesty is revealed in Larken Rose’s excellent book, “Kicking the Dragon” –google it. It is worth reading.

  113. So once again, what we discover with the different political stripes of left and right, is that it’s not the policy or the process, but the cause. Invade, embargo, unilateralism, unauthorized war, torture. That’s not what we’re focusing on. It’s why we’re doing it that either makes it legitimate or not.

    Got it now.

  114. So how would any of you solve the two-tiered tax system?

    Johnston has done in-depth reporting about the ways the wealthy get around paying their share (what all the rest of us are compelled to do). His essential beef is with “socialism for the rich,” which, I’d think, libertarians should be against just as they are socialism for the poor.

  115. Tony-

    See libertree’s post.

  116. Flat tax.

    The wealthy get around paying “their share” via influence-peddling on the part of the people who write and interpret the tax code. If the tax code were made simple and straightforward (and “loopholes” abolished), there would be less fiddling and manipulation.

    This would prohibit using the tax code as a means of social engineering, so it will never happen.

  117. I know plenty of people who think ideas like this are good – to be sure they probably don’t think through what “force” means, but they think we should not let people move their money overseas. It’s “cheating” they say.

    Instead maybe we should be learning a lesson – people like their property so much they’d rather move it than let someone take it away from them. Instead of closing off the option for some, open up the option for everyone, or make our burdens less onerous so they don’t feel like they have to move it. THAT is the correct response.

    It’s like when I worked at Motorola in the 90s and Chris Galvin sent out an email saying anyone who used another phone were “billboards for the competition” you know instead of analyzing what was so horrible about Moto phones that even their own employees didn’t like them.

  118. “So how would any of you solve the two-tiered tax system?”

    Scrap the concept of an income tax completely and fund government services on a user fee basis.

    Government activites that are not actual services but merely transfer payments, such as social security, medicare, farm price supports, food stamps, etc. etc. would be eliminated.

    Problem solved.

  119. He’s a registered Republican but calls Obama “our guy”? Methinks he’s a liar one way or the other.

  120. Ah, so we solve the inequality problem by going to the most regressive system imaginable. No democracy can function on a flat tax. And no properly informed democracy would enact one.

    Corporations don’t move money offshore because they’re overburdened by taxes. They do it because their job is to maximize profits, and because they can. They won’t stop trying to maximize profits at a certain tax level out of the goodness of their hearts.

    Johnston’s argument is simply that, regardless of the tax scheme we happen to have, who can possibly be in favor of letting the rich and powerful cheat on their taxes while everyone else has to comply? It’s that simple. No need to muddle the argument with pie-in-the-sky flat tax proposals. Even with a flat tax corporations would look for loopholes. It’s the government’s job to ensure the taxes it is owed are paid.

  121. It is the point of a flat tax (both individual and corporate) to take away most loopholes. For individuals, I believe that most proposals deal with the regressive tax issue by exchanging a somewhat higher rate for excluding certain income levels. There are good arguments for going with a consumption tax, too, and dumping the income tax altogether.

    I’ve heard somewhere that the U.S., shockingly, has the highest or among the highest corporate taxes in the West.

  122. It is true that America has the second highest corporate tax rate of the 30 most wealthy countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. It is also true that America takes in the fourth lowest corporate tax revenues because of government favors and loopholes.

    If they can offshore money at X% why can’t they do it at a lower Y%? Even a flat tax would require rules to discourage tax cheating.

  123. No democracy can function on a flat tax. And no properly informed democracy would enact one.

    Eastern Europe seems to be functioning just fine.

    You know, for eastern europe.

  124. So how would any of you solve the two-tiered tax system?

    Followed by:

    Ah, so we solve the inequality problem by going to the most regressive system imaginable. No democracy can function on a flat tax. And no properly informed democracy would enact one.

    Always a personal fav. ZOMG our tax system is unfair! Answer: tax reform vis. flat tax or nat’l sales tax (my favorite). Response: ZOMG, our tax system will become unfair!

    Our tax system is already unfair and immoral. Income tax of any kind is immoral. Period.

    It invites levels of government scrutiny into our lives that cannot be justified in a free democracy. We have proof of this. Our current system already invites all manner of scrutiny, and it went through the roof with the PATRIOT act.

    In the end, it is no business of the government what I make, what I earn, and what someone pays me.

    I don’t like a ‘flat tax’ because it is ultimately more regressive. A national sales tax can be tailored to be non-regressive, or at least no more regressive than the very system we have now, and eliminates the government having to chase profit streams around the world or create voluminous texts describing “income”. Plus it eliminates the sheer stupidity of someone having to pay taxes on a car they win on the Oprah show. Does anyone really think about how fucking stupid that is? Someone made a dollar, but where did he put it? With a national sales tax…who cares? As soon as Bill Gates or Jay Z buys a ferrari, they pay their tax.

  125. Okay, Tony, I get it.

    Corporations are evil.

  126. P Brooks,

    I don’t think they’re evil. I just thing they’re single-mindedly profit-driven and as such can’t be trusted to do anything out of pure generosity. For decades we’ve been fed this nonsense that corporations can better handle almost anything than can government. But too often that has turned into an excuse to remove the policing responsibilities of government and to give corporations whatever they ask for.

    So what we end up with in the absence of a vigilant government is a system that shifts risk away from the wealthy. Surely you guys are equally miffed at this form of socialism as you always are about any subsidy whatsoever for the poor.

  127. I don’t like a ‘flat tax’ because it is ultimately more regressive.

    It’s imperfect, but that can be largely mitigated by excluding the first “X” dollars of income. And no, I don’t know what “X” equals.

    My personal belief is that the complications in “fixing” the regressiveness of a consumption tax would lead us right back to the stupid bullshit we’re trying to get away from.

  128. “So how would any of you solve the two-tiered tax system?”

    Libertarian ideal would be flat tax at a very limited rate; all wealth-distribution efforts, both overt and corrupt, would be eliminated. Politically speaking, this isn’t possible for a number of reasons, first amongst them Charlie Schumer and Co. like the power of arbitrarily taxing their “enemies” and somehow distributing the proceeds to their “friends.”

    What drives such bad behavior – and what the slimeballs use to justify it – is the general altruism of free societies. In a truly free, libertarian society, people are free not just with their soveriegnty but are free to surrender it to another person, usually based on some goodie the other person will kick down (“free” health care, a drug-free world, “safety” from all threats; from terrorists with thermonuclear weapons to uninspected Mexican tomatoes). Without going back to square one with more laws and crap to limit people’s ability to do this (and therefore limit their freedom) there is no way I think to prevent that evolution from taking place in a free society. Its why don’t last very long. Knowing this, there can be no long-term realization of the libertarian ideal in such a context.

    But the ideas always flittering through libertarian minds about this subject focus on separating the government from money. But since this isn’t truly possible given the above realities about people in gerneral, a more pragmatic line of thought would be schemes that separate politicians and bureaucrats from direct, unaccountable access to the Public treasury and credit-rating. Such schemes could be something radically different than forms of government that have been tried before. I am thinking of out-there ideas like a “fiscal democracy” where on tax day the taxpayers literally vote their taxes to departments and organizations. The legislature would be limited to deciding what the flat-tax rate is for instance, and the “core” government ops that libertarians think should be a State’s only function. Everything else stemming from the public treasury would be up to voters to decide.

    Such a mechanism would need an income tax system, a sales or consumer-tax scheme wouldn’t work in such a “fiscal democracy.” Billions of details would have to be rectified in as simple a structure as possible (as measured in words-on-page). But if such a scheme were implemented rationally, it would be a very real revolution in the way the people fund their collective State, and it would blow the current political order and associated cottage industries away.

  129. I am absolutely opposed to corporate welfare.

    But I also do not believe in the Easter Bunny, Santy Clause, the Tooth Fairy, or government employees who are selflessly virtuous.

  130. It’s imperfect, but that can be largely mitigated by excluding the first “X” dollars of income. And no, I don’t know what “X” equals.

    And no one really knows what ‘income’ is. Moving targets all. Most of the fixes for regressiveness on “consumption taxes” are already in. See your local municipal sales tax code. In my opinion, it’s something that cities and states do fairly well.

    Flat income taxes fix little if nothing. Flat tax for a guy with three kids? Flat tax for the same guy with one or no kids? Doh! We need some writeoffs. You can guess where that goes. Nat’l sales tax even taxes black market incomes. A flat tax won’t. The drug dealer still has to buy his benzo, or his gold necklace.

    Tuned properly, the poor will pay little or no tax, the wealthy the most tax. And no bureaucrat will ever show up at your door to find out where or if you’re hiding your income.

  131. Tuned properly, the poor will pay little or no tax

    The devil is always in the details. Just so you know, I actually would prefer a comsumption tax. But, just for example, how do you collect on “private sales”?

    If you set your tax rates at that mythical point where avoidance is more costly than compliance, you could presumably eliminate a lot of problems. But how does that square with the revenue-neutral level?

  132. “I don’t think they’re evil. I just thing they’re single-mindedly profit-driven and as such can’t be trusted to do anything out of pure generosity.”

    Tony tony tony. Why the hell should they? corporations are owned by the investors. The investors are free to take their profits and donate them as they please. corporations aren’t people, after all, only a legal fiction allows them to be treated that way. Corporate bigwigs are some of the most generous contributors to society that you would ever meet. The problems start when they decide to literally give away cash that should be going into my 401k.

  133. “Flat income taxes fix little if nothing. Flat tax for a guy with three kids? Flat tax for the same guy with one or no kids? Doh! We need some writeoffs.”

    This is where the breakdown occurs for me. I don’t understand why a guy who has three kids needs some kind of extra break from society relative to the guy who has one kid. He has less money for himself because previous choices in his life left him with three kids instead of one. Sounds like his problem.

  134. Flat income taxes fix little if nothing. Flat tax for a guy with three kids? Flat tax for the same guy with one or no kids? Doh! We need some writeoffs.

    I’ve never understood the concept of subsidizing procreation. What is this, cold-war era Romania?

  135. Just as I didn’t say corporations are evil, I didn’t say government employees are virtuous. I prefer to leave moral assumptions out of the equation.

    A democratic government is responsive to the interests of the people. A corporation is responsive to the pocketbooks of shareholders. One’s job is to maximize profit, the other’s is to make sure rules are enforced and that any tax scheme is fair for the greatest number of people possible.

    To me, fair does not mean some arbitrary percentage. It means, as T. Jefferson put it, “Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by the individual.”

  136. But, just for example, how do you collect on “private sales”?

    If you set your tax rates at that mythical point where avoidance is more costly than compliance,

    P Brooks. All valid points, except we already have a model. It’s called your local and state governments. Localities have been pretty good at collecting sales taxes for a long time, and private sales (for the most part) already avoid the tax. It’s not like Safeway or Albertson’s are making behind the counter, super-secret private sales to avoid the tax. The issue would have to be studied, to be sure, but the advantage to moving to a sales tax is that we already have one, so we would merely bump it up to a federal level. The only question left is would or could it pull in enough revenue for government to function. The cynical libertarian side of me says “Geez, I hope not”, but the realistic side says “don’t know”. I suspect it could but it has to be studied.

    I’ve never understood the concept of subsidizing procreation. What is this, cold-war era Romania?

    MAX-HATS, hal9000:

    Nope, it’s 21st century America. So I take it we’re in agreement, that you don’t like an income tax (flat or otherwise), and prefer a consumption tax. You know, so we can get away from subsidizing procreation like we do. right. now. Consumption taxes eliminate child subsidies.

  137. P Brooks,

    To further bolster the “private sales” issue, even then, some private sales are covered under sales tax. I know that states are different, but here in Washington, you can private sale your car all you want, and you’ll still pay taxes on it. You pay taxes when you go get it registered. Tell the gum-chewer behind the counter that you paid $1 for your car, and she’ll pull a book out, and tell you “The car you bought for $1 is valued at $10,997, so the taxes due are…”

    Like I said. This ‘consumption tax’ thing isn’t wild new territory, we’ve been doing it for decades and quite frankly, we’re pretty good at it.

  138. The thing I haven’t seen said clearly is that corporate tax havens like the Caymans serve a very important buffering effect on our government’s erstwhile confiscation schemes (aka tax policies). Given the option of having a small percent of a large pie or a large percent of a tiny pie, the smart government will opt to take less of more (i.e. lower taxes).

    My nightmare scenario is one in which the global economy grows large enough and offers US businesses sufficient low/no tax incentives that they simply pack up and rely upon free-trade agreements to support their N.A. markets or simply take their ball and go to their new home. Once these sources of revenue dry up the US gov will turn to the next sucker (middle class) for even a bigger hunk of the megabucks beeded to fill the business tax vacuum. Think urban flight/blight, but on a national scale.

  139. I don’t understand why we subsidize home mortgages with tax relief, but don’t do that for credit card or auto loan debts. Oh, now I remember. The home mortgage is “good” debt. The bigger, the better.

    It’s imperative that we encourage consumers to buy the products that they already want to buy. Yeah, that’s it. And while we’re making all sorts of sense, screw those rich people who rent and are too cheap to spend their money on buying a house.

  140. I’m in favor of an income taxes for a variety of reasons, but an income tax does not have to have child credits or deductions built into it. Similarly, there’s no reason a consumption tax wouldn’t have a similar refund “child credit” of some such. In fact, if we went to a consumption tax, I’d bet anyone that within two years there would be just such a credit, along with all sorts of other “credits” distributed by “refund” checks from the government.

  141. “Ah, so we solve the inequality problem by going to the most regressive system imaginable”

    And who says inequality is a “problem” that has to be soloved in the first place?

    Or that it is any legitimate business of the federal government to attempt it?

    I don’t see that anywhere in the list of ennumerated powers delegated to the federal government in the text of the Constitution.

    If I have more money than you do, that isn’t a “problem”.

    I earned it and you didn’t.

  142. And on this little taxing corporations contretemps, consumption tax fixes that, too. The CEO’s and shareholders pay taxes when they go by their new Lexus and summer homes in the hamptons based on the profits they made from said corporations. Corporations aren’t individuals, and they shouldn’t pay “taxes”. Their owners and operators should.

  143. I’m in favor of an income taxes for a variety of reasons, but an income tax does not have to have child credits or deductions built into it. Similarly, there’s no reason a consumption tax wouldn’t have a similar refund “child credit” of some such.

    Max Hats, a man can dream, can’t he?

    So what you want, is a system exactly like we have now, but better people running it who won’t be tempted to tweak it, you know, like the system we have right now.

    Max, no system is perfect, and no system is immune from policy shenanegans. But in the case of a consumption tax, any credits are purely after-the-fact, and would force the government to write a cheque to you at the end of the year. Whereas now, the tax-credits are deductions that you take when filling out your tax return– another fine, quaint and totally fucking retarded activity that would be gone with a consumption tax.

  144. Gilbert Martin,

    The inequality I was referring to is having two tax systems, one for the rich and powerful, one for everyone else.

    I don’t believe government should attempt to make everyone equally wealthy. I do think government should enforce equal opportunity for all.

  145. “I don’t believe government should attempt to make everyone equally wealthy. I do think government should enforce equal opportunity for all.”

    I think the federal government should confine itself to it’s ennumerated powers as the 10th Amendment requires it to do.

    And those don’t include anything about attempting to enforce “equal opportunity” either.

    There are no affirmative rights – to an equal opportunity or anything else. There are only negative rights such as freedom of speech, etc.

    Basically, you have the right to be left alone by the government unless you are actively doing something to harm someone else.

  146. two tax systems, one for the rich and powerful, one for everyone else.

    How did this come to be?

    Why should I expect the people who created that system, because it benefits them politically and personally, to fix it?

    Incentives matter, and the incentives which actually affect legislation are not necessarily what you might prefer.

  147. “Like I said. This ‘consumption tax’ thing isn’t wild new territory, we’ve been doing it for decades and quite frankly, we’re pretty good at it”

    Consumption tax seems nifty, but in some ways I don’t think it is the panacea its supporters indicate.

    For one thing, it is somewhat inequitable in the context it takes a certain, base amount of “consumption” just to live at all. Poor guy has to spend say, $20,000 a year just to eat and live in a shack, and he only makes $20,000 a year to boot. Mr. Megamillions-per-year elects to do the same thing, and live just as poor (Warren Buffett, lets say), spending only $20,000 bucks a year on himself. End result there is the marginal tax rate on the poor guy is much higher on a per-dollar-earned basis than Mr. Rich Guy. That ain’t a flat-tax.

    Also, you just wait for the social engineers to get ahold of manipulating sales-taxes in a BIG way. They already do it. Smokes are taxed more, food is tax-free, booze is turbo-taxed, etc. If consumption taxes were the only game in town for the engineers, descend on it they would with wild abandon. Soon, you would see integrated debit cards that track your purchases (reverse welfare!), so for some stuff you would pay less tax (for instance, buy fewer then twenty gallons of gas a week, and you drop to a lower “gas consumption bracket” because you’re saving Earth!) and other stuff more tax. Now the government might not know everything I make, but more and more they will know everything I buy. Zero-sum trade there in my opionion.

    Soon moronic subsidies would show up. If I buy organic food I get a “negative” consumption tax, so at the end of every year my refund check shows up because I’m eating healthy. Unions would love a purchase-subsidy for the stuff their shops make or sell…did anyone say “healthcare?” Purchase-subsidy-palooza! How ’bout education? Wheee!

    At the end of the day, you’re just trading an antelope for an ibex changing out an income tax for a consumption tax…not a whole lot of difference.

  148. P Brooks,

    I agree. That’s why I favor laws that restore the incentive formula to ensure government actually works for the people who own it and not just for those who can afford to buy elections.

  149. Paul-

    You’re in Washington? That explains a lot. How are Washington’s finances holding up? I am not looking for a “gotcha”, just genuinely curious.

    As I recall, there is a sales tax only, no income tax, there. I spent my first year of business school in Moscow, Idaho (University of Idaho); there was a shiny new mall about two hundred yards from the state line, and lots of people came from Pullman, and the rest of western Washington, to avoid the sales taxes. Sound familiar?

  150. The Obama era, a mere three days old, has gotten so bizarre, that I can no longer tell the difference between the news and the spoofs. It’s like reality decided to drop acid. Invade the Caymans? WTF? I need to start dropping acid myself just to keep up with current events!

  151. THE URKOBOLD FINDS THIS DISCUSSION TO BE TOO TAXING. ALERT HIM WHEN THE THREAD TURNS TO WOMEN WITH GRAVITY-DEFYING BREASTS.

  152. Goes right along with Rep. Rangel (D-NY) repeatedly trying to reintroduce the draft. Dems supporting the draft, Reps supporting confiscatory taxes. We do live in interesting times.

  153. Why is it odd for a Democrat to support the draft? Democrats are egalitarian; a draft means even plutocrats’ children might have to serve. Republicans are just fine with an underclass doing their dirty work for them.

  154. Urkobold?

    Can I recommend this website while you wait?

  155. Tony,

    “Why is it odd for a Democrat to support the draft? Democrats are egalitarian; a draft means even plutocrats’ children might have to serve. Republicans are just fine with an underclass doing their dirty work for them.”

    Please tell me what you’re smoking, because it must be some good s***. Are you kidding? Being a “plutocrat” means you have lots of money, lots of connections, and lots of strings you can pull. Now, tell the rest of the class how these just might possibly affect the acquisition of a draft deferment.

    And, being an Air Force retiree and the father of a son and daughter-in-law who are both in the Army, I f***ing resent your implication our volunteer troops are from some knuckle-dragging “underclass.” Both of my children them are smart as hell, well-educated, well-trained, and could kick your pasty ass in a skinny minute–after, of course, I get a few shots in first as an appetizer.

    Capisce, paisan imbecile?

  156. “And the membership of the Cayman Popular Resistance Front”

    SPLITTERS!

  157. “It is true that America has the second highest corporate tax rate of the 30 most wealthy countries of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. It is also true that America takes in the fourth lowest corporate tax revenues because of government favors and loopholes.”-Tony

    And yet you do not recognize that those truths are related? With a more reasonable level of corporate tax there’d be less push for making loopholes and exceptions. Exercising loopholes cost the corporation money as well just less than th savings and directs funds to inefficient uses.

    A proliferation of people seeking tax shelters and loopholes is evidence that the base tax rates are too high. This analogous to a grocery store raising the price of a box of cereal to $7 and then complaining that they can only move the product with coupons.

  158. “It means, as T. Jefferson put it, “Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by the individual.” – Tony

    That sounds nice and all, but who is supposed to judge that proportion…non-arbitrarily? One can make those kind of theoretical statements but we do not have the kind of incorruptible, objective, philosopher-kings in the real world to actually implement it. Which is why the real tax cade is a bloody, indescipherable morass.

  159. “The inequality I was referring to is having two tax systems, one for the rich and powerful, one for everyone else.”

    The guy arguing in defense of the progressive income tax writes that? Tony, you have one of the worst cases of cognitive dissonance I have ever seen.

  160. Wars stimulate the economy, and what our economy needs right now is stimulation! Yeah, yeah, stimulate it! Harder! HARDER!

  161. “The inequality I was referring to is having two tax systems, one for the rich and powerful, one for everyone else.”
    Well, if you’re rich AND powerful, you’re probably some scum-sucking Washington reptile (I’m looking at you Ted Kennedy, brain tumor or not). If you’re just rich, you get screwed by the tax code. In the butt.

  162. “Why is it odd for a Democrat to support the draft? Democrats are egalitarian; a draft means even plutocrats’ children might have to serve. Republicans are just fine with an underclass doing their dirty work for them.”

    Could Tony be Lefiti? It makes sense. Lefiti would come up with an excuse to defend any leftist cause, especially one that pisses off libertarians (like the draft).

  163. “There are no affirmative rights – to an equal opportunity or anything else. There are only negative rights such as freedom of speech, etc.

    Basically, you have the right to be left alone by the government unless you are actively doing something to harm someone else.”

    But Gil, we’re in the Age of Obama now. The age of the Hope and the Change. So get around the fire with us and join hands and sing the great hymns of equality and the collective spirit. Or else.

  164. MarkJ,

    I’m certain there are bright and brilliant people serving in the armed forces. But I’m also certain that, on the whole, the armed forces are comprised of people for whom it’s the most prudent economic option. What I object to, what I find offensive, is wealthy, detached people making decisions about war and peace when they, themselves, have nothing to sacrifice for it. Sending poor southerners off to be carbomb fodder in an illegal war is not something to celebrate.

  165. MJ,

    I’m in favor of taxes not being a burden on anyone. When you can pay fewer taxes per dollar when you’re rich and connected than someone who is poor and can barely afford what he’s forced to pay, something’s wrong. I just wish libertarians would spend as much time being angry about rich welfare as they do poor welfare.

  166. Tony,

    I wish liberals would spend some time thinking about how and why their policies lead to results they supposedly disapprove of.

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