Reason Morning Links

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• The Washington Post summarizes Sonia Sotomayor rulings on several hot-button issues.

• Supreme Court loosens restrictions on when police may interrogate a suspect without his lawyer.

• Is the U.S. headed for a national sales tax?

• FCC claims it has the power to search private homes without a warrant.

• GM rescue plan would mean three-quarters of the company owned by U.S. and Canadian governments.

• Will personalized magazines save print media?

NEXT: U.S. Military Takes Long-Term Lease With Option to Buy in Iraq & Afghanistan

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  1. I’ve often wondered why the US doesn’t have a federal consumption tax. I can’t think of another developed nation without one.

    The question is, will tax incentives be created for saving/investing once consumption is taxed?

  2. Conservative justices continue to widdle away at rights of the accused. In other news, moon continues to orbit Earth.

  3. Considering judges at her level (Court of Appeals) are supposed to apply SCOTUS precedent most of her opinions in the WaPo summary seem less than controversial (except for the race one, in light of recent SCOTUS precedent that one stinks to high heaven).

  4. MNG,

    I thought the same thing re: the ED case (not sure if mentioned in the WAPO article) at first. Applying Kelo was her job, even if she disagreed with it. However, after reading details, Im 100% sure that CVS v Walgreens isnt a public use or benefit. 🙂 There was enough room to not apply Kelo.

  5. MNG,

    The nunchuk (sp?) case came after Heller too. Once again, not sure if covered in the WaPo summary.

  6. robc
    But Heller did not incorporate the 2nd to the states.

  7. MNG,

    Doesnt matter…it is still precedent. She could have incorporated to the 2nd district. Heller didnt disincorporate the 2nd, it is still an open question. The kind of thing the review courts decide and differ on and let the supremes work out later.

  8. s/review/appeal/

  9. Will personalized magazines save print media?

    Will RSS readers save the blogosphere?

  10. Will personalized magazines save print media?

    I should have looked at the URL before clicking into that Slate lunacy.

  11. Considering judges at her level (Court of Appeals) are supposed to apply SCOTUS precedent most of her opinions in the WaPo summary seem less than controversial (except for the race one, in light of recent SCOTUS precedent that one stinks to high heaven).

    She’s reversed on appeal 60% of the time, if that matters.

    Of course, its probably just old white men who can’t see the superiority of wise Latina judging.

    But Heller did not incorporate the 2nd to the states.

    Her nunchuk decision is badly constructed. They blew off the Second Amendment by citing to cases before the incorporation doctrine was even created. A good opinion would have at least considered the issue, but they were so eager to get to their anti-2A result they couldn’t be bothered.

  12. The sales tax story starts off mentioning the growing federal deficits expected over the next few years, and ends by listing all the juicy new programs that a national sales tax could pay for.

    It’s only a solution if it’s used to fix the problems.

  13. The FCC story is interesting. I recall from college that there are several types of businesses that have little or no warrant protections. Perhaps the lawyers here can refresh the rest of us on those.

    It does sound like the FCC is overstepping their bounds, but that seems to be their habit these days too.

  14. From one of the WaPo’s links, here’s a case where Judge S. would have been well-advised to put racial loyalty over lefty legal ideology, but lefty ideology prevailed:

    http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F3/290/290.F3d.143.00-9487.html

    A guy who worked for the NY Police Dept on the departmental computers sent anonymous racist mail to another police dept. (in response to charitable solicitations). When the NYPD found out about it, they held a hearing and fired the guy. The 2nd Circuit said this was constitutional, since the racist cop wasn’t engaging in public debate, but a private frolic. Plus, the court opened its eyes to the real world and pointed out that keeping racists on the payroll doesn’t exactly help a police department’s relations with minority communities.

    Judge S. dissented, saying that under the circumstances, the balancing of interests meant the racist cop’s First Amendment rights protected him from being fired. After all, he wasn’t a supervisory or policymaking employee!

    When racial loyalty would have produced a better decision that the one she gave, maybe the problem with Judge S. goes beyond the racial angle.

  15. A twenty-five percent VAT will fix everything!

    What are we waiting for?

  16. Yo, fuck the FCC.

  17. The question is, will tax incentives be created for saving/investing once consumption is taxed?

    Presumably the incentive would be that money not spent is money not taxed. Of course, I’ll eat a car on the day that the US gives up on punishing people for financial prudence.

  18. Between the FCC and the giving pigs the green light to badger suspects, it’s too early and I’m too nauseated to even start drinking.

  19. I liked the theory that a VAT would stimulate the economy by giving people an incentive to rush out and spendspendspend before the tax takes effect.

  20. “Whittle” away. You “whittle” away rights, like Eddie Dean whittles a key from an ash limb.

  21. I’ll eat a car on the day that the US gives up on punishing people for financial prudence.

    Yeah, doesn’t our economy kind of revolve around spending money on shit?

  22. Widdle Bunny, don’t be persnickety.

  23. Without persnickety, all I’ve got is cheap and moderately-informed. Not much of a personality to go imposing on the internets.

  24. I could be convinced on the VAT thing (though ‘25%’ does chill the blood just a tad) if it replaced the income tax and put the vile IRS out of business. I could even live with the VAT then financing a new program whereby all former IRS employees were renditioned to Yemen, information extracted from them through vigorous interrogation, the evidence thus received disallowed in federal court, and then just put them in preventive custody in a supermax prison for the rest of their miserable lives.

    But – of course – the article indicates a VAT in addition to the income tax, which is the worst of all conceivable worlds. It is not too early to drink.

  25. The VAT has been embraced by the people who want unlimited, cost-free health care for all Americans. Maybe they should ask the General Motors and Chrysler bondholders how well that system works.

  26. The government is taking on the ownership role at GM reluctantly, officials have said, adding that it is not intended as a permanent situation. Nonetheless, for the foreseeable future, the United States will have broad power over the company, including the ability to appoint board seats. [emphasis added]

    With this legislation AMTRAK will be self supporting by 1990 1994 1997 2002 2007 …

  27. Joel,

    A vat without the income tax is basically the fair tax. And 25% would be about right to be “revenue neutral”.

    I could only support it bundled with overturning the 16th amendment. Otherwise, the income tax will return too- which is as you said, the worst of all conceivable worlds.

    Actually, if we are going to massively overhaul the tax system that way, I would probably prefer the Single Land Tax. I dont completely agree with Georgism, but the single tax is logically solid.

    It probably prevents most ED abuse too. Cities would get the same amount of tax regardless of what is done with the land, so why would they care? There would still be abuses, but much less.

  28. From the Supreme Court Item

    Justice Scalia, who read the opinion from the bench, said their decision will have a “minimal” effects on criminal defendants. “Because of the protections created by this court in Miranda and related cases, there is little if any chance that a defendant will be badgered into waiving his right to have counsel present during interrogation,” Justice Scalia said.

    Scalia probably also believes in Santa Claus.

  29. Just contemplate the festival of special pleading which would ensue if the Congress seriously considered a VAT.

    What gets exempted? Will there be varying rates? Will there be “regressivity rebates”?

    How do we make it fair?

  30. As far as the VAT, I can’t decide whether to murder someone or hope it brings about some kind of agorist revolution.

  31. ? Will personalized magazines save print media?

    A good counteroffensive in a losing war is just a well executed delaying action. The Bulge was fairly well executed, but ultimately had little impact on the final outcome of the war.

  32. However, after reading details, Im 100% sure that CVS v Walgreens isnt a public use or benefit. 🙂 There was enough room to not apply Kelo.

    “Empathy” would have meant siding with the owner. Therefore, empathy trumps all, except government. When government is making it clear that it owns all and can take what it wants, empathy gets tossed out the window.

  33. “Whittle” away. You “whittle” away rights

    I believe “widdle” means urinate, so the original can stand.

    Please remind me Whoever’s Law it is that a typo in a blog comment will make an even better point than the one intended.

    In any case, I think that government “whidtles” away our freedom, meaning pisses at it with such force as to make bark and wood chips fly, shaping it into a Pontiac Aztec.

  34. Conservative justices continue to widdle away at rights of the accused

    What widdle wights are weft.

  35. So Obama is going to raise taxes – a lot – either during his term through real increases, or in the future through debt. That is simply the bottom line. In addition, the federal tax system currently sucks ass and discourages productivity. The descriptions of the VAT in the WaPo article describe it as replacing the income tax to the extent possible, depending on the rate selected.

    So, my question is, if Ron Paul had added a national sales tax replacing the income tax to his platform, what would your response have been? What we have here is essentially a Dem proposal to fundamentally reform federal taxation in a way libertarians have generally favored.

    Yes, the spending proposals suck Keynes’ balls, but look at them separately from the taxation proposal (which I’m not saying is anywhere near perfect – but potentially a lot closer to ideal than what we have now.)

    I guess what I’m saying is that I expected the US to emerge from this administration economically fucked 6 ways to Sunday. Perhaps we can make that 5 ways to Sunday by supporting the D’s on this one major reform?

  36. Will there be “regressivity rebates”?

    I read Boortz’s Fair Tax book (I was stuck in an airport bookstore) and was bothered by the solution to the regressivity issue that comes around by the end: basically a federally guaranteed national minimum income. Not sold on that.

  37. So, my question is, if Ron Paul had added a national sales tax replacing the income tax to his platform, what would your response have been?

    I would have called him an even bigger hypocrite than I already believe him to be. If he really wishes to dismantle BigGov, a national sales tax or any other tax scheme would be out of the question. But he doesn’t, so the question – along with Paul himself – is moot.

  38. ChicagoActuary, I could probably support a VAT as a complete replacement for the income tax.

    That’s not what they are talking about, however. They are talking about reducing the income tax “to the extent possible” after taking into account the massive spending spree that we just embarked on, and the massive spending spree they are planning on top of that.

    The VAT would be 100% additive to the income tax. As such, quite easy to oppose. The real fun will be watching how the VAT gets tortured on both the business side, as favored constituencies get their breaks, and on the consumer side, as a huge new entitlement is created to buy off voters.

  39. As far as the VAT, I can’t decide whether to murder someone or hope it brings about some kind of agorist revolution.

    Ooh, ooh! I like the agorist revolution option.

  40. I believe “widdle” means urinate, so the original can stand.

    You might be thinking of “piddle.”

  41. If he really wishes to dismantle BigGov, a national sales tax or any other tax scheme would be out of the question.

    Singular point: Dismantling BigGov is not the same as dismantling AllGov, and a national sales tax is an improvement over our current system.

  42. Ten thousand dollars VAT on your forty thousand dollar hair shirt VOLT. (Not counting fifty billion dollars of “rescue” money.)

    See the USA, in your Chevrolet. In forty mile increments.

  43. “”””So Obama is going to raise taxes – a lot – either during his term through real increases, or in the future through debt”””

    If future debt is considered a tax increase, then the GOP taxed us a lot. I’m fully aware that anytime you buy crap on credit you must pay the bills which is why I never thought Reagan nor Bush Sr. did us any favors fiscally. Well, Bush did raise taxes to pay for much of Reagan’s spending, but it costed him his re-election.

    “””But – of course – the article indicates a VAT in addition to the income tax, which is the worst of all conceivable worlds.”””

    Yeah, I’m sure how many people are catching that.

    The FCC stuff is mostly BS. They will never come out to inspect your wifi device even if it’s interfering with your neightbors. I haven’t checked but I’d guess WiFi devices are under part 15. Anyone know otherwise? Part 15 devices must accept interference and can not interefere with licensed operator on authorized frequencies. Besides it’s not easy to get the FCC out over interference issues, they require that both sides try to work it out on their own.

    The story give NO example of the FCC inspecting someone’s home equipment for wifi issues. The pirate radio station is a different matter. The FCC is big on going after unauthorized transmissions.

  44. So Joel and RC Dean: What advantages does the current federal tax scheme have over one replacing a significant portion of the income tax with a consumption tax?

    The primary one in my mind is that the more different taxes the feds have at their disposal, the more ways they can raise those taxes. But the current admin is raising taxes regardless, so isn’t there some advantage to getting a more fair taxation mechanism in place, which can then be adjusted in the future much more simply than trying to implement a new mechanism at the same time as a major tax cut?

    Even ignoring that, if you think a consumption tax is superior to an income tax (I do), then I would think you would generally prefer a blended system to a pure income tax as well (I would).

  45. “If future debt is considered a tax increase, then the GOP taxed us a lot.”

    TrickyVic – yes, it should be, and yes, they did. I don’t post a lot, but I assure you I’m no red teamer.

    Increases in spending = increases in taxes, now or in the future (or a comparable reduction in purchasing power via inflating away the debt)

  46. “””then I would think you would generally prefer a blended system to a pure income tax as well (I would).”””

    Then they can raise both taxes!

    I say, either tax goods, or income, not both. I lean toward the first.

  47. Even ignoring that, if you think a consumption tax is superior to an income tax (I do), then I would think you would generally prefer a blended system to a pure income tax as well (I would).

    I agree with you, *in theory*.

    Serious contemplation of the extent to which the Congress will fuck it up fills me with dread.

  48. “””I assure you I’m no red teamer.”””

    No red teamer implied, I hope it didn’t come out that way, didn’t mean to if it did.

    I just wanted to add it for those who think that Reagan was god’s gift to tax reduction.

    My opinion is government wants your money, both sides. They just squabble about what to buy and when to pay for it.

  49. P Brooks – I make good actuary money becuase of how bad tax law applying only to pension plans has been fucked up. I promise I did not discount that point at all.

    My point is, a f’d up consuption tax is still preferable to a f’d up income tax, and I think a f’d up blended system is still preferable to the current one.

  50. You might be thinking of “piddle.”

    Widdle also = urinate.

  51. The article I read said they wanted VAT In ADDITION to HIGHER income taxes. It was basically “soak the rich” with higher income taxes and screw the poor with VAT but throw them some “free” health care because we know whats best for the poor non-political class.

  52. dbcooper,

    You are correct, sir. I also like the archaic verb form:

    1. trans. To invoke or inflict a curse upon: = CURSE v. 2, 5.

    1552 ABP. HAMILTON Catech. (1884) 63 Quha brekis the secund command?..thai that..wariis, bannis and widdillis thair saule..for ony vaine mater. Ibid., Thai that will nocht chasteis..thair barnis fra lesingis, sweiring, banning and widling. a1568 in Bannatyne MS. (Hunter. Club) 385/29 The hennis of Hadingtoun sensyne wald nocht lay, For this wyld wilroun wich thame widlit sa and wareit. a1585 MONTGOMERIE Cherrie & Slae 250 Like Dido, Cupido I widill and warye.

    2. To beguile, to lead astray.

    1697 CLELAND Poems 80 It’s Antichrist his Pipes and Fidles, And other Tools, wherewith he Widdles Poor Caitiffs into dark delusions.

  53. The FCC can have my electromagnetic waves when they pry them out of my cold, dead….uh, well I guess I can’t actually hold electromagnetic waves, not to get into that whole wave particle duality thing…hmmm…I forgot what I was talking about

  54. Democrats want more taxes on other people? Next you will tell me the sky is blue.

  55. So Joel and RC Dean: What advantages does the current federal tax scheme have over one replacing a significant portion of the income tax with a consumption tax?

    First, there’s no replacement realistically in view here, ChicagoActuary. The Dems need gigantic piles of new tax revenue just to fund what they’ve already done, and whole new gigantic piles to fund what the plan to do. The VAT will be additive, not a replacement.

    Second, even a partial replacement just lays the groundwork for an even broader and deeper taxation in the future, and even more rent-seeking and corruption, once Our Masters have two tax schemes to play off of.

    I repeat: Complete replacement of the income tax with a VAT, I would probably support. Layering a VAT on top of the income tax is the worst of both worlds, squared.

  56. One major problem with the current income tax is that only about half of people pay it. So when politicians raise taxes, half the voters shrug and say, “It won’t effect me.” This is a huge tactical advantage for big-government types. A sales tax completely changes the battleground. I hope Obama is too dumb to realise this. Even a blended system would be a total game changer.

  57. dbcooper,

    You are correct, sir. I also like the archaic verb form:

    1. trans. To invoke or inflict a curse upon: = CURSE v. 2, 5.

    Having OED access from the browser context menu = the awesome, or something else meaning cool.

  58. RE SCOTUS and PoPo interrogations:

    The SCOTUS ruling does not invalidate Miranda. What it does is make anything said by the defendant after requesting counsel, but spoken while said counsel is not present, admissible in court.

    The question I have is “how long after requesting counsel does the police have to respond?” Can the police delay summoning counsel for days, even weeks, for interrogation purposes?

    You have the right to a “speedy” trial and the right to counsel but not necessarily “speedy” counsel.

  59. Please remind me Whoever’s Law it is that a typo in a blog comment will make an even better point than the one intended.

    Why that would be the immutable “Joe’s Law”.

  60. RC Dean: I agree, gobs of new tax revenue are needed to cover money already spent. And assuming no anarcho-capitalist takeover of the federal government in the next 18 months, we are looking at over $3 trillion in new debt (read: future taxes) in just 2 years which requires additional revenue.

    But reread the article, particulary “A VATs Bottom Line”. They are talking about replacing income tax revenue (and supplementing it).

    So if the spending is a given, do you choose to pay for it by:
    a) increasing rates in the current income/payroll/corporate tax system
    b) reducing rates in the current system and raising that “lost” money plus the new amount via a VAT
    c) printing money and devestating everyone’s savings

    …which do you choose?

    I completely agree that the spending will sink the ship unless reversed, but I disagree that adding a more sensible form of taxation will itself lead to increased taxation.

  61. replacing *some* income tax revenue that is

  62. we are looking at over $3 trillion in new debt (read: future taxes) in just 2 years which requires additional revenue.

    The hell it does: let them print it. The smart money has already left the dollar behind.

  63. I’ve been a proponent of using a national sales tax in lieu of a federal income tax because an income tax is immoral insofar as it allows the government to scrutinize income sources. Afterall, we have an unwritten right to privacy in the constitution.

    However, my reliably liberal friends ganged up on me and told me a sales tax is “regressive”. So now my reliably liberal friends have *poof* forgotten that whole argument and are going so far as to suggest not only keeping the Federal Income tax, but slapping a Federal Sales tax ON TOP of it. What happed to regressive? Uhh! Your shoe’s untied!

  64. “””Second, even a partial replacement just lays the groundwork for an even broader and deeper taxation in the future, and even more rent-seeking and corruption, once Our Masters have two tax schemes to play off of.”””

    No shit, It’s all about getting the foot in the door to more revenue streams.

  65. “”””Democrats want more taxes on other people? Next you will tell me the sky is blue.””””

    Not that I like taxes, but I have more appreciation for someone who pays the bills instead of pushing it off to the next guy.

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