Taxes

Tax Collectors for the Warfare State

We should never agree to trade tax deductions for lower tax rates.

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Peter Larson/Medill News Service/Wikimedia

The old accusation that Republicans are tax collectors for the welfare state still rings true. Republicans repeatedly promise lower tax rates in return for eliminating tax deductions. Then, a few years later, tax rates are raised back up to old levels—but the deductions stay gone forever.

Even Ronald Reagan succumbed to this trick—when he left office, Washington was spending a higher percentage of gross domestic product than when he first took office (22.4 percent compared to President Carter's 20.8 percent). But the tax deductions he and Congress took away never came back. Deductions, called loopholes in Washington, are more valuable and permanent than rate cuts.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) recently offered a new 10-year budget plan with new tricks. Ten-year budgets are fantasies, and the congressman know it. Any budget more than two years long is a myth. But tiny cuts sound bigger multiplied by 10, and bigger cuts are better for gaining media headlines. A 10-year budget is also camouflage for taking away tax deductions today in return for empty promises that tomorrow's congresses won't raise rates later.

Specifically, Ryan's budget would take away itemized deductions, such as home mortgage interest, in return for lower tax rates. But although this elimination or curtailing of deductions is initially only charged against "the rich," i.e. those with mortgages over half a million dollars, it's not inflation adjustable and the process could end up taking away everyone's interest deduction.

Ryan's fantasy budget, passed by a large majority of those once cost-cutting House Republicans, is based upon the falsehood that he can commit future congresses to cut $3 trillion (over 10 years) from Obamacare and make changes to Medicare.

Ryan was a big Iraq war fan, and he now supports the John McCain/Lindsay Graham war hawk wing of the party. He would increase military spending by some $50 billion per year starting in 2015, eliminating the savings of the defense sequestration plan passed last year by congress.

But far worse than Ryan's is the budget of David Camp, retiring Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The budget proposal's summary alone takes up 194 pages. 

In return for promising (temporarily) lower rates, Camp would also eliminate many deductions, including those for local property taxes, for selling one's home, and for 401(k) contributions. He would end penalty-free withdrawals from retirement accounts for first-time home buyers, force some to start paying taxes on municipal bonds, and tax employer-provided health insurance plans. His plan would eliminate the capital gains tax exclusion for joint filers earning over $500,000 per year (or $250,000 for singles). It would also cut the home mortgage deduction for mortgages over $500,00, with no adjustment for future inflation, and leave in limbo the popular mortgage debt forgiveness tax benefits used by owners of foreclosed homes worth less than their outstanding mortgage.

"The interplay of all these complicated provisions would … lead to a top marginal rate as high as 67 percent," according to an analysis from The New York Times.

Camp also proposes limiting tax breaks for Americans working overseas, though American executives and engineers overseas generally increase U.S. exports. And he wants to eliminate tax deferral on trading "like kind" assets, usually businesses and real estate, which could lead to slowed commercial development and renovations in big cities.

For business, Camp would eliminate deductions for the cost of advertising, curtail rapid depreciation periods for new equipment, and tax billions of unrepatriated foreign earnings.

Ideas like Ryan's and Camp's and are not rare. It was Mitt Romney who first proposed limiting charitable and educational deductions to 25 percent for all taxpayers, instead of the 39 percent current maximum. Now President Obama has taken up the proposal, which could lead large donors to cut back on funding universities, charities, think tanks, and so on, with grave consequences to the economy. Foundations are an important fund of capital exempt from government control.

All these major tax deductions are a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of Medicare or military adventures overseas. Home mortgage deductions equal about $100 billion per year. All charitable/educational deductions equal about $50 billion per year. Compare this to the cost of one month of warfare in Afghanistan: about $10 billion per month. Medicare and Medicaid fraud are estimated to cost us a minimum of $50 billion each per year, and that is not even counting myriads of unnecessary medical tests and procedures.

Government needs are always insatiable. Never, never agree to trade tax deductions for lower tax rates. Taxes rates will always rise again, but most of the deductions will be lost forever.

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  1. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) proposed budget would increase military spending by some $50 billion per year starting in 2015,

    And when are the next congressional elections? Yeah, now you know why he’s doing this. Man’s got to show he can bring home the bacon or momma’s gonna get herself a new one.

    1. I don’t think there’s much military pork in Ryan’s district.

      1. Well one thing about Republican voters is that they are honestly in favor of ever increasing defense budgets, not because it siphons money into their pockets, but because they honestly believe that outnumbering the rest of the world in aircraft carriers by a factor of three is somehow not of a force advantage.

        So….stupid, but not venal.

        1. but because they honestly believe that outnumbering the rest of the world in aircraft carriers by a factor of three is somehow not of a force advantage.

          My impression has been that every big military Republican I’ve ever met knows perfectly well that we have a massive advantage and they want to maintain it.

        2. It sounds stupid, until you realize we can only produce a handful of fighter planes per month, and if we ever faced a two front war, we’d run out fast.

          p.s. We have not fought a battle without air superiority since the Kasserine Pass.

          Now, could we cut some spending? Yes.

          But we need to be careful. I really don’t want my kid landing under fire in Keelung because we couldn’t spring for the extra fighter wings instead of more welfare spending.

          My solution would be to lease some carriers to Japan, cut the army instead and pray.

          1. Oh and kill that littoral gunboat.

      2. This pork may be for deal making with other Republican supporters. Either way, I don’t think it’s a smart move for the Republican party. Popular sentiment is clearly against foreign adventures, and Republicans already have a problem with being perceived as the crony capitalists of the military-industrial complex, while Democrats get away with murder. It is particularly important for a Republican candidate to break the stereotypes and cut military spending drastically, both to cut government spending, limit dumb foreign policy adventures, tell our allies to pay for their own defense, and to appeal to voters.

        1. I don’t think they need to cut military spending drastically so much as not be all gun-ho for increasing it at the drop of a hat.

  2. Well, geez, if it’s to increase DEFENSE spending, then…OK. Cause…derp.

    /derp

  3. Besides, the important thing is that “Sharknado 2” airs in July. Tonight, SyFy forces us to make do with “Big Ass Spider”. Srsly. “Big Ass Spider.” That’s the name of the show.

    Makes me pine for New Years so they show “Twilight Zone” some some more instead of this in-house dreck.

    1. Sharknado…Big Ass Spider…..whatever.

      The greatest/worst cheesy scifi of all time is Mansquito!

  4. I remember asking my accountant about the Reagan ‘tax reform’. He said it was just another dose of the accountants’ retirement package.
    Do any of these guys know that at least some voters understand the concept of transaction costs?

    1. ‘Some’ is not ‘enough to threaten my election chances’.

    2. my bet is that guys like you still voted for him… space lasers and all.

      1. Somebody’s still butthurt his side lost in the cold war.

      2. american socialist|4.19.14 @ 5:29PM|#
        “my bet is that guys like you still voted for him… space lasers and all.”

        Shitstain, lease tell us how Stalin was far superior!
        I’m waiting.

        1. Great comrade Stalin only fail because of saboteurs! And wreckers! And Jewish doctors. And….

    3. Do any of these guys know that at least some voters understand the concept of transaction costs?

      Yes. *some*

  5. This article misses the mark. The problem with Ryan’s plan isn’t that it removes deductions. A less complex tax code would be a good thing.

    No, Ryan’s plan – and this article – make the same mistake that fiscal conservatives have been making for decades: they focus on controlling taxes instead of controlling spending.

    By now, it should be abundantly clear that tax cuts don’t “starve the beast”. They simply lead to huge deficits, and eventually the bill will have to be paid, one way or another. On the other hand, if you control spending, then tax cuts will almost certainly follow.

    Forget the tax side. Focus on controlling spending instead.

    1. How can we “control spending” when the politicians won’t stop? Don’t say “vote them out”, because we clearly can’t do that.

      1. Oh yes we can it’s been done.

        1. So the national debt is just another “big lie’ ?

      2. Controlling spending is probably the easiest thing for a president to do. The president is bound by oath to enforce laws, so if the law says that taxes are to be collected or certain programs are to be implemented, he has to enforce that.

        But budgets only authorize the president to spend, they don’t require him to spend, so there are plenty of places where a president can quite legally say “I only spent half the budget”.

        1. The president is bound by oath to enforce laws,

          so, you have never heard of Barack Hussein Obama. Or it’s an attempt at humor.

          1. Obama is bound by oath to enforce laws, like every other president. He’s simply broken that oath.

        2. But budgets only authorize the president to spend, they don’t require him to spend, so there are plenty of places where a president can quite legally say “I only spent half the budget”.

          That’s not entirely accurate.

          the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, specifies that the President may request that Congress rescind appropriated funds. If both the Senate and the House of Representatives have not approved a rescission proposal (by passing legislation) within 45 days of continuous session, any funds being withheld must be made available for obligation. Congress is not required to vote on the request, and has ignored most Presidential requests.

          Emphasis added. It seems he can try, but good luck getting Congress to go along.

          1. That’s a different situation. I was talking about budgets for executive branch agencies, not funding for specific projects.

        3. Mar22

          “Controlling spending is probably the easiest thing for a president to do. The president is bound by oath to enforce laws, so if the law says that taxes are to be collected or certain programs are to be implemented, he has to enforce that.”

          Mark22 have you been asleep for the last 6 years ? Congress gave Clinton the “red pen” in order to itemize cuts and he immediately gave it back to them.

          1. Mark22 have you been asleep for the last 6 years ? Congress gave Clinton the “red pen” in order to itemize cuts and he immediately gave it back to them.

            It happened sixteen years ago and Clinton didn’t “give it back”, the Supreme Court took it from him.

    2. The beast can be starved but you’re right that just cutting taxes isn’t going to do it if there’s easy money sloshing around. Tight money = tight government. Canada’s federal government slashed non-interest spending by 10% in the mid ’90s thanks to tight money (look up Jim Hawks).

  6. And there you have it. The natural inclination of politicians is to vote to redistribute national resources into their own district/state. When the country runs out of money, the only question is whose constituents get to keep getting the same amount of bacon, and whose constituents are gonna take a cut.

  7. What justification is there to increase military spending at all? The force has become less effective and more expensive. As with anything socialized, the costs go up, while the services continually erode. Procurement and equipment acceptance policies are criminal. Yet no one is held accountable. LpD-17 had over 5,000 discrepancies, and integrity issues. These were “found” after the ship was accepted. There are little if any warranties on equipment, so the ship wound up going back to the yard at the expense of the taxpayers to fix all of the issues.

    LHD-8 ran into cost overruns, issues with shoddy electrical work, and was delayed for over a year. It cost twice as much as LHD-7. The same goes for aircraft and other equipment in other branches. Anyone who tried to reform the system ran into problems and resistance. All of the programs such as Project BOSS, and fighting and reducing the bureaucracy was almost impossible. Lehman went after Northrop, electric boat, the bureaucracy, Rickover, and so on. Yet as soon as he left, they repealed the programs, re-implemented cost plus fee as the mainstay contracts opposed to firm fixed price and fixed price incentive contracts. The latter of which Lehman ensured were utilized heavily. The defense contractors hated him, and so did the bureaucrats.

  8. Now, someone with that mindset would excel in private defense. They also would face competition. This would help to reduce costs. Another thing that was paramount to Lehman, was competition. He new sole sourcing was terrible, resulted in increased costs and the ability of the sole provider to essentially say “gotcha, as you can not go elsewhere”. Too bad some of his ways are neocon. I think if he promoted free markets, and ran his business with those market ideas which he did implement (less the neocon nonsense) he would have an outstanding business, and do well in providing free market defense services.

    The DOD monopoly should end, replaced by free market defense. Ships would have to arm and defend themselves, and would help to prevent piracy and deal with it right then and there. For a great look at how horrid regulations make it to defend one’s ships, and how ineffective the Navy is at response times to and fighting piracy, watch the movie captain Phillips.

    1. The DOD monopoly should end, replaced by free market defense.

      The monopoly should end and merchant vessels should be allowed at least defensive armament. The problem is fella, that it isn’t merely about US law. Armed merchant ships are a big no-no in international law.

      Piracy isn’t the only potential issue that the Navy is charged with dealing with anyway. It’s not even very high on the priority list. For almost everything else on the “to do” list of the (well, every) Navy, one needs warships not armed merchantmen.

      And this is precisely where anarchism falls apart as a viable ideology, it relies on the conceit that every other group/nation/people/whatever will abide by the NAP. History has shown that doesn’t happen.

  9. Yes, we should always trade tax deductions for lower tax rates. Tax deductions are aimed at social engineering and benefit special interest groups. Keeping deductions doesn’t slow spending or reign in government spending, it simply enshrines unfair differences in taxation, rent seeking, and crony capitalism. In fact, by ensuring that tax burdens are born equally by everybody, we motivate everybody to keep taxes low.

    1. Trading the permanent elimination of a tax deduction for the temporary lowering of a tax rate, worse yet in a “revenue neutral” fashion, is full of fail. It’s a tax increase in slow motion.

      True, a level tax rate for everyone — of 0% — would be fair. Everything else is varying degrees of unfair, since taxation is always theft, and no such thing as “fair theft”.

      1. No, but there are things that are more unfair and all sorts of deductions are intrinsically worse than a broader, flatter base. The argument that politicians will only raise rates later equally applies to the deductions themselves. It didn’t take Romney to get Barry and company talking about limiting deductions, and lest we forget the AMT does just that.

        Real reform is a repeal of the 16th and some version of a national sales tax (VAT, FairTax, whatever). Until we get that I’ll take a broader, flatter code.

        1. some version of a national sales tax (VAT, FairTax, whatever)

          With low rates on “good stuff” that is socially responsible and the government approves of and really high percentage on bad stuff like guns and tobacco and whatever Team Red Christian family types like. Favored industries and companies can get a lower consumption tax while less-favored can get higher rates. We could create a whole public health branch of the IRS…er I mean ” ministry of consumption tax compliance” to decide what is good and bad..and an environmental one and one to set consumption tax rates to make up for gender wage disparities and close that 77 cents for every dollar gap. Congress, under the advise of lobbyists and the social engineering division of the ministry of consumption tax compliance can rewrite big things every year and delegate small changes to be mad administratively by the bureaucracy.

          I’m sure a more progressive court could rule that income and wealth taxes are constitutional even w/o a 16th amendment. Lincoln didn’t need a 16th to tax income…

          1. Lincoln didn’t need a 16th to tax income…

            That’s because SCOTUS didn’t rule on income taxes until 1895, when they ruled that income taxes specifically on interest, dividends, and rents (but not necessarily income taxes generally) were direct taxes for constitutional purposes. In light of the ruling, rather than just tinker with the tax law to bring it into compliance with the court’s ruling, they passed the 16th to level any possible restriction on the collection of income taxes for any purpose, derived from any source.

            1. And in the process essentially made slaves or serfs of us all.

      2. Tax deductions are intrinsically wrong and should be eliminated even if nothing is traded for them. In the long term, eliminating tax deductions will lead to lower taxes automatically.

      3. There is no “trading”. Specific deductions are wrong and should be eliminated even if nothing is offered in trade.

        By even considering that there is a trade possible between the two, you are conceding that deductions (i.e., handouts to special interests) are legitimate.

    2. taxes are bad. we can make them better by taxing poor people more and rich people less.

      1. Because reduced rates only affect the wealthy…

        /DERP

        1. Yeah, and because it’s poor people taking advantage of most of the available deductions…

      2. Well, maybe you believe that as an “American socialist”.

        Us free market types believe that taxes should simply be lower, simpler, and fairer across the board.

  10. Today on Derpbook

    I am not sure how I am supposed to respond to one out of context quote from Richard Nixon, but if the implication is that Obama has done something illegal, it’s simply not true. You have all these people.screaming for his impeachment, but cannot even elaborate on.one impeachable offense they believe he has committed.

    The video in question

    context

    1. It would be a vastly shorter list to compile the things Obama has done that are NOT impeachable offenses, since he (and Congress) routinely violate the Constitution, each such violation being an impeachable offense.

      Cash for clunkers? Impeachable.

      Every single budget item not in Article I, Section 8 that he didn’t veto? Impeachable.

      NSA even existing? Impeachable.

      And so on.

  11. …is based upon the falsehood that he can commit future congresses to cut $3 trillion (over 10 years) from Obamacare…

    This is not too different than a lot of private companies. I’ve seen my share of 7-10 year business cases that project fantasy savings in the later years.

    Reminds me of the Dilbert where he was asked to do a 5-year projection: next year pretty much the same as this year, but in 5 years it’s all flying cars and whatnot.

  12. In FY 2012, the federal government spent $307 billion on service contracts, paying on average almost twice per contract employee the total compensation cost for a government employee to perform the same function. http://www.pogo.org/our-work/l…..rison.html

    Yet all we hear when people talk about smaller government is complaints about fraud in social programs, the cost of welfare and food stamps, and the alleged government takeover of health care, all of which ignores the real savings potential in the federal budget.

    Once again, ideology trumps good sense.

    1. Wipe out the entire $307BB (which isn’t correct) and you still don’t even cover the costs of Medicaid. You’re not even half the cost of SS. You fit a grand total of slightly more than 3 SNAP’s in there.

      Yeah, I’ll keep complaining about the ~$2TT we spend on social programs and welfare.

      1. and handing back your ss check when the time comes. one awaits whether libertarian principle meets its rhetoric

        1. If he’s been paying money into the ss system to have it redistributed to some granny now, then it’s absolutely fair and not hypocritical for him to collect an ss check when he retires.

          As for principle meeting rhetoric, I assume as a leftist you are interested in the well-being of the poor. Why are you not donating all of your income post living expenses to help the poor? Why are you not housing the homeless in your own home? Or are you only interested in forcing other people to pay for your ideological fantasies?

          1. Socialists love force….that is when they are not exerting it against others but instead standing behind a politician who stands behind the police.

            I ask those opposed to liberty, and in favor of liberalism, aocialism, etc. how many people they saved from foreclosure or took off the street. Never met anyone so far that’s done so, yet they have no problem wishing to force others to pay for something they’ve never even done.

          2. I would hope that the name under which I post would make it clear that I am interested in forcing other people to pay for my ideological fantasies. In case you are wondering my top tax bracket would be set by whatever tax rate bill o’reilly says he pays as a percent of his income.

            Since when does being a socialist obligate one to personal charity?

            1. Since when does being a socialist obligate one to personal charity?

              At least you’re an honest moron.

              1. Actually, it makes perfect sense.

                He wants poor people to receive charity. But he doesn’t want to give.

                The answer is obvious: he needs someone to force him to do what he thinks needs to be done.

                See? Clearly his principles meet his rhetoric.

            2. american socialist:

              Since when does being a socialist obligate one to personal charity?

              Around the same time that libertarians became obligated to reject SS.

              I’m just waiting for the “it’s my body” socialist democrats to realize that a vagina is a means of production. You know, with the whole “social ownership of the means of production” principle they love so much.

            3. No, socialism means you take away other people’s property at gunpoint to redistribute it to yourself. Indeed, it isn’t charitable.

        2. You keep bringing this nonsensical argument up time and time again. Waiting for you to come and rob me, instead of hiding behind politicians and the police. See if that socialist principle meets it’s rhetoric and all.

          For the thousandth time. Individuals are FORCED to contribute to social security, are FORCED to use a media of exchange against their will, and so on. So now you want folks to just give up what they contributed so it could go to who, you? Give folks what they contributed, and let them revoke their consent to be governed and they will be better off in a free society. Go homestead Detroit with your socialist friends and folks could watch you destroy the place further. I’m curious as to how you will all operate in absence of a market….as their will be no pricing mechanism, and therefore no economizing. Free individuals wouldn’t have a problem with that, yet socialists are scared of letting individuals be free.

          If you wish to be suckered into a ponzi scheme, then do so, but leave free individuals alone.

    2. paying on average almost twice per contract employee the total compensation cost for a government employee to pretend to perform the same function

      Why would anyone in their right mind take a 50% pay cut “to perform the same function”?

    3. I’m not sure what you mean by “common sense”. If you’re suggesting that we should hire government employees to do these jobs for half the cost, that’s the wrong conclusion. The right conclusion is to eliminate these programs entirely.

  13. Ten year budgets are fantasies, and congressman know it.

    There is a broad spectrum of intelligence among humans. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out that half of them are below the median and the vast majority are below the level of thinking critically about budgets. Congressmen aren’t special.

  14. OT but topical: Argentina’s President is slowly surrendering to capitalism, and her successor will be more markets-friendly still.

    Confronted by falling dollar reserves, a weak economy and high inflation, Fernandez has in the past three months cut heating gas subsidies and let the peso devalue by 18 percent. She has revamped shoddy official inflation reporting and agreed to pay Spain’s Repsol $5 billion for the 2012 nationalisation of oil company

    In a similar and possibly bigger surrender, Venezuela recently changed its forex regime to a far more market-based version. I think companies there can even repatriate profits.

    This is why I am optimistic: doesn’t matter who you vote for, capitalism and free markets ARE reality. Fernandez and Maduro can’t deny reality. May as well vote against gravity. The key is speeding this process up a great deal.

    1. the shortcoming here is the US’ ability to print money and continue accumulating debt. Not that what is happening in Argentina can’t happen here, just that economies of scale drag it waaaayyyy out.

      1. The worst part is that America’s money printing has propped up all of these bad regimes and Russia’s too. Easy USDs are good for the regimes that hoard them for themselves. The good news is that the tapering is already having an adverse affect on them.

    2. They are reality until you build up enough capital to cannibalize for a few decades. Rinse and repeat. And how much of Argentina’s “reform” is just window dressing to get the next round of loans?

  15. Switzerland proposes $28USD minimum wage.
    Let’s see what happens when Fark hears about it.

    1. God no lets not.

    2. Do they propose we change our demographics to match those of Switzerland? It would require mass exiles, but $28! Yay!

      1. Wife and Sevo stayed in a Zurich hotel for a time years back.
        Natch, we sort of ended the ‘tourist’ day with a stop in the bar, until I looked at the tab.
        Can’t remember the actual numbers, (US$65 for a shot?) but CH’s import duty on booze was such that there was no need for an income tax.

  16. More good news: Korea’s government *plans* to cut the total number of regulations on business activities to 80 percent of the current level by 2016… [this plan] translates into the removal of 22-hundred regulations and a drop in the total from more than 15-thousand to just over 13-thousand.

    http://www.arirang.co.kr/news/…..seq=159778

    Korea has been on a serious reform drive lately. Like Abenomics but without the money-printing BS and actual structural reform, so the opposite of Abenomics.

  17. Sexual discrimination laws are for everyone ? but it still jars me to see men using them

  18. The real problem are the progressives. There are too many and they are organized. They will never stop. If there were less of them. A lot less. Things could get better.

    McCarthy had it right. Communists, now calling themselves progressives, must be destroyed before they destroy the rest of us.

  19. But although this elimination or curtailing of deductions is initially only charged against “the rich,” i.e. those with mortgages over half a million dollars,

    A half million dollar mortgage is “rich”? Um, ok.

  20. Redmanfms,
    No one said piracy was the only thing the Navy deals with. Insurance companies could provide warships (along with defense), and do it more effectively than a DOD monopoly. The insurance companies would not be wasting valuable resources on “captains time” and useless underway periods which needlessly divert capital that could be used for improving technology. The most effective ships and technologies would be utilized, instead of having carrier admirals more worried about protecting the carriers from competition by restricting the ship types that are to be designed and deployed. They (insurance companies) would not allow defense contractors to take advantage of them, and would punish companies for cost overruns, and hold them accountable. Many of these defense contractors are showered with subsidies and still rewarded for failure by being awarded yet more contracts.

    You say a free society would fall apart (anarchy) without anything to back such a nonsensical claim up. Those of us who volunteered to serve, would surely do so in regards todefending a truly free society, and also be employed within a free market defense company if we so chose.

    If individuals could provide power (which is a complex system), make supercritical steam generators, steam and gas turbines, nuclear reactors, planes, etc, free individuals could certainly provide for defense..

    1. You say a free society would fall apart (anarchy) without anything to back such a nonsensical claim up.

      I said no such thing, and you would have to use tortured and patently disingenuous logic to get to that conclusion.

      Of course, you provide absolutely no basis for your myriad claims that a (dishonestly labeled anarchy) “free society” could provide for a national defense. It doesn’t even make sense on its base. Why would people buy insurance for a military? Why would an individual (like, I don’t know, me) have any respect for a court/lawman paid for by my foes?

      The fall back for all anarchists is, “Well it’s never been tried before.” But, especially with regard to the military and law, it has. The East India Company had its own Army and Navy. That didn’t turn out well for a lot of people, notably nearly all of India. In the “Old West” sheriffs and judges were bought and paid for by moneyed interests. Such “law” resulted in range and water wars that scarred the West for much of the later 19th Century.

      But, but, hurr-durr FORCE!!!! you say. Yeah, that’s ultimately what government is, you would be correct. Law requires the application of force by (at least in theory) by a disinterested 3rd party for arbitration of disputes and punishment of wrongdoing. Is it flawed? Oh yeah, but you have ZERO to support that anarchy can deal with it any more fairly.

    2. If individuals could provide power (which is a complex system), make supercritical steam generators, steam and gas turbines, nuclear reactors, planes, etc, free individuals could certainly provide for defense..

      You say a “free society” would be able to supply a national defense without anything to back such a nonsensical claim up.

      I don’t have to prove that anarchists can’t provide this service, much less be unable to provide it adequately, you have to prove that such a service can be provided.

      I know damn well that private armies and (200 years ago) navies can be effective at protecting their clients’ interests. But applying functions that necessarily involve the application of force without citizen oversight has, so far at least, not worked out well for anybody other than the clients. As flawed as the Republican system is, we have already seen what amounts to anarchist answer in the East India Company and Old West.

  21. Do you think the non aggression principle means weak unarmed individuals incapable of defense? You would be severely mistaken, as a free society would be well armed, and ready to defend any aggression against their life liberty or property.

    Do you ever train in self defense? The goal is not to go around beating the crap out of folks and robbing them, but to be prepared shall there be any attempts of aggression and beat the desire out of the aggressor to continue aggressing. Other countries, knowing there is a gun behind every blade of grass and folks willing to fight for their liberty will be ever more deterred from attacking, and would be incentivized to trade. It’s far easier to trade then go to war with people. Running throughout the world interfering in the business of others creates enemies, that damn well will be aggressive.

    1. Do you think the non aggression principle means weak unarmed individuals incapable of defense? You would be severely mistaken, as a free society would be well armed, and ready to defend any aggression against their life liberty or property.

      Rifles perform poorly against tanks and aircraft. Armed merchantmen perform poorly against warships.

      Tanks and aircraft, at least in numbers suitable for defending against an organized army, are not cheap nor can any cheesedick off the street operate them without extensive (and similarly expensive) training. Then of course is the issue of maintaining them, also not cheap.

      It’s far easier to trade then go to war with people. Running throughout the world interfering in the business of others creates enemies, that damn well will be aggressive.

      Yet plenty of nations do it any fucking way… Fucking sucks when reality crashes the party, doesn’t it?

      1. Yet plenty of nations do it any fucking way… Fucking sucks when reality crashes the party, doesn’t it?

        Which brings us full circle to:

        And this is precisely where anarchism falls apart as a viable ideology, it relies on the conceit that every other group/nation/people/whatever will abide by the NAP. History has shown that doesn’t happen.

  22. The Keynesians have been priming the pump for so long, that the only water they are getting from the pump, is the water they are using to prime the pump.

    1. They stole the pump and the water, because they weren’t able to put the pump they designed into production due to the hiring of too many “top men”, while the bureaucracy spent the money on 40 post hole diggers, and then realized that in order to dig for water, they had to go through concrete.

  23. Getting back to the idea of taxes and tax deductions.

    I would like to see all deductions ended, and the mindset instilled that they are unfair to the population at large. They are a way to get people to act in way the elites want, to give favors to friends and punish enemies. They are a drag on the economy because they result in choices determined by law, instead of the best use of capital.

    Treat everyone the same. One tax rate for all. Quit trying to use the method to fund the government to also modify behavior.

  24. And people still think government is the answer. tsk tsk

  25. Reduction of government solves all problems. THAT SHOULD BE THE COMMON THREAD IN ALL WRITINGS AT REASON! The ‘fire’ has gotten out of control!

  26. Plastic grocery bags will be the new currency because they are useful for foraging and looting.

  27. Expecting everything to happen at once is as stupid as expecting to win the lottery at age 65 instead of investing over a lifetime.
    Its important to take small victories when they happen while steadfastly working toward what we want. This is the strategy that the progressives have used successfully over the last 40 some odd years. The only way to have “revolutionary change” is at the point of a gun and I don’t think that most libertarians are interested in change by force.
    Eliminating the IRS and the Federal Income Tax isn’t going to happen overnight and it won’t happen at all if we do not have the support of people more moderate than ourselves.

  28. I “expect” that if the printing presses aren’t stopped that cars and busses will be overturned and set afire in a neighborhood near you!

  29. Tax deductions are backhanded subsidies that distort the marketplace.
    Exhibit A: The tax preferences that tie health care to the workplace created a private version of national health care complete with rising costs driven by the illusion of “free” benefits.
    Exhibit B: Tax deductible mortgage interest, along with mortgage guarantees and NIMBY zoning, divert investment from productive uses to inflating the housing bubble.

    With regard to the Ryan budget, Republicans should know by now that they will be portrayed as heartless monsters if they propose to cut even one penny from the welfare state, so they might as well try to REALLY cut the budget. There is no benefit to “moderation”.

  30. Redmanfms,

    A free society, no matter how much you would like to twist the definition of freedom, is in the absence of a master. Did you forget what freedom and liberty are?

    Freedom: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

    absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.

    the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.

    the state of being physically unrestricted and able to move easily.

    the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity.

    Liberty:
    freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control.

    freedom from external or foreign rule; independence.

    freedom from control, interference, obligation, restriction, hampering conditions, etc.; power or right of doing, thinking, speaking, etc., according to choice.

    A free society would be in absence of government. Anything else would be antithetical to those natural rights. Oh my, that is what anarchy (anarcho capitalism ring a bell?) is. Hell, even Jefferson knew that the logical conclusion of freedom would be the absence of govt. and by the way, many knew standing armies were detrimental to liberty.

  31. During the founding of what would be the USA, they overthrew the British, which were of far greater numbers and military hardware. Why do you think small countries want nuclear weapons? So big countries wouldn’t eff with them. When weak, appear strong. So something such as that would multiply the strength of what would be a weak society, now strong and not worth attacking.

    Don’t know where you got your information from, but the east India company was not private. They were protected by the crown and benefited immensely from it, and were able to collude with government and even gained positions in government. It was subsidized by taxpayer money, of which the “company” gained artificial capital and was shielded from the consequences of the market.

    Did you forget about the Kights Templar that protected trade routes along with property (money, belongings)? There are many other successful examples, but you said there is zero support for private defense, so lets just ignore history and say its true right?

  32. Right away you assume you would have many foes and everyone is out to get you if there were no government. Even if you felt this way and desired protection beyond reason with a high cost, who are you to impose such a cost on others? Yet you have no problem with them coming to confiscate 50% of your property through extortion (taxation) of which part of that goes to an inefficient DOD and the bureaucracy. Being as you wish, the dod to be the sole arbiter of force (which is antithetical to a free society) you would become their serf/subject and they can tell you how much, or how little protection you would get, how much you will pay (they will be extorting you). They will face no competition, nor regulation from individuals in the market that would punish bad business practices. So as has gone on prior, that being cost plus fee no ceiling contracts, the myriad of design changes and contractual changes which further increase costs, and the inability to provide a mix of systems to be deployed will continue on.

    How you can think a monstrosity such as this could be more effective than entities that face competition, are held accountable, must innovate, and must economize, defies logic and the very idea of freedom.

    And a simple question you must ask yourself is how many are you willing to kill if they wish not to fund the DOD, and instead fund an insurance company which is accountable to them and efficient at providing security?

  33. For further reading, I suggest “The Private Production of Defense” by Hans-Herman Hoppe. This book is available free to download on mises.org

    It dispels many of the fallacies and myths that are conjured up against private defense.

  34. Oh, and happy Easter.

  35. And what’s wrong with ending deductions? What is so wonderful about deductions from society’s perspective? Sure it’s a little dishonest to ‘trade’ deductions for lower tax rates, which will then get raised again, but isn’t that what we expect from politicians anyway? It’s not like it would be a surprise. If there were no deductions of any kind, taxes might be a little more understandable to the average voter. Of course, deductions are a major means to manipulate society, so it’s unlikely things would stay this way. Another set of deductions given to the various interest groups would evolve.

  36. So you’d prefer having all tax deductions be perpetual?

    You want ever expanding tax regulations, empowering the Tax Ranchers and their cronies to “encourage” the Tax Livestock to behave as they’d like?

    Complicated tax laws are a fundamental tactic of the Tax Ranchers to keep the Tax Livestock fighting each other, and to obfuscate who the true beneficiaries of the system are.

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