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Nevada Transhumanist Party Positions on 2016 Nevada Ballot Questions

Nevada Transhumanist Party Positions on 2016 Nevada Ballot Questions

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
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NTP-Logo-9-1-2015

The Nevada Transhumanist Party offers the following brief statements of position on the ballot questions currently before Nevada voters.

Summary
Question 1: No Position
Question 2: Support
Question 3: Support
Question 4: Support

Ballot Question 1 – The Nevada Transhumanist Party does not take a position on Ballot Question 1, the requirement for background checks on private-party transfers of firearms. Gun control is not a strictly transhumanist issue, and transhumanists hold varying positions on it. Vote your conscience on this ballot question.

[Personal Statement: I personally voted against Ballot Question 1, due to my concern regarding the creation of an additional category of crime that could increase the probability of hostile police/citizen confrontations and redirect police resources away from genuine violent crime – but other transhumanists may come to different conclusions from mine. Again, this is a not an area in which the Nevada Transhumanist Party generally takes official stances. ~ Gennady Stolyarov II]

Ballot Question 2 – The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 2 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Any structure of taxation and regulation is superior to the current prohibition enforced by overwhelming violence. While I have no personal interest in marijuana, the damage done by the war on drugs – particularly in the form of police militarization and the use of lethal force against nonviolent persons – threatens everyone. If we want a future of morphological freedom – the right of individuals to alter the appearance, composition, and prospects their organisms, as long as such changes do not harm others – then the first modest step is to stop jailing and killing people for consuming a plant or for simply living in a house falsely suspected of having such plants grown there.

Ballot Question 3 – The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 3 to eliminate the coercive energy monopoly currently held by NV Energy and allow individuals to choose their utility and source of energy, much like they are able to choose which furniture or which cars to buy today. NV Energy has used its monopoly position to stifle and penalize the deployment of economical rooftop solar systems, which allow homeowners to autonomously generate their own electricity and even earn some money doing so. The suppression of such opportunities is a travesty of justice and needs to be reversed.

Ballot Question 4 – The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports Ballot Question 4 to exempt durable medical equipment from sales and use tax. These taxes can often run into the thousands of dollars for sick and dying patients and could compromise the quality of their care. We support any measure that helps make medical equipment affordable and more widespread.

Mr. Stolyarov is the Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party.
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This post may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, G. Stolyarov II. Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.
The Vital Importance of Property in Land: Part 2 – An Analysis of the Georgist Land-Value Tax – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The Vital Importance of Property in Land: Part 2 – An Analysis of the Georgist Land-Value Tax – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
October 16, 2012
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In this second installment of my short series on land and property rights (see my first installment here), I begin to respond to “We Can Have It All: The Beauty of Value Capture” by Edward Miller. In particular, I focus on the idea of the single tax on the value of land, as originated by Henry George. Mr. Miller, a contemporary representative of the Georgist position, states that “We can eliminate taxes and debt, poverty and special privilege. Contrary to the dour pronouncements from the curators of the dismal science, we can have it all.” Mr. Miller advocates doing this by advocating the elimination of “no-strings-attached sovereignty” over land and replacing it with what he calls “Value Capture” and which many others would call a land-value tax. Mr. Miller states that this “is a tax only in the sense that Pigovian ‘Taxes’ are. It is not a tax on production, and thus there is nothing objectionable about it from the perspective of classical liberalism. Indeed, I’d argue that without it, classical liberalism is a cruel joke. Value capture is simply a reconceptualization of who owns the value of the access rights over the Earth.” In this installment, I will focus on the Pigovian/Georgist land-value tax idea in particular. In subsequent installments, I will address what I consider to be a more desirable approach to land in a free-market, classically liberal manner that seeks to facilitate economic growth and the continual improvement of living standards.

I am not a supporter of a land-value tax (however it may be termed) or of Pigovian taxation in general. The idea of a Pigovian tax (however called) seems to me rather contrived, in that it assumes a perfect knowledge on the part of the taxing authority of not just which activities create negative externalities, but also the precise extent to which a particular instance of such activities creates those externalities – and, correspondingly, the precise extent of taxation needed to take the “social cost” of these activities into account. The economic distortions of taxation, relative to a tax-free free-market situation, cannot be avoided in practice, no matter what form the tax takes – though, admittedly, it can be said that some types of taxes produce greater distortions or different kinds of distortions than others. Furthermore, the idea of a Pigovian tax is unworkable in practice, because political incentives and the influence of special-interest pressure groups would surely distort the incidence of the tax to benefit those with lobbying clout. In other words, even if the exact “social cost” of every activity could be calculated, the influence of lobbyists on elected officials would result in the incidence of the tax departing from a proper reflection of that “social cost.”

The elimination of all other possible taxes would be a definite advantage of the Georgist system, though – in practice – attempts to introduce a new type of tax have seldom supplanted existing taxes but have merely resulted in yet another kind of tax alongside all others. In fact, in the United States today, we might consider the current system of property taxation to be a partially Georgist system – but the property taxes are paid alongside income, sales, excise, gift, estate, fuel, and numerous other taxes – not to mention a myriad of fees to fund specific government services.

However, let us assume that it is politically feasible to enact a single land-value tax that supplants all other taxes. Perhaps an added advantage of this simplified approach would be the reduction in the overall cost of administering tax determination and collection – which the most benevolent conceivable government would entirely pass on to the people in the form of a lower tax rate. Even in this ideal situation, why might a land-value tax still be less favorable than other possible taxes?

Consider that certain kinds of taxes can be avoided by a property-owning individual entirely. He only needs to pay an income tax if he earns taxable income. He only needs to pay a sales tax if he purchases taxable goods. He can avoid gift taxes by not giving gifts (beyond the tax-exempt amounts). If he has enough money saved up to live on, grows/produces all of his own goods, and keeps his property largely to himself, he can avoid all such taxes in theory (even though, in practice, he would admittedly be part of a small minority of the population). The similarity among these taxes (no matter their other flaws, of which there are many) is that they do not reduce current wealth kept for personal use. Property taxes are different in that they are able to actually diminish a person’s stock of wealth without that person undertaking any positive action. As long as a person owns a house, or a commercial building, or even a stretch of land for recreational use, he cannot avoid the diminution of his wealth through taxation solely due to the passage of time. An income tax only reduces one’s potential earning opportunities. A sales tax only reduces one’s potential purchasing power if one chooses to make purchases. A property tax, however, reduces one’s existing stock of wealth, no matter what one chooses to do. Thus, with all other things (including the total tax collected) being equal, a property tax is more adverse to an individual because it compels him to engage in positive actions in order to maintain his present wealth, rather than merely discouraging the individual from undertaking certain additional activities that might be taxed to a greater extent than he might prefer.

A Georgist land-value tax is different from the current American property tax in that it taxes the land only and not the manmade improvements on that land. In this respect, the land-value tax is superior. It would probably encourage significant vertical building by landowners/occupants in order to increase the amount of improvements per unit of land. However, it would also probably result in large stretches of land being unoccupied and unused, because there would be a sub-optimal level of interest in developing that land, as the owners/occupants would be responsible for paying tax. This may make the unfortunate phenomenon of urban congestion common even in less populated areas.

Furthermore, one can conceive of a supremely sub-optimal outcome of the single land-value tax, which would be the result of a perverse incentive indeed. This is the scenario where most individuals decide that it is not worth the trouble to own land (or partially own it or “rent” it from the community – however this might be described legally). Instead, large landholding corporations would emerge and purchase most or all of the land. Their owners (probably a lot of dispersed shareholders beholden to an entrenched management and thereby subject to numerous principal-agent problems) would be willing to absorb the costs of the land-value tax in exchange for collecting rents from everyone else who lives and works on that land. Many ordinary people might think that they are getting a good deal by avoiding all legal incidence of taxation – but in reality, the amount of rent they would pay to the landholding corporations would be higher to reflect the taxes those corporations have to pay. In other words, the cost of the land-value tax would be at least partially passed on to the renters/majority of people in the community by the landholding corporations. Economically, this is identical to the scenario that the Georgist proposal seeks to avoid – the situation where (whether or not this is indeed the case) it is alleged that most of people are beholden to a minority of landowners or lienholders by means of payment of rent or repayment of expensive mortgages.

One significant downside of this scenario, relative to the status quo, is that the possibility of “free and clear” ownership of property would be more definitively off-limits to everybody – even in theory. Another even greater concern is that the landholding corporations would essentially behave like supercharged homeowners’ associations – with even more power to micromanage people’s lives and impose arbitrary restraints on the use of personal property and the improvement of land. They would be able to conduct this abuse with impunity, because there would be fewer of them in any given geographical area, compared to today’s homeowners’ associations. This would give the landholding corporations the oligopoly (and sometimes monopoly) power that enables many similar entities to disregard consumer preferences and extract large amounts of unearned money.

The reality is that the market always seeks to correct for economic distortions that are the result of confiscatory or redistributive policies. The correction is always imperfect, because real wealth is in fact appropriated through taxation. However, changing the tax structure cannot, by itself, solve the whole distortion – without addressing how much wealth is kept by private citizens and what they are legally able to do with that wealth. There may, however, be a valid argument for changing a tax structure if this inherently results in a lower total proportion of tax collected, relative to the wealth that exists among the general population. This, of course, depends on the real rates of tax selected for each alternative under consideration. For instance, I would wholeheartedly support (as an unambiguous directional improvement relative to the status quo) a single land-value tax whose entire collections would be a mere 0.5% of the Gross Domestic Product. Irrespective of any concerns about the incentive effects of the tax, those would be dwarfed by the sheer amount of wealth that individuals would be able to keep compared to today’s tax regime. In this situation, though, I would still strongly prefer that the legal concept of full ownership of land be retained and that the land-value tax be administered similarly to today’s property taxes – as opposed to treating the occupant of the land as a “tenant” who owes a “rent” to “the community.”

There may also be a valid argument for changing a tax structure if doing so results in more wealth-generating behavior and increased productivity. However, I cannot find a system that allows for the diminution of current wealth through taxation to be more encouraging of productivity than a system that merely takes a share of future active production or consumption. If one cannot be guaranteed the peaceful and total enjoyment of the wealth one has already earned, then earning more seems less attractive from a psychological (in addition to a purely economic) perspective. Productivity is simply not as enjoyable if one views it as a chore to be done in order to remain in one’s present situation and prevent a decline – rather than an ambitious endeavor of self-improvement and possible enrichment.

Next, I will address how land might properly be approached from a libertarian/classical liberal standpoint, with beneficial practical consequences to most and the avoidance of effects that might stifle economic growth or decrease individual opportunities.

The Ex-PATRIOT Act Has No Place in a Free Society – Article by Ron Paul

The Ex-PATRIOT Act Has No Place in a Free Society – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
June 3, 2012
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The characteristic mark of a tyrannical regime is that it eventually finds it necessary to erect walls to keep people from leaving.  This is why we should be troubled by the “Ex-PATRIOT Act,” an egregiously offensive bill recently introduced in the Senate.  Following a long line of recent legislation and regulations attempting to expropriate more and more wealth from hard-working Americans, this new bill spits in the face of overburdened taxpayers and tramples on the Constitution.

Current law already dictates that Americans with a net worth of over $2 million who expatriate must be assumed to have sold all their assets and must pay a corresponding punitive exit tax on those assumed sales.  The Ex-PATRIOT Act goes even further than current law by assessing a 30% capital gains tax on all future earnings of expatriates.  Not content just with this additional tax, the bill also grants the IRS the sole authority to determine whether individuals have expatriated for tax purposes and allows the IRS to bar those individuals from ever re-entering the United States.  Finally, the bill blatantly violates the ex post facto provisions of the U.S. Constitution by extending all of these provisions to anyone who has given up their U.S. citizenship within the past decade.

This bill, and other similar legislation, casts a chilling effect on saving, investment, and entrepreneurial activity.  The bill was introduced in response to news reports about one of the founders of Facebook who might save millions of dollars of taxes by renouncing his U.S. citizenship.  But in their blind envy towards successful entrepreneurs, the bill’s sponsors ignore the fact that they will ensnare many ordinary middle-class Americans who work hard, save and invest wisely, and benefit from rising home values.  These Americans may easily find themselves pushing past the $2 million mark by the time they retire, especially as inflation continues to seriously accelerate.  If they wish to escape the Federal Reserve’s inflation by emigrating to lower-cost countries so their dollars will go farther, as many Baby Boomers are starting to do, the federal government will penalize them, and continue to penalize them for the rest of their lives as long as they hold any money in the United States.

Unfortunately, the mere consideration of such legislation, even before it has passed, has made American banking customers a potential future headache for banks around the world.  They don’t want to deal with the IRS any more than Americans do, and if American account holders become a Trojan horse for the IRS to insinuate themselves into their affairs, there may be more cost than benefit to extending banking services to Americans.

We live under a federal government that has eviscerated our Fourth Amendment rights, that can detain U.S. citizens indefinitely based solely on the President’s word, that assaults toddlers and grandmothers at airports in the name of security, and regulates virtually every aspect of our economic lives.  No wonder increasing numbers of Americans feel this government is engaged in outright warfare against its own citizens.  Every day the noose grows tighter, yet anyone who sees the writing on the wall and seeks to leave must pay exorbitant taxes just for the privilege of leaving, and increasingly the possibility looms of never fully breaking away from the government’s tentacles no matter where they go.  Ultimately, the Ex-PATRIOT Act proposes to control people by controlling their capital, and it has no place in a free society.

Representative Ron Paul (R – TX), MD, is a Republican candidate for U. S. President. See his Congressional webpage and his official campaign website

This article has been released by Dr. Paul into the public domain and may be republished by anyone in any manner.