Think About What Is Being Said Here

Hot Air posted an article today that included a recent quote from a Washington Post article:

Hot Air reports:

Over at the Washington Post, Keith Humphreys ended the week on a pessimistic note, opining that no matter how much testing and contact tracing is required to get us fully past this pandemic, America will never do as well as several other countries that seem to be taming the virus more quickly. The reason? Because Americans love their “freedom” too much. (Please note for the record that it was Humphreys who put the word freedom in scare quotes, not me.)

We love our “freedom” too much?! You mean that same freedom that men died for in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1912, World War I and World War II? You mean that same freedom that men and women today serve in our military to defend? You mean that same freedom that men and women spend months away from their families to protect? You mean that same freedom that allows you to post really dumb things in your newspaper?

The article continues:

He begins by quoting medical professionals who insist that the only path toward the new normal relies on our ability to “test, isolate, contact trace and quarantine.” He then lists a few examples of countries where those practices appear to be helping them tame the virus, including Germany, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. But, the author argues, we may never succeed in the same fashion because such programs would require not only a willingness to surrender considerable privacy rights and freedoms, but also a general attitude of trust towards the government which doesn’t exist in the United States today.

The article concludes:

I suppose we should examine this analysis with two questions in mind. First, is Humphreys correct? And second, even if we assume that he is, should we really be envious of people living under harsher authoritarian rule and emulate their behavior if it gets us past the pandemic faster?

As to the first question, I have no argument to offer. The author is absolutely correct. Americans are probably just about the orneriest group of curmudgeons on the planet when it comes to bending to the will of the government. That’s because we are arguably the freest people on Earth. We were born of generations of people who had experienced life under the rule of a monarch without any serious assurances of God-given rights. And they wound up telling that monarch to go stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. We’re not all that different today.

…In the end, we’re probably doing the best we can do in our fight against the novel coronavirus. Every nation has to come up with their own solution and ours will wind up being uniquely American, framed around both our scientific capabilities and our values. If that means that we can’t get our virus numbers down to nearly zero as fast as some other nations, so be it. Heck, we still don’t know with 100% certainty if this virus can ever be eliminated or if we’ll ever have a vaccine. But if not, we’ll at least go down swinging.

I wish we still taught civics in school. If we did, Keith Humphreys might realize that America was founded by people who had just fought a war against a tyrannical government. They set laws in place to protect what they referred to as ‘God-given rights.” The laws were to limit the government–not to limit people’s freedom. Anyone who wants to live under a more tyrannical system is free to move to another country–there are many out there that fit that description. Meanwhile, Americans like their freedom and are generally willing to protect it.

What Would You Do ?

Yesterday ABC News reported the reaction from Senater Charles Schumer to Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin‘s statement that he is renouncing his American citizenship in order to avoid taxes on his Facebook profits. Mr. Saverin is a thirty-year old with an estimated net worth of about $2 billion and has lived in Singapore since 2009.

The article reports:

At a news conference this morning, Sens. Schumer and Bob Casey, D-Pa., will unveil the “Ex-PATRIOT” – “Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy” – Act to respond directly to Saverin’s move, which they dub a “scheme” that would “help him duck up to $67 million in taxes.”

The senators will call Saverin’s move an “outrage” and will outline their plan to re-impose taxes on expatriates like Saverin even after they flee the United States and take up residence in a foreign country. Their proposal would also impose a mandatory 30 percent tax on the capital gains of anybody who renounces their U.S. citizenship.

The plan would bar individuals like Saverin from ever reentering the United States again.

There are some basic problems with this proposal (other than the fact that it is strictly for show). The text of the Constitution, Article I, Section 9; Clause 3 is “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed”. Aside from the fact that this law is aimed at one specific person, Senator Schumer is making something illegal after it has been done and attempting to make a law retroactively apply to that action. There is no way that should happen under the Constitution.

Frankly, I don’t blame Mr. Saverin for renoucing his citizenship–he doesn’t live in America to begin with, and he wasn’t born here. Why should he let the U. S. Government take upwards of a third of the money he worked hard to earn? If Congress lowered taxes, more people would be willing to pay them instead of avoid them.

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An Unintended Consequence Of Raising Taxes

I think most of us would agree that the U. S. Tax Code has gotten a little bit out of hand. In 2005, the Tax Code was more than 9,097,000 words (according to a website called freedomworks the Bible contains 774,746 words). How did we get here?

The Tax Code is a tribute to the power of lobbying. Some of the intricacies have valid purposes–the mortgage interest deduction encourages home ownership, a stabilizing force in our society). Some of the intricacies have negative impacts on the values of our society–the marriage penalty for example. The Tax Code is a monstrosity that requires a professional to sort through for many Americans. Our current Tax Code written down weighs more than most toddlers!

Yesterday Big Government posted an article about an academic study showing that as tax rates were raised, tax evasion increases. They spent money to figure that out?

The article reports:

 Macroeconomic and microeconomic modeling studies based on data for several countries suggest that the major driving forces behind the size and growth of the shadow economy are an increasing burden of tax and social security payments… The bigger the difference between the total cost of labor in the official economy and the after-tax earnings from work, the greater the incentive for employers and employees to avoid this difference and participate in the shadow economy. …Several studies have found strong evidence that the tax regime influences the shadow economy.

The article also states:

Indeed, it’s worth noting that international studies find that the jurisdictions with the highest rates of tax compliance are the ones with reasonable tax systems, such as Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Singapore.

Please follow the link to read the entire article. This is an obvious truth, but changing the Tax Code in America would result in something of a loss of power to those in Congress. Somehow, I don’t think that will happen until we change Congress, and even then I am not sure we have the leadership to do what is right.

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