Tag Archives: taxes

Taxes, Benefits, and Reality…

Liberals like to excuse our excessive taxes and say that it provides important services. Now, common sense, experience and even a modicum of intelligence tells us that this is a load of bunk. But, for argument’s sake let’s actually take a look at the claim.

Here’s a good representation of their silly arguments.

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Since I like all the things taxes bring us I shouldn’t complain.

Of course here is the problem. When people are talking about taxes they’re usually talking about federal taxes, not state, county or city. And to lump all of these together would be silly as they are not the same thing, not controlled by the same legislatures, and you have a choice of states to live in if you don’t like the taxes in your state. (And don’t give me that you can move to a different country, it’s not true, the United States is the only nation on Earth that taxes the income of expatriates who are still citizens but not living in the nation—You can never escape U.S. federal taxes if you want to remain a U.S. citizen).

So the first thing we need to do on this list to make it more honest to take out the issues which should be purely state issues. Yes some of these things that should be state issues are currently federal issues, but the federal government interference in them only breeds inefficiency, corruption and waste—thus they should only be state issues, and even if the state needs to raise their tax rates to compensate for the lack of federal spending it will be less than the what the federal government is taking from you.

On the list the things that states or local governments should be responsible for are schools (which can privatized), roads (which can privatized), firefighters, police officers, hospitals (which can privatized), Paramedics (which can privatized), HAZMAT Teams, Child protection, safe products (capitalism does a better job of ensuring this than government), Flood defense, Universities (which can privatized), museums (which can privatized), science (which can privatized), public parks, medical research (which can privatized), national forests (which can be privatized), care for the elderly and disabled.

So really that’s a lot that states, local government and the private sector can easily provide for less cost, more efficiency , less corruption, and lower taxes. Not much left on this.

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Okay so what is left? So let’s deal with clean air and clean water. Now I will admit that government does have a responsibility in this. Milton Friedman himself would point out that water and air often suffer from the tragedy of the commons and to keep them clean you need some regulation and enforcement. But of the 10 Billion the EPA took in 2012 let’s be honest here most did not go to clean water and air. Most went to enforcing rules against clean coal thus not only doing nothing to help the air but also increasing the cost of energy. And they also spend money, lots of money, on suing people over endangered species. For instance they sued farmers in California to deny the farmers water because it would save an endangered fish. So they ruined a farming industry, raised the prices of your food, on your tax dollars, all to save an animal that violated the first rule of evolution: adapt or die. And they’ve done this more than once in California alone. And let’s not forget what they did to rivers recently…oh yeah, we’re really getting our money’s worth.  The fact is that most species are not endangered because of humans, they’re endangered because in the history of Earth 99.999999% of all species have died—it’s what nature does, it gets rid of things that can’t adapt. Don’t like it, tough, that’s nature and you can’t praise nature while refusing to allow its natural processes to go on. (Also, as with the Buffalo, it’s pretty much only when the private sector gets involved that you actually save endangered species). I have no problem with reasonable clean air, water, and other pollution controls (although our modern EPA seems to freak out about even healthy levels of some chemicals) but those wouldn’t cost a fifth of what the EPA’s budget is.

Then of course we come to the safe food and safe drug part. Yes because the yearly recalls and scares of salmonella or this or that in food shows the government is doing such a bang up job. For a second let’s stop to remember that the FDA was created only because of a lying sack of crap book written by a pathologically lying progressive who published a book saying that all of our food was unsafe to eat. I’m so glad that was the reason for creating a huge federal bureaucracy. But for sake of argument let’s say that like air and food you need some regulation here (you don’t actually since companies concerned about their reputations have their own internal checks on this and you wouldn’t see an increase in contamination if the FDA went defunct). The FDA and most of its resources don’t go into looking at the safety of food or drugs, the majority of the FDA’s resources go into the efficacy of drugs. All those drugs trials they conduct aren’t primarily about the safety of drugs they’re about how well the drug works. Now, whether a drug works or not, shouldn’t that be up to your doctor? Or how about all the research the FDA shuts down on cancer research, for instance stopping experimental trials with willing volunteers who have terminal cancer because the drugs MIGHT kill them (because the FDA really doesn’t understand the term ‘terminal cancer). Do you know how much research that has retarded? Probably decades worth. Do you know how much their endless trials for their arbitrary standards of efficacy raise the price of your drugs? Massive amounts. So not only do they take your money, but they cost you more on drugs in the process. Now if we reduced the FDA to merely the safety of drugs that would slash their budget by a massive amount, you would still be as safe, medical science would leap forward, and you would probably have a better quality of life in the long run. Boy I’m glad I’m paying taxes to prevent all of those things.

Now let’s turn to diplomacy with other nations and criminal justice. Fair enough these are responsibilities of the federal government. Of course, even without cutting the pork, the Departments of State and Justice are just under 1.8% of the federal budget.

So really what’s left.

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Ah the military and the Department of Justice. Military spending is about 20% of the budget and Justice not even 1%.

And let’s be honest here, a lot of their spending is bunk. Like pork projects to build engines the military doesn’t want. Or pork spending to build ships the Navy doesn’t want. Or wasting money on using environmentally friendly fuel for the Navy that wastes money and is actually more harmful to the environment than conventional fuel.

Or with Justice, there was of course the problems of buying weapons for Mexican Drug Cartels.

These are very needed functions of government, but there is pork here. And you could probably shave at least 10% from each of their budgets.

In fact, if you really look at the budget and look at the things that the federal government should only be concerned about then the budget wouldn’t even be half of what it is now* and cutting taxes by half would not only stimulate the economy but bring in enough revenue to begin paying into the principal of the debt.

So really what you’re left with when you look at costs that are only the federal government’s responsibility and can stand a few cuts (major or minor) is

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Nothing. You’re left with nothing. A little bit of reason and all you’re left with is a whiny liberal who doesn’t know what is important, how things work, or that things can be done better than they are now.

But maybe I’m being unfair, maybe it’s just the person who put this stupid picture together that doesn’t know shit about shit. A possibility for sure. So let’s look at another liberal rant about taxes, services and the economy.

TAXES 5Okay so let’s go through his list. Public hospital, public schools, public loans, tax breaks, inheritance.

Okay and let’s take these one at a time.

Public Hospitals. This is a widely misunderstood term. Almost are hospitals are public in that they are open to the public. However of the 5,724 hospitals in the US, only 1,045 are owned and operated by government (state or local). The rest are as follows: 2,903 are non-profit (usually owned by religious organizations such as the Catholic Church or the Seventh Day Adventists) and the rest are for profit hospitals. So in reality there is a less than 1 in 5 chance he went to a tax payer funded hospital. Further it’s also a fun fact that stays in government hospitals costs more than in private hospitals, so if he was born in a government run hospital they were fleeced. And quite frankly if government got out of the healthcare business medicine all around costs would go down (good place to put link for why cost of healthcare is what it is). But this is not the only place where we’ll find that government provided goods not only take your money but offer inferior products.

Then of course we go to public school. Now we all know that public schools are shit. We all know that homeschooling, charters, and private schools offer better results on the whole than their public counterparts for less money. (And those people who home school or send their children to private school are still getting the bill for public school). So I wouldn’t be bragging about the public school system. They took your parents money and gave them an inferior education for you pal.

Then of course he wants to talk about his federal loans. Ignoring the fact that those federal loans are the very reason that college costs so much. If government had never gotten in the school loan business it is likely that college costs would be a fraction of what they are. So, my dear idiot liberal, don’t act like that was such a blessing either.

And then we get to the tax deduction. Those tax deductions are part of a large part of the government’s plan to get people to buy houses, because the government feels it needs to encourage people to get houses. And I think we know what this led to, don’t we? It led to people getting houses they couldn’t afford on government backed loans which led to the whole housing market collapsing. The better question would be, why should I, a person who rents because he does not have the down payment necessary for a low interest rate yet be taxed at a higher rate than a person who makes a stupid decision to get a loan they can’t afford. That’s what deductions often do, they subsidize idiotic choices. This is why intelligent people want us to go to a flat rate with ZERO tax deduction for anyone for any reason, or just go to a national sales tax because while a high tax rate is stupid and idiotic, tax deductions allow the government to control people’s choices…but if it was an intelligent move you should do it with or without the deduction, and if it’s not intelligent then you shouldn’t do it no matter what the deduction is. All deductions do is encourage behavior that retards the growth of the economy, encourages dumb moves, and overall costs people more for everything.

And finally inheritance. Guess what, I will scream bloody murder at the thought of an inheritance tax…do you know why? Because if I choose to leave my property to anyone I have already paid income tax, paid capital gains tax (which already had corporate tax paid), paid sales tax, and possibly paid property tax on anything I leave to my heir. By the time property has passed from parent to child it has already been taxed several times! And the government coming in to take another bite on property they didn’t earn, they didn’t work for, they didn’t do anything for isn’t just unfair it’s idiotic and unethical. And it is based on the liberal assumption that you only have things due to the government not by your own effort.

So really it’s not that tax payers are also getting something for nothing, what they’re getting is robbed and they’re paying the robber to rob them again. Oh, what a deal! Can’t imagine why I would want less of that. So yeah I will bitch about the people who get welfare, they haven’t worked for it, they are only benefitting from the labors of the robbed—whereas the actual taxpayer is getting hit by the taxes and by the destructive force on the economy those taxes are being used for.

So liberals praise taxes all you want, but understand they hurt more than they help, they provide almost nothing as well as the private sector can, and unless we do complain about them they will not be used efficiently or effectively.

Without Taxes

*Obviously this will take time. About 54% of the budget is entitlements of one form or another that should be destroyed…however you would have to be an idiot to destroy them in one fell swoop. They need to be drawn down over time to nothing (the shortest you could even theoretically do this to prevent massive economic disasters would be 15 years…but you could start today and make major headway in just stopping growth and raising the bar for who can apply).

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Things the Government and Hollywood can do to lower ticket prices

Movie ticket prices are high…as the Entertainment Editor of Elementary Politics I regrettably know this better than most 1888635_623836521024148_812367747072020643_nhaving to pay money to go see movies I actually know will suck (Go and read some articles on Elementary Politics…if we get enough readers I can probably get a press pass into films).

But there appears to be some doom and gloom on the horizon. The first is that, as we all know the last few years have seen deeper and deeper slumps in box office turnout. It gets even worse when you look at supposedly important names like Spielberg and Lucas* telling us that we can soon expect $25 tickets. Now I think $25 may be little overblown (even with inflation under the Obama), and might be a little bit of Spielberg forgetting the studios might not want to fund him because his last six movies have all been terrible. Still the fact is movie prices are still going up. And this comes with the rather idiotic question what can the government do to stop that…yes I’ve actually heard people ask variants of this question, because there are some idiots who feel the government needs to fix all of their problems.movie tickets

But rather than asking what can the government do, I’m going to ask the more important question what can the government stop doing to help reduce movie ticket prices? There are already a horde of policies and regulations in place that are helping to drive the price of your movie ticket up (along with the price of just about everything else) and if the government stopped doing these things you would have far more reasonable prices and far less inflation.

1. First and foremost we need to ignore Senator John McCain (who never met a line of the Constitution that he felt like defending) in his call to regulate cable TV even more. And after that we need not regulate anything else to do with the entertainment industry. I’m sure there are probably a few (very few) laws that should pertain to the entertainment industry, but right now I can also guarantee you we have dozens, possibly hundreds we don’t need and that need to be scrapped before we need any new laws. At this point new laws and regulations only create new headaches and roadblocks for business, industry, innovation and creation.

There is a minimum level of laws needed in society. We are nowhere near that level and need to take a machete, a chainsaw, and possibly a nuclear weapon to the stack of laws we do have at present.

2. End all public funding at all levels for all kinds of subsidies, tax breaks, or incentives. This might seem counter intuitive for why it would raise the price of your tickets. Subsidies only ever result in getting more of something people don’t want. Movies make money when they’re good…so if the only reason you’re going to make it is because you can get a tax break or a right-off or a subsidy in creating content that is sub-par and will in the end reduce the profitability of the market…which in turn has to be made back by charging higher prices for tickets. (Not to mention it creates crap like NPR and PBS which despite its claims of being educational actually make people dumber).

3. Conversely taxes should just be lowered in general. Be it the flat tax or the fair tax, it is irrelevant, but if taxes were just lower you would find more money to invest in films, better, cheaper technology to make films, and lower costs all around for production. Tax reform always benefits everyone, without question, without exception.

4. Another obvious one: Get rid of Obamacare. If you don’t think the production companies and the distribution companies and the theater chains don’t plan on passing their massive costs of Obamacare onto to you through ticket sales, you’re delusional. If prices do rise to $25 a ticket, then Obamacare will be to blame for at least a third of that rise.

5. Sue China for copyright infringement. China has committed billions, perhaps trillions of dollars of patent and copyright theft. Certainly they’re not the only foreign offender but they certainly are the biggest. (It’s ironic that it is very likely that all the money we have borrowed from China was only made by not paying us for use of patents and copyrights) and the entertainment industry takes billions of dollars in losses every year because of this (losses they pass off to you). Now while the Chinese government per se isn’t doing the actual pirating, they have created, fostered and in many ways encouraged the environment in which such violations run rampant and it needs to stop. While this is an issue that hardly affects only the entertainment industry, that is one of the most obvious ways it affects you and if they tightened up their system (and god forbid paid what they owe) you would see profits over here soar and prices drop in response.

 

6. Conversely America’s copyright laws are a little insane. In a push driven mostly by Disney, Congress extended copyright law to insane levels. Currently it’s life of the artist plus 70 years or 95 years from publication for works owned by corporations. That’s insane. I know Disney has a lot invested in keeping Mickey to themselves…but guys you have to let go at some point. Copyrights do help inspire creation…but when taken to an illogical extension they can also hurt innovation and creation (don’t believe me, go and read some of the insanity that has come about because of the copyrights surrounding Superman). Correcting this problem would mean that soon theaters could get their hands on good old movies at a very, very low cost and show them at almost pure profit, which means they don’t have to make the other ticket prices as high just to break even.

7. Get rid of minimum wage laws. Every usher and every person behind the counter at every theater is being paid at least $7.25 an hour. They’re not worth $7.25 an hour. Based on the service I usually get, they’re not worth $3 an hour. But regardless of what I think they’re worth, it is a simple fact of economics that minimum wage laws hurt the economy. They cause fewer people to be hired, they prevent people from getting experience, they lower service and they drive up costs.


If you got rid of minimum wage laws you would see lower ticket prices. You would also see a drop in the unemployment rate and a massive rise in the economy at all levels.
8. Get rid of ethanol. Ethanol is possibly one of the dumbest things we’ve ever done in this country. It takes 1.2 gallons of fuel to create one gallon of ethanol. So not only is it a waste that causes your gas bill to rise (and thus the cost of EVERYTHING else to rise including your movie ticket) but you’re also wasting tax dollars on this because not only is it a Ethanolwaste, but we subsidize it as well. You pay for it to be grown and then you pay to use it…and it’s worthless. Another fun fact about ethanol is that the heavy production of it has caused the worldwide cost of corn to go up, which not only exacerbates issues of global famine, but probably doesn’t help the price of the popcorn either.

9. While Congress really should get rid of all subsidies and trade barriers let’s look specifically at the ones dealing with sugar. We subsidize sugar production in the U.S. (causing the price to go up) and have stiff trade barriers that prevent cheaper sugar from getting in. This in turn leads to just about everything at concession stands costing vastly higher amounts than it otherwise would.

10. Finally let’s end the government protection of the teacher’s union. What does this have to do with the cost of your theater going experience? In terms of cost not so much, in terms of getting your money’s worth a lot. If we had an even halfway decent education system do you think movies like Grown ups 2, R.I.P.D. The Internship or White House Down would ever have been made? I doubt it, because there wouldn’t have been as much of a market for them…yes intelligent, educated people can enjoy movies like this, but an intelligent educated populace wouldn’t provide a market for as many pieces of crap to be made. And the simple fact is that there is probably no bigger threat to American education than the teacher’s union. End all of their bargaining power, disband the unions (because professionals don’t have unions), and as far as I’m concerned try the union leadership for treason and give them the maximum sentence, because they have done massive and unforgivable damage to this nation in protecting their hack union members who have no business whatsoever being in a classroom.

Now that’s what the government should stop doing…but to be fair there are some things Hollywood should do.

PrincessBride

Why has this not been re-released? This would make more money than you can imagine.

1. Release old movies. Why has there not been a re-release of The Princess Bride in the theaters? Or Casablanca? There is next to no overhead cost and you would sell tickets like crazy. Disney, you could re-release a movie every month from your vault (even if we changed the copyright laws) and it would still take years before you made a full cycle.
I think people would rather pay money to see something older and good than new and dumb.

2. Stop paying actors outrageous salaries and start paying your writers better. As the last few years have shown, people aren’t going to see movies because of their favorite actors. If actors aren’t drawing people in then they’re not good investments. Neither is CGI. In the end the most surefire way to get people in the seats is to tell a good story. Pay your writers better.

3. Hollywood, get some goddamn accountants! Real accountants, not the crazy people who have made Hollywood accounting seem more complex than the US tax code. Get some people who will pinch pennies and tell you no, that’s a bad investment, no, the actor can’t have this many riders in their contract, no, we don’t need this lavish a catering truck at the shoot, no, no, no.

4. Stop hiring directors who can’t make money. Guillermo del Toro and Paul Thomas Anderson do not make money (in fact while some of their films have made a profit I believe they are in the red for their overall careers). (I personally don’t get Scorsese, I don’t think he’s ever made a watchable film, but at least he brings in a profit, I just don’t understand how). But time and time again you see Hollywood give too much money to hacks because they’re ‘great directors.’ If you want to make vanity pieces fine, do it on your own dime; don’t do it so the studio takes the loss and passes that onto the theaters and then onto me.

5 Support a la carte purchasing in cable. It will reduce your competition and the number of channels you need to advertise on (and it’s actually the advertising budget of most films that makes them take a loss not the production costs).These are just a few of the things the government and Hollywood can do, but in the end it boils down to two things, government needs to get out of the way and Hollywood needs to be focused on giving us a higher quality product.
*I say supposedly because let’s be honest, these two schmucks have more a reputation for making good movies than an actual history of making good films. I’m sure someone will take offense to that but go look at all the movies Spielberg has actually directed and take an honest look at how some of the worst films in history are on that list.

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