You might be a Libertarian, if…

Libertarianism is not an exclusive club.  In fact, Libertarians are perhaps the most politically-welcoming group of people left in the United States of America.  The Libertarian philosophy is about giving people the freedom to choose, without exception.  Libertarians do not pick and choose when our freedoms apply.  How much more welcoming can you get?

Even though you may not call yourself a Libertarian, you probably hold very Libertarian beliefs on an increasing number of today’s issues.  As Republicans and Democrats continue their strangle-hold over Washington D.C., you might even find that your Libertarian leanings are strengthening.  As more of our liberties get removed by the long arm of unaccountable politicians, the stronger we need to fight to get them back, and admitting how Libertarian you truly are is a good first step.

How do you know if your belief system has changed enough over the years that you might, just might, be a real flesh-and-blood Libertarian?

  • If you believe that both Republicans and Democrats are equally complicit in the corruption of American government, you might be a Libertarian.
  • If you understand that people deserve economic and social freedom at the same time, you might be a Libertarian.
  • If you reject the idea that government knows best, you might be a Libertarian.
  • If you believe that the rightful owner of a taxpayer’s hard-earned money is the person who earned it, you might be a Libertarian.
  • If you believe any two consenting adults deserve to be treated equally under the law, you might be a Libertarian.
  • If you believe the War on Drugs has not only enhanced the availability of extremely dangerous drugs, but has also resulted in expensive and wasteful incarcerations of non-violent offenders of “crime”, you might be a Libertarian.
  • If you believe that our military has been exploited and used by our own government in questionable wars and “humanitarian” missions, you might be a Libertarian.
  • If you have ever cursed and thrown objects against the wall trying to figure out your taxes, you might be a Libertarian.
  • If you believe that April 15th (tax day) needs to be recognized as a day of mourning, you might be a Libertarian.

If you believe in true freedom and liberty for every man, woman and child in America, you are a Libertarian.

Sweden’s Shrinking State

Ah, Sweden, the very mention of it will often bring about the phrase ‘liberal paradise’. The land where healthcare is free, everyone lives long lives, and there’s no crime or violence, despite huge taxes and a massive public government.

All of it sounds wonderful except: it hasn’t been that way since the early 1990′s and its government is shrinking by the day.

Yes, this ‘paradise’, it seems, has been deregulating and lowering both taxes and spending for the past 20 years at a rate that’s absolutely astonishing. This myth of the ‘perfect state’ has come about due to a few things:

  1. Between 1850-1950, Sweden had one of the fastest growing economies in the world, it amassed massive capital, and was largely unregulated.
  2. Between 1950 to 1980, all the state programs began with the huge surpluses they had, and marginal taxation skyrocketed to 70% – this is the liberal paradise that people mention. Times were good, really, but it was unsustainable.
  3. Starting in the 1990s, the ‘banking crisis’ occurred where banks collapsed, the healthcare system utterly failed, killing thousands, and the entire financial system started to collapse on itself. Spending as a percentage of GDP  was at an all time high of 71.1% (for reference, the US now spends 103%). The education system was on the verge of collapse and many, many jobs evaporated overnight.
  4. Sweden went from 4th richest OECD country to the 16th in the span of 20 years.

Strangely, no big government advocate seems to know of the 1990′s Swedish banking crisis. It’s in plain view: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Sweden#Crisis_of_the_1990s and is a well studied piece of history in Sweden itself. The reasons are clear: big government intervention. Sweden, instead of continuing to go down the bad course, actually did something that is rarely done: they reversed course.

In 1994, following the banking crisis, massive market reform came down and entire industries were deregulated. Private schools were started, a voucher system was put in place, and largely, the majority of top performing schools in Sweden are for profit. The banking system was deregulated, many services were cut, taxes lowered, and spending as a percentage of GDP was cut from 71.1% to 53.3% an overall reduction of the state by over 30%.

Even the citizens are wanting less state provided healthcare. A rise of private insurance has been growing in Sweden, In 2011 about 440,000 people had private health care insurance in the country of 9.5 million (source: http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/22/socialist-swedes-take-to-private-health). If this public paradise was so great, why is it radically moving towards privatizing and deregulation faster than the US is moving towards socialization? Now, Sweden is still less ‘free’ than what most libertarians would wish, but it does show that a country can turn itself around and that even the most praised ‘ideal liberal states’ are not immune to the ill effects of big government.

For more reading on the subject, an article that appeared in Forbes does a great job going into more detail: http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2012/05/13/look-to-sweden-obamas-high-tax-gurus/

Despite massive spending, underachievement prevails

r-SAN-FRANCISCO-MINIMUM-WAGE-HIKE-large570Did you know that the number of people on food stamps has grown over the past 13 years by nearly 30 million, which accounts for almost 20% of households receiving taxpayer-funded food subsidies?  At the same time, the federal government is spending more per household than ever before – in fact, a 152 percent increase since 1965.

Our middle class is shrinking – the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, due in large part to insanely complex government rules and regulations that only those with resources can bypass.  In fact, the top 7% of households own 63% of the nation’s wealth.  During the so-called economy recovery, the other 93% of families lost wealth, putting into question the effectiveness of big spending government stimulus packages and who, in reality, the recovery truly helped.

ABC News reports that nearly 50 million people in the United States live in poverty, but yet, most Americans view our nation as the most prosperous in the world, fundamentally superior to our foreign counterparts despite our poor education system, insanely expensive healthcare industry and THE biggest government that we’ve ever had.

In fact, our healthcare system spends twice as much per person than any other developed nation in the world, a cost that accounts for more than 16% of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Our healthcare spending has increased at twice the rate of inflation, but yet our pharmaceuticals continue to kill and emergency rooms remain clogged with people using it as their primary care service.

A much-maligned segment of the population, the top 1% of income earners in the country have a greater net worth than the bottom 90% put together.  Perhaps this is due to nearly a quarter of all jobs in the United States that pay a wage of less than $10/hour.

Worse, spending in Washington continues to grow, more than it ever has despite record tax revenues.  Federal politicians managed to rack up $755 billion in deficits through the first eleven months of 2013′s fiscal year.  Spending during the same period amounted to a whopping $3.2 trillion.

Now, the government wants to take over healthcare.  Already the most expensive healthcare system in the entire world, the 10,500-page Obamacare monstrosity has authorized the government to spend even more money.  The new healthcare system’s broken Healthcare.gov web site cost the American taxpayer $634 million to build.  Obamacare has caused many insurance companies to cancel policies and create more expensive alternatives.  Premiums have risen and job hours have decreased to sub-30 hours to avoid Obamacare penalties.

The evidence of the big government effect is clear and overwhelming, and it is costing the American taxpayer trillions of dollars in reckless spending.  Both the Democrats and Republicans represent the cause of these problems, and our nation will never truly fix our ailing spending habits until we replace those responsible for it.

Libertarian Party: Don’t investigate the IRS, abolish it!

no_irsAs politicians in Washington D.C. scramble to take best advantage of the IRS debacle over targeting conservative and Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny, the Libertarian Party has upped the ante and is calling for the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service altogether.  Forget the investigation…just get rid of it.

“We must abolish the IRS and end any need for a regulatory agency that snoops into people’s private lives,” said Libertarian party Executive Director Carla Howell.  She added that our federal government needs far fewer resources to address their constitutionally-authorized obligations.  “We don’t need an income tax, and we certainly don’t need the IRS,” Howell added.

If elimination were to be discussed, now would be the time.  Officials within the IRS refuse to admit what they know and when they knew it.  It is more clear than ever that corruption exists in all levels of government, and the IRS is quickly turning into a prime example of how rampant uncontrolled power and unaccountable government employees really are within our federal bureaucracy.  How much more evidence do Americans need before they stand up for their own rights and call for an end to one of the more historically corrupt entities of the federal government?

Once again, the Libertarian Party is the only party calling for an end to political corruption.  Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have called for the elimination of the IRS, opting instead to maintain the abuse of so many American’s tax dollars and an insanely complex and punitive system of taxation.

“Individuals, businesses, and political organizations will all be safe from government interrogation and free to express their political views. It will dramatically increase the wealth of the private sector and inspire hundreds of billions of dollars in investment in small businesses and American jobs,” Howell said.

Milking the rich hits new high as average tax rate reaches 35%

Article Highlights

  • Rich paying largest share of federal taxes since 1979
  • Top 1% of earners pay over 35% of income to Washington
  • Bottom 20% pay nothing

A new study published by the Tax Policy Center in Washington D.C. finds that the rich are paying the largest share of federal income taxation in decades, which puts into question Obama’s claim that the rich need to pay their “fair share” to fix our government’s debt problem.

Earners in the  top 1% pay an average of 35% of their income to the federal government, the study found.  The bottom 20% pay nothing, and often, receive more in tax rebate checks than they paid into the system.  This amounts to a deficit in tax payments, and essentially, an additional yearly paycheck.  Historically, lower income earners are paying lower taxes than ever.

“My sense is that high-income people feel abused by being targeted always for more taxes,” said Roberton Williams of the Tax Policy Center.  Not only do higher income earners FEEL targeted by our tax system, they ARE targeted with high, punitive taxes – revenues that are then either wasted or lost within the incomprehensible layers of our government bureaucracy.

The Congressional Budget Office recently predicted that government revenues in 2013 will set new records.  Add in the fact that the large majority of those revenues will come from higher income earners, and political rhetoric that demands the rich “pay their fair share”, it does not take much of an imagination to realize just how devastating our tax system is to our nation’s future growth.  No wonder the wealthy maintain overseas bank accounts.  No wonder businesses outsource labor to other nations.  If those resources are kept within the borders of the United States, they are confiscated!

It seems the rich are paying their “fair share” after all.  When nearly 1 in 5 Americans pay nothing in taxes at the end of the year, it casts a serious shadow over the merits of progressive taxation and the class-based society that results from those tax tiers.

No need to apologize, Phil; taxes plague us all

phil-mickelson-298x300Professional PGA golfer Phil Michelson released a statement apologizing to his fans and those who felt insulted after the left-handed golfer said that due to extremely high state taxes in California, some “drastic changes” are looming in the near future, including a possible move out of the state.

“Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public,” Mickelson said in a statement. “I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend not to let it happen again.”

A couple weeks ago, Mickelson had broached the subject of politics during a Pebble Beach Pro-Am conference call.  After his final round last Sunday, Mickelson was asked to elaborate on what he meant by his comments.  “There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state, and it doesn’t work for me right now,” he said. “So I’m going to have to make some changes.”

Is there anyone out there who would honestly feel insulted by another person expressing discontentment with having to pay more than 60% of his or her income to the state?  Our tax system is a disgraceful mess and  incomprehensible by the majority of Americans.  As a taxpayer, I would be more insulted if nobody found fault with our clearly lopsided progressive system of taxation.

The public was both supportive and critical of Mickelson’s comments.  Some mocked the golfer, who pulled in close to $45 million last  year, for complaining about taxes while making so much money.  But Mickelson has no reason to apologize for “insulting” anybody.  While talk of politics is probably not the best course of action for any public sports figure, milking the rich out of their money has no place in a free society and it is perfectly natural for people to protect their earnings.  If Mickelson does end up moving, it once again proves a point that we’ve made plenty throughout SmallGovTimes.com – that if you milk the rich, you lose the rich.  And what state doesn’t want their tax revenue, or in the case of business owners, their jobs?

Rich Perry has already invited Mickelson to move to Texas, which has no state income taxes.  Many golfers live in Texas or Florida because neither state collects income tax.  Tiger Woods admitted to moving to Florida for precisely that reason back in the middle 90s.  Mickelson, a native of San Diego, lived in Scottsdale, AZ for several years before moving back to California.  California residents are the highest taxed in the nation.

A nation of taxation: How to socially engineer a population

When you think about taxation in the United States of America, you typically will think about the government taking money from its citizens to fund expenses that the government incurs. Nowadays, we argue a lot about how much we are taxes and in what ways government taxes us — but have you considered the question of why we are taxed?

Even Dictionary.com’s definition of a ‘tax’ adheres to the common denotation of fund raising:

Tax: a sum of money demanded by a government for its support or for specific facilities or services, levied upon incomes, property, sales, etc.

But the truth is that not all taxes are levied on the citizenry for the purposes of raising funds to pay for its expenses. In fact, many taxes are designed to, in some fashion, modify the collective behavior of the citizens.

These are typically ‘excise’ taxes, and their cost is hidden from the end consumer at the time of purchase. A common excise tax we routinely pay is in gasoline; the federal tax currently is 18.4 cents per gallon, and states will attach their own taxes on top of it (i.e.: New York’s is 51.3 cents per gallon). You don’t know it’s there, but next time you think gas is expensive at the pump — just remember that up to 70 cents of that is in taxes alone, and your gas could be $2.30 a gallon instead of $3+. But, there’s a more sinister question at hand: why is gas taxed? You already pay income tax, sales tax, property tax, etc. as previously discussed in the first part of this taxation series. Do we really need to raise more money?

The answer is, unsurprisingly, no. In fact, in 2010 the federal fuel excise tax amounted to $38 billion dollars — hardly a drop in the bucket given our trillion dollar budget. The original intent of this tax was to have people who drive more pay more for road maintenance and those who didn’t drive as much/drive lighter vehicles paid less. This tax is to modify behavior by encouraging you through financial penalty to drive more fuel efficient vehicles and/or drive less. By raising the cost of driving, the government is incentivizing you to modify your behavior by artificially inflating the true cost.

It doesn’t just stop at gasoline, either. There’s an alcohol and tobacco excise tax that you pay that’s hidden into the cost of those products – upwards of a dollar for a single pack of cigarettes at the federal level and usually more at the state. This is to discourage people from using alcohol and tobacco for ‘the greater good’ of society. This is an example of when the government attempts to play parent and deprive individuals of their cognitive liberty. The government is altering the conditions of common situations because it believes it is smarter than you and knows how you should live your life.

Taxes, by in large, aren’t always about the amount the money, but government sure will use the concept of money against you. Just as you are penalized for the actions the government doesn’t want you to take, it subsidizes you through tax breaks and credits in order to encourage you to do something.  The income tax code encourages people to get married by taxing you less, it encourages you to buy a house (tax free mortgage interest), it gives you credits for going to school (college tax breaks), and it even gives credits for buying hybrid cars that would otherwise be an unwise economic choice. These taxation policies, while seemingly innocuous, are designed to strip away decision-making capabilities and substitute the government’s judgement for your own — and they do it using other people’s money, to boot.

Anything you do with taxes, other than to raise funds, is a corruption of taxation and a gross abuse of freedom. Without your financial liberty, your freedom of speech is greatly hampered, and by making it so the people are dependent on these credits and to avoid penalties, you will behave the way the government wants you to behave in order to maintain your standard of living. These actions taken against the single individual might not seem like much, but when considered at the aggregate scale of the entire population of the  United States, they make tremendous impacts on our society.

How can you truly claim to be free when so many Americans are unaware of how the everyday choices they make (spending hard earned money) are being manipulated by the tax code? And it doesn’t just stop with you, the citizen; the government also subsidizes industries (farming) and penalizes others (tobacco) so you are never truly sure of anything.

cigarettes.  Cost of a bad habit.

If you needed further proof that our taxes have gone completely insane, you need look no further than the soft drink tax/bans. The government taxes you to raise money to subsidize corn farming dramatically, which leads to the cheap production of high-fructose corn syrup as a low-cost replacement for sugar in soft drinks — now, the government is attempting to enact taxes and bans (http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/13/health/new-york-soda-ban/index.html) on the very drinks it is already taxing you on to produce cheaply.  That is right, the government is taxing you in order to tax you again.  All this to ‘improve health’ and ‘deter soft drink habits’.

What more can be said about a tax code designed to modify the behavior of the population? This corruption of taxation has occurred, and worsened, with both Democrats and Republicans in full control of the congress and presidency.

There is no ‘lesser’ evil.