Sunday, May 2, 2010

The wrong country, at the wrong time?

This was previously posted on on or before 2007-10-09:

Ponder for a moment a place where 92% of the land and 99% of the radio spectrum in the air is owned by the government. In this place, people pay a 35% income tax plus another 9% to a local government. On what's left of this money, people invest and the corporations are then taxed another 35% of the remainder. Then you take the remainder of that and invest in the stock market or in a bank account, and that's taxed at 35% again. Then let's assume you die - the government again collects as much as 52%. When you buy something along the way, the sales tax may be 8%.

In this place, you need a permit to do just about anything. You can't build a house or add to an existing one, on the little (8% of the total) private land there is, without a permit. You need a government license to cut hair, administer funerals, fish and if you want to drive a cab in the country's largest city, you have to pay over $400,000 to obtain a permit. That would buy you a top-of-the-line Rolls-Royce, but in this case it's just a "medallion" which is the misleading name for a meaningless government permit. While delivering packages is legal, delivering first-class main in competition with the government is illegal.

In this place, you are governed by 170,000 pages of tax law, and you can't decide which medicine or other substances to put into your own body. If you talk to someone at work or in school in the "wrong" way so that they claim to be upset, you can be sued or fired.

This place has a special tax on wages that's paid into a "retirement fund" managed by the government. This "fund" takes all of its annual receipts every year and spends all of it it on current retirerees as well as on general government spending, so there is really no fund beyond the hope that future generations will continue to pay higher and higher tax rates. In other words, a pyramid - or ponzi - scheme.

Indeed, central government spending is rampant at $10,000 on average for every man, woman and child per year. This amout has been rising every year, rain or shine. In 1963, it was $500 per person per year.

What is this country? The Soviet Union ca 1980? No, it is today's United States.

Despite that we are a heavily over-taxed and over-regulated country bordering on socialism, Congress and several presidential candidates are arguing for higher taxes, more government spending and more regulation. The government can't deliver our mail on time, protect our Southern border from a daily invasion of thousands of people, or process a passport in less than two months, but it needs more of our money to hire more people and take over the health care system. Karl Marx and Vladmir Lenin would be proud.

There are only two important issues worth discussing as America goes to the polls again next year. The first one is how we will protect us against those who have decided that if you're not of the right kind of religion, you must be killed. These are the people who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001 and are plotting to cause even greater harm the next time.

The other issue is whether the US economy should be made freer so that we can compete with China, India, Eastern Europe and other places where taxes are being cut and capitalism is on the march forward. If one is to believe and extrapolate the lame behavior by the US congress and by many of the presidential candidates, we are instead marching in the direction of Cuba and North Korea. It doesn't look so good, does it?