I promised in a backhanded way I'd release this a few days ago.
There are many political events that surround us in our daily lives, and many political organizations and groups that vie for our attention and effort, whether it be in-person effort, money or both.
I put quite a bit of effort into the Libertarian party over the last few years, up until a couple of months before the election, when I severed ties with the local and state parties. I kept on as Treasurer of the House campaign that I had taken earlier in the year; the candidate in question (Calen Fretts) was someone who is a man of integrity that was trying to do the right thing.
I've also spent a lot of time post-election contemplating whether, and on what terms, I'm willing to lend effort to political causes both now and in the future.
Let's start with what's going on right now, and I'll lead with the Libertarians.
The Gary Johnson campaign was a disaster. But the disaster is not over. No, Gary ended the year a staggering $1.135 million in debt, against a mere $43,933 in cash.
There has been a stunning silence from the Florida State Party apparatus, which has a chair who vehemently boosted this clown of a candidate, as to this latest report and its implications. Nor has National stopped trying to solicit me to renew my membership, which I explicitly resigned (right here, publicly, cutting up my card.)
The internals are frightening. Enormous amounts of money were spent on staffing, and damned little on actual advertising and media. The campaign was ineffective beyond words, garnering a mere 1% of the vote -- but one has to wonder if the point of the campaign was to actually garner votes at all, or whether it was just a means to "employ" some people, with nearly all of the money funneled through "Political Advisors" out of Salt Lake City.
Remember, this is a politician who said he would eliminate in his first budget as President the ~40% operating deficit that the Federal Government holds.
Yet he took in $2.2 million during the entire election cycle but after spending essentially all of both it and his "matching funds", with the candidate himself donating only $8,000 of his own money, he then went on to rack up $1.135 million in debt on top of it.
I note with alarm that this debt is 51.6% of the total amount donated and I have seen exactly zero in terms of how he intends to pay it off. Soliciting people to donate to a failed campaign that violated the very fiscal integrity the candidate promised were he to be elected is going to be a hell of a lot of fun.
Indeed, you could look at paying political advocates and staffers as a form of welfare, if you want to be less-than-charitable about it. After all, what do they do that produces GDP? What good or service do they provide into the economy?
Nothing, unless you count the hot air spewed by these clowns as a positive contributor to global temperature trends -- something we could use right now in Florida, as it's too damned chilly for my taste.
Of course the Libertarians are not, by any stretch of the imagination, the only ones with wild-eyed idiocy in the political sphere of late. They're just one of the more-blatant (yet tiny and thus utterly insignificant in the scheme of things, mostly due to their own duplicity) when it comes to selling "We'll do X while we can't conduct ourselves in the same manner we claim we'll govern -- or are governing" to you, the gullible.
Speaking of which, the latest nonsense relates of course to the sequester. Obama looks like a petulant child pouting about how the sequester is "irresponsible." Perhaps, Mr. President, you might want to explain to the American people why you proposed it originally!
It's not like a President would ever propose something he knows is ruinously bad, right? Oh wait, according to his own standards, he did!
Obama, of course, is not alone. Senate and House Republicans, including but not limited to McConnell, Boehner, McMorris-Rodgers, Ryan and others have for the last two+ years bleated about how we "must get our fiscal deficit under control." They then vote for continuing resolutions and ever-expanding debt ceilings, unwilling to draw a single breath before turning their own previous statements into lies with their own acts. I made my opinion known to several of them in 2011, and it stands: You're liars and frauds, now go perform an anatomically-impossible act. My opinion in that regard will stand until your actions change -- period.
Those who argue that there is "no alternative" are lying too. There most-certainly is an alternative. The House can refuse to authorize any further continuing resolutions that add one nickel of additional debt to the Federal ledger.
So why not do it?
The reason is simple: They're all handing out welfare to both people and corporations and in addition they're well-aware that the deficit spending, some 8% of GDP, would instantly come back out of the economy were it to stop -- because that's "demand" that doesn't really exist.
In other words GDP would instantly contract by that same 8% plus whatever the knock-on effects are of the people not producing (up and down the line) that which is no longer bought.
And despite the bleating about fraud, waste and abuse the fact of the matter is that this very same fraud, waste and abuse is part of GDP and for every dollar of it you eliminate and thus don't spend that's a dollar that comes out of the economy!
Next, there's the health care fiasco. If being screwed out of 10x the market cost of a procedure isn't enough to cause you to want to burn to ash the entire medical industry in this nation you're not very bright. Medical "costs" are one of the largest causes of individual bankruptcy. Worse, the escalation of medical spending from $53 billion in 1980 to over $800 billion in 2011 by the Federal Government alone lays bare on the table where we're headed -- national bankruptcy -- if this crap is not stopped, and stopped now.
Finally, I'm tired of watching the commission of felonies by the tens or hundreds of thousands by privileged groups, such as the banksters, while the guy who steals $50 worth of gas or smokes a joint goes to prison.
So here's the deal.
I'm always willing to work toward positive change.
I'm not going to tilt at windmills.
If you, as a politician or political subdivision, whether that be a party, a candidate, or an officeholder, want me to effort on your behalf, no matter how small or large, or provide you with any sort of service at all (like, for instance, provide advice on your web hosting, fix your computer or other similar things that I happen to be pretty good at), then you will:
If you can't do that, then stop calling me, stop asking for help and stop expecting me to provide anything but a slammed door on your fingers and a boat horn in your ear when you ring my phone.
In addition you should expect that in the not-so-distant future I will cease looking for signs that you're going to do -- or advocate for -- the right thing. When that day arrives, and it shall not so long from today, I will do my level best to withdraw all of my material effort that can be taxed and therefore used to support that which I know (1) cannot possibly work and (2) will simply go to fatten the wallets of those who are and have been both lying to me and intend to screw myself and my progeny.
And finally, may God have mercy on you if your computer is hacked and you need help, or if you would like someone to come and perform some sort of forensic inspection on your machines or networks, because I sure as hell won't have any mercy -- or provide any assistance -- to you at all.
I, and the other productive members of society, do not need you.
You need me.
But right now I'm out in the garage stenciling up some signs to picket with, because I'm very, very close to going on strike and I know full well there isn't a damn thing you can do about it if I do.
May millions of others decide to do so as well.
Ps: Should you decide to ignore me in this regard, I will caution you that a man known as "Math" is going to resolve these problems all on his own, that I (and anyone else who's paying attention) have a pretty good idea when he will, despite your best attempts, breach your walls, and when he does unless you can manage to convince God to change the laws of physics and thus how the universe works you're buggered and done.
I'm rather tired of people saying "won't you support <candidate X> now that he has <done y>"?
I reserve the right to vote against people, as I did in the last Presidential election (and explained why; that seditious rat bastard McCain deserves to be in prison for knowingly enabling and remaining silent while the banksters looted the public, and both he and his campaign advisers knew damn well this was what was going on as I documented at the time. I would not***** on him to put him out were he on fire as a direct consequence of his and his advisor's conduct in this regard.)
But if you want The Market Ticker's endorsement (which is my personal endorsement since I run this joint) this is what any candidate for any office must meet as a minimum set of criteria.
This is not a "best of" test; you either meet all of the criteria below or you may as well meet none. I am willing to entertain debate on virtually any other policy position beyond the below requirements; this base set of conditions is one that I urge the entire electorate to adopt as it is a perfect filter that is non-partisan but also looks at politics through the lens of what is possible both physically and within the founder's framework, assuming honest effort by all involved.
This is not to say that if you meet these you will earn said endorsement, but rather that this is the filter through which one gets in the door to the level where I start looking at what I believe are the right choices. This filter is intentionally set to disqualify only those who promise something that's impossible or something that's blatantly unconstitutional (and thus unlawful); everyone else passes this test. There will be a second posting some time in the next few months, probably somewhere around the beginning of 2012, where I will begin to issue formal endorsements based on an evaluation of those who pass this filter. If nobody passes this first-level filter for a particular office then I will formally recommend voting for Beelzebub as if you're going to vote for the impossible or someone who has declared evil intent you may as well go all the way -- vote for the prince of Darkness and get it over with.
Sadly, I suspect that this list will leave one candidate in ten beyond this round of analysis (and perhaps far fewer) but that's actually good rather than bad, as it will leave me free to actually analyze those candidates in detail rather than spending my time on those who I wouldn't vote for if the other alternative on the ballot were Beelzebub.
In addition please note that due to my time being fairly constrained (I do have to sleep at some point!) I am only interested in evaluating candidates for The House, The Senate and President of the United States. I do not care what party affiliation the candidate has; any party, including third parties, are welcome to submit their names in the comments for consideration, provided they are formally announced and in election-law compliance candidates for the above offices.
Right now I have nobody in either major political party that I am willing to vote for under this criteria, as none have put forward sufficient policy frameworks to satisfy the test or they have disqualified themselves.
If you're a national candidate for office (House, Senate or President) then you need to address at least the following issues in order for me to assess whether you meet these three requirements:
That's it. Those who think I should be looking at one candidate or another are free to submit their desires for my examination in the comments. You're more likely to get me interested enough to actually perform the evaluation (remember, this is an exhaustion test - if I don't find a disqualifying factor it will take me several hours to vet someone against this list) if you put forward your reasons for why you think that candidate meets #1 - #3 right up front instead of forcing me to look for them myself.
One final note: Once disqualified under this criteria if you want to be reconsidered you must publicly denounce whatever it was that disqualified you. A "flip flop" will be ignored; if you're incapable of admitting a mistake you also fail the essential character test for public office.
This topic will remain pinned until some time next year close to the election; those candidates that pass this evaluation are found in the below list with their respective offices being sought. Anyone taking a snipe or partisan attack in the comments will instantly and permanently be banned - this is an attempt to further discourse and I will not tolerate attempts to disrupt that process. There are three areas on the forum for political discourse that are "free fire" zones ("Politics", "Lefties" and "Righties") - this is not one of them.
Disclosure: I may be working on various campaigns in advisory positions in this upcoming political season and of course may give candidates money as well. If a candidate on this list is one that I have a formal advisory position with or for in any capacity or have made a political donation to that campaign there will be an asterisk next to his or her name as it is blatantly unfair for me to "pass" someone without disclosing that I am assisting them in any manner, no matter how small.
Candidate list that has passed #1-3
Calen Fretts*, candidate for Congress, FL-1, Libertarian
My I've been busy with the "restrict postings" button the last couple of days.
I don't really like using it, incidentally, but there are a few rules when one is having something approaching political discourse if you intend to actually try to have a debate, as opposed to playing the long-practiced political game of distortion, innuendo and falsehood.
In no particular order:
Differences of opinion are part of the political process and not a problem. We all have our opinions on how to solve the problems facing this nation. And politics, my friends, is a blood sport - it always has been and always will be. Anyone who doubts that political hacks of all persuasions will use ridiculous, over-the-top and dishonest claims to advance their agenda, or that this is somehow "new" need only google up "Daisy Girl." Now that was a nasty campaign ad.
But there's a certain level of dishonesty that goes beyond honest disagreement and is, instead, simple bull**** - that is, a knowing falsehood.
Let's take one example - the Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS), which shows $2.162 trillion in receipts in FY 2010. Of that, $1.753 trillion was received through July, a difference of $409.2 billion.
This fiscal year $1.893 trillion has been received through July, or 8% more. Applying that to the $409.2 billion we get $442 billion, which when added to $1.893 trillion gives us $2.335 trillion in expected total 2011 revenues.
Applying that same forward rate to FY 2012 gives us $2.522 trillion expected for that year - essentially in the noise level from the proposal yesterday (2.609 trillion).
Now let's look at my proposal from yesterday in more detail. There have been several "complaints" about it, chief among them being that (1) it's not "fair" to the poor and loads the cost on them and the middle class, (2) it's a "huge" tax increase, and (3) my use of FY2003 numbers for spending didn't include the wars.
Let's dispense with the last first. I used CBO outlays numbers and documented that with a link to their figures. Outlays are what they are. Further, the debt held by the public and social security numbers are easily reconciled with these figures, since both are listed. In FY03 the delta on debt held by the public was $3,913.4 - $3,540.4, or $373 billion. Social Security a surplus of $155.6 billion, so add that in. This is within the noise level of "as reported."
You can't spend money without collecting or borrowing it; thus, the claim that "wars weren't included" is not an error, it's a lie.
Second, yes, tax revenues are going to go up under this plan - a bit. But we already expect a 7% revenue increase. Is this material? Yes. But let's not forget that in theory we should get more than 7% because at present there's a FICA tax break that's going to expire in December, among other distortions, and the Bush Cuts expire the year after that (and those are huge, more than $350 billion/year.) Further, I explicitly set (and so stated) that my intention was to raise about 17-18% of GDP in tax revenue. That the plan should do. It's transparent and "in your face" - nothing is being hidden. The simple facts are this: We're spending $1,700 billion more than we take in now, putting it on the credit card. This cannot continue.
Third, while taxes would under this plan go up by 7% or so in total against the present year, spending would be cut massively, back to 2003 levels, or by some $1,500 billion a year! In other words, that's something like seven bucks in spending decreases for every dollar in tax collection improvements. Happy with that? No? Fine - cut spending more, dollar for dollar, if you wish to decrease the tax rates. (Best of luck on that, given the interest load we cannot avoid. An interest load that the left must accept as more than half theirs, as not only have they massively contributed to it they refuse to repudiate the policies that got us into this mess - spend spend spend and spend some more! And don't start with the "wars" crap - $160 billion, the worst year of the war spending, is less than 10% of the present deficits. In short, stop lying.)
Finally, let's deal with the "but the poor!" crap and the truth about your W2 income.
Unlike most of the hacks who attacked this proposal I've run a business and made payroll. I'm well aware of exactly what the payroll account actually looks like, what's withheld and what you never see as an employee.
First, you have deducted from your check 6.2% and 1.45% of your gross hourly (or salary) wages. The 6.2% caps off eventually, but the 1.45% does not. Most people do not hit the cap - unless you're in the top quintile, you pay this on every dollar and see it in every check.
But in fact you pay twice that much, because the employer is required to send the same amount in although they are prohibited by law from itemizing it on your pay stub and telling you the truth - you were, in fact, offered and paid 7.65% more than your wage.
I don't care what the government says I can tell you. All I care about are facts.
Oh, but that's not all! Employers are also required to pay FUTA. That's the unemployment tax, and it's presently 6.2% on the first $7,000 in wages. There's an offset if you pay into a state fund, but you still pay - it's just who you pay. The working poor and lower-middle class - that is, someone making $10/hour or $20,000 a year for a standard 2,000 hour work-year (50 weeks of 40 hours) in fact is paying about 3% of his wages in that tax as well - and it's federally illegal to itemize that on the employees pay stub and disclose exactly how much is stolen from him in the form of that tax. Since this tax caps out at $7k in annual wages it is extremely regressive, even more so than Social Security.
There are other employment taxes as well, but those are the big federal ones, and pretending they don't exist is intentionally dishonest.
So is ignoring unemployment insurance that must be maintained along with Workman's Comp. Both are legally required and both are also extremely regressive, given that lower-income people tend to be more mobile when it comes to paid unemployment (it's a fact, like it or not) and thus tend to ramp your unemployment insruance rates (at least until you cap off.) The latter two are state-specific and so I'll ignore them - in other words, I'm understating the common worker's actual compensation in my example.
The person making $10/hour, or $20,000 a year "gross" on his paycheck in fact has the following additional wage being paid to him that he never sees nor is it lawful to disclose in exact figures on his check stub:
In other words, the so-called $20,000 a year employee is actually making $21,964 gross - and that's just at the federal level. He's not making $10/hour, he's actually making almost $11 - but it's illegal for me to tell him that when I hire him, and itemize exactly what's being taken from him as a direct consequence, and only as a consequence, of him working for me.
Oh by the way, it gets worse (for you) as your income goes up. If you earn the median of $50,000 "gross" in fact you make $54,259 gross. How much was that tax deduction you claimed you got for mortgage interest again? Let's assume you had a (ridiculously irresponsible at nearly 6x your income) $300,000 6% 30 year mortgage and it's brand new (nearly all interest.) Your P&I is $1,789; let's assume $1,500 of that is in fact interest expense and deductible. If you have a 20% blended effective tax rate then the actual tax saved by that deduction is $3,600. Note also that this is the "best case"; as you pay your mortgage the interest percentage in the payment goes down, and so does the deduction. Note also that if you have more deductions and a lower effective federal rate then the value of your mortgage interest deduction is less. Likewise if you have an affordable house your deduction is less - in fact, it's half as much.
Guess what - the additional "hidden" but factual $4,259 you already receive in gross pay under the plan I outlined is greater than your mortgage interest deduction - by $659 if you're in a bubble-house, and by $2,459 if you were actually a prudent home-buyer!
Said middle-class person is screwed by what I put forward yesterday?
Like hell they are.
Is there an argument for some people to scream, particularly those who receive things like the EITC today? Maybe. But remember, that "$20,000/year income" family will receive an additional $3,400 in their paycheck during the year. Right now they may get a $6,000 "refund" on April 15th but a large part of it (in fact, $3,400 of it) is tax that was paid in by them in the first place!
Does this ask those who have relatively low incomes or who receive most or all their income from transfer payments (e.g. Social Security) to pay tax? Yes indeed it does. But let's look at how much it asks them to pay on a comparative basis. The entire bottom quintile receives $390 billion "all-in", including transfer payments. They will pay $39 billion in taxes - out of the entire load of $2,609 billion. In other words the lowest fifth of earning households in the United States will pay one dollar in sixty-seven, or 1.49% of the total tax load - combined. This, despite being 20% of the population.
One point four nine percent of the tax load folks.
The middle quintile (the third) has an average "money income" of $46,102. Adjusted for transfers and other items (all taxable) it's $76,607. They will pay 10% on the first $58,380 and 20% on the rest ($18,227) That's $9,483 per household or $229 billion. Out of $2,600 billion the median family pays roughly one dollar in eleven.
Unfair to expect the median income family (one fifth of the total population again) to pay about one in eleven in taxes? I think not.
The top quintile? Their average money income is $157,631. With transfers and other "not includeds" in the Census numbers, actual household income is $253,786. These people have money. And they pay most of the tax too. In fact they pay (if we assume nearly all of capital gains is theirs) $1,798 billion out of the total $2,609, or sixty-nine percent.
Unfair? Exactly how? The "top" one-in-five families pays, on a representative basis, more than three times their representation in the economy in taxes. The bottom pays almost (but not exactly) nothing - just enough for them to have "skin in the game" and feel demands for more services (and thus more taxes.) And the median quintile, 1/5th of the total, pays less than half of their representative proportion.
Argue with the facts, not the hyperbole, if you wish to keep your posting access on The Market Ticker.
PS: There was an error that overstated tax collections in the bracketing on the original Ticker; it has been corrected. The error was in not applying the corrective census factor to the bracket cutpoints, which, if we're going to count all income and not just wages, which this proposal does, must be done.
Let's talk taxes.
Everyone says we need fundamental tax reform.
I prefer The Fair Tax, but recognize that many others do not.
But what if we don't want to do The Fair Tax?
Let's look at a clean, progressive and simple tax instead.
We'll use two basic metrics - the first is that the median household income is approximately $50,000. The second is that the gross PCE (personal consumption expenditures) is, as of the present time, approximately $10,656 billion (that is, $10.7 trillion) and residential investment (that is, personal spend on residences) is approximately $330 billion, for a total of $11 trillion (out of our $15 trillion GDP.)
Therefore, let's presume the following:
Now let's look at the BEA's personal income tables. They disclose that we have $8.23 trillion in employee salaries, $1.60 trillion in supplements (that is, the current payroll taxes), $1.11 trillion in proprietor's income, $397 billion in rental income and $2.345 trillion in transfer receipts (payments from government social insuance payments - all of which are taxable since we exempt nothing.)
This totals $13.68 trillion in money and transfer receipts. The remainder ($1.8 trillion) is receipts on assets - that is, capital gains. I'll presume that half of that would qualify for long-term treatment (which is probably way, way too high - today - but won't be in the future with these changes.)
Unfortunately Census and the BEA only has quintiles through 2009. It is what it is, but we'll use what we can get.
We count 121 million approximate household units according to Census. Unfortunately Census only accounts for money income - they claim (as of 2009) $7.596 trillion in total! That's crap, so let's fix it - we'll bump all categories by 64% (to account for the difference as of 2009 BEA GDP tables), since we're taxing all income with no deductions of any sort (including Social Security and similar transfer payments.)
We will break the tax percentages as follows:
All are marginal rates and quintile breakpoints will be adjusted annually.
Note that since all other federal payroll and similar taxes are eliminated those in the first two quintiles pay less than what they pay today in payroll taxes alone, but there are no refundable credits. That is, everyone pays something, most-specifically for those social programs everyone thinks they're "entitled" to. In addition, the progressive nature of the tax code is retained and for most people through the bottom three quintiles they will pay less. The exception is those who are getting a "free ride" from refundable credits - they will pay something, but only to the extent that their "free ride" ends, and in fact their burden will not exceed that which would be paid only in payroll taxes alone. (Household numbers below are in thousands.)
So the first quintile earns $238 billion and the second $657 billion, for a combined $895 billion (adjusted $1,467 billion). They will pay $147 billion in income tax.
The second bracket earns $2,887 billion (adjusted $4,735 billion). There are 48,376 such households; on the first $2.823 trillion they will pay $282 billion in income tax, and on the remainder ($1,912 billion) they will pay $382 billion, for a total of $664 billion.
The third bracket makes a lot of money. There are 24,196 such households. They earn on average $157,631 (adjusted $251,515), for a total $3,808 billion (adjusted $6,244 billion). On the first $58,380 of that income they pay 10%, or $5,830 per household. On the next $95,426 in income they will pay $19,085 in tax per household. And on the remainder ($104,709) they will pay $31,413 per household in tax, for a total of $56,328, or $1.363 trillion. That's a ****load of tax; on a per-household basis they pay more than twice times the "middle income" people's burden and about ten times the bottom two quintile's burden. If this isn't progressive enough for you then you need to replace your brain with one that actually works.
Oh yeah, this totals $2,174 billion in taxes on incomes.
If we assume that most of the $1.8 trillion in returns on assets goes to the top marginal rate, and half is accountable as long-term capital gain, then we have ($900 billion * 15%) + ($900 billion * 30%) = $135 + $300 billion, or another $435 billion.
We thus have $2.609 trillion in tax revenue.
Oh, this understates the revenue, since according to BEA the numbers are somewhat better than this today, but we're using 2009 figures. If you want to be entirely accurate you can add about 10-15% to those numbers, but I like being conservative and recognize that we have an economic adjustment to take - so I won't.
There are no taxes on corporations under this flat tax and no deductions of any sort. Your tax return fits on one sheet of paper, except for stock trades and such where you must show basis and acquisition date. The Internal Revenue Code fits within a dozen pages of legislative-laid-out text.
The Federal budget, as of 2005, was supportable in full at this level of revenue complete with our current interest payment requirements and a a hundred billion or so of actual debt retirement. Since the goal is to actually retire debt we will drop spending to 2003 federal spending levels, which totaled $2.160 trillion, effective this September.
As the debt is retired (it will take 20 years) we can advance spending by the amount of the interest on the retired debt. You now fix Health Care using the formula I've previously put forward, and index Social Security over five years to the actuarial improvement in life from the inception date of Social Security to today.
You want a monster economic recovery?
ENACT THIS WASHINGTON OR SHUT THE **** UP AS FAILURE TO BOTH FIX REVENUE AND SPENDING ON THIS MODEL MAKES CLEAR YOU HAVE NO INTENTION OF ACTUALLY FIXING ANYTHING.
Party Platform For 2012
If you elect me the following would be my platform....
Before anyone claims that all this is a violation of someone's rights, please be aware that accepting all of these handouts are in fact a choice. That is, they're voluntary, as is the assistance. You have no right to the assistance, therefore the persons paying for it (that's those of us paying taxes instead of consuming the services) have a right to set the conditions.
More to the point, if these conditions "ruin your self-esteem" that's so the better. After all, negative feedback as a consequence for poor choices is one of the best ways to modify behavior. That which is rewarded inevitably is replicated and encouraged; these steps should provide some discouragement and tilt the scales toward going out and finding a job or starting a business, rendering reliance on the public teat a "last resort" instead of the "first and best resort."
The above, all alone, would cut "government welfare" (in all its forms) by at least 50% - and probably 75% or more - all through voluntary attrition of the rolls.
If there are three people in the nation who would vote for me on such a platform I'll tell you how I'd deal with Social Security and Medicare - they're next.
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