The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” says a proverb often attributed to Yogi Berra. Imagine the world of freedom, or lack of it. Who could foresee the technologies that make our lives so rewarding and convenient? The same technologies have us all under the government’s giant microscope. Thankfully, the brave have turned the microscope around.
In the months since Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the spying that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been perpetrating upon Americans and foreigners, some of the NSA's most troublesome behavior has not been a part of the public debate.
National Treasury Union President Colleen M. Kelly recently described the 2014 IRS budget allocation as “woefully inadequate.” But the agency has not proven itself to be an efficient steward of taxpayer dollars. Here are ten ways the IRS lost the trust of the American people.
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Given how poorly states like California and Illinois have funded the pension funds for their own employees, one would think that this would stop dead in its tracks any plan to have the government assist in managing private sector funds too. The spate of recent activity, however, suggests otherwise.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The problem for NSA apologist is that when guys like Snowden disclose that the government conducts comprehensive surveillance in ways that would have made 1984’s O’Brien drool, it puts the entire progressive agenda in jeopardy.
The east coast and parts of the southern U.S. were to varying degrees paralyzed by blizzards a few weeks ago. The snow as expected rendered the roads treacherous, and in anticipation of slick streets, shoppers flocked to the grocery stores in advance.The rush into grocery stores, and its aftermath, offers worthwhile lessons in economics.First up, […]
The financial world is plodding along like a drunken sailor avoiding debt collectors by keeping no cash in his wallet. It’s not the kind of calm that’s going to last or end well. But the storm will have to wait until after the Olympics.What a game! We’ve never watched ice hockey closely before. But watching […]
“When they come for my gun, they will have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands,” is a common refrain I often hear from the Neo-Cons when there is a threat, credible or otherwise, that the U.S. government is going to take their firearms.And, when I hear this crazy talk, I agree with […]
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self-sufficient.But our systems of state charity — aka welfare — have too frequently had the opposite effect: They have actually created dependency. It is time to rethink the way we help people.I’m going to […]
In times of war and national emergency, it’s sometimes necessary to sacrifice civil liberties to secure vital gains in public safety. In those cases, we may have to accept a loss of privacy or freedom rather than invite mass slaughter of Americans.The National Security Agency’s domestic phone records collection is not one of those.Never have […]
President Obama crowed in his State of the Union speech about the economy, even mentioning “a rebounding housing market.” Maybe he was referring to friends in high places, like the seller of Penthouse One in New York, which just closed for $50.9 million, all cash. Millions of mere-mortal homeowners likely wanted to throw something at […]
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is acting in a bipartisan way to cover up the biggest single threat to the bipartisan political alliance that is stripping America of its wealth: the United States Congress.There is no question that the following policy is bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are completely agreed that the following information […]
Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the HealthCare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor supply issues. Given the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the […]
Amidst all the revelations about how the American people, many of whom are absolutely convinced they live in a free society, have their telephone calls, emails, website visits, and who knows what else under surveillance by their own government, let’s not forget the massive infringements on financial privacy that have gone on for decades.Consider, for […]
Image: ShutterstockBitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem, along with alleged co-conspirator Robert Faiella, was arrested by federal authorities last week for allegedly laundering more than $1 million worth of Bitcoins. This is a tiny amount compared to the largest drug-and-terrorism money laundering case ever. Yet when British bank HSBC was found guilty in 2012 of laundering billions, […]
Do you trust your doctor? Most patients assume their doctor is working in their best medical interests whenever he or she orders a diagnostic test or recommends a particular treatment. Customers might wonder whether an unscrupulous auto mechanic is being truthful when he recommends a brake job or a new transmission. But most patients trust […]
The exercise had an awesome name, inspired by the movies: “Quantum Dawn 2.”On July 18, scads of U.S. banks, stock exchanges and government agencies took part in a digital fire drill — a practice run in the event all of Wall Street came under massive cyberattack.This isn’t the first time banks have come under an […]
The faces of the Detroit bankruptcy are the thousands of pensioners whose promised benefits are suddenly part of the restructure negotiation. When Motown filed for Chapter 9 last July, the city had $11.5 billion in unsecured liabilities. The vast majority of this was pension and health care benefits owed to retired city employees.The images of […]
So you’ve maneuvered the Obamacare website, plugged in your top-secret information and found out how much you are forced to pay to avoid a fine.And for some of you, it turns out you qualify for a government subsidy — making the premium sound like a bargain. But signing on that line to accept the government’s […]
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”As the inequality gap grows, there is an ideological battle unfolding in the West.On the one hand, there are those who think government can fix things. It must do more, tax more, […]
On Feb. 7 the United States will once again reach its statutory debt limit, meaning it cannot legally borrow any more money. Since the obvious option of cutting spending to match the amount of revenue that the government collects is off the table for some inexplicable reason, Congress will have to pass a new, higher […]
The New York Times published an interminable article on health care recently. Plenty of facts — how scrupulous are these journalists! — but the article displayed absolutely no comprehension of the basics of cause and effect. I was left wondering about the whole point.The article details how the health care system rewards specialists to an […]
For critics of the surveillance state, it is tempting to see President Obama’s speech a few weeks ago as a partial victory: Prompted by Edward Snowden’s leaks and the public pressure for National Security Agency reforms, he announced significant changes to the program that collects and stores information about all telephone calls. And he promised […]
The least of the problems with the income tax is that it takes your money. The really big problem is that the income tax takes your life. It gives the government direct access to the things you own and sets up the political/bureaucratic sector to be the final arbiter of what you can and cannot consider to be yours.
Illustrating the point is the bitter news that the IRS has considered it completely legal to demand access to your email archive whenever it wants. This news came about because of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The filing unearthed a 2009 memo that stated outright: “The Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because Internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications.”
Forget search warrants and legal processes. In the interest of getting its share, the government can have it all on demand. This assertion was made again in 2010 by the IRS’ chief counsel: The “Fourth Amendment does not protect emails stored on server” and there is “no privacy expectation” on email.
This assertion openly contradicts a 2010 legal decision from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. United States v. Warshak said that the government must obtain a probable cause warrant before forcing people and providers to cough up email archives. Granted, even that’s not much protection. Government always has its “probable cause.”
Good for the ACLU for making an issue of this. In the coming months, there will continue to be legal wrangling over this issue, which is obviously important to absolutely everyone. But at some level, it’s all beside the point. The problem isn’t the legal process that allows the government to do what it wants; the problem is that government has a hook into personal income that allows powerful people to have their way with the whole of your life.
As we look back at the history, we can see that the income tax enabled a century of intrusions into our lives. It’s been 100 years of a form of imposition that no American in most of the 19th century could have ever imagined or tolerated. The income tax is what enabled Prohibition, for example. Without the ability to monitor and adjudicate how people made money, the power of enforcement would not have been there at all. Remember that Al Capone was not convicted for bootlegging, but for tax evasion.
It is what made possible the central planning of the New Deal. The government’s presumption that it owns the first fruits of labor gave rise to wage controls and mandatory participation in the Social Security system. It allowed the central planners to push aside young workers and tell them that they aren’t allowed to be part of the workforce. It allowed the introduction of the minimum wage that continues to shut out whole sectors of society.
And look what happened during World War II. The price controls on wages and salaries — made possible only because the income tax gave government a fiduciary interest — inspired companies to start offering health care benefits as part of the compensation package. That practice was intensified over the decades until it became mandatory. That practice is a major source of the health care problems we have today. So there we have it: There is a direct link from Obamacare today back to the income tax of 100 years ago.
Just the other day, with the IRS still on the march, the elaborate lunches provided in highflying companies like Google entered onto the radar screen. Shouldn’t these wonderful buffets be considered as compensation subject to tax? The decision is yet to be made, but there is just something unseemly about an agency that can’t let people even enjoy a lunch without demanding a cut.
Frank Chodorov, author of the masterpiece The Rise and Fall of Society, was right to call the income tax the “root of all evil.” We look back to history and are in awe that anyone ever had the full right to earn whatever money he or she wanted to and to never have to tell the government about it. But that was the way it was for the dominant part of American history. That’s the system once called freedom.
It’s striking when you realize just how completely unnecessary the income tax is for the funding of government. In 2013, the income tax will generate $1.2 trillion in revenue for the government. What if we cut back government spending by exactly that amount so that we replace the income tax with absolutely nothing? That would take us back in time to 2004. As Ron Paul would ask, was the government really too small back then? Would society really collapse if we went back to a government we had just nine years ago?
So let’s face it. Yes, the government likes our money and always wants more of it. But more crucially, the government uses the income tax as a primary means of controlling not just our money, but the whole of our lives. That’s the real purpose of the income tax and why the government will fight for its preservation to the end.
Right now, many Americans are sweating it out to get their taxes done in time for the filing deadline of April 15. It would be immeasurably hard without the brilliant companies that have put together software programs — updated constantly! — that make what would otherwise seem impossible rather easy. This is the type of thing that free enterprise and the private sector do. They help us to have better lives. But government? It just takes, snoops, and controls.