In the minds of many people around the world, including in the United States, the term “capitalism” carries the idea of unfairness, exploitation, undeserved privilege and power, and immoral profit making. What is often difficult to get people to understand is that this misplaced conception of “capitalism” has nothing to do with real free markets […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Some people are saying it is just what the doctor ordered. Others are saying that the cure is worse than the disease.The Affordable Care Act? Reengagement in Iraq? Tea Party bullying in the GOP?Not this time. Just as protracted in the corridors of Congress and the White House is the debate over the proposed reform […]
In 2012, money mandarins running the European Union chose stagnation over restructuring. Here’s a consequence of that choice: expectations for a self-sustaining economic recovery keep getting crushed.Two years ago, European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi promised to do “whatever it takes” to hold the eurozone together. He bluffed nervous investors into believing in a […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
“In the beginning, all the world was America.” — John Locke“The Garden of Eden was a perfect place,” my friend Manuel explained. “Man had free will. He could live in harmony with nature and God — and everything would be fine. But if he defied God, the stain of original sin would be on his […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
It might sound like the latest new product from Apple, but IPAB is actually the newest major legal challenge to Obamacare.Recently, a three-judge panel in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard arguments about the Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, a 15-member panel created by the Affordable Care Act and empowered […]
Americans have come to believe that the IRS and the income tax are inevitable parts of our lives. After all, most everyone alive today has lived his entire life under federal income taxation.It wasn’t always that way. For some 125 years, the American people lived without having any tax imposed upon their income.The obvious question […]
Here’s a fun fact: Although we all hate the U.S. dollar, as it continues to hemorrhage wealth, its foothold as the world’s reserve currency isn’t going to disappear overnight.A Russian gas deal with China won’t change that — as we’ll highlight below.But before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s dive into a story that’s right […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
“As the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve derives its authority from the Congress of the United States. It is considered an independent central bank because its monetary policy decisions do not have to be approved by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branches of government, it does not receive funding […]
The Keynesian disaster recovery plan has been to lower rates, force people to take more risk in search of yield, and entice others to borrow and spend and, magically, more jobs will be created. If people won’t buy stocks, central banks will.Back in 2011, Ben Bernanke, when asked if QE2 was driving up stock prices, […]
In September 2009, when President Obama made a primetime speech pitching his not-yet-passed health care overhaul, he made the following promise: “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. Period.” To prove his seriousness, he further promised that “there will be a provision […]
Whatever your views on the role of government, one thing is clear: There will be no way to pay for it if the economy doesn’t grow. And I’m not talking by a measly percentage point or two. If we can’t find our way back to 5% annual economic growth or above soon, America’s accumulated federal […]
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices are rising at a 2.1% annual rate. This suggests to us that the current stock market boom will die with a bang, rather than a whimper.Fed economists say they don’t think inflation rates are rising. They think the most recent reading is a fluke. But why […]
Real progress happens through real people, ideas, and innovations. Not by legislation argued and debated in Congress. Right now, one of the most influential technologies is changing the way people do business. And reinventing the future in the process.
Innovation can change the world… if the world lets it. Unfortunately, society’s gatekeepers make it a point to constrain, regulate, and control these ideas. But their power is limited, and the power of innovation is too great. Unfortunately for regulators, there are some technologies they can’t control.
“Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.” — Emperor Palpatine, The Return of the JediJon Stewart made great comedic hay during the Bush Administration out of the enormity of Dick Cheney’s “Sith Lord” malevolence. Events in Iraq in the past week have made especially palpable Cheney’s Palpatine-like quality.As Iraq unravels, you may suspect that Cheney might now […]
Entrepreneurs are high-tailing it out of the United States, and it’s the politicians’ faultThe U.S. government is driving some of its most productive citizens abroad. The only beneficiaries are countries such as Singapore and Switzerland, which offer sanctuary to Americans fleeing avaricious Uncle Sam.Three years ago Eduardo Saverin, one of Facebook’s founders, joined 1,780 other […]
Politicians love raising the minimum wage because they don’t have to ask voters to pay more in taxes. They just dump the costs onto shop owners. But they don’t act like politicians and go into debt to pretend like they have all the money in the world. They face real world situations. And sometimes that means replacing workers with more affordable options...
A cushy job in Hawaii that pays six figures. A beautiful girlfriend/boyfriend. Job security and professional experience that gives you plenty of future opportunities. Would you throw that all away to do what you think is right? Last year, one government contractor did just that. And now you see the world the government tried to hide from you.
As the world gets more digital, people forget about the benefits of transacting in cash. And government officials know that.
Regulation is supposed to keep you safe and make the economy function smoothly. At least that’s what they tell you in the news. But there’s another cost to regulation. One that you won’t hear about unless you have to deal with directly. And for the people in the economy who do, they’re the ones who have to pay the final cost.
The experts will tell you the recession is over, but they’re only torturing the data to hide the truth. The economy never recovered from the downturn it experienced. But the downturn happened in 2000, not 2008. The country’s been in the middle of a 14 year recession and hardly anyone knows the truth.
All paper currency has a shelf life. It could be 5 years or 500 years, but at some point, the value of any paper currency eventually reaches zero. That's why, for centuries, people have turned to one shiny metal to safeguard their personal store of wealth. And, as Jim Rickards explains, you still have that option. Read on...
Edward Snowden’s one year visa in Russia expires at the end of next month. With only a few weeks left before he finds himself without a safe country to live in, he sat down to give an exclusive interview. Here are the most important things he wants you to remember from his recent sacrifice.
If you think of American wage-earners as swimmers, they were mostly underwater after 2008. Then last year, wages increased a bit. It was only 2.4% for the year, but it was like coming up for a slight gulp of air.
Now think of Congress and the president as the people in a boat pushing the swimmers’ heads back underwater. That’s exactly what they did when they let the payroll tax arrive on the first day of 2013.
The 2% increase wiped out virtually the whole wage gain for the previous year. It came as a shock to most workers. “There goes my raise,” was the cry heard all over the Web in the first week of the year.
Michael Daneau, who works a lighting store in Rhode Island, posted on his Facebook wall:
“I opened my paycheck today and noticed I got less pay than I usually get on a regular 40 hour week. Obama stole $20 more out of social security. So now I’m back to making what I was making before my last raise. All that hard work paid off! Stick around more hope and change is coming!”
Some follow-up comments:
- “My wife is being taxed another $150 a month making less than $40,000. We will likely have to move back to an apartment from our rental house as a result”
- “I’ve been drawing two days vacation pay each week since my heart attack in early Dec. One day pays for my weekly insurance premium, the other goes towards my rent. This week, I have a $6 reduction in total net ‘income’…”
- “I’ve lost $18 per week”
- “I make about $50,000 a year. I will lose approximately $70 a month due to this hike. Someone with a brain, please explain to me why in the hell my taxes should rise when we’ve all seen the nauseating curve of how well the 1% are doing.”
It came as a shock to most people because a payroll tax increase had not really been part of the negotiations. We endured weeks of wall-to-wall coverage of the “fiscal cliff.” It was a brutal and heavily partisan battle. How much spending? How high or low the income tax rates? Either way, only the rich would be hurt, right?
Think again. The payroll tax is the most broad tax in increase, taking a far greater bite out of income than the income tax as such.
But where was the discussion of the payroll tax increase? There were no speeches about it. There was no back and forth between the parties. This is because, says The Washington Post, there was “general agreement” it had to happen. The government provides these programs. They disbursements have already gone out. They must be paid for. You are on the hook, period.
Earlier in the year, when this subject was discussed behind closed doors, The Christian Science Monitor reported:
“Getting Congress to agree to continue the payroll tax cut yet again might have been problematic. Many politicians, from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) of California to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah, were less than enthusiastic about extending it. That is in part because the money that would have come from wage earners’ pockets for Social Security was coming instead from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund.”
If anything, the Republicans were even slightly warmer to the payroll tax increase. This is because it was the Democrats who made the temporary decrease part of the stimulus package of 2010. The idea back then, inspired by Keynesian-style theory, was that by letting workers keep more of their money, they would spend more money and thereby increase aggregate demand, which supposedly addresses the key to why the economy is faltering.
Republicans traditionally favor a more supply-side solution. They want tax changes that benefit producers and investors, based on the idea that what is causing the economy to falter is a lack of real investment. They, as much as the Democrats, see the tax system as a tool for a different sort of economic stimulus.
Both sides are right, but for the wrong reasons. Whenever private property is transferred away from owners to the government, the prospects for recovery are harmed. The point isn’t to boost either the supply or the demand side, but simply to let people keep more of their money. Whether that money is saved or spent, invested or blown on fripperies, what matters is that economic growth flows from the decisions that people make on their own, and not the decisions that government makes for them.
But people in Washington of either party aren’t very warm to this idea.
Note this for the future: What matters is not what they debate, but that what they together decide should not be discussed at all! This is the real business of government. It’s the issues that the political parties agree on that the public need fear most. This is the area in which the most deadly fleecing occurs.
So it came as something of a shock to millions to see their paychecks slammed by $20-40 every week. Where is that raise I was just granted? How is this even possible?
Another factor here is the following: Ever since the 1940s, the payroll tax has been fobbed off on the public not as a tax, but as an insurance premium for services coming later. You know, like Social Security and Medicare. In the market, we pay premiums for services delivered at a later date all the time. Isn’t this just the same?
Well, it’s not the same. For one thing, these “insurance” programs aren’t insurance at all. They are direct transfers of wealth. Young workers today are paying the bills for the money that retired workers have already spent. That’s not the market at work. That’s pure redistribution.
Another crucial factor here: No one elects to pay these stupid taxes. They are forced on us. And just as a sweet little reminder that this is true, the government prosecuted a prominent case of failure to pay just days after the payroll tax when up.
Fox News reported on Jan. 6:
“An eastern Wisconsin business owner will spend about a year in prison for failing to pay taxes that had been withheld from employees’ wages.
“According to court records, Lisa Bartz Vanden Elzen, co-owner of Dairy Transport Services of De Pere, failed to pay about $193,000 in payroll taxes. She’s also accused of failing to pay the Internal Revenue Service $81,000, the employer’s matching share of those taxes.
“The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports the 47-year-old was found guilty in U.S. District Court of failing to pay payroll taxes that had been withheld from employee wages from July 2005-December 2010.
“She was sentenced to 366 days in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $274,000 for federal tax violations.”
The message is that the government means business. You may not refuse its benevolence. If you do, you will go to jail. There is no way out. They’ve got the guns.
But of course, you can push people only so far. The growth of the informal sector continues, and this sneaky little robbery is going to push more people into the role of noncompliance, choosing modes of living that avoid the official system altogether and living on a cash basis, using modern financial tools like anonymous debit cards to make doing so more efficient than ever.
Washington tells us constantly that they are looking after our best interests and want to stimulate the economy toward recovery. This little caper is the best and clearest evidence I’ve seen in recent days that this is not the case. What Washington really wants is more of your money.