“Where were you when it happened?” How many times have we been asked -- and asked -- this question since 2001? Today, Chris Campbell asks us to pose a different question: What can I do today to making Sept. 11 another turning point in my life? And then, of course, taking that first step. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
Hundreds of pictures of nude celebrities were leaked onto the Internet last week. The mainstream is blaming twenty-something hackers, but according to Chris Campbell, everyone must’ve already forgotten what we learned about the NSA only a year ago. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
The so-called recovery is only built on debt and printed cash declares our own Byron King. In the long term, the only option for the government to continue financing it's operations is to print too many dollars. Money printing has it's limits, however. It's Byron's opinion that at some point, perhaps very soon, the government will have to turn to more desperate measures. Namely, capital controls. In the following featured essay, Byron outlines 4 probably ways the government will take your cash and one play you can buy through your broker to prepare today. Read on...
Americans expatriate because they want to get out of the country. Corporations expatriate for similar reasons. Clem Chambers explains...
Say goodbye to your boring morning commute. New technologies are changing the way people drive their cars. It’s making them safer, more fuel efficient, and could reshape the way America builds its roads and cities. The only thing that could stand in the way...
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
The U.S. dollar is the dominant global reserve currency. All markets, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and foreign exchange are affected by the value of the dollar.The value of the dollar, in effect, its “price” is determined by interest rates. When the Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates, it is manipulating, and therefore distorting, every market in […]
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”There was […]
The game of speculation is the most uniformly fascinating game in the world. But it is not a game for the stupid, the mentally lazy, the person of inferior emotional balance or the get-rich-quick adventurer. They will die poor.– Jesse Livermore, How to Trade in StocksThe trouble with capitalism’s guardians is that they have no […]
Let’s head back in time…In 2004, a mere decade ago, the US national debt rang the register at $7.4 trillion. That represents “debt per citizen” of over $25,000. You, me, your neighbor, your 4-yr old grandson, you name it and they’re portion of the U.S. debt is $25k.But flash forward to today and you’ll see […]
John Foust, a Democrat running for the 10th congressional seat in Northern Virginia, is — like Gov. Terry McAuliffe and other state Democrats — gung-ho to expand Medicaid. His wife’s position is, shall we say, a bit more nuanced.Foust has slammed his opponent, Republican Del. Barbara Comstock, for her opposition to expansion. He has spoken […]
The midterm election season is upon us, and it’s a tossup whether the Republicans will win the Senate, or if President Obama, seemingly oblivious as conflict flares up around the world, will, through his continuous campaigning, keep Harry Reid in his majority leader seat.The only thing we know for sure is that sociopaths will be […]
Alexander Hamilton was America’s first Secretary of Treasury under President George Washington. When he first entered office in 1789, America was an agricultural nation of just 4 million still broke from its financially costly victory over the British Empire in the Revolutionary War.The states had accumulated relatively massive debts to finance that war, which mostly […]
I was talking with one of my colleagues the other day, and he raised a very interesting question, one that deserves consideration by anyone worried about their digital privacy. He read an article that championed the idea that the more steps one took to protect their privacy by using anonymous Web-browsing tools like Tor, the […]
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 […]
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.