TCS Daily


Tax for Thee, Not for Me

By Tim Worstall - August 23, 2006 12:00 AM

Looking out of the Long Gallery at Worstall Towers, surveying the rolling acres, I can see that the nights have started to draw in. It is also an even numbered year, so that must mean there is an election in the offing. Time to gird the loins and hoot derision at our enemies.

Did you know that if you feel you are not paying enough tax you can simply send a check to Uncle Sam? To say thank you for all of the blessings that have been showered upon your grateful and smiling countenance? Indeed you can and the address is here:

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 6D37
Hyattsville, MD 20782

That might be worth printing out then clipping and keeping. And when a campaigner tells you in his stump speech that he thinks taxes should be raised, smile sweetly and ask him how much he added to his tax bill last year. After all, if he thinks you should pay more taxes shouldn't he already be doing so voluntarily himself?

You might also ask someone so keen to get their hands into your wallet whether they've ever heard of the concept of revealed preferences? That is, don't be fooled by what people say they will do, watch what they actually do. The answer to "Would you be willing to pay more taxes?" is rather different when it's a doe-eyed surf-bunny talking about saving starving children than it is when it's me asking if you'd pay more to raise Bill Clinton's Presidential pension (to which the answer is probably "Stay there Sonny while I load my gun"). So how do people really act when they have this opportunity to indeed give more money to the Federal Government?

The "Gift to the United States" account has been around since 1843 so it isn't as if people can claim it's some new innovation they didn't know about. So I thought I'd ask the US Treasury, who passed me on to the IRS who answered via email:

Last year, the U.S. Treasury received 48 contributions for $21,179.

Since 1982, the U.S. government has received 16,074 contributions for a total of $9.8 million.

That actually sounded a little low to me and so it turned out. That's the amount that was sent direct to the US Treasury, not the amount that was actually contributed to the account as a whole.

According to Vivian Cooper (Director, Financial Accounting and Services Division of the Treasury Financial Management Service) who actually runs the books for that account the full numbers are:

  • 2005 (all four quarters): $2,671,628.40

  • 2006 (Oct-July): $1,972,600.80.

On average some (adjusted for inflation) $300,000 to $400,000 is sent directly to the FMS (to be more precise, $357,401.26 in fiscal 2005 and $621,737.47 first three quarters 2006) at the above address each year. In May 2006 there was a bequest of a substantial sum which has boosted their collections. All other Federal departments can and do add in the donations they receive which gives us the larger total numbers for the account.

(Just as an aside, if the Government were, in bulk, as helpful and efficient as Ms. Cooper and her colleague in the Press Office, Melody Barrett, were in person I'd send a check myself and I'm not even a US citizen.)

So, according to the doctrine of revealed preferences, we now know by exactly how much taxes should rise. As all US citizens (and in fact foreigners can contribute as well) are able to make the choice about their consumption, we have hard evidence. Given the chance, do people in fact pay more in taxes from their own money? Or do they think it better to keep it and spend it upon themselves? Or, even, to allow it to fructify in the pockets of the populace? Possibly cut out the middleman and spend it directly on starving children, surf-bunnies or shotgun shells for when I come round asking questions?

Whether you want to say that this is the considered decision of all 300 million in the country, the 6 billion on the planet or just the 140 million odd who file US tax returns, the revealed truth is that taxes should have been higher by $2,671,628.40 precisely in fiscal year 2005. This year, perhaps a little more.

All the talk from the Democrats that taxes should be raised is just that: talk. They mean taxes should rise for you, not that they should rise for them. For if they really did believe that the Federal Government spends money better, more wisely, deserves it more, than they themselves do, wouldn't there be rather more flowing into that account?

Tim Worstall is a TCS Daily contributing writer living in Europe.

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209 Comments

Forget this one account, libs go to exceptional lengths to avoid taxes.
Figures are from an article on NewsMax.com. (1)
For FY 2003:

The Bush Family
----------------------
The Bushes paid $227,000 in federal taxes on a gross 2003 income of $822,126. (28% of total income.)

Theresa Heinz-Kerry
----------------------
Heinz-Kerry paid $750,000 on a gross income of upwards of $5,000,000. (14.6% of total income.)

John "F-ing" Kerry
----------------------
Lurch paid $90,575 on a gross income of $395,338. (22.9% of total income.)

The Overall Kerry Klan:
----------------------
The Kerry family paid $840,500 on a gross income of $5,510,000. (15.2% of total income.)

Why the disparity? Tax-exempt bonds. Theresa put mmore-than-half of her income in to these instruments. ($2,777,000.) The Bushes did not have any tax-exempt income.

I thought paying taxes was a patriotic duty and the rich needed to pay more? I thought that the "winners of life's lottery" needed to spread the wealth to the downtrodden and oppressed?

Rich liberals can demand higher taxes because they can afford to do things like sink half of their money in to long-term, low growth, tax-dodging investments. Those of us in the middle-class, meanwhile, end up paying a much larger percentage of our income in taxes than people worth a billion-dollars (like the Heinz-Kerry Klan.)

I am, however, glad to see that the anti-tax spirit that drove the Boston Tea Party still lives on, even if it is only in actions and not words and votes.
(1) http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2004/5/11/225434.shtml

Benjamin Franklin's views on this question
'All the property that is necessary to a man for the conservation of
the individual and the propagation of the species is his natural right,
which none can justly deprive him of. But all property superfluous to
such purposes is the property of the public, who by their laws have
created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it whenever
the welfare of the public shall demand such disposition. He that does
not like civil society on these terms, let him retire and live among
savages.'
Benjamin Franklin

Another example
And Ben Franklin certainly did not live up to his words.

When he was embassador in France did he pay his way or did the government pay for his wine, women and song?

(What is your source?)

Did Franklin ACTUALLY live the quote you posted
It appears the quote is accurate, so I now have learned that Franklin was a communist/socialist. That is an interesting factoid.

However, unless Franklin actually followed his own advice by giving away property every year that he did not need "for the conservation of the individual and the propagation of the species", then in this PARTICULAR area he was just like the people the author of the article is talking about who want taxes to go up, but don't volunteer the money themselves.

Obviously Franklin was one of the greatest Americans in our history. But because someone is great in one or more areas, does not mean you have to do everything they say.

Certainly Franklin lived the quote
He cheerfully paid his taxes, and cheerfully participated in government. He didn't contribute money to the government, but he paid his full share, and did so willingly. Note that he was a self-made millionaire.

Not sure about when he was ambassador to France but..
But before the Revolution, Franklin was in England, serving as a representative of the (later to be) state of Georgia. And received a salary for his work. There's a letter in his handwriting to the state, asking for his money.

Note that Franklin was an early and ferocious opponent of the Stamp Act. His argument was that it had been approved by the British parliament, in which the colonies had no representation. He wasn't against taxes, he made clear, he was against taxation without representation.

Ben Franklin and the US Government
“All the property that is necessary to a man for the conservation of the individual and the propagation of the species is his natural right which none can justly deprive him of. But all property superfluous to such purposes is the property of the public….”

1) It is a citizen’s “natural right” to PURSUE the ownership and conservation of property. Success (ie…survival/prosperity) is the result of effort and skill, not a “right”. It is the role of government, through the law, to enable the pursuit of livelihood…not success.
2) The quantity of property necessary for “conservation” and “propagation” can and does vary by citizen. Thus, identifying “superfluous” property and the rightful take of the “public” is subjective and impractical.

Just because I pay 45.00 each month for my cable service does not imply that my cable company has some kind of “surplus” ownership right on my income or assets…only to that 45.00 for agreed to and delivered services. Under the US Constitution, the government provides services enumerated in the law. Citizens pay the government through efficient and equitable taxes for those services. Citizens are customers of government. Any other citizen-government relationship is a form of tyranny.

If Mr. Franklin is quoted accurately above, it seems to indicate that he remained securely tethered to the legacy of imperial Europe.

just plain dumb
I'm used to people calling me names without countering my arguments. Now it's time to return the favor: this post is just plain dumb, even by the standards of tcsdaily. Nobody likes to pay taxes and they don't use some government account I never heard of for charitable giving. Taxes are like hard work, nobody does it for fun and many shirk. Fortunalely, enough of it does get done.

Looking for people freely giving to the government, if you actually had been looking (dumb):

The millions collected by the New York City Schools Foundation, to say nothing of all those people who buy cookies at school bake sales around the country.

The millions collected by the Californial Parks Foundation.

The endowments of large state universities.

Citizens are not "customers of government"
They are the owners and operators of government, which receives its legitimacy from their consent and participation. Government is not just another business, not least because it has and can have no competitors. This is not the "legacy of imperial Europe," it is the most basic political science.

Ummm . . . So What?
Very convenient of you to choose a quote from an Esteemed Historical Figure that no doubt reflects your own views on taxation. However, I don't feel obliged to agree with it simply because it was uttered/written by an Esteemed Historical Figure; there's no Absolute Athority attached to the title of Founding Father. Let's see -- Washington and Jefferson, albeit great men in their own right in many ways, also owned slaves. So via your method of apparently believing that because a Founding Father advocated X, we should therefore give X greater consideration, then we should apparently advocate the owning of slaves. Hmmmm . . . I think I'd disagree on that one.

As for taxation, I could quote many an Esteemed Historical Figure who's views would be antithetical to Mr. Franklin's -- would you therefore consider those statements on their own to effectively negate Franklin's because they too were uttered by Founding Figures? Most likely not.

Point: Ideas are to be held/discussed/argued on their own merits. Attaching the name of some Historical Giant via a quotation yay-or-nay ALONE lends no additional ideological heft. Of course it may be historically useful to dissect such quotations in an effort to understand the inherent merits/drawbacks of any given position, but quotations in and of themselves provide no authoritative weight.

So Franklin advocated public-wide allocation of "superfluous properties." Good for him. I, however, disagree.

LG proves the point
He wants other people to pay more taxes so that the money can be spent on him.

Typical liberal.

why am I not surprised that eric wants to take other people's property
Just cause Franklin had socialistic tendencies doesn't mean he was right.

I imagine eric thinks himself the perfect candidate for the guy who gets to decide how much other pe
...

Thomas Jefferson said "That govt is best, which governs least."

I'm waiting to hear eric endorse that philosophy

You just defined a monopoly
"Government is not just another business, not least because it has and can have no competitors." Agreed, government is therefore a de jure monopoly and we have no hope its power will be broken through the "creative destruction" of invention or innovation of near substitutes.

We theoretically restrict the activities of private monopolies, (when government isn't granting monopoly powers in the form of registration, restriction, regulation and or licensure) with the cheerful acclaim of the left, because of the tendency of monoplies to restrict their production due to their exposure to the down-ward sloping demand curve and due to the fact that without alternatives, the monopoly gets to extract greater payments for lesser or inferior services. Government has the added advantage of extracting payment through imprisonment. In addition, monopolies are notorious for inefficiency, bureacracy and inadaptibility.

Therefore, it follows that the activities of government should carefully be constrained in scale and scope to providing those things that are authentic public goods (not those things that politicians propose as vote buying and constituency building and labels as public, usually with some noble additional term like investment) such as a military, a constabulary, a judiciary, etc.

Lemual would no doubt find it uncivilized if we were to suddenly remove such inane and ineffective enterprises as the departments of energy, education and suspend payments forinnately private "goods". such as Maplethorpe's hate crimes masquerading as art.


misunderstanding
>So Franklin advocated public-wide allocation of "superfluous properties."

Not all, not remotely. What he said was that legal taxation for public purposes was absolutely justified, nothing more. He wasn't advocating socialism, he was just saying government was a legitimate activity that could and should be supported by its citizens.

Government is and has to be a monopoly
When you have competing governments you have civil war.

>Government has the added advantage of extracting payment through imprisonment.

Buy all means go and live somewhere without effective government -- lots of candidates for this in Africa - and see how well it works to have private concerns or warlords performing these functions.

Taxes are like hard work. Definitely.
Not everybody does hard work, not everybody pay taxes and it always seems those that don't work hard or pay taxes (as much or at all) have the most to say about the topic and covet the fruits of those efforts and collections the most.

Hence the leftwing hagiography of Karl Marx. Here was an individual that was so unaware of the slightest concept of necessary effort on his part, he avoided personal hygiene and suffered a variety of pustular ailments. He of course attributed this to anything and everything, including paranoid fictions, except his own laziness.

In modern terms, you have Ted Kennedy (funny how the estate tax system our resident lefties love never diluted the Kennedy wealth), who was born to dynastic wealth coveted the Senate (unlimited bloviation) chair of the Labor Committe.

I didn't dispute that premise.
When you have competing governments you have civil war.

I'm not an anarchist, but with virtually unlimited power and no checks on its operations, "effective government" will inevitably lead to totalitarianism. Recognizing government must take the form of a monoply IPSO FACTO requires that we be cognizant that it must be constrained in scope and scale.

You want strong government, try Soviet Communism or Naziism, now there were "effective" governments. Of course the fact that meeting their objectives resulted in a few million deaths here and there, well good left-wingers, like Walter Duranty in the 1930's can agree not to talk about those unpleasantries.



Government was a legitimate activity
Agreed.

However because government is a legitimate activity, doesn't mean every activity is legitimate to the government.

Tax dodgers
Your comments are admirably venomous, Pube. But isn't it the case that "tax exempt" bonds generally have a lower return than taxable investments precisely because the taxes are already rolled into the return-- i.e. they have already been paid?

I know that's the way it works with investments I've made, like munis and state bonds. Please correct me if I'm wrong, because this would mean the Kerrys have paid more taxes than the figures you cite would indicate. They have in fact most likely been investing in the US government.

Of course I'm here neither to praise Kerry nor to bury him. I'm just saying that all Americans, including IRS employees, would say it's quite legitimate to look for those investments that offer the greatest tax savings. Therefore you can't condemn anyone who does that. The IRS does not consider them tax dodgers, or they'd build a case against them.

Recommending tax policy is quite another thing. And there are several notoriously rich liberals who in fact say people as rich as they are should be asked to pay much more than they are.

They tend not to hoard the money they've saved by not paying taxes, but instead to use it on performing good works the USG no longer performs. I'm speaking of people like Bill Gates and everyone else who sets up charitable foundations.

So many right wing extremists, on the other hand, run foundations like the Olins, designed to promote radical causes that have the effect of shielding the rich from taxation. To me it's not fair when you use your money to buy politicians who then pass legislation that benefits you att he expense of the ordinary wage earner.

But I guess that's what makes each of us different.

He had to have voilated his principles
He claimed that the only value a product has must be based upon the labor used to create it.

How could Franklin have added that much labor to anything?

"Franklin held a firm belief that all economic output is valued according to the amount of labor funneled into the production of that good. He believed that "trade in general being nothing else but the exchange of labour for labour, the value of all things is, as I have said before, most justly measured by labour.""

http://www.mises.org/story/2251

Franklin's Other Views
Would you subscribe to Mr. Franklin's advice on women provided in the 1745 "Old Mistresses Apologue" as well? I don't think such an objectifying and misogynistic work would assist you in pursuing the affections of a properly liberal, pro-choice, progressive PETAphile female.

Nobody's advocating totalitarianism, neither Franklin nor me
Please leave the communist straw men out of this. And it's not me arguing that government must have unlimited power to tap phones and imprison people without warrants.

>ith virtually unlimited power and no checks on its operations, "effective government" will inevitably lead to totalitarianism.

And that is why the Founding Fathers (including Dr. Franklin) in their wisdom realized goverment derived its legitimacy from the consent of the governed and set up an internal system of check and balances.

What threatens effective government most now is it being run by people who don't believe in it. Look at the FEMA response Katrina for an example of how well that works.

Because Franklin was a very skilled laborer who created his own markets
Look up Adam Smith on why actors (for example) earn large salaries.

Absolutely
I would be the last person to say government should be in the business of, say, manufacturing refrigerators. The market does lots and lots of things well. But by the same token, it doesn't do many things well, or at all.

His advice is perfectly sound
I really don't understand your point. I think many women now appreciate his advice because of its careful enumeration of and admiration for feminine qualities other than phyiscal beauty.

Note also that he begins his advice with the admonition that "Marriage is the proper Remedy. It is the most natural State of Man, and therefore the State in which you are most likely to find solid Happiness."

Gifts to...
Mazztek
### South Myers Street
Oceanside, CA

Sorry, but contributions are not tax deductable.

I said that?
I'm not sure that's exactly what I said. Maybe you and Sigmund Freud can explain how it's what I really meant, oh brilliant one.

Giving
This is a good point. I would like to go further with this and explore some of the implications. Some interesting questions would include: How much variability is there in giving opposed to taxes? When taxes go up, do people stop charitable giving? Could you say that people DO NOT give because of the perception that taxes are suppose to cover those situations people are being asked to donate for? Considering tuition and government grants, how do you explain Alumni associations?

What is the trade off between taxes and personal giving? Personally, I prefer giving to taxes. Most likely because I am familiar with the organizations that I give to, and have a handle on accountability. Money that the government takes seems to end up in expensive toilet seats. On the other hand, I recognize that given a choice, many people will not give their fair share. The typical church is run on tithes from less than 5% of the congregation.

There isn’t much in the way of middle ground anymore. Before the great depression, there used to be neighborhood associations into which you and your neighbor would invest small sums of money. That money would be used in small business startups by your neighbors, or small loans could be had, these activities being paid back with small amounts of interest. There was accountability and self sufficiency built into the system. Because you knew who you were dealing with, what would seem risky for a bank to back would be fungible for the association.

Sources of funds for good business ideas are harder to come by, and much more expensive. Investment bankers, regular banks, and the BBB want more control and a bigger part of the profits.

When talking about giving away money – people seem to think that taxes take the place of giving, for the most part. But the government falls far short of the need, expressed in countless ways. Standing in the gap are various private organizations whose charters are expressly designed to overcome these issues in one area or another. If you are a conservative – and you wish to affect change in some area, like heart research – you give to an association. Liberals I gather would prefer a government led and funded approach to insure to some degree of some type of public oversight and accountability. Reality gives us various combinations of private organizations with public or government grants.

It’s still a good question – how much does private giving affect government taxing for a given area - say diabetes research? Or how about; does government involvement influence research? Think about the fact that private giving could overcome funding restrictions by the government on stem cell research.

In my opinion: Giving should be encouraged. When people pay taxes, for the most part there is no personal involvement – no feeling of possibly effecting some type of change. You can’t say for certain what your money went for. At least when you give, you have some idea. The tax laws should encourage giving more than it does. It promotes good citizenship to do so. More taxation feels like more servitude to other peoples agendas.

Roy-venturing into high finance not a good idea todays Investments 101
A few weeks ago, you stated you don't have the time to take two or three accounting classes and become a stock (and by extension, other investments) expert. Why do you persist on commenting on matters for which you admit you have no qualifications to discuss?

Tax exempt bonds are NOT valued differently because:

"lower return than taxable investments precisely because the taxes are already rolled into the return-- i.e. they have already been paid?"

The taxes NEVER get paid. Tax free munis are a gift of the federal government to the bond issuers (states and local governments) and the wealthy. This is why you’ll NEVER hear the usual suspect trust fund baby politician-blowhards asking how we’ll pay for this "tax break for the wealthy".

In reality TE's have a lower return because individuals assess the risk, return , maturity and duration of various instruments available for purchase and bid up the price of tax exempts (because of the its advantage of not requiring the payment of taxes) to the point of “indifference”.

Example:

Bond A 6%, taxable

Bond B What would you pay? exempt.

Your marginal rate 35%

Well now if you are agile with math, you realize that after 35% taxes, that as long if you get 3.9% on your investment from either bond, you don't care which bond you buy. If you get more than 3.9% on the tax-exempt, you take the TE Bond. Thats the point of "indifference".

Also, now you realize the higher the tax rate, the more the incentive to seek and buy a tax exempt bond. But we don't all pay the same rate. Some some folks have a greater incentive to go tax exempt than others.

A guy with a 20% marginal tax rate needs a 4.8% return to be indifferent between the taxable and exempt bonds, using the hypothetical numbers above. However, the 35% marginal rate folks will be bidding up the price of the bond (and lowering the yield), so lower marginal rate folks almost always do better with taxable instruments, high rate & wealth folks with tax-exempts.

Interesting the effect is to squeeze out the less affluent (poorer) people from the ability to produce tax exempt income. Of course it requires private companies to pay more on their debt to compete with the tax exempt issuers, which is probably something you probably like.

This is what you sign on for with your slavish devotion to “progressive” politics. Cool huh? Now do you understand why you are a "useful idiot"?




I am stunned... we agree.
At least, we agree on one thing. It is entirely legitimate for people to seek out those investments that are optimal for their situation and needs. The Kerry Klan has done just that.

However, it is illegitimate to say that it is a duty for the rich to pay more taxes or that you do not need or want a tax cut and then invest in tax-free municipal bonds to minimize your tax liability. These bonds make no sense unless your specific goal is to avoid paying more tax.

Doing everything they can to avoid paying any more tax
vs.
Claiming that they need to pay more tax.

Hypocrisy? I think so.

As a final point, don't even try it with that foundation garbage. Those foundations are tax-exempt, and as long as they qualify, people like the Kerry Klan can donate to them and write it off on their taxes. At the same time, they can essentially direct the way this money is spent and get all that wonderful PR for being great humanitarians. Nice try, but both sides use this as a tax dodge and as a way to spend their money on their own pet causes without being taxed for it.

Good Grief- Thats a enough cognitive dissonance for a migraine
Give the Katrina crap a rest. First responsibility: Big Easy Second Responsibility: Louisiana.

However, for the sake of argument, lets stipulate government at every level failed. Lets go beyond FEMa, too. At various times, you left leaners assert its failed in its assessment of WMDS, its failed to give us smarter students, cleaner air and water, prevent or cure HIV/AIDS, relieve poverty, provide healthcare, etc, etc. How many trillions have been spent on these and other matters.

Why is your faith in the efficacy of government spending so unchecked? You have to really have some good drugs to suppress the pain this causes.

Charity/Taxes
"Personally, I prefer giving to taxes."

You consider taxes a substitute for charity? Thats a mistake. Government never does anything gratuitously.

Charity is encouraged-with tax breaks AND social pressure.


"More taxation feels like more servitude to other peoples agendas."

You bet!

How about toilets? Get government out of the bathroom!
But by the same token, it doesn't do many things well, or at all.

Why then continue to propose more and more government and complain when it fails?

They don't make stuff, they just tell everybody else how too-like when they devoted time to enjuring toilets only used 1.6 gallons/flush. Interesting application of the commmerce clause.

Get government out of the bathroom!

Charity and Taxes
I believe that to a large degree charity has been supplanted by taxes, yes.

When David Crockett was a Senator, there appeared before the congress a bill for a special pension to support an indigent widow of a famous military figure. The man had performed a great duty for his country – but had not been able to provide for his widow. At that time, there were no government pensions for such a situation. The Congress voted the woman a pension, because of the circumstances. Crockett was making the rounds talking to people out in the country, stumping for re-election, when he ran into a farmer who said he would no longer support the Senator. Asked why not, the farmer cited the pension to the widow as dipping into the public monies for private reasons as cause. In essence, public funds should be spent on public concerns, not personal tragedy. Since then, there have been countless examples of government involvement in social engineering. A useful filter would be: Does it benefit everyone, or just some vocal minority? If it benefits everyone (defense, roads, education, social security) then I can support it to greater or lesser degree. Programs that benefit some minority need to be looked at differently. If I receive no benefit, and you take the money from me to do it, then I consider myself robbed. It seems to me that areas that are outside public benefit should be addressed by associations and private giving. If funding is inadequate, then I would suggest that the case for action in that area has either been poorly put, or unconvincing. In any case, robbing people by force is counterproductive, as it engenders antipathy toward government in general and outright antagonism toward causes that benefit from such aid. I would venture that these causes actually are under funded due to government involvement.

Franklin - Not the only or last word
His thinking was that of the day on this matter. In any case, I consider Franklin a man of learning and accomplishment, but not the only, final or preeminent thinker on any matter.

"The "labor theory of value," which has been the most important source of corruption in economic thinking through most of its history, is an unanalyzable mixture of fallicious causal analysis and false ethics."

-Frank Knight

Sound Advice
You are some kind of primitive chauvinist who regards women's value as extrinsic to her ability to please men.

Better stay pseudononymous, otherwise you'll lose your associate membership in the NOW.

Taxes and Charity
Father Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute made the very point that taxes reduce the "charitable impulse", in some public statement of several years back. Might have been Congressional testimony.

In the latest issue of Acton's "Journal of Markets and Morality" that I have, one article makes the case that the payment of taxes do not morally relieve a person of their duty of charity (although taxes certainly reduce the inclination and ability to engage in donative charity) and makes the observation that charitable giving is greater in the U.S. than the UK, where taxes are higher than the U.S.

Cause, effect or unrelated, I can't remember.

Hey, I know Ben Franklin is no Tim Worstall
I mean, how can some old dead guy hold a candle to a brilliant TCS commentator like Mr W?

Because we have lots of examples where it succeeded
FEMA had a pretty good record until Bush brought in a political hack.

And as far as this kind of scattergun goes:

> you left leaners assert its failed in its assement of WMDs cleaner air and water, prevent or cure HIV/AIDS, relieve poverty, provide healthcare...

You have two issues: government in general, and specific governments and specific government programs. Yes, the Bush administration government intelligence programs got WMDs wrong. Is the idea that government intelligence programs in general should be abolished? With regard to other elements, in fact, because of citizen pressure, government has moved effectivly to clean up air and water, and government-funded programs investigated AIDS, found the virus, developed effective treatments and are spearheading preventive care. Some government poverty programs didn't work at all: they aren't with us any more. Others (like food stamps) worked very well. As far as healthcare goes... you get th idea.

>Why is your faith in the efficacy of government spending so unchecked?

I have no such faith. All I have is an open mind. sometimes goverment can do things right. The record shows it. Why is this such a threatening idea?

And they required seatbelts on cars, too, those nannystate buttinkis!
What a horrible totalitarian abuse. We've all paid for that big mistake by keeping all kinds of people alive who'd oherwise be highway hambruger.

you don't seem to have read the Franklin letter
Franklin was quite clear on what he said. You aren't.

Rich and taxes
From what I gather, the "rich" pay a high percentage of the taxes at the federal level. When you count up all of the local and state income taxes, plus the phone tax, gas tax, utilities tax, grocery tax, sales tax on daily items, vehicle tax and tag fees, we are paying around 50% of our income in taxes and fees collected by the various governmental entities. The rich do have ways of hiding their wealth and hire accountants to assist them in that process. The tax code is the monster here, it is so complex that it takes a lawyer to understand it. It needs to be simplified but the political will for such an idea is lacking due to the intrest groups hold on our political process.
We vacationed in Holland and the tax for everything purchased was included in the price not added on after the purchase. It was nice in a way because you knew exactly what you were paying for things up front rather than getting that sticker shock when you checked out of a hotel or returned your car.

Old Dead Guys
Funny I was thinking the same thing about you. Of course you're only dead in the intellectual sense.

Franklin's views on economics are like his views on electricity, insightful for the times, but largely superceded by others who had the great advantage of building on his thoughts.

Yes they did..
They required lapbelts on cars before the harness was invented and found out that they were doing a lot of damage as well.

Brilliant, trade being thrown from the car to being dissected or internally injured. Hey though you pick your poison.

Of course back a few posts didn't you say they were us?

Gee, and you know what?
They went on to require first harnesses and then airbags, because that's what the public wanted.

Help us out here as to why this process was a failure.

Really???
so Franklin's ideas on government by the people must be equally quaint - what do we need a free press for, or habeas corpus, or any of those silly old 18th century customs.

as for the insult - calling me names doesn't help your argument, Supe, it just indicates you don't have one.

Marx, Engles, Lenin, Stalin, Mao are all old dead guys.
.

Really
Now your just being dense.

The fact that one can be identified with (note: Mr. Franklin was one of many that contributed to the government) doesn't mean each and every idea he had is valid forever. Nor if one did arrive at one set of valid ideas (government), it doesn't mean they had all the answers on something else (electricity, economics).

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