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Posts Tagged ‘Taxes’

Dailywire Article-OpenAI Unleashes New AI Model GPT-4, Which Can Pass Academic Exams, Program Software, And Even Do Taxes

Posted by M. C. on March 15, 2023

Worried about giving all your tax info to a machine controlled by microsoft? No need. They likely already already have it.

By  John Rigolizzo

Hologram of the artificial intelligence robot showing up from binary code.
(Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images)

Artificial intelligence software development firm OpenAI released GPT-4, its latest AI language model, with a massive array of new capabilities.

In a press release announcing the rollout of GPT-4 on Tuesday, OpenAI claimed that while GPT-4 still lags behind human beings in real-world scenarios, the AI can excel at theoretical and academic applications. In a developer livestream, the company showcased the software’s powerful problem-solving and image recognition, describing images, creating a working website, and even doing simulated taxes.

The first thing OpenAI discussed in its release was the problem-solving improvements made between GPT-4 and its predecessor, GPT-3.5. To illustrate these new capabilities, OpenAI showed a table of academic and professional exams, and the scores the software garnered. The AI scored:

  • A 298/400 on the Unified Bar Exam, which was in the 90th percentile of results.
  • A 163 on the LSAT, in the 88th percentile.
  • A 710 on the reading and writing SAT, the 93rd percentile
  • A 700 on the math SAT, the 89th percentile
  • A 169 on the verbal GRE, in the 99th percentile
  • A 5 on the AP Art History, Biology, Macro- and Microeconomics, Psychology, Statistics, US Government, and US History exams

In the developer livestream, OpenAI President Greg Brockman discussed several new features the updated software has. First, GPT-4 has a new system prompt in the user interface that allows the user to input new parameters for the AI to work with so that it can refine its model. Brockman demonstrated this capability with some basic prompts, including summarizing the OpenAI press release into a sentence where each word begins with G. While GPT-3.5 effectively gave up on the assignment, GPT-4 synthesized the article into the sentence: “GPT-4 generates groundbreaking, grandiose gains, greatly galvanizing generalized AI goals.”

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Lifting the Debt Ceiling Is Not a Social Policy | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on February 25, 2023

Printing and raising taxes are not social policies. It is profoundly anti-social, as it destroys the middle class and makes the economy weaker. Raising the debt ceiling is also extremely negative for the middle class because it means more taxes, lower purchasing power of the currency, and stagnation in the future.

Daniel Lacalle

Every time the United States reaches its debt limit, we read that it is important to reach an agreement to lift it. The narrative is that the debt ceiling must be raised, or the US economy will suffer a severe contraction. There is even an episode of a TV series, “Designated Survivor”, where the character played by Kiefer Sutherland places lifting the debt ceiling as the priority to get the U.S. economy on track. The debt ceiling is viewed as an evil and anachronistic burden on growth. It is not.

Analysts all over the world consider the debt ceiling a non-event because Congress always agrees to increase it. As such, markets do not even care. Congress has raised the debt ceiling on time on over eighty occasions since 1960, according to S&P Global. The rating agency points out that Congress has passed legislation to raise or suspend the debt ceiling seven times in the last twelve years (in 2011, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019, and twice in 2021).

The U.S. Treasury has announced it will start implementing “extraordinary measures” to fulfill its legal obligations. These extraordinary measures would give the government the possibility of extending the deadline until early June. Analysts and commentators say that Congress faces two options: either raise the debt ceiling or suspend it. Really? No one seems to think of the urgent need to cut spending.

The problem of the United States’ debt is not one of receipts. It is created by the constant increase in mandatory spending. Governments continue to raise taxes, and when the economy grows, they spend more. However, when the economy stalls or declines, they spend even more. In fiscal year 2022, the government spent $6.27 trillion. In 2015, it was $4.7 trillion. There is no revenue measure that would cover an increase of such magnitude and maintain it every year. Blaming the deficit on tax cuts makes no mathematical sense and assumes a confiscatory and extractive view of the economy, where the private sector must always provide rising revenues to a government that always spends more.

It is interesting to see how the debate has shifted to tax cuts, which did not reduce receipts, instead of spending that never generates the announced fiscal multiplier or reduces the deficit.

Those who say that the deficit would have been solved by eliminating the last tax cuts have a problem with mathematics. There is no way that any form of revenue measure could have covered a $1.6 trillion spending increase. Even if you believe in the idea that the government will always collect higher receipts from massive tax increases, which is false, only one year of mild recession would balloon the deficit and debt again.

The solution to the United States budget deficit is not more taxes. Even in the most optimistic receipt scenario, there is no tax hike program that would even start to address the structural deficit, estimated at one trillion dollars a year. Expenses are annual and consolidated, but receipts are cyclical and depend on the health of the economy. Therefore, revenue measures never reduce debt.

When governments say they will only tax the rich, they are treating citizens as if they were children. There is simply no way in which the government would collect every year between half a trillion to a trillion more only from a handful of rich people whose wealth is mostly in shares.

Deficits are always a spending problem. However, none of the parties want to address the ballooning levels of US debt by reducing expenditure. Therefore, they always agree on increasing public debt, which makes the economy weaker.

The solution for many is printing money and raising taxes. More taxes hurt the recovery, damage the job improvement potential, and reduce investment in the economy. More taxes mean less growth and no deficit improvement. More taxes and more printing mean that, added to those negatives, real wages decline, deposit savings evaporate, and the inflationary tax destroys the middle class.

Those that say deficits are reserves that the government creates for the private sector and that deficit spending is good for growth because a monetary sovereign country like the United States can spend and borrow as it pleases are simply lying. If deficit spending were a source of reserves that benefited the private sector, the United States’ productivity, growth, investment, and consumption in real terms would be off the charts, not sluggish, and real wages would be rising, not falling. The United Kingdom and Japan have proven that pushing the limit on debt, taxes, and spending only brings stagnation and declining real wages.

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How Governments Expropriate Wealth with Inflation and Taxes

Posted by M. C. on June 28, 2022

Government does not give excess reserves as social programs. Government takes away from existing and future wealth of the economy via currency printing, taxation, spending and debt, but math never works for those who believe extractive and confiscatory policies will work. 

RE: The Janet Yellen reference below. The WSJ used to treat her every utterance as wisdom from God. A trip to the comments section revealed the readers weren’t fooled.

Daniel Lacalle

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Treasury secretary Janet Yellen admitted that the chain of stimulus plans implemented by the US administration helped create the problem of inflation. “Inflation is a matter of demand and supply, and the spending that was undertaken in the American Rescue Plan did feed demand,” Yellen admitted. Of course, Yellen went on to say that the spending was appropriate due to the collapse of the economy as governments were trying to prevent a recession.

This reminds us of a few of the problems of disproportionate government intervention and the negative impact on the middle class. The misguided massive lockdowns were imposed by the government. Countries that had strict testing, like South Korea and other Asian and European countries, kept the economy working and the pandemic under control. However, the problem is larger and deeper. Central banks and governments have exhausted all demand-side policies at the expense of the middle class by eroding real wages and deposit savings.

Even worse, governments created a larger inflationary spiral by maintaining all “pandemic relief” packages even after the reopening, well beyond the recovery. They expected a spectacular aggregate demand increase and they got it. Now the result is higher inflation and lower economic growth. But government size and deficit spending remain.

Everything that government spends is paid by you. There is no free money. Even for the recipients of benefits in constantly depreciated currency. Inflation, the tax on the poor.

Governments do not avoid recessions through spending, they simply make the accumulated problems larger by constantly adding debt that central banks monetize via quantitative easing. This uncontrolled increase in M3 money supply (a broad money proxy) leads to asset inflation first and everyday goods price inflation afterwards. Both consequences lead to inequality and a constant deterioration of the purchasing power of the currency, making salaries in real terms lower.

Central-planned money creation is never neutral. It disproportionately benefits the first recipients of money, government and those with assets and debt, and negatively impacts those with a monetary salary and some savings in cash deposits, which dissolve over time. No socialist excel spreadsheet can erase the fact that massive deficit spending financed with newly created money destroys the poor and the middle class. They may say that government spending goes to social programs that benefit the poor, but that does not happen. Social programs in a constantly devalued currency become irrelevant, inefficient, and worthless while at the same time the wrongly named welfare state condemns a substantial proportion of the population to being hostage clients of government plans.

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Slightly Up From Slavery – Doug Casey’s International Man

Posted by M. C. on November 26, 2021

The US government will prove no more able to deal with a rapidly evolving economy than was the Soviet government. More and more Americans will see the government as meaningless and irrelevant, as serving no useful purpose.

by Doug Casey


To eliminate misunderstanding as to what taxes are, it is helpful to define the word “theft.” One good definition is “the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods of another.” The definition does not go on to say, “unless you’re the government.”

There is no difference, in principle, between the State taking property and a street gang doing so, except that the State’s theft is “legal” and its agents are immune from prosecution. Many people do not accept that analogy, because the government is widely viewed as being of, for, and by the people, even though it’s also acknowledged as acting badly from time to time.

Suppose a mugger demanded your wallet, perhaps because he needed money to buy a new car and threatened you with violence if you weren’t forthcoming. Everyone would call that a criminal act. Suppose, however, the mugger said he wanted the money to buy himself food. Would it still be theft? Suppose now that he said he wanted your wallet to feed another hungry person, not himself. Would it still be theft?

Now let’s suppose that this mugger convinces most of his friends that it’s okay for him to relieve you of your wallet. Would it still be theft? What if he convinces a majority of citizens? Principles stand on their own. Even if a criminal act is committed for a good purpose, or with the complicity of bystanders, (even if those people call themselves the government), it is still an act of criminal aggression.

It is important to establish an ethical viewpoint on the matter, even if it doesn’t change your reaction to the mugger’s (or the State’s) demands. Just as it’s usually unwise to resist a mugger, it’s usually unwise to resist the government, which has a lot of force on its side.

That’s not to say it’s easy to swim against the tide. Every year at tax time promoters of big government haul out an assortment of nostrums to sedate the lambs as they are shorn. One of the worst is “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization,” a statement of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. It is a splendid example of how, if a lie is big enough and is repeated often enough, it can come to be accepted.

Actually, the truth is almost exactly the opposite. As Mark Skousen, economist and author, has pointed out: “Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state is a complete failure of civilization, while a totally voluntary society is its ultimate success.”

Taxes are destroyers of civilization and society. They impoverish the average man. They support welfare programs that anchor the lower classes at the bottom of society. They underwrite a gigantic bureaucracy that serves only to raise costs and quash incentive. They pay for public works programs (once called “pork barrel projects,” but now rechristened “infrastructure investment”) that are usually ten times more costly than their privately financed counterparts, whether needed or not. They maintain programs that cause huge distortions in the economy (such as deposit insurance for banks). And they foster a climate of fear and dishonesty. The list of evils goes on. But the simple truth is that anything needed or wanted by society would be provided by profit-seeking entrepreneurs, if only the tax collector would retire.

Protesting against taxes because they’re a costly or inefficient way of providing services, however, is in good measure futile. It’s like saying that the mugger shouldn’t rob you because there might be a better way for him to get what he wants.

How serious is the tax problem in the long run? I believe it will become less, not more serious, despite the government’s increasingly high tax rates and draconian enforcement measures. The major long-term trend of society is toward decentralization and smaller-scale organizations. The US government will prove no more able to deal with a rapidly evolving economy than was the Soviet government. More and more Americans will see the government as meaningless and irrelevant, as serving no useful purpose.

Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, most people have no idea what really happens when a government goes out of control, let alone how to prepare…

How will you protect yourself in the event of an economic crisis?

New York Times best-selling author Doug Casey and his team just released a guide that will show you exactly how. Click here to download the PDF now.

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Inflation is a quiet but effective way for the government to transfer resources from the people to itself, without raising taxes.

Posted by M. C. on September 23, 2021

Thomas Sowell

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Doug Casey on Why Almost Nothing is Cheap – International Man

Posted by M. C. on August 11, 2021

Let’s dismiss the foolish and anachronistic idea of saving dollars in a bank as well. So what can you save with in today’s monetarily distorted world? The answer is “useful things,” mainly household commodities. I’m not sure exactly how bad the Greater Depression will be or how long it will last, but it makes all the sense in the world to stockpile usable things in lieu of monetary savings.

Above all, this isn’t the time for business as usual. You’ll notice that “Working in a conventional job” didn’t occur on the list above. And I pity the poor fools working for some corporation and hoping things get better.

by Doug Casey

Stocks, bonds, and urban property—conventional investments—aren’t cheap in today’s investment world.

Because of the trillions of currency units that governments all over the world have created since the start of the crisis in 2007, financial assets are grossly overpriced. Meanwhile, real wages are slipping rapidly among those who are working, and—regardless of what official figures say—a large portion of the population is unemployed or underemployed. The next chapter in this sad drama will include a rapid rise in consumer prices.

We are in a financial no-man’s land. That said, what you should do with your time and money presents some tough alternatives. “Saving” is compromised because of depreciating currency and artificially low interest rates. “Investing” is problematical because of a deteriorating economy, unpredictable and increasing regulation, and rising taxes. “Speculation” is the best answer, of course, and I cover what that means elsewhere. But it may not suit everyone as a methodology.

There are, however, several other alternatives to dealing with the question, “What should I do with my time and money now?” They include active business, entrepreneurialism, innovation, “hoarding,” and agriculture. There’s obviously some degree of overlap with these things, but they are essentially different in nature.

Active Business

Warren Buffet’s success notwithstanding, relatively few large fortunes have been made by investing. Most are made by creating, building, and running a business. But the same things that make investing hard today are going to make active business even harder. Sure, there will be plenty of people out there to hire—but in today’s litigious and regulated environment, an employee is a large potential liability as much as a current asset.

Business itself is seen as a convenient milk cow by bankrupt governments—and it’s much easier to tap small businesses than taxpayers at large. Big business (which I’ll arbitrarily define as companies with at least several thousand employees) actually encourages regulation and taxes because their main competition is from small businesses: namely, you. Big business is much more able to absorb the cost of new regulation and can hire lobbyists to influence its direction. Businesses that are “too big to fail” can count on government help.

You certainly don’t want to be an employee, but running an active business is increasingly problematical. Unless it’s a special situation, I’d be inclined to sell a business, take the money, and run. It’s Atlas Shrugged time.


An entrepreneur is “one who takes between,” looking at the French roots of the word. Buy here for a dollar, sell there for two—a good business if you can do it with a million widgets, hopefully, all at once and on credit. An entrepreneur ideally needs few employees and little fixed overhead.

Just as a speculator capitalizes on distortions in the financial markets, an entrepreneur does so in the business world. The more distortions in the market, the more bankruptcies and distress sales, the more variation in prosperity and attitudes between countries, and the more opportunities for the entrepreneur.

The years to come are going to be tough on investors and businessmen but full of opportunity for speculators and entrepreneurs. Keep your passport current, your powder dry, and your eyes open. I suggest you reform your thinking along those lines.


The two mainsprings of human progress are saving (producing more than you consume and setting aside the difference) and new technology (improved ways of doing things).

Innovation takes a certain kind of mind and skill set. Not everyone can be an Edison, a Watt, a Wright, or a Ford. However, with more scientists and engineers alive today than have lived in all history put together, you can plan on lots more in the way of innovation.

What you want to do is put yourself in front of innovation; even if you aren’t the innovator, you can be a facilitator—something like Steve Ballmer was to Bill Gates—which will give you an excuse to hang out with the younger generation and play amateur venture capitalist.

This argues for two things. One is reading very broadly (but especially in science) so that you can more easily make the correct decision as to which innovations will be profitable. The other is building enough capital to liberate your time to try something new and perhaps put money into start-ups.


In the days when gold and silver were day-to-day money, “saving” was actually identical to “hoarding.” The only difference was the connotation of the words.

Today you can no longer even hoard copper coins because (unbeknownst to Boobus americanus) there’s very little copper left in the penny. It’s now 97.5% zinc. It will soon disappear from circulation anyway.

Let’s dismiss the foolish and anachronistic idea of saving dollars in a bank as well. So what can you save with in today’s monetarily distorted world? The answer is “useful things,” mainly household commodities. I’m not sure exactly how bad the Greater Depression will be or how long it will last, but it makes all the sense in the world to stockpile usable things in lieu of monetary savings.

The things I’m talking about could be generally described as “consumer perishables.” Instead of putting $10,000 extra in the bank to be inflated away, go out and buy things like motor oil, ammunition, light bulbs, toilet paper, cigarettes, liquor, soap, sugar, and dried beans. There are many advantages to doing this.

Taxes – As these things go up in price and you consume them, you won’t have any resulting taxes, as you would for a successful investment.

Volume Savings – When you buy a whole bunch at once, especially when Walmart or Costco has them on sale, you’ll greatly reduce your cost.

Convenience – You’ll have them all now and won’t have to waste time getting them later, especially if they’re no longer readily available. Expect shortages in the years ahead.

There are hundreds of items to put on the list and much more to be said about the whole approach. The idea is basically that of my old friend John Pugsley, which he explained fully in his book The Alpha Strategy. Take this point very seriously. It’s something absolutely everybody can and should do.


During the last generation, mothers wanted their kids to grow up and be investment bankers. That thought will be totally banished soon and for a long time. I suspect farmers and ranchers will become the next paradigm of success after being viewed as backward hayseeds for generations.

Agriculture isn’t an easy business, and it has plenty of risks. But there’s always going to be a demand for its products. Margins are low or non-existent at the moment. Corn, soy, coffee, cotton, and other agricultural commodities are currently selling for only a bit more than their cost of production, which is unsustainable. This means bargains are available now. Eventually, margins will go way up. There’s still plenty of potential farmland around the world that’s wild or fallow, but politics is likely to keep it that way. The population won’t be growing that much (and will be falling in the developed world), but some people will be wealthier and want to eat better. You want the kind of food that people with money prefer.

I’m not crazy about commodity-type foods, like wheat, soy, and corn; these are high-volume, industrial-style foods, subject to political interference. And they’re not important as foods for wealthy people, which is the profitable part of the market. Niche markets with niche products are the way to fly.

I suggest upmarket specialty products like exotic fruits and vegetables, fish, dairy, and beef. The problem is that in “advanced” countries like the US, national, state, and local governments often make small commercial producers’ lives absolutely miserable. Maybe you can grow stuff, but it’s extremely costly in terms of paperwork and legal fees to sell it, especially if the product is animal-based—meat, milk, cheese, and such. Niche foods are, however, potentially a very good business. Eternal optimist that I am, I see one of the many benefits of the impending bankruptcy of most governments as again making it feasible to grow and sell food locally.

Above all, this isn’t the time for business as usual. You’ll notice that “Working in a conventional job” didn’t occur on the list above. And I pity the poor fools working for some corporation and hoping things get better.

Editor’s Note: A severe financial hurricane far greater than what we’ve seen in 2007 is on the horizon. And most investors won’t be prepared for what’s coming. That’s why Doug Casey and his team have prepared a timely video that addresses the coming crisis and what you could do to protect yourself.

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No One Has a “Fair Share” of Taxes – by Brian McGlinchey – Stark Realities with Brian McGlinchey

Posted by M. C. on July 19, 2021

There’s nothing fair about the coerced funding of unlawful, wasteful and morally repugnant pursuits

Brian McGlinchey

A recurring theme in national tax debates is the idea that everyone should pay their “fair share” of taxes.

While that aspiration’s validity is widely taken for granted, the stark reality is there’s no such thing as a “fair share” of federal taxes.

To understand why, let’s first scrutinize what’s meant by “fair.” When paired with “share,” the most fitting definition is “reasonable, right and just.”

If the United States government were limited to its only morally sound function—protecting rights, liberties and lives—perhaps one could entertain the theoretical notion of a “reasonable, right and just” share of the cost.

However, that ideal is far from today’s grim reality, as tax revenue is used to assault rights, liberties and lives of Americans and people around the world—to say nothing of the sprawling waste and cronyism associated with a 2021 budget of $6.8 trillion.

So tell me:

  • What exactly is my “fair share” of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which enforces economic sanctions that purposefully inflict suffering on innocent civilians in foreign lands?
  • What’s my fair share of the tyrannical practice of civil asset forfeiture, in which cash and other property is seized from citizens without any requirement to file charges?
  • What’s my fair share of the $1.2 trillion allocated in 2021 for the unconstitutional Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Education and Transportation, and Small Business Administration?
  • What’s my fair share of the cages in which the government confines people for choosing to intoxicate themselves with a plant or a powder rather than a bottle?
  • What’s my fair share of the several trillion dollars spent on the overwhelmingly pointless war in Afghanistan or the even more catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq?
  • What’s my fair share of so-called “Covid relief” money used to bail out fiscally irresponsible state and local governments and pay unemployed people more than they were making on the job?
  • What’s my fair share of the jaw-dropping $81 million the CIA paid to two depraved psychologists who crafted the agency’s immoral and ineffective post-9/11 torture program?
  • What’s my fair share of the unjust prosecution of journalist Julian Assange for publishing documents that revealed wrongdoing and embarrassed powerful politicians?
  • What’s my fair share of the $3.8 billion handed over to the Israeli government this year—with every one of those dollars violating a U.S. law?
  • What’s my fair share of the $1.6 trillion cost of the snakebit, contractor-enriching F-35 fighter jet program—which the Pentagon already wants to replace with something else?
  • What’s my fair share of the ongoing salary of the U.S. Central Command’s General Kenneth F. McKenzie, who betrayed his oath to the Constitution by carrying out President Biden’s unlawful orders to bomb Syria?
  • What’s my fair share of $1.5 million spent encouraging eastern Mediterranean youth to stop smoking hookah?

Anticipating objections, please note that the moral standing of federal income taxation isn’t buttressed by whatever few authorized, proper, efficient and beneficial undertakings it finances.

Let’s say your homeowners association does a fine job providing basic services and maintaining common facilities, and you contentedly pay your annual “fair share” of $2,500.

However, the HOA then announces it will:

  • Spend $80,000 to impose unemployment, malnutrition and the degradation of medical services in a neighborhood across town
  • Give a contractor friend of the HOA president $200,000 to do $50,000 worth of sidewalk work
  • Pay two men $90,000 a year to torture suspected car burglars and vandals

Shrugging off your objections that the proposed new undertakings are immoral, corrupt, wasteful and unauthorized by the HOA bylaws, the board informs you that—using the same allocation method as before—your dues have doubled to $5,000.

“You may not like everything we’re doing now,” they say, “but don’t forget—some of the money goes to plow snow and maintain the swimming pool. You benefit from that.”

Given how half the money will be used, do you think one can rationally insist it’s only “fair” that you pay the $5,000?

For the record—and the benefit of our government monitors—I pay every dollar demanded by the federal tax code. I pay not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the coerced thing to do. And if the lawless, immoral HOA threatened to lock you in the clubhouse basement if you didn’t fork over the $5,000, I’m sure you’d pay them too.

But, like me, you’d thoroughly reject the idea that there can be anything “fair”—that is, reasonable, right and just—about your share of the coerced funding of unlawful, wasteful and morally repugnant pursuits.

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The Feds Collect Most of the Taxes in America—So They Have Most of the Power | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 25, 2021

As the old saying goes, he who pays the piper calls the tune, and with states playing the part of junior partner in the taxation game, we should expect them to be junior partners in every other sense as well.

Ryan McMaken

In 2021, it’s clear Americans now have thrown off any notions of subsidiarity and instead embraced the idea that the federal government should be called upon to fund pretty much anything and everything. From “stimulus checks” to “paycheck protection,” it’s assumed an entire national workforce can be propped up by federal spending. Moreover, in the wake of 2020’s covid recession, every pressure group, from local governments to weapons manufacturers, looks to the federal government to offer ever larger amounts of federal spending, ladled out from the federal pot of more than $6 trillion of annual spending. Need some “infrastructure”? The federal government will pay for it. Need a bailout? You know where to go. 

And how is all this spending possible? Naturally, it can only happen when governments tax or borrow. And the federal government does a lot of that. Moreover, the federal government can borrow in increasingly stunning amounts thanks to the monetization of debt going on at the central bank. 

The Feds Tax Us a Lot More Than the States

But even if we ignore all the ways the federal government can spend at astronomical levels thanks to huge deficits and monetary tricks, we find the feds are still very much in the game of collecting good old-fashioned taxes. And lots of them. Moreover, the feds are collecting a lot more in taxes than even all states and cities combined. When it comes to taxes, the federal government is the biggest game in town, and it should surprise no one that everyone is looking to DC for some easy cash. We might hear a lot about how “blue states” are levying crippling taxes on their residents. But not even the governments of California or New York have anything on the federal government when it comes to extracting wealth from the taxpayers in America. 

According to a 2018 study from the Tax Policy Center, for example, “Federal, state, and local government receipts totaled $5.3 trillion in 2016. Federal receipts were 65 percent of the total, while state and local receipts (excluding inter-governmental transfers) were 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively.”

State and local governments may certainly be taking their pound of flesh from the taxpayers, but the fact is the federal government is taking a whole lot more.

Indeed, contrary to the US’s reputation for “local control,” the United States is not particularly decentralized when it comes to tax revenues and government spending. When it comes to taxation, the central government dominates in America. In in his study on taxation, for example, Anwar Shah categorizes the United States as “centralized,” noting—with numbers similar to those of the Tax Policy Center—that the federal government collects more than 60 percent of all tax revenue in the nation. This puts the US in the same category—according to Shah—as Brazil and Russia.

On the other hand, only 37 percent of all tax revenue is collected by the central government in Switzerland, a “decentralized” tax system according to Shah.1

In other words, the state and local governments in Switzerland collect most of the taxes, while the situation is reversed in the United States.

This becomes even more clear when we look at tax collection on a state-by-state basis.

Using 2019 data from the IRS we see that total federal tax collections coming out of California amounted to approximately $472 billion. But state tax collections totaled about $188 billion.2 Put another way, the total state tax bill in California was 39 percent the size of the federal tax bill. Or, for every dollar the federal government collects from Californians, Californians pay their state government 39 cents.

The difference is even more obvious in many other states. In Florida in 2019, the federal government collected $210 billion from the taxpayers. The State of Florida, meanwhile, collected $44 billion. In other words, for Florida residents, Florida’s tax bill was only one-fifth the size of the federal tax bill.

Source: Internal Revenue Service, “Table 5: Gross Collections, by Type of Tax and State, Fiscal Year 2020″; and the US Census Bureau’s “2019 Annual Survey of State Tax Collections by Category Table.” 

Even in big states with huge tax hauls like New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, state tax collections don’t even begin to rival the taxes pulled in by federal payroll taxes and income taxes.

In fact, no state collects as much in taxes as the federal government collects. Hawaii comes the closest, where Hawaii residents pay 88 cents in state taxes for every dollar collected by the federal government. But nearly all states collect less than fifty cents for every dollar collected by the federal government.

Source: IRS, “Table 5: Gross Collections, by Type of Tax and State, Fiscal Year 2020″; and the Census Bureau, “2019 Annual Survey of State Tax Collections by Category Table.”

Local governments tend to collect an even smaller amount than states when compared to federal spending. 

The political implications of this are large. Thanks to the Sixteenth Amendment, the federal government is able to tax Americans directly, and it does so in amounts that are usually more than double what the state governments pull in. This puts an enormous amount of power in the hands of federal officials, and it means fiscal power in the United States mostly resides in the hands of federal policymakers. (We could contrast this with Switzerland, where the federal power to tax expires without an affirmative vote extending this power every ten years or so.)

It’s a big reason why we’re now seeing state governments go to the federal government seeking bailouts—and why interest groups spend so much time and energy focusing on federal laws, taxes, and regulations. It’s only natural that they should. Washington, DC, is where most tax money goes in America, so we should expect to find most of the political power there as well. Once we consider that the federal government—with the help of the central bank—can spend far beyond even what it collects in taxes, we should not be surprised that in times of fiscal crisis, state and local governments go running to the feds. As the old saying goes, he who pays the piper calls the tune, and with states playing the part of junior partner in the taxation game, we should expect them to be junior partners in every other sense as well.


Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power&Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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Of Two Minds – What’s Yours Is Now Mine: America’s Era of Accelerating Expropriation

Posted by M. C. on April 27, 2021

The takeaway here is obvious: earn as little money as possible and invest your surplus labor in assets that can’t be expropriated. Develop low-overhead gigs and enterprises that are 100% yours so you can legitimately write off expenses and control how much work you decide to take on. Keep accurate records and pay whatever taxes are due, but by minimizing net income then taxes will be modest. Invest your best self, time and energy in assets that can’t be assessed, taxed or expropriated: your skills, networks, value you create and invest in your own self-sufficiency, sharing and good living of the kind that can’t be bought or sold or expropriated.

Charles Hugh Smith

The takeaway here is obvious: earn as little money as possible and invest your surplus labor in assets that can’t be expropriated.

Expropriation: dispossessing the populace of property and property rights, via the legal and financial over-reach of monetary and political authorities.

All expropriations are pernicious, but the most destructive is the expropriation of labor’s value while the excessive gains of unproductive speculation accrue to the elite that owns most of the nation’s wealth.

In a nation in which the leadership has finely honed the art and artifice of legalized looting and financial legerdemain, it’s not surprising that the expropriation of labor’s value takes many forms. For the self-employed and small business proprietor, the list is practically endless:

1. Proliferating junk fees for permits, licence renewals, applications, late fees, penalties, fines for violating obscure regulations, etc. (Never mind if you’re losing money; by definition, as a business owner you’re “rich” and deserve petty expropriations. If you’re Amazon, however, we’ll shower you with subsidies and tax breaks.)

2. Sky-high liability insurance, disability insurance and workers compensation insurance, because all the fraud and friction in these systems adds expense and you’re the one who will pay for it all.

3. Sky-high rent. Now that the Federal Reserve jacked up the “market value” of a $1 million commercial building to $10 million via asset inflation, rents have soared even though no improvements have been made to the tenants’ spaces. Thanks to the Fed, rents are many multiples of what they would be if the Fed hadn’t jacked up real estate to absurd overvaluations.

4. Taxes on wages. Consider the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State: let’s start with the 15.3% federal self-employment tax on wages up to $142,000, then add federal tax rates that quickly reach 32% and up and state taxes that hit 10% and higher in high-tax states, and then don’t forget the extra 3.9% Medicare tax above $125,000, and when we add all this up, the total tax rate exceeds 61%. (You want to quibble? OK, make it 55%. How much difference does this make? None.)

Now this may be acceptable in Scandinavian nations where you receive virtually free healthcare and higher education, but here in the Accelerating Expropriation USA, the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State has to pay insanely costly healthcare insurance out of the 39% that’s been oh-so-generously left to live on, as well as the insanely high student loans that were taken out to attend university.

Factor those in and the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State gets a third or less of her labor’s value. This only rises slightly in so-called lower-tax states, which tend to compensate for lower income taxes with high sales taxes and property taxes (“they get you coming and going.”)

Inflation is stealth expropriation, and like all expropriation, we’re told it’s for our own good, just like any other beating delivered by authorities. So as the Fed pushes asset inflation to Mars and whines that real-inflation isn’t high enough yet, the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State are experiencing a monthly expropriation of the purchasing power of what little labor value has been left to them.

I received an insightful email on this topic from A.C.:


Once you’ve had it done to you personally (as I did through my business) you view the world in a whole new light.

Without assets in which you can store the excess value of your labor minus the worry of debasement or theft, the incentive to create that excess goes away. That’s why the BLS ‘take this job and shove it’ JOLT measure is staying so stubbornly high.

Unfortunately, it’s that excess labor that funds what we call civilization.

People without the margins which excess labor can create tend to revert, for their own security, to community groupings based on familial bonds. They’re a store of value that’s stable and can’t be inflated away.

Those without such bonds are SOL. Hunger goes a long way in mitigating the personality disorders which impair the creation of such bonds.”

Here’s the takeaway: Any “wealth” denominated in financial instruments will be expropriated by one means or another, so “wealth” has to be denominated in some other “currency”, social, cultural, skills / intellectual, that is beyond the grasp of monetary and political authorities. This is the primary reason why crazy risky speculation is being pursued with such intensity: there is no way to escape the grinding impoverishment of expropriation for most wage-earners except to make more “wealth” via crazy-risky gambles than is being expropriated.
The Only Way to Get Ahead Now Is Crazy-Risky Speculation.

There’s another dynamic few grasp: When the Empire runs out of colonies to exploit, it brings its expropriation machinery home to stripmine the domestic populace. I explained this dynamic back in 2012:

Neofeudalism and the Neocolonial-Financialization Model (4/24/12)

Welcome to Neocolonialism, Exploited Peasants! (10/21/16) October 21, 2016

Why are we not surprised that as expropriation accelerates on all fronts, the Middle Class Now Holds Less Wealth than Top 1 Percent? ( Thanks to the magic of pay-to-play “democracy,” the super-wealthy and corporate elites escape all the expropriation machinery stripmining wage earners. The corporate taxes collected are a tiny slice of the hundreds of billions corporations spend on stock buybacks, the only purpose of which is to enrich insiders and the super-wealthy who own most of the nation’s financial assets.

The takeaway here is obvious: earn as little money as possible and invest your surplus labor in assets that can’t be expropriated. Develop low-overhead gigs and enterprises that are 100% yours so you can legitimately write off expenses and control how much work you decide to take on. Keep accurate records and pay whatever taxes are due, but by minimizing net income then taxes will be modest. Invest your best self, time and energy in assets that can’t be assessed, taxed or expropriated: your skills, networks, value you create and invest in your own self-sufficiency, sharing and good living of the kind that can’t be bought or sold or expropriated.

I cover these topics in greater depth in my books:

Get a Job, Build a Real Career, Defy a Bewildering Economy

An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times

Money and Work Unchained

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Old Yellen

Posted by M. C. on April 6, 2021

May be a cartoon of 2 people and text that says 'Are companies leaving because the taxes in theUS are too high? 冊 @a No, it's because the taxes in 101 other countries are too low'

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