We'll Tax Only the Rich! We promise!
That was the promise politicians made in order to pass the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and establish the income tax. How is that promise working out for you?
The Libertarian Party asks “Why An Income Tax? Before 1913, federal income taxes were rare and short lived. America became the most prosperous nation on earth. The U.S. government did not try to police the world or play ‘nanny’ to everyone from cradle to grave. People took responsibility for themselves, their families, and their communities. That is how the founders of America thought it should be. And it worked. It can again!” http://www.lp.org/issues/taxes
But we do have an income tax, as well as several payroll taxes, corporate taxes, capital gain taxes – the list is endless. Those taxes are ever present, obnoxious entities that influence pretty much all our actions. These entities suck income from those who earn it, heap mounds of paperwork on everyone, snoop into everyone’s every move, generate constant threats, carry with them an assumption of guilt not innocence, and are beloved by those who either do not pay any of them or can shelter themselves from paying much of them. Worse, these taxes (along with fiat currency, of course) finance a gargantuan wasteful bureaucracy that crowds out the efficient free market, noses into our private lives, and manhandles us at airports.
Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and a bevy of other hopefuls have been running their 2016 presidential campaign for the last couple of years. The two main political parties and their candidates only need to promise some freebies – either to voters or to big business -- and use the political campaign money that pours in to buy some ads. Libertarians have major additional work to do. Most of this additional work is brought about by the two major parties fighting to keep the status quo untouched. We Libertarians suspect leaders of the two main parties stay up nights thinking of ways to keep third parties invisible, such as:
1. Encouraging the idea of the “wasted vote,” while dismissing voting your conscience, voting to incrementally break the status quo, or voting to show the true number of voters who are not satisfied with the country’s current path.
2. Shaming third party voters for diverting votes from the crucial objectives of the main parties, while ignoring that these objectives may be detrimental to the well being of both the average voter and the nation.
3. Claiming libertarian credentials, while seeking to bring about laws such as those that provide “free” higher education (the Tooth Fairy pays for that), or to declare “personhood at conception” (ignoring separation of church and state?).
4. Looking for legal loopholes to keep Libertarians off ballots, taking advantage of the smaller money pool available to Libertarians to fight court battles.
5. Encourage confusion as to what the Libertarian Party is, ignoring that the word “Party” in our name is the same word as that in “Democratic Party,” “Green Party,” or “Republican Party.”
These efforts by the two main parties succeed in discouraging Libertarians, many confessing they simply do not vote. How about changing that on the road to 2016? How about making the Republicrats’s tactics an energizing factor that will encourage us Libertarians to donate, purchase and distribute Libertarian literature, precinct walk, carry registration forms in our backpack, have fund raising or strategy planning house parties, make Libertarians visible on Facebook pages, write letters to the editor, or whatever! We at the Libertarian Party of San Francisco will remain energized all the way to November 2016! Won't you join us?
The November 4, 2014 election is now behind us. Our proud position as the “loyal opposition” remains unscathed. We are forever recommending a NO vote on measures that further increase already bloated bureaucracies, crowd out opportunities in the free market, and view the electorate as needing told what to do. But this is a progressive town, where such messages go largely unheeded. There were a couple of successes, though, in the form of Propositions E (soda tax) and G (surtax on the sale of residential property).
In the case of Proposition E, could its defeat be due to the proposal being too obviously a pocket book issue, or too intrusive even for San Francisco? Other propositions are equally expensive to voters and taxpayers, but not as obviously so. Other propositions are equally intrusive in our businesses and our homes, but not as obviously so.
About Proposition G, this was simply a misguided effort, since it is not only “speculators” that sell homes within 5 years of purchase. Sometimes life happens when we are making other plans, and we need to sell a dream home before we intended to.
Actually, there were other successes. The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco invited us to participate in a discussion on Proposition E, for which we are most appreciative. Our Outreach Director, Starchild, did an excellent job presenting our view that we as individuals, not government, must be ultimately responsible for what we and our families eat or drink. We were also guests of the League of Women Voters, who invited us to present our view on Propositions B (Transportation Funding Based on Population Growth), C (Children’s Fund), and G (Additional Tax on Residential Sales). Also, as always, we had a good time at local organizations' endorsement meetings speaking out against the ever expanding Nanny State lurking behind pretty much all ballot proposals.
So now, with the November election behind us, we move on to other endeavors! Our next major project is gathering panel participants for our Second Annual Tax Day Symposium, scheduled for April 5, 2015. Our aim at this gathering is to present differing points of view on how we best fund the basic functions of goverment -- or more fundamentally, what are the basic functions to be funded? Save the date.
San Francisco Board of Supervisor John Avalos, along with co-signing Supervisors David Campos, Eric Mar, and Jane Kim, sponsored the above proposed resolution. The Board voted on July 8, 2014, to postpone a decision. This proposal has been around since September of 2013, when Supervisor David Campos urged the Board to adopt a similar measure. You can see our analysis of that 2013 proposal in our article, Supervisor Campos to Explore Underwater Property Eminent Domain.
The idea of seizing underwater mortgages from private lenders is not going away. To the contrary, according to what Supervisor Avalos indicated during the meeting of July 8, he is looking forward to working with the rest of the Board, the Controller’s Office, and the City Attorney to craft a Joint Powers Authority Ordinance to be introduced later in 2014 – note the reference to an ordinance, not a mere resolution.
The forging ahead with this proposal is occurring in spite of investors giving every indication that they stand ready to flood every entity involved with lawsuits. Wells Fargo, Deutsche, and Mellon banks have already sued, although, as the court decided, prematurely, since the plaintiffs had not yet been harmed. No doubt, everybody will be back in court as soon as any actual seizing of mortgages is attempted!
Although these investors are powerful corporations, they are not voters, upon whom Supervisors depend at election time. Therefore, as always, we encourage voters - ordinary citizens - to get acquainted with the issues, contact their government representatives, and vote wisely.
File No. 140709 starts out by proposing that San Francisco commend the City of Richmond for “their work on creating a Local Principle Reduction Program…” – emphasis ours – and gets worse with each “Whereas.” Here are our primary concerns with Supervisor Avalos proposal:
Applies only to homeowners who are still making payments on their mortgages. It does not apply to borrowers who are no longer able to pay, and are truly facing foreclosure.
Applies only to securitized mortgages. Traditional mortgages still being held by original lenders are not included, no matter how underwater they are.
“Priority Development Areas” are a bureaucrat’s dream. Not just any bureaucrat, but one with lots of time and taxpayer money in his/her hands. Once upon a time, town and cities developed organically. People settled where it best suited their tastes, their imagination, their talents and abilities. As they settled, leaders rose to develop amenities and facilitate commerce – Romans built aqueducts, settlers built general stores, skilled folks provided factories to produce goods, others offered services. Then came “Planning.” As manual work and basic private services decreased, bureaucracy increased. Now we have reached the pinnacle of up-side-down bureaucratic meddling, when planning micromanages population flows.
This map shows San Francisco’s Priority Development Areas. Red and pink are "priority areas." Since around 70% of amenities, services and commerce are to be shoehorned into these two areas, good luck if you live outside of them. Of course, if you live outside of a Priority Development Area, you are not as done for as if you live inside a “Priority Conservation Area,” which will be the subject of another post later.
However, “Life is what happens to us when we are making other plans,” and that goes for bureaucrats too. The red and pink areas on the map indicate where bureaucrats wish to move the greatest number of folks, by building tall buildings and concentrating commerce. These areas also happen to be where the City’s most magnificent views are. Therefore, the bureaucrats are experiencing some unexpectedly strong push back from current residents and visitors.
The gray areas on the map, outside of the priority areas, will by necessity suffer neglect. What is not a “priority” is shoved aside. Residents in those areas can either lament their fate, or seize the opportunity to acquire greater autonomy for their neighborhoods. Obviously Libertarians encourage the latter.
We at the Libertarian Party of San Francisco have been talking for a long time about the negative consequences of Plan Bay Area. We will continue to point out how we the people abdicate control when we allow unelected bureaucrats to be placed in charge of where we live and how we live. We encourage you to think about how your neighborhood will be impacted by the Priority Development Areas. Then organize neighborhood groups that include property owners, renters, merchants, school teachers, parents, and other neighborhood participants to ensure the local neighborhood vision prevails.
Further reading on unelected officials: