If you stared at them for too long, your neck muscles would get sore from keeping your head tilted upwards. Behemoths, gods, monstrosities: everyone had a name for these tremendous creatures that stalked across the great desert. However, everyone could agree on one thing, they were home.

Civilization bobbed up and down in sync with their mile-long spines. There was everything a person could need up there, from homes to farms and even ruthless and despotic nobles who built their palaces near the beast’s head. Some say that the heads of each noble family can whisper in the beast’s ears and tell it where to go: maybe head towards the equator, where it is hot and devoid of water, so their liquid reclaimers can churn up a higher profit, or maybe go north, where the wind bites at your skin with dagger teeth until you gave in and purchase one of their luxuriously thin fur coats.

That’s all bunk of course. The nobles have as much say as to where the beast travels as do the pecker birds who eat the parasites crawling all over its skin, and I assure you, the birds have far less shit in them.

Do you hear that so-called ‘entertainment’ being pumped out of the loudspeaker atop the mansion on the beast’s crown much to everyone’s amusement? All those fancy melodies and clever tunes heard by all except those whose ears are overcome by the noise of their own bowels on account of their head being so far up their arses. I wrote that piece. I was also the one with the brilliant notion to levy a mandatory donation upon everyone who could hear the performance and then raise taxes on any set of earmuffs sold along the spine. Life was good and easy for me.

A few months ago, I thought it would be a good idea to sponsor a mild coup to seize the assets of a foreign noble. His money, flightcraft, and servants were pulled under my control. It was by far the easiest take I had ever pulled off. Unfortunately, my soldiers were, how to put this, less than diligent in the securing of his personal belongings and overlooked a pendant he had smuggled aboard. By some strange miracle of alchemy through the pendant, he was able to contact his father on his home beast. His father then found a way to buy every other noble on my beast. They turned on me without a moment’s notice. I had to jump out of a window and fake my own death in order to escape my apparently less-than-well paid soldiers when they broke into my room.

So here I am, on the underbelly of the beast. A wretched sack of crime and poverty if I had ever seen one. Full of hop-on nomads and tax-dodgers who subsist on the putrid effluence drained from the beast.

I don’t intend to stay here for long. I have a revolution brewing and all that. Let me be the first to tell you that there will be changes topside once that brat is thrown off the back of the beast. We’re going to kill that obnoxious cacophony and toss the loudspeaker over the side. Then we’ll take a trip down here with a full force and make everyone down here a tax-paying citizen. Finally, we’ll route said effluence topside and market it as some sort of beverage. I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but you be assured that every home will be required to have a line of it pumped directly into their kitchens. A service which will be provided for a small fee equal to the back taxes owed to me since that brat took over.  

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The Seven Reasons Why Super-Rich British Tax Dodgers Don't End Up in Jail

Banking offshore isn’t, in itself, illegal. Luckily for some. Ronen Palan is Professor of International Politics at City University London and an expert in offshore tax havens. He told me that, if you were to wander into a hypothetical party in Mayfair and kick out everyone who banks offshore, the room would empty.

While tax evasion (cheating the tax authority by not declaring assets or misrepresenting information) is a criminal offense in the UK, tax avoidance (using a legal scheme to reduce your tax) is legal. A huge, lucrative industry is built around it.

HMRC claims (rightly) that prosecuting high-earning tax cheats is time-consuming and costly. Instead, it often comes to an arrangement out of court. However, the disparity between resources devoted to catching benefits cheats and wealthy tax dodgers is kind of conspicuous.

The Swiss leaks uncovered accounts belonging to an impressive line-up of high-profile figures, from the heads of royal families to top bods in business, film, and sport. Having an account in a Swiss bank isn’t illegal and doesn’t prove tax avoidance; however, given the shady dealings which have emerged at HSBC, it’s hard to believe that everyone’s hands are clean.

A 2014 report by the Equality Trust revealed that the poorest 10 percent of British households pay eight percent more of their income in all taxes than the richest; 43 percent compared to 35 percent. And that’s before tax avoidance schemes have been taken into account. What the rich fail to put in, the rest of the country must cover in taxes like income tax and VAT.

According to lawyers, if UK bankers misbehaved in Switzerland, they can’t be prosecuted here unless they advised clients on UK soil, which, according to Panorama, they may have done. But how aggressively will they be pursued? Richard Brooks—former tax inspector, Private Eye writer, and author of The Great Tax Robbery—believes the answer is: not very.

The UK has the longest tax code in the world. It’s more than 17,000 jargon-packed pages long, loophole after glorious loophole. There is probably no one on the planet who understands our tax code in its entirety.

Learn more


Do the Rich Pay Their Fair Share?

Don’t let a progressive lie to you.  The “rich” income earners in this country pay the bulk of our taxes.  Our tax system is far from “fair.”

With the Federal Communications Commission set to vote on strong net neutrality rules this Thursday, the opposition is getting increasingly shrill, and their favorite talking point—a false one—is that it’s going to raise your taxes

"Stop the federal internet takeover!" That’s the warning that Sen. Mike Lee blasted out to readers of conservative email lists last month. “This is essentially a massive tax increase on the middle class, being passed in the dead of night without the American public really being made aware of what is going on,” wrote the Utah Republican. “New taxes and fees” could total “$15 billion annually,” Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, claimed in an op-ed. It’s “Obamacare for the internet,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) hollered.

That false talking point comes from a discredited analysis of the issue by a group called the Progressive Policy Institute that claims that the option the FCC plans to take on net neutrality, reclassifying it under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, could cost American consumers up to $15 billion annually. The claim has been debunked by internet advocates and traditional media fact-checkers alike, as relying on “fuzzy math” and “significant factual error[s].”

But it still gets traction, including at The New York Times, as Media Matters points out. The Times “Bits” blog, which really should know better, repeated the debunked claim in a post last week, even while it included a statement from FCC spokesperson Kim Hart that Wheeler’s plan “‘does not raise taxes or fees. Period.’”

The reality is that the FCC can and probably will “declare that broadband is a purely interstate telecom service,” as Free Press explains. “Because broadband access is interstate and not intrastate, none of the intrastate taxes or special telecom fees would apply.” States could impose a sales tax on interstate telecom services, but that’s just about the only tax that could apply here, and it would be a maximum of about $4 billion, nationally, as opposed to $15 billion. But the FCC and Congress could both take action to eliminate any extra taxes.

This worst-case and not-going-to-happen, not to mention debunked, tax scenario is the only argument Republicans and their telecom overlords have to fight the massive groundswell for net neutrality. But they’re going to press it as hard as they can in the coming months.

Please, help us protect all that we’ve built with this amazing campaign. Call your members of Congress today urging them to “Let the FCC do its job” to create net neutrality rules and protect an open internet.

Can’t call? Sign and send a petition to your member of Congress: Don’t kill net neutrality.

h/t: Laura Clawson at Daily Kos

New poll shows that Americans don't understand economics, want to tax the rich more

Decades of progressive propaganda has had an effect. People seemingly have no idea how the economy works.

From Christian Science Monitor:

The rich aren’t taxed enough and the middle class is taxed too much. As for your taxes, you probably think they’re too high as well.
Those are the results of an Associated Press-GfK poll that found that most people in the United States support President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise investment taxes on high-income families.
The findings echo the populist messages of two liberal senators — Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — being courted by the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to run for president in 2016. The results also add weight to Obama’s new push to raise taxes on the rich and use some of the revenue to lower taxes on the middle class.
Obama calls his approach “middle-class economics.”
It’s not flying with Republicans in Congress, who oppose higher taxes.
But Bob Montgomery of Martinsville, Virginia, said people with higher incomes should pay more.
"I think the more you make the more taxes you should pay," said Montgomery, who is retired after working 40 years at an auto dealership. "I can’t see where a man makes $50,000 a year pays as much taxes as somebody that makes $300,000 a year."
According to the poll, 68 percent of those questioned said wealthy households pay too little in federal taxes; only 11 percent said the wealthy pay too much.

Read the Rest

Ugh. Where to begin?

Before we get to the troublesome results of the poll, understand that there are several fundamental problems with the poll itself.

  • First of all, the vast majority of people consider themselves “middle class” (a term I find loathsome as it implies that we still have lords and peasants and that if you’re a peasant, you can’t possibly make it). If you’re poor, you’ll say you’re “middle class”. If you’re rich, you’ll say you’re “middle class.” No one wants to admit that they’re “poor” or “rich”, regardless of reality.
  • Second, of course people think that their own taxes are too high. That’s only natural. I know of very few who say “man, I wish they would just charge me more!” Sure, there are some that feel this way, but they are obviously a rarity. It’s easy to think that someone else should pay more.
  • Third, the so-called “middle class” is the largest “class” in the US (if the United States had “classes” — which we don’t). This, coupled with the fact that it’s only natural to think that higher taxes should be paid by other people, it only stands to reason that non principled people think that the “rich” should pay more.

Look, polls like this are not surprising and the utterly predictable results are used to pressure politicians into growing government and treating Americans differently from one another.

Nevertheless, the results are still troubling because, at best, they show a lack of principles by the general public and, at worst, they show a severe lack of understanding of the effect that taxation has on the economy.

There are so many fallacies and straw-men it’s hard to know where to start. As someone who already views taxation (especially on the federal level) as a form of theft, it pains me to defend any tax system. But arguing against the progressive tax rate and the notion that the “rich” should continue to pay more and more and more, is like shooting fish in a barrel. 

In short, there are two ways to transfer wealth from the top to the bottom. Forceful redistribution through taxation and the free market. That’s it. There is no third option. The difference is that in the taxation method, nothing tangible is created. People just pay taxes to avoid prison and others receive the fruit of their labor. But through the free market, however, people with money hire others to work and things gets created. When a rich person buys a pool for $50,000, poor people get jobs and paychecks and a rich person gets a pool. However, when a rich person pays $50,000 in taxes only to have it redistributed to the poor, no jobs are created and no pool is built. The same amount of money is spent but they have wildly different results.

To make matters worse, because they know that the extra cash they make will result in a large check for Uncle Sam rather than a new pool, the rich have a built-in incentive to not make extra cash (see Laffer Curve). As you can see, high tax rates for the rich have a compounding problematic effect that goes way beyond hard numbers as it’s awfully hard to measure incentive. Rich people don’t hoard their money and swim in it like Scrooge McDuck. They invest it. They spend it. They start companies. They pay people to do things. And the amount to which they engage in such activities varies inversely to the amount they are punished in the form of taxation for doing these things. In other words, raising taxes can often lead to less revenue for redistribution.

One of the people quoted in the article says that richer people should pay more in taxes than poorer people. I have news for him: Rich people DO pay more. A LOT more. Here’s a fact: In 2011, the top 10% of earners paid 68% of all federal income taxes while the bottom 50% paid 3%. Let those numbers sink in. Oh man, darn those evil, selfish, seething, hateful rich people and their tax havens! Sheesh.

This would be true with standard, non-progressive tax rates too. If you made more, you would pay more — even if the percentages were the same. And it would at least be treating people fairly (if you consider legally robbing people under threat of violence “fair”).

Here’s another little economic principle: When you subsidize something, you get more of it. When you tax something, however, you get less of it. This is a principle that should be understood by everyone. When you raise taxes on those who create jobs (also known as “rich people”) the result will be fewer jobs. Every. Time. I always get hilarious arguments from people citing anomalous statistics that supposedly prove that this principle is false when, in fact, anyone with a modicum of common sense knows it to be true. You can’t take money away from someone and expect it to have no effect. It doesn’t occur in a vacuum. You might think it’s morally acceptable to take $300,000 from someone who has a million dollars (that’s a different argument altogether) but you cannot logically deny the fact that that millionaire will then be left with $700,000. By definition, he will have 300,000 fewer dollars to invest, start companies, create jobs or otherwise spend it as he pleases.

This affects the economy in a major way. It’s silly to pretend it doesn’t. After paying off Uncle Sam, that rich guy might not be able buy that yacht that he otherwise would have. Now, to an extreme left-wing, progressive statist, this is a good thing. After all, no one needs a yacht. But by taking money from his pocket, blue-collar yacht builders will be out of a job and the economy will suffer.

Higher tax rates on the rich will, as usual, make things worse, not better. But don’t take my word for it, take Dr. Milton Friedman’s:

Man Arrested for Paying his Taxes in $1 Bills.
Last week, a man was arrested while he was attempting to pay his property taxes in $1 bills. According to the police report, 27-year-old Timothy Andrew Norris attempted to pay $600 worth of property taxes in intricately folded one dollar bills.The tax officials refused the payment because it would make their job more difficult. Norris was then asked to leave by a police officer who was at the office.

When Norris refused to leave until they accepted his payment, the officer immediately grabbed him and put him in handcuffs. When he attempted to pull away from the officer, he was thrown to the ground and placed under arrest for criminal trespass and resisting arrest.

The arrest report stated, “The deputy was at the Annex, 600 Scott Street, just after 2 p.m. when Wichita County Tax Assessor-Collector Tommy Smyth asked Timothy Andrew Norris, 27, to leave the tax office. Smyth accused Norris of disrupting the operation and efficiency of the tax office by attempting to pay $600-worth of property taxes with $1 bills. The bills were said to be folded so tightly it “required tax office personnel approximately six minutes to unfold each bill.”

Norris was released on $500 bail over the weekend. Similar tax and fine protests have been staged by activists in the past, but rarely is there ever an arrest. Last year we reported on the case of a blogger named “Bacon Moose”, who paid a $137.00 ticket all in ones. Each of the one dollar bills were meticulously folded into an origami pig and placed into two Dunkin Donut boxes. That protest was even bolder than this one, and Bacon Moose never reported any penalties, and by all reports the state did accept his payment, but after he unfolded them all.