President Trump and Coronavirus

 

The lights are flashing and the gates are down, but there is no train coming.

 

President Trump and Coronavirus
By: George Noga – April 7, 2020

       Readers have asked for my thoughts about the coronavirus pandemic and President Trump’s handling of it. I am happy to oblige as I have time on my hands these days. I have tried hard to be objective, but I call the balls and strikes as I see them.  Note: In a few weeks we will have two postings about the financial effect of the pandemic.

      America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is inherently political; this is altogether fitting and proper. We make our life and death decisions, including war and peace, through politics. Our politics also narrowly circumscribes the range of choices available to our political leaders, especially with an election in six months.

        Any president, regardless of his politics, must observe certain protocols. He must seek advice from, and appear solicitous of the advice of, the foremost authorities: generals in time of war, economists in time of financial crisis and epidemiologists in time of pandemic. Yet, politicians always make the final decisions – not unelected generals, economists or doctors, who often have their own agendas.

      Initially, political leaders must err on the side of caution; it is always better to overreact until the dimensions of a crisis are understood. We expect our leaders to communicate effectively; we want them to be honest but also to offer hope. We expect them to have situational awareness and to demonstrate leadership. Above all, they must deliver the goods (medical supplies) even if shortages are the fault of others. Finally, leaders must appear above politics – even if all the while they behave politically.

      Our venomous politics dictates how certain media questions must be answered, such as “How many deaths are you prepared to accept to save the economy?” Trump has learned not to take the bait and he gave the only answer he could “None“, knowing full well it was disingenuous. Judges and juries routinely place a value on life. Each year Americans accept 34,000 influenza deaths, 38,000 traffic deaths and many from military actions. All of these could be mitigated, but we accept them because we value our lifestyle more than the attendant risks. Same with coronavirus.

President Trump’s Handling of the Crisis

       Trump has handled the above protocols reasonably well as reflected by the 60% approval rating for his management of the crisis. On the negative side, Trump was slow at the outset, too loose with data, overly optimistic and far too braggadocious. Americans should know by now to judge Trump on his actions, not his words. And his actions – two in particular – get high marks. His early decision to ban travel from China (for which he was called racist and xenophobe) and later Europe was inspired. His coup de maitre however was the early and effective involvement of the private sector, something completely alien to his political opponents and to other world leaders.

Heroes and Goats

        Crises reveal heroes and goats. Despite some early missteps, Drs. Fauci and Birx likely are in the running for person-of-the-year honors. Mike Pence has performed at a high level. Governors Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom have behaved admirably. The private sector companies that stepped up to help qualify as heroes. The American people have responded valiantly, particularly the pharmaceutical industry, the medical community and all those who keep the supply chain moving. Thank you!

     There are many goats led by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, who treat the pandemic like a gigantic political smorgasbord. Joe Biden, carping from his Delaware basement, is negative and incoherent; the lights are flashing and the gates are down but there is no train coming. Governors Inslee of Washington and Whitmer of Michigan are goats. The mainstream media have behaved shamefully and disgracefully but it is communist China that occupies the ninth circle of hell – for treachery.


Next on April 12th, we resume our series observing the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
More Liberty Less Government  –  mllg@mllg.us  –  www.mllg.us

50th Anniversary of Earth Day – Original Earth Day 1970 Predictions

Predictions included mass starvation, resource depletion, extinctions and a new ice age.

 

50th Anniversary of Earth Day

Original Earth Day 1970 Predictions

By: George Noga – April 5, 2020

           Imagine that on the original Earth Day in 1970 you had a crystal ball and could foresee the state of humanity and the environment a half century later – in 2020. Here’s what you would write: “Billions of people will be lifted out of poverty and extreme poverty will be ending. Although population will double, food will be plentiful and produced with a smaller environmental footprint. Starvation will be replaced by obesity as the major problem. Natural resources will be more plentiful than ever as proven by falling prices. In short, virtually every measure of environmental and human wellbeing will be the best it has been since 1970 and is getting better all the time!”

Predictions by Scientists and the Media Made on Earth Day 1970

Dr. Paul Erlich – Stanford University:Population will outstrip the small increases in food supply we make. Everyone will disappear in a cloud of blue steam in 20 years. Four billion people, including 65 million Americans, will perish in the great die-off.”

Dennis Hayes – Organizer Earth Day:It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”

Professor Peter Gunter – North Texas State:Demographers agree almost unanimously that widespread famines will begin by 1975 and by the year 2000 the entire world, except North America, Western Europe and Australia, will be in famine.

Life Magazine:Scientists have evidence to support that within a decade urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution. By 1985 air pollution will have reduced sunlight reaching Earth by one-half.

Kenneth Watt – Ecologist:The world will be about 11 degrees colder in the year 2000,  about twice what is takes to put us in an ice age. . . . By 2000 we will use oil at such a rate there won’t be any more.”

U.S. Geological Survey: They reported there was only a ten-year supply of natural gas remaining. Now, 50 years later, they estimate the supply will last over 100 years.

Harrison Brown – National Academy of Sciences: Writing in Scientific American, Brown stated humanity would run out of copper, lead, zinc, tin and gold by 1990.

Dr. Dillon Ripley – Smithsonian Institute:In 25 years somewhere between 75% and 80% of all living animals will be extinct.”

        I could fill many pages with predictions like those supra. Nor did I cherry-pick the most absurd predictions; all of the ones above are from leading scientists. There was not even one upbeat prediction I could find that was made on the original Earth Day or on any Earth Day since. One would think so-called environmentalists would be chastened by their dismal record. But predictions they are making today are every bit as ludicrous as the ones in 1970; instead of being chastened, they are emboldened.

         So, brace yourselves for the palaver you will be force fed during the weeks ahead by the media mob and environmental wackos regurgitating their dog-eared shibboleths. But before you (and especially your children) get too worked up over the doomsday predictions you undoubtedly will be bombarded with, consider the predictions made in 1970. The ones they are making today are likely to be just as true.


In our next post on April 12th, we take on the environmental religion.  
More Liberty Less Government  –  mllg@mllg.us  –  www.mllg.us

Half Century of Earth Day: 1970 to 2020

Watermelon environmentalists are green on the outside but red on the inside. 

 

Half Century of Earth Day: 1970 to 2020

By: George Noga – March 29, 2020

          We observe the golden anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, 2020 with a month-long series about the environment. Today’s post, the first in the series, articulates our beliefs about the environment. The remaining posts in this series are:

Predictions made on the original Earth Day (April 5)

The environmental religion (April 12)

The environmentalist playbook (April 19)

It’s getting better all the time (April 26)

MLLG Statement of Beliefs About the Environment

In 1970 the environmental movement, like other seismic movements of our era, began in response to legitimate concerns. People of good will joined together to raise consciousness and to enact laws. They achieved great success as most problems were solved or vastly improved. Nonetheless, some serious problems, such as ocean plastics pollution, remain albeit caused by China, India and third-world countries. Most people, believing their mission accomplished, moved on. At that point, hard core leftists hijacked the environmental movement as a lever to achieve their other goals.

 

Today the environmental movement is led by watermelon (green on the outside but red on the inside) poseurs. They are supported by the usual gaggle of useful idiots: college professors, big government acolytes, movie stars, religious leaders, teachers, media elites and progressives. Unfortunately, they also have captured the hearts and minds of many of our children and grandchildren. Moreover, it isn’t just our children; too many of us still are beguiled by green Svengalis peddling fairy tales.

Hard core leftists have hijacked the environmental movement.

MLLG doesn’t take a back seat to anyone about protecting the environment. We support laws and regulations for clean air, water and energy. We favor biodiversity, sustainability, saving rainforests and right on down the line. There are three differences between MLLG and those who claim (usurp) the mantle of environmentalism.

 

First – we are for free market capitalism, free trade and limited government. For any nation to spend serious money improving the environment, it must be wealthy. The path to wealth lies only through capitalism. The worst environmental disaster in history was the former Soviet Union and its satellites. Clueless former commies, just like those who created environmental Armageddon, are now leading the green movement.

 

Second – our beliefs are based on empiricism and science – not on dogma. Green extremists clamor for ever more costly laws to achieve ever more infinitesimal putative benefits. Many greens have turned into environmental terrorists – opposing any and all infrastructure projects. They oppose relatively safe pipelines even if it results in oil moving by rail, which poses far greater environmental risks. Their dogma opposes nuclear energy although it is an environmentally friendly source of energy.

 

Third – when human wellbeing is at stake, we support rational trade offs. For example, we would allocate water to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley instead of to the delta smelt. Our calculus favors humans whenever the benefit to the environment is uncertain or minimal and the cost and suffering to humans is prodigious.

 

We are staunch environmentalists whose ideas will do more to help both people and the environment than those of green extremists. Our beliefs are based on capitalism, science, cost-benefit analysis and human values; their beliefs are based on socialism, dogma, unlimited spending and are antithetical to human values.


Next on April 5th, we examine predictions made on the very first Earth Day.
More Liberty Less Government  –  mllg@mllg.us  –  www.mllg.us

Amazon – Baltimore – Caracas – AOC – More

Last year’s Caracas blackout provided a real life glimpse of an EMP attack.

 

Amazon – Baltimore – Caracas – AOC – More

By: George Noga – March 22, 2020

       It has been over a year since we did a microtopics posting wherein we combine several topics that are blogworthy, but too short for an entire posting.

Amazon pays no income tax: I have heard this trope so often it has become a cliche. Progressive savants castigate Amazon for not paying income tax. Consider this syllogism: An income tax taxes income; Amazon has no (cumulative) income; therefore, Amazon pays no income tax. Amazon had such humongous losses in prior years that it still has federal carryforwards of $625 million of operating losses, $1.7 billion of tax credits and $260 million of capital losses. However, Amazon pays billions each year in payroll, state, local and foreign taxes. Progressives know all this, but choose to demagogue and to pander to Americans’ ignorance and fears.

My night in Baltimore: The murder rate in Baltimore is double Mexico’s and closing in on that of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. I once had a business meeting in downtown Baltimore that ran late and I found myself unexpectedly on the streets at night. I have been to third world countries but never experienced anything scarier than that night in Baltimore. I would have preferred Mogadishu. Most murders aren’t even prosecuted; only 15% result in prison and many convicted killers receive probation.

Milton Friedman:The state exists to protect us from coercion by other individuals and groups and to widen the range within which we can exercise our freedom. It is purely instrumental and has no significance in and of itself. Society is a collection of individuals and the whole is no greater than the sum of its parts. The ultimate values are the values of individuals who form the society; there are no other values or ends.”

 

Venezuela and EMP attack: I blogged about an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack on the USA on 7/23/17; it is on our website: www.mllg.us. Thanks to Chavez, Maduro and socialism, we got a foretaste of an EMP attack. Last year’s power outage in Caracas produced chaos and despair. Hospitals could not function and dialysis patients died. Gas and water could not be pumped and food ran out prompting, widespread looting. And this tragedy was from just a five-day blackout and with aid available in nearby areas. If the power outage had lasted for months and been more widespread, like in a real EMP attack, the ultimate death toll could have approached 90%.

Robespierre, Madame Defarge and AOC: I have compared a popular vote election to the French Revolution because it instantly actualizes the will of the majority. There are no guardrails, restraints or checks and balances. It is only a slight leap to compare wannabe Jacobin AOC to Robespierre and Madame Defarge. It is easy to envision AOC presiding over the Committee of Public Safety to enforce progressive dogma and political correctness. Her enemies would be lucky to escape with their heads.

National Popular Vote (“NPV”): Our post of 2/2/20 (on our website) mentioned the NPV movement, whereby states pledge to cast their electoral votes for whoever wins the national popular vote. I neglected to point out that the NPV movement faces another big hurdle in the Constitution; Article I, Section 10 states in part: “No state shall, without the consent on Congress, enter into any agreement or compact with another state”. It’s amazing what you can learn by reading the Constitution!


Next, we begin our month-long observance of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.
More Liberty Less Government  –  mllg@mllg.us  –  www.mllg.us

Tyranny of the Majority

 

Tocqueville: The greatest danger in a democracy is tyranny of the majority.

Tyranny of the Majority

By: George Noga – March 15, 2020

 

         Our post of 2/2/20 about the Electoral College (There is no such thing as the popular vote) generated one of the highest open rates ever. Consequently, we followed up with a related post on 3/1/20 (Fallacy of one person, one vote), which also enjoyed uber-strong interest. Recognizing a good thing, we now continue in the same vein with this week’s post. All the aforementioned posts are available at: www.mllg.us.

       In the early days of the MLLG blog, I occasionally titillated readers with a hardball version of political trivia. My favorite all-time question is: “What is the form of government of the United States“? I offered readers the following choices:

1. Constitutional republic

2. Representative democracy

3. Democratic republic

4. Direct democracy

5. Constitutional democracy

6. Democracy

         Few people (virtually no one under age 30) got it right, even though they pledged allegiance “to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands” and sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” their entire lives. Most assume the USA is a democracy, although that word never appears in either the Declaration or Constitution. Our founding documents guarantee certain (inalienable) rights and minority protections (against the majority); hence, the USA is not a pure republic.

        America’s founders, extraordinarily well-versed in history, had justifiable contempt for democracy, which they regarded as a form of tyranny. Thomas Paine said, “A democracy is the vilest form of government there is.” James Madison (Federalist 10) wrote “In a democracy there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party.” John Adams: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” Edmund Randolph at the Constitutional Convention said, “In tracing evils to their origin, it is in the turbulence and follies of democracy.” Alexander Hamilton responded, “Liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy.” John Marshall: “Between a republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

Americans regard democracy as the ideal because that’s all they hear; few have given it serious thought. If they understood democracy and the tyranny of the majority, they wouldn’t favor abolishing the Electoral College and substituting a national popular vote, nor would they support restructuring the Senate or ending the filibuster.

         My research was unable to identify even one example of a democracy where the majority has not tyrannized the minority. Majoritarian tyranny is occurring throughout the world today including in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, China, Russia, Mexico, Myanmar, Sudan, the Arab world, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Botswana, Congo, Central African Republic and throughout most of Latin America.

      During just the past century, over 100 million Europeans were slaughtered in thirty genocides, ethnic cleansings, holocausts and pogroms. I have a list available. Nearly every one of these resulted from tyranny of the majority – and this happened in “civilized ” Europe for cryin’ out loud; don’t get me started on the rest of the world.

        Now what do you think about democracy, majority rule and direct elections? Do you have newfound respect for the Electoral College, the Senate and the filibuster? Forward this post to your children and grandchildren to help them understand that pure majority rule results in tyranny. Our constitutional republic – including the Electoral College and Senate – has preserved our liberty for 233 years and counting.


Next: AOC, Robespierre, Madame Defarge and much more. Don’t miss this one!
More Liberty Less Government  –  mllg@mllg.us  –  www.mllg.us

 

 

Issues of 2020: Universal Basic Income

Even communists demand that each person give according to his abilities.

Issues of 2020: Universal Basic Income

By: George Noga – March 8, 2020

 

        This is the next in MLLG’s intermittent series covering 2020 election issues. Previously, we wrote about Medicare for all (12/8/19), the Electoral College (2/2/20) and the wealth tax (2/16/20); all these are available on our website: www.mllg.us.

      The idea for a universal basic income (“UBI”) originated with American revolutionary Thomas Paine in the 18th century. The modern genesis belongs to British politician Rhys-Williams in the 1940s. Milton Friedman advocated it in a 1962 book in the form of a negative income tax, although he later came to oppose the idea. Today, Yang, Castro, Williamson and Gabbard favor UBI of $1,000 per month – no strings attached. Warren, Sanders and Buttigeig all are sympathetic to the concept.

          UBI makes for strange bedfellows. Liberals favor it for social justice reasons, while conservatives view it as the least destructive way for government to transfer wealth between citizens. UBI (or a variant) has been implemented in other countries but failed to take root anywhere it was tried. Finland ended its UBI program in 2019. Currently, about half of all Americans (72% of those ages 18-34) support UBI.

The Case for Universal Basic Income

        There is a crescendo of voices in academia, media and politics asserting that automation, driven by advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, computers, 3-D printing, driverless vehicles and other technology will displace millions upon millions of jobs in the coming decade causing entire trades and professions to disappear. They argue UBI is necessary to provide for all these millions of jobless people.

         Advocates claim it can pay for itself by displacing all transfer payments and welfare including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, SSI, and housing subsidies plus all the bureaucracy that supports these programs. Some conservatives and libertarians sign on to UBI in the wane hope it will reduce the role of government in people’s lives and will be a more efficient way to effect transfer payments.

     Progressives cite social justice as their rationale, including providing greater security, choice and freedom to recipients. They allege it empowers individuals because there are absolutely no strings attached. Supporters cite Alaska which since 1982, despite its rugged individualistic culture, pays every citizen a royalty share of its energy fund – last year the amount was $1,600 or $6,400 for a family of four.

The Case Against Universal Basic Income 

       For centuries, going back to the industrial revolution, doomsdayers have argued advances in technology would result in massive unemployment. Each and every time for 300 years, the opposite has happened as new advances created as many or more new jobs than those displaced. Despite recent tech advances, the unemployment rate is at an all-time low even though more workers are entering the workforce. Advocates of UBI say it is different this time, but so did worrywarts for the past three centuries.

      The political apparat would not eliminate any bureaucracy; they would incessantly tweak UBI to attach conditions and mandates. UBI soon would metastasize into a monster. Politicians would favor some groups at the expense of others based on the politics du jour and engage in class warfare. A Chinese system could evolve in which each person’s UBI depends on his/her social credits. UBI would require everyone to have a universal ID and a bank account, leading to an Orwellian twilight zone of government control. If history teaches anything, it is distrust of government; however, you can’t take the politics out of politics and UBI would be a political Godzilla.

         As with many other pie-in-the-sky schemes, the strongest argument against UBI is a moral one. It would entitle people to the work of others, untethered from need and with absolutely nothing required in return. Even communism demands that each person give according to his abilities. UBI would sever the link between income and work, create a cycle of dependency and would serve as a gateway drug to collectivism.

       Universal Basic Income would result in less liberty and more government, directly opposite MLLG’s raison d’etre. UBI should stand for Universally Bad Idea!


Next on March 15th, we address the tyranny of democracy.
More Liberty Less Government  –  mllg@mllg.us  –  www.mllg.us

Fallacy of One Person – One Vote

“The right to vote is a consequence, not a cause, of a free social system. Its value depends
on strictly delimiting the voters’ power; unlimited majority rule is tyranny.” (Ayn Rand) 
Fallacy of One Person – One Vote

By: George Noga – March 1, 2020

        Our February 2, 2020 post about the Electoral College generated one of the highest open rates on record and left readers asking for more. We are happy to oblige. This post further probes: (1) the wisdom of the Electoral College; (2) problems innate in popular vote elections; (3) perceived inequalities in our federalist system; and (4) inherent problems of a one person, one vote system. Visit our website: www.mllg.us to read our 2/2/20 post in case you missed it the first time.

         Progressives consternate about what they view as egregious inequalities in the US federalist electoral system – particularly in the Senate and the Electoral College. They are particularly fond of pointing out that California (population 40 million) and Wyoming (580,000 people) each have 2 senators. They call this undemocratic. They are ignorant that under the Constitution senators represent states, not people.

         We need to go back to first principles. What is the purpose of government? Is it to actualize the will of the majority at any and every moment? If instant actualization is what you want, a popular vote system will deliver it – as in the French Revolution. Or instead, is the measure of good government whether it is effective at creating long-term justice, freedom, security and stability – like in the US for the past 233 years?

       Of 195 countries in the world today, only a few, mostly in Central and South America, use popular vote; how has that worked out? Canada’s Senate has members, appointed by the Governor General, who represent regions and are not based on population. In Switzerland each canton, regardless of size, has two members. The Senate in Australia has 12 members for each state – independent of population. Most nations use a variant of the parliamentary system, wherein majorities are rare.

          Majorities usually tyrannize minorities. Consider Switzerland’s solution. In a one person, one vote system, Italian or French-speaking Catholics feared tyranny by German-speaking Protestants and vice versa. To allay such concerns, the Swiss adopted a double majority system in which important matters require a majority of the popular vote and also a majority vote in a majority of cantons. The Swiss system has endured for 729 years and counting. Note: When rural Swiss go to vote today, they carry rifles and swords as symbols of how their freedom was attained and preserved.

        Consider Iraq with its Shia, Sunni, and Kurd factions or Afghanistan with its many feuding tribes. Particularly relevant is the former Yugoslavia; when the Serb majority demanded one person, one vote the country disintegrated into chaos resulting in genocide and the deaths of 140,000 people. How did that work out?

       When drafting the Constitution, America’s founders considered the history of majority tyranny and, on multiple occasions, rejected a popular vote. The states had stark differences. Slave states and free states were in conflict. Small states were concerned about domination by large states. Agricultural states were at odds with industrial states. Inland states worried about maritime states. Pietists in New England, Catholics in Maryland and Lutherans in Pennsylvania worried about each other.

       Those demanding a national popular vote and restructure of the Senate believe things are different today. Although differences between states may have moderated since our founding, many significant chasms remain. More to the point, human nature has not changed since 1787 and tyranny of the majority remains of great concern. A present-day poster child for this is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Imagine what horrors would be loosed on America if she and her squad ever acquired unchecked power.

       The Constitution of the United States of America has served us well for 233 years, including the Electoral College and the makeup of the Senate. Those advocating for fundamental change are ignorant both of history and of human nature.


Next on March 8th, we blog about UBI – Universal Basic Income.  
More Liberty Less Government  –  mllg@mllg.us  –  www.mllg.us

The Most Consequential Speech Ever Given

In Vernon’s groves you shun the throne, admired by kings, but seen by none. (Freneau)

 

The Most Consequential Speech Ever Given

By: George Noga – February 23, 2020

        Yesterday was the the 288th anniversary of George Washington’s birth. Historians consider his speech to Congress on December 23, 1783, returning his commission, the most consequential ever delivered in civil society. The full text is reprinted below. Please go to our website: www.mllg.us to see our post dated 12/15/19 which provides historical context for the speech; following is an abridged version of the context.

        Washington’s victory at Yorktown on October 19, 1781 ended the fighting, but the Treaty of Paris ending the war was not signed until September 3, 1783 and word of it reached Washington, encamped at Newburgh, New York, only on November 17, 1783. He had to keep his army of 7,000 intact for over two years because Britain still had armies in America and occupied large portions of it. Those two years were difficult for Washington as the troops were mutinous and even his officers revolted.

        Following the treaty, Washington went to New York City to protect the British withdrawal and to say farewell to his officers at Fraunces Tavern. He then went to Philadelphia and Wilmington enroute to Annapolis, where Congress was sitting. Along his entire route citizens gathered to pay tribute; they all knew viscerally there never again would be such a moment or such a man. America never again will experience such an emotional outpouring for one man. He arrived in Annapolis, then the capital, for the special session of Congress on December 23, 1783 to honor him.

        Undoubtedly, there have been more stirring, more patriotic and more poignant speeches in history – but never one as consequential. Never before had a figure, who led a long fight for his people’s freedom and independence, voluntarily relinquished power, appeared so above all human ambition and reverted simply to being a farmer. That prompted King George III to call Washington “the greatest man of his age“. Washington’s speech and his subsequent refusal to run for a third term as president shaped our republic in ways still being felt today. Following is his speech.

George Washington’s Speech Returning His Commission

       “The great events on which my resignation depended, having at length taken place, I have now the honor of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.

 

    Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task, which however was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the union and the patronage of heaven.

 

      The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest.

 

     While I repeat my obligations to the army, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge in this place the peculiar services and distinguished merits of the gentlemen who have been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate. Permit me Sir, to recommend in particular those, who have continued in service to the present moment, as worthy of the favorable notice and patronage of Congress.

 

      I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest country to the patronage of Almighty God, and those who have superintendence of them, to his holy keeping.

 

     Having now finished the work assigned to me, I retire from the great theater of action, and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”    (Note: At this juncture, Washington withdrew from his coat pocket the parchment that was his appointment as Commander-in-Chief, given to him by Congress in 1775, and ceremoniously returned it.)


Next: Due to strong reader response, we expand our analysis of the Electoral College.
More Liberty Less Government  –  mllg@mllg.us  –  www.mllg.us

The Issues of 2020: Wealth and Other Taxes

Who would do the most good with the money, billionaires like Bill Gates or Elizabeth Warren?

 

The Issues of 2020: Wealth and Other Taxes

By: George Noga – February 16, 2020

           In this election year, we periodically will analyze the presidential race; we also will address many of the issues. This first issue-oriented post deals with the proposed wealth tax. Future posts will address, inter alia, UBI (universal basic income), MMT (modern monetary theory), income inequality, gun violence and socialism. Although the wealth tax gets much of the attention, Democratic Party candidates have proposed a veritable smorgasbord of new and increased taxes; following is a compilation.

##  New annual wealth tax of up to 6% on all assets

##  Raising top marginal income tax rate to 69.2% (75% increase)

##  Increasing corporate tax rate to 35% from 21% (67% increase)

##  Expand Medicare tax .9% plus a host of new Medicare taxes

##  Raising the estate tax to 77%  from 40% (93% increase)

##  New carbon tax on fuel, energy and utilities

 

##  Hiking the payroll tax by 2.4 points (15% increase)

##  Taxing capital gains as ordinary income (up to 175% increase)

##  Removing all caps from the payroll tax (15% increase)

##  Taxing unrealized capital gains each year

##  Imposing a VAT (value added tax) on the entire US economy

##  Surtax of 7% on corporate income exceeding taxable income

 

##  New exit tax of 40% of assets for giving up citizenship

##  Surtax of 10% on all income above $1 million

##  Applying the 14.8% payroll tax to investment income

##  Raising the top dividend/cap gain tax to 52% (160% increase)

##  New tax of up to .5% on financial transactions

##  Repeal existing business expensing and 20% pass through

 

         I never before have seen a comprehensive list of all proposed new and increased taxes; that’s why I invested the time to compile this list for our readers. Democrats want to raise (most by 50% to 100%) virtually every existing tax, plus add huge new ones like a wealth tax, value added tax, carbon tax, financial transactions tax and exit tax. The cumulative effect of these taxes would instantly wreck any economy.

Wealth Taxes: Failed – Unconstitutional – Immoral

          Where to begin? Twelve affluent European countries once imposed wealth taxes; today only three remain. Most abandoned taxing wealth because of myriad problems that resulted in vastly lower tax collections than anticipated. Problems included: (1) measuring wealth; (2) changes in taxpayer behavior; (3) high cost of collecting the tax; (4) taxpayer flight; 70,000 millionaires left France before it repealed its wealth tax; (5) a brain drain; and (6) distortion of savings and investment decisions.

       A wealth tax is almost certainly unconstitutional. The Constitution (Article I, Section 9, Clause 4) severely restricts the ability of the federal government to lay taxes and bans “direct taxes“; it required a constitutional amendment in 1913 before an income tax became legal. Courts likely would construe a wealth tax as a direct tax.

         A US wealth tax would encounter the same six problems Europe experienced and would collect only a tiny fraction of the amount projected. In addition, there would be serious new problems including: (1) raising the cost of capital; (2) discouraging capital investment and job creation; (3) raising interest rates; (4) harming stocks, 401(k)s and pensions; and (5) shifting money from the private to the public sector.

        Consider one example. A Silicon Valley entrepreneur, whose business is valued at $6 billion, would pay a wealth tax of $320 million (6% on excess over $1 billion and 2% on first billion). He would need to sell $1.1 billion (nearly 20% of his company) in order to pay $630 million in capital gains tax and $150 million in California tax to have $320 million left over to pay the wealth tax. And when he dies, there is a 77% estate tax. Poof, in five years it is gone! If he invested an additional $1,000 and earned 6% ($60), he would pay $35 in federal tax, $8 in California tax and $60 in wealth tax. He would pay total taxes of $103 on $60 of income – a tax rate of 172%.

      The strongest argument against a wealth tax is a moral one. It penalizes work, thrift, risk taking, and investment – behaviors that should be lauded and encouraged. A wealth tax represents quadruple taxation; government taxing the same funds (1) when originally earned; (2) as business taxes, dividends or capital gains; (3) as a wealth tax; and (4) as an estate tax. Wealth taxes not only are a failure – they are immoral!


Next on February 23rd, we reprint the most consequential speech ever given. 
More Liberty Less Government  –  mllg@mllg.us  –  www.mllg.us

MLLG Analysis of the 2020 Election

We dissect the tectonic forces (and one mega wild card) that will determine the election.

MLLG Analysis of the 2020 Election
By: George Noga - February 9, 2020

           This is our first 2020 election report; political analysis is a popular feature with readers because we have been been incredibly prescient and perspicuous in the past including Trump’s surprise 2016 victory. New readers should go to www.mllg.us to see my bio and political bona fides. This post addresses the tectonic forces that will determine the winner – beginning with those favoring Trump.

African-American Vote: I was among the very first to discern the shift in black voting patterns; read my blogs of  2/12/17 and 6/2/19. This mega wild card has the potential to radically transform this election and, with it, American politics. Polls have Trump’s approval rating among blacks in the mid-thirty percent range; this is astounding.

In 2016 Trump got 8% of the black vote; if he increases this to just 12% it makes it hard for Dems to win certain key states; 16% makes victory all but certain while 20% or more is a landslide. In addition to winning a higher share of the black vote, Trump benefits if, as in 2016, many blacks don’t vote. Moreover, the blexit movement (black exodus from Democratic Party) also includes Latinos and other minorities. MLLG fearlessly forecasts Trump will substantially increase his share of the black vote!

UK/Other Elections: An immutable principle is that real people voting in real elections count more than polls and pundits – even in elections held in other countries. Recent elections in Germany, France, Canada and Australia all have resulted in defeats for liberals. Bill Clinton, a savvy politician, foresaw Hillary’s loss after the original 2016 Brexit vote. The December UK election casts a large shadow, as parallels between the UK Labour Party and the US Democratic Party are incandescently apparent.

The revolt of the working class that rocked the UK affects us. If disaffected Americans in the Rust Belt turn out in force, Trump wins. People everywhere have similar desires. Voters in northern England are no different than voters in Michigan,  Pennsylvania and Wisconsin; they want economic security but also crave cultural security. Democrats in the US could end up losing a culture war they didn’t know they were fighting.

The Economy: Economics trumps all else. Every econometric model shows Trump winning handily given a strong economy. Voters always reward a politician who makes them better off. The economy in 2020 is as good as it gets and the bonanza is broadly shared, Democrat protestations notwithstanding. Even if the economy weakens, it will remain strong enough in November to provide Trump a powerful tailwind.

Incumbency: In the past 127 years, only two elected presidents lost head-to-head elections. Americans always vote for the fool they know over the devil they don’t.

Other Forces Favoring Trump:  We are at peace, at least relatively. In 2016 Trump was outspent over two to one; this time he is flush with cash. His rallies routinely draw tens of thousands of enthusiastic supporters, crowds Dems can only dream about. Every independent legal betting site has Trump a heavy favorite. His opposition appears weak, woke, discombobulated and out of touch with working Americans.

 

Forces Favoring the Democrats

Suburban Women: This cohort deserted Trump en mass in the 2018 midterm election. If they do so again in 2020, this will provide a huge boost for the Democrats.

Trump Personna: Many voters have developed an aversion to Trump’s personal style including his tweets, braggadocio and insensitivity. It is an open question as to the extent this personal animus will prevail over the positive forces noted supra.

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         The forces favoring Trump clearly overwhelm those favoring the Democrats, but eight months is many eternities in politics and anything can (and will) happen between now and November. The tectonic forces identified herein are not ephemeral or transitory. Nonetheless, it is wise to bear in mind that Carter led Reagan well into October and that Dukakis once led Bush by nearly 20 points. We will continue our inimitable analysis of the 2020 election as the year progresses. Stay tuned.

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On February 16th, we dissect the proposed wealth and other new taxes.
More Liberty Less Government  –  mllg@mllg.us  –  www.mllg.us