Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Common Sense Revolves Around Our Perception of the World

Conclusions are not necessarily right when everything is taken into consideration. Take the premise that warm water freezes faster than cold water. If you put two ice cube trays in the freezer, one with warm water and the other with cold water, they will both freeze at the same time. Conclusion: Warm water freezes faster than cold water. In reality, the warm water keeps the cold water from freezing until they are at the same temperature.

Now if we step forward to this tax the rich concept. Proponents state that lowering the tax rate of the rich from 90% to 20% did nothing economically to stimulate the economy. So let’s raise the rates back up to what they were and increase government revenues. The thing that needs to be examined, the rich will invest or not invest depending on the tax code laws. If taxes are 90% here, invest somewhere else.

If you examine the graph below, there is really no correlation between the high tax rates for the rich in the early 1950’s compared to present returns. The graph is flat. The rate of taxation on the rich appears to have had little effect on total taxes collected. You’d expect a dramatic drop in collections when rates were dropped.

The “ad-v” refers to ad-valorem taxes; these are real estate taxes and sales tax.

Notice the red area of the graph. This represents social insurance. Figure that the new health care provision should at least double the red values. This will increase our taxes by 25%. This won’t be a tax on the rich; it will be a tax on the poor who skip health insurance because they can’t afford it without reducing their standard of living. Of course the employer pays half of that tax doesn’t he??? If you have ever worked on a commission basis, you’ll discover that you pay both sides. It isn’t hard to figure what this new tax will cost $2,000 to $5,000 per employee. Figure more than you presently pay for private insurance.

The real problem lies in the fact that Congress may believe that raising taxes during these harsh times is a real solution. Common sense suggests this should increase taxes collected. In reality, the net result will be little change in revenue. It’s a little like that house you bought that everyone told you would never drop in value. Well it has dropped quite a bit and the property taxes on your home have dropped also. Unemployed people pay fewer taxes. So at this point raising taxes further restricts taxpayer consumption (a reduced standard of living) and Government revenues drop even further.

The Democrats want to increase taxes on the rich and the Republicans are dead set against it; the only real people it will affect are sports players and movie stars. The Republicans ought to let the Democrats win this one and let them go for it, see if the dollars roll in. It’s just political posturing on both sides.

What can we look forward to in 2012? A lot of belt tightening! A lot of political squabbling and finger pointing. An election is coming up, is Obama destined to be our Herbert Hoover? Will health care pass a Supreme Court review? Will the Euro survive? Can we increase the national debt one trillion dollars a year forever. Will civil war triumph over democracy in the Middle East? Could several States in the coming year need a Federal government bailout? I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but once we get all of this under our belt, it may be up instead of down from there.

None of our problems have been solved, they have only been ameliorated (to make more tolerable). What will happen in the coming year is veiled in uncertainty. But even so, here is wishing every reader Seasons Greetings and the hope for a successful and Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Guverment is goin ta fix things rite

Now the government is trying to save us with a newly created institution called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It has a planned budget in excess of 300 million dollars. This is one of those” lock the barn door after the horses have run off,” programs. Why not use the money for the unemployed and food stamps? These people need hope, not protection.

Then the Obama administration comes out supporting a restriction on purchasing a morning after birth control for anyone under the age of 17, they didn’t want 11 and 12 year old girls buying them. Just how many pills can you buy on a 50 cent a week allowance? The average kid probably has a better chance of being hit by a milk truck than being knocked up at the age of 11 or 12.

Alabama passed a stiff law against illegal immigrants, now they have no one to harvest the farm crops. The argument being that the farmers will have to pay better wages to get fruit pickers. Are you going to buy 89 cent a pound tomatoes grown in Mexico or the $3 per pound ones grown in Alabama? Farm land could be a good buy in that state, as farmers go broke trying to survive. Of course when the law is repealed, those who invested in that "worthless land," will make out like bandits. Passing legislation is a little like playing chess; you have to think several moves out to make a buck. These legislators did their thinking and by all appearances, looked like they were performing a public service; they got rid of the illegal aliens and are about to pick up some nice cheap farmland to boot.

New York plans to raise 2 billion dollars taxing millionaires. How does this work? The rich people will move out of the state (to their summer homes no less). The amount that New York raises from taxing the rich, will be passed to the middle class in the form of lower tax rates. What happens when no new funds come in from expected sources? Is this where they pull the rabbit out of the hat? I just love magic tricks!

A new Nevada law makes it more difficult for lenders to foreclose on home loans in the state. 3 out of 5 homeowners are already underwater with their mortgages. Where is the incentive for the banks to even write new home loans in the state? Just draw a red line around the state, home prices could drop a lot lower now that the banks have been shown "who’s the boss." Visa and Master Card could be the only ones doing home loans in the state.

Then we have FHA guaranteed loans to help people in California buy affordable homes up to $729,000. To my way of thinking, someone buying a home a few hundred thousand shy of a million dollars doesn’t need financing help. Why not set the bar at a more reasonable level of 150K for everyone. That might kick the air out of the inflated housing market in California. These loan levels are a prime example of a government program that fails to protect the best interests of the buyer. The amounts are absurd, and no one questions them.

Governor Jerry Brown just acknowledged that the state of California has a 13 billion dollar shortfall this year. I would hazard a guess that the current budget shortfall and liability obligations are closer to 30 billion dollars. It’s a little like the political concept of being “just a little bit pregnant,” it’s just a small problem right now. Tell the voters the truth and get hung out to dry. His solution is to cut services even more and raise taxes. It seems logical. But raising taxes, will it bring in more revenue? Just look at all of the supermarkets in LA that have their warehouses in Nevada. They truck their product in 250 miles. It’s all about taxes that vary considerably from one state to another.

Most of these government programs are kind of like using a shotgun to trim your toe nails. They kind of, sort of work, but results may vary depending on your eyesight. Using government logic, not having to take your shoes and socks off to trim your toe nails is a labor saving plus.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Tax Money Is There

Americans pay their taxes and now there are budget shortfalls. In Los Angeles, many city employees are getting 36 days of yearly furlough (14 percent of their wages are just not there anymore). Then there is the CalPERS retirement fund, which is severely underfunded (the consensus is the State of California will have to make them whole---Smoking some “Kalifornia hemp” makes this wish more plausible).

Each taxpayer firmly believes that the money is there to finance their special or necessary State programs, and the legislature is frivolously spending their taxes on something else that is worthless--- like education. This concept is set in stone, “The money is there and they won’t spend it on my program!”

Remember the old adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The wheels are starting to squeak and we’ve run out of grease. People with a programs being cut will march in protest--- This is where these many different protests combine together and turn to riots. Was it Congress that once said “Let them eat cake?” For some reason, the expression "Don't lose your head," comes to mind. Maybe a shot of Courvoisier Napoleon Cognac will help us remember what transpired in France 200 years ago.