America Should Put All Assets on the Table for Taxation

tax policyI wish for society to be as free of government as is can be, that government be limited to those functions enumerated in the Constitution such as providing for the national defense.

National defense – what is it? America is a group of people clustered together by geography under a common set of laws that we have crafted over time for the protection of our rights from attacks by outsiders and insiders. We have a common economy that provides for our people and a common military that protects us from state led, organized attacks. We have a judiciary that protects us from overt abuses of our laws by our executive and legislative branches. We have a common legislative branch that should strengthen our other institutions through commonly agreed upon laws of engagement for the national defense of our people and an executive branch that acts upon these laws fo our common defense.

How well is our government performing its duties of national defense? Our defense of state organized attack is from another era. Our defense of terrorism has overtaken our liberties. Our defense of attacks on our infrastructure, such as against nuclear and cyber attacks, is in its infancy and struggling for balance. Our three branches of government have been commandeered by America’s elite to provide for their defense against interference from the rest of our society.

Is the middle class defended? Is the working class defended? Are our unemployed and underclass? What is the balance that must be obtained in a defended society?

Some argue that Government is too big, that it takes too much of our money to manage this leviathan. Certainly, our government has too many people and assets and these are costly. But cutting the size of government is only a drop in the bucket compared to the excessive costs of our programs and regulations, and thus cutting the size of government will do very little to curb our deficits and lessen our debt. It is not the size of government that is at issue but the size of expenditures that have been agreed to by past legislators and that have been enacted by past executive branches. It is the size of our agreements that is bankrupting our country. More than anything, we must prioritize cost reductions and government must not be cut to the point of disfunctionality in the process of cutting costs.

Once America’s spending priorities have been readjusted to fit our abilities to pay and our government has been resized to manage those priorities, those priorities and the new size of our government still has to be paid. We still have to agree how each of us will contribute to the funding of our government. Each of us has assets that can be taken to pay for government. We have assets that were purchased in previous years and assets that have been acquired in the current year. We have assets that have been made through investments and assets that have been given to us as compensation for our labors. Some of our assets are liquid and some are hard assets not so easily converted to money.

Government must now come together to represent the people in deciding which of these assets will be assessed for taxation. The best we can hope is that our legislators are balanced in their representation of the people. Who of us believes that regarding economics, our legislature is balanced in representing all classes of people?

The largest of our nation’s costs are military and social safety nets. Both of these costs were agreed to by past federal legislators as the best compromise, given the structure of our society at the time. Our military was structured for hegemonic offense, to thrust America’s economic interests abroad. Our social safety nets were structured to care for those of our citizens whose labor was set aside to maximize the profits of capital owners.

Fast forward to today. Our elite’s financial interests are in even more need of hegemonic military protection, as a much greater percentage of their assets are abroad. Even more of our citizens’ labor has been left idle by their decision to invest abroad, and now our social safety net program costs are excessive. We now balk at having such high government program costs, yet we are unwilling to cut or hegemonic military or to bring back investment to employ our citizens. So instead, we sit stupefied watching our legislature do what we expect them to do, stall on our behalf.

Now, our elite wants to cut the costs of social safety nets that are caused by foreign investment and our poor want to cut the costs of our hegemonic military that exists to protect those foreign investments. And if neither will budge on cuts, then each wants the other to pay for the excessive government program costs that we will incur.

However, the economics of America are driven by the investments of our elite. If America’s elite choose to situate their assets in foreign lands rather than in domestic businesses that will employ our people and that will minimize safety net and defense costs, who then should be responsible for covering these costs? Are my words socialist or are they simply recognizing that every economic choice has cost consequences?

I am not advocating going back to the days of kings, back to the beginnings of our nation, when America’s lands were given to the elite families of America by the crown, and restructuring them to give all an equal share, nor of reconfiguring the lands taken from indigenous peoples and given to the governors, financial, and political elite of the time. I am not advocating correcting these historical manmade injustices.

However, all men should have a living wage and our national defense calls for maximizing the outputs of all in our society through the investments of our elite that have been given the blessings of historical circumstance as well as those that have made their fortunes nurtured within the defensive infrastructure of the United States.

The elites’ assets are mostly in excess stores of value, above what are required to live and to consume. The middle class have assets that were mostly created through their labor, 0-3 years worth of labor in liquid assets and a house, maybe two. The working class might have a home and few liquid assets, plus current assets from recent labor. The underclass have few assets to speak of. Which of these assets will be taken to pay for the requirements of government?

The vast majority of assets that America owns are left untouchable by government. Why is that? Is land that has been in a family since it was bestowed upon them by the King of England any more valuable than a dollar that was made by the sweat of labor in 2013? If a working class man has no assets but $5,000 in a bank made by his labor this year, why are those assets what should pay the bulk of the nation’s governmental costs while the assets of land in a 50,000 acre estate are deemed off limits?

Do I want the government touching any of my assets, or those of the laborer with $5,000, or the American lord with 50,000 acres? Well I realistically know it must to function. If it must, are any of these assets more sacred than another? Why is it that we have conditioned ourselves to accept that recently acquired assets are acceptable to tax but those that have been in a family for centuries are not?

The argument has been structured so as to only compare recently acquired assets, for to look at all assets would be to see how amazingly imbalanced ownership of assets is in America. My proposal of taxing only assets that are not being productively used in the economy, while impossible to enact, is intended to break through this manufactured paradigm. Whether America has a flat tax, a fair tax, or a progressive tax, we should compare all assets, not just those recently acquired. And we should not create false paradigms that differentiate between that were acquired through investments, those acquired as payment for the use of capital, or those handed down through generations from the King.

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Filed under American Governance, American Politics, Capitalism, Federal Budget, Full Employment, Jobs, U.S. Tax Policy

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