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Liberty Amendments vs. Localist Solutions for Taxation

So I am reading "The Liberty Amendments" by radio talk show host Mark Levin.   My conclusion is that his "solutions" won't work, and that the solutions from Localism, A Philosophy of Government for the same issues are far superior.  This article is a comparison of his answers on the issue of federal taxation.   I have done the same comparison with the "Liberty Amendments" vs. Localist solutions for judicial over-reach and federal spending.  Basically I am going down the list because I think such a comparison will demonstrate just how much better localist answers are to what others are offering.  But my opinion doesn't matter, its yours that counts, so read on...

Levin's solution is to limit by amendment taxes on American citizens (corporate and real) to 15% of their annual income, and a limitation on other taxes with these words "Congress shall not institute a value-added tax or a national sales tax or any other tax in kind or form."

Your loop-hole seeking eye might notice that numerous taxes of almost every kind have already been "instituted" and that the wording does not seem to address the issue of what to do with other taxes that Congress has already instituted.    And of course, there are other labels Congress can put on their extraction of revenue, such as "fee".  

If you think that they won't resort to such stratagems, here is a bit of history for you: Here in my home state of Arkansas, we have a state constitution which says a 3/4ths majority vote of the legislature is required to raise taxes.  The courts ruled that applied only to taxes which were in place at the time the amendment was written, so that any new tax needs only a majority vote! Since sales taxes were not in existence at that time, the legislature has raised our sales taxes so that they are above 9% in most of the state!  The ruling class always finds a way to end-run the restrictions constitutions place on them when they are the only enforcement mechanism against themselves.

My point is one that I made at length in the previous two articles on this subject, that you can't make enough rules to force bad men to be good ones.  Bad men will abuse whatever jurisdiction they oversee, and in order to stop them you must take away all jurisdiction in a given area away from them, not lay enough rules on them so that they are forced to be good.  We must also make it much easier to replace them altogether.

But let's be absurdly generous and pretend Washington will stick by the 15% of annual income cap.   Levin's own statistics show why this would be a disaster.  As of 2009 he says the bottom quintile (20%) of the population had a negative income tax rate of -9.3%.   That is to say almost one dollar of every ten they get comes from welfare via the tax code.   The next quintile of Americans, who are in the 20-40% range of income earners, have a negative 1.3% tax rate.   Only when you get to the 40-60% range of income earners do you find a group which pays more in taxes than it gets from various welfare programs hidden in the tax code, and they only have a tax rate of 1.3%.

The slice of the population in the 60% to 80% range of income earners has an average tax rate of 4.6%.  The top 20% of wage earners pay 13.4% of income in taxes.  Only when you get to the top two or three percent of wage earners do you find tax payments significantly above 15% of income.  For example the average for the top 1% is 21% of income.  

So taxes for the top 1% would get a huge tax reduction under Levin's amendment, which would have to paid for by increasing taxes on the other groups.   The primary beneficiaries of Levin's amendment would be giant corporations.   The biggest losers would be the middle class and upper middle class- the people who tend to buy Levin's book!   He is setting up his audience to be taxed far worse than they are in the name of "fixing" the income tax problem.

His amendment would not fix our tax problem.  Since only the top few percent pay total taxes above 15% of annual income, our  tax system could stay just like it is after his amendment passed.   The one exception being that the taxes paid by the very richest in the nation (including global corporations) would be shifted unto the backs of the only ones left who would be able to pay them - the middle class and upper middle class.

He also claims that this would somehow simplify the tax code and reign in the IRS.  None of this is true.  As I just showed you by the numbers, even if his amendment passed the tax code could stay exactly like it is except for the fact that those at the very top of the heap (mostly giant corporations) would get a significant tax cut which would have to be paid by the rest of us.

The Localist solution goes back to the vision of the Founders.   The central government would be prohibited from laying any direct tax on individual citizens.    The states would be interposed between citizens and the central government.  It would no longer be their business as to how much income each citizen earned and from where.     If the feds could not meet their budgetary needs through modest tariffs and taxes on interstate corporations then they would have to approach the states for the difference.   Each state would then decide how to raise the money needed to pay its share of the federal bill.

This is a solution which would really simplify the tax code, or if not, at least it would not apply to individual persons, but only to large corporations with the resources to sift through it.   Individual citizens would also be shielded from the IRS in such a system, much more so than under Levin's proposals which as I say leave the current system pretty much in place despite the posturing that they would do otherwise.

Of course, Localism is an integrated philosophy.   It would be hard to fund our current fedgov off of reasonable tariffs and moderate taxes on interstate corporations.    Most things that fedgov is trying to handle now must be either pushed down to the states, or eliminated.     For states where people want big government, they can still have it, but they should not expect people from states who want less government to pay for it.   In addition, Localism's policies on limiting foreign corporations must be adhered to in order to, among other benefits, make these tax policies work long-term.

If you haven't read "Localism, A Philosophy of Government" yet but are interested in government policy, you should.  The way it approaches the problem is far more satisfactory than anything else I have heard out there, "The Liberty Amendments" being a case in point.



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If the local solution you're talking about is complete self govt

Then I'm on board.

Anything else is theft pure and simple. If people still want any amount of govt. then it should be completely voluntary.

Period.

________________________________________

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~Thomas Paine

Question. Should each self governing village have it's own

ICBM as a deterrent? If not, what should we do with them?

"WE" shouldn't do anything...

You are a free individual to do as you wish. Don't automatically lump me in with your actions. Start thinking in terms of yourself and taking responsibility for your own actions.

If you want to do something, then do it. If others agree then they can voluntarily join you.

As to answer your question, this may sound overly simplistic, but let the market decide.

A useful tool is to start replacing the word government with free or freed market.

________________________________________

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it. ~Thomas Paine

I can't help but notice this little ditty of yours

"The Localist solution goes back to the vision of the Founders. The states would be interposed between citizens and the central government. It would no longer be their business as to how much income each citizen earned and from where."

If you want us to take you seriously, after a long winded attack on the liberty ammendments, don't start the advocacy of your plan with such a giant leap of faith as "The central government would be prohibited from laying any direct tax on individual citizens." You need to think through HOW we get to this point if your vision is to make sense.

"You need to think through HOW we get to this point"

That part is a matter of banning direct taxes, as we did for most of the first 100 years of the Republic. I don't know why it is so unthinkable if we go back to where we have already been. Maybe a part of that is overturning the 16th amendment, but one would not even have to go that far. If the people elected a congress which did not believe in direct taxation of individuals by the federal government (like Ron Paul) then they could repeal the tax code even with that amendment on the books. That is, it might be something that government could do, but whoever tried it would lose.

But if you ever get a change to read the book, Localism, A Philosophy of government, you will see that I don't have to think that through, it has been thought through. Here is an example of what the first step back on the long road to a decentralized republic looks like http://arneighbors.org/

Localism is for people who can still sleep at night even though somebody they don't know in a city they have never been is doing things differently. ("Localism, A Philosophy of Government" on Amazon for Kindle or Barnes and Noble ebook websites)

For starters, 15% is still theft at gunpoint.

Second, your numbers on effective tax rates are bogus.

I'm in the bottom quintile, I receive no welfare, and I pay about 35%+ of every dollar I make in taxes. (that is, ALL taxes combined)

This doesn't include higher costs of products and services which are higher precisely to cover the taxes paid by those businesses.

Distilled down, removing all imbedded taxes, I probably pay upwards of 80-90% in taxes, as do most Americans.

You are correct though that politicians will find a way around the wording of his amendments. However, when that happens, there is really only one solution - the Declaration of Independence makes it clear. At that point, all other solutions are unavailable, and any further attempt at them will merely result in worsening the situation.

Those are LEVIN's numbers, not mine.

And I think he was talking about federal taxes only. 80%? Sounds like you need to move to a lower-tax area. That is outrageous. Maybe they don't deserve you to hang around and be a tax-slave.

Localism is for people who can still sleep at night even though somebody they don't know in a city they have never been is doing things differently. ("Localism, A Philosophy of Government" on Amazon for Kindle or Barnes and Noble ebook websites)

fireant's picture

All I needed to read was limit taxes to 15% to know Levin

has no clue.
Constitutional intent was to have the feds tax the States proportionately, AND have the States represented in the Senate. The feds are to have NO direct involvement with the People, ZERO!
All that is needed is repeal of the 16th and 17th...it's really just that simple, and presto, you have all the "local-ism" you want.

Undo what Wilson did

Let's not forget ending the fed and getting honest money.

And by honest money, I mean real money that the government does not issue, it only enforces the contract that the issuer will uphold its value.

Localism is for people who can still sleep at night even though somebody they don't know in a city they have never been is doing things differently. ("Localism, A Philosophy of Government" on Amazon for Kindle or Barnes and Noble ebook websites)

fireant's picture

The Fed will wither on the vine without the 16th and 17th.

The States, being taxpayers instead of largess recipients, will not allow this massive run up in federal debt, which is the life blood of the Fed.
Ps: There is a reason all 3 were implemented at the same time. All 3 were necessary together as one tool for tyrannical takeover of the U.S.

Undo what Wilson did

IMO

all taxation is premised upon anti-voluntary coercion and should be abolished

"anti-voluntary coercion" to me even sounds like Newsspeak.

Let's just call it what it is - THEFT under threat of death.

>

Point apprehended and noted

The problem you seem to be missing

The federal government doesn't care about localism. It won't recognize any nullification or interposition and it will use force to get its way.

Levin, himself, acknowledges his suggestions are just that. They might or might not be considered at an Article V Convention. The important thing is to get a convention targetted at limiting the federal government. Then we can get amendments that limit federal power.
With good amendments ratified localism, which most people agree with, can enter the picture.

Real ID, Medical Maryjane, Some gun laws......

These are all things where some states are using interposition and nullification in various degrees right now, to great effect. It will be even better when state legislatures are elected separately from the party system as localism prescribes. Yes the feds would step on any individual defying them on these things, but so far they know better than to try and arrest an entire state government.

I don't say we won't need a convention at some point, but in this current environment it would be a mistake. People want to "take back" Washington when they have not even "taken back" their county court house or state representative.

Localism is for people who can still sleep at night even though somebody they don't know in a city they have never been is doing things differently. ("Localism, A Philosophy of Government" on Amazon for Kindle or Barnes and Noble ebook websites)

Hmm.

"The federal government doesn't care about localism. It won't recognize any nullification or interposition and it will use force to get its way."

Kind of like how the federal government doesn't care about the Constitution and limits on its own power? Nothing good can come at from a CC. Nothing good came from the last one. The present-popular view leans too much toward tyranny, and it's been proven time after time that constitutions are only good at being ignored anyway.

Simple Facts and Plain Arguments
A common sense take on politics and current events.

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Instead of saying they ignore

Instead of saying they ignore the constitution so who cares, why not ask how an amendment could make ignoring it less of an option?

For example let SCOTUS appointments be ratified by governors instead of senators. Or better yet create a separate Constitutional Court made up of members appointed by governors and ratified by legislatures.

Or you make the suggestion.

As Jefferson said, "bind them down with the chains of the constitution." OK. The current chains aren't working but we can forge new chains targeted to particular issues.

The Localist solution is very close to what you suggested on

the judiciary. It may or may not require a constitutional amendment. All controversies between the states and the feds would not be heard by the federal Supreme Court, but by courts picked by Governors from various state judges to sit for a two year term. Instead of a federal employee from DC deciding what the balance of power should be between the states and the feds, judges from the heartland appointed by Governors would decide such cases.

Localism is for people who can still sleep at night even though somebody they don't know in a city they have never been is doing things differently. ("Localism, A Philosophy of Government" on Amazon for Kindle or Barnes and Noble ebook websites)

You wouldn't need that change in the confirmation of SCOTUS

justices if the Senate were still appointed by the Legislatures rather than elected.

Also, there are no chains in the Constitution.

There are no penalties for violating the oath of office.

I propose the death penalty. (I might accept exile and loss of citizenship if the violation is mild enough)

I would agree

Dumping the 17th would go a long way to fixing things.
But we also must scrap the 16th. If they have the money they will abuse it.
Replace it with nothing.

If the numbers in this one can't convince someone Levin is

selling snake oil, then they don't want to be convinced.

Localism is for people who can still sleep at night even though somebody they don't know in a city they have never been is doing things differently. ("Localism, A Philosophy of Government" on Amazon for Kindle or Barnes and Noble ebook websites)