Chicago Boyz


Recommended Photo Store
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading? Click here to find out.
Make your Amazon purchases though this banner to support our blog:
(Click here if you don't see the Amazon banner.)
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Contributors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Lex's Tweets
  • Jonathan's Tweets
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Archive for the 'Taxes' Category

    Why Gruber has to lie

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 10th December 2014 (All posts by )

    The left does not do economics. They do politics and elections and lying to get past the “stupid voters” but, when pressed, nothing they do qualifies as numerically or mathematically sound. Social Security worked until everyone found the queue and until Congress raided the trust fund in the 90s.

    Obama and the Democrat leaders knew that Hillary made enemies of the insurance companies in 1992. The insurance companies funded devastating TV ads with “Harry and Louise” that cost the Democrats Congress in 1994. Therefore, they had to do what was necessary to get the insurance companies “inside the tent pissing out and not outside the tent pissing in” in Lyndon Johnson’s immortal words.

    Insurance companies have considered health insurance a loser for 25 years now. What they prefer is becoming “Administrative Service Organizations” which administer self funded health plans by employers.

    Corporate benefits include- organizing/ negotiating health insurance, group dental, STD, LTD, life, etc.

    The plan the Democrats came up with, with Gruber’s help, was to make the government the funding entity and pay the insurance companies to run the program. That way everybody is happy, except, of course, the taxpayer. The taxpayer does not like tax increases which would be needed to pay the bills. Therefore the taxpayer has to be fooled.

    The excise tax on high-cost health plans was among the many fees and taxes proposed as offsets to help slow the rate of growth of health costs, particularly premium growth, and finance the nationwide expansion of health coverage. When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010, its coverage provisions were estimated to cost more than $900 billion over the next decade, from 2010 to 2019, and were to be paid for by fees and taxes on both individuals and businesses. At the time the health reform bill passed, the excise tax on high-cost plans was estimated to raise roughly $32 billion in revenue over the next decade, or by 2019.

    Without the taxes to pay the bills, the whole plan collapses. At its base, Obamacare is Medicaid for everyone. The employer mandate has been, contrary to the text of the law, postponed as the flaws in implementation appear. If it were to be enforced, there would be a revolution. Basically, Obamacare will destroy the health care plans of the 85% of the population who are satisfied with what they have to enroll everyone in a new program that approximates what Medicaid does. The reason for this is that our betters in Washington have decided that we spend too much on health care. That may even be true. One way to deal with this would be to use a market-based approach that resembles how health care was paid for 60 years ago. I have previously discussed how this worked and how it might be restored.

    Today, the vast majority of Americans get health insurance as a benefit from their employer. How this developed has been discussed at length and began during World War Two. In 2008, John McCain proposed a possible way to disconnect employment, alleged to create “Job Lock” but he lost the election. A hostile analysis of his proposal is here. The McCain campaign’s description is here.

    What became Obamacare is the work of the Democrat staff of Congress when the Democrats had filibuster proof majorities in both houses. The election of Scott Brown in a reaction to the impending passage of the health plan forced them to rush the bill through without amendments before Brown was sworn in January 2010.

    The taxes to fund Obamacare were hidden as “fines and penalties” until exposed by the Supreme Court in its 2012 decision on the constitutionality of Obamacare. All penalties are now taxes. The largest are on employer-funded plans.

    The funding from employee plans is called “The Cadillac Tax which is an excise tax on employer plans that exceed the benefits of Medicaid. The “exchange plans” are increasingly looking like Medicaid, especially in the narrow networks of providers, as doctors are now called.

    As health coverage expands to tens of millions of Americans–through Medicaid expansion in states and the new state health insurance exchanges that will soon begin selling individual health coverage–some Americans with employer-sponsored health coverage are seeing their benefits decrease.

    One of the most significant, and controversial, provisions of the Affordable Care Act is the new excise tax on high-cost health plans proposed to both slow the rate of growth of health costs and finance the expansion of health coverage. The provision is often called the “Cadillac” tax because it targets so-called Cadillac health plans that provide workers the most generous level of health benefits. These high-end health plans’ premiums are paid for mostly by employers. They also have low, if any, deductibles and little cost sharing for employees.

    If this is ever implemented, the Medicaid-for-all nature of Obamacare will become obvious. That’s why it will not happen. The fundamental premise behind Obamacare is not viable. That is why it will fail and the numbers do not add up.

    Gruber can’t say this. All he can do is obfuscate.

    Posted in Elections, Health Care, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Medicine, Taxes | 22 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 2nd December 2014 (All posts by )

    Richard Epstein, The flawed 75% tax solution from Hollande and Piketty:

    The basic question is why would anyone assume that major shifts in tax rates should have only relatively modest effects on the production of wealth. No one would say that about a cut in market wages of over 50 percent. So why assume otherwise in a tax context?

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, France, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Quotations, Taxes | 6 Comments »

    Governor Sam Brownback has a copy of America 3.0 in his Office

    Posted by Lexington Green on 14th August 2014 (All posts by )

    Governor Sam Brownback has come in for a lot of flack for his tax cuts in Kansas.

    The usual unholy alliance of Democrats and so called moderate Republicans, meaning they spend almost like Democrats but not quite, is against Brownback on this effort.

    A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Why Liberals Hate Kansas: Sam Brownback’s tax cuts must be discredited before they succeed provides a more believable picture of what is happening. There is the usual nonsense about purportedly savage cuts to educational spending, that actually increased, etc. RTWT.

    As the WSJ notes:

    Mr. Brownback has led the movement for tax reform, which has been taken up by Republicans in Oklahoma, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Liberals are trying to stop the trend from spreading by predicting catastrophe. They’re afraid people may soon be asking what’s right with Kansas.

    Meanwhile, a reliable source tells me the picture above is from Governor Brownback’s office.

    I am pleased to see he has a copy of America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century-Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come.

    I hope our vision of a renewed America helps to encourage him to stay the course on the tax cuts and tax simplification.

    Be strong, Governor. You are on the right track.

    Posted in America 3.0, Politics, Taxes | 1 Comment »

    What next for health reform ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 26th July 2014 (All posts by )

    It looks to me that the Supreme Court will have little justification for continuing the Obamacare program as it exists. The Halbig decision should kill it off. It is clear that the IRS subsidies to federal exchange subscribers are illegal.

    The only statement anyone has found in the legislative history that addresses this point comes from the Act’s lead author, who affirmed that Congress did intend to withhold tax credits in federal Exchanges. During a September 23, 2009, mark-up of his bill, which ultimately became the PPACA, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) refused to consider a Republican amendment regarding medical malpractice on the grounds it fell outside the Committee’s jurisdiction. Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) protested, asking how Baucus’ bill could do other things that lie outside the Committee’s jurisdiction, like direct states to create Exchanges. Baucus responded the bill creates tax credits, which are within its jurisdiction, and makes eligibility for those tax credits conditional on states creating Exchanges. Conditional necessarily means that Baucus intended to withhold tax credits in states that did not create their own Exchanges.

    I just don’t see how the Court can ignore that history. The political left has been on a rant about Congressional intent since the decision was announced.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Health Care, Leftism, Medicine, Politics, Taxes | 10 Comments »

    Incentives and Economics

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 14th July 2014 (All posts by )

    A few years ago I went to Norway and had a great time. In this post I described how expensive everything was in Norway due to their highly valued currency (tied to oil riches) combined with the relentless decline of the US dollar (tied to ZIRP and other dubious economic moves). In the simplest terms, a fast food meal or a beer in Norway cost over $20 USD which is complete madness.

    Business Insider discussed the Scandinavian economic experiment, where high taxes are applied to goods and services in order to fund a vast social safety net. From the article:

    In Norway, a burger and fries at a fast food joint will set you back $23. A six-pack of warm grocery-store beer is nearly $30.
    These hefty price tags are due, in part, to high wages for low-skilled service jobs. But high taxes play a role too.
    Most products have a 25 percent value-added tax, which means that $5.50 of the cost of that burger goes to fund Norway’s generous social programs.
    As a visitor, you get little for the added price. But, as a resident, your daily spending helps to fund an expansive package of benefits, including health care, child care, high-quality education, pensions, and unemployment insurance.

    Some are now proposing this high-cost method, with large taxes embedded in everyday prices, as a solution to the inequity in incomes and wealth that is discussed widely in politics and economics today.

    From the perspective of someone who is highly interested in economics and tax policy, my two rules of thumb are:
    1) that the tax policy raise the money that it intends to raise
    2) that the tax policy not significantly distort economic activity

    Any society that implements high taxes such as Norway needs a comprehensive surveillance model in order to collect these taxes. It is difficult to avoid taxes that are broadly assessed on fast food, for instance, because each corporate location will set up cash registers and controls to remit these taxes onto the state. The same types of processes can be installed in liquor stores, formal bars and nightclubs, grocery stores, and restaurants.

    In a less-homogeneous society such as the USA, we already have major problems with tax evasion on cigarettes and likely liquor, and these are in responses to our sales taxes. The problems would be compounded if we placed value added taxes on all goods at a higher level and on services such as restaurants, hair care, etc… Smuggling would become rampant and informal or barter methodologies would increase in size and scope. These sorts of costs would have to be applied across the USA or some areas would become uncompetitive and see an out-migration of economic activity, starting with incremental additions (no one has opened a new manufacturing plant in Illinois in years, for instance) and eventually leading to the lock, stock and barrel out migration of existing industries (such as the exodus of car manufacturing out of the Midwest and California to the American South).

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Public Finance, Taxes | 33 Comments »

    Picketty’s Introduction

    Posted by TM Lutas on 9th June 2014 (All posts by )

    Thomas Piketty has written a monster of a book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. I find myself in strange agreement with Brad DeLong, that the collective conservative response is weak. I had a patch of time that left me twiddling my thumbs waiting for some pretty long database operations to finish over the past four days. So I went and decided to fisk the book. I just finished the introduction. It took four posts, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and overran the spare time I had available from a database import and indexing task by about 12 hours.

    Now I know why the criticism is so weak. Piketty is a target rich environment and doing a line by line analysis is simply exhausting. But it’s the only way to be sure.

    Posted in Book Notes, Business, Economics & Finance, Public Finance, Society, Taxes, USA | 18 Comments »

    Income inequality: Social justice or crony capitalism?

    Posted by Kevin Villani on 26th April 2014 (All posts by )

    The political movement Occupy Wall Street has shaped the tax and spending proposals of the Obama administration’s budget and political debate on the premise that our capitalist economic system is rigged to favor the top-earning “one percenters.” But income inequality can result either from capitalism or politics, each for better or worse.

    Historically, political elites focused on enriching themselves at the expense of the general public: In 1773 patriots threw the tea into Boston Harbor of the East India Tea Company, granted a “royal charter” in 1600. The U.S. system was founded not just on the principles of democracy but on limited government complementing private market capitalism that encouraged individuals to “pursue happiness” — accumulate wealth — on merit rather than political connections. Support for the less fortunate was provided by family members, religious and other charitable organizations.

    Believing (wrongly) that class envy against the new economic elites — innovative entrepreneurs — would cause revolution, Karl Marx offered the socialist alternative “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” with politics supplanting merit. Despite totalitarian methods universally employed by governments seriously pursuing the socialist model leading to the murder of tens of millions, one historian recently concluded that communism reduced workers “to shiftless, work-shy alcoholics.”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Crony Capitalism, Economics & Finance, History, Political Philosophy, Public Finance, Taxes | 15 Comments »

    Paying Higher Taxes Can be Very Profitable (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 11th April 2014 (All posts by )

    (Originally posted in January 2010–now an April perennial)

    Chevy Chase, MD, is an affluent suburb of Washington DC. Median household income is over $200K, and a significant percentage of households have incomes that are much, much higher. Stores located in Chevy Chase include Tiffany & Co, Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Saks-Jandel.

    PowerLine observed that during the 2008 election season, yards in Chevy Chase were thick with Obama signs–and wonders how these people are now feeling about the prospect of sharp tax increases for people in their income brackets.

    The PowerLine guys are very astute, but I think they’re missing a key point on this one. There are substantial groups of people who stand to benefit financially from the policies of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid triumvirate, and these benefits can greatly outweigh the costs of any additional taxes that these policies require them to pay. Many of the residents of Chevy Chase–a very high percentage of whom get their income directly or indirectly from government activities–fall into this category.

    Consider, for starters, direct employment by the government. Most Americans still probably think of government work as low-paid, but this is much less true than it used to be. According to this, 19% of civil servants now make $100K or more. A significant number of federal employees are now making more than $170,000. And, of course, the more the role of government is expanded, the more such jobs will be created, and the better will be the prospects for further pay increases.

    If one member of a couple is a federal employee making $100K and the other is making $150K, that would be sufficient to allow them to live in Chevy Chase and occasionally partake of the shopping and restaurants. But to make the serious money required to really enjoy the Chevy Chase lifestyle, it’s best to look beyond direct government employment and pursue careers which indirectly but closely benefit from government activity…which are part of the “extended government,” to coin a phrase.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Taxes | 2 Comments »

    The Depression may be here.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th February 2014 (All posts by )

    I have believed for some time that we were entering another Depression. I have previously posted about it.

    The Great Depression did not really get going until the Roosevelt Administration got its anti-business agenda enacted after 1932. The 1929 crash was a single event, much like the 2008 panic. It took major errors in economic policy to make matters worse. Some were made by Hoover, who was a “progressive” but they continued under Roosevelt.

    I posted that statement earlier and it got a rather vigorous rebuttal. I still believe it, however. I think a depression is coming soon. What is more, I am not the only one. Or even only one of two.

    The second article preceded the election of 2012 but is still valid.

    When employment hit an air pocket in December, most analysts brushed off the dreadful jobs number as an anomaly, or a function of the weather. They chose to believe Ben Bernanke rather than their lying eyes. It’s hard to ignore a second signal that the U.S. economy is dead in the water, though: on Monday the Institute for Supply Management reported the steepest drop in manufacturing orders since December 1980:


    In January, only 51% of manufacturers reported a rise in new orders, vs. 64% in December. Not only did the U.S. economy stop hiring in December, with just 74,000 workers added to payrolls; it stopped ordering new equipment. The drop in orders is something that only has occurred during recessions (denoted by the shaded blue portions of the chart). The Commerce Department earlier reported a sharp drop in December orders for durable goods. In current dollars, durable goods orders are unchanged from a year ago, which is to say they are lower after inflation.

    So, the economy stopped hiring, even at the poor pace the past five years have seen, but business also stopped buying.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Britain, Business, Health Care, Obama, Politics, Taxes, Tea Party, Urban Issues | 33 Comments »

    The Minimum Wage Debate and Tax Incentives

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 30th November 2013 (All posts by )

    Originally when I started over at Chicago Boyz I used to write regularly about tax policy. I haven’t written as much lately on that topic because the news has been completely dispiriting… at every turn it seems that the Federal, State and Local governments have taken positions to make the system more complex, confusing, and dysfunctional.

    The goal of a tax policy should be to:
    1. Achieve the revenue goals that they set out to meet
    2. Do so in a way that has causes the least amount of distortions to the economy

    Recently the idea of “fixing” our tax policies and incentives, for me at least, is aligned with recent discussions on the idea of raising the minimum wage. The minimum wage is $7.25 / hour, although this varies with state and local laws as summarized here. A suburb in Seattle, near the Seattle-Tacoma airport (Sea-Tac), recently passed an ordinance to raise the minimum wage to $15 / hour. This ordinance is a bit more clever than most, since the airport is unlikely to close or take significant actions due to the immense capital costs and constraints associated with doing so, and has a strong public element (politicians can just try to pass the costs on to air travelers).

    These same discussions come up in Chicago, as fast food workers also have had some (small) demonstrations to try to raise the minimum wage to $15 / hour. While their campaign has sputtered out, it will likely re-surface and be championed by our governor.

    The obvious difficulty with raising the minimum wage is that employers are not sitting ducks. There are many low wage workers in River North, for instance, working in bars, restaurants, cleaning services, and in various security related occupations (virtually every building has a set of doormen). If you doubled the minimum wage, for instance, all of these businesses and institutions would immediately embark on a host of labor saving initiatives and automation efforts. I am not an expert in these sorts of automation experts but can imagine people being replaced by computers, call centers handling service, and moving to self-service for customers in other instances. It is highly unlikely that they would just attempt to pass on the price increases and keep the same level of staffing; that would be economic suicide, especially with their competitors scrambling to reduce their labor expenses. Efforts that could not be automated would rise in price, which would likewise discourage consumption, until an equilibrium was reached.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Taxes | 9 Comments »

    Archive Post – Military Rites, Practices & Legends: BX & Commissary Privileges

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 1st October 2013 (All posts by )

    (An archive post from [gasp] 2004, wherein I attempted to explain and demystify certain military practices and establishments to a strictly civilian readership. I was reminded of this series, as one of the chief effects of the fed-gov shut-down is that just about all of the military commissaries at stateside bases will be closed from about midday today. The resulting effect on the retiree and active duty population at stateside bases probably will be rather minor, especially for those bases in or near larger cities, since Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam’s Club and local grocery chains provide alternative sources.)

    The main attraction of these privileges – access to the military base Commissary and Exchange – lies mostly in the fact that such access is forbidden to the usual run of civilians, and so they tend to think of them as vast Aladdin’s caves of riches and materiel things, to which they do not have the magic key! Alas, while I am fairly sure that the gold-plated bases in the military pantheon probably are pretty well stocked with the luxury goods, and may very well resemble Aladdin’s cave, at the ordinary level they are as Cpl. Blondie observed “full of stuff you don’t need.”
    When I was giving the school-kiddy tours at Mather AFB, to kids who had never been on a military base before, I would have the school-bus driver take a circuitous loop around the base, and point out the various establishments: “A base is just like a city or a town– this is the Headquarters building, it’s like the Mayor’s office and the City Hall, over there is the housing area, where everyone lives with their families. There is even an elementary school for the kids. That is our grocery store, only we call it the commissary. We even have our own gas station… this is the Exchange, it is just like a small department store, with a little bit of everything…”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Business, Current Events, Customer Service, Military Affairs, Personal Finance, Personal Narrative, Taxes | 10 Comments »

    Robert Reich Movie “Inequality for All”

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 28th September 2013 (All posts by )

    I saw the movie “Inequality for All” starring Robert Reich, the former labor secretary for Bill Clinton and a very short guy (he’s 4′ 11″) who is pretty personable and funny. Reich uses his day job as a university professor while teaching a class to illustrate his thoughts on inequality from the movie.

    In the movie he attempts to link:
    – decline in average wages, in “real” terms (adjusted for inflation)
    – growth in the highest wages (the top 1%)
    – with various factors, including globalization, automation, declines in unions, and the financial bubble
    – income inequality with lower marginal tax rates on the rich

    There are certainly some concepts in here than anyone can agree with. It would be good if more people in the USA earned a higher salary, had better educations, and were more productive.

    In the movie he mentions Warren Buffett, who famously pays a lower marginal tax rate than everyone else in his office, which is due to the fact that he receives long term capital gains and dividend income which are taxed at a lower rate. This is grist for the “raise taxes on the wealthy” discussion, as Buffett plays the likable old man. However, what he fails to mention is that Warren Buffett is the very candidate that the ESTATE TAX is designed to catch… rather than nickel and dime him every year on his assets as they rise in value (and cause friction and force him to sell them off to meet the tax bill), the estate tax would be levied on the super rich and it would effectively make up for the lower marginal rate during his lifetime by taxing increases on his wealth at a rate of 40%, for all amounts greater than about $5M. However, Warren Buffett is choosing to “evade” these taxes by setting up trusts and / or giving it away to his favorite causes; if Warren couldn’t avoid his estate tax through these loopholes (the same way you or I can’t avoid the payroll or sales taxes) then 40% of his $60B estate ($24B) would go to the Federal government, to fund the “investments in people” that Robert Reich is so passionate about. Funny that Reich didn’t call that out (didn’t follow his narrative, apparently).

    Another element he fails to mention is the growth in illegal immigration in the USA, and the havoc that this causes with unskilled labor (as they are willing to work for far less). It is funny because two professions he specifically mentions, meat packing and short order cooks, are magnets for immigrants and their arrival is a direct cause for falling wages in these fields. Not surprisingly, Reich didn’t want to alienate a core Democratic group.

    There is a rich “pillow manufacturer” who makes $10M+ / year who also describes how ridiculous it is in his opinion that his marginal rate isn’t higher. That same entrepreneur says that he invests in “funds of funds” and due to this he makes money without creating any jobs. That is quite a statement – what do you think those hedge funds invest in? They invest in commodities, stocks, real estate and debt (I’m assuming). When you are an investor and you provide money for stock and debt you are supporting companies that, in turn, hire staff. I can’t believe that Reich let this comment slide, but since it was what Reich wanted to hear, why interject?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Big Government, Economics & Finance, Taxes | 27 Comments »

    Are We More or Less Free Than We Were in 1975?

    Posted by Lexington Green on 4th September 2013 (All posts by )

    I recently sent this link to some friends, which lists “10 Things You Could Do in 1975 That You Can’t Do Now.” The list included:

    2. You could buy cough syrup without showing an ID

    4. You could buy a gun without showing an ID
    5. You could pull as much cash out of your bank account without the bank filing a report with the government
    6. You could get a job without having to prove you were an American

    9. You could open a stock brokerage account without having to explain where the money came from

    10. You could open a Swiss bank account with ease. All Swiss banks were willing and happy to open accounts for Americans

    I opined: “We are FAR less free than we used to be. The “War on Drugs” is a major cause, but general government encroachment for its own sake is behind most of it.”

    My friend Singapore Pundit responded:

    [Lex], I have to challenge your theory that we are “FAR less” than free we use to be. Here is a short list of things from the 70’s which we are free from today: The military draft; 70% marginal tax rates on income; airline price regulation by the federal government; forced busing of school children; gas rationing by the federal government (Nixon); legalized monopoly of telecommunications; US gov. restricted travel to China, Vietnam, Russia and east Europe; banned importation of books based on ideology; tariffs on goods from Canada and Mexico; federal government price controls (Nixon); 25% of workers in unions (now it’s 7%). Here are somethings we have today versus the 70’s which I would argue make us freer: charter schools; home schooling; the internet and access by it to free information; 401K; more right-to-work states; right to vote for citizens over 18.

    I had to concede these were all good things.

    So, on net, are we freer or less free?

    Posted in Civil Liberties, History, Taxes, USA | 39 Comments »

    Chicago “TIFs”

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 31st July 2013 (All posts by )

    In Chicago a “TIF” stands for “Tax Increment Financing”. Here is a link to the City of Chicago web site which explains how a site qualifies as a TIF. Basically a TIF limits the amount of property tax the city can collect at the location and in effect gives the owner / developer a big tax break. There are many reasons listed by the city as to why a location might qualify but supposedly it is used to eliminate “blighting factors”.

    The Chicago Reader has written a series of articles about how TIF’s are used to reward already rich developers with tax breaks. The Sun Times wrote one this week:

    It’s time for another serious look at the pros and cons of Tax Increment Financing in Chicago — a tiff over TIF — the controversial economic development program that’s supposed to revitalize struggling neighborhoods by offering financial incentives to potential investors.

    The “sweeteners” come from property taxes that, to a large extent, might otherwise be spent on education, housing, parks, libraries, and public safety.

    That’s defensible when there’s enough tax revenue to go around, but it’s problematic in lean times, like now, when Chicago is closing schools, firing teachers, reducing library hours and trying to fight violent crime with fewer police officers.

    Another concern is that many TIF “districts” are in affluent areas, especially in and around downtown, which violates the intent of the state law that created the program in 1977 to revitalize “blighted” communities.

    Here is a project that is being built under a TIF; this is for a $29M park alongside the Chicago River at Canal and Lake Street. the “River Point TIF” is obviously located in an area that doesn’t appear to be tied to much blight…

    While it is likely that politically connected developers and clout-heavy individuals are tied to this process, on the other hand this is one of the few ways the city actually and concretely assists businesses that generate all of the economic value for them. Businesses pay very high property taxes in Cook County / the Loop and then the tax breaks fall back to the selective few that run through this process. It is a very opaque process and there is limited information available on the TIF accounts and funding.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Chicagoania, Taxes | 1 Comment »

    Illinois Will End up Like Detroit if It Does Not Change Course

    Posted by Lexington Green on 30th July 2013 (All posts by )

    Detroit was once the greatest city of the modern world. Automobiles were the cutting edge of technology in the first half of the twentieth century. Talent and genius flocked to Detroit. Innovators in engineering, technology, design, finance, marketing, and management created a concentration of economic dynamism and creativity unlike anything the world had yet seen. Detroit was the Silicon Valley of its day, except its products were made of tangible metal, rubber, and glass. The auto industry transformed America into a land of mobility and personal freedom beyond the dreams of earlier generations. Henry Ford said, “History is bunk.” He meant the old limits could be blown away, and ordinary people could have a better life than they had ever dreamed of before.

    (The rest is here.)

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, History, Illinois Politics, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, Taxes, Transportation, Unions, Urban Issues, USA | 22 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on 3rd June 2013 (All posts by )

    The solution to this scandal is not to fire the likes of Lois Lerner (though that would be a good start). The answer is to abolish the agency entirely, and to make a concerted effort to shrink the size and reach of the entire federal government apparatus.

    Ace of Spades


    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Taxes, USA | 8 Comments »

    Peggy Noonan is figuring it out …

    Posted by Lexington Green on 2nd June 2013 (All posts by )

    Peggy Noonan is getting there. A few days ago she was still talking about “restoring trust.”

    But the IRS scandal is about facts not trust. She has apparently figured that out.

    Now she says “If it isn’t forced back into its cage now, and definitively, it will prowl the land hungrily forever.”

    That’s progress.

    But “forced back into its cage” is a metaphor. Peggy can’t bring herself to say what it must mean.

    Let’s think out loud about what it must mean.

    The IRS is staffed by unionized employees who are aligned with one political party. The IRS is about to be given sweeping new powers under the ACA. This entity cannot be forced into a cage. The incentives drive the conduct, and the incentives are destructive for the liberty of anyone who opposes the Democrats on anything. That is structural, it is not a matter of individual incompetence or malice.

    The only solution is too radical for most people to consider: The existing IRS has to be shut down and replaced. The only way this limitless menace can be removed is if the existing IRS, the existing tax code, the existing storehouse of personal data on all Americans, and the capacity to destroy people’s lives at discretion are ended. A new simplified type of tax code and a new taxing authority to enforce it, staffed with a new workforce, is a massive proposal, but anything less won’t work.

    The monster can’t be caged, it has to be eliminated.

    BTW, this is Cook County on a galactic scale. We have seen the Black & White version of this movie in Chicago, the color version in Springfield and now this is the 3D IMAX version of the same horror story. Government power for partisan oppression is too normal to talk about here in Chicago. Fifty Democrat alderman and zero Republicans is too normal to mention. Democrat super-majorities in Springfield at the same time they are reducing the state to an international dunce is somehow the way things inevitably go.

    We know where this is going. America is next.

    But America is a big place, and the Chicago Way may not play well in the other 49 states.

    I hope the rest of the country figures out what is happening.


    (We discuss eliminating the IRS in America 3.0.)

    Posted in Taxes, USA | 24 Comments »


    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 15th May 2013 (All posts by )

    And so it begins; at first a trickle of rocks falling down a steep mountainside; then more and bigger rocks, and then half the mountainside comes away and falls away in a mighty roar, the earth trembles, and White House spokes-minion Jay Carney is probably looking around desperately trying to figure out what hit him. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Conservatism, Leftism, Obama, Taxes, Tea Party, The Press, USA | 21 Comments »

    RERUN–Paying Higher Taxes Can be Very Profitable

    Posted by David Foster on 9th April 2013 (All posts by )

    (Originally posted in January 2010–now an April perennial)

    Chevy Chase, MD, is an affluent suburb of Washington DC. Median household income is over $200K, and a significant percentage of households have incomes that are much, much higher. Stores located in Chevy Chase include Tiffany & Co, Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Saks-Jandel.

    PowerLine observed that during the 2008 election season, yards in Chevy Chase were thick with Obama signs–and wonders how these people are now feeling about the prospect of sharp tax increases for people in their income brackets.

    The PowerLine guys are very astute, but I think they’re missing a key point on this one. There are substantial groups of people who stand to benefit financially from the policies of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid triumvirate, and these benefits can greatly outweigh the costs of any additional taxes that these policies require them to pay. Many of the residents of Chevy Chase–a very high percentage of whom get their income directly or indirectly from government activities–fall into this category.

    Consider, for starters, direct employment by the government. Most Americans still probably think of government work as low-paid, but this is much less true than it used to be. According to this, 19% of civil servants now make $100K or more. A significant number of federal employees are now making more than $170,000. And, of course, the more the role of government is expanded, the more such jobs will be created, and the better will be the prospects for further pay increases.

    If one member of a couple is a federal employee making $100K and the other is making $150K, that would be sufficient to allow them to live in Chevy Chase and occasionally partake of the shopping and restaurants. But to make the serious money required to really enjoy the Chevy Chase lifestyle, it’s best to look beyond direct government employment and pursue careers which indirectly but closely benefit from government activity…which are part of the “extended government,” to coin a phrase.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Taxes | 5 Comments »

    Taxed Enough Already

    Posted by Lexington Green on 25th February 2013 (All posts by )

    Very closely are noble issues bound up with material ones. Nothing could be more grossly material than the refusal to pay taxes, and the honest historian who comes to examine these occasional epic refusals will find often that the tax was reasonable and the refusal, on material grounds, absurd. Yet the refusal to pay taxes is one of the sacraments of history, the outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace, the symbol of a resurgent spirit among an oppressed people, the assertion of the rights of man, the voice of liberty defying the dictates of authority.

    William the Silent: William of Nassau, Prince of Orange, 1533-1584 by C.V. Wedgwood

    Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Book Notes, History, Taxes, Tea Party, Video | 16 Comments »

    The Sequester

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 22nd February 2013 (All posts by )

    As we count down to March 1, we are hearing more and more about the dreaded sequester. The left is confused about its history.

    How did this become Obama’s fault? It started with Mitt Romney, a once-influential Republican Party politician and its 2012 nominee for president. In the third debate with President Obama, Romney fretted that “a trillion dollars in cuts through sequestration and budget cuts to the military” would weaken America’s defenses. The president literally dismissed this with a wave of his hand. “The sequester is not something that I proposed,” he said. “It’s something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.”

    How did this get to be the story ?

    The accidental Bible of Sequestration is The Price of Politics, Bob Woodward’s history of the debt-limit wars, and one of the least flattering portrayals of the president this side of In it, Woodward recounts a July 27, 2011, afternoon meeting between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and White House negotiators. Reid wanted a “trigger” as part of a debt deal, some way to force more cuts in the future without defaulting on the debt that summer. Chief of Staff Jack Lew and adviser Rob Nabors proposed sequestration, as a threat that could be averted if/when Congress passed a better deal.

    OK. The White House staff suggested it. Why ? Because they assumed that Republicans would cave in rather than accept cuts in the defense budget.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, History, Leftism, Obama, Politics, Taxes | 9 Comments »

    Warren Buffett The Hypocrite

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on 21st January 2013 (All posts by )

    Taxes are very complex in that there are many different types of taxes designed to raise revenue and modify behavior that the government wants to incentivize or dis-incentivize. At the highest and most simplified level you have:

    Sales Taxes – generally taxes paid by the buyer to the seller at the point of purchase (tax on food at the grocery store)
    Income Taxes – taxes on money people earn paid to the Federal, State or Local governments. Often this money is “withheld” from your paycheck. Typically there are myriad deductions applied to determine the amount owed
    Property Taxes – taxes levied on property owned based on valuation and paid to the local government annually
    Excise or “Sin” Taxes – taxes on specific items that the government wants to dis-incentivize such as cigarettes and alcohol, collected at the point of purchase
    Payroll Tax – tax on wages used to “fund” social security and medicare and are levied on the employer and employee alike, to a certain amount, with few or no deductions
    Capital Gains Tax – tax on the profits of securities, properties or businesses sold when the amount received is greater than the cost
    Estate Tax – tax on the accumulated assets of someone who died, paid to the government.

    There has been talk in the media about wealthy individuals who advocate “higher taxes” for various reasons, and they receive disproportionate press coverage for their “selfless” actions. Warren Buffett in particular has called for higher taxes on the rich, specifically INCOME taxes, as you can note below:

    As fiscal cliff talk buzzes around Washington and Wall Street, Buffett on Monday published a New York Times editorial calling on Congress to impose a 30% tax on people making $1 million to $10 million a year and 35% percent above that.

    However, Warren Buffett is taking significant steps to actually avoid paying the ONE tax specifically designed for him – the estate tax. Here he joins with other billionaires on their “pledge” to give away their fortunes (to trusts that they would designate how the money gets spent).

    Warren Buffett got 11 more billionaires to agree to give away half of their wealth to charity.

    It is hypocritical for those billionaires like Buffett to set aside their money in charities to be directed for purposes that they “believe in” while everyone else’s money is funneled to Federal, State or Local governments to fund whatever that governmental body decides to do with it. You and I can’t control where our payroll, income, sales or property taxes go – and we have to accept that. Then Buffett, too, should accept that when he calls on higher taxes for everyone (but income taxes hardly dent him since his wealth would be taxed through capital gains if he chooses to sell or most likely the estate tax on all of his unrealized gains through his lifetime) he should dismantle his “estate tax” protections and just show up and give his billions directly into the US Treasury when he dies, to be used for whatever purpose the government chooses, likely to pay interest on debt that we issue to the Chinese or to pay for some sort of poorly run entitlement or wealth transfer scheme.

    Warren – if you believe in the call for higher taxes, then just die without an estate plan, and let the Federal government get their 40% of your billions. It is the right thing for you to do, since you believe (apparently) that they will spend this money wisely.

    Cross posted at LITGM

    Posted in Taxes | 19 Comments »

    Why Paris Hilton Makes a Poor Poster Child for the Death Tax

    Posted by Shannon Love on 18th November 2012 (All posts by )

    From Instapundit:

    “The idea behind the estate tax is to prevent the very wealthy among us from accumulating vast fortunes that they can pass along to the next generation,” said Patrick Lester, director of Federal Fiscal Policy with the progressive think tank — OMB Watch. “The poster child for the estate tax is Paris Hilton — the celebrity and hotel heiress. That’s who this is targeted at, not ordinary Americans.”[emp added]

    This is just one problem with that little story:

    Conrad Nicholson Hilton (December 25, 1887 – January 3, 1979) was an American hotelier. He is well known for being the founder of the Hilton Hotels chain.

    In 1979, Hilton died of natural causes at the age of 91. He is interred at Calvary Hill Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery in Dallas, Texas. He left $500,000 to each of his two surviving siblings and $10,000 to each of his nieces, nephews and to his daughter Francesca. The bulk of his estate was left to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation,[6] which he established in 1944. His son, Barron Hilton, who spent much of his career helping build the Hilton Hotels Corporation, contested the will, despite being left the company as acting President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board of Directors. A settlement was reached and, as a result, Barron Hilton received 4 million shares of the hotel enterprise, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation received 3.5 million shares, and the remaining 6 million shares were placed in the W. Barron Hilton Charitable Remainder Unitrust.[6] Upon Barron Hilton’s death, Unitrust assets will be transferred to the Hilton Foundation[citation needed], of which Barron sits on the Board of Directors as Chairman.[7]

    On December 25, 2007, Barron Hilton announced that he would leave about 97% of his fortune (estimated at $2.3 billion),[7] to a charitable unitrust which would eventually be merged with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.[8] By leaving his estate to the Foundation, Barron not only donated the fortune he had amassed on his own, but also returned to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation the Hilton family fortune amassed by his father, which otherwise would have been gone to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation 30 years previously had Barron not contested his father’s will.[emp added]

    So, not only has Paris Hilton not inherited anything yet, because her grandfather is still alive, she won’t inherit anything major ever. It all goes to charity. Paris Hilton is a sleazoid, but she is a largely a self-made sleazoid. Her personal financial assets are almost entirely the result of her leveraging her, uh, other assets via secret sex tape into a bizarre celebrity career. She’s worth several hundred million now, none of it inherited.

    Paris Hilton has been trotted out by Leftists for years as an example of the need for the death tax and yet apparently none of them bothered to actually check if she was actually an heiress. The elite Democrats who carefully construct the party’s talking points, don’t seem to even bother to check Wikipedia. (Or they do and just assume that the average Leftist voter won’t.)

    The real point of interest here is not the inanity of the death tax, but rather the studied indifference of the Democrats and Leftists in general to actually studying the wealthy and telling the truth about them.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Leftism, Taxes | 42 Comments »

    After Math – Going Mini-Galt

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 8th November 2012 (All posts by )

    Blondie and I went to bed Tuesday night around 9:30, already fearing that things were not going well as regards Mitt Romney’s chances of taking up residence in that big official governmental residence on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington … so it was not a totally incapacitating shock to the system on Wednesday morning to wake up (to the tune of our next door neighbor’s Basset hound incessantly barking –G*d, are we beginning to hate that dog!) in the wee hours, turn on the computer and discover that Michelle will have another four years of lavish vacations on the government dime.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Big Government, Deep Thoughts, Politics, Taxes, Tea Party | 37 Comments »

    The Beer Index

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 3rd November 2012 (All posts by )

    Pity the UK government. Like most, they have had a great deal of trouble closing the gap between money spent and tax revenue. And, like most, they have scrambled to raise taxes in order to increase the amount of money coming in.

    One of the items hardest hit with rising tax rates in Great Britain is beer.

    The powers-that-be have enacted a “beer duty escalator“, which automatically raises the tax on beer by 2% over inflation every single year. According to the article behind the last link, the average beer drinker in the UK now pays £177 every year just in taxes alone. The average pub owner must shell out £66,000 per year in beer taxes, above and beyond the overhead costs that come from running any small business. And, thanks to the automatic increases, every year is going to be worse than the last.

    As any economist who hasn’t drunk deep of the Liberal kool-aide will tell you in a heartbeat, adding frivolous costs to any commodity will result in limiting demand. Beer sales in the UK have plummeted, while close to a score of pubs across the island nation have been going out of business every week.

    Just think of all those people who were dependent on the family business, now out of work and on the dole. I don’t have the numbers to tell for sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find out that any jump in revenues realized by the beer duty have been more than offset by the increased number of people who now rely on public assistance.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, Taxes | 9 Comments »