Saturday, April 21, 2012

Buffet Rule = AMT

Polls show that many folks support the Buffet Rule – a proposal to increase taxes on those earning over $1 million.  But taxpayers should approach any plan to increase taxes on the wealthy with skepticism, lest we end up with another AMT. 

In 1969, Congress created the AMT or Alternative Minimum Tax to ensure that wealthy Americans were paying their fare share – all 200 of them.  You probably think it seems ludicrous that Congress spent the time and energy passing legislation directed at so few people, and you're right, but there’s just one catch: Congress never indexed the AMT to inflation and its claws are beginning to ensnare the middle class.  Each year, Congress must act to exclude middle class taxpayers from the reach of the AMT, or millions more will pay significantly higher taxes – taxes that were directed at 200 "wealthy" folks back in 1969.

If history is any guide, we should all be wary of the Buffet Rule.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Cautionary Note for Economists

Especially those who worship at the math altar:

"...whenever the culture of a people loses contact with the common life of mankind and becomes exclusively the plaything of a leisure class, it is becoming a priestcraft.... To be proud of intellectual isolation from the common life of mankind and to be disdainful of the great social task of education is as stupid as it is wicked. It is the end of progress in knowledge. No society, least of all so intricate and mechanized a society as ours, is safe in the hands of a few clever people. The mathematician and the plain man each need the other."

This is from Mathematics for the Million by Lancelot Hogben, on page 14. Available from Google Books.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Some Links

Our one reader might be interested in the following:

Tom Woods and friends have launched the Liberty Classroom.

I can't tell if this is self-improvement or self-abuse.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What it takes to sell BBQ

BBQ in Texas is a passion for some folks, and I love dinning on their handiwork.  Just the other day, I stopped into a local BBQ joint for some brisket.  Prior to moving to Texas, I’d never had this cut of beef.  BBQ to me was pulled pork or chicken, or beef ribs.  I am now a big fan of Texas brisket.  Good stuff. 

While I was waiting (and drooling) in line I couldn’t help but notice the display of paperwork mounted on the wall.  Upon closer inspection, what I found were the company’s occupational licenses – eight in all.  These ranged from a license just to open (certificate of occupation) to a desert license.  Are the risks so great that one must be duly licensed to sell deserts?  Apparently in San Antonio.

Texas is (was?) known for its rather lax laws and regulations, and so this caught me by surprise.  Is all this necessary to protect the public?  I mean a desert license?  Get real.  Many of these so-called public protections are simply a way for the City to generate income, but it also has another effect (the unseen).  The average Joe is oftentimes pushed out of the market.  Starting a BBQ business would not only require all the capital necessary for acquiring equipment to cook and prepare meat, the owner must attend hours of education and pay the City large amounts of money to obtain all the necessary permits. 
Entrepreneurs loaded with a good recipe but not cash may balk at all the permits required.  The result of this is consumers are made worse off.  That’s one less choice we have, and that’s a bad thing.  So, the next time you’re out dinning on some good ole BBQ, thank the business owner for navigating their City’s labyrinth of occupational licenses and permits.  Pleasing City officials is often harder than pleasing customers.