Chapter 20: Taxing little-seen wealth for the benefit of all the people
Futurist Hazel Henderson advises governments to charge a financial transaction tax of one percent or less. “This would not affect the trades of 99.9percent of all Americans. But it would put a major crimp in the games the big boys play. Let the quants use their brain power to cure cancer rather than to craft complex computerized trading systems that leave society with less than nothing. A small transaction tax would generate over a $100 billion a year from Wall Street – and in the process, bring those ridiculous bonuses and profits back in line with the real economy.”
Richard Heinberg, The End of Growth
[T]he Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act…would eliminate an amendment to the tax code that allows corporations unlimited tax deductions for executive compensation so long as that pay is in the form of stock options and other so-called “performance based” pay. As Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn) put it “You live in a world today in which there is this perverse system – the more corporations pay their CEOs, the lower their tax bill is.” The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that eliminating the loophole would generate more than $50 billion over 10 years.
Sarah Anderson (in The Washington Spectator)
THE CAPITALIST FREE MARKET CORRECTION ACT (CaFMaC)
* * CaFMaC Fixes [almost] Everything * *
Section 70. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) Two taxes on unearned income are hereby enacted to put some brakes on the current trend toward two classes of Americans: the very few super-rich and the poor everybody else.
The Congressional blather version: In proactive pursuit of equal economic opportunity for all citizens of these United States, two taxes on disproportionate accumulation of personal wealth by individual United States citizens are hereby enacted as the Unearned Income from Capital Wealth Tax (UICWT) and the Total Capital Holdings Tax (TCHT).
Unearned Income from Capital Wealth Tax (UICWT): Taxes shall be graduated as follows. The top end of the bottommost unearned income bracket is hereby set at one (1) million dollars; the lower end of the topmost bracket is hereby set at one dollar more than one (1) billion dollars; between the bottom and top brackets, four (4) intermediate brackets shall be progressively graduated on an exponentially ascending scale as follows:
Total Unearned Income Tax
- Total income up to $1 million No Tax
- Total income $1-5 million Tax is 1% of the unearned income
- Total income $5-10 million Tax is 2% of the unearned income
- Total income $10-100 million Tax is 5% of the unearned income
- Total income $100 million-1 billion Tax is 10% of the unearned income
- Total income more than $1 billion Tax is 20% of unearned income, but may be 15%, subject to Internal Revenue Service determination, if at least one-half (1/2) of annual unearned income is legally committed as a donation(s) to cancer-related research or to a charity(s) approved by the National Interest Advisory Council (NIAC) established by this Act. Billionaires uncertain of how claim the discount to 15% are advised to consult the wee handful of billionaires who have already observed the spirit of this Act.
Total Capital Holdings Tax (TCHT): Taxes shall be levied on individuals and organizations annually on a progressive scale as follows:
Capital Holdings Assessed Value Tax
Less than $1 million No tax
Greater than $1 million but less than $5 million 1% of assessed value
Greater than $5 million 2% of assessed value
With these annual taxes it is the intent of Congress to recognize, and to remedy, these facts: 1) that effective tax rates at the top of the personal wealth hierarchy have traditionally been extremely and disproportionately low in the United States, effectively taxing the poor disproportionately far more than the rich get taxed; 2) that large personal fortunes have yielded disproportionately large returns, far larger than the meager interest a poorer person may earn in a savings account; 3) the largest fortunes have yielded extremely high returns drastically inconsistent with the American democratic social ethic that all persons are created equal in principle; and 4) that such disparities in the fortuitous power to accumulate, without personal effort, disproportionate shares of the nation’s common wealth, during both growth and decline of the nation’s economy, manifest as political power that is inherently injurious to American democracy and democratic ideals as well as a threat to the ideal of political and economic equality professed by the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Consistent with these intents, the tax percentages hereby enacted shall be reassessed not less than annually and shall be adjusted when and as necessary to remain consistent with this Congressional intent.
Section 71. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) All inherited wealth over one million dollars will be taxed at a pretty good clip.
The Congressional blather version: The estate tax portion of the federal United Gift and Estate Tax system is hereby replaced by an Unearned Wealth from Inheritance Tax (UWIT), to be taxed per occurrence on a progressive scale as follows:
Total Inheritance Tax
Under $1 million No tax
More than $1 million but less than $50 million Tax is one third the inheritance
More than $50 million but less than $1 billion Tax is computed on a progressive scale between one-third and nine-tenths the amount of the inheritance
More than $1 billion Tax is nine tenths the inheritance
With this inheritance tax it is the intent of Congress to forever halt the tendency of disproportionate shares of the nation’s wealth to become accumulated in fewer and fewer hands to the detriment of the living standards and quality of American life experienced by the great majority of the citizens of the United States. Consistent with this intent, the tax percentages hereby enacted shall be reassessed not less than annually and shall be adjusted when and as necessary to remain consistent with this Congressional intent.
Section 72. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) Congress intends these measures to partially implement the Constitution’s mandate to “promote the general welfare,” popularly known as the American Dream. 2) Tax revenues from unearned wealth, capital holdings and inheritances will help fund a Life Opportunity Voucher (LOV) for every child born in America. 3) Upon high school graduation or age 18, every young American will be automatically enrolled in the National Service To America Corps (NSTAC) for three years (or, military enlistment will fulfill this compulsory obligation). 4) Upon completing NSTAC service or armed forces enlistment, that young person’s LOV may be redeemed (up to age 30) to pay for a four-year undergraduate education or to help finance an entrepreneurial business startup. 5) A free four-year college education or equivalent trade school education, eliminating all cost to the student of fees above the cash value of the LOV, will be guaranteed to every young adult American.
The Congressional blather version: A Young Adult Opportunity Trust Fund (YAOTF) is hereby established. In proactive pursuit of equal economic opportunity at all ages for all adult citizens of these United States, all revenues from the Unearned Income from Capital Wealth Tax (UICWT), the Total Capital Holdings Tax (TCHT), and the Unearned Wealth from Inheritance Tax (UWIT), among other sources of revenue, shall be deposited to the YAOTF. The YAOTF shall earn interest at the prevailing rate and shall be administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA shall be budgeted for increased staffing as necessary to administer this Section.
Every young American, upon graduating from high school or reaching age 18, whichever occurs later, shall be automatically enrolled in the National Service To America Corps (NSTAC) which is hereby created. The normal term of service in the NSTAC shall be three (3) years. This obligation of service to the nation shall be compulsory for every American citizen, including handicapped and disabled persons who shall carry out duties appropriate to each handicap or disability, and alternative service in the United States Armed Forces shall fulfill the obligation of service in the NSTAC. The National Interest Advisory Council shall define the Purpose and Goals of the NSTAC, and shall annually assist NSTAC administrators in formulating each year’s objectives.
The SSA shall issue a Life Opportunity Voucher (LOV) to every American child at birth. Under administrative rules established by the SSA, the LOV shall be redeemable by that child upon reaching age twenty-one (21) or upon completing the NSTAC service obligation or at least three years of Armed Forces duty, whichever occurs later, and until age thirty (30), for investing in either 1) a four-year college or university undergraduate education or 2) to finance or help finance an entrepreneurial business startup. For persons who elect to complete a full military career, the LOV redemption amount upon retirement from the Armed Forces shall be doubled and paid out without qualification.
The LOV redemption level shall initially be set at the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000), and this amount shall thereafter be adjusted annually commensurate with inflation or other change in the United States economy. Parents and other donors may at any time deposit additional dollars to the child’s credit in the YAOTF and, as applicable, may opt to have their co-op bonuses, if any, likewise deposited to the child’s credit in the YAOTF. Except for persons who choose and complete a full military career, no portion of a young person’s entitled share may be redeemed after that person reaches age thirty (30). If a YAOTF-entitled young person has chosen not to launch an entrepreneurial startup or to go to college, or to quit college after completing less than a full college curriculum, the unredeemed portion of that person’s share shall default to the YAOTF and no claim may be made upon it thereafter.
An Interstate Commission on Higher Education (ICHE) is hereby created. With support from the U.S. Public Service Commission (PSC) created by this Act, and from each state’s agency responsible for higher education as willing and able, the ICHE shall within four years provide to this Congress a plan for ensuring a cost-free four-year college or university undergraduate education, or equivalent certified trade school education, for every young adult American under age thirty (30). The plan shall specify ways and means to eliminate all cost to the student of tuition and fees totaling more than the fifty thousand dollar ($50,000) LOV or applicable annual adjustments of this amount.
With this measure it is the intent of Congress to proactively extend the opportunity intended by the Constitution’s mandate to promote the general welfare, popularly known as the American Dream, to young American Citizens who are the nation’s future, at that time in life when they are most likely to be financially stressed, thereby sensibly ensuring to them at the front end of life a reasonable measure of that caring and economic security our society conveys on retirees at the other end of life, while simultaneously building public understanding that the nation is us, and We The People, collectively and each of us individually, are responsible for the wellbeing of our nation and all our fellow Americans.
Section 73. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) Fossil fuels are to be taxed like hell.
The Congressional blather version: Subject to annual revision by Congress, there is hereby levied on all relevant organizational entities operating in the United States, including Essential Public Infrastructure energy-producing facilities owned and operated by governments at any level, a Compensatory Fossil Fuel Tax (CFFT) that shall be based on and correlated to the known damage and effects of global warming caused to our worldwide atmospheric commons by emissions of carbon dioxide, and by the far more damaging releases of methane, as follows:
Carbon dioxide by source Tax per metric ton
from extracting, processing or burning coal $100
from extracting, refining or burning oil derived from tar sands $130
from extracting, refining or burning any other form of oil $90
from extracting natural gas by hydraulic fracturing $80
from burning natural gas extracted by hydraulic fracturing $70
from burning natural gas from drilled wells $50
Methane by source Tax per metric ton
from extracting natural gas by hydraulic fracturing $120
from extracting oil or natural gas from tar sands $150
from extracting fossil fuels from under permafrost $250
Given confirmed scientific findings that methane traps up to eighty-six (86) times more atmospheric heat than does carbon dioxide, Congress hereby forbids and declares it illegal and treasonous for any person or organization to disturb volatile clathrates on the ocean floors because of the great risk to humankind and to all life on earth from potentially catastrophic methane releases and the unknowable consequences of such vast releases, and hereby directs the Department of Defense to unconditionally enforce this provision until the science of ocean clathrates and risk-free extraction technology is adequately, if ever, understood.
These taxes may be annually increased but shall never be decreased, and shall not be terminated until the use of fossil fuels to produce energy ceases. Excepting only household consumer purchases of gasoline derived from oil and/or ethanol biofuels, taxes levied on coal and oil, on natural gas from fracturing, and on methane released for any reason whatsoever or accidentally, shall not be passed on to household consumers and that household consumer portion of tax pass-through shall be accounted as an expense of doing business to be subtracted from business profits or surpluses as applicable. This provision shall be strictly enforced by subjecting all price increase requests, by all business entities dealing in fossil fuels without exception, to examination, audit and prior approval by a new U.S. Public Service Commission (PSC), which is hereby created within the Internal Revenue Service. No fuel-providing entity shall increase any price to any type of consumer without prior request to and approval by the PSC, and all burden of proof of need for such price increase shall reside in the fuel-providing entity. The PSC shall at all times be fully staffed to the level adequate for carrying out all its assigned tasks until the need for its oversight services passes from existence.
Section 74. (of the Capitalist Free Market Corrections Act – CaFMaC)
Plain English for the Voting Citizen: 1) A Democracy Assurance Tax will consist of a) a $100-a-month fine on any American citizen who fails to register to vote ($100 each month until s/he registers), and b) another $100 fine levied on any jaybird who in fact fails to get out and vote in every election that comes up. 2) The states will administer and enforce collection of this tax the same as they administer and enforce registration for the national military draft. 3) The penalty for persons caught expressing contempt for American democracy by trying to prevent anyone from voting, by committing voting fraud, gerrymandering voting districts, inhibiting easy registration, intimidation, unreasonable restrictions, and/or the hundred other ways these incipient totalitarians try to control voting, will be unspeakably awful. 4) As Pogo says, we have met the government and it is us. Voting control nuts, and government haters, and government tax haters, and government regulation haters, and government bureaucrat haters, are fundamentally disloyal to the gift of American self governance handed down to us by our founding fathers. They should be ashamed and given a four-year taste of life in Russia or China. Or Iran.
The Congressional blather version: There is hereby enacted a Democracy Assurance Tax (DAT) which, pursuant to its self-defining title, shall be implemented as 1) a $100 per month punitive tax levied on any voting-age-eligible person for each month that person fails to register to vote, or who fails to re-register following a move of residence to a different voting district, in like manner as registration for the military draft in times when a draft may be in force in the United States, and 2) as a $200 tax levied on any voting-registered person who fails to in fact vote in any federal election, the tax being repeatable each time a federal election occurs. As a condition of receiving federal funding of any nature for any purpose, responsibility for collecting the DAT and transmitting it to the United States Treasury is hereby delegated to the states, and thence to all local jurisdictions within the states in like manner as the longstanding precedent of local enforcement of the military draft, and no state or local jurisdiction which declines to fully implement these provisions shall receive one thin dime of federal funds for any (any) purpose whatsoever, ever.
The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) is hereby directed to employ new staff to a level fully sufficient to enforce this Section by coordinating with local voter registration authorities pursuant to enforcing these provisions. Commencing immediately upon enactment of this Act into law, the FEC shall utilize existing on-the-shelf technology to 1) provide every registering voter, free of charge, with a photo identification card which may be used by the voter at the voter’s option and convenience without demand, stipulation or condition by anyone anywhere anytime, and 2) provide every polling place in every federal election with instant access to existing on-the-shelf face recognition technology. The states are hereby encouraged to implement similar face-recognition technology and to enact comparable taxes for failure to vote in state and local elections. A person convicted of impeding or attempting to impede implementation of this Section, or of voting fraud in any federal election, or of denying or attempting to deny or impede any other person’s right to freely exercise the vote, including attempts to gerrymander voting districts and/or restrict whole classes of American citizens from voting, thereby self evidently expressing contempt for the absolute foundation of American democracy, shall be sentenced to life imprisonment in Gambling School without possibility of parole.
With this section it is the sense of Congress to paraphrase the immortal wisdom of Pogo that we have met the government and it is us, thereby reminding ourselves and all our fellow U.S. citizens, including that neurotic fringe minority of government haters, that 1) our government is We The People who responsibly feel a duty to our fellow citizens sufficient to offer ourselves and our ideas as candidates for public office; 2) our government is We The People who feel a duty to meet with candidates for public office, and elicit their opinions and ideas on real issues of the day, which otherwise become irresponsibly subordinated and undiscussed by politicians who are so loathe to make the merest mention of a real issue and so campaign merely by badmouthing their opponents that they give otherwise honorable politics a bad name; 3) our government is We The People who responsibly register to vote and actually do get our butts up and out and do go vote for who shall lead our government, which is us, until the next election; and 4) our government is We The People who sign up for, take, and pass the very rigorous Civil Service Examination which effectively screens for the best and brightest to be permitted employment in the United States Civil Service to carry out the non-bean-counting highly responsible day-to-day hard work of implementing the laws passed by the political leaders whom We The People ourselves have elected from among ourselves as acts of responsibility and brotherly love.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to enforce regulations – for worker safety, food purity, environmental protection – when determined lawbreakers are hellbent on getting around them? I wonder how many of these free-market extremist nuts – who so constantly badmouth the regulation-enforcing activities of our conscientious federal employees – bean counters they call them – who are lawfully charged with enforcing the regulations promulgated in response to laws that were passed by our occasionally-representative Congress telling the Executive Branch to promulgate and enforce regulations intended to protect The People from the self-serving abuses of free-market extremist nuts – would have brains enough to pass the Civil Service Exam. As exams go, it’s a doozey.
It moreover is the strong sense of Congress that government haters display a priori nutty ignorance of and fundamental disloyalty to the facts of American self governance, and that those among We The People who do not bother to participate in the voting opportunities of democracy have no right to whine if a real bozo gets elected by bozo-admiring persons of limited perception who did bother to get out and exercise their free Constitutional franchise to cast their vote. Congress hereby further acknowledges and reaffirms the self evident truth that our fellow citizens will be able to internalize and realistically pursue the patriotic contributions represented by these democratic potentials and blessings of liberty only if We The People, all of us, have first secured a reasonable Living Wage and basic Economic Rights so that we may have inclination, capacity and time to actually participate in our democracy which Pharisee-like we so publicly profess to so revere. Congress enacts this Democracy Assurance Tax in full expectation that all Economic Rights defined by this Act are fully assured by other provisions of this Act.
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READERS COMMENT: Your ideas are invited for dealing with the issues addressed in this post. These posts attempt to present new perspectives – THIRD OPTIONS – to move beyond the conservative-liberal divide that is so poisoning our national sense of shared community. New and wiser options are always available to make life in America better for all the people. What are yours? Be concise, use up to 200 words. Have a swell day.
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