Thursday, June 27, 2019

Andrew Yang and Democrat tax proposals

Andrew Yang is the smartest candidate running in 2020, and his basic income platform is necessarily the opposite of massive emperor budget gathering to pay for corrupt cronyism.  It is the only genuine and effective path to eliminating poverty, and forges a path to great economic growth and higher incomes for all.  Bernie Sanders also has a genuine hope for America, but has some poorly thought ideas, and criticisms.  Either would make the greatest US president in history, however. A short case for UBI with his funding scheme and concise rationale for it:


Summary:

  • $3T headline cost from 250M adult Americans each receiving $12k/year.
  • Reduced by $1.2T because UBI is not on top of existing social programs.  Opt-in that allows individuals to choose whichever amount is higher.
  • $400B in new tax receipts as a result of growing economy.  This implies with a payroll and income tax rate of 33%, a $3T economic growth which is credible with $1.8T democratic cash injection + new employment income related to collecting that $1.8T in new spending.  Middle and upper classes can spend more and save less with UBI as their financial security is also enhanced, including children's future education and income security.
  • $200B in savings from less crime (directly less incarceration), no homelessness (less police and health "homeless management services"), and sickness (mental and physical stress related to income security causes consumption of health services)
  • Productivity increases and higher educational attainment created directly from lower financial stress of parents leads to another $400B in revenue/savings.  If all of this were in the private sector, it would imply another $3T in economic growth.  While the previous 2 items are conservative estimates, this one will take time to translate into growth and revenue.  But it is in total,a t most $100B-$200B optimistic.  Pentagon budget is over $800B, so there is money to find in the couch cushions and banana stand.
  • The rest, $800B, comes from a 10% VAT tax.  This revenue path is justified by how the great winners of the new economy and automation pay very little in corporate income taxes.
This is much smarter than any other candidate's proposals, and shows just how little UBI costs, but we can do MUCH better with tax reform, including a much better way to address Yang's concerns about automation, and other democrat candidates' revenue ambitions.  But first, a bit more about UBI.

Freedom Dividend
The Freedom Dividend is a great term, that Yang uses for UBI.   The only rational objection to a freedom  dividend/UBI is if your income/happiness relies on the oppression/slavery/harshness of other people.

A coal mine needs to exploit its workers, trap them into company store, cancel their health insurance and pensions, and the coal generator needs to poison the water supply with coal ash.  They need/want these powers because in part the people they harm aren't relevant to their customer base, but also in part because cost cutting means more profit for them.

Walmart, Amazon, McDonalds have poor reputations for treating their workers.  But their business model does not require oppression.  These corporations make more money if their consumer communities have broad spending power, even if it means paying more for workers, than if their consumer communities are mad max hellscapes.  Most of the business side of the economy is in this category of potentially benefiting more from increased consumption spending than from increased oppressive power.

As human beings whose oppression level is being wagered, the freedom to survive without submitting to an employer is the greatest, while still fair, boost to bargaining power to permit opportunity and fair income offers.  The alternative of powerful unions limit the overall employment level to a few high paying jobs, and in order to be powerful, require worker scarcity.

Joe Biden's dignity
Joe Biden is against UBI because "work provides dignity".  If he and other seniors were to forgo all of their social security and pension income, to struggle for dignity, then the national debt would be paid down in a few years.

UBI, with the right tax code, does not discourage work.  Income conditional aid programs do, because striving to escape low income incurs oppressive clawback+tax rates.

Dignity and self worth comes from success.  Success is much easier with more job openings that have fewer competing applicants to fill them.  By all means, if you are concerned for people's dignity and self worth levels, sponsor public service announcements outlining the self esteem benefits of work.  But people already understand income/money is good.  It is only republican kleptocrat thieves who want to reserve the dignity of success only for those who already claim it, through a harsh world where intense struggle to survive means coerced servitude to the dignified. 

Shame on Joe Biden, and other filth, that wants to limit our freedom and opportunity to competing over the crumbs they let trickle down.  Dignity only exists if your circumstances permit refusing a demeaning act in servitude to Joe Biden.

Alternative tax system
A VAT is not the best proxy for a robot/AI tax, and it fails to capture revenue from the real wealth generated from current and future society.

A robot tax is impossible, but taxing employees the same as machines is easy
A robot tax gets proposed frequently as a distraction, but it is impossible to define what a robot is.  The pipes and wires going into your home are robots.  Elevators and vehicles are too.  Narrow definitions of robots that would exclude these, would stifle innovation and cause needless evasions of the definition.  SUVs were created because they escaped the definition of a car, and so escaped their regulated emissions.

The first step in taxing employees the same as robots is to eliminate payroll taxes.  In the US, this is 15.3% per employee, with the employer paying half of this tax.  It only applies to the first $128k in employment earnings.  More revenue is raised from payroll taxes than income taxes.  Machines and contractors are not subject to payroll taxes, and have lower direct cost to employers.

Eliminating payroll taxes and replacing it with an additional 15.3 percentage point income taxes giving all employees an automatic 7.65% pay raise would leave all moderately paid employees equally well off, but raise significant social revenue, as the tax would apply to high paid employees, investment/rental income, and businesses that find ways of paying the operator without salary.  If no additional social revenue is desired a smaller replacement tax can be applied

Employer paid healthcare also does not apply to machines.  A universal model for at least core coverage would eliminate the human penalty.  Those costs could further be transformed onto higher worker wages to offset any higher income taxes related to funding universal health care.

Equalizing business, investment and employment income tax rates
Lowering business income taxes reduces business investment and spending.  It does not increase it as the kleptocrats (receiving lower business income tax rates) claim to justify social transfers onto them.  Lower business income taxes means a lower tax credit for business spending, thereby reducing incentives for businesses to spend/invest, and increasing incentives for them to harvest profits by cost reductions, store and plant closings.

Equalizing business, investment, and employment tax rates means raising the first 2, so that employment income taxes can be reduced.  While a flat income tax is regressive (like a VAT), when it is matched with a freedom dividend, the overall personal tax system is more progressive. ie.  even if someone's tax rate was 10 pct points higher, they face a net tax reduction at an income below $120k/year if they also receive a $12k/year freedom dividend.

Equalizing the 3 tax rates is an important criteria, and one of the principal justifications, for eliminating tax evasion.  It is also critical that a business expense can only be deductible in the same jurisdiction as where the income is earned by the other party.

An increase in investment income taxes is specifically appropriate because a freedom dividend is a safety net for investors and landlords.  They also do not pay payroll taxes.

An important point to underline is that a high business tax rate does not have to raise high revenues from businesses.  The easiest way to avoid taxes for business is to spend profits on expanding its operations, which is usually great for the economy and employment.

An interlude before tying up these last 2 sections into a comprehensive tax plan.

A VAT system is a disguised form of business income taxation
In Canada's VAT system, a company gets credit for supplier purchases, but not for employee costs.  If supplier purchases exceed revenues, a company can get a cash refund for VAT from the year.  The VAT is added on top of sales prices (but included in Europe), and the only difference is that adding it on top at the cash register makes the business feel better about the tax and the consumer worse, or misled about the end price while shopping, whereas including it in the sales price makes the business feel worse.

So a VAT is a corporate income (profit excluding wages) tax that is disguised a little, but also impossible to avoid.  The lack of avoidance is Yang's rationale for implementing a VAT as his revenue raiser but there should be an obvious improvement that was hinted at in previous section:

Business income taxes that are reduced by both supplier and employee costs.  When these exceed sales, a cash refund should be available to the business.  Only expenses (and productive asset purchases) paid in this country are deductible from this country's sales (like the VAT system, but including wages).

When a VAT system is introduced, and prices are not lowered, it is a giveaway to corporations because consumers pay the full price added by the VAT, while businesses gain new refundable tax credits.

The right tax rate
When a freedom dividend is paid, collecting too much revenue is not a problem.  Surpluses can increase the dividend.

A high tax rate also has the benefit of making any government funded projects return a high portion of their costs in terms of social revenue.

The highest tax rate that conforms to a psychological level of not blocking work incentives, and/or not creating significant price and wage pressure.  Two candidates for such an income tax level are 33% and 25%

My natural taxation proposal uses the high 33% figure.  It applies as both personal and corporate income tax rates (only domestic spending deductible).  There is a 5% surtax on employment income above $100k, and a 10% surtax on investment income.  There are no payroll taxes, and dividends are tax deductible to corporations.  The amount of taxes raised from this plan is $8.3T on a $22T economy.

In a $20T GDP economy, natural taxation raises $6.6T as base + $50B from high income surtaxes + $880B hoarding surtaxes = $7.53T.   In a $22T economy, this is $8.3T. $5T more than current revenue.  Enough to pay a basic income to 300M adult Americans of $16k/year, before any of the spectacular growth UBI provides.  A household with 2 earners of $100k each would pay a 17% effective tax rate (including $16k refund) including payroll taxes, and so effectively 10% income tax with current payroll taxes.  They would further be entitled to a 7% pay raise as their employer would no longer be penalized by having to match their payroll taxes, and so even with a 38% tax clawback on that $7k raise, and extra 4.34k after tax raise, and a 5.66% income tax rate apples-to-apples compared to current tax rates.  Furthermore, hoarders would pay $3.78T of the taxes.  All of the UBI funded by them and high earners, and not yet considering government program cuts.  The $5T in UBI funded by hoarders means $5T in higher spending (if all UBI spent) and GDP which could be split 50/50 in productive vs hoarder benefits.  At an average 38% tax rate, it means $1.8T in tax revenue, $1.8T in productive earnings and potential consumption, and $1.2T in additional after tax hoarding profits.  $3.2T of that $5T is a further increase in GDP and potential UBI and spending and additional profits to hoarders.  A 37% increase in GDP with just the rounds so far, and since all of it gets spent until it lands into a hoarder account, $7.4T in additional profits gained for $4.2T hoading taxes paid.  A very substantial benefit of UBI even to hoarders, and the calculation excludes the profits from asset/stock holdings that appreciate much more than the current earned profits.  In addition, lower crime lets hoarders park their lambo in any neighbourhood, UBI lets their kids fund their own education and projects, and their spouses fund their own divorce, and so lets other hoarders spend more of their hoarde which further enhances your personal hoarding.  Its this fact that makes the only objection to UBI the necessity of misery and a harsh environment that forces desperate submission on people because of the belief that the only way you can earn profits is from their exploitation.

If $3T of this revenue were applied to universal healthcare, then $2T would be left over.  $1.2T higher than the $800B Andrew Yang wants to raise for UBI.  This allows, under Yang's economic model, an extra $4000/year in freedom dividends to 300M Americans.

Switching to a 28% flat personal/corporate tax (same surtaxes) would reduce revenue by $1.2T, still funding universal healthcare, but eliminating the funding for an extra $4000 in freedom dividends.

The case for the 33% tax rate is the additional independence provided by the extra $4000 ($16k total) freedom dividend, the additional savings from existing assistance program clawbacks and program elimination, the additional value any remaining government program/spending would provide (higher tax rate means spending generates revenue), and the higher business spending that is incentivized (higher tax rate means higher tax reductions for spending).  From the full paper on deficit adjusted GDP, a higher tax rate that impacts hoarders necessarily leads to higher economic growth as well.


wealth taxes
Wealth taxes are generally a bad idea because, unlike income taxes, there's no tie between wealth and a nation, and so capital can be chased away without any benefit.  A notable exception is below (after next paragraph).

The wealth generated in past 10 and next 100 years is mostly in tech company stocks, many of which are unprofitable, and many that don't need external capital unless it comes with great terms (dual class shares, no dividend prospects) from the muppets who want to buy in.  Unprofitable companies are great for consumers, employees, and suppliers as the company in its unprofitable phase is giving to rather than taking from society.  Yet, great wealth is generated for founders through insider stock ownership.  They have the privilege of monetizing that wealth tax free by borrowing against it and/or dictating their own salaries.

An insider tax that would take 0.1%/year of shares owned by insiders (without voting rights for government stake), and up to an additional 0.2%-0.5% for very high public share values owned by insiders and their heirs/families/trust beneficiaries.  If the 0.2% rate kicked in on share values above $50M, and 0.5% kicked in on share values over $1B, the overall tax take over a 40 year period would be 3.93%-19.2%.  Because UBI and M4A does so much to permit (through freedom to fail) entrepreneurship in the US, there would be no impact on wealth creation efforts.  For shares that are not public or in specialized private market places that create liquidity, the tax on these shares could be collected by sales requiring an allocation of the government's stake be part of the transaction.  There would be no liquidity burden to pay the tax, as it could be paid in-kind with shares.

With a surtax on investment income, it may not be necessary to add a wealth tax.  The loophole with investment income is that the wealthiest entrepreneurs can delay earning any.  There is a high likelihood that the current wealth concentration will continue as the largest tech companies seem to have an edge in further innovation.  This wealth tax is worth considering to either lower the base flat tax rate, or increase the freedom dividend such that innovators have customers to sell to, get richer, and pay more taxes.

Green New Deal
Where the GND recommends job guarantees it is misguided.  It should identify projects where government direction is needed, and then propose funding them, and any needed hiring should always follow rather than lead projects.  The US energy sector is done through state utilities and programs, and energy investments cost nothing because they are designed for returns greater than costs.  Retrofitting existing buildings has much lower returns/benefits compared to accelerating the transition to 100% renewable energy.


I strongly advocate a carbon tax and dividend (tax revenue returned ascash rebate to residents) scheme. With Yang's freedom dividend, slaver opponents cannot use the theoretical poor little old lady that must frequently drive into the city for healthcare as an opposition example. A carbon tax of any amount also costs nothing if it is rebated in its entirety as a dividend. Last year, I recommended a $1000/ton carbon tax pathway, but technology has already advanced well enough that much lower rates would be effective:

  • $20-$50/ton would eliminate all new electric coal and natural gas plants as long as tax keeps increasing to offset collapsing natural gas prices.
  • $200/ton (= $2/gallon of gasoline) bringing gasoline prices to a net $5/gallon would be enough to rapidly transition vehicles to battery and hydrogen power. As $5/gallon means $20k per 100k miles of fuel costs on a typical car.
While its possible to set individual taxes on each fuel, and to balance them with smaller carbon taxes, and incentives for alternatives, a carbon tax is essential to exterminate fossil fuels, because as alternatives are deployed, fossil fuels get cheaper.  Cheaper fossil fuels does lower development of new resources, but it doesn't stop the draining from existing wells and mines.  Compared to a carbon tax and dividend (which costs nothing: rebates = costs), incentives and regulations increase prices without providing rebates to all, but politicians need to summer in the Hamptons too, so some mix of policies (including those with costs) above and beyond a carbon tax are acceptable waste of politician attention.  The important ones:

  • Mandate electric utilities to lower consumer rates by building out renewables and storage that enables them to close FF plants. (0 cost, consumer positives)
  • Mandate electric utilities to permit it customers high solar generation levels.  Including policies for net cash rebates to consumers. (0 cost, consumer positives)  Utilities that don't want their consumers competing with them should lower rates by building out cheap large scale renewable power.
  • Aim to convert natural gas transmission/delivery grid to hydrogen.  Near term mandates for new appliances to support dual fuels.  20%-25% of hydrogen can be mixed with natural gas without appliance changes in near term.  10-15 years after dual fuel mandate initiates, full hydrogen gas network is possible with minimal disruption.
  • Large industrial gas users should be switched to pure hydrogen pipe supply where they are concentrated as the earliest step.  Surplus hydrogen from these pipelines is what should be blended into the general/residential pipe network
  • NY state has passed emission regulations that have forced all coal plants to close by mid 2020s, as eliminating/capturing emissions would be too expensive to operate. Similar regulations can exterminate all fossil fuel power and vehicles without a carbon tax. (A carbon tax is better because it provides economy wide use-based behaviour changes. If you use 1 gallon of fuel per month, making your vehicle illegal doesn't reduce emissions enough relative to personal cost)
  • Retrofitting all existing building has high personal or social costs, and should not be pursued. Its almost certain that the equivalent cost spent on additional renewable generation and storage 

Yang undersells economic growth from UBI, and this revenue plan is much better than a VAT

The freedom dividend will greatly increase the labour pool:  The removal of welfare/disability/healthcare cliffs will let more people contribute more for themselves and the economy.  Those who work 2 or 3 jobs may free up some hours for those others called to help themselves and businesses.  Wages, sales and profits will go up significantly, all spiraling upwards feeding on each other.  Investment, and associated job creation, will shoot up significantly, as collecting more consumer money is easier, and the freedom to fail while still having access to food, shelter and healthcare makes ideas and partners into the idea easier to fund with long term (instead of high salary) payoff potential.  Labour force participation can mostly be a function of businesses needing help and asking for it, rather than an oppressive struggle that requires a patron kindly accepting offers of servitude.

Natural tax proposal is a massive boost on top of freedom dividend: The investor class will get into controlling/starting businesses to provide themselves with salaries that get funneled to spending.  Cost of capital will go down due to relative attractiveness of surer debt investment, whose returns, along with dividends, are also more likely to be spent.  The equalizing of labour and profit taxes means more incentive to work and more profits to tax.  More tax revenue is generated, and better social payback, and therefore value, for programs initiated by public and private sectors as a higher economic multiplier is achieved.  For international trade, production is rewarded in high tax rate jurisdictions, instead of a race to the bottom.

Massive quality of life improvements are enabled by freedom dividend: More retail, restaurant, entertainment, and cell phone coverage will be available in cities and villages as a result of more consumer empowerment.  Bad neighbourhoods will stop being bad due to fewer stabbings, muggings, pest problems, homelessness, bicycle and car thefts, and general willingness to invest where all tenants are good tenants.  Crime and healthcare outcomes significantly improved due to lower mental health stresses, and opportunity availability.  Necessary energy transition investment, transition away from unethical business practices, and value opening automation, is much easier when survival isn't dependent upon being exploited to squeeze every last drop of civilization destroying oil in the next few months, ethical considerations can balance basic needs, and social anger over displacement is minimized when massive opportunities for labour are opened up elsewhere.  Anger manipulated over imports is also eliminated when imports pay full income taxes based on sales, without deduction.  The freedom dividend will provide access to debt free education and training to everyone without expensive subsidies that enable education providers to extort and overpromise foolish young people.

An even higher than the GI bill (another non-income-limited benefit as freedom dividend) fueled post ww2 prosperity that averaged over 5% gdp growth.  It will be much higher than this, likely 10% sustained, because the freedom dividend is a much larger scope, and all of the above reasons.  Production is rewarded domestically where transportation and material costs may be lower.

The natural tax system (my name for this VAT+ proposal) is very big.  There is also a specific insider share wealth tax proposal that is the only wealth tax solution that does not risk wealth flight.  Wealthy insiders can still avoid taxes by borrowing from their shares instead of selling them, and pay themselves exorbitant salaries, and the incentives to own or build the next facebook are substantial regardless of wealth taxes.  Equalizing tax rates on investment income and labour (and balancing it further with investment surtax) means obtaining significant social revenue from the profits of wealth.

A further investment incentive from natural taxation is refundable tax credits for businesses that lose (spend more than they earn in country) money.  Instead of offsets to future possible profits, immediate cash back assists the sustainability of any startup, and can further intentionally low/no profit ventures with social purposes, without the regulatory framework restricting charities.

Attacking Republicans defense of a strong economy
Elite republicans including Trump and his defenders are subhuman thieving filth orchestrating collappse of America and the world.  It is theft to destroy the climate and environment for the enrichments of the republican donor base.  It is theft to unsustainably juice the stock market while disincentivizing business to invest in America.  It is theft to continue protecting extortion in healthcare, and to maximise misery for the benefit of exploiters.  It is theft to destroy the global economy and peace, isolating the US towards North Korea, only to protect its ranking in the world.

These Republican thieves will sell this theft as a success.  The slight of hand for the unsustainable economic strength over the last 2 years, is that it has been on the back of an additional $2T in debt.  Massive debt increases will always lead to higher short term economic growth than without them, as an accounting certainty.  If a recession during 2020 election is to be avoided, even higher undustainable record deficits will need to be generated.  So the biggest theft of all is the unsustainable juicing of GDP while promoting businesses to cost cut and harvest/extract profits from the country.