Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Written on January 8th, 11th through 13th, and 17th, 2017
On the evening of January 10th, 2017 - the same night that Obama gave his farewell address from McCormick Place in Chicago - I attended a Steve Earle concert elsewhere in the same city.
Guitarist and vocalist Earle told the audience that he was sad to see Obama go. Earle dedicated a song to Obama, said "I don't mind the drones", and added that he thinks Hillary Clinton is smart.
I've never seen so many people pat themselves on the back for helping to elect "the first black president" as I did last night. Do they do that all the time? Have they ever stopped to consider that to call a mixed-race person "black" - when he does have white heritage - could be perceived as labeling Obama a non-white "other"?
On the way out of Earle's show, I heard someone who attended the concert tell his friend that Obama dropped 26,000 bombs within some time frame or another. Remember, Barack Obama renewed the same kind of steadily increasing Israeli aid package that George W. Bush signed, expanded troop presence in 40 countries in Africa, and failed to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As confident as I am that Trump will destroy the lives of Palestinians (and undocumented immigrants) more than President Obama has, I'm still not sad to see Obama go. Obama's true legacy will be remembered as electing Trump, and making him look good by comparison; just as Hillary Clinton's legacy is making Nixon look good by comparison.
Obama was able to replace U.S. soldiers in Iraq with mercenaries (also called private security contractors), as well as with U.S. soldiers working for private security contracting firms. This allowed liberal media to skew the numbers about U.S. troop levels in Iraq, because the number of U.S. soldiers had technically drastically declined, while the level of total Western security agents remained more numerous than the public was aware several years into the Obama Administration.
Additionally, failed to close Guantanamo like he pledged, failed to reverse the growth of executive power and reverse the damage done to due process in the wake of 9/11. Obama didn't reverse the attack on civil liberties as he promised; he continued to detain alleged enemy combatants who were found not guilty, and his orders resulted in the deaths of American citizens abroad - adult and of minor age alike - without charges and without due process.
Barack Obama's drone strike orders have resulted in the deaths of children; in Yemen, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. During the Obama Administration, military experts complained about the high number of civilian casualties the military was prepared to risk in order to take out medium-value targets.
Trump says he likes Obama, although they have some disagreements. On the health policy front, Trump has said that he wants universal health care. But he has also stated that he wants to get rid of the lines around the states, that make it impossible for people to purchase health insurance policies across state lines, even when those policies comply with the regulations of the state of the policy buyer's residence. Trump has also said that he wants to keep the provision of Obamacare that prohibits insurance companies from denying people based on pre-existing conditions.
To recap, Trump has stated a desire for universal health care, said Big Pharma is "getting away with murder", and wants to keep the Pre-Existing Conditions provision. This is not a right-wing position on health insurance; it is a welfare-warfare-statist one. So, people with pre-existing conditions, despite my objections to Trump's and Obama's shared position on this, have no fear about being denied coverage.
But to those of you who support Obama more than Trump on health: are you going to attribute every treatment you receive over the next four years to Donald Trump, the same way you did with Obama? You've heard that Trump might just keep most of Obamacare but change it slightly and call it Trumpcare, right? Obama isn't Imhotep (the Egyptian god of medicine), and Trump isn't either. Appreciate the doctors who help you; not the politicians who say they want to help you but can do nothing but get in the way.
Obamacare did as much to hurt health insurance companies and young insurance subscribers as it did to help them. It bound all citizens together into territorially determined health insurance pools, and makes a mockery of what the federal role ought to be in ensuring that free enterprise in the medical industries survives.
I don't drink alcohol, and yet I have to be in the same health insurance pool as people who drink alcohol. I have to pay for retirees and seniors who drink, to stay alive on Medicare and Social Security, while I probably won't get mine. I have to work to pay for them to live forever, when I can't even manage to convince them that living forever will soon be medically possible. So as a result, they're demanding to live forever, while insisting on living as if they're dying.
They consume diet sodas and artificial sweeteners, and sulfites in cheap subsidized pork and in wines. They drive drunk on the nice, smooth roads we have - that the alcohol sales taxes probably pay for - putting myself, themselves, and their loved ones and neighbors in danger in the process. They get to live irresponsibly, while my generation gets stuck with the bill, deprived of our entitlements, payment still forced on those who don't even want those benefits, while the Baby Boomers deride Millennials as lazy and entitled.
I did not give Baby Boomers heart disease and cancer; their ignorance and naïveté about F.D.A. standards is their own fault. They ignore what our generation has to say about food safety, they rub elbows with well-paid yes-men who tell managers who poison our foods, and they have difficulty conceiving of the way future technologies will affect the economy and regulations. I already have to listen to them give me unsolicited advice that only made sense in 1979; I shouldn't have to help take care of them.
But that's not to say I don't want to be in the same insurance pool as people with pre-existing conditions; I do, I just want to be in the same pool as sick people whom I know and trust, not people who live thousands of miles away from me, whom I will never meet.
I won't miss Obama, and you shouldn't either. When politicians can sweep future expenses under the rug, and delay payments to our creditors, the deficit will look smaller. All the statistics about Obama improving the budget deficit and the employment rate are deliberately distorted, and the importance of the strength of the Dow Jones to the needs of average Americans is overblown. If you don't know what Major Fiscal Exposure is – or don't know the difference between unemployment and non-employment, and how they're measured - then you've been deceived.
Labor force participation and home ownership are down since 2009, and although the deficit is the lowest it's been under Obama, it's higher than it was under Bush in 2008, and the national debt is higher than ever (having almost doubled since Obama entered office).
The dichotomy used to characterize the Obama-Trump transition has been overblown. Trump is not far-right; and Obama is not far-left. Neither of them offer a perfect world, nor anything close to it; they each only offer trade-offs. The best that either of them can do is move their food around their plate; shuffle our nation's problems around, so that the set of problems becomes 50% different every four years.
I gave Obama a chance, he failed to live up to his promises, so I won't miss him. I'll give Trump a chance, most of his promises are ridiculous so I don't care whether he lives up to his promises, he'll solve a few problems but start a whole bunch of new ones, and I won't miss him when he goes either. So I say good riddance to Barack Obama, and "don't let Mrs. o'Leary's cow set you on fire on your way out of the city".
It's the new year, and we have a new president. That's not to say that we're obligated to give Trump a chance, nor are we obligated to obey his orders; I will never stop believing in the rights of non-violent resistance and conscientious objection.
What we do have an obligation to do, is to be intellectually honest and responsible with the information we take in and put out. Regardless of our political affiliation, each of us has a responsibility to one another to say what we think, and to use science and research to back it up. We should also make it clear when we're only speculating about something, versus whether our conclusions are based on said research. We must also remember that we're not responsible for what other people do, based on what we state might be true (unless we intend to incite a riot with our speech).
It's time to stop mincing words. It's time to stop blowing racist dog-whistles, and stop virtue-signaling. You can't emote your way out of a rational political discussion; nor use fear about racism and xenophobia to manipulate people, without offering substantial evidence thereof.
Trump's interactions with the media, and comments on political correctness - in addition to the rising tide of throngs of students pulling fire alarms and blocking entrances to ensure that other students can't attend conferences by persons criticizing immigration or the transgender community - mean that we simply can't do that anymore. It's dishonest, it only shows that you've stooped to the level of your political rivals, and it only opens you up to criticism, which will enhance the feeling of victimization which you would not have if you bothered to do some research.
It is no better to be ashamed of your race (or ethnicity) for bad things that other people did, than it is to be proud of your race for the good things that other people belonging to your race did. To say otherwise is to hold millions (or billions) of people collectively guilty, or collectively responsible.
We must remember that not every action called "a terrorist attack" by media are terrorist attacks. Nor is burning down a Holocaust museum "an act of free speech". We should look at recent terror attacks, but also some historical atrocities, as crimes; committed by particular individual persons, against particular individual persons, sometimes with hatred or racism as a motivator, sometimes not.
We must be intellectually honest with one another. We must not shy away from using certain words that we feel are appropriate, simply because some people out there would like to intimidate us into not using them, or into using different words.
Being privileged is not bad; everybody should have privilege. It's being spoiled - and having unequal privilege (especially when the privilege is institutional, and not meritocratic) that's the problem. We must stop calling for privileged white kids to be punished more, simply because non-white, non-privileged kids are punished so harshly. Especially if it's a victimless crime, like non-violent possession and trade of illicit drugs.
As a way to diminish the disparity in sentencing across race, Barack Obama pledged to make powder cocaine and crack cocaine offenses equally punishable. He did so, not by decreasing punishments for crack cocaine, but by increasing penalties for powder cocaine. This accomplishes nothing, aside from teaching non-violent offenders how to become violent people in order to survive in prison.
Additionally, please stop saying "mansplaining" when you mean to say "condescension". There is no need to bring someone's sex into it, when you intend to call them out for being disrespectful, because they're explaining something as if the person they're talking to is stupid. Men do that, women do that. Using the word "mansplaining" is sexist. Sorry if I'm mansplaining.
Lastly, as I explained above, don't let anyone tell you which words to use, and which words not to use; including myself. Say "mansplaining" and "privileged" all you want, just don't expect me to take you as seriously as I would someone whose diction makes sense.
I guess this has just been my little way of saying "Happy New Year". I close with the immortal words of Huey Freeman (a character on Aaron McGruder's animated show The Boondocks), who said, "Act like you've got some goddamn sense, people!"
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Health insurance companies should be free to deny subscribers coverage, and raise the prices of premiums, on the basis of pre-existing medical conditions.
It may sound cruel to advance this position, but it only seems cruel when we forget that the health insurance industry may not even need to exist. Even more so when we forget that the provision of Obamacare that opposes that pre-existing conditions policy, by design, rests (in terms of implementation) on the completely illogical Individual Insurance Purchase Mandate, which was somehow found by the majority of the Supreme Court to be the most appropriate part of Obamacare. This means that once the Mandate falls, most of the rest of Obamacare falls.
It's not necessary to compel anyone to purchase health insurance, especially with people they may not want to be in the same pool with; whether that's because they have expensive conditions, or because they're older (and therefore more prone to disease), or simply because their political values - and their ideas about what health policy should look like - are different from other subscribers'. It is not only unnecessary to compel anyone to be in the same health insurance pool as any other particular person, for whatever reason; it is a violation of our constitutionally recognized freedom of, to, and from association.
Single-payer systems and public options can be made obsolete through the focused pooling of assets into voluntary health insurance cooperative plans. This idea replaces competition-destroying monopsonies (one-buyer systems; i.e., single-payer systems) with consumer-cooperative purchasing societies; market actors that can grow as large as necessary (in terms of purchasing power) in order to affect prices in a way that obtains low premium prices for all members of the pool.
The only way to justify continuing the Pre-Existing Conditions provision of Obamacare on grounds of freeing and opening people's access to trade in health insurance, is to absurdly argue that ordering someone to purchase something, is the same thing as allowing them to purchase it.
The blatantly unconstitutional Individual Insurance Purchase Mandate flies in the face of the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause, and the Supreme Court opinion that upheld it undermines everything that a logical and fiscally responsible society ought to understand about what the difference should be between fees and fines, and between taxation and theft.
The government regulates people for refraining to engage in commerce by buying health insurance. Next it tries to address the problem of people being uninsured because they can't afford it, by requiring people to spend money they can't afford to buy the insurance. It passes this off as helping the poor.
Finally, it regulates the commerce (buying the policy) because it's commerce now, even though you wouldn't have engaged in commerce unless they ordered you to buy it. Still, you're theirs to regulate, even if they only have federal jurisdiction but you can't even buy policies from other states.
None of this is necessary. Doctors' Hippocratic Oaths include pledges to help patients regardless of their ability to pay. If Hippocratic Oaths were enforceable (whether by government, or by non-state-actor contract enforcement agencies), then doctors who agree to abide by that oath would not legally be free to decide whether to turn patients away.
If that happened, and if the parts of Obamacare that violate the Constitution were repealed, then patients wouldn't need health insurance companies. Not only that, but our supposedly caring government wouldn't even force patients to trade with health insurance companies. Without the Individual Mandate, government couldn't force us to buy from these companies; and without the Individual Mandate, there would be no need for government to force companies to accept us.
Remember, this is the same government that is limiting people's choices about what kind of medications they can try to save their own lives, taxing profits and sales of medical devices (raising prices and increasing malpractice lawsuits in the process), and enforcing medical patents for overly lengthy time periods in order to benefit Big Pharma (which makes the problem of availability of medical devices worse).
Meanwhile, the Third World suffers from disease, and Americans aren't allowed to buy cheaper drugs that imitate the patented ones, from Canada or Mexico. Figures in liberal media that "open borders is a Koch brothers proposal" so that we won't become aware of the hazardous effects that state and national borders have on the affordability and variety of consumer goods (medications and medical devices included). There are plenty of changes to health policy that would be more appropriate than six of the seven major provisions of P.P.A.C.A..
I oppose the Pre-Existing Conditions provision because it takes away a valuable freedom - the right of the insurance company to deny coverage - without compensating them for this takings, and without allowing individual insurance companies to refuse or opt-out. If the Supreme Court had ruled the other way, this takings would be seen as the extrajudicial theft that it constitutionally is.
Barack Obama's signature piece of legislation was a failure and a waste of public attention and money. In my opinion, about eighty-five percent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has absolutely no constitutional or economic merit to it. I believe that it has only served to make the health care and insurance industries more complicated (both for its employees and for patients); more plagued with financial and procedural problems; and less compatible with civil liberties, due process of law, the right of private property, and a federal government that enforces strictly limited intellectual property rights laws, and obeys suggestions by the framers about what kind of taxes are permissible and why.
We should be allowing more people to buy insurance, not forcing people to do so. If young people are allowed to stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26, that's fine, because that's freedom. It would not be freedom if they were ordered to stay on their parents' plans. For the same reason, government allowing denial of coverage is a freedom, while government forcing you to be covered by compelling you to buy, is the opposite of freedom; it is command-and-control economics.
Friday, January 6, 2017
1. Make the federal government adhere to its constitutionally enumerated powers, and simplify and roll back federal involvement in health; by repealing nearly the entirety of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
2. Reduce limitations on coverage of health insurance subscribers, by keeping the Obamacare provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until the age of 26.
3. Put health insurance providers on an equal playing field with consumers, by allowing health insurance providers to deny coverage, and to change the price of coverage, on the basis of pre-existing conditions.
4. End the punitive and unnecessary enforcement of the "individual mandate"; repeal the individual health insurance purchase mandate, and repeal the fine ("tax") on failing to purchase insurance plans.
5. Make it easier for people to keep their health insurance when they move to a new state, by allowing health insurance plans to be bought and sold in any state, as long as the plans fit the requirements set by the state in question.
5. Make it easier for people to keep their health insurance when they move to a new state, by allowing health insurance plans to be bought and sold in any state, as long as the plans fit the requirements set by the state in question.
6. Make it easier for people to keep their health insurance when they lose their job, by ending the tax credit for employer-provided health insurance, or make tax credits equally applicable to all.
7. Allow for long-term planning of health care expenses, by expanding health savings accounts (H.S.A.s); allow people to save unlimited amounts of money in H.S.A.s.
8. Provide income relief for health care workers by repealing taxes on the income of doctors and nurses, and other workers providing health care services, whether they work at hospitals, religious charities, or other enterprises.
9. Make medical devices more affordable for hospitals, by repealing taxes on the sale of medical devices, and by repealing taxes on profits from medical device sales.
10. Help decrease overall federal spending in non-enumerated policy areas; by not only curbing the growth of Medicare and Medicaid, but by refraining from allowing their budgets to grow (in terms of inflation adjusted dollars), at the very least, if not by cutting those programs overall.
12. Abolish or drastically reduce all taxpayer-supported artificial business privileges, supports, protections, and favors given by government to enterprises providing health insurance and care.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Written between December 17th and 20th, 2016
On Saturday, December 17th, 2016, CBS News aired “Blaming Melissa”, an episode of its investigative report series entitled 48 Hours. Reporter Erin Moriarty hosted the episode. “Blaming Melissa” has been described as a hit piece by members of “Free Melissa Calusinski”, a Facebook group dedicated to proving the woman’s innocence.1
Calusinski is currently serving a 31-year prison term at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, Illinois. She was convicted of first-degree murder in the January 14th, 2009 death of toddler Benjamin Kingan.
In Illinois, a conviction of first-degree murder requires that the prosecution demonstrate that the defendant “killed an individual without lawful justification”, and either “intended to kill or do great bodily harm (or knew that the act would do so), Knew that the act created a strong probability of causing death of great bodily harm; or Was attempting or committed a forcible felony other that second degree murder”.2
She, her sister Crystal Calusinski, and Nancy Kallinger, worked at a day care center in Lincolnshire, Illinois, named “Minee Subee in the Park”. Melissa was an assistant teacher at the facility.3 The day care center has since closed, following a $2 million settlement with Kingan’s family.
On September 30th, 2016, a judge in Lake County, Illinois rejected a request to overturn Calusinski’s conviction.4 Melissa was 22 years old when Kingan died; she is now 30 years old. If she serves her entire sentence, she will be in her early fifties when she becomes a free woman.
What follows is a list of facts which, in the opinion of this author, suggest Melissa Calusinski’s innocence in the case, and point to her confession having been coerced.
Note: some of these facts do not directly point to Calusinski’s innocence; but rather merely suggests oversights in the prosecution. Point #21 explains a detail about the civil case between the Kingan family and the day care center, and has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of Calusinski on an individual basis.
1. Calusinski had a low verbal I.Q., in the bottom 4%.3
2. Calusinski had been teased as a youth for her low comprehension skills.5
3. Calusinski was described as having an “extreme vulner having "
- Interrogated without an attorney present
ability to suggestion”.5
- Interrogated without an attorney present
ability to suggestion”.5
4. Calusinski was described by her attorney Kathleen Zellner as “unsophisticated about her legal rights”3. She was interrogated without an attorney present, and “never asked for a lawyer”.6
5. After she had confessed, Calusinski asked interrogators whether the incident would go on her criminal record, which suggests that she didn’t understand how serious the charge was.5 Calusinski was also described as believing that she would be allowed to go home when the interrogation concluded.
6. Although Calusinski had the right to leave the room during the interrogation (because she agreed to be interviewed), she claims that she was locked into the room while detectives were outside. Calusinski stated, “They would leave and lock the door, and lock me in there”.3
7. Calusinski was interrogated off-and-on for somewhere between eight and ten hours (according to various, and somewhat conflicting, reports); from roughly 9:30 A.M. to 7 P.M. on January 16th, 20097; two days after Kingan died at 4:30 P.M. on January 14th, 2009. Most interrogations do not last anywhere near that long; most last only several hours at the longest.
8. Calusinski was deprived of food during the interrogation.8
9. Calusinski was deprived of restroom breaks during the interrogation.8
10. When Calusinski entered the interrogation room, she stated that she had “barely slept” during the two days between Kingan’s death and the interrogation.5
11. Calusinski was confined to a 9” x 12” interrogation room, pushed into a corner by two males – Lake Zurich, Illinois police department detectives Sean Curran and George Filenko9 – both of them older and larger than Calusinski.
12. Defense attorney Kathleen Zellner said police “got in her face, yelling expletives and slamming their fists”.5
13. Calusinski denied her guilt at least 79 times before confessing.
14. Calusinski has stated that she can’t explain why she confessed, nor why she demonstrated slamming Kingan to the ground during the interrogation.3
15. Despite having stated that she can’t explain her confession, Calusinski also told reporters that during the interrogation she was “terrified”; saying “They don’t know what I was put through in order for me to confess”.7 She also stated that she was “emotionally exhausted” at the time.7
16. The detectives who interrogated Calusinski arguably insisted to her that she was guilty (“he starts acting up and you get mad at him and you throw him on the floor”) because “something else must have happened”, and “that story you’re giving us is a load of shit”, and “that’s a bunch of lies”.3 Several of the interrogation methods used by the detectives parallel components of a controversial interrogation technique known as the Reid Technique.
17. Before confessing (six hours into the interrogation), Calusinski stated that Kingan “kind of almost slipped when I dropped him. And then he hit the chair”. 3 Calusinski “says she was putting Ben down, close to the ground on his tiptoes. “I thought he was going to stand,” she told the investigator. She said he fell and hit his head.”6
18. Reporter Ruth Fuller called Calusinski’s confession the “most troubling confession” she’d ever seen.5
19. According to their testimony, no workers at the day care center ever saw Melissa Calusinski become frustrated, nor angry, at the children in her care.5
20. Nancy Kallinger testified that she didn’t hear any screaming, nor crying, at the time of the incident.5
21. Two teachers (Melissa Calusinski and Nancy Kallinger) were present in the room at the time of the injury; which fulfilled Illinois’s requirement that two teachers be present in the room whenever there are more than five children.3 This means the day care center shouldn’t have been held liable, as it was complying with the regulation, at least at the time of the second injury (sustained on January 14th, 2009). However, Melissa Calusinski stated that she was alone in the room when she realized that Kingan was unresponsive;10 so holding the center liable may have been appropriate.
22. Day care workers showed the bump from Kingan’s previous injury to his mother. Prosecutor Steve Scheller stated, “The pediatrician actually examined Benjamin’s head, had felt around… said there was no issues that she felt needed to be addressed, that mom should just keep an eye on him”.5
23. Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd stated that the previous injury could have “easily” caused Kingan’s death two months later, even without a second injury.5
24. Head injuries sometimes cause vomiting; prosecutors attributed the vomiting to a stomach bug,5 although it’s unclear whether there is evidence to support the claim that Kingan was suffering from such an ailment in the days leading up to his death.
25. State pathologist Dr. Eupil Choi crossed out the word “significant” in an affidavit about the head injury which Kingan sustained in October 2008.5
26. Prosecutor Matthew DeMartini called the previous injury “microscopic”, while Thomas Rudd disagrees, saying that the injury was visible to the naked eye.5
27. Prosecutors downplayed and suppressed evidence of Kingan’s previous injury, but conceded that the previous injury occurred, but said it was “too small to matter”.5
28. Some attributed the abnormal rate of growth of Kingan’s head (during the last several months of his life) to normal growth, while others attributed this growth to swelling of the brain.5
29. Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd stated that Kingan was a head-banger, which if true could have made his previous head injury worse.5 Nancy Kallinger said Kingan threw his head back slightly, twice, shortly before he died.
30. Lake County, Illinois has a reputation of being reluctant to admit to falsely convicting the accused, in order to prevent the government from losing money in payouts to convicts.5
1. “Free Melissa Calusinski”, Facebook.com, accessed December 18th, 2016
2. “Illinois First Degree Murder Laws”, statelaws.findlaw.com, accessed December 19th, 2016
3. “Melissa Calusinski: Was a Day Care Worker Coerced into a Murder Confession?”, CBSNews.com, July 18th, 2015
4. “Guilty Verdict Stands in Day Care Murder; Judge Rejects Reversal”, ChicagoTribune.com, September 30th, 2016
5. “Blaming Melissa”, 48 Hours, CBS News, December 17th, 2016
6. “Melissa Calusinski: Detective “Made a Mistake””, Chicago.CBSLocal.com, February 24th, 2016
7. “Daycare Worker Melissa Calusinski Reveals Why She Confessed to Murdering a Toddler: ‘I Was Terrified’”; People Magazine, October 13th, 2016
8. “Is Deerfield “Killer” Innocent? “48 Hours” Suggests So”, JWCDaily.com, March 4th, 2015
9. “Questioning Melissa Calusinski”, CBSNews.com, February 28th, 2015
10. “Lake County Coroner: Toddler’s Death ‘Undetermined’ in Day Care Murder Case”, ChicagoTribune.com, July 8th, 2015
Monday, December 5, 2016
Written between Mid-November and December 5th, 2016
The following four paragraphs contain the description of a political study group which I created and administer on Facebook in November 2016, entitled “Basic Income & Tax Reform”.:
Basic Income & Tax Reform (formerly Give Me My Money) is a study group promoting radical tax reform alongside cash payments to the poor.
This is a group to bring together proponents of:
(1) the Negative Income Tax,
(2) the FairTax,
(3) Citizens' and Residents' Dividends,
(4) Sovereign Wealth Funds and Permanent Funds,
(5) Universal / Unconditional Basic Income Guarantees,
(6) extensions of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and
(7) expansions of ordinary people's tax deductions for expenses of care.
We believe that serious discussion of taxation reform, environmental policy reform, and welfare reform must take into consideration the need to take an integrated and comprehensive approach to these three issues. Reforms which must take place alongside our proposals include reforms to property rights, natural resource extraction, homesteading, and the budget.
We look forward to building coalitions with libertarian-leaning and progressive Democrats, moderate and libertarian-leaning Republicans, third parties and independents, Georgists, anarchist and direct action groups, and others.
Basic Income & Tax Reform desires to help lift the poor out of poverty (and remove poverty traps in the welfare system) while creating an economic environment more conducive to investment and savings (whether domestic or international) through less government intervention, not more; with redistributive taxation and involuntary taxation used only as last resorts. The types of tax proposals which we deem most necessary and proper, as well as urgent, are proposals which provide tax relief to the poor, while refraining from hindering productive behavior.
Proposals in include 1) extensions of the Earned Income Tax Credit (E.I.T.C.); 2) repeals of non-luxury sales taxes; 3) curbing inflation – through balancing the budget and paying off the debt – in order to lower what effectively amounts to the taxation of savings, which discourages savings; 4) expansions of homesteading tax credits so as to allow credits to apply to apartments, and tiny houses (alongside homesteading reform); and 5) permissive tax deductions for expenses from child care, elder care, and health care and insurance.
After those first five short-term proposals are achieved, our medium-term goals include 6) Cut-Cap-and-Balance measures; 7) reverting to zero-based budgeting; 8) passing across-the-board tax cuts; and 9) supporting measures which make taxes flatter. Our long-term goals are 10) formally repealing the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; 11) passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution); and 12) reforming the structure and philosophy of taxation into one that embraces geo-libertarian principles.
We would like to see all taxes imposed by the most local level of government possible (without sacrificing efficiency), and we desire that government be funded wholly through taxation proposals permissible under the umbrella of Land Value Taxation / the “Single” Tax (including carbon taxes), in addition to receipts from user fees, and revenues collected through voluntary contributions.
In the event that Georgist and geo-libertarian tax proposals were to fail, Basic Income & Tax Reform regards neither the FairTax nor the Negative Income Tax (N.I.T.) preferable to the other. This is because there are several things at issue; namely, that of progressive vs. regressive taxation, as well as problems associated with precisely which types of behavior are being taxed and which are not.
In one sense, the Negative Income Tax is preferable to the FairTax, because the N.I.T. is more progressive than the FairTax is. The FairTax has a reputation of being regressive, and in one sense it is, because it penalizes the purchases of ordinary people. On the other hand, the FairTax comes with a “prebate” that compensates people for the expenses they incur in paying those sales taxes (up to a certain point). But the prebate aside, the Negative Income Tax is a flat tax which has a reputation of being effectively progressive; this is because the poor would receive money overall instead of paying taxes. This is why the N.I.T. has been described as a flat tax which is effectively progressive; the poor would “pay” a “negative tax rate”; i.e., receive money.
On the other hand, the FairTax is preferable to the N.I.T. – especially as far as Georgists are concerned, and to some extent as far as many conservatives are concerned – because the FairTax penalizes consumption and the purchase of luxury and ordinary goods, while the Negative Income Tax penalizes the earning of income. Since some conspicuous consumption is wasteful, this means waste is more similar to consumption than it is to productive labor and the earning of income. Hence, the FairTax is less detrimental to productive behavior than is the Negative Income Tax.
Basic Income & Tax Reform is interested in ascertaining the beneficial aspects of, and principles behind, each of these two tax proposals (the FairTax and the Negative Income Tax) into a new philosophy of taxation.
As a way to avoid taxing either sales or income – and lessons from the FairTax and the Negative Income Tax having not yet being ascertained for the purposes of improving the rest of Basic Income & Tax Reform’s platform – taxation proposals permissible under the principles of Land Value Taxation (L.V.T.) should be the only taxes levied which are involuntary. Of course, convincing others that these taxes are appropriate, and winning elections, is how L.V.T. becomes voluntary.
The environmental objective of enacting Georgist taxation to its fullest extent, involves establishing Community Land Trusts (C.L.T.s), Community Water Trusts (C.W.T.s), and, if governments please, Community Air Trusts (C.A.T.s). These agencies could choose to unite these three functions into a single office; perhaps an “Office of Taxation, Environment, and Welfare” (O.T.E.W.).
Municipal and county governments would be encouraged to offer fewer services and shrink spending and taxes, while at the same time establishing these agencies. Additionally, unincorporated communities – and autonomous, independent, unincorporated local voluntary associations – would be encouraged to refrain from applying for recognition as official incorporated municipalities, and instead to build these agencies as the act establishing their legitimacy.
Communities would be encouraged – either that, or required, as a condition of participation in a coordinated effort across communities to build the same agencies and implement similar-enough policies – to set up Sovereign Wealth Funds. The concept of Sovereign Wealth Funds, Permanent Funds, Citizens’ Dividends, Residents’ Dividends, the Universal or Unconditional Basic Income Guarantee, the prebate from the FairTax, and the bonus given through the Negative Income Tax’s “payment of a negative tax rate”, all amount in the same thing: cash payments to people; either to all of the people, or only to those earning below a certain level of income (often set as the poverty rate).
The Sovereign Wealth Fund (or whatever name it has, given that so many names apply to such similar ideas) would be funded and backed by the chief export or exports of the community and / or region. It would also be funded by receipts and revenues originating from the imposition and collection of user fees, voluntary contributions, and taxes admissible under an extended Land Value Taxation system.
O.T.E.W.s (or their components, working independently of one-another) would be free to choose whether to establish currencies backed by the value of natural resources, and / or by the fees imposed for the privilege of extracting said natural resources, and / or backed by export sales. Such currencies could originate in local, state, or regional government; or they could be outgrowths of electronic currencies, or other types of alternative currencies.
O.T.E.W.s would operate as not-for-profit (or non-profit) consumer-cooperatives. They could be either quasi-governmental, non-governmental, or entities which are non-incorporated altogether. Any purchasing by these entities should be performed as a consumer-cooperative purchasing society.
These agencies would be free to become corporations, but not through official recognition by government. They would be independent corporations – really, consumer credit unions – which would sell stock. The value of the stock would rest upon the degree of success of each of those agencies in preserving its respective sphere of the environment (that is; land, water, and air).
The value of the optional natural resource –backed currencies would derive from both the degree of success of O.T.E.W. agencies in preserving the environment, and also from chief export sales, as well as general faith and credit in the government; and in the solvency of its taxation, banking, and financial systems.
Basic Income & Tax Reform feels that the above set of policies is the platform most likely to unite members of the Libertarian Party with members of the Green Party; through creating a convergence upon geo-libertarianism as a philosophy that lies between the two. We encourage Greens and progressives to come towards the positions of the Libertarian Party.
We additionally encourage Libertarian Party members, ideological libertarians, and libertarian-leaning conservatives, to embrace Georgism, or at least to support Thomas Paine’s basic income proposal, which in my opinion is compatible with Henry George’s ideas. In Paine’s proposal, a citizen’s dividend would give a basic income for all adult citizens, as a form of compensation for government takings from the full bundle of freedoms and rights which come with private landed property ownership in full allodial title (rights such as freedom from taxation of that land, the freedom to deny even government agents access to the property, and the freedom to explore one’s own property for natural resources without compensating the community).
The author of this article, himself, feels that the best avenue and vehicle for embodiment and presentation of this platform, would be as a revived Thomas Paine Caucus of the Libertarian Party, which also brings followers of Henry George and Milton Friedman into the mix; a Geo-Painean-Friedmanite Caucus of the Libertarian Party of the United States.
In light of what the Constitution has to say about the environment (which is nothing), and welfare (which is that government spending should benefit everybody), it is important to consider at what level these reforms are to be implemented.
It seems appropriate to recommend (and highlight) that this system works best as a decentralized or diffused federation of communities – or as multiple, geographically overlapping confederations – rather than as a centralized system or a multipolar system. Multipolar agencies may be necessary in the event that regional chief exports come to back new currencies, but that agency, being economic in nature, need not take the form of an actual government bureau nor office.
Any centralized or multipolar power should only exist henocentrically (as Texas-based Geo-Mutualist Panarchist author Will Schnack recommends); that is, a capital city should only bear the title of a central headquarters of a government larger than a community, for as long as the communities – or individuals, or some unanimously-accepted system balancing the needs of individuals with that of communities – continue to consent to have that central authority exist over them.
If such a government exists in any form; it should primarily be in the businesses of 1) allocating land in a macroscopic way; 2) ensuring mutuality of exchanges and transactions; and 3) registering individuals’ political membership. These functions reflect the main functions of legitimate governance as regarded by the schools of 1) Georgism; 2) Mutualism; and 3) Panarchism.