April 23, 2015
Would a Libertarian favor laws designed to reduce the number of new tax laws?
Guest blogger Diana Wales explores some options for the small-government crowd.
There Ought to be a Law – Part Deux-Over
By Diana Wales
My last blog attempt (here) was an unmitigated, epic failure. I tried to keep it humorous and succinct, which did not work for the topic. I was ready to take the hostile comments as a hint to give up blogging. But as Scott’s book points out, failure should be viewed as a stepping stone to success, so I’m giving it another go.
One thing I was particularly disappointed in for the last blog was the lack of constructive suggestions for improving our laws. Scott has a community of highly-intelligent followers with some great ideas, and I’m hoping this topic will bring out the best in you.
Other than flat-out banning taxes or suggesting the well-discussed topic of a flat tax, what new laws would you like to see regarding taxation? Here are a few of mine:
It should be illegal to promote a tax as “temporary,” because they almost never are. Once politicians get their hands on a revenue stream, taking it away is about as difficult as removing the Mississippi from the landscape. Toll roads are a classic example. The tolls start out as a way to pay for the road, and twenty years later when the bond is paid off, not only is the road not converted to a freeway, but the toll is several times what it was when first approved. Calling a tax temporary is a deceptive way to sell it to tax payers and should be banned.
It should be illegal to claim a proposition won’t raise taxes unless it actually does not cost anything. I have seen propositions that earmark a specific amount of dollars, often tens-of-millions or more, for something specific such as school infrastructure improvements. The project is pitched as if it would not raise taxes because the money would be taken out of the overall school allotment in the current general budget. But that means that the rest of the school budget has to be frozen in order to avoid raising the total. What are the odds of that happening? Furthermore, it assumes that the economy remains stable enough to bring in the same amount of total tax dollars. If the economy slumps, as it did a few years ago, suddenly there are fewer people working and paying taxes, so tax rates are raised to ensure that fixed-dollar amount is covered. If something costs $20 million, that should be clearly stated up-front in the proposition.
Lastly, if the government wants to fund a large purchase, like a new fighter jet, the funding approval should be based on the bid pricing multiplied by a historic cost-overrun percentage. For example, if the last five fighter jet contracts ran over by an average of 30%, then funding would have to be approved at 130% of the bid amount. If you’re going to ask for millions, or even billions, of taxpayer dollars, don’t come back a couple years later and ask for more because you “accidentally” underestimated the cost.
So what laws would you like to see to put more accountability into our system of taxes?
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How about an eye exam service that works through your smartphone? And how long before a parent can use something like that feature to identify drug use in their teens? Just hold up the phone to the teen’s eyes and I’ll bet it could identify both molly and weed use. Maybe other stuff as well. There’s your new app idea.
And Google has a technology for painting a wall with a material that can become a display screen. That’s a game-changer if it works. The future I imagine is that your “smart glasses” allow you to see one image on the wall while my glasses filter out your image and provide only mine. (Because of interleaving or something.) Your smart glasses would be a filter that works in all environments. Not much tech in your glasses because most of the tech is in the walls, the cloud, and the Internet of Things. That reduces the social problem of looking someone in the eye while they look at a video inside their glasses instead of you.
And scientists figured out how to make hydrogen fuel from dead plants. That’s great because California will be nothing but dead plants by the end of this summer. To the rest of the world we Californians look like bad water-planners, but our strategy all along has been to create free energy for our SUVs so we can drive to Oregon to brush our teeth.
True fact: If you say “book” as often as I do, you sound like a chicken. Book-book-book!