2 comments in reply to "Talkin’ Taxes at Milken Global Conference"


  1. Perplexed says:

    Interesting discussion, to say the least. So it appears that the consensus is that “we need to raise revenues as long my group’s advantage is viewed as being “in the public interest” and allowed to stand.” This of course is “enabled” by design when these “expenditures” are never viewed in the context of being a choice between these expenditures and other spending priorities (like those that aren’t accompanied by lobbyists and other forms of purchased political power).

    So charitable organizations might suffer if plutocrat’s tax breaks are cut because the “charitable giving” of the wealthy might be more linked to their tax returns than their “hearts” so we musn’t touch that! All of this with no discussion of the fact that they are spending foregone public tax receipts on their own private charity choices? No one thinks to raise the obvious question of: if this is a proper public expenditures of funds, why aren’t the publics’ representatives making the decisions about where this money is spent? Why is it not spent in accordance with the “public interest?” Maybe “we the people” would choose to spend these dollars quite differently than the wealthy benefactors of these tax breaks.

    As usual, the controlling assumption appears to be that “we need to pander to the wealthy” to insure their “investment” in what is good for the public at large; and in so doing we need to incent their becoming more wealthy as that’s what’s best for everyone. Of course it never arises that we could incent savings below a certain level of wealth while taxing savings of extreme wealth to achieve the same total savings AND a wealth concentration that is actually in the public interest. No one but Keynes understood that it was total savings that mattered, not the savings of a tiny, wealthy minority? And that the incentive was provided by changes in the interest rate as more savings were needed? How do these assumptions get so “baked in” and never subjected to “scientific” scrutiny?

    If corporations and other “limited liability” organizations do not pay enough in taxes to offset the costs of “externalities” that the public absorbs on their behalf, is it, after netting out the costs that the public absorbs on behalf of these “investors,” even in the “public interest” to allow these “legal entities” to exist? Remember, this was supposed to be in the interest of everyone to allow these entities to be formed. It hasn’t quite worked out that way has it? Here’s the latest example: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/839e662a-b3dd-11e2-ace9-00144feabdc0.html

    Interesting that the moderator opened the discussion by pointing (out about tax reform) that “people talk about it, and then nothing happens.” The defenses martialed for each proposed changed, and the power of the lobby defending it, go a long way to explaining why “noting happens.” Unfortunately, the only proposed change (with any significant consequences) that seemed to have any realistic possibility of ultimately being implemented is the one about a U.S. version of Hugo Chavez; everyone on the panel can see it coming but we’re paralyzed when comes to actually doing anything about it?


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