Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Carl Levin, пошёл к чорту!

Needless to say I received no response from Sen. Carl Levin or his office. (See my previous post.) But I've been thinking about his subcommittee hearings and the way he described them, and think a little more commentary is in order. Some might say I was overly harsh in my reply to him, but if anything I was too mild. Here's why.

Recall how Levin characterizes the problem: "The findings are the latest in a series of examinations the subcommittee has done to show how multinational companies exploit loopholes to avoid taxes, which raises the deficit and the tax burden on working families."

Got that? Apple and other multinational companies raise the deficit and raise the tax burden on "working families."

Really? Apple causes the deficit? Apple increases the tax burden on income earners? Then if Apple never existed, or if it ceased to exist tomorrow, the deficit would be less? Taxes as well?

No, that's so idiotic that even a U.S. Senator would find it hard to believe, and it's not what Levin means. Here's what he really means: in Levin's view, every dollar of earnings that Apple retains is a dollar that the federal government doesn't have... hence it is a "cost" to the federal government. This idea is promoted incessantly by advocates of big government. They explicitly see the economy as zero sum game, in which a dollar held in private hands is a dollar they could have used to further whatever might be their scheme du jour. This isn't just political diatribe on their part -- they really do see the world this way.

But there's nothing special about Apple or multinational corporations in this regard. The zero-sum argument applies to ALL dollars and all property, including yours and mine. Inherent in this way of looking at the world is that everything is fair game for the government. I've read enough policy analyses and op eds to understand that they really mean it: failing to tax something away from you is a cost to the government, in this view.

This is an extremely destructive way of designing policy. It abolishes secure private property and makes everything an implicit commons, with all of the negative economic consequences thereof. It institutionalizes rent-seeking, it increases insecurity and uncertainty thereby depressing the creation of wealth, and in the end it makes us serfs and slaves of those with enough political clout to take our property, including ourselves.

This last is exactly what Levin's damnable subcommittee hearings are designed to foster -- government power that thugs like Levin can use for their own ends.

I've been reading quite a bit of material lately on entrepreneurship and technological innovation. There are trends underway that, if they continue, promise a much, much wealthier and happier future, for both America and the rest of the world. The one thing that most threatens to derail these trends are our catastrophically terrible governments and the dreadful ethical, political, and economic ideas that tend to drive them.

Hence it's important that we tell government officials to go to hell, and do so loudly and repeatedly, because if we don't, they will take us to hell.

Translator's note: the title tells Senator Levin to "go to the devil" in Russian. This is not an expression of endearment in Slavic cultures.

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