June 22, 2003
The Greens—Progressive and Ecological Taxes

(See this post for background on this series.)

Ecological Taxes: Tax pollution, resource extraction, harmful products, and the use of our common wealth of natural capital (land sites according to land value, timber and grazing lands, ocean and freshwater resources, oil and minerals, electromagnetic spectrum, satellite orbital zones).

Of course, the concept of such a tax never takes into account how this will affect consumer prices on everything (food too; "Grazing lands" and "land sites according to land value", not to mention taxes on water used for irrigation). It also ignores the concept of property ownership, something to which the greens are pretty strongly opposed. And somehow, I cannot see how we can regulate orbital zones. Are we going to tell the ESA that they cannot launch satellites unless they pay our tax? They'd (rightly) laugh in our face, and tell us where to get off.

Simple, Progressive Income Taxes: Enact a no-loopholes, graduated personal income tax with equal taxation of all income, regardless of source. Provide an income tax credit for each dependent to replace and fully compensate for the current exemptions and deductions that benefit to the average taxpayer, such as the home mortgage deduction and medical deductions.

Well, the conservatives have been lobbying for years for a simplified tax structure. The only difference is that the greens want a radically progressive structure, and the conservatives want a flat tax. Why don't we compromise and simply use the current (progressive) structure, and eliminate the 1.4 million word US Tax code? No deductions, no loopholes, just a tax. It is a starting point.

Eliminate Regressive Payroll Taxes: Fund Social Security, Health Care, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers Compensation out of progressive income and wealth taxes.

I'm not terribly opposed to that, except that it means that everyone is going to end up paying taxes to support the massive increase they will add to the current budget.

Guaranteed Adequate Income: Build taxable Basic Income Grants into the progressive income tax structure to create a Universal Social Security system that ensures everyone has income for at least a modest standard of living above the poverty line.

This, I assume, goes along with the "guaranteed job" thing, which will (theoretically) put everyone to work.

Maximum Income: Build into the progressive income tax a 100% tax on all income over ten times the minimum wage.

Here's where you are going to lose a lot of support from the big guns. Hollywood, the sports industry, and all of those VC people who have been cheerleaders for the left are going to oppose this one. Of course, since the minimum wage is going to be raised to $26,000/year, this means that only income over $260,000 will be stolen by the government.

End Corporate Welfare: Target subsidies for worker- and community-owned enterprises, not absentee-owned corporations. Put subsidies in the public budgets where they can be scrutinized, not hidden as tax breaks in complicated tax codes.

Another idea that manu on the right have advocated. Subsidies and secret tax breaks are a bad thing.

The difference between the capitalistic approach and the green approach is that capitalists want to eliminate all corporate welfare, while the greens only want to eliminate welfare to companies that don't meet their criteria.

Progressively Graduated Corporate Revenue and Asset Taxes Wealth Tax: Enact a steeply progressive tax on net wealth over $2.5 million (the top 5% of households).

Now they are going after wealth, not just income. Older people on fixed incomes are going to feel this one the most; after a lifetime of productive work, many retire with a sizable nest egg. Now, they are going to be taxed again and again on this money, simply because their total worth exceeds the threshold, despite the fact that their income is small. They are going to have to sell their assets to pay taxes on property that they have ALREADY paid taxes upon.

Inheritance Tax: Replace the loophole-ridden estate tax with a no-loopholes, progressive inheritance tax on inheritances over $1 million.

There goes more of the family farms of which the greens are so fond. Remember, a farm is more than the land, and the livestock (or crops) and the equipment an easily push the value of even a small farm over the $1 million mark. People are losing their family businesses with the threshold at $1.3 million; lowering it is going to accelerate the process.

Stock and Bond Transfer Tax: Encourage a shift from speculative to productive investments through a federal stock and bond transfer tax on all securities transactions.

Without speculative investments, innovation is going to be stifled. Of course, considering the platform's position on biotech, this is obviously not a big concern of the greens.

Currency Speculation Tax: An internationally uniform tax on currency conversion to discourage speculation. Revenues from the currency speculation tax should be channeled through international agencies into ecologically sustainable, democratically controlled development in poor countries.

So instead of speculating on a currency in an effort to make money, we should simply throw our money to other countries? (I will have more to say on this subject in a later post.)

Advertising Tax: A tax on advertising to fund a decentralized, pluralistic media system of real public broadcasting, public service broadcasting on commercial media, and independent nonprofit, noncommercial media.

Wow, yet another new form of tax. I must admit, I had not thought of this one before.

(I can see another tax, for the Zero-Population Growth crowd: A Boxer Shorts tax, since there appears to be a correlation between underwear choice and sperm fertility rates. Tighty whities and speedos are the ecologically correct choice, and therefore don't get taxed.)

Federal Revenue Sharing: Reduce state and local government dependence on regressive sales and property taxes through federal revenue sharing that combines centralized collection of progressive and ecological taxes with decentralized decisions on spending.

Of course, by reducing federal taxes, the federal government won't feel the need to give back ANY money to the states, allowing them to set their own tax structures and spend it as they see fit. That sounds even better.

Ecological and Feminist Economic Accounting: Expand the Bureau of Labor Statistics into a Bureau of Household, Labor, and Environmental Statistics with revised national economic accounts, statistics, and indicators that include stocks and flows of natural wealth, household production, and labor time values. Existing national income accounts and indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) ignore the ecological foundations of the economy and the value of household production. Ecological accounting will identify the true costs of resource depletion and pollution and hence appropriate eco-taxes to internalize full costs. Social accounting will identify the true value of household production and its contribution to the economy and social well-being. Labor time accounting will record and publish the current and dated labor time for goods and services, establishing the average labor time required for each product. These labor time values will serve as shadow prices against which to judge the fairness of actual market prices.

Wow. This must be more of that "relativistic" science I've heard about, where the answers to a question may differ because of gender or racial issues. I'm rather old-fashioned; I think that science deals in absolutes, and math is a hard science, with right and wrong answers.

I think the real reason to create such a bizarre new form of accounting is to obscure the wealth-obliterating effects of the Green Party's economic proposals. By changing the rules of accounting, there will be no direct comparisons available to document the carnage effected by such a radical restructuring of our whole society.

posted on June 22, 2003 02:41 PM


Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?

Back to Horologium