The Solution to Illegal Immigration is…Fixing the Tax System

There have been countless articles written about President Obama’s recent executive action regarding the amnesty given to some 5 million people who have been here illegally for over 5 years. Many people have taken the view that there is no reason for these people, who for at least 5 years have been abiding by our laws and working, should be separated from their friends and family by deportation. I would find it hard not to agree with that logic. Other people have the view that the president acted outside the confines of his office. The executive branch cannot simply make laws just because the legislative branch refuses to. I would find it hard not to agree with that logic. Overreaching use of the executive order is nothing new. Lincoln used an executive order called the emancipation proclamation to free the slaves during the civil war, (only the slaves in the confederacy were freed, not the slave states that were still part of the union). FDR created the Japanese internment camps by executive order during WWII. My point is not that since Lincoln did it that Obama should be able to do it. On the contrary, executive orders that have a scope outside the executive department and its employees should not be legal. Since the practice is apparently not going to go away, I would propose a solution…fix the tax system.

Let me frame this within the bounds of illegal immigration, since it’s topical. The republicans say that they would gladly look at an immigration policy favorable to these peaceful long term illegals if only the democrats would agree to close the border in order to stop the flow of illegals into the country so that they can create a more streamlined process of citizenship. The democrats say that if we make all the illegals citizens then we will have millions more tax payers, doing jobs that Americans won’t do and generally improving things for everyone. Both of these arguments are reasonable. Republicans see the illegal aliens as low skill people who would just suck off the already overburdened system and not only not pay taxes, but take tax dollars away from people who are here legally. Democrats make the point that they can’t pay taxes if they aren’t citizens. Both reasonable arguments.

If we were to repeal the 16th amendment, which gives the congress the power to tax incomes, and replaced it with a tax on the things we buy, it would solve both problems at once. This means no more payroll tax, putting legal workers and illegal workers on a level playing field. No more IRS and income taxes, putting illegal immigrants and legal wage earners on a level playing field. No corporate income taxes, because we pay most of those anyway. We would bring home 100% of our paycheck. The regulatory cost to business would drastically reduce, making it easier for that business to pass along the savings to customers by offsetting the increase in sales tax with a reduction in the price of goods, or to the employee with a raise in pay or benefits. Everyone would pay taxes according to what they consume at one flat rate. No loopholes for anyone or any product. Illegals, tourists and people who are legal but working under the table would all start paying taxes. Zero taxes for a business would bring industry back to America. There would be jobs for anyone who would want one.

The border would not be a worry because illegals would be paying taxes. If they want to take advantage of the system they would have to apply for citizenship. If not they could continue to work and pay taxes at the stores they buy things from without any benefits beyond making money for their family across the border. Not every illegal immigrant wants to be an American. This would solve the republican’s problems. The democrats would probably be more willing to deal with republicans the border problem and pathway to citizenship if half the battle is won already, by both sides.

If we had a fair tax, not only would Obama not made that executive order, there would have been no need for it. We could have virtually open borders with very little downside. If a fair or flat tax is so great, why don’t we have one? Well, our current tax system makes our congressmen and senators feel very important because they are courted every day by lobbyists from huge companies trying to get loopholes for whatever they sell. The tax code and the regulatory system are basically the whole reason we have lobbyists at all. While the vast majority of people polled support a fair or flat tax, politicians do not. Having no IRS or loopholes that encourage certain behavior makes it harder for them to control what people do. They don’t like that at all. Repealing an amendment takes 2/3 of the house and senate, and ¾ of the states to get it done. There are several flat tax and fair tax plans floating around. There are slight differences between them. Generally, flat tax proposals don’t need to repeal the 16th amendment, so are favored by many. I really don’t care which one we use because they are all better than what we have now.

Politically speaking, republicans stand to gain the most. Even critics concede that a fair or flat tax would improve the economy providing more jobs. Poor people would benefit most from this tax structure. Illegal immigrants overwhelmingly view democrats as more sympathetic to their cause, but might change their minds if republicans were more apt to open the borders to workers. We as a people are going to have to force our representatives to make a change.

“The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.” –Milton Friedman

Stupid Americans…

This week I thought I would write about what seems to be a general attitude by liberals regarding the American people as a whole. In light of the recent unearthing of multiple video’s showing Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber touting his achievements in writing the Affordable Care Act in such a way as to get around the “stupidity of the American voter.” What he meant was that for some reason American’s don’t like to be taxed. If he would have written the law truthfully then it would have been called a tax, but since the stupid citizens of this country don’t really know what’s good for them, they had to write this healthcare tax bill in such a way as to not look like a tax or it wouldn’t have passed. The other main quote being replayed over and over again is the quote regarding the so called “Cadillac tax”. You can watch the whole video here. He is lamenting the fact that wages are taxed but healthcare is not. Gruber sees this as a travesty because, after all, everything in the whole world should be taxed. He also equates lack of taxes to healthcare subsidies, meaning, in his mind the lack of government revenues from all these healthcare taxes that they are missing out on is seen as money given back to people and businesses that are supplying their workers with healthcare coverage. He also sees this situation as “regressive”, because if it was taxed like it should be, rich people would be paying higher taxes on healthcare than poor people, but it’s not, so they’re not. Rich people not paying taxes on everything is wrong on, well every level imaginable apparently. So what is poor Jonathan to do? He wants to tax those rich people with their good insurance so bad he can’t stand it, but those pesky, stupid voters won’t let him. Don’t they know these people are rich? Since he can’t convince them that not taxing health insurance is a “subsidy”, and that means paying people to have healthcare, and rich people shouldn’t be paid to have a better policy than regular people, he decides that he has to find a way to tax those rich people’s policy a different way because, “Americans are too stupid to know the difference.” I said all that to put his comments into context. What is going on here is nothing new. The liberal elite in this country since Woodrow Wilson until now have thought that they know better than the average citizen how to live their life, make decisions and what is good for them.

This attitude of arrogance generally comes from academia. These people who live in a bubble, who look at everything in the hypothetical, academic sense. They simply can’t understand why the general public doesn’t want them to solve all the problems of life. They see us as a petulant child that needs to take medicine, but we don’t want to swallow the pill. They have to hide it in our food and trick us into taking it. They know what’s best after all. Gruber, like many of them, collect millions of our tax dollars for the express purpose of tricking us into letting him “help” us. This arrogance trickles into almost every aspect of our lives. They say to us, oh, we’ll take this little bit of responsibility off your shoulders so you can concentrate on what really matters. Once they have one little bit of your life under their control they take more. We’ll make your car safer, so you won’t have to worry about that anymore. We’ll make your healthcare better and decide what coverage you should have. It’s a complicated issue, let me do the thinking for you. These light bulbs are better, this toilet is better, this way of building your house is better, trust me, and I’ll do the thinking for you. This approach to governing is called “incramentalism”. The best analogy is the old adage that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water it will immediately jump out, but if you put a frog into room temperature water it will stay there. If you heat the water slowly enough it will boil the frog. We are almost boiling.

How many of you noticed that America is no longer among the top freest nations on the planet anymore? How many noticed that we are no longer near the top of the freest economies in the world? How many have noticed that our freedom of association is not what it once was? Did you notice that our dollar is on the verge of collapse? Do you know how our money system works? I ask you these questions to illustrate the point that our freedoms have been slowly taken away from us for 100 years now, regardless of which party is in power and we haven’t noticed. It is time to understand what is going on around us. Most people think that we as a nation are 18 trillion in debt. We are actually 115 trillion in debt. They simply don’t count social security, Medicare and prescription drugs debt in the equation. That is about 1 million dollars of debt for every working person in America. As a nation we produce a little over 17 trillion dollars worth of stuff. You do the math. Stop giving these people the power to “fix” things.

I apologize for the venting, but I simply cannot stand these people who legislate our lives for us because we are too stupid to live it correctly on our own.

libertarians are just mean…

I have seen in countless facebook threads, in the aftermath of mid-term elections, that opposing big government solutions to problems are just mean. Seriously, that’s an actual argument. It follows, apparently, that if you oppose programs like minimum wage laws, welfare, Medicare or social security and other entitlement programs then you must hate poor people and want them to die in the street like some Dickensian nightmare. If you oppose government regulation of business then you must be some corporate shill bought and paid for by the Koch brothers.

This is a tricky topic to explain to people who don’t really follow politics, or take the time to develop an ideology that make sense to them. Knowing why you believe something is vastly more important that what you actually believe. Most people are too busy doing things that actually matter in their lives to sit for extended periods of time for deep soul searching. To a small extent, I have done this. Many times I have found that what I believe to be true is not. I would say that trying to find the essence of who I am and what I believe to be true is my version of meditation or religion. Having said that, I can say with certainty that there are probably dozens of issues that I have never thought about or run through my ideological filter.

Why do people do things? If you’re honest, you will have to say the answer is for self-betterment. Let me explain. When you start a business it is not to serve people, or provide a product, it is to provide yourself an income. Why are you nice to most of your coworkers? Because a positive work environment is more desirable to you than a hostile one. The basic nature of people is rooted in selfishness. This is not a negative thing. That is not the same as saying people are inherently bad. It just means that we have a survival instinct and generally try not to do things that are not in our own best interest. When we give to charity it makes us feel better, we go to church because we want to go to heaven. I believe people are basically good in part because of this selfishness. Human nature is based on the “me”.

Government is supposedly based on the “we”. How can a person stop being for “me”, and start being for “we”, just because they are elected to office? It is simply not possible. If you look at government from the “me” perspective, what is the main job of a politician? If you compare how much time an elected official spends fundraising vs. how much time they spend legislating, you will be forced to come to the conclusion that the primary job of an elected official is getting re-elected. How can welfare programs possibly be in the best interest of politicians? Aren’t those programs there to help people? The short answer is no. They do, however, create a nice little voting block of people who can’t in their own best interest vote for someone else. We have been fighting the “war on poverty” for 50 years and have spent about 22 trillion dollars just on welfare programs, not including Medicare or social security. That is a huge amount of money so they’re must be hardly any poverty at all in America right? Actually, it’s about the same as it was 50 years ago. But if not for this government program many minorities and women would be much worse off right? Actually, one of the consequences of the war on poverty is that young, black unemployment has skyrocketed.

If you look at the “me” motive, and think about it, it becomes pretty clear. If it is not clear, maybe this quote from President Lyndon Johnson will help, (he’s the one who started the “war on poverty”):

These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”

I found several other quotes from President Johnson, each one more disgusting and racist than the last. I won’t print them here. You get the point. When an elected official claims to be doing something for the “middle class” or the “common man”, he is not. There is always an unstated, “me”, reason for everything they do. The best possible thing any elected official could do for the “middle class”, or the “poor”, is leave them alone. Everything from minimum wage laws to food stamps hurts poor people, but it does create a dependence on government which in turn makes dedicated voters. That, after all, is the point in the first place.

The government also regulates business. This is done for the safety of workers and people and the environment right? Well actually, no. Think about it from the “me” perspective for just a second. Were airbags in cars invented because of a government regulation? No. Were environmental regulations written to make the air cleaner? No. Almost all regulations are lobbied for by the very industries that they impact. Large retailers lobby for higher minimum wages, large auto manufacturers lobby for more safety regulation for cars, large energy corporations lobby for stricter environmental standards. They do this not to save the planet, or to save the lives of people who buy their products. They do this to make it harder for someone to start a new business that competes with theirs. “ME”. Government regulations cost about a trillion dollars a year in America. To be in compliance with regulations the average small business spends over $10,000 per employee. The more employees a business has, the less per employee they have to pay. This is no big deal for Wal-Mart or Google, but is a very big deal for a new guy with a great idea or product. Most of the time they have to sell that idea or product to a large company. The airbag and seatbelts were invented without the government telling them to. Forcing car makers to put them into their cars was no big deal for GM and Ford, but we will never know if a better car could have been made here in America because they couldn’t afford to comply with that regulation. Shouldn’t the consumer have the right to decide what safety features they want in their cars? As a father, I would certainly pick a vehicle with airbags on my own without my government telling me to. If I was a young guy more concerned with performance I might want a lighter car without the airbags.

The bottom line is that every decision made by an elected official is made with his or her best interest in mind. They get paid to fundraise so they can be paid to enact legislation that “helps” you. They get millions of dollars in “donations”, by large corporations to pass laws designed to make it hard for large corporations to exploit its workers. Ok. In other news, the tooth fairy is real. Remember this when you see a patriotic sounding bill that sounds like it’s helping a group of people like the “patriot act” or “equal pay for equal work amendment”. Every time our government passes a law designed to protect you, they are taking a little bit of your freedom away.

Beautiful Chaos

I spent this evening like many people, watching election returns. I hardly ever watch the news, but tonight I gleefully toggled between the networks to see who was winning, what the pundits were saying, who the democrats blamed, who the republicans credited. It was a beautiful chaos. It was by all accounts a republican sweep. Most certainly a referendum on the policies of an overbearing government. An overbearing president, in a long line of overbearing presidents. I think I will use this occasion to assuage the fears of democrats reading this and temper the joy of the republicans.

First things first, I am very happy to see a republican majority in both the congress and senate. Do I believe everything that the republicans believe? No. Where I tend to agree, though, is on financial issues. I probably fall in line with democrats on social issues, although from a very different angle. Let me assure all the democrats, liberals, progressives, etc…, at no point during this republican majority will any of your rights be taken away. Republicans do not hate women, the poor, or any other group of people. As a former republican I can assure you that your average republican and democrat elected official see the same problems, it is the solutions to those problems where the differences come. Republicans tend to have people based solutions, whereas democrats tend to have government based solutions. You will not lose your right to abort your baby or take birth control. Text books in your child’s science class will not be filled with information from the bible regarding evolution or the age of the earth. In fact, more likely than not, absolutely nothing will change when those new congressmen and senators go to “work”.

To the republicans, this was a great victory. I am fully on board. Our current financial state is in much more dire straits than our social one is. I sincerely apologize to you gay couples who can’t get married and pot heads who can’t fire up that doobie because republicans like to legislate your morality. I can honestly tell you that I personally voted for none of these republicans and I support your right to do both of those things. The thing is, if we don’t get the size of our government and debt under control, you won’t have a country to get married in for much longer. I would beg the new congress people and senators to do something constructive while you are there. I have no doubt that President Obama will veto every bill you put on his table, but you need to make him work. Make him veto a balanced budget amendment. Make him veto the repeal of Obamacare. Make him veto Social Security, Medicare and entitlement reform. Make him veto tax reform, the reduction of corporate welfare, corn subsidies and any one of a hundred other things that need to be done. Make him veto a smaller government.

Make no mistake, over the next two years absolutely nothing will get done, (hopefully). If they do their job right we will be almost government free. If our president decides to go around congress with executive orders and unconstitutional means, (and his track record says he will), call him out… do something about it. In the meantime, we will try to explain to them why gay people getting married doesn’t hurt anyone. I implore the newly crowned representatives not to use this opportunity to acquiesce to Obama’s whim to bomb every other 3rd world country on the map while arming the bad guys we just got done bombing a few seconds ago. I know it must be fun to have the purse strings to the button, but find some restraint. I sincerely hope that I will not have to apologize for this post in two years’ time.