the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

No more free speech, Obama thinks it should cost

Posted by Jeff Id on June 4, 2010

We have to get these corrupt liberals out of office asap.  This is as evil as anything any government can do, and is nothing less than a full takeover of the media. A link to the official documents is here.


It’s bad enough that our extremist in chief doesn’t need to answer difficult questions and is surrounded by friendly leftists, but this is way too much.   Bullet points as presented by Fox News are below:

Among the numerous proposals mentioned in the document are:

— the creation of a “journalism” division of AmeriCorps, the federal program that places 75,000 people with local and national nonprofit groups annually;

— tax credits to news organizations for every journalist employed;

— establishing citizenship news vouchers, which “would allow every American tax payer to allocate some amount of government funds to the non-profit media organization” of their choice;

— increased funding for public radio and television;

— providing grants to universities to conduct investigative journalism;

— increased postal subsidies for newspapers and periodicals;

— a 5 percent tax on consumer electronics, which would generate roughly $4 billion annually, to pay for increased public funding.

Someday the morons on this planet will figure out that more tax of already overtaxed peoples does not generate more revenue.   We are way past our limits, but this is truly evil.  There is going to be a revolt soon, we are NOT Russia yet but there is a reason that half of Obama’s appointments have been self proclaimed Marxists at one point or another.

I think a better idea to save journalism would be to stop publishing lies and propaganda.  That would certainly increase my interest.

123 Responses to “No more free speech, Obama thinks it should cost”

  1. Garry said

    I have to agree with Prof. Jarvis, who is quoted at the conclusion of the Fox News article:

    “I don’t even understand why they’re doing this,” he said. “This document is an anti-competitive and even unconstitutional world view.”

  2. Titan28 said

    This is what happens when a group of “idealists” with college degrees and no real world or work experience outside of politics and the classrom get their hands on the power switches. What did Kissenger say? Power’s the ultimate aprodisiac? Well, it also makes you stupid. Given the financial straits we currently operate under in America, it’s astounding anyone is even discussing spending more money–on anything. I don’t know what’s coming down the road and headed our way, but I’m starting to think we deserve it. Again, too, buried assumptions, like the idea that what is happening to mainstream media and print outlets is a bad thing. Is it? How would we know?

  3. Skip said

    “Someday the morons on this planet will figure out that more tax of already overtaxed peoples does not generate more revenue.”

    No, actually they won’t. They’ll continue believing it to their core up until the moment that the oppressed people rise up, and they’re up against the wall being shot.

    This actually doesn’t surprise me – with “journalism” as a career going away, they need to do something to make sure there will be people available to staff the Ministry of Truth.

  4. Eric Barnes said

    Agree about the limits of tax and spend. I think someone on CheifIO’s site linked to “Hauser’s Law” and this WSJ article. Very compelling reasoning for scrapping the current corrupt tax system.

  5. Eric Barnes said

    Here’s the link. I fouled up the anchor somehow.

  6. Greg said

    “Someday the morons on this planet will figure out that more tax of already overtaxed peoples does not generate more revenue. We are way past our limits…”

    Ah for the good ol’ days of 90% top tax rates, before JFK, and the 70% rates till Reagan.

    Remember when people used to say that they really weren’t interested in a raise, or working harder, since that would bump them into a higher bracket, which would result in their actually receiving the same or less money after the raise?

    Never underestimate the lust of the “tax and spend” crowd for ever greater taxes.

    Keep in mind that taxes are, in large part, for redistribution of wealth, not for raising it.

  7. Scott B said

    I basically agree. The copyright and IP laws may need to be updated to incorporate the changes the internet has brought, but the government should not be forcing citizens to support the dying newspaper industry. If people aren’t playing for newspapers and other traditional news media, we need to let the structure die. There’s a market for news, so a new one will find it’s place. I’m also very shaky about having the media be dependent on federal funds. I’m really concerned that the government would have too much control of the media if they were dependent on federal funds. Although the government and other groups already control the media through other benefits, this only increases the risk.

  8. Doctor_d said

    A bit OT, but media related. Did anyone see this op-ed piece by Cal Thomas a couple days ago. This link is from the Columbus Dispatch.

    While I am not as confident as he is that the tide has turned in the media, the fact that this op-ed was even published in the Columbus Dispatch is remarkable. Unfortunately the Obama administration and US Congress are oblivious, or pretend to be.

    Here is an excerpt from the article,
    “After spending years promoting “global warming,” the media are beginning to turn in the face of growing evidence that they have been wrong. The London Times recently reported, “Britain’s premier scientific institution is being forced to review its statements on climate change after a rebellion by members who question mankind’s contribution to rising temperatures.”

    It gets worse, or better, depending on your perspective. Newsweek magazine, which more than 30 years ago promoted global cooling and a new ice age – and more recently has been drinking the global warming Kool-Aid – headlined a story, “Uncertain Science: Bickering and Defensive, Climate Researchers Have Lost the Public’s Trust.” Newsweek does its best to cling to its increasingly discredited doctrine, but the growing body of contrary evidence only adds to the public’s disbelief.”

    He presents nothing we haven’t seen already in blogs, etc, but to have it printed in the Dispatch in Columbus, Ohio is a huge change (in policy or perspective) for the better in my view. Or maybe it just slipped through the cracks (or peer review) by mistake.

  9. Jeff Id said

    #5 interesting link.

  10. Thanks, Jeff, for having the courage to publish this and to speak out.

    That is a frightening document indeed. It shows how politicians plan to use public funds to control the news media, as they have done to control the (consensus) science community feeding at the public trough.

    Stealth technology overtook our government while we thought stealth technology was being developed for warfare.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  11. JMM said

    “we are NOT Russia yet”

    Kind of a shame, that. After all, Russia DID have a revolution and the people there managed to effect the overthrow of their tyrants not all that long ago. In fact, that makes two times the Russian people rose up against oppressive governments in less than a century. The results not having worked out so great in no way diminish the fact that the people there were, when the rubber hit the road, unwilling to put up with tyranny. To the extent that they put their own lives on the line.

    Sad to say, Americans these days can barely hold a candle to the people who faced down the rulers of the USSR.

  12. Amabo said

    Looks like we don’t have to worry about global warming anymore:

    I like that the report is presented in my local media as doom-gloom ‘we’re killing 60% of our planet!’ whereas the report contains about 35 case studies from around the world of apparently successful habitat/forest/natural resource -restoration and management projects.

    Sounds from these examples like this is a non-problem, really.

  13. Kenneth Fritsch said

    All that is awaited for this to reach fruition is that dreaded “E” word: emergency. What we should all be very fearful of is not the politicians but that the intelligentsia in the form of those who editorialize for the NYT and WashPost will take a favorable or neutral view of this development.

    The mantra I can already hear and it will go something like this:

    We need a viable press (they mean the MSM that they love, cherish and look to for political responses) in order to watch dog government operations and to inform the public (force feeding comes to my mind) so what they are proposing will be presented in terms of saving the freedom of the press and even if the government that the MSM thinks it is watch dogging becomes the final control. If you just say over and over again, the first part, i.e. saving freedom of the press, without mentioning the second part they hope to obtain their hand outs.

  14. timetochooseagain said

    All the clauses of the first amendment should have been more like those for the freedom of religion. This kind of thing would be explicitly prohibited if instead of:

    “or abridging the freedom…of the press”

    it had said:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of the press or prohibiting the freedom thereof”

    The Establisment and Free Excercise clauses are some of the best written in the Bill of Rights.

  15. nan said

    the problem is that we had the “conservatives in power for 8 years and things sucked. Now you badmouth the people who are trying to fix things. If you had a track record of doing good stuff then this would make sense. You have not.

  16. Jeff Id said

    #15 Hermione Granger — What an idiot!

  17. Ron Pittenger, Heretic said

    The FCC is currently trying to redesignate the internet as a “utility” like the phone companies were in the 70s, and the courts may let them get away with it. Their (FCC’s) purpose is clearly to control content.

    A lawmaker in Michigan has recently introduced a bill requiring the “licensing” of “journalists.” He seems to find a free press too difficult.

    The President has openly called for “reliable, non-divisive media.” And most of the media doesn’t even ask him hard questions.

    The currrent Supreme Court nominee has been quoted as being able to imagine ways to justify control of information outlets.

    Now this. Is there a pattern here? If you aren’t frightened, you ought to be.

    In the past, efforts to “control” the media were always viewed with fear by all political parties because they knew they were only one election away from the minority. But, in those days, the parties were much closer together in ideology and love of country. Perhaps those urging control now–mostly those who also urge a collective approach to politics, national defence, and economics–feel strong enough to believe they can lose an election and still win the long-term battle for control of the country.

    I, for one, am not in any hurry to give up the 1st Amendment. And, thank God for the 2nd, while we still have it.

  18. I am old enough to remember when there were liberals in this country. They would not have let people like that have government jobs.

  19. TA said

    #15, so if the conservatives did a bad job, it’s OK for liberals to take over the media?? How does this make any sense? First of all, if you think conservatives are evil, then you for sure wouldn’t want the government to take over the media, because one day the conservatives will be back in power. (I’m using the term “conservatives” loosely, as we haven’t had a conservative administration for a long time.)

  20. Kan said

    #19 the belief is that once the Government has taken control, the evil conservatives wont stop it. Name 1 Federal bureaucracy that has been shutdown, or reduced, after creation or expansion of “responsibilities”.

    The whole exercise of the O’healthcare drama was simple – get a law passed that said ,basically, the Federal Government controls U.S. health care. 2000 + pages just make it much, much harder to undo. By the time the opponents get regain control, it will be unstoppable. It will be a miracle if it were to be repealed.

  21. Retired Engineer said

    #14 on the First Amendment revision. Far too long. It should just say:
    “Congress shall make no law.”

    Paying them to take ‘fact finding’ boondoggles is far less expensive than letting them stay in D.C.

    We have seen science reduced to groveling for grant money, this would do the same for journalism. Report what the government wants or starve.

    Winston Smith would understand.

  22. Russ said

    It should say no law or legal binding document here after shall infrenge on the US Constitution.

  23. Hi Jeff,

    You are getting ever closer to the root problem of the Climategate scandal.

    Keep up the good work!
    Oliver K. Manuel

  24. Joe C. said

    #15 . . . .the problem is that we had the “conservatives in power for 8 years and things sucked.

    I believe most conservatives want a balanced budget & states rights. Hardly what we saw in the last 8 years. Spend all you want for your favorite causes as long as you balance the budget. It was imperative that the Feds step in for civil rights, etc. but democracy reflects regional values best at the State level.

  25. Sam said

    What don’t you understand about this Jeff? You and many others on the internet are providing material to read for free, and often of better quality then other media. They can’t compete with that. It isn’t fair that you should be able to freely distribute information and harm those hard-working journalists like that.

    Now, you do have a right to free speech. So what’s the solution? We will just give the news outlets money, grants, and credits! That will help level the playing field, those evil bloggers working for free are counter-balanced by tilting the scales towards journalists, at taxpayer’s expense.

    The internet is the biggest threat to big government the world has ever seen. They can hardly even attempt to control the flow of information anymore. The thought that the press (in its current form) may no longer exist scares them, because they have an indirect control over them. So they are going to do whatever they can do in order to continue the traditional press, even going so far as to simply give them money and create journalists themselves (AmeriCorps). Unless they are able to heavily regulate the internet in such a way that is nearly invisible, this attempt will fail. I have *never* paid for any news I’ve received, and I read far more than the average Joe.

    If traditional press wants to survive, clinging onto the government isn’t the answer (unless they want to exist solely through taking Federal dictation). They need to make a better product, or lower costs, or create a new delivery system, probably all of the above and something else no one has thought about yet. Why pay for an article which is free else-where? Industries change throughout time, the ice-man doesn’t deliver to my house anymore, I have a fridge. The paper doesn’t get delivered here anymore either, I have the internet.

    Keep putting those journalists outta work Jeff.

  26. Mark T said

    Last time I checked, unemployment was never above 5% the last 8 years when things sucked so bad. It was not due to the conservatives, but things didn’t really suck and nobody was trying to control our lives to this level.


  27. Ian... said

    I’m still shocked that 69+million people fell for the whole “hope and change” mantra.

  28. Tom Fuller said

    Hi all,

    As one of the 69+ million that Ian refers to, can I offer one suggestion? Wait 30 days and see if a month’s perspective makes all this look different.

    Using government money to stimulate a wounded economy is neither new nor solely Democratic. Picking sectors has been going on since before Obama–if he was trying to take over the media, don’t you think they would have been first?

    Let the dust settle on this. If I’m right about Barack Hussein Obama (I firmly believe he is a pragmatic centrist urban politician), we’ll see fairly quickly. Give it a month.

  29. Kan said

    “Using government money to stimulate a wounded economy is neither new nor solely Democratic.”

    True. However, the difference in last years stimulas package,was that most of it was not directed towards areas (“picking sectors”) that would have any impact on the economy. A great deal of the funds where directed towards state governments (like CA.)to offset unfunded mandates.

    The problem with this is that it only kicks the can down the road for these states (like CA.). Increasing Government employment does not produce growth.

    “Obama (I firmly believe he is a pragmatic centrist urban politician)”
    The question now is just basic competency. He will single handily rehabilitate the Carter presidency.

  30. Kan said

    One other comment. The way to stop the “picking sectors” favoritism from all sides, is to limit the power to do so. All of us are represented by lobbyist in Washington. Every single one of us. And there is a reason for that.

  31. Jason Calley said

    The fact is that yes, the current Democratic majority want to control the flow of information — just like the Republican majority did before them. For a very interesting essay on the governmental manipulation of public information read
    Be sure to check the credentials of the essay’s author.
    While we like to think that “information warfare” is something to be waged against our enemies, it may be used closer to home.

  32. Layne Blanchard said

    I work with a group of union employees. This is supposed to be part of the Left’s base. But at least among this group, the light has absolutely come on. They like their guns and their 4X4’s. The anti-Obama sentiment seems to run more than 80%. The left’s true core is in government itself, education, and the Media. If we are to save this country, we need to halt the Marxist indoctrination from those sources, and limit the size of government. Those of us who know better need to commit to a 70% conservative majority in the Senate, and we could turn this country around.

  33. tonyb said


    Not being American I can’t even begin to understand the rationale behind all this. What purpose does it all serve and who wants it?


  34. Frank K. said

    “I firmly believe he is a pragmatic centrist urban politician”

    Is this a JOKE?? Our president is destroying our economy, destroying our relations with our allies, and destroying our standing in the world.

    And his total incompetence with the BP oil leak disaster is truly breathtaking…

    “Let the dust settle on this…”

    No way!!

  35. Layne Blanchard said

    To clarify – conservative does not equal GOP. Jim DeMint now has a PAC to support true conservatives. My personal interest is in those who have very strong commitment to sound financial policy. It’s a mistake to equate Bush Years = conservative policy. A true conservative policy is one of shrinking government and shrinking spending.

  36. .gov gardener said

    “I firmly believe he is a pragmatic centrist urban politician”

    seriously? have you been paying attention? he gives lip service to the center and firmly embraces the far left. His mentors growing up were all marxists or comm… nevermind, too many people have the idea that he’s some kind of centerist and I have no idea where they see any proof of such.. back to reading the comments.

  37. TGSG said

    ooops, .gov above is me

  38. GregO said

    #25 Right on.

    Climategate was a huge wake-up call to me as it piqued my interest enough to follow up on the facts, follow up on the magnitude of CAGW falsifications, and look for evidence in MSM for a hints that they understood the details of the story and understood it’s magnitude.

    As we all know, American MSM totally blew this story – it could have been huge for them! Imaging Newsweek running back-to-back pro/anti CAGW stories in a single issue as they have on other divisive stories. They would have sold a ton of magazines and people would be screaming for more as the story evolved – Copenhagen; CRU whitewash; U-Penn whitewash; Dr. Mann investigation; scientific consensus? What consensus – there is an academic dog-fight of Biblical proportions going on and nobody reports it but the blogs. This isn’t news?

    Anyhow, as I continued to read magazines and listen to news sources searching for any hint of a journalist with a hint I began to become uncomfortably aware that they weren’t just missing this story…they seemed to have become completely out of touch with investigative journalism itself and have (with a few exceptions like WSJ) morphed entertainment mediums. It’s not so much the reporting content as it is how snarky and cool the media can make the prose and graphics.

    The transformation of MSM has been gradual enough that I didn’t notice it – not that I am a big media fan – I don’t own a TV for example, but do (used to actually) read magazines and still read books and now blogs. Before Climategate I had never read a blog much less posted on one.

    I for one am shredding my remaining subscriptions to Sci American and Newsweek and am disgusted with them and feel bad for subscribing to them. I can assure you they will not get another penny from me.

    Now step back and look at the big picture and ask how many other subscribers to magazines and newspapers of all types have felt as violated as me once they found what a poor job of journalism these media are doing. And the federal government is going to step in and help out? Wow.

  39. Tim said

    #36 – .gov gardener

    The key word is “urban”. Urban dwellers tend to be pretty far left and Obama could be described as centrist amoung them. That would still make him an extremist as far as the rest of the country is concerned.

  40. Tom Fuller said

    Hiya Tim,

    I think you have a point–but what percentage of the population is urban? Worldwide it’s getting close to 50%… Do urbanites get ignored just because they live in a city?

    From our favorite and always unbiased source of information, Wikipedia, “In the United States there are two categories of urban area. The term urbanized area denotes an urban area of 50,000 or more people. Urban areas under 50,000 people are called urban clusters. Urbanized areas were first delineated in the United States in the 1950 census, while urban clusters were added in the 2000 census. There are 1,371 urban areas and urban clusters with more than 10,000 people.

    The U.S. Census Bureau defines an urban area as: “Core census block groups or blocks that have a population density of at least 1,000 people per square mile (386 per square kilometer) and surrounding census blocks that have an overall density of at least 500 people per square mile (193 per square kilometer).”
    The concept of Urbanized Areas as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau is often used as a more accurate gauge of the size of a city, since in different cities and states the lines between city borders and the urbanized area of that city are often not the same. For example, the city of Greenville, South Carolina has a city population under 60,000 but an urbanized area over 300,000, while Greensboro, North Carolina has a city population over 200,000 but an urbanized area population of around 270,000 — meaning that Greenville is actually “larger” for some intents and purposes, but not for others, such as taxation, local elections, etc.

    The largest urban area in the United States is that of New York City, with its city proper population exceeding 8 million and its metropolitan area population almost 19 million. The next four largest urban areas in the U.S. are those of Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Philadelphia.[10] About 70 percent of the population of the United States lives within the boundaries of urbanized area (210 out of 300 million). Combined, these areas occupy about 2 percent of the United States. The majority of urbanized area residents are suburbanites; core central city residents make up about 30 percent of the urbanized area population (about 60 out of 210 million).”

  41. Tim said

    #40 – Tom Fuller

    All I did was point out the qualification that made your statement accurate. Obama is not a centrist when one considers the full breadth of the US political spectrum but he is also not extreme leftist ideologue. He is a pragamist but he more movitivated by a desire to be seen to accomplish something than by a desire to actually do something useful (e.g. the healthcare bill which will likely lead to employers dropping their healthcare plans because of the increased costs created by the mandated coverage).

  42. Jeff Id said

    I don’t care what people say, Obama is the most leftist person ever to achieve the presidency. His politics are destroying America- — with intent. They are intentionally spending us into crisis, and until people realize it we are in grave danger.

  43. Tim said

    #42 – Jeff Id

    The trouble with the US right now is there needs to be a period of significant cuts to government AND tax increases. I can’t see how the current budget hole can be plugged otherwise. Unfortunately, the US does not have any politicians who are willing to do that.

  44. Amabo said

    #42 – Tim
    Well, there’s Ron Paul…

  45. JamesG said

    “I don’t care what people say, Obama is the most leftist person ever to achieve the presidency”
    Well you must have cared about the opinion of the person who told you that – talk radio maybe? – because there isn’t any hard evidence of it. Real leftists complain just as hard because Obama isn’t lefty enough: Read or to find that out. Maybe you just prefer to reject anything that doesn’t fit your pre-defined prejudice. If not, then exactly what is the evidence that makes him left-leaning? And what makes you imagine that the US economy was ok before Obama took over, despite all the blindingly obvious facts to the contrary?

    If it’s the return to “Keynesian” economics you worry about then blame the economists he’s listening to. But why is he listening to them? Only because the previous lot were so obviously wrong! If you doubt that there is a US recovery underway then it’s those uber-optimistic economists, bankers and financiers that have it wrong, not Obama.

    The erosion of journalistic freedom very obviously started under Bush and the neo-cons so it’s just creeping autocracy. Though you may have a point about Marxism because the neo-con movement actually rose from the ashes of Marxism. So just how many of these faux conservatives do the GOP still have?

    Of course beltway press have always been lazy sycophants anyway, which is why most North Americans believed that Saddam and Al Qaida were linked, that the Anthrax came from Iraq and that Chavez is a dictator. Nothing new here – the Spanish-American war was started by W.R Hearst. Is the press best run by autocratic statists, megalomaniac monopolists or are the public better served by hearing both sides to a story and make up there own minds? I’m not sure the inrternet achieves the latter either – except via unfiltered blog comments perhaps.

  46. John F. Pittman said

    As far back as I can remember, LBJ 1964, President’s have complained of the press and tried to use the power of the FED Gov’t to constrain the press. It has not worked because, then as now, people dislike boring non-truthful stories. Obama is just the most recent.

    In a way, I have to agree with both JeffID and JamesG. How? It is a matter of perspective. To the far left, Obama has been a failure. To the far right, he has been a failure. Normally this would mean T Fuller would be right that he is an urban centrist (liberal). The difference has been that Obama has “stolen” from Bush and even more relevantly, Nixon, the high handed power politics. It has been funny from my veiw that he is not more liberal, as he is about the use of power not liberalism per se. But this is why I think that JeffID is right about Obama being more liberal than a centrist. Usually a centrist combines factions to enable legislation. Obama is forcing the legislation through and the Democrats have not had to develop central policies. Instead, they have pandered to the Dem holdouts in a most unglamarous way. Thus the legislation IS more liberal than a centrist would produce.

    I have to admit that this is the most disturbing aspect of Obama’s administration. I did not like it in either Nixon’s nor Reagan’s time either. And as I remember, LBJ did the same as well after the Goldwater diaster for the Republicans. Power politics breeds corruption and a backlash. That has been my experience.

    Makes me glad I was a Hillary supporter…her power mongering looks tame compared to Obama’s. Makes me even gladder I decided to vote for McCain.

  47. Jeff Id said

    #43 Tax increases will not give the government even 1 more dollar at this point.

  48. Tim said

    #47 – Jeff Id

    It is more about tax reform than tax increases. The US depends too much on income taxes and too little on consumption taxes. A national VAT with reduced income taxes would spread the burden much more fairly than it is today. However, it would be a mistake to bring such a tax in unless it is combined with agreesive reductions in government spending.

  49. Jeff Id said

    #48, VAT is one of the most difficult taxes to calculate and impose. If you openly support VAT without complete elimination of income taxes you will just get more.

    As a business owner VAT is my least favorite of all taxes. Certainly though, if you don’t want evil manufacturing in the US, keep supporting higher tax.

  50. Tim said

    #49 – Jeff Id

    A basic VAT is easy to calculate and easy to administer. No complicated accounting rules.
    It reduces costs for manufacturers because hair dressers and lawyers lose there tax free status which reduces the burden on people who produce goods.

    However, the biggest benefit of a VAT is its fairness: everyone pays it.
    The biggest problem with income taxes is an every increasing percentage of the population pays no tax.
    This is poison for democracy (i.e. representation without taxation).
    A VAT means everyone pays and everyone has a stake. I support it mainly for that reason.

    You can’t eliminate or even signicantly reduce income taxes given the current deficit situation.
    But if a VAT was brought in and the deficit is brought under control then income taxes could come down rapidly.

    You can stick your head in the sand if you like but the US is heading for a debt crunch and it will be impossible to address by simply cutting program spending (although cuts must be part of the solution). Taxes must go up but some taxes are better than others Refusing to consider a VAT simply means income taxes will go even higher.

  51. Jeff Id said

    “A basic VAT is easy to calculate and easy to administer. No complicated accounting rules. –”

    Not even remotely true.

    “It reduces costs for manufacturers because hair dressers and lawyers lose there tax free status which reduces the burden on people who produce goods.”

    Again you assume that other taxes have gone away, very naive IMO.

    “You can’t eliminate or even signicantly reduce income taxes given the current deficit situation.”

    Failure to understand that when we are so heavily overtaxed, economy is repressed. Less tax will result in stronger economy and more revenue at this point.

    “But if a VAT was brought in and the deficit is brought under control then income taxes could come down rapidly.”

    Same failure as above. You misunderstand the purpose of massive taxation.

    “You can stick your head in the sand if you like but the US is heading for a debt crunch and it will be impossible to address by simply cutting program spending”

    Have you ever read tAV before? Your idealism is beautiful. The government has maxed out its income, more tax does nothing, cutting is the ONLY option. You cannot get more money by increased taxes, follow the argument. Refusing to consider a vat, makes no difference.

    I’m certain that we won’t agree on this but my disgust on the topic comes from people just not understanding the graph in #5. It’s math, read it, learn it and stop with the [snip] calls for more tax until you do.


  52. bob said

    A VAT is an insidious way to tax an economy.

    These taxes are buried in the price of goods, much like a good bit of the current tax structure is passed along to the next transaction level.

    Some measures say that 23% of today’s price structure is tax that has been passed on. Examples are corporate taxes, real estate taxes on manufacturing plants, taxes on inventories, taxes on sales, etc. I don’t think taxing economic activity add value, at all.

    I don’t know what the best way to generate necessary government revenues, but lean towards a flat tax, or The Fair Tax.

    The most insidious idea of all is the Obama tax to prop up the mediocre main stream media outlets. They need to wake up, smell the coffee, and have a “Come to Jesus” moment before they disappear altogether. (Sorry about the idiomatic expressions.)

  53. Tim said

    #52 – Bob

    I can understand and sympathize with the general objection to more taxes.
    I don’t understand the misunderstanding about VAT.

    A tax on income is the worst way tax an economy.
    It punishes success, discourages saving and investment.
    A VAT discourages spending but the US needs saving and investment more than spending now.

    Flat income taxes are never really flat. They are just a bracket system with only 2 brackets (0% and the flat tax).
    This means a large number of people would pay no tax.
    And the middle income tax rates would skyrocket while high income earners get a tax reduction.

  54. John F. Pittman said

    Re: Tim (Jun 6 14:16), I don’t think it is a misunderstanding as much as an objection(s). If EU is the model, the claim was that it would reduce middle class taxes. In reality, little if any reduction occurred. Instead it became a way to increase taxes. Thus the claim of enabling savings and investment is suspect, unless it is investment in businesses in countries that don’t have a VAT. Next, the EU and others include exemptions, so it is not flat in application either. Finally, if politicians could be trusted on the deal, they would simplify the current code, make it fairer, access the situation afterward, and then implement a fairer VAT. That they can’t be trusted is probably the most viable objection of all. Why change, if it is just going to turn into another unfair scheme? We already have that.

  55. Tim said

    #54 – John

    Try looking at the Canadian experience with a VAT instead.
    Income taxes have been dropping for 10 years and budgets were balanced until last year.
    That would not have happened without the revenue from the VAT.

    The difference between Canada and the EU is the political culture.
    There is no reason to believe that the EU experience would occur in the US.
    The Canadian experience is more likely.

  56. Kenneth Fritsch said

    The VAT tax is a tax that politicians want to impose in an attempt to cover all the increases in government spending before the government financing leads to lowered bond ratings and substantially more interest expenses. That it is more easily buried in the cost of doing business like corporate taxes are is a free spending politicians dream – and believe me he does not care if it is regressive or whatever.

    As to JamesG’s post on evidently attempting to fend off the leftist label for Obama, I find great humour. The point is not whether other presidents, such as Bush II, were leftist in absolute terms – they were – but whether that trend direction has stayed the same or decreased or increased. I would definitely think it is easy to project that Obama thinks that the government has many answers for our problem and is not currently the major problem itself. I can see where someone like JamesG has this confused when he talks about individual bankers and Wall Streeters as the problem when it is more difficult to see the Federal Reserve that creates the business cycles that lead to these over exuberences role in all this or for that matter the politicians in Washington who usede their influence and power to encourage mortgages to those who could not afford it – as a matter of fact these same politicians continue to change the rules in attempts to get credit to those not credit worthy. He even has an individual responsible for a war. When have we seen an individual create an emergency and fund a war through scare tactics and deficit spending and/or inflated money?

  57. bob said

    Tim: Thanks for you reply. It is not I misunderstand the VAT, it is just that it is one of the most misunderstood taxes around, and is by far the most regressive.

    Flat Tax: Not a problem. I think everybody should pay their 10 or twenty percent. Yes, even those in poverty brackets. Even with the regressive nature, the flat tax is the most transparent.

    Why should a rich person pay a higher percentage of tax than a middle income person? This sounds like jealousy and petty resentment of successful people. I know that they can afford a higher rate than middle and low income people, but they already pay a pretty large share of the total income tax.

    Nobody will be able to see the amount of a VAT. It is not transparent to the populace, and unfair to everyone, except the government. Why argue that a reason for a VAT is to make is easier for the government to manage? It also makes it very difficult for citizens to manage.

    So, my contention is that I do understand the concept and reality of VAT’s, and can say with accuracy that they are bad.

  58. Tim said

    #57 – Bob

    The European model for VAT is not transparent.
    Canadian model is. By law, the amount of GST (a.k.a. VAT) is printed on every receipt.
    Merchants are prohibited from hiding it in the prices.

    Making it transparent pisses people off but that is good. It reminds people that government services are not free.

    More importantly, a VAT is exactly the same as a flat tax with a deduction for saving.
    i.e. if someone spends everything they earn a VAT of 10% is the same as a flat tax of 10%.
    So if you like flat taxes you should like a Canadian style visible VAT.

  59. Kan said

    JamesG qoutes:

    “I don’t care what people say, Obama is the most leftist person ever to achieve the presidency”

    Then JamesG repsonds:
    Well you must have cared about the opinion of the person who told you that – talk radio maybe? – because there isn’t any hard evidence of it. Real leftists complain just as hard because Obama isn’t lefty enough: Read or to find that out.

    Clever. The quote is the most leftist president ever. James argues that he is not the most “leftist” person ever. (He at least should have mentioned Woodrow Wilson).

    Further JamesG says:
    “If you doubt that there is a US recovery underway then it’s those uber-optimistic economists, bankers and financiers that have it wrong, not Obama.”

    I do not listen to the economists, bankers and financiers. I listen the people who pay other people to produce goods and services. They are saying loud and clear (9% unemployment) there is no economic recovery.

  60. Sam said

    If you are a fan of alternative economic theory (Austrian in this case) read Murray Rothbard’s article from the 70’s about Nixon’s attempt to introduce a VAT tax:

    Rothbard on VAT

    An excerpt:

    “The VAT is essentially a national sales tax, levied in proportion to the goods and services produced and sold. But its delightful concealment comes from the fact that the VAT is levied at each step of the way in the production process: on farmer, manufacturer, jobber and wholesaler, and only slightly on the retailer.

    The difference is that when a consumer pays a 7 percent sales tax on every purchase, his indignation rises and he points the finger of resentment at the politicians in charge of government; but if the 7 percent tax is hidden and paid by every firm rather than just at retail, the inevitably higher prices will be charged, not to the government where it belongs, but to grasping businessmen and avaricious trade unions.

    While consumers, businessmen, and unions all blame each other for inflation like Kilkenny cats, Papa government is able to preserve its lofty moral purity, and to join in denouncing all of these groups for “causing inflation.””

  61. Kan said

    “So if you like flat taxes you should like a Canadian style visible VAT.”

    True, IFF the income tax is repealed. Which, fundementally will take a constitutional amendment repealing the 16th. Good luck with that. This leaves us with a VAT being a tax increase.

  62. Tim said

    #60 Sam

    Your quote is total nonsense. A VAT is a “Value Added Tax” which means the tax is only paid on the “Value Added”.
    i.e. if a car dealer buys a car for $10,000 from the manufacturer and re-sells it for $10,100 the government only collects tax for the $100 of “value add” for dealer.
    The “value add” part of the tax is why the majority of economists see a VAT one of the least damaging forms of taxation.

    #58 Kan

    The Canadian example is straight forward: taxes went up and spending was cut. Once the deficit was under control then income taxes we cut and eventually the VAT was cut too.
    If the VAT did not exist then income taxes would have had stay high.
    Nobody likes taxes but I would rather pay a VAT than an income tax.

  63. Konrad said

    It seems president Obama is uncomfortable with living in the age of Little Brother. While these efforts to exercise federal influence over media are disturbing, they will ultimately be counter productive. New media is largely privately funded and will not be unduly influenced. Federal support for the Lame Stream Media will just be throwing good money after bad. The traditional fourth estate is now the fifth wheel where free speech is involved.

    If those in the US feel Obama’s actions regarding free speech and democracy are disturbing, you should think about what almost happened in Australia. The leftist Rudd government tried to impose a mandatory internet filter based on a “Black List” of websites. The blacklist was to be secret and it’s publication a criminal offence. Supposedly this was to protect the public from pedophiles and terrorists, but public disapproval has been overwhelming. Two quotes of interest kept surfacing in New Media during discussion of the proposed filter –

    – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf,(1925)
    “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe in it…..The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic, and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

  64. John F. Pittman said

    Re: Tim (Jun 6 14:44), I would agree with you except look at the language of the Kerry/Lieberman capNtrade. It proposed to return at least x% once the deficit is paid. The problem is that it had a requirement to return, but no commitment to a balanced receipt except for capNtrade monies until paid. In other words, it was a blank check for government. So, I do not think the Canadian model applies. The EU model does, because it is the same formula “Trust us, we don’t need no stinking binding expense control mandate!” as the EU’s promise that was not kept.

  65. Sam said

    62 Tim,

    I agree with you and several others here that VAT isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but as others have pointed out, ONLY if the income tax is removed.

    Also, Rothbard addresses one of the negatives of the ‘value added’ nature of the tax:

    “VAT advocates claim that since each firm and stage of production will pay in proportion to its “value added” to production, there will be no misallocation effects along the way.

    But this ignores the fact that every business firm will be burdened by the cost of innumerable record keeping and collection for the government. The result will be an inexorable push of the business system toward “vertical mergers” and the reduction of competition.

    Suppose, for example, that a crude-oil producer adds the value of $1,000, and that an oil refiner adds another $1,000, and suppose for simplicity that the VAT is 10 percent. Theoretically, it should make no difference if the firms are separate or “integrated”; in the former case, each firm would pay $100 to the government; in the latter, the integrated firm would pay $200. But since this comforting theory ignores the substantial costs of record keeping and the collection, in practice if the crude-oil firm and the oil refiner were integrated into one firm, making only one payment, their costs would be lower.”

    You may counter that the VAT requires less records than the income tax. This may or may not be true, but it is irrelevant to the argument, the incentive still exists for vertical mergers and there are many consequences of a proliferation those. Another criticism:

    “In the VAT, every firm sends its invoices to the federal government, and gets credit for the VAT embodied in its invoices for the goods bought from other firms. The result is an irresistible opening for cheating, and in Western Europe there are special firms whose business is to write out fake invoices which can reduce the tax liabilities of their “customer.” Those businesses more willing to cheat will then be favored in the competitive struggle of the market.”

    A quick google search confirms that GST fraud seems common in Canada:

    Latest GST scam used phoney lumber firms to steal $22 million, police say

    Businessman sentenced to more than 2 years in jail and fined over $500,000 for GST fraud

    GST fraud nets $6.9-million fine

    $117,366 fine for GST fraud

    I enjoy this taxation policy thread, there are so few of these on climate blogs.

  66. Tim said

    #65 – Sam

    As someone who tracks GST in my business I can tell you it is no more of a bother than tracking all of expenses and sales because GAAP requires that all money in and out categorized. Adding the GST into the mix simply adds a category. There are no savings to be had by merging companies when it come to tracking GST.

    Tax fraud is always an issue but it is a tiny fraction compared to income tax fraud largely because there are so few rules that can be exploited.

    The example you gave with fake invoices does not require a VAT to justify since the real benefit comes from deducting the expense from income – not the 10% added to the expense. In fact, it would make no sense to commit that kind of fraud to simply get the VAT deduction since making it look legimate would require that you pay the entire invoice and then sneak the money back into your company without charging the VAT.

    Again: that all taxes are bad. just some are less bad than others.

  67. Kendra said

    Doing the VAT here in Switzerland when we had our translation office drove my partner to distraction 4 times a month. It also put our filing system into disarray.

    The onerousness, time and pure stress of playing unpaid tax collector was one of the reasons we closed up shop.

  68. Tim said

    #67 – Kendra

    It is a mystery why you had that experience. I don’t know that much about the European implementation of the VAT but I had assumed it would be similar to other VATs like the Canadian GST. I guess there is no system that cannot be messed up by bureaucrats…

  69. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Canada’s government outlined plans on Wednesday to eliminate its huge budget deficit, announcing a freeze on most spending when stimulus measures expire in a year amid an expected economic rebound.

    Current US total government spending versus historical is linked here:

    US government spending to GDP was at a 30 year plateau of around 36% and went up to 44% for the 2009. The Canadian total government spending for 2009 was 41% of GDP.

    So Tim you can keep your Canadian spending issues north of the border and let us Yankees worry about our fantastic outbreak in spending down here. Neither country has reasonable responsibilities for government finance. Both have tremendous unfunded liabilities for government health care and retirement funding.

    The easier a tax is to impose and collect, the worst it is for those of us who would like to see government shrunk significantly. Milton Friedman once lamented his initiatives in constructing the withholding of income tax for the US federal government because of the ease of control and collection.

  70. Andrew said

    69-It is crazy that even though Revenue almost always stays below 20% of GDP, that we spend twice that! Lunacy! I saw a Center For American Progress person on the news say that politicians have to realize that cuts won’t be enough, they’ll have to raise revenue. But the idea that revenue increases if you just raise the tax rate-doubtless the “progressive” suggestion-IS NOT TRUE! High rates, low rates, it doesn’t matter, it is going to be around or below 20% of GDP, no way out of it. The only way to raise revenue is to grow GDP. And increasing GDP by spending defeats the purpose of raising revenues, even if it did work, which it wouldn’t.

  71. Tim said

    #70 Andrew

    The two numbers do not match so one or both of them is wrong.

    This site shows the 20% number is basically BS:

    US government revenues have been above 30% of GDP since the 70s.

    I will leave it up to others to figure out whether the difference can be explained by assumptions in the WSJ article or if it was simply an error.

  72. Tim said

    Kenneth Fritsch,

    Canada’s government spending includes health insurance so you cannot simply compare the % of GDP numbers.

    I agree that cutting spending is the ideal approach. I dont see any sign of a political consensus in the US that would allow that to happen with tax increases.

    Lastly, the US government deficit matters to the world because of the size of the US economy. Every private dollar that is sucked up buying US government bonds is a dollar that is not being invested in more productive ventures. This drags everyone down.

  73. lucia said

    …to allocate some amount of government funds to the non-profit media organization

    Why non-profit? If this happens, a bunch of us bloggers should put paperwork together to create a non-profit media organization and ask our supporters to contribute their voucher money to us. Then, our non-profit can hire us and pay us salaries. Or maybe we’ll pay per article.

    Are you game? (Is that what the FTC wants? I suspect they will encounter first amendment snags if they screen in anyway that seems to filter based on Point of View. )

    increased postal subsidies for newspapers and periodicals;

    This is going to make me read the dead-tree version of more periodicals how? But it might be nice to pay less postage for my monthly issue of Vogue Knitting. I’m sure my Mom would like cheaper rates on Midwest Gardening, or whatever it is she subscribes too. My hairdresser will probably have an even broader selection of “people magazine” type magazines, sent to her shop for free.

    a 5 percent tax on consumer electronics,

    Why electronics? If this is a good cause, and a tax to increase the number of maganzie titles at beautyshops across the US is warranted, why not levy the tax on fingernail polish, mascara, perm solution or hair dye?

  74. Andrew said

    71-Let’s go directly to Uncle Sam, shall we?

    According to the OMB, receipts the percentage of GDP from 1930 on (removed “TQ” since it isn’t a year and I don’t know what it means):


    Only a couple of times has this gone above 20%, and never by the huge amounts you are suggesting.

  75. glacierman said

    #50 – Tim Said:

    “The biggest problem with income taxes is an every increasing percentage of the population pays no tax.
    This is poison for democracy (i.e. representation without taxation).”

    Seriously? Yea, no one wants to get represented without being taxed. No Senator, I demand that you tax me!!

    I think this is bassakwards. Oh, and turning it around does not fit your argument.

  76. Sam said

    “5 percent tax on consumer electronics,

    Why electronics? If this is a good cause, and a tax to increase the number of maganzie titles at beautyshops across the US is warranted, why not levy the tax on fingernail polish, mascara, perm solution or hair dye?”

    Here’s my theory. The prices of consumer electronics traditionally drop over time, due to ‘Moore’s law’ and a variety of other reasons. So what better item to affix a tax to? Yes, you will get a little less revenue as the prices drop, but no one will ever notice the tax if prices go down. Also, at lower prices there are more units sold altogether. Additionally, it seems fairly certain that the consumer electronics market is only going to get bigger in the future. Lastly, it is a field that can be broadly defined. They may limit the definition to computers and cameras when the tax is introduced, but broaden the tax 10 years down the road to pretty much any electronic device that is bought en masse (refrigerators, cell phones, calculators etc.).

    I think Lucia was asking a rhetorical question, but there’s my answer anyways.

  77. Andrew said

    Oh, and yes, I am going to want an apology.

  78. Tim said

    #77 – Andrew

    You gave federal government revenues. I gave you TOTAL government revenues (city and state included).

    That would explain the difference in numbers but it also means the premise that 20% is some sort of max revenue is false. The total government revenues have been as high as 37% of GDP in recent years.

  79. Sam said

    75 – “The biggest problem with income taxes is an every increasing percentage of the population pays no tax.
    This is poison for democracy (i.e. representation without taxation).”

    Seriously? Yea, no one wants to get represented without being taxed. No Senator, I demand that you tax me!!

    I think this is bassakwards. Oh, and turning it around does not fit your argument.”

    Glacierman, Tim’s argument (correct my if I’m wrong) for this is contained immediately after making that statement:

    “A VAT means everyone pays and everyone has a stake. I support it mainly for that reason.”

    He isn’t arguing that in a democracy people want to be taxed, he’s putting forth his opinion that in a democracy everyone should be taxed to ensure they have a stake in how the country is run. This is a fairly common argument and it has its merits. It’s easy to see that in a democracy where nearly half of people pay nothing into the system (or even profit from it) there is a perverse incentive for that group to put in place people who assure they pay nothing. If this is hard to comprehend, look at our most recent election. I’ll leave it at that.

  80. Tim said

    #75 – glacierman

    You missed the entire point. Income taxes are a bad tax because you can have 51% of the population who pays no tax voting to raise taxes on the 49% of the population that does pay tax.

    Visible consumption taxes are paid by everyone and therefore everyone is affected if taxes are raised.

  81. Andrew said

    78-Looking back, I now understand where this went awry. Yes, the limit I am talking about applies to the federal government. My comparison to TOTAL US government spending as a percentage of GDP, shown by Kenneth above, was based on a misinterpretation of mine that his chart showed Federal spending.

    However, Hauser’s law still applies to federal government revenue. The reason it won’t apply with states added in is because A. The amount is a priori expected to be higher, since as long as state’s revenues are greater than zero, well, it will be so. So if a similar law applies to the entire government, it is expected to be a higher number. B. The states have a much more varied tax system, the federal government just has one set of taxes, the states together have fifty.

    Let’s see if I can give a fairer estimate of my outrage. From that same website:

    Federal spend as a percentage of GDP was at 24.67% as of 2009. Compare that to 14.8% for reciepts. The Federal government is spending close to twice as much as it is taking in. Apparently the state and local governments are much more fiscally responsible on average, surprising given their current state, since the total state local and federal comes to spending 1.1 times what they are raking in, versus the federal government spending 1.66 times what they are bringing in.

  82. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Canada’s government spending includes health insurance so you cannot simply compare the % of GDP numbers.

    US spending includes the cost of fighting 2 wars and having troops placed around the world and providing health care for an increasing cadre of government workers. My point is government spending is government spending regardless how a particular government chooses to spend it. And eventually the piper has to be paid or sovereignty goes bankrupt. Most governments, if not all, will commit to future expenditures and spend until they can declare an emergency that will allow them to inflate or tax people to death.

    The instituting of the VAT tax in nations overall did not see an accompanying cut in government spending. It is a tax to fool any dumb asses who believe, with help of political propaganda, that they do not pay the tax but rather that business and merchants do, like in the case of corporate taxes. No nation has instituted it to replace the income tax so obviously they put it in place for reasons other than those that Tim continues to repeat.

  83. Tim said

    #82 Kenneth Fritsch,

    The data does not support your claims in the case of Canada:

    Drawn from Annex Data Tables 25 and 26 in the most recent OECD Economic Outlook:

    Total Canadian government revenues have fallen by almost 4 percentage points of GDP, from a peak of 44.2% of GDP in 1992 to an estimated 40.5% of GDP in 2006. Over the same period, total government revenues actually rose slightly as a percentage of GDP in the OECD area as a whole (from 37.8% to 38.6% of GDP), in the Euro area, and even in the US (from 32.8% to 34.2% of GDP.)

    Total government spending in Canada has fallen by an astonishing more than 10 percentage points of GDP, from a (recession-bloated) high of 53.3% in 1992 to an estimated 39.5% of GDP in 2006. For the OECD as a whole, the decrease was far, far smaller – from 42.4% in 1992 to 40.6% in 2006. Spending cuts in Canada have been much deeper than in the US (where total spending has fallen from 38.5% of GDP in 1992 to 36.5% in 2006.)

  84. Tim said

    #82 Kenneth Fritsch

    I also don’t understand where you get the idea that a VAT can replace income taxes. Such an outcome is a numerical impossibility and no government has ever promised that. But what it does do is diversify the tax and make it possible to significantly reduce income taxes.

  85. jeff id said

    I hope you’re enjoying this conversation about VAT. I’ve had enough of it, it’s beside the point of the post and beyond evenly distributing tax load, it’s an incredibly bad idea. It’s complicated for companies to deal with, I’ve done it. It means that us manufacturing becomes less competitive as a location for international businesses, our labor is already high, and it means that the government tax is hidden from the people. A receipt with VAT% on it doesn’t clean that up either because there are layers in a manufacturing structure and sub-component vat is a real issue.

    What the graphs have shown above is that more tax does not give more govt. income. It’s proven, so why have more tax at all?

    But after all that, the post is about the government taking control of our information sources. It has nothing to do with newspapers only, you can see that from the document’s wording. This is the single most evil thing I’ve seen out of the US government in my lifetime. It’s sitting blatantly in front of us and we’re talking about someone’s pet VAT tax.

  86. WxForecaster said

    It’s all about the realization that unobtainium can only be achieved with an insidious but relentless indoctrination that is implemented with incrementalism — Ever heard of the ‘Corn Cob Sales Approach’?

    Now that even the Lame Street Media is beginning to question the policies and probable ramifications of the progressives, is it any wonder that information, and purveyors of same, is now coming under attack?

  87. Jeff Id said

    Even the suggestion of the government co-opting of the media should be enough to send chills down any sane persons back yet what do we get? What are people thinking when this isn’t headline news across the world.

    Am I the only one who sees this for what it is?

  88. Tim said

    #87 – Jeff Id

    The desire to have publicly funded news sources is not a new one (e.g. CBC, BBC, Deutsche Welle etc.). I don’t see the proposals as any different or any more threatening. The one proposal to give each citizen a ‘voucher’ that they could allocate where they please is a vast improvement over systems where every taxpayer is forced to fund the left wing national broadcaster.

  89. Jeff Id said

    Imagine that, we need more of the BBC.

    Open your eyes, read the document. I linked the SOB in the head post.

  90. Sam said

    Jeff, you are not over-reacting. There is more in the document than even the synopsis states:

    “One panelist suggested amending the Copyright Act to limit the fair use doctrinethat might otherwise protect from copyright infringement the activities of aggregaand search engines, such as the types of search engine activities blessed by the 9th Circuit in Perfect 10. In particular, he recommended legislation clarifying that the routine copying of original content done by a search engine in order to conduct a sea(caching) is copyright infringement not protected by fair use.”

    “Thus, this speaker suggests amending the copyright laws to create a content license fee (perhaps $5.00 to $7.00) to be paid by every Internet Service Provider on each account it provides. He suggests creating a new division of the Copyright Office, which would operate under streamlined procedures and would collect and distribute these fees. Copyright owners who elect to participate would agree to periodically submit records of their digitized download records to the Copyright Office.”

    “One report recommends that: “A national Fund for Local News should be created with money the Federal Communications Commission now collects from or could impose on telecom users, television and radio broadcast licensees, or Internet service providers and which would be administered in open competition through state Local News Fund Councils.””

    “Allow the Small Business Administration to insure loans to fund new nonprofit journalism organizations.”

    “ISP-cell phone tax. They suggest consumers could pay a small tax on their monthly ISP-cell phone bills to fund content they access on their digital services. A tax of 3 percent on the monthly fees would generate $6 billion annually.”

    I could only get up to page 22 or so, and that’s the stuff I found. There is a lot of crap in there, and if it becomes actual law it could seriously impact our nation.

  91. timetochooseagain said

    88-The US already has public TV. It’s just that, unlike the BBC, PBS isn’t watched by anybody. It’s a waste of money, but not nearly as damaging as Public Television is in most countries.

    Although we do have to remember more acronyms. It’s not all “BBC one, BBC two…”

    I only know about that because I’ve seen some episodes of Doctor Who that my sister downloaded.

  92. Jeff Id said

    “Jeff, you are not over-reacting. ”

    I know, that’s why I’m stunned we’re talking about VAT. What the hell is wrong with people these days.

  93. Jeff Id said

    Rocks with shoes.

  94. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Tim do not limit your statistics to 2006. Here are some for Canada including a 2010 projection. Canada has reduced their deficits over past years, but I have heard recently that the business model for national health care needed to be changed. The acknowledged debt for most countries, including Canada, seldom list the much larger unfunded liabilities looming in the near term future from national retirement and health care expenditures. And note the comment below about how easy it is to lose that past effort in reigning government – and made easier by the VAT.

    Total Canadian government spending to GDP to 2008:

    Click to access 43924690.pdf

    Projected spending to GDP for 2010.

    Since 2007, however, the size of government relative to the economy has increased dramatically, thanks mainly to the economic stimulus packages that the federal and provincial governments have enacted. The size of total public sector spending in Canada is expected to reach 44.1 per cent of GDP by 2010, a level not seen for more than a decade. Unless the federal government enacts an aggressive plan tore to rein in spending, its legacy could well undo nearly a decade of reductions in the size of government.

  95. Tim said

    #92 – Jeff Id

    Perhaps you are not seeing a reaction because everyone here agrees it is a concern but does feel that a “me too” post adds much to the discussion.

  96. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Back to the subject at hand:

    The scary thing is that public financing of the print media would not require any constitutional test. As was noted we have public TV and radio already. Unfortunately at some point in time our constitution began treating business and corporate functions, even though operated by individuals and affecting individuals, differently than strictly individual interests and individuals. We all know that the EPA can come knocking on your door without a search warrant and give your place a pretty thorough going over. A recent Supreme court decision seemed to put some of the “individual” back in corporate activities by striking down parts of the McCain-Feingold campaign financing law that infringed the free speech of corporate and union interests.

    When it comes to making the government’s job easier, the courts have been historically pretty accommodating by allowing the government to do the job as laws dictate and allowing that dictate to weaken individual rights in the process. Think guilty until proven innocent when the government deems you owe them taxes.

  97. Jeff Id said

    Maybe, however a new or even slightly higher and somehow better TAX has been proven here “by math” to be the opposite of what we need. — still waiting for the understanding.

    In the meantime, a bit of holy shit, what are these jackasses doing, would do fine.

  98. Jeff Id said

    #96 Kenneth,

    I agree again. There is a lot of wisdom in your comment but too much middle of the roader’s to figure it out. It’s always easy to claim the middle ground and then claim it’s reasonable. IMO, that’s the weakest position. Of all the people the ‘independents’ have the most to figure out.

  99. Tim said

    #97 – Jeff

    Nothing has been “proven” by math. The only thing that has been shown the federal government revenues seem to be fairly constant over time, however, the total tax revenue from all levels of government has risen steadily to about 36% of GDP and there is no reason to believe the US is close to the point of diminishing returns.

    The biggest issue for all rich countries is the deficits and those need to be eliminated as soon as possible. I wish you the best of luck electing people in the US who will close that deficit without raising taxes but I am pretty sure it will not happen. That means taxes are going to go up and the only question is whether you would like the whip or the thumbscrews. That is why I think a transparent VAT deserves more consideration than it has been traditionally given.

  100. Tim said

    #94 – Kenneth

    You are correct the recent downturn has caused Canadian government spending to increase which is expected. However, that does not negate the 16 years if steadily decreasing government spending that preceded it – a decrease that was made possible because the Canadian government eliminated its deficit which reduced interest payments.

    It is the interest payments that are the killer. 18% of the US budget is going to interest today (including SS IOUs) and that will climb as long as deficits are allowed to continue. Interest is spending that cannot be cut unless you want to contemplate sovereign debt default.

  101. Jeff Id said


    When in the historic record has the federal government taken in more percentage than now?

    Has the federal government ever had higher taxes than now?

    Case closed.

  102. Jeff Id said

    I just realized what you wrote:

    “owever, the total tax revenue from all levels of government has risen steadily to about 36% of GDP”

    Without the ‘H’, total tax revenue ratios have stayed as constant as federal ones. They have not risen as you suggest.

  103. Tim said

    #102 – Jeff

    Please explain why the data in this chart is wrong:

    It shows a steady increase from 35% today.

  104. Tim said

    That should say from less than 25% in the 50s to greater than 35% today.

  105. BlueIce2HotSea said


    I am responding to Jeff’s appeals for reaction to the head-post. Otherwise I would remain in stunned silence.

    The transparent government grab for media control is shocking. I expected the Obama administration might air high quality advertisements that enthusiastically described their great policy decisions, progress, etc., but not this. This is truly depressing.

    And it’s a bad sign that most news organizations seem unconcerned. Big News is apparently permeated by people who are political ideologues first, professional journalists second. [A 90’s Reuters’ poll indicated that the large majority of Washington, DC bureau chiefs and national news correspondents self-identify with an unnamed party (or parties) well to the left of registered Democrats.]

    We may be headed for several cycles of bone-headed left & right wing socialistic propaganda. The current leftish group seem to believe that the winds of political change will never shift, but how will they react when, one day, right-wing socialist politics are crammed down their throats and they are out of jobs? I predict they will propose an independent media.

    Good luck with that.

  106. timetochooseagain said

    103-The reason is likely that the state and local governments had sub-optimal tax system for maximizing revenue. When adding them into the total, as I said above, we expect the limit to be higher. But it is still limited, which is why revenue as a percentage of GDP stopped growing, the states are also reaching the limit of what they can achieve by raising taxes and creating new ones.

  107. Tim said

    #106 – timetochooseagain

    It is true that revenue has become extremely variable over the last ten years and there might be a statistical plateau but that is not evidence to support your claim that a ‘limit has been reached’. Especially when most European countries are collecting more.

  108. Geoff Sherrington said

    This is a bit of a detour. The Australian Treasury produced this graph to show that G20 countries that most increased stimulus spending in the Great Financial Crisis, gained most benefit.


    Economist David Sinclair noted that fewer than 20 counties of the G20 were on the graph,so he added them to get:


    This tells a rather differnt story.

    Treasury came back with a similar graph, but included OECD countries. They were back with their new slope of encouragement.


    However, Prof Sinclair noted that there were more omissions. Theasury had deleted those counties that had spent less on stimulus, Greece, Ireland & Hungary. When added in, the last graph of the 4 looks like this:


    Question: Who has found a cure for bureaucratic and academic cherry picking? Have these people no shame?

  109. Jeff Id said

    #103, Mostly it’s just a magnification of the vertical axis.

  110. Jeff Id said

    #108, nice.

  111. Jeff Id said

    Tim the limit has been reached, it’s obvious. A second limit which has been reached is my willingness to have my money stolen by a bunch of small minded pricks who fall for the endless rationalizing of more government programs.

  112. Geoff Sherrington said

    111. Nice in return.

    So much of the discussion is about whether (a) the government or (b) the creator of new wealth – is in the best position to allocate it.

    The historical track record heavily favours (b) as superior. In the past several months I have seen the $ results of 20 years of work with a small team finding new wealth as mineral deposits, thrown into the trash can by a handout scheme. The Australian Government devised a stimulus scheme to place pink batt insulation into the ceilings of homes, only to to find it was dangerous, causing fires and electrocution unless done well. The cost of taking some of it out, checking and replacing will exceed the original cost of putting it in. They were warned beforehand of the dangers.

    It is hard to imagine the private sector doing so badly. If they did, it is hard to imagine people maintaining their employment.

  113. Kenneth Fritsch said

    As for the off topic discussion of government revenues (to GDP), I think we miss the general point of the problems of sustained government spending given the unfunded liabilities of government retirement, disability and health care promises into the future. I am sure that Canada like all developed nations has this same problem. Canada has not been building debt as fast as the US in recent years but that can change rather quickly. It is also important to point out how the federal revenues to GDP changes have been accomplished. Obviously a recession will reduce the GDP and the federal revenues if nothing else changes. Unfortunately in the Keynesian age we find ourselves government spending will undoubtly increase and the debt will grow during a recession. A nation could increase revenues to GDP by increasing taxes during a recession, but this might lead to a depression and certainly will have a detrimental effect on economic growth.

    The wild spending we see in the US of late is sometimes rationalized as necessary and something that will eventually be made up with higher taxes when the economy has recovered. The fallacy of that is that those higher taxes will have an adverse effect on the growth of the economy and government revenues will be considerable less than anticipated. The scary part is that most of our politicians do not have a clue on this matter and continue to ignore it. This conundrum of added tax loads and diminsihing expected revenues becomes a very large problem when in the US (and sooner in most other developed nations), the SS and Medicare revenues no longer meet current expenditures (and not when the “Trust Fund” goes broke as those so called trust funds consist of government IOUs that the government is obligated to pay). It is rather well known in economic circles that to sustain the promised future requirements for these programs would require increases in payroll to such an extent to stop or reverse economic growth. The alternative is of course that benefits are cut drastically – that, of course, is not going to be part of our politicians discourse any time soon. Keyenes answer was “we are all dead in the long run” and that might be soothing for those we do not worry about the futures for their children and granchildren.

    Interesting also that a nation like Canada (and the US, but particularly Canada) has a lot of potential and realized wealth tied up in their natural resources and one has to judge their economies and its potential based on those resources. That is not to say that other nations without those natural resources are limited in economic growth it is just that nations like Canada have a greater margin for error.

  114. Kenneth Fritsch said

    The Australian Treasury produced this graph to show that G20 countries that most increased stimulus spending in the Great Financial Crisis, gained most benefit

    There are so many things wrong with looking at short run economic developments as these graphs show. The GDP includes the government spending so if the government borrows from the future to increase current GDP what does that portend for the future- inflation and higher taxes or bankruptcy.

    In the US we had a jobs report recently show the highest increase in jobs growth in 20 some years – unfortunately 95% of that growth was in government workers and mainly those hired temporarily to do the census.
    That the government can temporarily hype the economy is well known. The problem is that its actions artificially hype it and create bubbles and mal investment and we pay the price down the line with an even more severe recession/depression than we would have otherwise had if the economy was allowed to recover and adjust naturally.

    Very typical though for those favoring government action to look at the short run.

  115. glacierman said


    I get your point now, just sounded funny since I believe we fought a war over taxation without representation.

    As to a VAT tax that everyone would pay, I do not believe in million years that a VAT would ever replace income taxes. I do not believe it has ever happened where a government finds a new source of revenue and thereby lets go of another. Take lottery for example. They are to pay for education in some states. Despite the fact that say 1b dollars is collected through the lottery, do you think property taxes go down because the government doesn’t need as much money anymore? Never. They simply find new ways to waste it. All in the name of some much needed social program, or to fight Mann Made, non-existant problems. Many European countries have VATs and I believe they would be a disaster.

    I am always skeptical when someone wants America to be just like Europe (POTUS). I don’t get this. We are better in many ways and should not be afraid or guilty about that.

  116. WxForecaster said

    FWIW – I came across an interesting perspective on the original topic’s background that delves into the lack of ‘Watchdog’ reporting, down sizing of DC news bureaus and splintering of the 4th Estate…

  117. Tim said

    #115 – glacierman

    Nobody other than people who want to trash the idea thinks that VAT can replace income tax – the numbers do not add up. But it can used to reduce income tax significantly.

    If voters ‘find a pair’ then a government that is willing to cut the decifit would also be willing to reduce income taxes after introducing a VAT.

  118. Geoff Sherrington said

    117 Tim

    Australia has had a GST (VAT if you like) since year 2000. The collections are made by the Federal Government, then split up and given to the several States and Territories.

    A major drawback is beginning to become obvious. Given that the GST comes into just about every transaction, the State Governments can gain revenues by increasing the number of transactions. In Victoria, we have been fiddling with a new system named Myki, for electronic tickets for users of public transport. Cost estimate is $1.3 billion and it’s $350 million over budget already and still not working.

    The arrangement to return GST to States is an incentive for States to spend over budget. If you are designing a system, keep this in mind.

    Today’s claim is that by paying Tiger Woods somewhere between $1.5 and $3 million, Victoria will benefit by $38 million from a game of golf, including GST.

    Governments have got a lot of air in the head lately.

  119. […] grasp that his political rantings undermine his otherwise serious technical posts. Here he is in full froth, going on about “corrupt liberals” and “our extremist in chief.” […]

  120. Tim said

    #118 – Geoff

    Government mismanagement of infrastructure projects has nothing to do with GST. Nor does not provide any more encourage to overspend than income tax. In fact, my entire reason for supporting a GST is because I believe governments have less incentive to overspend if raising taxes requires them to slap every voter each time they buy a cup of coffee.

  121. Geoff Sherrington said

    120 Tim

    It gets a bit debatable when you look at specifics because of the no-GST paid by State Governments (though it’s different in NZ). When you look at portions of the projects where private corporations are involved, you can see some effect coming through. The project overrun consists of funds that are redistributed funds, not new wealth creation. Besides, the voters are currently getting a slap in the face each time they buy a cup of coffee. That’s why the natives are restless. Example – part of the GST proceeds go to projects like bringing Tiger Woods to play a game of golf for $1.5 to 3 million (which he will take back to the USA)while using money velocity estimates to claim that Victoria will benefit by $32 million or whatever. It’s not going to benefit me. I have no interest on golf. If some people interested in golf want to make $32 m by bringing him out here, they should club together and use their own funds. Hell, I’m rambling. There is just so much wrong with the taxation system that I should not even start.

  122. PhilJourdan said

    I know WHY they are proposing it (and others have touched on it). They want a ready at hand outlet for their propaganda. But like the Buggy whip, its time and usefullness is over. I am sure the best buggy whip maker ever was the last to fold up shop, but buggy whips do not work well with carburators.

    The ironic thing is that the print media is overwhelmingly liberal now. If the government does get control, then at least during conservative presidents, it will not be! Mass layoffs a the new cabinet level agency each 4 years?

  123. Beth Cooper said

    The term ‘liberal’ historically was applied to describe free action. Since taken over by ideologues of the left it’s acquired new meaning. ‘Liberal’ now implies strong central government backed up by liberal minded, read ‘complicit’ media….” For the greater good, we will tell you what you need to know.” We’ve seen it in action in the Cru emails and now we’re witnessing moves that threaten the independence of the Press.Any concerted centralised powershift, whether ‘left’ or ‘right’ is greatly to be feared.

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