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Thread: The times they are a changing... Bob Dylan

  1. #31
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    We live in Mainstone Farm at Stoneridge Village
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    Default Make sure the commercial enterprises pay their fair

    3. Make sure the commercial enterprises pay their fair share based on their uses of the infrastructure of both soft (prudent regulation) and hard costs (i.e. utilities, transportation, security, etc).

    Jeff said:
    Would you then cap corporate taxes at the amount equivalent to the consumption you describe here?

    David said:
    Usage fees for infrastructure make sense to me, in addition to a flat tax on corporate income.

    My comment:
    Ideally, I would favor a tax system where the taxes cover all of the enterprises use of government services in all aspects and at all levels, local, state, and Federal. Ideally, I would remove health insurance from the business sector as well so that they could compete on a level playing field in the international arena.

  2. #32
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    Default Using Discussion Forum quoting

    Barry, you might take a look at this post of mine, which talks about how to use quoting. I'll take a look at your new content this evening.

  3. #33
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    Default Make sure every member of society has full educational benefits

    5. Make sure every member of society has full educational benefits to the limits of their ability.

    Jeff said:
    How would you measure this? Spending? Outcomes? Already, many cities pay more even than expensive Wayland on a Per Pupil Expenditure basis. And, it's not clear that any amount of money will change this. After all, children spend on the order of 15% of their waking life in school between birth and the end of high school. There are simply too many external factors for schools to overcome.

    David said:
    I agree that education is a crucial funding priority for society. However, rich people will always be able to afford to send their kids to private schools at whatever cost they deem appropriate, so the there will never be a "level playing field" unless we outlaw private schools - not something I am advocating. The current system of funding public schools through local property taxes seems very odd to me, as I implied in an earlier post, as some areas of the country are much wealthier than others. I know money isn't everything in terms of determining the quality of an education - perhaps it is often over-valued. That said, it seems like the current funding structure immediately creates a "haves" vs. the "have nots" system above and beyond the existence of private schools.

    My comment:
    Again, in the ideal world I was initially thinking that we as a nation would provide for and education through the college level for those who would benefit from that level of education. However, I think that the current educational system of high schools, vocational schools, junior colleges, and colleges are not necessarily the best models for preparing our kids for the demands of the 21st Century economy. That is another subject in which I have no expertise. I think it would have to be measured by outcomes and alternative funding mechanisms should be considered as well and perhaps business and industry would play a role as well.

  4. #34
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    Default Ensure full public financing of our political processes

    6. Ensure full public financing of our political processes to eliminate undue influence of all interest groups no matter their perspective so that public policy actually benefits the public interest.

    Jeff said:
    A great goal, but even optimistic me is pretty pessimistic on this point.

    David said:
    I have several very large problems with this one - I think it would turn an already dysfunctional system into a catastrophic one.

    First, this puts incumbents in an almost unassailable position by putting them in control of the funding of their competitors' campaigns. It is already almost extremely difficult to dislodge incumbents in this country - each congressional race, look at the number of seats that are deemed to be "in play" out of the total: it is a tiny percentage. I don't think this is because all of the incumbents are doing such a wonderful job. One of the largest factors in elections in this country is name recognition. One way challengers attempt to gain name recognition parity with incumbents is by spending a lot more money than the incumbent spends.

    Second, interest groups are an essential and natural component of our representative democracy. Most people that complain about interest groups are complaining about the ones with wich they disagree. The idea that auto workers, teachers, retirees, gun owners, students, environmentalists, small-business owners, etc. do not have the right to lobby their government to promote their particular interests - I don't know how to characterize it other than to say it is exceedingly undemocratic.
    Third, I also think it is flat-out unconstitutional. Under the First Amendment, as I interpret it (I am not a lawyer), I have the right to advocate for the election of anyone I choose, and I have the right to do so as a member of any group of like-minded individuals I choose. I have never understood how limits to campaign contributions have passed muster in terms of the First Amendment. I don't see why their are any limits on private citizens funding election advertising.

    Rather than attempting to limit what Americans can spend on political contributions, I would much rather see a system where all campaign contributions were required to be published on the internet in a timely fashion (before the election!), so we could see who was funding a particular candidate and use that information in deciding how to vote.

    My comment;

    To Jeff I would say I do not expect to see it in my lifetime either.

    To David I would say that I appreciate and share some of your concerns knowing that we at least agree on the dysfunction of our current system.

    I agree that incumbency is an issue. I believe that a publicly financed system could actually go a long way in terms of balancing the exposure of a challenger with some compensating mechanisms in a campaign.

    I also agree that “interest groups are an essential and natural component of our representative democracy”. I just do not agree that they should be financing political campaigns. The “pay to play” aspect of our politics even though there are some curbs in place really undermines the public interest which I fear all too often plays a back seat to political expediency. I have personally witnessed anti-consumer industry drafted legislation become law that would never have happened if all the stake holders had a seat at the table in the light of day. That legislation in states across the country may have played a role in the real estate mortgage crisis that has brought this country to its knees. In this discussion about taxes, this issue is probably the biggest factor in the tax code we have today.

    I agree with full public disclosure on interest groups. Public financing would solve the question of limited contributions.

  5. #35
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by David Wells View Post
    As a follow-up to my post yesterday, here's a multiple choice question for you:

    What are the purposes of taxes?

    a) to fund the operating expenses of the government
    b) to redistribute wealth
    c) to modify behavior
    d) some combination of the above
    e) something else entirely?

    My answer is a) to fund the operating expenses of the government.
    I've given a bit more thought to whether the purpose of taxes ought to include (c), modifying behavior. Put a different way, should the government be in the business of attempting to modify behavior? Our system of laws is clearly designed to modify behavior, and I don't know that I've heard any but the most strident Libertarians argue that it should be any other way. Given that, why shouldn't taxation also be used by the government (which is, after all, just an admittedly imperfect extension of the citizenry) to modify behavior?

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