‘Puter was talking politics with a woman in his office yesterday. ‘Puter can get away with that because he’s upper management. At least, that’s what ‘Puter tells himself in his Walter Mitty-esque fantasy life.
This woman is that rarest of all birds. Aside from being well-read, funny and attractive (not moreso than Mrs. ‘Puter, of course), she is a rational liberal. We got to discussing some of the more pressing (and divisive) national issues, and came to agreement not just on the issues, but on many solutions.
Here are a few of the issues/solutions we managed to agree on.
1. Energy. We agreed that there was currently insufficient energy produced in the United States. We both agreed that nuclear power is currently the best solution to the problem. (‘Puter wanted increased drilling in ANWR and national preemptive rules permitting hydroofracturing, but she wasn’t buying.). She liked nuclear power because it has no carbon footprint. ‘Puter likes nuclear power because it weans us off foreign oil, not to mention that it’s clean, cheap and efficient.
We also both agreed that the power grid needs to be totally rethought and rebuilt. This is good because it would create jobs, increase transmission efficiencies and permit hardening in the event of an EMP/cyber attack. Government funds/utility rate increases would be necessary to do this. We agreed that power line siting would be done at the federal, not state level, (1) because if interstate power transmission isn’t interstate commerce, then nothing is and (2) because states have managed to prevent reasonable reworking of the grid for decades becaus of NIMBYism. (Full disclosure: ‘Puter’s house backs directly to high voltage interstate transmission lines, so shut up, NIMBYs.).
2. Social Security. We agreed it’s broke (in both the operations and the money senses), and further that we weren’t likely to see much, if anything, out of it. We’re both under 45. Interestingly, ‘Puter detected a trace of bitterness towards Boomers for screwing subsequent generations from his debate opponent.
We agreed that benefits must be means tested immediately for all non-retirees, with a phase in period for current retirees. We agree the retirement age should immediately be raised to 70 for everyone not currently retired, with no option for early retirement. We agreed that even with means testing, everyone should at a minimum get back what they paid in over time, plus a rate of return (probably lower than what is fair). If you’re otherwise means tested out, when you get back what you’d paid in, plus the ROI, your payments stop, period. We agreed also that for means tested out folks, in the event your non-Social Security income fell to a now-qualifying level, you would be able to have your benefits adjusted to meet your new status (e.g., your portfolio 100% vested in wind power technology tanks, and you’re bankrupt).
This should restore solvency over the short and long term.
3. Tax Reform. We agreed the tax system is broken and needs to be fixed. She insisted “the rich” pay “their fair share.” ‘Puter said fine. Here’s how we’re going to do it.
Take 2008 revenues as a baseline for setting rates. The sum of revenues based on the new rates must equal 2008 revenues as a starting point. For subsequent tax years, incomes dictate revenues.
Corporate income taxes will be discontinued altogether. Estate taxes will be discontinued altogether. The AMT would be discontinued altogether.
All income from whatever source derived (stock sales, capital gains, wages, lottery winnings, in kind payment) will be considered gross income. Each individual gets a generous personal exemption for himself and each dependent, which we set at $10,000. No deductions would be permitted. This includes charitable, green energy, housing, medical, etc. Certain deductions would be ended immediately, others would phase out over time (e.g., mortgage interest over 30 years, along with property taxes).
There would be two tax rates, whose income bands would be adjusted annually for inflation. Taking a wild-assed guess, we agreed that on income up to $500,000, a 15-20% rate would be appropriate. For income over $500,000, a 35-40% rate would be appropriate. You would still be able to file singly or jointly. Gay married people would be able to file jointly.
Everyone has a minimum tax liability in each year of $1.00, and return filing would be mandatory. If you are over 18, you must file and pay your $1.00 annually. If not, you may not receive any federal dollars or participate in any federal program.
That’s it. Nothing else. This captures the “capital gains” wages of hedge fund traders and zeroes out Warren Buffet’s investment income advantage. The “rich” pay more than the “middle class” (if $500,000 in income can be considered middle class). Everyone pays something. A family of four could earn up to $40,000 with only $1.00 in liability.
Corporations would be free to use their capital efficiently, without government interference. That is, they’d be figuring out how to make more money rather than figuring out how to keep what they’d earned from greedy beaureaucrats. They’d either return income to shareholders throgh dividends (taxed immediately) or invest it in operations (more jobs, more workers paying taxes). Stock prices should rise, because corporations would now have better cash flow, and if the funds were plowed into physical plant/equipment investment, it drives other jobs, resulting, in theory, in more taxable income to someone (e.g., plumbers, electricians, equipment manufacturers, etc.).
In theory, it would also encourage corporations to equity finance rather than debt finance. That is, because there is no deductability (i.e., tax advantage) to borrowing to fund operations as there are no more corporate taxes, corporations should become more neutral on debt versus equity considerations, aside from operating lines of credit for immediate needs. Further, because gains on stock would not be taxed until such time as the stock was sold, individuals would use stock as a method to appreciate capital in a non-taxable environment.
This model would certainly work for established corporations, and the traditional angel/venture capital/hedge fund/bank model is still available for startups and more volatile entities.
Nothing would alter the state tax systems. There would be no VAT, and no federal sales tax.
After discussing these topics, haggling over them and coming to conclusions neither of us liked, we wondered why Congress can’t do the same. ‘Puter knows it’s because neither side wants to give the other side an advantage, or even worse be called a RINO/DINO by the punditry, but he hopes for better.
Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts, or respectfully point out why ‘Puter’s an absolute moron for his proposals. Don’t call ‘Puter’s debate opponent a moron, though. She’ll kick your butt.
After all, the clock’s ticking, and we’re not sure when the final horn will sound. Get in the game, Washington.
Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this.
’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies.
The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig.
His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred.
He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently.
Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet.
‘Puter suggests the Czar suck it.