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Comment Re:Research to extend lifespans should be banned (Score 3, Interesting) 128

Countries with longer lifespans have lower population growth, or even decline. This is plausible because people in those countries don't have to have extra children to be certain that some will survive. If life extension also increases the maximum reproductive age, people could put off having children which would reduce population growth even more. A lot of people in developed countries only choose to have children because their biological clock is ticking.

Comment Re:Want good Internet? Move to a city. (Score 1) 174

"Dig once" is cheaper, and reduces the need for rural internet subsidies.

That, and the fact that people with good internet access should be more productive and hence pay more in taxes, so it's an investment. (I throw that in because his answer would probably be "but why have internet subsidies at all?".)

Comment Re:If it's legal... (Score 2) 448

Tax evasion, by definition, is illegal. What's being discussed here is tax avoidance, which isn't. And if nobody ever engaged in tax avoidance, what incentive would politicians have to fix tax law? If anything, there needs to be more tax avoidance, preferably highly public, to shame them into acting. And the public needs to start putting the blame on the politicians, where it belongs. If the politicians are letting themselves be bought off, one more reason to blame them.

They're stealing from you, and from everyone else.

Yes, keep confusing legal and illegal, so politicians can keep people thinking that they've done their job and continue to do nothing. That's what they want. (And as long as they do nothing, companies will keep "stealing", as you put it.)

Comment Re:Great idea (Score 1) 388

Google "personal expenditure tax". Economists have been fond of it for a long time, although it's almost never been implemented. Basically it's just a modification of the current income tax, where instead of computing income once a year, you compute consumption = income - savings (where debt is equivalent to negative savings, so borrowing is added, eliminating the buy/borrow loophole, and paying off debt is subtracted). The current system already has income being reported to the IRS, and I don't recall reading any concerns that the invasion of privacy would be worse than now.

Comment Re:Great idea (Score 1) 388

Your argument wasn't very convincing. Your plan is essentially to give them an unlimited 401k tax shelter.

Yes, basically to give everyone an unlimited 401k (with no RMD at age 70.5). Like a 401k, the money gets taxed when it's taken out (when it's spent). And if the tax rate is highly progressive, when the balance gets high enough, there's no way to spend it as fast as it's growing without incurring a very high tax rate. The only other ways to avoid that are to either watch it grow forever, without ever spending more than enough to avoid the high tax rate (which is unlikely given that inherited money is usually squandered within 3 generations, and also pointless, because then why have that much money?), or to give it away. I suppose a rich family could theoretically breed like rabbits as a loophole if they didn't want to give it to charity.

Comment Re:Great idea (Score 1) 388

How about your typical state sales tax? I don't think that's progressive or regressive: everyone pays the same rate, regardless of income.

It can be considered regressive in the sense that poor people spend a greater fraction of their earnings, so the amount they pay in sales tax is a greater fraction of their earnings (even though the tax rate is the same).

That's what the "prebate" in national sales tax proposals attempt to deal with. It makes the tax progressive at the very low income end, close to the poverty level (in fact, below the poverty level, you'd get money back). Unfortunately, it rapidly becomes flat as income rises above the poverty level. If a consumption tax is implemented as a personal consumption tax (tax income - savings = consumption once a year according to a tax table), that doesn't have to be true - the rate can continue to rise with rising consumption, since the progressivity is built into the tax table.

Comment Re:Great idea (Score 1) 388

The buy/borrow loophole is pretty much built into any tax based on income (due to the realization requirement on cap gains and the fact that borrowed money is not considered income). Good luck on closing it without changing the tax base from income to something else. And a wealth tax would probably be counterproductive as rich people would flee, except for taxing property which people can't take with them.

Besides, I already pointed out in my original comment how a consumption tax can be just as progressive as an income tax. Why do you keep insisting that it has to be regressive? Is it because the tax isn't imposed preemptively, before people decide to spend? People aren't going to hoard their money forever - eventually the heirs will squander it, as happens to all fortunes eventually, and then it will get taxed at a high rate (and the people squandering it don't care about the tax, which makes collecting tax a lot easier than if it was imposed on the people originally earning the money).

And in the meantime the payroll tax, which is literally a regressive tax, and is a bigger burden to low- and middle-income people than the income tax, continues and no one cares about it. If you're concerned with loopholes, start with that one.

Comment Re:Great idea (Score 1) 388

Lifestyle is determined by consumption, not wealth or income. The tax is paid when the money is spent, at a much higher rate than the rich pay now (which is as low as zero - see buy/borrow/die). The rich already have the no-limit tax shelter under the current tax system, and unlike the consumption tax, it allows them to spend as much as they want.

Comment Re:Great idea (Score 1) 388

1) If a consumption tax is implemented as a personal expenditure tax, instead of a sales tax or VAT, it can be just as progressive as the current income tax. Instead of computing income for the year and looking up the tax in a table, compute income - savings = consumption for the year instead. The progressivity is built into the tax table.

2) Don't overlook that for most people, the biggest tax burden is not the income tax, but the payroll tax, which is literally regressive (since it taxes every dollar of income at a flat rate up to a certain threshold, where the SS part of the tax goes to zero, so the rate is much lower for high incomes). Basically it has a high income cutoff rather than a low income cutoff, like the income tax. It also generally doesn't touch investment income, only wages. Even a "flat" consumption tax (with a prebate to cancel the tax for spending below the poverty level) together with eliminating the payroll tax, would probably be more progressive than the current tax system.

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