Volume 16, Issue 15: April 15, 2014
- MyGovCost Free Mobile App Calculates Your Lifetime Tax Liabilityand More
- Trapped by the State
- U.S. Energy Producers Deserve Tax Fairness
- P. J. ORourke on the Baby Boom Generation
- New Blog Posts
- Selected News Alerts
1) MyGovCost Free Mobile App Calculates Your Lifetime Tax Liabilityand More
To help Americans see how their federal taxes are being spent, the Independent Institute today launched a free mobile app called MyGovCost. Available in the Apple Store for the iPhone and iPad, MyGovCost shows taxpayers how their taxes are spent by the U.S. government. It also calculates a taxpayers lifetime federal tax liability.
MyGovCost provides custom-made calculations that allow each individual taxpayer to see exactly how his or her tax liability relates to the $3.5 trillion in annual federal spending and the $17.6 trillion national debt, said Lawrence McQuillan, Director of the Independent Institutes Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation. Thanks to MyGovCost, what used to be clouded in mystery is now intelligible, quantified, individualized, and easily accessible just by tapping on your iPhone or iPad.
By entering your age, income, and level of education, the MyGovCost personal Government Cost Calculator:
- Estimates your share of federal spending, federal taxes, and national debt.
- Shows how your tax dollars are spent on major program categories, including Defense, Health Care, Social Security, Interest on the Debt, Welfare, Environment, Education, and more than a dozen other program spending areas.
- Projects how much you would have at the end of a lifetime if you had been allowed to keep the money and invest it.
Additionally, the MyGovCost App offers news, blogs, videos, and articles from renowned scholars and other experts on runaway government spending and related topics.
2) Trapped by the State
Over the past half century, federal spending on social programs has risen like a bubbling cauldron. In 1964, it amounted to less than one-quarter of the U.S. budget. Today it accounts for about two-thirds. What effect has the spending trend had on the American psyche? Independent Institute Senior Fellow Robert Higgs offers a brilliant analogy to help us grasp the transformation.
A salmon trap, also called a pound net, is simple but ingenious, Higgs explains in the Spring 2014 issue of The Independent Review. Its sort of like a one-way funnel. The deeper a fish swims into the trap, the harder it is to escape. It has long been banned in U.S. waters, but its design lives on, figuratively speaking, in various political schemes that direct people toward dependence on the state.
As a salmons mind tells it not to turn back, so the human mind, especially when bewitched by government propaganda and statist ideology, tells a typical person not to turn back, Higgs writes. Having lost the capacity for assuming individual responsibility, people are fearful of taking on such responsibilities as their forebears did routinely.
The Salmon Trap: An Analogy for Peoples Entrapment by the State, by Robert Higgs (The Independent Review, Spring 2014)
3) U.S. Energy Producers Deserve Tax Fairness
U.S. oil and gas companies cant seem to get a fair break from the taxman, Independent Institute Senior Fellow William F. Shughart II argues in The Hill. Although they are plowing back more and more profits into exploration and productiontheyll invest an estimated 8.3 percent more next year than last year, according to Barclays Capitalgovernments are taking more and more from them. From 2007 through 2012, the total tax bill for energy producers averaged 37 percent of taxable corporate income, compared to 29.1 percent for companies that make up the S&P 500, according to a 2013 survey published by the New York Times.
Governments know a cash cow when they see one. Hence President Obamas call for higher taxes on oil and gas producers in his FY2015 budget. Fortunately, elements in our political culture are beginning to grasp the folly of overtaxing the goose that lays the golden egg. Heres one hopeful sign: The Progressive Policy Institute last year designated major U.S. energy companies as Investment Heroes.
Although it doesnt go as far as it could in treating energy producers like other sectors in the economy, Michigan Congressman Dave Camps proposed overhaul of the federal tax code is a reasonable first step. Yes, there are things in it that should be reworked to level the tax playing field, Shughart writes. For example, its repeal of oil and gas depletion allowances and Last In, First Out accounting practices would harm the shale oil boom. If were going to do tax reform, lets do it right, Shughart concludes.
Dont Reform the Tax Code on the Backs of Over-Taxed Energy Producers, by William F. Shughart II (The Hill, 4/10/14)
Taxing Choice: The Predatory Politics of Fiscal Discrimination, edited by William F. Shughart II
4) P. J. ORourke on the Baby Boom Generation
On February 13, P. J. ORourke delighted an overflow crowd at the Independent Institutes headquarters in Oakland, Calif., with witty insights drawn from his latest book, The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way . . . And It Wasnt My Fault . . . And Ill Never Do It Again. What fundamentally sets apart Baby Boomers from other age groups in American history isnt their huge numbers or their reputation for defying convention, ORourke argued. Its their emphasis on personal identity, an often-reckless passion that gave him plenty of material to poke fun at.
We are the generation who created the self, made the firmament of the self, divided the light of the self from darkness of the self, and said: Let there be self. . . . [But] this is not to say were a selfish generation, ORourke said. In fact, Baby Boomers often have wildly opposing views on ethics, psychology, and politics while still sharing an obsession with self-discovery.
One source of differences among the Baby Boomers, according to ORourke, is age cohort. For example, those born in the late 1940s often took their youthful personal journey in a rebellious direction, whereas those born in the early 1960s tended to be less confrontational and more cautious, having been too young to have visceral feelings about the Vietnam war and feminism, and having seen the toll taken by their predecessors hedonistic excesses. ORourke concluded by predicting that the Baby Boom ethos will engulf the entire world, bringing benefits such as fewer totalitarian movements and costs such as a narcissistic global culture. Wars will continue to be fought, but massive conventional wars that rely on draftees will become a thing of the past. Why? Because, ORourke said, everyone will have a letter from his doctor about how hes allergic to camouflage.
Video, Audio and Transcript: P.J. ORourke Talkin Bout His Generation (Oakland, Calif., 2/13/14)
5) New Blog Posts
From The Beacon:
Lets Start a Tax Revolt with Our iPhones
Lawrence J. McQuillan (4/14/14)
Uninsured Patients Are 36 Percent More Likely To Get Medical Appointments Than Are Medicaid Patients
John R. Graham (4/14/14)
Why Is Obamacare a Rube Goldberg Contraption?
John C. Goodman (4/9/14)
Medicaid Patients Access to Specialists Has Dropped Almost One-Fifth in Five Years
John R. Graham (4/8/14)
From MyGovCost News & Blog:
Federal Food Waste
K. Lloyd Billingsley (4/14/14)
Visualizing 2015s Federal Budget Proposals
Craig Eyermann (4/13/14)
Confusing Deficits with Surpluses and Train Wrecks
Craig Eyermann (4/10/14)
State Department Missing $6 Billion
K. Lloyd Billingsley (4/9/14)
The Cost of Obamacares Regulations
Craig Eyermann (4/8/14)
6) Selected News Alerts