Sunday, June 12, 2011


Obviously, I dropped the ball on this blog. I anticipate preparing
five or six more "Thoughtful Thursdays" over the next year. And sending out
more of these miscellaneous postings.
I have been focusing my
writing energies this semester on the complete Requirements Document for the
Constitutional Construction Kit
The next Thoughtful Thursday is from that effort.

Hack for Egypt

The Hack For Egypt , as part of Cloud Camp 2011, has proposed
a "crowdsourcing" project for the new Egyptian Constitution.
They are looking in the future at a crowdsourcing for the Bill of Rights in
that Constitution.
This is a much less ambitious proposal than the one I am working on. one needs
a simulation component where the Egyptians.
The Egyptian unemployment
is concentrated among the young
, as it is in
many other countries including the Arab world.
And 50 percent of educated of
and ninety percent of young female
college graduates are unemployed.

So there is a resource of time to work on the Constitution.

Climate Change

I talked about using sortition-based consumption taxes to address
climate change. The Wall Street Journal
had a special issue on Energy and the first article, which frankly
is an editorial, on Climate Change. They say that emissions cuts,
raising energy costs with taxes, cuts economic
activity. Countries do not want
to do this. By putting the tax at the consumption side, this attacks
imports, and tends to get people to consume in ways
that are not energy-intensive.
They may not buy a computer-they may use an internet cafe.
Imports get taxed based on the embodied energy.
They may buy a smaller and more energy efficient house, use public transportation instead of a car.
The article suggest that governments should push for innovations that produce
less costly energy.
Wall Street Journal, November 29th 2010, Page R1

United States Health Insurance Mandate

As I assume all readers of this blog know, the United States has
mandated that all people purchase health insurance. However, there
is some question whether that is constitutional. The famous "necessary
and proper" clause of the United States Constitution gives the
United States Congress the power to make laws "necessary and proper" to
exercising its enumerated powers.
Does mandating that everyone buy health insurance fall within the
"necessary and proper" clause? One District Court has said no!
And it appears that a Florida judge will rule the same way.
However two lower courts said yes, they did.
I made a proposal that would resolve this. Make individuals tax rate
dependent upon their financial responsibility. We already have deductions
for contributing to IRA and for some education items. Individuals who are
purchasing disability insurance, health insurance, education should pay
lower taxes than those who are not.
There are people who cannot be expected
to have money for
health insurance, the single mom putting
herself through Nursing School
. However, those who have money
for a flat panel TV or internet, should spend or invest
it some other way such as health insurance.
The New England Journal of Medicine article,
"Can Congress Make you Buy Broccoli?
and Why
That's a Hard Question" by Wendy K. Mariner J.D. M.P.H.,
George J. Annas, J.D. M. P. H. and Leonard H. Glantz J.D.
said that Congress had two goals in passing the health reform
it did:

  1. provide a way for all Americans to gain health care

  2. preserve the private, commercial health industry
Obviously, it is not reasonable to require the health insurance companies to insure anyone regardless of sick they are and let people wait until they are in the proverbial ambulance to buy health insurance.
When a person wants insurance and has a "preexisting condition," we need to distinguish between those who simply waited until they got sick and those that had good reasons for not purchasing health insurance. A bureaucracy cannot. A sortition jury can.
Judge Vinson asked "If the government decides that everyone needs to eat broccoli, can Congress require everyone to buy Brocolli." If Congress chose to expand Medicare or Medicaid to cover everyone, they could have. Congress could then raise everyone's taxes to do so.
I believe at tax time, everyone should compete to show how responsible they are, buying and eating their broccolli, and saving, whether for retirement or their health needs.

Bronte Capital Management Blog

I met Mr. Hammond on the plane to New York City, and then by luck as I walking near 42nd Street in Manhattan. The first article I turned to, was the one on the Australian financial system. There is concern about one of the strategic funds in Australia. More importantly, he discusses the risks with privatized social security of fraud.
There are many other articles there, often very insightfully showing the numbers in investments and securities, from Chinese bus adverts and alcohol sales to Australian Real Estate near the iron ore mining boon.

Benefits Schemes

A gentleman who won two million dollars from the lottery is still collecting food stamps. The food stamp program uses income and lottery winnings is not considered income. State of Michigan is talking about getting a special waiver from the Federal government. (Ron French, Detroit News)
This is why all benefit recipients should go before a sortition jury to eliminate those who don't deserve them, even though they may qualify under the rules.

State Income Taxes

Wall Street Journal, Volume CCLVII Number 70, Page C1 and C2, March 26th to 27th, "The Price of Taxing the Rich" Robert Frank
Million dollar a year incomes pay 45 percent of California's Income Tax receipts. Similarly percentages for Connecticut and New Jersey. The problem with this is that these individuals incomes are erratic. Of course, when the market is up, these people "take their profits." And they have to pay their taxes on the capital gains, and tax revenue goes up. (We saw that when the federal government was briefly in surplus around the turn of this century. But some of this was due to "hundreds of millions in unanticipated tax revenues from taxes on capital gains.") In one year, the top one percent of the taxpayer's income dropped sixteen percent. In 2006, California anticipated a six billion change, either direction, from year to year on a regular basis. In the dot com bust, revenue from capital gains changed from seventeen billion to five billion.
Of course, states can protect themselves with "rainy day" funds. But state governments, like people in general, do not have the discipline to do this.
This blog has long called for salaries and other expenses to be a share of their revenue. Thus States would make goverment salaries and pensions a percentage of revenue. (Note that under the full share economy, government workers and retirees would set their mortgage, rent, etc. as a percentage of this amount. Thus, if this varied fifteen percent a year, they would not be between this decrease and an expense that does not change. Their discretionary income for day-to-day purchases would go up or down by the same percentage as the state's revenues.) And their "borrowing" would be the same way. Thus, rather than selling a three percent bond due in thirty years, they would sell a perpetual bond that paid out nnn percent of the revenue. I earlier called for a "clawback" tax to deal with, among other things, those earning high pensions.
A consumption-based sortition "badness tax" could have firms competing to avoid the taxes necessary to fund the state government.
And with individuals having a share of the income of the companies in which
they invest, there would be less variability of income. Individuals
earn money as the company does, not by selling the shares.

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