Sunday, April 28, 2013

Miscellaneous M (mostly referendum news)

United States Tax System Woes - A Good Summary

Dr. Stiglitz provided a good summary of the current issues in the United States tax system. low tax rates for top tax income earners increases "rent seeking," not investment. That is why I proposed that meaningful investment should be free of taxation, sortition jury approved investments one can put one's income before taxation. These could be exploring for natural resources, biomedical research or investment in the next big thing.

He argues that someone who "earns income from financial innovations " should pay the same taxation percentage as those who do "research to create real innovations that transform our economy and society." I would feel, and perhaps Americans in sortition juries, that the latter should pay less taxes.

Referendum news

(gathered from Google news)

Israeli/Palestinian Peace Agreement

Two cabinet officials say tht the Israeli people should vote on any proposed peace agreement. But Tipi Livni says that "'That is what the national elected us to do--to make courageous choices."

But a better idea is to have both the Palestinians and the Israeli's vote. And they should choose from a large selection of peace arrangements. The maximin proposal wins. (That is the proposal whose minimum percentage from both Palestinian citizens and Israeli Citizins is the highest.)

Princeton University

The Princeton student population voted on changing a penalty for an honors violation and required the Honors Committe to publish statics. The issue was a relatively technical issue ( was a student who wrote over the time limit on the exam treated with the same penalty as other violations) The penalty changed to probation to a "standard penalty" of one-year suspension. A 3/4 majority was required on the referendum.

Taiwanese Nuclear Power Plant

The Tawanese legislature has multiple readings for proposed referendum. This referendum is about whether a fourth nuclear power plant construction should be stopped midstream.

But there is an interesting issue. The vote is to stop construction. In Taiwan, referndum needs a 50% turn out. Thus, by having a positive vote to stop construction, those who don't bother to show up are making it more likely that construction will proceed. That is, counted in favor of this nuclear power plant.

President Chen spoke at the Conference on Comparative Studies of Referendum that this requirement makes the referendum law a "'birdcage'" referendum process. He was elected with less votes than the peace referendum received. Yet the latter did not pass because of lack of turn out.

I like the statement by KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chuh:

"'Now that we haven't been able to settle in the legislature the issue which has already confounded the country for more than 20 years, it's time for the public to make a decision'"

"Lin said the proposal was as neutral as it could be to make a referendum on the issue possible.

"'Whether you support the plant's continued construction or not, you should all vote in favor of the proposal'"

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator said the referendum process is "structurally flawed"

Also, the NIMBY issue is prevalent here. TSU Legislator Lin Shih-chia said the referendum should also be decided by those living within 50 kilometers of the nuclear power plant.

Taiwan passed its referendum law in 2003.

Croatia tourism development

Croatia's third referendum is a local one. Dubrovnik will vote on whether to allow a huge golf-focussed resort. Those in favor point to the additional jobs in the tourism industry. Those against it say that the development is inappropriate for the image of the town which has many historic streets and buildings. IN fact all of the areas previous referendum were on issues such as splitting from Yugoslavia or joining EU or NATO, what one would consider major sovereignty issues. This is the first 'everyday' referendum.


I wrote about Iceland's referendum on whether to repay bail out of its banks.

Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz liked the idea tht Iceland lets its banks fail and its currency dropped. But apparently many ordinary Icelanders are unhappy. They have seen some economic growth. The comparison is with Ireland which handled the bank bail out differently. It is not clear what approach was better.

Iceland also decided to write down any loan that is ten percent under water. Of course, people in such underwater homes don't want to pay their mortgages, as it will just get written down any way. The solution, of course, is to make mortgages a percentge of wages or income.

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