Croesus and Solon
© FineArtAmerica.com
Croesus and Solon by Johann Georg Platzer. A story worth reading.
Truth is not what you want it to be; it is what it is, and you must bend to its power or live a lie. - Miyamoto Musashi
Writing about taxes is slightly less fun than being spit roasted by someone with cerebral palsy. Reading what someone wrote about taxes is probably akin to being tied to a chair with toothpicks holding your eyelids open and being forced to watch.

People used to like money. We all talk about the death of capitalism. Capitalism is dying, but not from flaws in its ideological substrata, but of fiscal ennui - no matter what the left says, greed is just too vital for modern capitalism. What we really have is the lethargic gluttony of crass consumerism. Can you blame the West? All those ratios and percentages, and progressive pass-through limited partnerships and blah blah blah. Greed used to be sexy, now whining about the 1% while twirling your dreadlocks in between puffs of medical marijuana is sexy.

Greed is dead.

People have found a new currency, and I'm not talking about "the bitcoin." They've found the world's oldest and most lucrative mineral: feelzite. Mining feelz is the primary occupation, not only of the modern progressives and leftists, but of westerners in general.

What does fiscal responsibility get you? A big bank account? Pfft, that's your definition of success man. Today, it's all about the likes. It's all about the attention of people you haven't met, don't like, and wouldn't get along with. It's all about the feelz.

There's an old parable, a fable really, by Aesop about the difference between Greed and Envy. Two men, one greedy and the other envious, had a row and being unable to solve their differences they petitioned Zeus to solve their dispute. Zeus, being a clever old goat, decided that he would grant them each a wish, but whatever they wished for, the other party would get twice as much.

The Greedy Man said he didn't care, all he wanted was a mountain of gold, and with a flash of thunder, Zeus delivered to the Greedy Man his mountain of gold, and to the Envious Man two mountains of gold. The Envious Man, on seeing the Greedy Man so happy with his mountain, turned to Zeus and said: "I wish that you would pluck out one of my eyes."

Since time immemorial greed has been seen as something not quite moral, but in the ancient world, it was understood that envy and resentment were far worse. We've lost that understanding in the modern world. We don't recoil in disgust when we see envy. Nowadays, we treat it like virtue.

Why does it matter if a rich man gets a tax cut? Among the bleeding heart liberals, the ivory tower marxist academics, and the addle brained blogosphere troglodytes, the rich man is the new Mephistopheles.

If Trump cuts taxes for everyone, obviously rich people will get a tax cut too. But we can't have that!

If there's one thing you can say about such people, they aren't greedy. They don't even have the benefit of enlightened self-interest. They never plan to be rich. Which is probably why they aren't rich. They're willing to lose an eye to blind an enemy. That's Nietzsche's 'slave morality' right there.

There's no such thing as a Corporation

Ready to have your mind blown: corporations don't exist. They are legal fictions, meaning they only exist in courts and in official documents. Most peoples minds can't seem to understand this, so I'll spell it out. A corporation is comprised of people.

A corporation is not just the CEO and the CFO and the shareholders. It's the secretaries, it's the janitors, it's the guy in the mail room and everyone in between. It's also its consumers, the people who buy goods or services, like a utility, or a bed maker, or a food supplier, or an oil refiner. A corporation is a nexus of human striving. Within any corporation are often hundreds or even thousands of people who are living paycheck to paycheck - people whose children depend on that paycheck for food, and warm socks, and heating oil in winter.

A corporation is not a person. A corporation is not even a thing, not in the way a chair is a thing. It only has a metaphysical existence. It's not the factory or the building or the sign, or even the employees. A corporation can fire everyone, move to Asia and start up again and still be the "same thing".

You don't tax corporations, you tax people. You tax shareholders (still people), you tax CEOs (also people), and you tax employees (definitely people). When you tax a corporation, that burden is spread out across all the people in the organization, all the consumers.

Little Timmy needs a new blanket? Well, Timmy's mom is going to have to pay a little more this year because the far thinking leftist brain trust running America decided to hit Blankie Corp with an environmental impact tax on account of all the Snowy Egrets they accidentally plucked for Timmy's down comforter.

But don't worry, Blankie Corp will also pass that tax along to Yank and Pull Ltd, makers of the fine - but somewhat inaccurate - Sqawker Plucker 3000 (Gold Edition). Blankie Corp will do this by threatening to cancel their maintenance contract, so Y&P will have to cut back on the overtime of its maintenance workers, like Chet. That means Chet won't be able to buy that new My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic DVD for his daughter Sally. Shit rolls down hill.

Every single dime the government takes from a corporation is, and will always and forever be, paid by human beings, just like you. Because corporations don't have any money. Only people have money. Corporations don't have money because corporations don't have pockets because they are legal fictions of your imagination. All the money exists only for an instant in a legal limbo as something the corporation "owns." Eventually it all goes to somebody, or comes from somebody. Whether that's in dividends, or salaries, or employee compensation or into offshore tax havens. Eventually it winds up in a pocket, attached to a human being who needs to eat, sleep, keep warm, and have a roof over their heads, or some little blond girl who just wants a My Little Pony DVD.

Trump's Tax Plan


Despite what the left would have you believe, Trump's tax plan is something we can all be disappointed by. The tax plan is a giant nothing-burger, with a lot of fixings that are meant to satisfy conflicting opinions on taxation.

The tax plan is the same old American Progressive tax plan with a nominal, but useful, tax rate shave. The tax plan also moves around and simplifies a few tax regulations, but it is in no way revolutionary.

The problem with Trump's tax plan is not so much that it is good or bad for any group, but that people who are commenting on it are so egregiously incompetent that what they say beggars belief. Vox, for example:
Many Republican senators seem to agree that merely exempting the companies from corporate tax and adding a new special deduction isn't enough. Republican Sens. Steve Daines of Montana and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have said that they won't support the Senate tax bill unless it cuts taxes more on pass-throughs. And President Donald Trump has a strong incentive to push for more breaks for pass-throughs as well: The Trump Organization is organized as a collection of pass-through entities, so he and his family would benefit enormously from additional tax breaks for pass-throughs.

All the more remarkable: Most economists agree that pass-through businesses already get preferential tax treatment relative to other companies. There are political reasons why people are pushing for pass-throughs to benefit still more. But there's basically no economic rationale for giving them an extra leg up.
This whole thing has to do with the rather limp offering of the Trump tax plan to pass-through entities.

The Vox article, with a staggering lack of self-awareness, points out that 95% of all businesses are pass-through entities. The problem is that 99.7% of all businesses in the US are ones with 500 or fewer employees. They are by definition "small businesses." The stats get better: of all businesses in the US, 97% of them have fewer than 20 employees, making them ultra small restaurants, bookstores, coffee shops and so on.

The people who own and run small businesses with less than 20 employees are not among the mega rich, they are among the middle and upper middle class. You know, that thing that is disappearing?

The fact of the matter is that pass-through entities, like S-Corporations and Limited Partnerships, are frequently used by married couples to own their own homes, get business-to-business discounts, and to economically support expansion as their family grows (by having babies).

The admittedly small benefits targeting corporations aren't just targeting the top 0.03% that are megacorps, but the mom-and-pop shops, the savvy middle class homeowners, and the single mothers who supplement their income with an eBay business.

Saying that most economists agree on anything has two problems. First, economists are frauds. Economics has almost nothing to do with the economy these days and everything to do with pontificating about moral philosophy. In the late 19th and early 20th century, economists rebranded themselves as scientists, but they are anything but. Their discipline is largely a laughing stock. They have been consistently wrong about almost everything since Adam Smith. Marx was an economist - look how that turned out.

Secondly, how many is most? This is a kind of Sorites paradox, i.e. when does a bunch of grains of sand become a pile? How many is most? I am pretty sure none of the Austrian School are included. I am fairly certain precious few of the Chicago School are either.

The other points brought up by people antagonistic to the Trump tax plan mostly have to do with "tax cuts for the rich," and "what, no death tax?" The death tax is a symbolic punishment of wealth, it doesn't lead to any significant tax revenue and it's just in a mean spirit.

When it comes to tax cuts for the rich, how many times do you have to explain to a person that if you cut the tax rate across the board, those who by definition pay more taxes, get a larger break. 10% of $100 is $10. 10% of $1,000 is $100. If you change that to 5%, then the person making $100 would have to pay $5 and the person making $1,000 would have to pay $50. The "rich" person got a $50 tax break, the "poor" person got a $5 tax break.

Blame mathematics, not Trump.