William Thien

Archive for the ‘Sales Taxes’ Category

I was surprised to hear that once again the FED did not raise interest rates yesterday. The reasoning given was the same as it has been for the last seven years, that the FED is waiting for more indications the economy is on the mend.

I should think that unemployment being lower than prior to the real estate bubble bursting and in many places lower than five percent for some time now and that the stock markets are seeing record performance for some time should be all they need to raise rates but they keep putting it off. I think the fear is that Janet Yellen, the FED Chairman, does not want to be the bad guy who says the party is over by raising interest rates. I truly believe that is the primary motive for not raising rates. I can’t say I blame her. Who’d want that job? Yet, with interest rates as low as they have been for this long, there is a certain economic party going on in this country and not everyone is invited. Economic performance has been stellar since the age of low interest rates.

You might ask, “Why raise rates if low rates have led to such incredible economic performance?” And I might agree. But there are a number of reasons to raise rates which have nothing to do with greed.

For one, low interest rates, as low as they are today and have been for some time, such low rates dramatically stimulate inflation, particularly inflation in such areas as the housing market where what once just a few years ago would buy you a nice little house in a quiet neighborhood merely gets you a ramshackle shed by the railroad tracks with cellophane on the windows today.

When once you could purchase a new compact car for a few grand now requires twenty or more. The price of many items purchased by families has now doubled or tripled just since 2008 yet median incomes for families have been trending downward. Like I said, there is a party going on in The United States and not everyone is invited.

Now if you are seeing a corresponding increase in pay such as a commensurate cost of living increase, one that ACTUALLY CORRESPONDS with inflation, things may not seem so bad. But for the majority of Americans that is not happening and if you are on a fixed income or are not seeing a pay increase (very common), such as the elderly or military personnel for example, constant increases in inflation put a sizable dent in your way of life. You find you are using credit cards more or going without, which for some might even mean going without decent food. Have you seen the price of hamburger lately? And eggs? Supposedly there is a shortage of eggs but when I visit the market the shelves look crammed pretty well with eggs. It’s just that the price has tripled because, well, there is a shortage of those eggs crammed onto the shelves at the market.

I have written previously that another reason interest rates are being kept so low is that we reside in a political climate that forbids talk of tax increases, and rightfully so. The country has become almost entirely socialized and taxes are being blown for example on women having sex out-of-wedlock and getting pregnant to the tune of 50 plus percent. That’s right, last year more than fifty percent of babies were born to single mothers. Fifty percent! All of those women can’t raise children without the aid of the government. The country has almost been entirely socialized and women having children out-of-wedlock are a large source of the problem. I hate to to say it, but women in American are the primary drivers of socialism. All of that talk about feminine independence to come from the sixties and seventies is a bunch of hormonal malarkey. After all, women are going to have to police their own behavior. Men are not allowed to say anything about feminist collectivism. If they do, they are branded as sexist. Feminism has become a collective ball and chain clamped upon the ankle of the American taxpayer.

I call that portion of the economy the “fuck and suck economy” (you can read my entire blog by scrolling down on the right side and that particular observation will become visible). The f and S economy is huge with single women sloughing around fornicating in front of the television and buying the products proffered to them to get their government benefit payment monies. Politicians are afraid to go after that portion of the economy because the television will crucify them. Such political encroachment on one of the largest and most lucrative media markets, the daytime f and s market will kill a large portion of television revenues. It’s funny that the television media are some of the largest, most profitable corporations in America yet they always appear to be socialist when such issues arise. It’s funny strange, not funny ha-ha.

That being said, one way to increase tax revenues is to raise the price of things. When you raise the price of things, which is what happens when you stimulate inflation through low-interest rates, you get more in sales tax revenues and in the case of real estate, more property tax revenues. So, it may not be just that Janet Yellen does not want to be the bad guy and say the party is over by raising rates; stimulating inflation in this political climate may be the only way to achieve certain levels of sales tax revenue.

Nevertheless, stimulating inflation so that large, responsible segments of your own population suffer is poor policy while others reap benefits for having sex out-of-wedlock for example, particularly when such taxing maneuvers directly affect those who serve the country and those who have paid taxes through and until retirement and have controlled their sexual conduct.

I am thinking it is time to raise interest rates or provide corresponding, real cost of living increases across the board. Interest rates don’t have to go up five percent or ten percent. Have you noticed how everyone waits with bated breath for the FED to announce an increase in interest rates, even just a quarter of a percent? OMG! A quarter of a percent! Then, when the FED announces no interest rate hikes, there is a “collective” (yes, I think much of Wall Street and corporate America has become socialist lining up at the government trough and that is how I use that word “collective”) sigh of relief. Bring interest rates up a percent or two or three at the most and you may see a significant change in the price structure of most things in this country. For those on fixed incomes, it could be just what they need.

The question arises, “Which is easier, raise interest rates a bit or give everyone a cost of living increase?” I think you know the answer to that question.

I don’t mean to crash anyone’s party. Hold it, am I crashing the party? Or, who is crashing whose party? I think you know the answer to that question as well.

Copyright © William Thien 2015

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Yesterday I tuned in to that national conservative radio talk show host who broadcasts during the day. He brought up the subject of the two major big-box retailers we all know of, one whose name begins with a W and the other a C, and their support for an increase in the minimum wage. The radio host contends that the two retailers support an increase in the minimum wage because they can afford it and it will displace their competition who cannot afford to pay their own workers an increase in the minimum wage.

That was my position regarding the potential onset of a national internet sales tax. Certain retailers such as big box retailers who also have an internet presence can absorb the cost to the customer of a national internet sales tax, thereby pricing their competition out of the market. Smaller retailers would by default be increasing prices when adding the sales tax to the total receipt. Previously the smaller retailers were able to keep prices close to or competitive with the big-box retailers when adding in the cost of shipping because their overhead was naturally lower. They do not have to pay to maintain a retail location or locations. The implementation of a national internet sales tax would change all of that.

An increase in the minimum wage is another issue altogether. The motivation by the two major big box retailers to seek an increase in the minimum wage is due to the fact that their customers are no longer able to afford to shop at their stores. Retail prices, all except those that are subject to governmental price controls such as that of milk and food staples in general, have seen a large and certain jump in prices since 2008 and just prior as a result of various economic stimuli at the national level.

As a country, we are now starting to see the real and detrimental effects of the various economic stimulus plans. We are seeing the effects of the economic stimuli in the form of substantial levels of inflation and the least affluent customer, that customer to which the two big-box discount retailers primarily cater can no longer afford to shop at their stores. Sales are down at those discount retailers because prices are up substantially due to inflation, inflation which the retailers can no longer control with their economies of scale and purchasing power. Yet, their customer base has not seen a corresponding increase in wages in five years if you consider the national minimum wage while at the same time prices are being driven substantially higher. The economic stimuli we have seen since 2008 and prior have done little for the poor and lower economic classes, quite the opposite in fact.

One issue, that of the internet sales tax is a price control issue, the other issue, that of the minimum wage, is one of money supply on the demand side. When the customer has no money, that’s bad for retail business. And the customer has no money to cover the cost of inflation. The economic stimulus made sure of that.

To prove my theory I did a rather unscientific study. I went to the closest big-box retailer whose name begins with the letter W. Of the thirty or so lanes located to check out, only two lanes were open right in the middle of the afternoon (a little after 4pm), and the only line that had formed was at the self-checkout lanes and that line had only three or four people in line. The store is new and is considered a “Supercenter.” By retail standards, I’m sure it would have been considered a bit of a ghost town.

Their customer simply has no money to shop there anymore.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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Marital property laws and community property laws may not be about “equality” as was originally thought.

Marital property and community property laws are about wresting control of income from the breadwinner, traditionally the male of the household, though that is changing, and giving control of that money to the lady of the house. Why? Because all of the marketing sciences are directed at the consumer and the lady of the house has been designated as the focus of America’s marketing efforts. She was and still is the primary consumer of the household. She does most of the spending. Almost all of America’s discretionary income marketing is focused on her. By giving her control of all of the money, marketing can get her to spend more of it. It is as simple as that.

When divorces started increasing during the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s, and women were left with little or nothing, women were taken out of the marketing equation because they were not getting as much money from the divorce. The solution was for states to enact marital property laws and community property laws to stimulate sales. You have to remember, sales taxes play a key role in sales at the register. When consumers spend, they also pay sales taxes. When spending slows, so do tax revenues.

Marital property laws did not come about simply due to issues of equality, they were created out of economic necessity in the marketplace.

Copyright © William Thien 2014

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A friend and co-worker recently told me that he believed one of my essays had taken a decidedly liberal turn. Being a conservative, I was curious to know what he meant by that? He told me that my position on stadium taxes and the free ride that sports corporations receive from stadium taxes indicated to him an anti-big business angle.

We then discussed a commercial by a consortium of railroad advertisers which stated that railroads were able to move a ton of cargo on one gallon of diesel. He neglected to mention that railroads are federally subsidized and so their efficiency is as well. That one gallon of diesel without federal subsidy is probably quite a bit more than a gallon.

What gives, he asked? Why the anti-big business attitude?

I wanted to laugh, but I did not.

“Welfare is welfare,” I said to him. I can’t write an essay about the wrongs of welfare for women birthing children out-of-wedlock and receiving $46,000 a year to do so and not point out the fact that large corporations are receiving all kinds of welfare of their own whether it be special tax incremental financing districts to pay for new stadiums (unnecessary to infrastructure) or federal subsidies for railroad transportation (infrastructure necessary). The corporate welfare list is long and varied, much of it probably totally unnecessary to the health and well-being of the country and its economy.

Welfare is welfare, I said, whatever form it takes or whomever or whatever receives it. I would add that I myself support many such forms of federal subsidy such as those that railroads receive or manufacturers might receive to locate in a certain place.

Conservatism and capitalism are not the same thing either, I added. Conservatism has to do with individual liberties and controlling the size of government. Capitalism, in my opinion being the best form of economy, is about making profits. Individual liberties and profits often do not seek the same objective.

I believe that party of the two largest which claims to be the most conservative has to a certain extent been hijacked by big business robot frontmen in a way which effects individual liberty and the foundations of conservatism, I told him.

One of the ways individual liberty has been effected is the increase in sales taxes we see when our elected decide to add such things as a stadium tax for example, something which may appear minuscule at first and though may result in an enjoyable event, does not add to the infrastructure of the community (in fact where I reside when there is a ballgame, forget about getting across town promptly). And with taxes so high for so many who have no shelter from them, of which we are many with no such shelter, such taxes as a stadium tax no matter how small when added up with all the others are an affront to individual liberty. It’s as simple as that.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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When Lois Lerner made it public during a speech to a legal conference that The IRS was targeting conservative organizations with extra scrutiny she then in fact waived her right to plead The Fifth. She initiated this entire episode prior to the event even becoming a national matter, prior to The Congressional Hearing or any court commencement. In other words, Lois Lerner initiated the investigation herself when she disclosed the wrongdoing at said legal conference in a question apparently planted by The IRS itself. By taking the matter to court or to a Congressional Hearing, one can not suddenly plead the fifth. It is too late! It is no longer legally or in any other sense unreasonable to ask, “Hey, what did you mean by that?”

It is too late, Lois Lerner.

A change of venue does not change the chain of evidence or interrupt the line of testimony once an admission of guilt is made, nor do they change upon revelation of criminal behavior. By swearing in before Congress Lois Lerner only agrees to be truthful, that is all.

When Lois Lerner revealed the activities in The IRS Division of Tax Exempt Organizations during her speech at the legal conference, she admitted illegal behavior. This didn’t just slip out during ordinary conversation or off the record, she said it in an organized, pre-meditated way, most likely in an effort to head a larger scandal off at the pass that we may never discover. Lois Lerner meant to say what she said, we can be sure. It was no accident! Therefor, it is not beyond the legal scope of Congressional Investigation to make further inquiry. She can no longer plead The Fifth!

Then, during the Congressional Hearing itself she stated she was innocent of any wrong doing, once again negating her right to plead The Fifth. What wrong doing? So she admits there have been misdeeds! Again, it is too late now to plead The Fifth.

Could Lois Lerner’s revelation merely be an attempt by The IRS to prevent the discovery of the wider, more devastating scandal that has appeared in everyone’s mind, “Does The IRS investigate individual conservative donors?”

Our elected must work exhaustively on this and other such tax-related matters to ferret out all of the wrongdoing at The IRS so that Americans can feel free to contribute to whomever or whatever cause they feel necessary. This is one of the reasons why I have been calling for an end to Amendment Sixteen for some time, now. The IRS is simply too powerful, vindictive, and socially destructive.

Rep. Issa, call Lois Lerner back if you would please! Call her back!

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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Here is an interesting observation. Just a couple of days and less than a week after one of the most significant political scandals in modern American history, the IRS scandal involving conservative organizations, the episode seems to have blown over already. Not one major media outlet had any mention of it on their front page this morning. Only Fox News had a story on the front page and it was down at the bottom.

Why do I bring this up?

Because nobody at the congressional hearings has asked or seems to be asking the question that is lurking at the back of everyone’s mind regarding the IRS Scandal, “Did the IRS obtain lists of donors to the conservative organizations which they scrutinized and did The IRS harass those individual citizen donors?” Or, “Did the IRS attempt to harass and intimidate individual donors to those conservative organizations?” I think we all know the IRS routinely targets conservatives, but to use a list from one of the conservative organizations would have a chilling effect on donations to those organizations. Perhaps that is the intent of this entire scandal, to do just that, frighten donors who give to conservative organizations.

Nobody is asking that most significant question, more significant than all the others, “Did The IRS harass known individual conservatives?”

That is THE QUESTION at the back of everyone’s mind. Unfortunately, I think we all know the answer to that question. Obviously we are not going to get the truth.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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I was not surprised when The Senate voted to tax internet sales. Brick and Mortar retailers were complaining that such sales were not taxed an therefor internet retailers had an unfair pricing advantage. The real problem is that retail, like any other business, changes. One hundred years ago when you first went to an old-time grocery store you gave the clerk a list of things and he went to select them off of a shelf. Then, grocery stores realized it was more profitable to let the customer go and select them from a shelf themselves and they put the products where customers could reach them. Grocer retail evolved just like retail has generally evolved. Most brick and mortar retailers have an internet presence, if they are with the times that is, if they want to operate successfully in the “internet age.” It’s not the consumer’s fault brick and mortar only retailers are not up to date in a retail sense. So, why is the Senate punishing the consumer on behalf again of what is really a special interest group (the legislation is being pushed by a consortium sponsored by brick and mortar retailers)? Is it because they want the tax revenue or is it simply because they don’t have a clue what is best for the public? Really?

But even worse, such a vote indicates something much more pervasive, that in the future if you want to read the local or national newspaper online, you will be taxed. If you want to stream a radio broadcast, you will be taxed. If you want to view a free online video site, there will be a tax, all because a bunch of brick and mortar retailers don’t want to update their sales floor and keep up with the demand and delivery method as it has changed.

Congress must not support any internet tax legislation. The internet signal as it passes through the wire or the air is already taxed when you pay your phone or internet bill. One tax on the internet is enough.

It is unfortunate for those brick and mortar retailers that haven’t kept up but the clarion call about how profitable it can be to sell on the internet has been loud and clear for well over a decade now. That’s what business is all about. Keep up with the times or go out of business. It really is a business matter, not one of taxes.

Congress must not pass the Senate’s internet tax legislation.

Copyright © William Thien 2013

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