The Ten Steps to Prosperity: Step 1. Eliminate FICA Wednesday, Feb 1 2017 

Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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It takes only two things to keep people in chainsThe ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders.

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If you are a regular reader of this blog, you have seen “The Ten Steps to Prosperity” at the end of many posts, including this one.

Each Step includes one or more links that provide explanations and justifications. However, some people find clicking from page to page inconveniently interrupts the continuity of thought.

So, for your convenience, we will devote each of the next few posts to one Step.

Background:
The single biggest problem in world and American economics is the wide and widening Gaps between the richest and those below them (in terms of income, wealth, and power). The Ten Steps were created to address that problem.

The U.S. federal government is Monetarily Sovereign, meaning it is sovereign over its own currency, the dollar.

The government can do anything it wishes with the dollar. It can create dollars, destroy dollars, and give dollars any values it chooses. It never can run short of dollars, it can pay any creditor any amount, and it can cause or cure inflation, at will.

Step #1. Eliminate FICA.
The federal government has three primary sources of income: Individual Income Tax (47%), Corporate Income Tax (11%), and FICA (34%).

But, because the federal government can create dollars at will, and never can run short of dollars, it has no need for income. Even if all of the above-mentioned taxes were eliminated, the federal government could continue spending forever.

The most common measure of the economy as a whole is Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The formula is GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports.

Federal taxes remove dollars from the economy, while federal spending adds dollars to the economy. When federal spending exceeds federal taxing, i.e adds dollars to the economy, this misleadingly is termed a “deficit.” When federal taxing exceeds federal spending, this is termed a “surplus.”

A federal surplus is the economy’s deficit, and a federal deficit provides the economy with a surplus. Thus, contrary to popular intuition, federal surpluses are recessionary and federal deficits lead to GDP growth.

A regressive tax adversely affects the poorer more than the richer. FICA not only is a large tax, but it is our single most regressive federal tax, because it is collected only on salaries below approximately $100K.

All other incomes –interest, capital gains, salaries above $100K, etc. — which are more important for the rich, are not subject to FICA. (Sales taxes are our largest non-federal regressive taxes).

In 2017, the federal government expects to collect about $3.7 trillion in taxes, of which $1.7 trillion is expected to come from FICA. If the federal government were to eliminate FICA, while continuing to pay exactly the same amounts in Social Security and Medicare benefits, $1.7 trillion would be added to the economy this year.

The addition of $1.7 trillion would offer the greatest benefit to the payors of FICA, the lower income, salaried people. (FICA is a deduction from salaries. Even the portion that ostensibly is paid by corporations actually functions as a salary deduction.)

Simply ending FICA (Step #1) would grow the economy,
improve health care, and narrow the Gap
between the rich and the rest.

Since ending FICA is easy to execute — just stop collecting from paychecks — why hasn’t it been done? Actually, it has, or at least a mini version has:

Payroll Tax Cut Temporarily Extended into 2012
IR-2011-124, Dec. 23, 2011

WASHINGTON — Nearly 160 million workers will benefit from the extension of the reduced payroll tax rate that has been in effect for 2011.

The Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 temporarily extends the two percentage point payroll tax cut for employees, continuing the reduction of their Social Security tax withholding rate from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent of wages paid through Feb. 29, 2012.

This reduced Social Security withholding will have no effect on employees’ future Social Security benefits. 

Due to massive federal deficit spending, the “Great Recession” ended, and in 2010, Gross Domestic Product grew 3.78%. However, in 2011, the growth rate fell to 3.70%, and the government feared we might slip back into recession.

So, the government instituted what it called, a payroll tax “holiday.” The government temporarily (for two years) made a small cut (2%) in Social Security collections, and even this temporary, small cut made a difference. In 2012 GDP growth rose to  4.11%.

If a temporary, mini FICA cut could have a positive effect on the economy, and did not reduce Social Security benefits, the question remains, why hasn’t FICA been eliminated?

Three reasons:

  1. The “Big Lie,” which simply stated is: Federal taxes fund federal spending.  Even a cursory examination reveals the truth.Since the federal government has the unlimited ability to create dollars, clearly it does not need taxes to fund its spending. It could (and does) fund spending by creating dollars, ad hoc.
  2. The inflation myth: Cutting taxes increases the money Supply. The inflation myth says that increasing the Supply of money decreases the Value of money  (aka inflation).  However, the Value of money is based on Supply AND Demand. And the Demand for money is based on interest rates, which the Fed controls.The federal government has absolute control over the value of the dollar. There is no historical data, either domestic or foreign, demonstrating that deficit spending causes inflation. (Hyperinflations in Zimbabwe, Weimar Republic, Argentina, et al, were caused by shortages, not by money “printing.”)
  3. The Gaps are the differences between the richer/more powerful and those below them on the economic scales. It is the Gaps that make people richer and more powerful, so they want to widen those Gaps.  But cutting FICA would narrow the Gaps, so the higher economic groups, having more power, are able to convince Congress to keep, and even increase FICA.

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FICA collections have another, more insidious effect. By providing the illusion that FICA funds Social Security and Medicare, FICA forces limits on those benefits — benefits that are far more important to the lower income groups. A double penalty for the less affluent.

But it gets worse. Medicare payments are unnecessarily low (because of the Big Lie), so many of the best doctors now opt to refuse Medicare or become “boutique” doctors. These doctors are not financially available to the lower-income groups, who then receive on average, lesser health care (not only from the standpoint of skill but because of the number of patients each doctor must serve).

And it gets worse, yet: America has a severe shortage of doctors and nurses. But limiting the size of benefits has the unintended consequence of discouraging our best and our brightest from entering medicine.

And then the final insult. Though the dollars you use to pay FICA are taxed (corporate dollars are tax deductible), the benefits you receive from Social Security also are taxed — a double tax against the less affluent.

Summary: FICA is unnecessary; it’s a drag on the economy;  it reduces the number of, and availability of, health care providers: and it punishes the less affluent, widening the Gap between the richer and the rest.

FICA should be eliminated.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

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The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE AN ANNUAL ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA, AND/OR EVERY STATE, A PER CAPITA ECONOMIC BONUS (Social Security for All) (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB (Guaranteed Income)) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:

Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012

Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONEFive reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE CORPORATE TAXES
Corporations themselves exist only as legalities. They don’t pay taxes or pay for anything else. They are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the government (the later having no use for those dollars).
Any tax on corporations reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all corporate taxes come around and reappear as deductions from your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and corporate taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

Brownback destroyed Kansas. Same concept would grow the U.S. Wednesday, Dec 28 2016 

Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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As readers of this blog know, the Big Lie is this: Federal taxes fund federal spending.

Unlike state and local governments, and even unlike euro nation governments, the U.S. government is Monetarily Sovereign.  That means it neither needs nor uses tax dollars. It creates dollars ad hoc, by paying invoices.

Even if all federal tax collections fell to $0, the federal government could continue spending, forever.

The Big Lie is expressed in many ways, by the left and by the right. Here is one example:

Brownback eager to see Trump repeat Kansas’ mistakes
12/27/16 10:11 AM, By Steve Benen

Arthur Laffer, the architect of Kansas’ failed far-right economic experiment, is certain that if Donald Trump adopts similar policies at the national level, it will “lead to economic ‘nirvana’ in the U.S.”

The last chief executive to listen to Laffer’s advice, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R), is thinking along the same lines. The Wall Street Journal reported over the holiday weekend:

Sam Brownback, the Kansas governor whose tax cuts brought him political turmoil, recurring budget holes and sparse evidence of economic success, has a message for President-elect Donald Trump: Do what I did.

In 2013, Mr. Brownback set out to create a lean, business-friendly government in his state that other Republicans could replicate. He now faces a $350 million deficit when the Kansas legislature convenes in January and projections of a larger one in 2018. The state’s economy is flat and his party is fractured.

Still, Mr. Brownback views his signature idea – eliminating the 4.6% state individual income tax for partnerships, limited liability corporations and similar businesses – as a national model.

He’s not alone. In 2012, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said of Brownback’s radical economic experiment, “This is exactly the sort of thing we want to do here, in Washington.”

This is an unbelievably crazy idea.

As regular readers know, it’s been about six years since Brownback announced his plan to conduct “a real-live experiment” with his state’s economy.

The far-right Kansan, working with a GOP-led legislature, cut taxes far beyond what the state could afford, slashed public investments, and waited for prosperity to flourish across every corner of the state.

None of that has happened. Not only have Kansas’ job growth and economic growth rates lagged behind neighboring states, the state’s budget is in shambles, and Kansas’ debt rating has been downgraded multiple times.

Given these results, common sense suggests the governor and his allies might re-think some of their economic assumptions.

Instead, Brownback and his cohorts are convinced their failures are actually successes, and Republicans at the national level would be wise to repeat Kansas’ missteps.

Clearly, Mr. Benen, the author of the above article, does not understand the differences between a monetarily NON-sovereign government (Kansas) and a Monetarily Sovereign government (the U.S.).

Kansas uses the U.S. dollar, a currency over which it is not sovereign. It, and all other states, counties, and cities, can run short of dollars, so they need continual infusions of dollars to fund their spending.

These dollars can come from taxes, tourism, or exports.  Reducing taxes requires that more dollars come from tourism or exports, or the state will face insolvency.

By contrast, the federal government cannot run short of its own sovereign currency. The U.S. could, and indeed should, reduce taxes, as Kansas did, an act that would leave more dollars in the economy and increase economic growth.

In fact, just the elimination of FICA (see Step #1 in the Ten Steps to Prosperity, below) would provide a powerful stimulus to the U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, Mr. Brownback, being Republican, also “slashed public investments” which invariably translates into cutting programs that benefit poor and middle-income people.

The Big Lie, whether spoken by the right or by the left, leads to one result: It widens the Gap between the rich and the rest.

And, the Big Lie, whether spoken by the right or the left, has one of two causes: Ignorance or intent. Either Mr. Benen is ignorant of Monetary Sovereignty, or he intends to help widen the Gap between the rich and the rest.

Readers of Mr. Benen’s articles might conclude he has a progressive bent, and he would be among the last commentators to opt for widening the Gap.

However, the same readers might conclude he is intelligent, well-read, and understands the truths of Monetary Sovereignty.

Which is the real Steve Benen?  I cannot say. What I can say is his article damages America by spreading the Big Lie, whether intentionally or not.

The bottom line to all of the above is that state finances are different from federal finances, monetary non-sovereignty is different from Monetary Sovereignty,  and tax cuts that were disastrous for Kansas could work quite well for the U.S.

Ignorance has its penalties, and the public, not understanding the above differences, pays dearly for its ignorance.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

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The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the rich and the rest.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE AN ANNUAL ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA, AND/OR EVERY STATE, A PER CAPITA ECONOMIC BONUS (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:

Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012

Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONEFive reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE CORPORATE TAXES
Corporations themselves exist only as legalities. They don’t pay taxes or pay for anything else. They are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the government (the later having no use for those dollars).
Any tax on corporations reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all corporate taxes come around and reappear as deductions from your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and corporate taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

Big data, uncertainty, prediction, and approximations Tuesday, Oct 11 2016 

A few thoughts on uncertainty:

Nothing is certain. We live in a universe of approximations.

There is, in physics “the Heisenberg uncertainty principle,” which describes certain limits of what we can know.

We simultaneously cannot know both the position (in space) of a subatomic particle and its momentum (speed times mass). The more accurately we measure one, the less accurately we can know the other.

This counter-intuitive fact has nothing to do with the act of measurement (aka “the observer effect”) somehow changing the result. It has to do with what we absolutely never can know, despite out best, most careful efforts.

At any moment in time, each particle has both a position and a momentum. But we cannot know both.

Nature has decided some knowledge will be hidden from us, today, tomorrow and forever.

If you find this hard to believe, perhaps a slightly more familiar situation will be instructive: We simultaneously cannot know the diameter and the circumference of a circle.

We can measure the diameter of a circle. We can measure the circumference of a circle. But no matter how hard we try, we cannot measure both for the same circle.

We can measure the diameter as precisely as we wish. Let’s call it exactly “1” (1 inch, 1 foot, 1 mile, 1 light year).

No matter how precisely we create that circle, we never can know the diameter, which is based “1” multiplied by the infinite sequence known as π. Being an infinite sequence, π cannot be measured precisely.

In mathematics, there is a workaround, or rather a convenience, that says an infinite sequence can be expressed as the rounding of the last terms. For instance, 1.9999999 . . . can be treated as being the “same” as 2, because the difference would be infinitely small..

Pi is an infinitely long sequence. You can see a million digits of Pi here.

The first few digits are 3.14159 . . . , which sometimes are rounded to 3.14 or to 3.1416 if greater precision is desired.

True, the word “pi” represents a number, just as the word “one” and the numeral “1” each represent a number, but there is no way to measure both the circumference of a circle and the diameter, by the same number system.

If, for instance, one uses pi to measure a circle’s diameter, no fraction of pi will measure the same circle’s circumference.

Every circle has both a specific circumference and a specific diameter but you never can know both.

The uncertainty principle of physics and the uncertainty of pi in geometry are distant cousins. Physics at its core is mathematics, and mathematics at its core is geometry.

Because of the uncertainty found in geometry, mathematics, and physics, they all function only as approximations. Everything we know devolves to an approximation.

(In mathematics, even simple “1+1 = 2” is equivalent to the approximation:  .99999 . . . + .99999 . . . = 1.99999 . . .)

Economics, at its core, is psychology, and the measures in psychology are even less certain that are those of geometry.

Consider inflation (or as some call it, “price inflation”). It is defined as a general increase in prices. Though we can look back and declare with some confidence that there has been inflation, we cannot say how much.

Like subatomic position and momentum, or pi, inflation is unmeasurable.

Circulating through America’s and the world’s economies are billions, perhaps trillions, of different products and services, each changing through time. Today’s overall mix of products and services is different from yesterday’s. Tomorrow, just one day later will see a different mix.

How then does one compare the pricing of yesterday’s product/service mix “A” with the pricing of today’s product/service mix “A+1”?

If “A+1” has a higher price than does “A” does this represent inflation? Or does it merely represent the fact that two different product/service mixes have two different prices?

Consider a basic example: The price inflation of milk. We can’t even measure that . Too many alternatives. Skim, 2%, or regular; gallon, quart, or pint; Pasteurized, flavored, or raw;glass bottle, paper carton or plastic; grass-fed cow from Wisconsin, grain-fed cow from Illinois or a goat from Missouri.

Only fourteen such questions will yield nearly five million alternatives. What then is the better measure of price inflation in milk?

One sometimes hears that the federal government fudges the inflation statistics to make some point — to exaggerate or to minimize the measure of inflation. And this often may be true.

But since there can be no accurate measure of inflation, the best that can be attained is an approximation. The argument then becomes, “Whose approximation is ‘better'”?

“Better” for what? Is it “better” to know the position of a subatomic particle or its momentum? Or an approximation of both?

Is it “better” to know the diameter of a circle or the circumference or some approximation of each?

Is it better to know the price inflation of milk, or of some static and selected basket of products and services, or of some evolving and selected basket of products and services?

Our approximations tell us there has been some inflation in the past 20 years, though how much, we cannot know, nor do we know how much is “best.”

We can try to impute inflation by determining the changing value of money itself.  The formula is: Value = Demand/Supply.

Sadly, we have no measure for those terms, either.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP), another often-used measure, suffers the same problem. Without knowing inflation, a gross measure like GDP is all-but-meaningless. In fact, all the measures in economics are based on approximations, and when approximations are compounded by other approximations, results can vary wildly.

But it gets worse, for economics is massively complex, with all factors being related. Employment is related to GDP, which is related to education, which is related to income inequality, and on and on — trillions upon trillions of inter-relationships of approximations.

Much of science, including economics, has as its goal, prediction. Unless one can say, “If ‘A’ happens, ‘B’ will result,” of what value is economics?

And that is exactly the problem facing economics: It lacks predictability.

When someone predicts kicking a ball will send the ball into the air, that is not an impressive forecast. And when someone predicts that a triangle will resist deformation better than a square, that is expected.

But, when someone predicts a recession or inflation or a stock price increase, and that recession, inflation or stock price increase happens near the predicted time, the person is acclaimed, so rare is even somewhat accurate, prediction in economics.

Given that geometry is far more predictive than psychology (despite the effects of infinity), one might think economics would attempt to incorporate geometry into its calculations.

And indeed, it has, in the form of graphs and charts. Look in any economics text or read any economics blog, and you will frequent use of graphs and charts.

Unfortunately, the graphs and charts are constructed from the same uncertain data that makes economics prediction so difficult. Extending trend lines usually fails.

Finally, psychology is based on the brain, and the brain is an approximation device. We do not actually see an object. We translate a two-dimensional sensing of the light coming from the object, into a three-dimensional approximation, which is why illusions can be so convincing.

Approximations can make for good science, so long as we understand their limitations. Consider the Ten Steps To Prosperity (below), the plan for narrowing the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.

Step #1 is “Eliminate FICA.” That tax is highly regressive, being imposed only on salaries (not on all income and not on wealth). Its primary effect is on the low- and middle-income workers.

We believe:

  1. The Gap is too wide and has been widening, though we don’t know how wide it is or how wide it should be.
  2. One measure of the Gap is via the GINI ratio, but this ratio is based on many variables, the measure and weighting of which can be debated.
  3. Eliminating FICA would narrow the Gap, but there is no way to determine how great the narrowing would be.
  4. Because the federal government is Monetarily Sovereign, and never can run short of its own sovereign currency, it neither needs nor uses FICA tax dollars.
  5. The only negative to eliminating FICA might be inflation, though we don’t know whether that negative is real, nor how much inflation might occur, nor whether, for certain,  inflation could be contained.

We see many beliefs, unknowns, and uncertainties indicated in those points. We cannot quantify them, nor prove them.

So why do we believe them?

The human belief system is based on translating insufficient information into certainty.

Everything is approximate. Looking out the window, I am certain I see a tree. But my brain has made an approximation. It has interpreted certain light quanta, falling on my retina to approximate a tree and a window, though upon closer inspection, the whole approximation might be a shadowbox or a photo or just a play of light.

Physics, geometry, and economics can grow only as we reduce the human element, i. e. the human interpretation and intuition as solutions to uncertainty.

The purpose of human intuition is quickly to interpret a massive amount of information that otherwise cannot be factored. But machines are good with massive amounts of data. A machine could find relationships in the huge data described in the milk illustration.

Think of Google’s web crawler, then think of more advanced computers crawling the web for every mention of every product and service.

At some future point, the computers will “know” the relationships between all past sales, uses and prices of everything, and from these past relationships, be able to estimate the future.

Big data will be the solution to big uncertainty, as we creep ever closer to knowing the position and mass, the diameter and circumference, the future of the Gap and of inflation.

Closer is as good as it ever will be.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

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The single most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the rich and the rest.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich afford better health care than the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE AN ANNUAL ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA, AND/OR EVERY STATE, A PER CAPITA ECONOMIC BONUS (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:

Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012

Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONEFive reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefiting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE CORPORATE TAXES
Corporations themselves exist only as legalities. They don’t pay taxes or pay for anything else. They are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the government (the later having no use for those dollars).
Any tax on corporations reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all corporate taxes come around and reappear as deductions from your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and corporate taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

How the Rich Use the Big Lie to Cheat You: Chapter V: Taxes Wednesday, Feb 17 2016 

Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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“Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” You’ve heard it so many times it has become ingrained in our psyches that there must be taxes.

But why?

“To pay for the government,” comes the ready answer.

None of us likes paying taxes, but few of us even can imagine a government that does not levy taxes.

And it’s all part of the Big Lie. In it’s simplest version, the Big Lie is: “Federal taxes fund federal spending.”

We’ve discussed the Big Lie so many times, we won’t go deeper into it here, other than to say this: Monetarily non-sovereign governments like states, counties, and cities do need taxes to fund spending. The Monetarily Sovereign U.S. government neither needs nor uses taxes to fund spending.

Even if all federal tax collections fell to $0, the U.S. government could continue spending, forever. That is a fundamental econnomics truth, which you can read about at any of the numerous posts detailing the features of Monetary Sovereignty.

Why then, do we have taxes?

Some history: Being Monetarily Sovereign, the U.S. government has the unlimited ability to create its own sovereign currency. But it was not always so.

The one thing every government has is the ability to pass laws. And some of these laws may reduce the nation’s own Monetary Sovereignty. (The euro nations passed laws completely eliminating their Monetary Sovereignty.)

Deciding to be on a gold standard, where each unit of a nation’s sovereign currency must be matched by a unit of gold, cancels the nation’s unlimited ability to create its money.

During much of our history, the U.S. government has been on some sort of metal standard, and at those times, we were not Monetarily Sovereign. Our government needed to ask our citizens or foreigners for dollars.

This all changed on August 15, 1971 (“the Nixon shock”), when we freed ourselves from the restrictive chains of a gold standard.

Why then, do we still have taxes?

There are four reasons — the first two of which are offered by Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) — reasons MS disputes:

1. To provide Demand for, and therefore, Value to, the dollar.

There is some debate about whether Professor Randy Wray (UMKC), a leading proponent of MMT, believes taxes are necessary for this purpose, or merely helpful. He seemingly has supported both positions.

There can be little doubt that requiring Americans to pay their taxes with dollars, does help increase the Demand for dollars.

There is much doubt, however, about whether taxes are necessary to create Demand. The massive size of America’s economy, America’s huge export and import business, the availability of Treasury Securities as safe-harbor investments, the dollar’s position as a world reserve currency, and the worldwide trust in America’s full faith and credit, all combine to create Demand for the dollar — without the need for taxes.

2. Related to point #1.: The use of taxation to prevent inflation, another position supported by MMT.

In the formula Demand/Supply = Value, increasing Demand and/or reducing Supply will defeat inflation. Taxation reduces inflation partly by increasing the Demand for dollars, but mostly by decreasing the Supply of dollars.

Federal tax dollars are sent to the U.S. Treasury, where they are destroyed. Some critics of MS claim tax dollars are not destroyed, but the evidence for destruction is quite clear. If tax dollars were not destroyed, the U.S. Treasury would have billions of dollars. Yet there are no accounting records that show the U.S. Treasury to have any dollars at all.

Try to find the answer to the question, “How many dollars does the U.S. Treasury have”? and you will come up empty. The U.S. Treasury does not own tax dollars, and cannot provide spending money to the other branches of the government.

To pay a bill, the government (i.e. its agencies) sends instructions (not dollars), in the form of checks or bank wires, to the creditor’s bank. The instructions tell the bank to increase the balance in the creditor’s checking account.

At the moment (not before) the creditor’s bank obeys those instructions, dollars are created. Banks are the mechanism for all dollar creation, much of it is on the instructions of the U.S. government. (Banks also create dollars by lending.)

While taxation reduces inflation by reducing the money supply, taxing cannot efficiently be used as an inflation-prevention or cure device.

Preventing and curing inflation requires a mechanism that can be applied quickly, will act immediately, and can be implemented in small, measurable increments.

Taxation, by contrast, is slow, political and does not lend itself to small, measurable increments.

Visualize the U.S. Congress, faced with impending or actual inflation, trying to force all political parties to pass tax laws that can be implemented in small, measurable increments, and immediately will affect inflation.

If you were in Congress, which tax change would you be able to get through all the vested interests, and have immediate, incremental, measurable effects?

By contrast, the Fed instantly can raise interest rates by tiny increments, and these higher rates quickly will increase the Demand for dollar-denominated securities and for dollars themselves.

(MMT disagrees, claiming that higher rates increase business costs, thereby inflating prices. But the proof, as is said, is in the pudding. The Fed effectively has used interest rate to controls inflation, for a hundred years).

3. The third purpose of taxes is to guide behavior. “Sin” taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, reduce the usage of these harmful products by making them more expensive.

4. The fourth, most important reason we still levy unnecessary taxes, is to widen the Gap between the rich and the rest.

Consider the most extreme case of an unnecessary tax designed to widen the Gap: The FICA tax. This tax supposedly funds Social Security and Medicare, though no tax funds federal spending. FICA is a tax that applies only to wages, salaries, tips and self-employment income, and for most of the tax, it applies only to wages below $119K.

FICA does not apply to all sorts of income other than wages, salaries, tips and self-employment income (interest, capital gains and various forms of passive income — i.e. the income the very rich have)

In short, the rich pay a negligible amount of FICA, if at all, compared with their incomes. FICA is the perfect tax for widening the Gap between the rich and the rest.

Now consider sales tax. While there is no general federal sales tax, the federal government does levy taxes on alcohol, tobacco, guns, and ammunition. The cost of purchasing these products constitutes a greater percentage of middle- and low-incomes than of high incomes. In that way, these federal sales taxes widen the Gap (although the primary purpose is to control and limit consumption).

More serious, however, are local sales taxes. Being monetarily non-sovereign, Cities, counties, and states claim they need sales taxes to fund spending. These sales taxes constitute a huge proportion of middle- and low incomes and are greatly regressive.

Are local sales taxes really necessary, as the local governments claim? Yes and no.

Yes, if local tourism, business taxes, property taxes and other forms of income are insufficient to pay for local government spending.

No, if the federal government will simply use its unlimited ability to create dollars, and use those dollars to pay economic bonuses. (See Prosperity Step #3: Provide an Economic Bonus to every man, woman, and child in America, and/or every state a per capita Economic Bonus.)

SUMMARY:
1. Federal taxes do not fund federal spending.
They are destroyed upon receipt. Federal spending is funded ad hoc, with new dollars created at federal agency instructions.
2. Federal taxes cannot function as an inflation control. They are too slow, too political and not precise or incremental enough. The Fed successfully has used interest rates to control inflation.
3. To justify federal taxes, the rich have co-opted Congress, the media, the economists. The purpose: To widen the Gap between the rich and the rest.

Federal taxes can, and should be, dramatically reduced, while spending on social issues is increased. That is, the deficit should be increased. This is the point of the Ten Steps to Prosperity.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

 

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Ten Steps to Prosperity:
1. Eliminate FICA (Click here)
2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D plus long term nursing care — for everyone (Click here)
3. Provide an Economic Bonus to every man, woman and child in America, and/or every state a per capita Economic Bonus. (Click here) Or institute a reverse income tax.
4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone. Click here
5. Salary for attending school (Click here)
6. Eliminate corporate taxes (Click here)
7. Increase the standard income tax deduction annually Click here
8. Tax the very rich (.1%) more, with higher, progressive tax rates on all forms of income. (Click here)
9. Federal ownership of all banks (Click here and here)

10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99% (Click here)

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.
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10 Steps to Economic Misery: (Click here:)
1. Maintain or increase the FICA tax..
2. Spread the myth Social Security, Medicare and the U.S. government are insolvent.
3. Cut federal employment in the military, post office, other federal agencies.
4. Broaden the income tax base so more lower income people will pay.
5. Cut financial assistance to the states.
6. Spread the myth federal taxes pay for federal spending.
7. Allow banks to trade for their own accounts; save them when their investments go sour.
8. Never prosecute any banker for criminal activity.
9. Nominate arch conservatives to the Supreme Court.
10. Reduce the federal deficit and debt

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.
1. A growing economy requires a growing supply of dollars (GDP=Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)
2. All deficit spending grows the supply of dollars
3. The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control.
4. The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.

THE RECESSION CLOCK

Recessions begin an average of 2 years after the blue line first dips below zero. A common phenomenon is for the line briefly to dip below zero, then rise above zero, before falling dramatically below zero. There was a brief dip below zero in 2015, followed by another dip – the familiar pre-recession pattern.
Recessions are cured by a rising red line.

Monetary Sovereignty

Vertical gray bars mark recessions.

As the federal deficit growth lines drop, we approach recession, which will be cured only when the growth lines rise. Increasing federal deficit growth (aka “stimulus”) is necessary for long-term economic growth.

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Mitchell’s laws:
•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money.
•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..

Liberals think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.

•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between rich and the rest..
•Austerity is the government’s method for widening
the Gap between rich and poor.
•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
•Everything in economics devolves to motive, and the motive is the Gap between the rich and the rest..

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

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