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Could Trump fire Mueller? It’s complicated

Liberty Unyielding - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 2:54pm
Eric Columbus, Politico Mag

Should Central America Listen to the WSJ and Copy Hong Kong, or Listen to the OECD and Copy Greece?

Center for Freedom and Prosperity (CF&P) - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 12:04pm

The great thing about the Economic Freedom of the World is that it’s like the Swiss Army Knife of global policy. No matter where you are or what issue you’re dealing with, EFW will offer insight about how to generate more prosperity.

Since today’s focus is Central America, let’s look at the EFW data.

As you can see, it’s a mixed bag. Some nations are in the top quartile, such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama, though none of them get high absolute scores. Mexico, by contrast, has a lot of statism and is ranked only #88, which means it is in the third quartile. And Belize is a miserable #122 and stuck in the bottom quartile (where Cuba also would be if that backwards country would be ranked if it produced adequate statistics).

One of the great challenges for development in Central America (as well as other parts of the developing world) is figuring out how to get poor and middle-income nations to make the jump to the next level.

Mary Anastasia O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal has a column on how to get more growth in Central America. She focuses on Guatemala, but what she writes is applicable for all neighboring countries.

…faster economic growth is part of what’s needed for the region… To succeed, it will have to break with the State Department’s conventional wisdom that underdevelopment is caused by a paucity of taxes and regulation. It will also have to climb down from its view that trade is a zero-sum game. Policy makers might start by reading a new report on micro, small and medium-sized businesses in Guatemala by the Kirzner Center for Entrepreneurship at Francisco Marroquin University in Guatemala City. It measures—by way of household surveys in 179 municipalities and interviews with industry experts—“attitudes, activities and aspirations of the entrepreneur.” …the GEM study ranks Guatemala No. 1 for its positive view of entrepreneurship as a career choice. Guatemala also ranks high (No. 9) for the percentage of the population engaged in new businesses, defined as less than 3½ years old. And it ranks 12th in terms of the percentage of the population who “are latent entrepreneurs and who intend to start a business within three years.”

She explains that Guatemalan entrepreneurship is hampered by excessive taxation and regulation.

Yet Guatemalan eagerness to run a business has not translated into prosperity for the nation… The country ranks a lowly 59th in entrepreneurs’ expectations that they will create six or more jobs in five years. It also sinks to near the bottom of the pack (62nd) in creating business-service companies. …The World Bank’s 2017 “Doing Business” survey provides many clues about why the informal economy is so large. Guatemala ranks 88th out of 190 countries world-wide for ease of running an enterprise, but in key categories that make up the index it performs much worse. The survey finds that it takes 256 hours to comply with the tax code. The total tax take is 35.2% of profits. It takes almost 20 days to start a legal enterprise and costs 24% of per capita income. To enforce a contract it takes more than 1,400 days and costs more than 26% of the claim.

The good news is that we know the answers that will generate prosperity. The bad news is that Guatemala gets a lot of bad advice.

The obvious solution is an overhaul of the tax, regulatory and legal systems in order to increase economic freedom. A lower tax rate and a simpler code would give companies an incentive to operate legally, thereby broadening the base and improving access to credit. Instead the Guatemalan authorities—encouraged by the State Department and the International Monetary Fund—spend their resources trying to impose a complex, costly system in an economy of mostly informal businesses with a much-smaller number of legal, productive entrepreneurs. Recently the United Nations International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala recommended a new tax to fight “impunity.” This is no way to attract capital or raise revenue.

Speaking of bad advice, let’s now contrast the sensible recommendations of Ms. O’Grady to the knee-jerk statism of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In a new report on Costa Rica’s tax system, the OECD urged ever-higher fiscal burdens for the country. Including destructive class warfare.

Costa Rica’s tax revenues are…insufficient to finance the country’s current spending needs. …In addition to raising more tax revenue…, Costa Rica needs to…enhance the redistributive role of its tax system. …the role of the personal income tax (PIT) should be strengthened as it currently raises little revenue and does not contribute to reducing inequality. …Collecting greater revenues from the PIT, by lowering the income threshold above which PIT has to be paid as well as by introducing additional PIT brackets and gradually raising the top PIT rate, could contribute to reducing income inequality.

But the OECD doesn’t merely want to hurt successful taxpayers.

The bureaucracy is proposing other taxes that target everyone in the country. Including a pernicious value-added tax.

Costa Rica does not have a modern VAT system in place. …Costa Rica’s priority should be to introduce a well-designed and broad-based VAT system…to be able to generate additional revenues… There is scope to improve the environmental effectiveness of tax policy while also increasing revenue.

So why is the OECD so dogmatically in favor of higher taxes in Costa Rica?

Are revenues less than 5 percent of GDP, indicating that the country is unable to finance genuine public goods such as rule of law?

Is the government so starved of revenue that Costa Rico can’t replicate the formula – a public sector consuming about 10 percent of economic output – that enabled the western world to become rich?

Of course not. The report openly acknowledges that the Costa Rican tax system already consumes more than 23 percent of GDP.

The obvious conclusion if that the burden of government in Costa Rica should be downsized. And that’s true whether you think that the growth-maximizing size of government, based on the experience of the western world, is 5 percent-10 percent of GDP. Or whether you limit yourself to modern data and think the growth-maximizing size of government, based on Hong Kong and Singapore, is 15 percent-20 percent of economic output.

Here’s another amazing part of the report, as in amazingly bad and clueless.

The OECD actually admits that rising levels of government debt are the result of spending increases.

…significant increases in expenditures have not been matched by increases in tax revenues. …Between 2008 and 2013, overall government spending increased as a result of higher public sector remuneration as well as higher government transfers to finance public sector social programmes.

What’s particularly discouraging, as you just read, is that the higher spending wasn’t even in areas, such as infrastructure, where there might arguably be a potential for some long-run economic benefit.

Instead, the government has been squandering money on bureaucrat compensation and the welfare state.

Here’s another remarkable admission in the OECD report.

The high tax burden is a key driver of the informal economy in Costa Rica. The IMF estimated the size of the informal economy in Costa Rica at approximately 42% of GDP in the early 2000s… Past work from the IMF showed that rigidities in the labor market and the high tax burden were the most important drivers of informality.

Yet does the OECD reach the logical conclusion that Costa Rica needs deregulation and lower tax rates? Of course not.

The Paris-based bureaucrats instead want measures to somehow force workers into the tax net.

Bringing more taxpayers within the formal economy should be a key priority. …the tax burden in Costa Rica is borne by a small number of taxpayers. This puts a limit on the amount of tax revenue that can be raised…and puts a limit to the impact of the tax system in reducing inequality.

Ironically, the OECD report actually includes a table showing why the IMF is right in this instance. As you can see, social insurance taxes create an enormous wedge between what it costs to employ a worker and how much after-tax income a worker receives.

In other words, the large size of the underground economy is a predictable consequence of high tax rates.

Let’s conclude with the sad observation that the OECD’s bad advice for Costa Rica is not an anomaly. International bureaucracies are routinely urging higher tax burdens.

Indeed, I joked a few years ago in El Salvador that the nation’s air force should shoot down any planes with IMF bureaucrats in order to protect the country from bad economic advice.

Cartoon of the Day: Ugh, what stinks?

Liberty Unyielding - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 11:19am
Fascism

GOP senator: Trump phone call leaker needs to be fired

Liberty Unyielding - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 9:35am
Max Greenwood, The Hill

YouTube Takes Controversial Steps To Censor Non-Leftists

Tea Party Tribune - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 8:35am

Stating that the content is “controversial,” not the censorship itself, YouTube has taken the first few steps to censor dissenting views. But it gets worse.  YouTube will also begin to censor your searches and fill the results with propaganda while on its website.

Last night, YouTube took to its “Official Blog” to more or less announce that they would be taking steps to censor content they determined to be “controversial,” even if that content didn’t break any laws or violate the site’s user agreement.  The message made a pledge to be part of an effort to “fight terror content online.” But the move was rightly met with widespread skepticism among YouTuber’s as nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to censor conservative speech.

It’s not just “controversial” content creators that will be impacted as anyone who merely searches for keywords that YouTube deems ‘questionable’, for whatever reason, will be promptly redirected to propaganda videos intended to “directly confront and debunk” whatever questionable content that user was looking for. Meaning, you’ll be bombarded with the right kind of propaganda approved by YouTube designed to get you thinking the way YouTube insists upon.

Early intervention and expanding counter-extremism work: We’ve started rolling out features from Jigsaw’s Redirect Method to YouTube. When people search for sensitive keywords on YouTube, they will be redirected towards a playlist of curated YouTube videos that directly confront and debunk violent extremist messages. We also continue to amplify YouTube voices speaking out against hate and radicalization through our YouTube Creators for Change program. Just last week, the U.K. chapter of Creators for Change, Internet Citizens, hosted a two-day workshop for 13-18 year-olds to help them find a positive sense of belonging online and learn skills on how to participate safely and responsibly on the internet. We also pledged to expand the program’s reach to 20,000 more teens across the U.K. –YouTube Official Blog The Daily Caller points out, that the responsibility of censorship on YouTube will fall upon impartial (although that word is being used incredibly loosely in this instance) groups like the Anti-Defamation League that recently published a list of “alt-right” and “alt-lite” YouTubers. Ironically though, they failed to highlight extreme leftist organizations such as Antifa. Not surprisingly, these moves to censor content creators while shoving propaganda videos down the throats of users has been blasted by conservatives and anti-government activists online who feel like they’ve been targeted. Censorship of so-called “hate speech” has been the cornerstone of tyrannical regimes such as the Soviet Union.  Hate speech is 100% subjective and should never be regulated, but in order to promote fascist ideas, dictators must convince populations to accept their oppression and not speak out.  Regulation of any speech is a detriment to the human rights of everyone. Source: Mac Slavo @SHTFplan.com

The post YouTube Takes Controversial Steps To Censor Non-Leftists appeared first on Tea Party Tribune.

Jeff Flake’s op-ed is basically the reason Trump is carrying the GOP standard today

Liberty Unyielding - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 11:49pm
How NOT to reclaim the GOP from Trump.

Left’s Policy on Guns & Mental Health Turns on a Stiletto

Tea Party Tribune - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 8:58pm

Up until quite recently the official policy on the left was to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable. A CNN propagandist wrote, “If there’s anything both sides of America’s heated and polarizing gun debate may agree on, it’s the need to keep firearms out of the hands of people with serious mental illness.”

The gun control group “Before It Starts” asked petition signers to, “Support stricter gun control by giving law enforcement and mental health professionals the obligation for independent mental health screening for gun permits…It’s not the gun, but the people who are permitted to use them.”

And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo neatly summed up the left’s former argument when he declared, “People who have mental health issues should not have guns.”

Bradley Manning: Posterboy (girl) for damage trannies do in the military.

So why is the left now demanding the mentally ill have access to the most dangerous weapons in the US arsenal while still in the grip of their psychosis?

I don’t want a man who thinks he’s Napoleon Bonaparte cruising in a boomer beneath the polar ice cap any more than I want a man who thinks he’s a woman sitting in a Montana missile silo.

GI Joe and GI Jane are different people, not different facets of the same person.

Normally the left assures a gullible public that it has science coming out of its ears, but in the case of “transgender” individuals they are going to let delusion set the agenda. And make no mistake — these poor, confused people are seriously deluded and mentally ill.

A 2016 Johns Hopkins Study points out the obvious: “The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex—that a person might be ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’—is not supported by scientific evidence.”

The science, to borrow a term, is “settled.” The American College of Pediatricians holds, “Humans are male and female, biologically. Science is straightforward about this: a person’s DNA either has two X chromosomes or one X and one Y…Scientifically, human sexuality is ‘binary by design’ with the aim of reproduction. Disorders of sex development (DSDs) are “rightly recognized as disorders,” and those who suffer from them ‘do not constitute a third sex.’”

A person’s sex is coded into every individual cell in the body at the chromosomal level. Believing otherwise doesn’t even qualify as superstition. It’s just nuts.

Decisions regarding gender aren’t a range of options anymore than Bulimia is a practical alternative to a balanced diet. These individuals need serious, sustained psychiatric help, not induction papers.

Trump’s ban on these unhappy sufferers serving in any capacity in the military is sensible, scientific policy.

If they had their way where the PC commissars of the left would draw the line? Would trannies be judged on a delusion spectrum? If a black man thinks he’s a black woman he’s (she’s) good to go, but if he starts thinking he’s also Michelle Obama it’s discharge time?

The basic absurdity and consequent moral erosion of the rank–and–file military that would be caused by mainstreaming the gender–confused is evidently not a problem for cultural Marxists. The command staff is ordered to pretend these femen are perfectly normal, aside from their fundamental rejection of reality, and troops are to obey their orders as if they came from a normal person.

Only they aren’t normal. Bi–gender individuals come with a host of pre–existing conditions that are a result of living a lie. The Johns Hopkins study: “Members of the transgender population are also at higher risk of a variety of mental health problems compared to members of the non-transgender population. Especially alarmingly, the rate of lifetime suicide attempts across all ages of transgender individuals is estimated at 41%, compared to under 5% in the overall U.S. population.”

That’s a comforting thought when one considers the firepower available to members of the US military.

Columnist Matt Barber asks, “If your daughter “identified” as a fat person…but, in reality, suffered from anorexia – would you affirm her ‘fatness’ and get her liposuction?”

No you’d get her mental help, but not in the Pentagon.

Up until Trump’s tweet, they were funding body vandalism with tax dollars, as disturbed femen demanded “gender reassignment surgery.” But why single reassignment surgery for special treatment? Wouldn’t a woman who thought she was Barbie trapped in Olive Oil’s body qualify for breast enhancement surgery on the tax dime?

If the left wants to conduct its insane social experiments in the Peace Corps it can be my guest, but taxpayers should completely reject gender experimentation in the Marine Corps.

Any general or civilian Pentagon official that thinks otherwise isn’t fit to serve either.

The post Left’s Policy on Guns & Mental Health Turns on a Stiletto appeared first on Tea Party Tribune.

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