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Re: [LandCafe] Unearned income.

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  • John David Kromkowski
    ... I uderstand where you are coming from but the language here is really what fails because it requires a framework on what we mean by unearned . I would not
    Message 1 of 3 , Dec 19, 2012
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      On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 5:20 AM, John <burns-john@...> wrote:
      Henry George failed by concentrating on LAND only, which will be be perceived as victimization of landowners, and attempting to get through a "Single Tax". Land values are "unearned income".   Unearned income comes in many forms and taxing it would have greater appeal. Land is then merely one of the points of Unearned income, so easier to get through to the public.

      I uderstand where you are coming from but the language here is really what fails because it requires a framework on what we mean by "unearned".
       
      I would not say the failure of George is the concentration on LAND, but rather the individualist premise from which he starts which without tempering from other perspectives (like his friend Fr. McGlynn, his wife, his trade unionist and socialists allies) misses the social component of being human and leads down the bankrupt libertarian path..
       
      George start from the framework that say: we own ourselves.
       
      From that high individualistic approach, he concludes that one has an ABSOLUTE right without condition to the all of the fruits of one's labor.    And by a chain of custody that wealth and/or capital which is freely obtain in exchange for the fruits of one's labor. If we absolutely own those manmand things for which have some chain of custody argument then we also (according to George) have an absolute right to the fruits of those man-made things (generically, interest -  whether it be in the form of interest, dividends or captial gains)
       
      For example, Romney's interest from his Cayman Island accounts while siiting on his ass, may seem pretty unearned, but to George, if the principle comes from ultimately (either directly or indirectly via this chain of custody argument) from owns labor rather than land, then it is not "unearned" at all - because he, like libertarians are willing to allow this long view chain of custody.
       
      Many of things on you list of "unearned", are earned in a normal sense and even in a George/Libertarian sense.  For example, VA benefits - are earned from the labor of service in the armed forces.  It's just a defered payment. 
       
      First party insurance payouts - seem to also be earned -  your labor (via a chain of custody or directly) pays the premium which buys you the payout under certain circumstances.  Even certain third party insurance - workers' comp is bought by the employer under a mandate by the state but nonetheless for the benefit of employee who has bought the benefit by his labor. (I am a ins. defense attorney doing comp, so I can tell you that payouts are based in jurisdiction in part on the wage levels of the employee so their really is a directly link to labor.)
       
      From you list what you are really down to the question of gifts.  If someone gives me a gift (justly obtained from labor (directly or indirectly), is it now justly "mine"  such that I have in the Georgist libertarian sense just and absolute right to it.  Can people justly give gifts or not?
       
       
      The socialist/communist on the other end of the spectrum, does not start from the perspective of "we own ourselves".  It posits instead (if we get down to it), that society is the primary entity.   And hence we get pretty easy to all property (whether land or the fruit of labor) is theft, ie theft from society.  We work not really for ourselves but for the benefity of society or the survival of the species.  The state is the trustee of society's interests.
       
      Neither framework correctly though gets it right, in my opinion.
       
      But if you focus on "earned" as the fundamental principle of justice, it seems to me that you must end up going down these two paths.  A different framework can still leave room for the question of "earned" but it need not be the primary prinicple - rather one might instead start from what it the nature of the human person.
       
      JDK
       
      By the way, Social Securty benefits are taxed, now.  I do not subscribe to the notion that one has "earned" SS by paying in, rather I am from the inter-generational compact school of thought.  Most of the SS taxes I pay are not for some kind of fund to pay me down the road, rather what I am paying now in the tax (both sides by the way as a self-employed) is really a payment for my parents and grandparent and aunts and uncles and great aunts and uncles and I am pooling the risk (who knows how long people will be retired or how much medicare any one individual will need) of paying for that prior generation with others paying for their prior generation relatives.  So  long as we understand SS and Medicare as this kind of system of inter generational compact, they will  never go  broke, nor are they the source of deficits or national debt.   (There is also a little bit of the payroll tax that is a disablity and life insurance policy component.) 
    • roy_langston
      ... Though it s true there are other forms of privilege than land titles (especially intellectual property monopolies and private banksters issuance of debt
      Message 2 of 3 , Dec 19, 2012
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        --- In LandCafe@yahoogroups.com, "John" <burns-john@...> wrote:

        > Henry George failed by concentrating on LAND only, which will be be
        > perceived as victimization of landowners, and attempting to get through a "Single Tax". Land values are "unearned income".

        Though it's true there are other forms of privilege than land titles (especially intellectual property monopolies and private banksters' issuance of debt money), there are a number of good reasons to focus on taxing land "first" if not "only":

        1. The Law of Rent implies that all increases in societal production due to technological progress, improvement of worker skills, increased capital accumulation, division of labor, social and physical infrastructure, etc. will tend to be taken as land rent.

        2. The Henry George Theorem implies that all government spending (as well as private charitable giving) devoted to services and infrastructure that is not wasted through incompetence or stolen through corruption will tend to be taken as land rent.

        3. The fixity of land's location means it can be taxed just as well on the most local as on the most general level.

        4. The impossibility of concealing land means it can be taxed without government intrusion or compromising privacy.

        5. Unlike other privileges, exclusive land tenure is a privilege that cannot be abolished without abandoning modern civilization.

        Etc.

        > Unearned income
        > comes in many forms and taxing it would have greater appeal. Land is
        > then merely one of the points of Unearned income, so easier to get
        > through to the public.

        It's true there are other forms of unearned income, but there is a difference between unEARNED income and unJUST income. Lottery prizes, gifts, inheritances, damage awards, insurance settlements, etc. are all unearned; but they are not unjust, and there is therefore no defensible reason to tax them.

        > From wikiWiki article <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unearned_income>
        >
        > Some common types of unearned income are:

        That's just a legal definition for income tax purposes.

        -- Roy Langston
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