Thursday, January 18, 2018

"Family Leave Bill is Tax on Income"

That's the assessment of the Coalition of NH Taxpayers. But let's start here, though, 'cuz since financials bore me to tears, I rarely have a natural opportunity to focus on this shit.

Theft (noun): taking without the owner's consent.

Is that, by itself, a fair, unbiased, unprovocative, nonpartisan definition? I believe it is. It doesn't matter a lick what the thief intends to do with his newly acquired property. If the owner didn't consent, then it's theft. And in my definition of a free society, theft is unlawful. Rude. Frowned upon, even. Property rights are respected and upheld, regardless of the identity of the thief. Yes, even regardless of whether or not the thief has been "democratically elected." That is, in fact, what we believe is, self-evidently, the purpose for instituting a government.

Taxation is theft perpetrated by government, as your representative, in your name. And just as capos worked for, and were accountable to, Al Capone, your respective government representatives work for you. You are the "top capo" in this legal mafia. And thus you are responsible for the crime -- like theft -- that they commit which you condone (if, of course, you do so) simply because you happen to like what they propose to do with the stolen property -- your neighbors' property, that they quite possibly don't consent to surrender (which is why the IRS has so many guns). Either you (perhaps grudgingly) recognize this basic truism, or cognitive dissonance is about to make your head explode.

HB628, heard here before the NH House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee, 1/16/2018, would set up yet another force-funded government entitlement that's nevertheless already available in the competitive (to the extent government "allows" it to be, of course) private sector.

(I want to note somewhere here, and this seems as good a place as any, that the Chair initially admonished the assembled, as is typical in such circumstances, that this Committee, the bill's 2nd, will be considering only the economic aspects of this proposed legislation, and so to kindly restrict testimony, in what already promised to be a very long day regardless, to that element. Did pretty well through all the government actors testifying in the first half, too. But after the lunch break, he failed to reiterate [not that it would have made much practical difference, no doubt], and the "public" testimony -- hey, the People don't have busy days like government employees...! -- tended to go rather far afield -- in the predictable direction, needless to say. Indeed, by the end, well over 4 clock hours in, physical props were even tolerated -- in this case, pictures. Photographs. On photo paper. For the committee to pass around. 'Of the children!', of course...)

For the moment, at least, a convoluted so-called "opt-out" provision is beneficently included, but privacy professional Rep Jess Edwards, starting at about 1:14:00, asserts that the Federal Trade Commission would characterize it as "unethical" and "an unfair and deceptive trade practice" -- were government to be actually held accountable to the rules it imperiously imposes on its employers, of course (hey, how terribly convenient that government doesn't hold itself to, well, even the standard standards, eh...?).

Except, even with the uniquely arduous, and shady (and precariously tenuous, to be sure) opt-out provision, the scheme won't generate enough theft to cover this bill's centrally-planned "utopia" -- per government's own testimony. Here's the "money shot," immediately following Rep Edwards, from Richard Lavers, Deputy Commissioner of the NH Department of Employment Security, responding to a question near the end of his testimony, at about 1:30:00.
"The work that Employment Security has done, in a mathematical analysis of various levels of participation, is that at an 8-week average duration, at a half-percent premium contribution, the only way this program is solvent is at 100% participation. At 90% participation, it's no longer solvent."
Dire words, indeed, from someone who does dearly love a good wealth-transferring government entitlement -- at least when the coerced books balance, anyway, so at least there's that...  He does figure that if the premium contribution were increased by fiat to .67%, and the duration decreased to just 6 weeks, it just might fly.

So. Oopsie-you-weren't-supposed-to-notice, but a proposed government program that's written to be insolvent, to fail ('course, we all know that won't happen: as Reagan said, "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!"). And even the skeptical DC Lavel, as we later hear, wants it to be "successful", "to be around for a long time". But it won't be with voluntary contributions. Whatever shall we do...?

Where, then, will the money come from to make it solvent? Charging ridiculous sums -- sums necessary to sustain inevitably inefficient non-competitive government bureaucracies, sums that the innovative competitive private sector seems able to avoid without (ok, much, comparatively) subsidies -- surely won't fly with government's happily captured market -- the market that's been testifying all day that they'd like more free and subsidized stuff. Because they'd neglected to buy insurance for themselves (well, government takes care of those things, doesn't it...?).

That leaves, seems to me, 1) removing the (already intentionally onerous) "opt-out" provision altogether to ensure the elusive-yet-necessary 100% mandatory market "satisfaction", or 2) implementing a broad-based income tax to shore the whole collectivist mess up (and gosh, then what other new programs could we fund by raising the rate just a little bit more...?). Aw hell. Why not both...?!

As always, however, as Meldrim Thompson explained, "Low taxes are the result of low spending," not t'other way 'round. Especially as government crowds the private sector out of the market even further, costs will go up. Because there's simply no (market) pressure not to. And seriously, when was the last time a politician lost his job for spending too much of other people's money?

But more fundamentally, if this scheme -- even as presumably eventually modified -- is self-sustaining, if this is a profitable model, why does government need to be involved at all? If you want FMLI, go voluntarily contract directly with a competitive private-sector provider. It's available now. One doctor testifying in great support of this bill curiously told the committee how he's set up a private-sector foundation to voluntarily help people get this insurance! Problem solved.

So why don't all these people who've suffered such hardships because they didn't have insurance, instead of trecking to the legislature to beg for contract intervention, just go get insurance? What's the advantage of injecting unnecessary and expensive government / employer middlemen if the customer will be paying for it either way (right?), other than being able to legally steal subsidies from their neighbors' dinner tables?

And here's a shocker: businesses love to get their operating costs subsidized by taxpayers, too. Corporate welfare. Just ask the private-sector airline industry, with their public-sector "security" costs -- subsidized by you, whether you choose to fly, whether you choose to suffer their "security theater" at all, or not. Your protestations are irrelevant. As Al Haig put it, "Let them march all they want, as long as they continue to pay their taxes." It applies to the Warfare State, too, in case you haven't noticed. Does that seem right to you...?

Further, if offering such insurance as an employment benefit is, in fact, a competitive advantage for the business (as also noted by supporters, curiously), they will happily offer it sans government coercion, because it's in their economic self-interest. Because it attracts the best employees, thus increasing the business' productivity. Because it's profitable. Again, problem solved.

So why are they lobbying government to provide -- hell, to mandate -- their competitors with equivalent bennies? Why are they advocating to undermine their own perceived competitive advantage in a cutthroat market for labor? Seems counterintuitive -- even foolish -- doesn't it? Could it be that they just want a subsidy? And the public perception of being charitable with other people's money, of course -- but ya simply don't get moral credit for that.

But if they nevertheless don't believe it makes economic sense, what can we surmise about no-skin-in-the-game ('cuz it's not its money, it's yoursgovernment's rosy "utopian" economic predictions?

Indeed, if it's inherently not profitable, what can we anticipate regarding where the funds will eventually have to come from for this force-based government entitlement that, once implemented, will... never... go... away?

If you're "allowed" (nevermind an actual competitive free market) even just a nominal "choice" -- that the FTC, according to someone who should know, would likely call "an unfair and deceptive trade practice," remember -- this bill as written will not work. According to a state economist. Even if you simply don't like competitive free markets and voluntary contracts. Won't work.

You can do better on your own. Right now. And you can control it. You should do that.

But then, in a free society, one that respects the rule of law -- hell, even in this one -- insurance contracts aren't supposed to be a government function in the first place. You have an unalienable right -- and a concomitant responsibility, notably -- to control your own contracts (including, potentially, a voluntary contract -- get this -- to manage your contracts). And to control your own property. Even if your addle-pated neighbor "neglected" to anticipate certain contingencies, you are under no lawful obligation whatsoever to bail them out. 'Course, you can always still choose to help them voluntarily. Used to be that way back in the day, in point of fact...

What if servant government simply gave up the repeatedly empirically failed notion that it perfectly and uniquely groks economics, the incomprehensible economy -- for everyone -- and knows better than you how to run your life -- at your neighbors' expense?

What if servant government was compelled to simply acknowledge and humbly accepted that it was never expressly delegated the lawful authority in the first place...?

And here's the key line: "HB 628 would effectively create an income tax, which I obviously can't support."
The governor cited the inability of the departments of Employment Security and Insurance to certify that the program as proposed will be solvent, and called for independent research to determine the number of employees who would voluntary choose coverage, and the frequency with which they would make claims.
"Only then would we have any ability to determine the true cost of such a program," he wrote. "To advance the cause of an optional paid family- and medical-leave program, the state must independently hire outside experts to design and develop a program that is guaranteed to be solvent."
But ya know what? They already exist. They're called "insurance companies". And they're already hired by individuals (or even businesses) who voluntarily choose (to offer the employee benefit of) coverage. "Problem" solved, no government involvement necessary. Nor advisable. Nor prudent...

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