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Brain in a VAT

By Al Schumann on Saturday November 20, 2010 04:07 AM

Krugman on the Mother Of All Sales taxes.

I think this gets to the heart of the liberal weakness. They decouple everything into a goo that passes for rational, and passes for that only because right wingers reliably provoke deranged revanchism. The correlation between VAT and big social welfare programs requires a narrow, squinting gaze. The big welfare states tax a lot more than sales. Moreover, in recent history the great fortunes of the social democratic welfare states offered less protection against a jacquerie than they do here.

Comments (33)


I was not blessed with a brain that is capable of understanding economics (or a heart staunch enough to make up for my genetic shortcomings with perseverance and true grit), but this:

They decouple everything into a goo that passes for rational, and passes for that only because right wingers reliably provoke deranged revanchism.

I get.


Al Schumann:

That part is the most important part. Sometimes the knack for digging into complexities, and the brain power to do it well, both of which Krugman has in abundance, mitigate against comprehension. Maybe it's just too horrible for him. Maybe the acculturation of genteel, actually kindly liberalism, which is Krugman through and through, is a terribly fragile thing.

I think liberals are desperate for decency and civility. To me, that's really a true form of conservatism. If it existed, if would be stable. People could interact without anyone getting hurt. There'd be a soft landing for systemically selected out groups. The winners would be systemically humbled. Like magic! The reality is that holiday travelers will be groped.


Holiday air travel has always been a bad idea. Especially in late fall/winter. Someone has or is coming down with something and spreading it to the visiting relatives or vice versa. The 'baby' is sick. etc.

Anyone who escapes it at the destination will get it from the unlucky ones on the return plane who didn't escape.

Changing gears: What happens to the patted-down who react physiologically to the genital stimulation? Is it lockup for them? Or do they get pass if they don't snicker or moan? What if the reactive are underaged? Do the patters-down go to lockup?

Stay home for the holidays. Those relatives are irritating anyhow.

Al Schumann:

What happens, whether they travel or not, is they get a VAT and no social welfare programs. And then they get groped anyway.


social-liberal pk

wants reform like most do good
and that means tax reform

they also want up lift
that means deeper taxing

this gem by pk
combines both

imagine in a moment when tax relief is in order for the jobbled masses
liberal elite types openly scheme up
the tax code and marina trench deep
transfer mechanisms
of the new jerusalem

tlak of a simple payroll tax holiday
is anathema
once they "think it all the way thru ..."

in fact the lefticle liberal ball
is so eager to "level" the income streams
they dream if they dream in class terms at all
of hyper taxing the top 5% or so
even more then relieving
the job pokes' burdens ..debt and premiums and taxes and tuitions and ...

better to punish the greedy and dole to the hapless needy
then give homer chico
the two great freds
and ole arch
a fuckin' break


i might add:

social welfare programs of the tax and transfer kind are by their very genetic make up and the laws of corporate exploitation
in the end self dissolving self degenerating systems

the only welfare program that works
really works
under present corporate dominated conditions is a huge and chronic federal deficit
but that is verboten ..for obvious reasons

the corporate system umlike the welfare system
has a clear sense of self preservation
so we get err
a welfare system
a safety net
nurses and serum not
an end to mayhem blood letting
and contagions thru simple preventions

metaphor warning here
for all you clever well meaning vigilent
date and spelling correcting
butt puckering nits

ya its economy wise i'm talking
not health wise


"The correlation between VAT and big social welfare programs requires a narrow, squinting gaze. The big welfare states tax a lot more than sales."

Bingo. My rejoinder to VATophiles and anti-corporate tax crusaders when they point to Scandinavia is always: "So I guess it would be alright with you to double the capital gains and dividends tax rates?" That aspect of the Scandinavian system never quite makes it into their scattergraph powerpoint presentations.

Al Schumann:

The capital gains and dividends tax rates are the confiscatory love that dares not speak. At all. There's revenue in them, which is important, but the big thing is recouping the wealth in a way that keeps it out of private hands, where it can only get into mischief. It would actually be an improvement if it were spent on an endless series of earmark boondoggles; hundreds of bridges to nowhere, traveling artisanal soup college vans, midnight yoga instruction in rural Nebraska, subsidized puppy care clinics under the supervision of the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Hound Association, etc.


you rummaging coons got me out of my kennel

the VAT is a better payroll tax

it taxes what oughta be tax institutionally
recall surplus valueadded as well as necessary value added gets taxed here

income really is a poor tax based
if you want a prog tax
wealth is the way to tax progressively
no way around that

it can be approached by stealthy steps
thru the existing income tax
using sly alterations
like those gibbered over here



largely into institution based taxation

i've recently toyed with a federal corporate asset tax
-interest paid a deduction of course --


the vat appeals to the pipe puffing
leather arm match side of me

primarily because va is the data stream
used for my pet innovation in designed markets

the market for mark up rights


"traveling artisanal soup college vans, midnight yoga instruction in rural Nebraska, subsidized puppy care clinics under the supervision of the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Hound Association, etc. "


SBLF uber alles !!!

the SBLF (THE small bizz liberation front )


not grants per se

as the grap shot fired at
this horde of credit fodder

the subsidy progam here
oughta be proportional to outcomes
and exceedingly intricate and automated

like perhaps a VAS value added subsidy

The tax still pays for Uncle's wars. Uncle's benefactors and beneficiaries aren't going to sod the cost if they have to scuttle the enterprise.

But, tinker at the fine print on the permission slip to return to tomorrow's labor, if you must. I'm sure it adds up to something.

Maybe a green incentive for GE...


The tax still pays for Uncle's wars

no that is covered by borrowing

unlike the various components
of most of the transfer /entitlement system
with its dedicated revenue baes systems and streams
the security/crusade/armada budget is covered by borrowings since general revenues are chronically inadequate
given the decline of the income tax


your only partly enlightened
cynical expostulations
every once in a great while
seem functionless

i'm glad this time you granted a limited license to jigger in our minds
with a few intermeshing gears
of the titanic limited liability driven
exploitation box


In France there is a wealth tax, exacted annually on upper tier individual net worth. They also have an inheritance tax with teeth, and higher rates of income tax. Plus better food, sexier women, and labor too!


enough of your frog calling
this here's a yankee site

but one point i gotta say
" oooooh yaaaah 'to:



"hundreds of bridges to nowhere, traveling artisanal soup college vans, midnight yoga instruction in rural Nebraska, subsidized puppy care clinics under the supervision of the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Hound Association"

elect me and i promise my first priority will be to introduce this Liquidity Unearthing Love's Zoogeography bill

I don't separate Uncle's tax and Uncle's bond rating from Uncle's borrowing. Uncle doesn't get the rating unless Uncle has at least some of the money to cover the principal.

That's what the payroll taxes help to cover. It ain't all made up by imbalances of trade and gattitude. Red Army Industries (among others) still needs Uncle solvent, nyet? So, Uncle is out there softening up some terrain for the future of Capital, which these days speaks with a Cantonese lilt, to accompany its Threadneedle, its Wall Street, its Toulousain and it's Prussian bourser dialects.

Ipso dixit, Uncle's Tax pays for Uncle's war.

How's that enlightenment for ya, chappy?

Al Schumann:

Owen made a few points worth emphasizing again.

The very worst aspects of the Crusade and Punishment State are funding through borrowing. As long as the state can borrow, it will be able to fund wars, prisons, cops, mercs and all that.

If there's a tax worth having, the wealth tax is the best of the bunch. I'd leave income alone, personally.

Jack made a mordant point worth emphasizing. There's no use at all in revenue that ends up giving GE a green incentive. It's like paying the mugger to rob you.

Hapa, if you need a campaign manager, I'm justly famous for my artisanal soup.

Al Schumann:

Jack, Uncle can fund the wars the same it feeds liquidity to the banksters. Sell T-Bills with one hand, buy them back with the other, print money and fudge the accounts. There's a reckoning at some point, but the game can be played for quite some time. If necessary, Uncle can simply steal things and hock them to cover the interest.

Taxes look to me like just another mechanism for social control. Not really all that important as a means of funding things.


I'm not really countering your argument. I'm just not comfortable with the idea that payroll tax tinkering has any real effect on way Uncle does business. I agree that the people who call themselves the State collect taxes for the same reason they budget money to prosecute rapists and lock up drug users - the exercise of invasive power (even for demonstrable good things, like castrating rapists) is its own best guarantee of continued utility. You lock up the rapist, so you can lock up the organizer. You prosecute the single banker so you can bust the entire union.

And that's how I connect Uncle's payroll taxes to the actual prosecution of warfare. I don't for a moment believe that the budget for wars is paid out of the general fund. The rationale for defense - under which excuse all of Uncle's wars are waged - requires the continuous operation of the State on the domestic level, and a captive population which it must honorably (har har har) defend. A state that doesn't do homefronty things, like furnish schools which shell out employees and soldiers, and keep the roads happy for long distance trucking firms and consuming soccer moms, or bond stadium construction to keep the proles in football, is a state which very shortly will be using a lot of those soldiers to police a less placated populace.

The factions for whom the State is actually run are going to use those tax receipts to keep up the "thing at home" that needs defending. The wars are not fought to defend Uncle, or Uncle's citizens. They're fought - as I think most of us can see, plainly - for capital, and for the benefit of the financial districts in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, New York, Berlin, Paris, Toronto, Rome and on even days, Moscow. That's what I meant by not "going to sod off the cost to scuttle the enterprise."

The capitalist States exists within shrinking closed systems, governing populations beholden to markets which must expand. Hence, perpetual war in a deliberately maintained periphery.

That's how I connect payroll taxes to warfare. The payroll taxes keep the proles nationalized, with national concerns, and national issues. Also - with national enemies who must be kept out because they (hint, hint: Mexicans) allegedly consume all the tax receipt funded goodies that the truly national proles and small holders deserve, and shit.

In that light - there will be no tinkering with the permission slip. Dreaming about (and planning for it) it is like dreaming about an apple pie made only of oranges.



Al Schumann:

Jack, thanks for the explication. We're more on the same page than not on the issue. I have no quibbles.


an insight that in its great flash
blinds the viewer for a few seconds then leaves the daily real just about exactly where it was

all or nothing at all
imagine if suddenly these structures
caved in on themselves
would we have barcelona 36 ??....for how long
b4 we'd spontaneously start building structures more or less of our own devising
and turning to crow for advice we'd get ....
a blinding flash of pre emptive insight again

"The factions for whom the State is actually run."

Let's hear your inventory there, Molotov Jack.

One presumes that Molotov Jack slipped up there, admitting that the State might, just possibly, be dominated by some other force than itself...

Meanwhile, the Post Office and the sandwich shop on the corner both continue to attempt the heinous crime of self-preservation.

One assumes Molotov Jack will be rev-attacking both in short order...

Al Schumann:

I think it's often contextually reasonable to view the state as an essentially pathological entity. Sometimes doing so is a matter of self-preservation!


i have a version of your heuristic

your state isn't your friend
its controled by your class enemy

i think u daw and cactus jack
can agree on that minimum formulation
and its enough to allow coherent actions
to emerge among us
if we all so choose


What if neither state nor class enemy is rational, cohesive, or in control, but merely has the upper hand in power? Like the feudal barons, or monarchies. Does that make our target easier?

I take inspiration from the crappiest film remake of alltime, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, where brutish peasant, through accident of war, and sexual virility, is briefly elevated to land-owning baronetry, whence he is promptly banished by evil king to cool outlawhood. I can identify with this!

Al Schumann:

Owen, that sounds reasonable.

I find, when I think things through, that the desirable ends are all out of reach within any time frame available to me. I'd like to lessen the impact of state cruelties anyway. I have a semi-coherent, internally contradictory set of ideas along those lines. They're anarchic in nature, when they get close to coherence, but nevertheless compatible with the broadest understanding of the left wing platform. What's left after that is finding a modus vivendi; a universal goal. To that end, I support Senecal's elevation to the barony.

Dawson, I appreciate your Don Quixote portrayal.


"What if neither state nor class enemy is rational, cohesive, or in control, but merely has the upper hand in power?"

well what does it mean
if we say any class loses decisive influence over the existing state power ???
they've lost state power
they no longer hold state power
in the course of events
they either regain it or they don't must be seen in context
when confronted with adjustment or crisis
both options get played over enough iterations
to make it indeterminate
given only a grasp of general pre-conditions
the complexity at the level of social causation
always leaves the strategist
with a core ball of uncertainty

progressive reforms
that strengthen the exploited class
are not only possible in a crisis context
but over enough repetitions likely now and again
the exploiting class either figures out how to sntach it back morph it to their advantage
or on occasion the crisis re emerges

the question becomes can progressive reforms exist global wise
ie among the family of states with the same class in power
without a few successful over throws now and again?

and the answer is of course not

with out the chance of overthrow the exploiters have no "reason" to give ground

Clio in the last analysis relies as much on
a class without world historical vision as a class with it

they each and all serve an emergent higher purpose
higher hegelian rationality

metahistorical mysticism ??
no just poetry
its often useful to use
the dangerous but great analogy
as hume suggests

only here in reverse
using what we know
of our socially invented spirit/mind constructs
we've collectively fashioned out
of the persistent mythic realm
the fairy land
built out of the higher substance

give material social forces
god like powers and unified intentios

not only an over soul but an over spirit

at any rate
the class struggle goes on
precisely because it can't "stand still"

the word control is perhaps excessive
decisive power over the state
the CEO class ...

and of course even the greatest of CEO's
is never total
despite stalin's might

even in orwell
moments if not spaces of liberation
always exist
there's always class based resistence
even if inchoate and fitful
frustratingly sporatic
the class struggle that does not know its name
business unions are not robin hoods gang
much as many shocking pinks might wish so

and yet they are struggle vehicles
expressions of class resistance if not rebellion
there are always interzones and rip tides
room to make long recouperative lateral
-even regressive -- zags

the exploited class is a phoenix class
always reforming
always there for the next dance
till its "partner" class is annihilated


".. the desirable ends are all out of reach within any time frame available to me."

"...I'd like to lessen the impact of state cruelties anyway"

agree completely
i'm just not able always to sort out
what is real amelioration
and what is supportive sadism

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