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    The Panama Papers: What is To Be Done?

    Editorial

    But we knew that, now didn’t we? We knew that the rich and powerful use the complexity of the tax code to protect and enhance their privilege. The real question is “What is it about Title 17 that–on a deeper level–let’s them get away with it?”

    The hidden agenda of the Federal Tax Code is to make us all feel powerless. Most people–but especially those without college degrees–must pay an expert to figure out what they owe the government for services they may or may not want. It’s like going to a restaurant and paying someone to read a menu written in a nonverbal language, ordering without understanding what you’ve heard and then paying that same expert to figure out the tab. If you feel like someone is twisting your arm when you file your taxes you have it right: the current system is a coerced bargain between those who have information and power and those who do not. The Panama Papers are a case in point.

    The Appropriate Tax—Power to the People

    Take a minute to contrast the piece of crap we have now to the proposed Automated Payment Transaction (APT) tax and you’ll see what I mean. The APT is a tiny tax paid by buyers and sellers on all transactions that includes no credits or exemptions. It would replace all other federal taxes (see links below for details.)

    Don’t want to pay taxes?–buy less stuff. You have the power. The choice is yours.

    If the system were APT then the rich–including the Flash Boys who buy and sell so much invisible stuff–would pay more because they uniformly spend more than people with less money. The APT system is automated so overhead is minimal. Like landlines, answering machines and horse drawn buggies filing a tax return would become a thing of the past.

    Yes! Filing your taxes—our annual sacrifice to the gods of nonsense, the excruciating attempt to wring meaning or at least direction out of mountain of words laid down like sediment one rainy Congressional season after another–could be a thing of the past. And instead of trying to micromanage us and the economy with the tax code the government could use fees, regulations and forethought. Off shore tax havens are not in the picture.

    The only downside to the APT tax is that it would put many low income individuals who work interpreting the tax code out of business. Ditto for almost everyone who works at the IRS. It would also decimate the humongous well-heeled “cheat on your taxes” industry so aptly described in The Panama Papers. And that would be a very good thing indeed. Low and moderate income individuals whose livelihoods are destroyed by instituting the APT should be compensated by the government. Upper income CPAs, tax attorneys etc. can go jump in a lake.

    In the weird world of word coincidences the fact that the acronym for the Automated Payment Transaction Tax (APT) means “suited to the purpose or occasion, appropriate” takes the cake. Even better is the fact that it takes the cake away from the 1%.
    Please support the Automated Payment Transaction tax by frequenting their website and Facebook page. If you can actually volunteer real time to make the tax system more apt more power to you.

    References:

    http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-panama-papers

    Tax Revolution – Replace All Taxes On Few with One Tiny Tax on All Transactions Including Stock and Currency Trades


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_Boys

    Throw Open The Borders

    It is useless to try to hold back the tide of weary, desperate people seeking a better life. Let’s get real: no one is going to stop a hungry child from jumping on the top of a train and looking for higher ground. Why not just let them in? All of them ? Yes, all of them.

     

    A Problem Correctly Defined is Half Solved

     

    We don’t have an immigration problem, we have a poverty problem. And the problem is not that we as a country don’t have enough money to solve poverty. It’s that we put our money into the wrong pocketsAllowing anyone who wants to enter the country to enter is feasible if it is one several radical changes to how the government regulates economic fundamentals: labor, property and taxes.

     

    Replace the all entitlements with a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) and health care.

    Shred Title 26: A New Tax Code for a New Economy. *

    Triple Decker Housing Trust Fund

    Throw Open the Borders.

     

    You’re Going to GIVE Immigrants Money?

     

    After paying taxes for 7 years, everyone residing in the US should be eligible for a BIG of $21,000/year. For most “Born Heres” that means starting with an after-school job while in high school. On the other hand, if you started living off your trust fund at 16, you might never qualify.  Poor baby.

     

    How will you pay for that?

     

    Replacing all entitlements with a basic income guarantee doesn’t just mean eliminating programs like unemployment insurance, food stamps, fuel assistance, and Section 8, it means eliminating the bureaucracy that administers those programs. If no one has to apply for “social security”—because you already receive it (after paying taxes for 7 years)—checking eligibility is a piece of cake.  Ditto for hundreds of other government programs that now soak up millions of dollars in administrative expenses. If on top of it you radically streamline Title 26, suddenly the money appears.

     

    Current Immigration Policy

     

    Besides militarizing the entire southern half of the country, protecting our border also prevents employers from hiring the best person for the job and within a capitalist system the best person for the job is the person that will work for the lowest wage. The economy and employers are better off paying Manuel Labor, father of ten who has three other jobs, than they are employing someone who thinks s/he is too good to wash dishes.

     

    The Slacker Problem

     

    The “immigration problem” highlights something that no one, liberal or conservative has adequately addressed: some people won’t work.  Ask conservatives about the shortage of “Born Here” dishwashers and they’ll start babbling about whatever it is they babble about. Ask liberals about unionized deadwood and they’ll claim it’s not a problem.  But it is and there is no better description of it than this classic New Yorker article about teachers being paid not to teach:

     

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/08/31/the-rubber-room

     

    Liberals don’t want to talk about this or the other ways that entitlements make it more sensible to game the system than to look for work. This is because at the heart of liberalism is a kind of paternalism that assumes that poor people don’t know how to run their own lives.  A better conclusion is that the government doesn’t know how to run peoples lives.

     

    (For the record, this editorialist doesn’t believe in laziness. People who don’t want to work usually have a good reason for not working, one that no one else can really understand or change.)

     

    Mom and Pop

     

    Gov: “You spent all your allowance?  Too bad, you’ll do better next week.”

    Gov: “What, spent it again? Talk to your mother.”

     

    Replacing all entitlements with a BIG doesn’t mean the end of charity, it means cutting out the middleman. No matter what “The Dad” government does or does not do, there will always be people with large soft hearts who will give anyone another chance. G-d bless them.  Everyone needs and deserves a mother.

     

    Increasing the tax break for private charitable donations; eliminating the need for charities to apply for government contracts and having all donations go directly to the charity chosen by the donor will make private charitable organizations more effective.  Let’s retire the Nanny state and let Mom do her job.

     

    It’s the Economy Stupid

     

    Putting enough money to live on, albeit not well, into the hands of people who then are free to make economic choices is a better way to help people and a better way run an economy than putting it into the pockets of government employees. Since there are no strings or income limitations on the BIG, people can slack when they can’t work and make as much money as is humanly possible when they can (corporations are not people and thus not eligible for the BIG). Whether those people are Born Here or Born Somewhere Else is irrelevant to the economy and should be to everyone else.

     

    Throw open the borders. In the age of globalization we are all citizens of the world. It’s time to start acting like it.

     

    For the Earth,

     

    Aria Littlhous

     

    *For more on these initiatives go to: http://arialittlhous.blogspot.com/search?q=dissenting+opinion

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A VISION FOR A DEMOCRATIC FUTURE: Work in progress, Occupy National Gathering Visioning Group

    This document comes from the National Gathering Visioning Group.
    For more about where it came from, see the section, “How We Got Here.”

    AN OCCUPY VISION

    When the powers and practices of the prevailing society fail to support our fulfillment as equal participants in life, we the People need to proclaim our shared vision of the world yet to be and reaffirm the values that inform us.

    We affirm the inherent worth, dignity, and potential of all existence and our profound connection to the web of all existence of which we are a part. Therefore, we are guided by a vision that includes:

    • A world where the water, air, and food are clean so that both our planet and its people may be healthy.
    • Free education for all, so that information can be shared and used to benefit and enrich our society.
    • A world without war, so that people of every culture and nation may be free to develop and learn from one another without the distortion and exclusion that results from seeing one another as enemies.
    • A sustainable human society, where people are respected, valued, encouraged, and recognized as our first priority.
    • A culture of direct democracy and universal participation, where political and social decisions are made in a transparent manner for the common good.
    • Free universal physical and psychological healthcare, so that all people may be able to use their abilities and enjoy their lives as fully as possible.
    • Economic equality, so that all people may have the opportunity to have sufficient material resources for their needs, free from exploitation by others.
    • Freedom, so that all people may be empowered and included in the future we envision.

    We recognize that each person is endowed with a unique perspective and potential that adds to the sum total of our world, and that by working together we achieve our vision.

    We invite all to join us, contribute to it, and participate in it as we and it change and grow.

    HOW WE GOT HERE

    Since OWS began one year ago, many individual Occupy groups around the country have developed various statements or declarations of goals, issues, and actions. Some Occupy groups developed vision statements.

    Recognizing the importance of an overall vision, the organizers of the Occupy National Gathering in Philadelphia in July of 2012 included a visioning process. Three days of teach-ins, workshops, and speak-outs on many topics vital to Occupy led up to Independence Day, when about 250 persons at the National Gathering participated in a group vision exercise that resulted in a 7 page list of vision elements.

    Subsequent to the National Gathering, those interested in vision follow-up formed a work group. This group has developed the draft material being shared in hopes of engaging more persons in developing an Occupy Vision, obtaining valuable feedback, and moving forward towards a draft Vision Statement that can be shared broadly for Occupy consideration.

    We welcome you to join the Occupy visioning experiment!

    ILLUSTRATIVE CATEGORY LIST

    Illustrative Vision Categories that were derived from the National Gathering Visioning List. For the complete list, see the National Gathering Vision Hub Wiki at http://interoccupy.net/vision.

    CLEAN AIR, WATER, FOOD: ENVIRONMENTAL

    • Local food production, community gardens, permaculture agriculture
    • access to real nourishing, non-chemical, non-GMO food
    • food supply that is humane and natural
    • environmental justice
    • environmental awareness and respect
    • healthier diets and lifestyles
    • affordable healthy food
    • clean water as a right
    • end hunger
    • connection to earth

    FREE EDUCATION FOR ALL: CULTURAL

    • all airwaves public
    • end to intellectual property, such that there is free and open sharing of information
    • free and open communications
    • real education, free and equal, democratized
    • universal access to data

    NO WAR: PEACE AND SECURITY/POLITICAL

    • peace, nonviolence, no war or death machines
    • no military
    • no need for violent conflict or guns
    • no global us vs them
    • nonviolence
    • friendship, rather than strangership, as the default relationship among people
    • mutual respect between cultures or trading nations
    • nonviolent interpersonal and international conflict resolution
    • world peace

    SUSTAINABLE HUMAN SOCIETY: CULTURAL/ENVIRONMENTAL

    • a world where basic needs are met
    • all cultures respected equally
    • people feel empowered, free, and unafraid
    • a strong sense of community
    • safety for everyone from domestic violence and fear
    • all human life valued equally
    • all decisions considered for seven generations in the future
    • more humanity, compassion, kindness, and selflessness
    • mutually beneficial relationship between humans, the earth, and its inhabitants
    • acting with consideration for the community, world, and everything else

    A CULTURE OF DIRECT DEMOCRACY: DEMOCRACY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE/POLITICAL

    • no money in politics
    • end two-party system
    • local community control
    • consensus based democracy
    • just and fair legal system
    • truth in journalism/illegal to lie
    • minorities have power and voice (rule by diversity)
    • no tax without representation
    • a fair electoral system
    • accountable government
    • democratic process that works for all

    FREE UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE: CULTURAL/ECONOMIC

    • healthcare emphasizes preventative and alternative measures
    • free healthcare (accessible and state of the art)
    • full control of our own bodies, including shared ownership of the means of preventative healthcare
    • free therapy and emotional/mental healthcare

    ECONOMIC EQUALITY: VIBRANT AND SOUND ECONOMY/PROSPERITY

    • localized economies
    • no corporate personhood
    • fairness and equality for all beings (including ecosystems, resources)
    • banks and corporations required to act responsibly, answering to many, not few
    • radicalized labor unions
    • international corporate accountability
    • fair trade and fair working conditions

    FREEDOM: POLITICAL/CULTURAL

    • freedom to live anywhere: no borders, no nations
    • freedom of knowledge and press
    • freedom of religion
    • freedom of expression protected
    • free equal access to opportunity

    derived from the Visioning Activities at the OCCUPY NATIONAL GATHERING Philadelphia, PA – July 2012

    This is what Democracy Looks Like?!?

    During the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about the presidential debates. Some people bemoan one candidate or the other. Some bemoan both candidates. A few held drinking contests during the debates. After each debate, the media is full of analysis, pundits, and commentators to dissect the dialog, and to help people figure out what it all meant.

    The second presidential debate was especially noteworthy, for something that happened outside the debate hall (and something that many media outlets aren’t reporting).

    Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein and vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala tried to enter the debate hall, and were blocked by police officers. After being denied entrance, Stein and Honkala sat down in the street, and were subsequently arrested for obstructing traffic.

    I’d love to present a long list of citations about this event, but there aren’t many to give. I first heard about it from Twitter, then read articles from the Huffington Post and the student-run Long Island Report.

    This is outrageous. Stein and Honkala will be on the ballot in 38 states, and most Americans will have the opportunity to vote for them. People deserve to hear their positions, as well as the positions of other third party candidates, such as Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, Constitution Party Candidate Virgil Goode, and Socialist Party USA candidate Stewart Alexander. And these aren’t the only third-party candidates running. Instead of being given options, we are being handed a charade, based on the notion that there are only two choices for president.

    We have always talked about our first amendment rights. Perhaps it is time to start talking about our first amendment caveats.

    • You have the right to freedom of speech. Unless you’re a third-party candidate.
    • You have the right to freedom of religion. Unless you’re a Muslim
    • You have the right to freedom of the press. Unless you’re a whistleblower.

    Perhaps Stein and Honkala should incorporate. I’m sure they’d get more freedom of speech that way.

    One Year Later: Four Quick Reminders from CASEJ

    Four reminders from some of the organizers in the Occupy Boston CASEJ (Climate Action, Sustainability and Environmental Justice) working group:

    1. Research now indicates climate change is the key culprit behind several of the most devastating droughts and heat waves we have already experienced.

      “we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that the extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming…”

      ~ Hansen J., Sato M, Ruedy R. 2012. Perception of Climate Change. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA

    2. We are giving at least $11 BILLION in tax subsidies to fossil fuel companies, some of the wealthiest in the world, as we are simultaneously loosing our own homes.

    3. According to Mass DEP: Vehicle emissions account for about 40 percent of the pollutants that produce ground level ozone, a lung irritant and main ingredient in smog. Children are amongst the most vulnerable, with one out of every three school absences now attributed to asthma. Asthma is now the number one reason children are admitted to the hospital.

    4. Several viable and underutilized clean energy alternatives now exist, and in Massachusetts, clean energy sector jobs grew by 11.2 percent between July 2011 and July 2012. (It now generates over 70,000 local jobs.)

    People are asking whether Occupy is “alive” or “dead” or “still happening”. Individuals are still organizing around the clock to strengthen our community. They will continue to no matter the name. The extent to which new people take it upon themselves to do so as well, and the extent to which we can work together, will directly determine wether the most critical issues of our time are dealt with in a prudent manner. Here is to “the radicals”. Happy Birthday Occupy Boston!

    To get on the CASEJ mailing list please go to:
    https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/listinfo/climate-action

    Sources:

    1. Hansen J., Sato M, Ruedy R. 2012. Perception of Climate Change. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
      http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/07/30/1205276109.full.pdf+html

    2. Environmental Law Institute:
      http://www.eli.org/Program_Areas/innovation_governance_energy.cfm

    3. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection:
      http://www.mass.gov/dep/air/community/airhealt.htm

    4. Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs
      http://www.mass.gov/eea/pr-2012/120816-pr-clean-energy-job-growth.html

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