Tag Archive: Jean Baptist-Colbert


As a young cub reporter, I cut my teeth on Proposition 13.

The political class and Punditocracy were steadfastly aligned against California’s tax-revolt initiative in 1978.

The electorate would not vote in their self-interest (e.g., their homes) and “devastate” the state’s infrastructure (i.e., schools, libraries and fire stations). Surely, not.

Surely, yes.presspass

We were told the sun would not rise on Wednesday, June 7, if Proposition 13 was approved the day before.

El Sol did indeed rise over the east hills of the Golden State that very morning. The birds were chirping. The bees were buzzing. Love was in the air. And Sacramento subvened its $4 billion surplus to the state’s 58 counties.

Homes were saved. Libraries remained open. Fire houses were not closed. Life moved on … as it always does. Fiscal Armageddon did not occur.

The author of Almost DailyBrett learned a valuable lesson: The voters are not as unaware as the political elites believe.

They will vote in the interest of their homes, families, wallets and purses.

As Jean Baptist-Colbert, French Minister of Finances under Louis XIV, said:

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.”

There was plenty of hissing to go around in the late spring of 1978.

The Initiative, The Referendum, The Recall

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The name Hiram Warren Johnson would probably stump everyone except the most avid player of political Trivial Pursuit.

The progressive Republican Governor of California from 1911-1917, who also served as the running mate for Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, will go down in history as the man who introduced to the Golden State and the world: the initiative, the referendum and the recall.

These three political equivalents of nuclear weapons would remain in virtual hibernation until the days of the Great Inflation in the 1970s, which plagued the subsequent administrations of Nixon, Ford and Carter. With annualized inflation running between 15-18 percent per year, county assessors (e.g., Alexander Pope in Los Angeles) were sending property tax bills that were around 30 percent higher every two years.

You don’t have to be a math wizard to realize that 15 percent compounded annualized inflation-driven property-tax increases were threatening the ability of literally millions to pay their property tax bills. And what did the virtual one-party state Legislature do about it?

Nothing.

It was only a matter of time for two former gadflies, Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, to become heroes and villains at the same time with one vehicle, the initiative, namely Proposition 13.

Anxiety, Apprehension, Anger

“Despite a torrent of horror stories from teachers’ unions, politicians, newspapers and corporate lobbyists in Sacramento about the potentially devastating effects of Proposition 13, more than 60 percent of the voters took a gamble and approved the ballot measure.” – Stephen Moore, Cato Institutenewsweekprop13

The author of Almost DailyBrett vividly remembers that Californians were disgusted with politicians and everything Sacramento in 1978. They voted for Proposition 13 to send an unmistakable message to the political class: We are not as unaware and ignorant as you think we are.

Exactly 25 years later, another generation of Californians brought to the forefront another of Hiram Johnson’s reforms, the recall. The target in 2003 was Governor Gray Davis, who magically transformed a $14 billion “surplus” into a $38 billion deficit.

The net result was the election of charming media-celebrity, body-builder-turned-movie-star-turned Gubernator, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Fast forwarding to today, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer used three “A”s to describe the political mood of the electorate. He could have easily added another “A” with a Teutonic twist: Angst.

Just as the California electorate was volatile and unpredictable in 1978 and 2003 and willing to take matters into their own collective hands, the same seems to hold true this year on a national scale.timejarvis

To date, Almost DailyBrett has been totally wrong on which parties delegate race would conclude first, and how a celebrity candidacy would end once the electoral calendar moved from the Silly Season to the Serious Season.

There are plenty of polls and Electoral College projections, but in the end analysis the two respective parties are nominating candidates with unprecedented nearly 60 percent unfavorable ratings at a time when the nation’s right track/wrong track barometer is two-to-one in the wrong direction.

Not only are we politically gridlocked at home, we are seen as nation in decline overseas. And heaven forbid – how will an exogenous event striking the homeland upset the scant political equilibrium that does exist?

If you were serving as the head of communications or press secretary for either of the two candidates with nearly 100 percent name identification (not necessarily a good thing), sleep is going to be a precious commodity between now and November.

Strap on your seat belts for a rough ride. And don’t forget the electorate. The voters are not as dumb as everyone in Washington D.C., and Midtown Manhattan thinks they are.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-hillary-and-the-bernie-factor/2016/05/19/cc594044-1de6-11e6-9c81-4be1c14fb8c8_story.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/golden-state-handcuffs/

http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=j000140

http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1984.html

http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/proposition-13-then-now-forever

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/04/04/tax-tree/

 

 

 

 

 

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing,” — Jean Baptist-Colbert, French Minister of Finances under Louis XIV.

“If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street. If you drive to city, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet,” – George Harrison, Beatles’ “Taxman,” 1966.

The Beatles certainly were not the only hugely successful British rock-and-roll band to ever feel the heat of punitive taxation. Nonetheless, they were paying far more than their “fair share” for their musical achievements and the opening song of the band’s “Revolver” album was a form of open protest against excessive taxation and class warfare.

“‘Taxman’ was when I first realized that even though we had started earning money, we were actually giving most of it away in taxes,” said the late George Harrison, the Beatles guitarist. “It was and still is typical.”

For their chief competitors, the Rolling Stones, the crushing taxation in the UK in the 1970s forced the band to leave their homeland, England, to seek refuge in France and record the aptly titled “Exile on Main Street.” Like Napoleon Bonaparte on Elba, the Stones were forced into Mediterranean exile.

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The history of the Beatles and the Stones relative to taxation has direct bearing on the modern-day open debate on just how government is too much government and exactly how much taxation is too much taxation. The leader of the free world has called upon the rich to pay their “fair share,” but what exactly is the definition of fair share? And what constitutes “rich” in Obama’s America? The devil is in the details.

Is 98 percent fair? “Preposterous” you say? Not if you review the history of the United Kingdom prior to the rise of Margaret Thatcher.

The “progressive” tax regime of former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson was simply staggering, a top rate for income tax of 83 percent + a 15 percent surcharge on “un-earned income” (investments and dividends), bringing the marginal rate of 98 percent (no typo). Reportedly, 750,000 British taxpayers were liable for a 98 percent tax rate in 1974. Is there a fine line between taxation and almost total confiscation, and when is that line crossed?

In the case of the Stones, they were not only hissing like plucked geese, but fleeing the country…an option that is always available to the wealthy to escape oppressive taxation. The wealthy (at least for the time being) do have the means, and many times they vote with their feet or by means of air travel.

haroldwilson

Reflecting on the time, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman said in the band’s DVD “Stones in Exile” that if a band member made a “million quid,” he would be taking home only 70,000 pounds. “It was impossible to make enough to pay Inland Revenue.”

“I had to get out of the country to pay the tax that was incurred on me,” guitarist/song writer Keith Richards remembered.

Singer/song writer Mick Jagger was worried about fan reaction of the Stones leaving the UK for tax reasons, thinking that followers wouldn’t like the Stones anymore. “When you leave for tax reasons, it is not cool.”

But is a 98 percent tax rate cool? Is that paying your “fair share?” Let’s see the achiever gets keep two cents on every dollar, the government takes through a variety of taxing mechanisms the remaining 98 cents on that same dollar.

Extreme? You bet, but it happened. And it occurred in Mother England and it really wasn’t that long ago. As you know, there are some who want America to be just like Western Europe, but do they really support 98 percent taxation?

No one will ever accuse the members of the Beatles and the Stones of being conservative warriors for limited government and Lafferite low taxation to jump-start economic growth. The Stones in particular proved that the real wealthy or the so-called wealthy have options. They can move to lower tax states (e.g. Texas and Florida come immediately to mind) or even to other nations. They may not want to do it, but again they may not have any other choice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stones_in_Exile

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Thatcher

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Wilson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exile_on_Main_St.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Laffer

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