Ian Simmons, Co-founder and Principal, Blue Haven Initiative, has written a letter to 2020 presidential candidates to impose a wealth tax of 2% on net worth > $50 million. Janet Holtzblatt, senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, presented a Powerpoint talk about tax policy. A panel then discussed tax policy and wealth tax as a policy, here and in Europe.
While Simmons has worthy goals, I agree with Alan D. Viard of theAmerican Enterprise Institute (AEI). His point is that a wealth tax is not the best solution to income and wealth inequality, suggesting instead a mark-to-market tax. This has the advantage of being easily integrated into the existing tax framework, avoiding a more complex system. I think that Simmons can better achieve his goals with a foundation devoted specific causes, such as climate change. It could function like the Gates Foundation. It is also odd that funds raised from the wealth tax would, or could, be earmarked for particular projects. That probably can’t work, because the government determines how revenues get spent. Also, as panelist Beth Kaufman pointed out, constitutionality would be challenged in court.
To conclude, tax policy might be used to better balance wealth and income inequality, especially worthwhile in strengthening democracy. A wealth tax does not appear to be the best solution.
Frightening alert to the power these countries wield with surveillance technology. My view is that it is up to us to push back by being more vigilant and careful, assume that we are being watched and act accordingly. The problem is compounded by our ignorance, laziness, and naivete. Encryption is one tool to fight back. Careful use of passwords helps to thwart hacking and surveillance. While there is danger with these technologies, the fact that intrusive surveillance is not easy, especially when countered with good security practice, it is possible to defeat these repressive technologies.
After the event, we met a Russian national who works for Voice of America, Danila Galperovich, who insisted that these technologies are extremely dangerous. In China and Russia, that is no doubt the case. These countries have moved past the point of citizen pushback. Repression goes beyond technology in these countries. He and Natalia Arno, President, Free Russia Foundation are on the front lines of resistance to repression.
Link to event
Well attended event with Ambassador William Burns at Johns Hopkins SAIS. Confirmed my sense that US foreign policy, reputation, and power have deteriorated.
IDB event link
Interesting use of big data analysis determining effects of administrative autonomy. They found that less managerial control resulted in better performance as measured by lower prices. Reward incentives were ineffective as well, both somewhat surprising results. Using experimental data to test policies helps to optimize processes.
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