Belmont Club

One and Twenty

Paul Caron at the Taxprof describes the concept of the GUGIT, whose central idea is to “progressively” tax a person wherever he may be, whatever citizenship he might hold. Through the establishment of a global taxing authority there will be no hiding from the revenue agent.

Over the past several decades … governmental revenue [has] shifted to less progressive and regressive taxes on labor and consumption. Reasons for the shift are many but include international tax competition as world economies have become increasing global … a fundamental change in the scope of the progressive income tax is essential to protect progressivity. …

A GUGIT would make far better sense than separate national income taxes. The paper goes on to describe a vision of a GUGIT [grand unified global income tax] with a global taxing authority and a uniform tax base….

At individual level, the GUGIT would allocate income to the jurisdiction into which the taxpayer intends his or her services to have their impact or upon relative periods of residence during the year. Either method diminishes the benefit of expatriation to avoid taxes but a continuation tax or exit tax may remain necessary to combat tax expatriation.

The high point of traditional freedoms was probably reached at the end of the 20th century in the decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Since then it’s been all downhill. The trend has been all about consolidating power into permanent majorities. We will have the End of History, and failing that an End to Something at all events. Although the GUGIT scheme may presently seem farfetched, it articulates the goal to which “progressive” activists must eventually aspire. Single payer, single electoral majority, single state. ‘Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer. Once you build a jail, the only problem left is how to fill it. If they build it you must come.

Rather than fight a defensive intellectual battle against the GUGIT dissidents might find it more useful to articulate an alternative vision: the replacement of traditional nations with virtual private citizenship. SSN — a Sovereign Social Network. Since GUGIT will fundamentally abolish the nation state on the way to creating a “global taxing authority”, which if it is to make any sense implies a global political authority, why not abolish the nation state on an alternative basis?

After all, if you’re going to pay a GUGIT, you might as well pay it to an affinity group. You wouldn’t want to give your money to an entity that you hate and which hates you.

People are already being encouraged to join private countries. Google Wallet, for example, is an example of an attempt to create a single credential; one universal identity through which you can access services. At present it is used only to buy things. “Google Wallet is a mobile payment system developed by Google that allows its users to store debit cards, credit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards among other things, as well as redeeming sales promotions on their mobile phone.”

But in principle a credential can be used to store attributes of any kind. It may determine where you may go, what you may claim, who you are. Services which used to attach to a passport — protection, welfare, etc — have been declining for the taxpayer, while they’ve increased for the nontaxpayer. A GUGIT is simply a license to tax people who can expect noting in return. For only the nonpayers should receive the benefits of “progressive taxation”. That’s the definition of progressivism.

GUGIT will make holding a British, American or EU passport a penalty for the taxpayer and a benefit only to the dependent.  The current passport apparently will not protect you from the global taxing authority. If a passport can’t protect you from a transnational revenue agent, what is the point of it?

Why not make all your payments instead to a private wallet?

All that Google would have to do to become a 20th century country is offer the equivalent of national defense to its members. Once that is provided the last advantage of the national passport disappears.

The other day New York Congresswoman Grace Meng was mugged in Washington DC. While one hopes the DC police will solve the crime, it is possible to imagine a world where Meng could call on private justice via her Google Wallet as an alternative to the cops. Then even if the DC police were completely helpless — as is supposedly the case in Detroit — then assailants could be brought to book by “Google Hurt” or something similar.

Islam, which many progressives admire, had a system of quasi-states through which provided many services to subject peoples.

The millet system was developed to protect the rights of the “tolerated clients of the Muslim community” … the self-autonomous nature of the millet was facilitated by a delegate from each group; a Patriarch represented the Greek and Armenian Churches and a haham başi or chief rabbi as appointed by the Sultan represented some Jewish communities … The millet had control over all internal disputes and agreements, such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, other matters of personal status, and the distribution and collection of taxes.

Such services as could not be provided by an SSN might be supplied by a variant of the traditional nation state until such time as a private equivalent can be developed.  As the state morphs from a mutual protection society to an income transfer machine, it provides less and less incentive for the productive to join. In order to head off the pressure of civil war or conflict, why not release two products?

Red State and Blue State wallets. Each will enable their members to call upon services in exchange for a tax or fee. Neither can free ride on the other. If the Blue Wallet plan specifies that no defense shall be provided against terror attacks, then so be it. They can use their money for other things, like birth control pills or counseling. The Red Staters, however, may choose to pay for protections and fund a private army.  If a Blue State wallet holder is attacked, they must make shift as a victim of the “knockout game” recently told audiences.  She “understood” why she was attacked and had “no hard feelings” against the disadvantaged in society. Some people have criticized her attitude, but why should they?  She should be free to live to live in fear if that’s what she chooses so long as others are free to defend themselves.

Unless an alternative to the GUGIT is actively sought then the consolidators will eventually triumph.  The progressives are already impatient to resume the march toward progress.

President Barack Obama on Thursday endorsed the move by Democrats to revamp Senate filibuster rules to make it easier for the majority party to confirm nominees.

“I support the step a majority of senators took to change the way that Washington is doing business. More specifically, the way the Senate does business,” Obama said during remarks in the White House briefing room. “The vote today, I think, is an indication that a majority of senators believe, as I believe, that enough is enough.”

As George Will observed, “There’s no limiting principle in the principle that they’re invoking, that is majorities should rule all the time. What this means is if in the spring of 2017 there is a Republican president, which there could be, the Republicans still hold the House and they have 51 Senators, they can repeal Obamacare with 51 votes. And I’m not sure the people who did this today have thought this through.”

Oh yes they have and the result of those cogitations is that there must never be a Republican majority senate and president again. It is George Will who may not have thought it through.

Once the GUGIT is set as a goal the progressives will get there. Set against the vision of GUGIT is an SSN where people can choose to band together in affinity groups. This trend has been observable for a long time. The emergence of racial and ideological, even sexual groups are indicators that the national glue is being replaced by identity politics. In a world of multiple identities, a GUGIT is logically an instrument of oppression because it enables on group to rule over the others.

An SSN on the other hand, makes much more sense in a world determined to achieve fragmentation. It will provide less of an opportunity for one group to dominate another. If national elites can conduct themselves as “citizens of the world” then why can’t ordinary people create SSNs whose privileges and duties are portable all over the planet?

Logically the sort of world that progressives want will either be a tyranny or a return to semi-autonomous confessions. Perhaps the fundamental political choice of the 21st century will be between a single confederation of global elites and a constellation of private states to which people voluntarily enroll. The choice is between one Ring or many rings.  It was ever thus. The nation state itself is a recent historical development. Nothing about it says forever.

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie,
One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

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