When people sought leadership in desperate need of freedom, they were met with politics and gimmicks rather than solutions.

December 28, 2020

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

politicsOne of the main reasons for my apolitical views is because I know individuals are flawed. Those flaws on a large enough scale can be disastrous, and have been!

Only a body politic could take something like a pandemic, and compound its destruction so exponentially. The pandemic was going to do what it was going to do. It will run through humanity one way or another, as they all have in the past. It will do its damage and humanity will trudge on.

What is unprecedented is this is the first time in history that politicians believed they could legislate some form of viral mitigant, and imposed those measures. This was done from a place of profound ignorance, they continue to flounder with each new set of consequences begotten by their last policy.

The pandemic itself would probably be wrapping up come next spring or summer had we not done a thing differently. Instead, we had lock-downs, elimination of performances and conference gatherings, reduction in allowable numbers in restaurants and offices, shields, masks, and distancing requirements. All of which crippled the economy.

Events have been canceled or drastically modified. The occasion to go out and do something is just gone now. And all those who made those events possible are out of work.

The tax base is withering away.

Even with stimulus checks in circulation, that doesn’t help people whose jobs have been regulated away. It helps those businesses that are either deemed essential or are still allowed to operate.

The desperation of some states is showing. New York is talking about retroactive tax hikes on people making over as much as $1 million. For New York, that isn’t rare. But with the top 2% picking up over 50% of the $50 billion in state tax revenue alone, imagine the fall out of capital flight.

“[N]early half of New Yorkers making $100,000 or more claim they are considering leaving the city, citing cost of living as the main driver. The data show that many of them are following through. Between March and November more than 246,000 New Yorkers filed change of address requests. And even as early as May, trends showed the wealthiest neighborhoods in the Big Apple were emptying out the fastest.”

The fear is, they will take their businesses and jobs with them. So not only is wealth fleeing the state, but so too is productivity. The point of the retroactive tax was to make up for the state’s revenue shortfall. Who makes up the shortfall when the top 2% leave?

This sounds like something New York and even California would do. But the attack on remote workers has been particularly onerous. There’s been discussions about a “privilege tax” of 5% on those who work from home.

Seven states who employ what’s called a “convenience rule“: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York and Pennsylvania. This is when the state taxes workers based on the location of the business, rather than the location of the worker.

In a recent Supreme Court case, New Hampshire is disputing taxes levied by Massachusetts on New Hampshire residents who work for a Massachusetts based business, but are no longer commuting and are working remotely.

Other states are vested in this outcome and have filed amicus briefs in support of the Granite State. So far, New Jersey, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Iowa have come to the defense of New Hampshire.

The desperate part of all this is: Massachusetts is a recent participant in this “convenience rule”. It was supposed to be a “temporary measure”. But imagine what this would mean for a state like New York that gets nearly 20% of its revenue (nearly $700 million per month) comes from out of state workers.

The real tragedy is the recent 5,593 page “relief bill”. That is just pathetic. This is hit like a busted pipe, and Congress decided to call the cable guy… then an electrician… then the pool guy… then a landscaper… literally every contractor except the plumber got a call and a slice of pie.

I don’t see much value in stimulus checks or even extensions of unemployment. Neither are sustainable. But if you were going to give money to anyone, the people who paid the taxes should be the ones who get it back.

  • A minimum of $3.3 billion in grants to Israel.

  • $453 million to Ukraine, on top of the $400 million Trump eventually released.

  • $10 million for “gender programs” in Pakistan.

  • $1.3 billion to Egypt

  • $700 million to Sudan.

  • $135 million to Burma, $85.5 million to Cambodia, $1.4 billion for an “Asia Reassurance Initiative Act,” and $130 million to Nepal.

  • $4 billion for Navy weapons procurement, $2 billion for Space Force and $2 billion for Air Force missiles.

  • $208 million to upgrade the Census Bureau’s computer systems

  • $40 million for the Kennedy Center, and funding to discourage teenagers from drinking and hooking up.

  • $193 million for federal HIV/AIDS workers to buy cars and car insurance overseas, and a feminist museum.

  • Funding for a commission to educate consumers “about the dangers associated with using or storing portable fuel containers for flammable liquids near an open flame.”

  • It lays the groundwork for a “Climate Security Advisory Council”

  • It sets aside funds to investigate the 1908 Springfield Race Riot

  • It l includes a lengthy subsection titled “the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2020”

  • It creates a committee to regulate performance-enhancing drugs in horse racing

  • It makes it illegal to give racehorses pain-killers before training or racing

  • Invasive Species assessment, mitigation and reductions. Price tag: $130,000,000 (pp 1594)

  • Creating a US-India Gandhi-King Development Foundation with an annual budget of $30,000,000+

As if burying all this omnibus spending in the bill wasn’t bad enough, they threw in one more thing: criminalization of online streaming and meme-sharing.

While Americans are in a panic over a crashing economy, joblessness and unemployment, and an ever-changing pandemic, the US congress decides to cram this copyright language into a “must pass” bill.

Bad form doesn’t begin to describe how tacky and inappropriate that is.

It’s the CASE Act. This came up once before in July 2019, but now is being reintroduced into the omnibus “Relief Act” carrying not $15,000 fines, but up to $30,000 fines, according to Makena Kelly from The Verge:

The CASE Act would create a quasi-judicial tribunal of “Copyright Claims Officers” who would work to resolve infringement claims. As outlined in the bill, copyright holders could be awarded up to $30,000 if they find their creative work being shared online.

Proponents of the CASE Act, like the Copyright Alliance, argue that the bill would make it easier for independent artists to bring about copyright claims without having to endure the lengthy and expensive federal courts process. Still, critics of the bill, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fight for the Future, argue that the CASE Act could fine ordinary internet users for engaging in everyday online behavior like sharing memes.

When leadership is needed most, everyone at the helm is behaving like an uncorralled cat.

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