UK's Lesson: Raising Taxes on Wealthy Yields Less Revenue

Sunday, 09 Dec 2012 02:33 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. MoveOn.org Announces Major Shakeup
2. New Hot Contraband: Cigarettes
3. Supermarket Mogul Eyes Bid for New York City Mayor
4. Opposition to Genetic Engineering Called 'Despicable'
5. US Birth Rate Falls to Record Low
6. Lesson From UK: Tax Hike on Wealthy Lowers Revenue
 

1. MoveOn.org Announces Major Shakeup

The left-wing organization MoveOn.org has announced that it is embarking on a "bold new path" and empowering its members to take over control of its operations.

"We're turning over the keys to our technological toolset to our more than 7 million members, asking them to step up and lead their own campaigns, and putting them squarely in the MoveOn driver's seat," said the group's executive director, Justin Ruben, in an article published by the Huffington Post.

"We believe some of the greatest potential leaders in America are MoveOn members. But too often they lack the tools, the know-how, or the connections to other like-minded folks to be successful.

"We think we can change that. We're throwing MoveOn's full resources into this new organizing model — helping grassroots progressives come up with compelling campaigns and ideas, connecting them with a growing army of people, amplifying those campaigns and then helping them win."

Ruben said the group hopes to bring "much more power to bear" on major issues like the "fiscal showdown."

MoveOn.org was formed in 1998 and has given millions of dollars in support of candidates it identifies as progressive. In 2004, financier George Soros gave $1.46 million to the MoveOn.org Voter Fund in an effort to defeat President George W. Bush.

Commenting on MoveOn's new direction, HuffPost Hill observed: "MoveOn.org, after handing most of its organization over to Van Jones, because he asked nicely, is giving what's left of it to its membership."

Last year Jones worked with MoveOn to launch the Rebuild the Dream campaign, aimed at starting a progressive movement to counter the tea party and fight for what it views as a fairer economy.

Jones was appointed by President Barack Obama in March 2009 to serve as special adviser for green jobs. He came under criticism for his past political activities, including signing a petition calling for hearings into the Bush administration's possible role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He resigned in September 2009.

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2. New Hot Contraband: Cigarettes

Smugglers are increasingly turning their attention from drugs and firearms to reselling cigarettes on the black market, taking advantage of increased cigarette taxes in some states — and making huge profits.

Since 2007, at least 27 states have raised their cigarette taxes to erase deficits or cover healthcare costs. In New York, the tax on cigarettes is $4.35 a pack, and an additional tax in New York City boosts the total to $5.85 a pack.

But the cigarette tax in Virginia is just 30 cents a pack, so smugglers can buy bulk quantities of smokes in Virginia and sell them in New York and other high-tax states at a huge profit — a racket known to police as "smurfing," according to The Economist.

Other low-tax states include Louisiana (36 cents), Georgia (37 cents), and North Carolina (45 cents), while Rhode Island imposes a $3.46 tax, and Connecticut a $3.40 levy.

In New Jersey, which imposes a tax of $2.70 per pack, about 40 percent of all cigarettes are reportedly smuggled in from Virginia and other states.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimates that illegal cigarette sales cost local, state and federal governments nearly $10 billion a year.

Profits for the smugglers from cigarettes are better than from cocaine, heroin, marijuana or guns, according to the Virginia State Crime Commission, and penalties are far lighter than for drugs — five years in jail under federal law, compared to possible life in prison for heroin.

Virginia recently made it illegal to buy and possess, with intent to sell elsewhere, more than 5,000 cigarettes. But smugglers can easily fit 600 cartons — 120,000 cigarettes — in a car, which makes it easy for law enforcement to miss.

Interstate 95 earned the moniker "iron highway" when gun-running along the Atlantic Coast was at its peak, The Economist adds, but now "it is the new Tobacco Road."

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3. Supermarket Mogul Eyes Bid for New York City Mayor

John Catsimatidis, CEO of a firm that operates more than 50 supermarkets in the New York City area, says he is setting up an exploratory committee to consider running for mayor in the Big Apple.

Catsimatidis described himself on Monday as a pro-business Republican with the compassion of a "former Clinton Democrat," the New York Post reported.

"I believe you need a combination of both to lead the city."

Catsimatidis, 64, is CEO of the Red Apple Group, which owns Gristedes supermarkets and other stores; United Refining, an oil-processing firm; and real-estate holdings in New York, New Jersey and Florida.

His daughter Andrea is married to Christopher Cox, son of New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, the son-in-law of Richard Nixon.

Billionaire Catsimatidis was poised to run for New York City mayor as a Republican in 2009, but withdrew when Michael Bloomberg was allowed to seek a third term.

He said he has had "preliminary" conversations with the Independence Party for potential backing, and insists he will "only run if I can win."

Editor's Note:



4. Opposition to Genetic Engineering Called 'Despicable'

Opposition to genetic engineering by "anti-science, anti-technology groups" can result in unnecessary deaths and discourage potential innovators from entering the field, according to two prominent experts.

"Activism intended to delay progress toward life-saving products and technologies is irresponsible and despicable," Henry I. Miller and Drew L. Kershen write in an article on National Review Online.

They point to several new developments resulting from genetic engineering, including the breakthrough called Golden Rice.

Ordinary rice lacks certain nutrients necessary for a complete diet, including beta-carotene and vitamin A. As a result, vitamin A deficiency is epidemic among poor people whose diet consists largely of rice.

In developing nations, 200 million to 300 million preschool children are at risk of the deficiency, which is the single most important cause of childhood blindness in those countries. Every year, about half a million children go blind as a result of vitamin A deficiency, and 70 percent of those die within a year of losing their sight.

Golden Rice was genetically engineered by two German scientists to produce beta-carotene, which is converted in the body to the active form of vitamin A, according to Miller, who is a physician and molecular biologist and the Robert Wesson Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and Kershen, the Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law (Emeritus) at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Researchers in China, in cooperation with Tufts University, conducted clinical trials in children, which found that those who ate Golden Rice had higher levels of vitamin A than those who consumed ordinary rice.

But the activist group Greenpeace attacked the trials, claiming the children had been "used as guinea pigs," and Chinese officials forced the researchers to disavow their work.

Greenpeace had previously claimed Golden Rice would result in toxic amounts of vitamin A in the children, and when that was refuted, the group claimed it would provide too little of the vitamin to be effective.

The experts also cite programs using genetically engineered products to help reduce the incidence and severity of childhood diarrhea — a leading killer of children under age five in developing countries — and to reduce the mosquito population carrying dengue fever, an often fatal disease. Both efforts have been successful, but have been attacked by anti-engineering activists and "naysayers," the experts observe.

The article authors conclude that if "actions by leaders of nations" bowing to anti-engineering forces resulted in "public-health calamities, they would be accused of crimes against humanity."

"The callousness of the anti-genetic-engineering activists should appall us, and if we fail to oppose these malefactors, we should also be ashamed."

Miller was the founding director of the Office of Biotechnology at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Editor's Note:



5. US Birth Rate Falls to Record Low

The birth rate in the United States dropped to the lowest level ever recorded last year, led by a significant plunge in births to foreign-born women.

The overall birth rate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000 women of prime childbearing age, 15 to 44 years. That is the lowest rate since at least 1920, the earliest year for which there are reliable numbers, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center.

The overall rate peaked most recently in the Baby Boom years, hitting 122.7 in 1957, nearly double today's rate. The rate sagged but stabilized after that, until falling after 2007, the beginning of the most recent recession.

Overall births per 1,000 women declined 8 percent from 2007 to 2010. The rate for U.S.-born women dipped 6 percent during that period, and plummeted 15 percent among foreign-born women. The birth rate for Mexican immigrants dropped by 23 percent.

Total births in 2010 were 4 million, including about 3.1 million to U.S.-born women and 930,000 to immigrant women. Preliminary data for 2011 indicate there were 3.95 million total births last year.

"This report does not address the reasons that women had fewer births after 2007, but a previous Pew Research analysis concluded that the recent fertility decline is closely linked to economic distress," Pew reported.

States with the largest economic declines were most likely to experience large fertility declines, Pew found.

The number of children born to the average woman in the United States this year is estimated to be 2.06, according to the CIA World Factbook. That is lower than France, but higher than almost all other European nations. The lowest rate is in Singapore, 0.78. The highest is in Niger, 7.16.

Other findings from the Pew report:

  • Immigrants arriving since 2005 and their descendants will account for 82 percent of U.S. population growth by 2050.
  • Teenage mothers accounted for 11 percent of births to U.S.-born women in 2010, compared to 5 percent for foreign-born women.
  • Among U.S.-born women, the birth rate per 1,000 white women ages 15 to 44 was 57.3 in 2010; for blacks, 61.3; for Hispanics, 65.4; for Asians, 32.
  • Among U.S.-born white women, 30 percent of births were to unmarried women in 2010. The figure among U.S.-born blacks was 78 percent; Hispanics, 58 percent; Asians, 31 percent.

 

Editor's Note:



6. Lesson From UK: Tax Hike on Wealthy Lowers Revenue

One side wants to rein in entitlements to deal with the budget deficit. The other side insists that any such moves be accompanied by higher taxes on the wealthy.

That may sound like the ongoing fiscal battle in Washington, but actually describes the situation in Britain.

The difference is that Britain has already raised taxes on the wealthy, with a telling result: The government actually lost revenue.

In the 2009-2010 tax year in Britain, more than 16,000 people reported annual income of more than 1 million pounds (equal to about $1.6 million today). Then in 2010, Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a member of the Labour Party, introduced a new 50 percent top income tax rate for high-income earners. After that, the number of people reporting income of at least 1 million pounds fell to 6,000.

"It is believed that rich Britons moved abroad or took steps to avoid paying the new levy by reducing their taxable incomes," The Telegraph reported.

Harriet Baldwin, a Conservative member of Parliament, said: "Labour's ideological tax hike led to a tax cull of millionaires."

Instead of raising revenue, the tax hike cost the U.K. 7 billion pounds ($11.2 billion) in lost revenue — and that in an economy one-quarter the size of America's.

Now the government of Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that it will lower the top rate from 50 percent to 45 percent, a move the Labour Party officials have called a "tax cut for millionaires."

In ongoing budget talks, Conservatives want to freeze out-of-work benefits, which are set to rise with inflation, while liberals in the government "will only allow the benefits freeze if taxes on the rich are increased," according to The Telegraph.

Democrats in the United States might note that since Cameron's government announced the lower top rate, the number of Britons reporting income of at least 1 million pounds has risen to 10,000.

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