Saturday, August 4, 2012

Beardsley Ruml — Taxes for Revenue are Obsolete


For the file, if you don't already have the link.

Taxes for Revenue are Obsolete
Beardsley Ruml
American Affairs, January, 1946, Vol. VIII, No. 1, p. 35
(h/t Unforgiven in the comments)

38 comments:

Unforgiven said...

And with credit to MRW here:

http://moslereconomics.com/2012/08/03/mmt-on-the-immediate-restoration-of-the-uss-aaa-rating/comment-page-1/#comment-205362

Interesting early breakaway from classical (ref: Robert Owen) there too. Seems largely monetarist to me.

y said...

Interesting that this article was written decades before the US finally went off the gold exchange standard. Clearly the world had already changed long before the 'Nixon shock'.

Matt Franko said...

y,

I think Roosevelt also did a lot to remove gold from circulation domestically in the US already in 1933.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_6102

"Executive Order 6102 is an Executive Order signed on April 5, 1933, by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt "forbidding the Hoarding of Gold Coin, Gold Bullion, and Gold Certificates within the continental United States". The order criminalized the possession of monetary gold by any individual, partnership, association or corporation."

I believe though that the US still participated in gold use internationally on thru WW2 (international gold use largely behind that war) and in the post-War2 (Bretton Woods) period until Nixon finally administered the coup de grace in 1971ish.

This at core may have been what got Nixon thrown out of office looks like.

This goes back to the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew scriptures... ie step 1: "get the gold, silver and copper out of circulation within the subject population".

God had Moses construct the Ark of the Covenant out of these 3 metals which are specifically called out and collected from the Israelites in Exodus, perhaps to remove them (and the corrupting authorities behind them) from circulation within the population of His people.

But this looks like an un-ending story as it should be clear to us that whatever is behind these 3 metals refuses to give up...

rsp,

y said...

well they are difficult to counterfeit, and limited in supply. Also gold in particular has often had religious/ceremonial/symbolic importance.

JK said...

What do ya'll think of this analogy:

An economy dependent entirely the credit/loan creation process, whereby money is created as debt with interest payments attached, is like a game of musical chairs…

Sooner or later, the system will collapse because of compounding interest. This would be analogous to the end of musical chairs when finally their is no chair left….

What U.S. government deficit spending does, through the creation of new net financial assets, is constantly add chairs to the game, thereby allowing the game of music chairs to continue…

If the U.S. government doesn't supply a sufficient amount of new chairs (new net financial assets), sooner or later the game will end, i.e. a financial crisis.

What do you think?

paul said...

@JK

That pretty much nails it.

My only addition is that it's not only the compound interest that creates the bubble.

The group accumulating the asset side of credit is much smaller than the group accumulating the liability side.

Credit accelerates of the rate of accumulation of demand leakages and thus causes contractions to occur with greater frequency and severity.

The credit circuit traps the people holding the liabilities when the music stops, because their income stream is curtailed to the point where their debt can't be serviced without giving up necessities, so they must default, which results in a cascading downward spiral.

Disaster capitalism.

y said...

In theory you could keep the music going by recycling income through taxation and redistribution. This would make a net domestic private sector deficit more sustainable.

Also, you can 'offshore' the debt if you have a current account surplus.

But if you have a current account deficit, the private domestic sector deficit is going to have to be that much larger without a government budget deficit.

However, it's not just about keeping the expansion of credit going by adding enough NFAs. You also need a way to keep excessive asset/credit bubbles in check. You need a way to maintain a good balance between private debts and the public deficit, ideally along with full employment and low inflation.

You also need a way to make the banking sector less fragile, whilst reducing rent-seeking behaviour and making finance work in the interests of the real productive economy.

You need to reduce wealth and income inequality whilst ensuring wages rise at least in line with productivity gains.

All of these things can go hand in hand. In theory, they fit together like pieces in a complex puzzle.

But it's not just about 'add more NFAs'.

y said...

I'd say that eventually you also want to have more balanced current accounts. But that can happen over time, as developing economies move towards more domestic demand-driven growth as their wealth increases, their living standards improve and their currencies strengthen.

JK said...

y and paul,

very good comments. the musical chair analogy is too simplistic.

paul said...

y: In theory you could keep the music going by recycling income through taxation and redistribution

In reality I think. This is what we did post WWII until Kennedy began the pattern of lowering taxes on the rich.

The savings accumulated during WWII were running out and the idea of deficits being "bad" was drilled into our heads, so obviously we had to lower taxes on the rich to create jobs.

Fallacious reasoning and poor understanding of systems (intentional probably).

The rule of neoliberalism…the rich must be made richer to encourage them to work and the poor must be made poorer to encourage them to work.

paul said...

JK: the musical chair analogy is too simplistic

I think the analogy is perfect - just that the causality is more complex (abstract) and the man-on-the-street probably won't make the connection, being as he don't appear to spend much time thinking about things other than consumption. We live in a world of sound-bites and talking points.

I don't mean to say that I wasn't like that most of my life - I was as clueless as your average moron is today until a few years ago when I began to give a damn. Hopefully I have decreased my cluelessness quotient.

Why I'm not sure. I may as well have been Rip Van Winkle, but apparently during that period I didn't suffer much brain damage.

y said...

"The savings accumulated during WWII were running out and the idea of deficits being "bad" was drilled into our heads, so obviously we had to lower taxes on the rich to create jobs."

They used to try and cyclically balance the budget then, with the non-govt running down its net surplus in the good times as government decreased its deficit, and then government expanding its deficit during recessions with non-govt net surplus increasing accordingly. This was feasible given the absence of a current account deficit.

I think Kennedy cut the top marginal tax rate from 91% to 65%!

I don't know enough to say whether this move increased private investment or not.

Tom Hickey said...

It's not the interest in itself. It is saving. If the all income (revenue) is spent in a closed system, sicne interest is someone's income (revenue), then there would not be a problem with demand leakage due to the interest payment. If income distribution were approximately equal, then the system would not necessarily become over-leveraged in that that debt service could be managed cashflow wise through credit lines.

But that is an ideal system that far from reality. Most economies are characterized by unequal distribution and persistent private saving. So, yes, the analogy works for all practical purposes, the problem is institutional.

This is a reason that Keynes said, "Euthanize the rentiers." He was not speaking morally here but as an economist concerned with demand leakage from saving and leverage effects of increasing debt. This is an ongoing issue in capitalism, resulting in boom-bust cycles.

y said...

A CAD is basically foreigners not spending all their income.

Tom Hickey said...

"But it's not just about 'add more NFAs'."

The ratio of public debt (NFA) to private debt is significance. Generally it is too low due to deficit paranoia. This is generally true especially at boom tops as the deficit shrinks pro-cyclically and private leverage use expands. Then the reckoning, with the deficit expanding counter-cyclically with private saving/delevering increasing.

Tom Hickey said...

I'd say that eventually you also want to have more balanced current accounts. But that can happen over time, as developing economies move towards more domestic demand-driven growth as their wealth increases, their living standards improve and their currencies strengthen.

Yes, the international community should be coordinating this as quickly as possible with as little disruption as possible. The present course is a disaster.

y said...

Just wondering, could the Fed's pursuit of high interest rate policies, alongside large government fiscal deficits, result in spending having to be cut back sharply or taxes increased?

This could be seen as the government 'forcing' itself to cut the deficit.

y said...

It is quite amazing how the US government managed to acquire so much gold. Somehow they got it all in and then they just closed the doors. Do they ever sell any these days? Do they still buy? I have no idea.

Matt Franko said...

y,

As far as interest rates, usually with the high interest rates, as govt is a large net payer of interest, I think what would happen is the deficit would collapse due to higher tax receipts and the economy would really take off.

Then the govt would try to "cool things off" by raising rates some more thru monetary policy, thus feeding the fire. Thinking that they were hitting the brakes when they are actually pressing ever harder on the accelerator in the macro economic equivalent of "unintended acceleration"....

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

This is probably when one would want to be 100% long equities if ever...

As far as the US hoard of gold, I would draw a parallel again with what the account in Exodus reveals as far as God getting the Israelites to "lock up" all of the copper, silver and gold that they had in the construction of the Ark. Sort of "locked up in plain sight" or "hidden in plain sight"...

That way they could be left to just focus on each other and God.

I guess the US has all of this gold in "solitary confinement" at Fort Knox and the vaults at the NY Fed. right now. I believe Tom has toured that facility and seen all the gold...

Many people out there today want to "open up the jails" and start using this stuff again as a basis for our monetary systems... I look at this quite suspiciously to say the least.

Roger in a new thread above has chronicled how many species with very low brain development (crustaceans, etc..) do sometimes exhibit fetishes for shiny objects and collect them or what the Apostle termed philarguria in human beings..

Roger shows how this holds species back from progress.

If you look at it that we went off gold in 1933 via FDR and all of the progress we have made since then (probably the most tech progress and productivity gains per unit time in human history) this is no coincidence imo....

Best to keep it all in lock up imo and keep using our FFNC currency systems although without morons at the controls.... if the rest of us can ever figure out how to get rid of them once and for all...

Resp,

Tom Hickey said...

Matt "I guess the US has all of this gold in "solitary confinement" at Fort Knox and the vaults at the NY Fed. right now. I believe Tom has toured that facility and seen all the gold..."

Never was at Ft. Know, but I did get to see the gold bars being switched from cubicle to cubicle in the vault deep below the FRBNY when I was talking a course in finance and investments. The cubicles had the country name over the doorway and some of the cubicles were brim full while others were almost empty. Two guys, not young, with steel boots were handling the bars. They were the real gnomes.

Tom Hickey said...

In case in Goldfinger, they were studio mockups. Here's the Wikipedia account:

Broccoli earned permission to film in the Fort Knox area with the help of his friend, Lt. Colonel Charles Russhon.[3][33] ... For security reasons, the filmmakers were not allowed to film inside the United States Bullion Depository, although exterior photography was permitted. All sets for the interiors of the building were designed and built from scratch at Pinewood Studios.[2] The filmmakers had no clue as to what the interior of the depository looked like, so Ken Adam's imagination provided the idea of gold stacked upon gold behind iron bars. Saltzman disliked the design's resemblance to a prison, but Hamilton liked it enough that it was built.[34] The comptroller of Fort Knox later sent a letter to Adam and the production team, complimenting them on their imaginative depiction of the vault.[2] United Artists even had irate letters from people wondering "how could a British film unit be allowed inside Fort Knox?"[34] Adam recalled, "In the end I was pleased that I wasn't allowed into Fort Knox, because it allowed me to do whatever I wanted."[5] Another element which was original was the atomic device, to which Hamilton requested the special effects crew to get inventive instead of realistic.[33] Technician Bert Luxford described the end result as looking like an "engineering work", with a spinning engine, a chronometer and other decorative pieces.[35]

Tom Hickey said...

Here's the wikipedia link

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldfinger_(film)#Filming

Matt Franko said...

"Saltzman disliked the design's resemblance to a prison, but Hamilton liked it enough that it was built."

I wonder if Saltzman if asked would have preferred a return to the gold standard and Hamilton would have preferred our present "fiat" currency system ... I would have not bet against it.

rsp,

Matt Franko said...

Funny!: Ron Paul worries Fort Knox gold is gone

http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/24/news/economy/ron_paul_gold_audit/index.htm

You can't make this stuff up!!!

paul said...

Matt

My friend Bill Still worries about the same thing.

My question was what difference would it make, if true?

Matt Franko said...

Paul,

Do you know Bill personally?

rsp,

Roger Erickson said...

Tom Hickey "It's not the interest in itself. It is saving."

Exactly. Unused currency = transactions not made = group options not explored = fiat idled = public initiative forsworn.

It's back to the Prodigal Son story. Best use for any asset, including group initiative, is to keep it fully employed in appreciating vs stable or depreciating forms.

It's rarely wise to save fiat (maybe when sleeping?). You only select how best to employ it .. through practice.

Here's an analogy. Constrict the placenta during embryogenesis, so the resources will be there when the baby wants to retire. Doh!

Hey, maybe we could propose full consumption as a right to life issue? :) I can already see the slack jawed responses.

paul said...

Matt,

Yes he used to live in my little Florida town and he and his (former) wife were the matchmakers that put me and my wife together over 20 years ago.

I used to bombard him with MMT stuff but I don't think he really "gets" the finer points. Funny, until I discovered MMT I never knew he was involved with this money stuff, figured he was probably a gold bug until I watched one of his videos he sent me.

When I met him he was a writer for the National Enquirer.

paul said...

Roger:

Here's an analogy. Constrict the placenta during embryogenesis, so the resources will be there when the baby wants to retire. Doh!

Here's another analogy. Imagine how well your body would function if it stored your blood as clots.

Matt Franko said...

paul,

Is he now in the DC area do you know?

also, Have you seen his video on "The Wizard of Oz"?

rsp,

paul said...

Matt,

Yes. He lives in Virginia and had gotten a new job in DC recently. Then I got an e-mail that he was asked to be involved in a documentary to clear Michael Jackson's name ??? and has been in LA for the last few months (or else he commutes).

His last few Still Reports have been from LA I think. I don't watch all of them.

The last time I saw him was the final Shuttle launch.

Just an example of how small the world is, before the GFC I worked in an Architectural office and one of my co-workers saw an envelope addressed to Bill on my desk, and commented she went to high school with a Bill Still in Virginia. Turns out it was the same one.

Matt Franko said...

Here looks like his latest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llyiPb3JPkU

rsp,

paul said...

Matt:

What do you think of Bill's views on money?

Matt Franko said...

Paul,

He is a bit off.

But at least he thinks about these things and doesnt look like he is caught up in "gold love".. seems to be completely distrustful of the metals.... perhaps he could be reasoned with wrt MMT....

rsp,

paul said...

Matt,

Pretty much my take. He admits he doesn't grasp the math/system stuff and I suppose it just isn't going to happen for him but he's basically pointed in the right direction.

It is beginning to dawn on me there is only a small subset of people on the planet whose minds haven't been short-circuited by faulty educational systems that will be able to be in paradigm.

Either that or pay-to-play has everyone paralyzed. Have you read Neil Barofsky on how Washington works?

Matt Franko said...

Paul,

Yes at least Bill is not caught up in ALL the falsehoods that are out there... it he ever gets back to the DC area I may try to look him up...

I saw Barofsky on Yahoo Tech Ticker recently, he seems like a "good egg" at core, probably on "our side" in this whole thing...

Being able to see how these systems work mathematically seems like a great advantage...

rsp,

y said...

"Unused currency = transactions not made = group options not explored = fiat idled = public initiative forsworn"

I think "unusued currency" actually equals DEBT.

y said...

*apart from currency stuffed in mattresses and held in wallets and suitcases, of course.