Behind the $563 million number from marijuana taxes for Washington State in FY 2015

I-502 Final Assumptions 2012 has some of the thinking behind the big number.  I can’t find that document elsewhere on the web.  The official estimate is Multiple Agency Fiscal Note Summary, Bill 502 XIL, Mar. 20, 2012, available at


Strong-arm Rule

Maybe Greece will scare us into fiscal sanity, but here is a possible sequence of events:

  1. Fiscal imbalance
  2. Lenders won’t lend OR Hyperinflation
  3. Government can’t pay salaries and benefits OR Currency loses trust
  4. Social unrest
  5. Violence in the cities
  6. Strong-arm rule

We can avoid that, but not without new taxes eventually.

Edward J. McCaffrey puts it this way:  Continue reading “Strong-arm Rule”

Violence against tax collection offices

This is a sign of the times:

In recent months, Italy has experienced a level of economic turmoil that has unsettled people, with some linking the government’s austerity measures to a rash of suicides. There has also been a rise in violence against tax collection offices — mostly carried out by indebted and frustrated taxpayers — as well as against other institutions, like the military and the aerospace group Finmeccanica, which has been singled out by radical groups that pattern themselves after the domestic terrorists that kept Italy under siege in the 1970s and early 1980s.

If Europe descends into violence, maybe America will wake up in time and calculate the civilization is worth its price.


Sin, Forgiveness, and Taxes

Professor John Blum presents a new framework for sin taxes, the restorative justice mode.  “Sin Tax, Forgiveness and Public Health Governance,”  An individual who sins “must acknowledge the harmful consequences of the conduct.”  I appreciate the thought, but wonder how taxes could apply differently to individuals on the basis on their acknowledgments.  If he is suggesting that.

That’s a new perspective, individual-based, which makes three for me.  The other two are:

Substance-based:  As someone who supports sin taxes, I’m more simplistic.  I “admit that the goal of sin taxes is to grant permission to . . . citizens to engage in unhealthy conduct.”  The other choices are prohibition and legality without taxation, neither of which appeals to me.  I agree that governments are not so explicit.

Revenue-based:  There’s another angle, another choice question:  what does government choose to tax?   Continue reading “Sin, Forgiveness, and Taxes”

The Kennedy Tax Cuts

The “drown Uncle Sam in a bathtub” crowd likes to point to the point to the rate cuts enacted under the Democrats in the early sixties.  They brought the top marginal individual rate down to 77 percent.  Down from 91 percent.

That 77 percent rate is still too high for me.  There is some scholarship about finding the revenue-maximizing point on the Laffer curve (my allies think maybe low sixties).  But this issue of the right top rate is like theology:  each of us is unlikely to make personal converts among those who disagree with us.



A Patriotic Era

Sure, there were loopholes, but from 1950 through part of 1963 the top Federal income tax rate was at least 91 percent.

That was too high, but today’s rates are too low, I think.  That opinion and those opposing it are as subjective as theology.