waterways corps of engineers qiushi wen

Obstructing Justice and Siphoning Funds
bo gu property tax shift

China's Leader Cites Corruption As US Funds Waste

While a Chinese leader falls from grace, US firms suck subsidies shamelessly until we reform the flow of public revenue. We trim, blend, and append three 2012 articles from: (1) BBC, Apr 16, on corruption; (2) TCS, Apr 20, on canals by Weekly Wastebasket; and (3) the Center for the Study of Economics, Apr 20, on moral taxation by UrbanTools.

by BBC, by Weekly Wastebasket, and by UrbanTools

Qiushi, an influential Chinese journal, has reprinted comments from China's premier calling for tougher anti-corruption rules, as a political scandal deepens.

The move came amid a drive to support the Communist Party's recent move ousting top politician Bo Xilai over alleged disciplinary breaches. Media reports suggest the former Chongqing party chief tried to abuse his power to derail the investigation into his wife.

It has emerged that Mr Bo's wife is now suspected of murdering a British businessman.

The politician's wife, Gu Kailai, was detained after the death of businessman Neil Heywood in Chongqing, south-western China, in November.

Reuters news agency said Heywood, 41, had been poisoned after threatening to expose Mrs Gu's plans to move money abroad.

The article published in the party magazine was based on a 26 March speech Mr Wen gave to China's State Council. He said that greater transparency and a reduction in the concentration of powers among government structures were also needed.

Mr Bo was once tipped as a future leader and was expected to become a member of the party's powerful Politburo Standing Committee in the autumn.

He commanded strong support and possessed enormous charisma, in stark contrast with most of his colleagues.

The country's state media have been in overdrive in recent days, pumping out editorials stressing that no-one -- not even top politicians -- are above the law.

To read more

JJS: When someone in power blocks the wheels of justice -- which happens everywhere -- that is obvious corruption. But isn’t it also corrupt to drain the public treasury? (which also happens everywhere)

With our nation suffering from a $15 trillion debt, commercial operators on the inland waterways system are demanding taxpayers shovel them even more cash. A Republican Representative, Ed Whitfield (R-KY), calls for nearly doubling the amount of tax dollars spent on dams and navigation locks throughout inland waterways, while absolving commercial barge operators from their decades-old responsibility to cover a share of the costs.

The inland waterways system is made up of rivers -- mainly in the Midwest and East -- that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) maintains for navigation. After more than 200 years of contributing virtually nothing to build and maintain this system, in 1978 commercial users of these waterways were finally forced to cover a portion of the costs with creation of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund. A modest tax was levied on fuel used on the inland waterways system -- it's been 20 cents per-gallon since the mid 1990s. But the public pays $600 million a year on maintenance costs, which far exceeds the approximate $80 million spent from the trust fund and matched by taxpayers.

The commercial barge operators claim they should not have to pay for dams on the inland waterways system because they don't use them, they only use the locks. That's an interesting view of physics. Most dams on the system were built explicitly for the purpose of navigation. There are thousands of other dams without locks, but it's impossible to have a functioning lock without a dam. It's like a door without a wall. You can just walk around it, which is exactly what the river will do. In addition, no lock rehabilitation in history has cost more than $100 million. And cost overruns are all too common with Corps projects. You show us a Corps project built on time and on budget, and we'll show you a leprechaun riding a unicorn in a Chicago Cubs World Series victory parade.

To read more

JJS: Citizens have almost never been able to control spending by government officials. This is not to say that government never spends public funds well. One could probably find convincing examples of sound public budget expenditures. However, when politicians waste tax dollars, what is the correction mechanism? Apparently, there is none. Once a government programs is brought into existence, it almost never dies.

Yet there is a way to address subsidies indirectly, and that’s by addressing taxes directly. What if the only taxes were ethical taxes? If citizens only had to pay for the values they take (e.g., taking land, taking clean air, taking resources, etc), and not pay for the values they create (e.g., creating business and buildings, goods and services), then people could feel that they’re being treated fairly. That’d raise the moral bar in society. People would vote for more scrupulous candidates and more scrupulous people would run for office. Those sorts of people would find it easier to cut out the corrupt spending.

Interesting, a fair tax is also an efficient tax.

Does the Property Tax get a Bum Rap? North Dakota and Pennsylvania are considering curbing or repealing the property tax. Yet short-term panaceas will lead to long-term impoverishment.

While we agree that the property tax as designed is flawed, alternatives in a declinist US economy such as taxes on wages, services and commerce would have far more corrosive effects on a still-weak economy.

A flawed system of taxation must not be replaced by even worse taxes.

To read more

JJS: The article makes many sound and persuasive points on behalf of shifting taxes off buildings, onto land. It’s a reform that needs to happen. Are you ready to help make it happen?


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

As China, the US, etc confront corruption …

Winning the Future, Losing the Present

China to crack down on lavish public-funded fetes

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