Taxes: The Four-Part Series

The history of taxation in American has a long and infamous history. Since the imposition of the very first tax — The Navigation Tax of 1651 — taxes have been wildly unpopular in America. When the Constitution was written and ratified, the only taxes allowed were to pay the debt and provide for the common defense and general welfare. At times, taxation was implemented during wars to fund the government and the war effort, with no intention of becoming permanent. However, since 1913, the United States of America has adhered to a communist plank second only to the abolition of all private property: a progressive or graduated income tax.

What purpose does an income tax serve? In our four-part series on taxes, we’ll explore its history in America and how a tax once promised to never climb above seven percent has, at times, ballooned to 77 percent at the hands of an out-of-control government.

The four-part series is compiled below for your convenience.

Part I: How Income Tax Began

When the Constitution was written and ratified, the only taxes allowed by America's founding document were to pay the debt and provide for the common defense and general welfare. "Welfare" meant the general well-being of the people, not government handouts to people who didn't work for a living.

During the War of 1812, Congress imposed America's first sales tax. But even then, just on gold, silverware and jewelry. Amazingly, in 1817, several years after the war of 1812 had been won, Congress ended all internal taxation on Americans, including sales tax, relying solely on tariffs on imported goods to fund the government.

It wasn't until the Civil War of 1862, in order to pay for the increasingly high cost of the war that the United States Congress adopted America's first income tax --- three percent for wage earners between $600 and $10,000, and higher for those making over $10,000. Sales and excise taxes were imposed, as well as the nation's first inheritance tax. The Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Office was created and granted the power to levy and collect taxes, a power the Constitution had given solely to the United States Congress. In 1872, with the Civil War long over, Congress eliminated the income tax.

Then came the era of progressivism.

After progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson was elected president in 1912, the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax permanent in 1913. The amendment gave Congress the legal authority to tax income --- of both individuals and corporations. Advocates promised the highest tax rate would never climb above seven percent, but just two years later, it was already at 15 percent.

With the onslaught of World War I, the federal government made the case that tax rates must be raised to finance the war effort. In 1916, the top rate leapt from 15 to 67 percent, and the next year to 77 percent. Two constitutional presidents --- Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge --- fought and succeeded in cutting spending by 50 percent and lowering income tax rates. By 1925, the tax rate had been slashed from 77 percent to 25 percent.

Throughout our nation's history, the wealthy have been punished with egregious taxes, but nothing could compare to the unbelievable burden placed on the most successful Americans in 1944, when the federal government raised the top tax rate to 94 percent of every dollar earned over $200,000. It's difficult to believe that any American would find it right and moral for a government to confiscate all but six to 10 percent of a person's income.

The highest rate fell from 70 to 50 percent in 1981 and then to 28 percent in 1986.

It should be noticed that the second plank of the Communist Manifesto, right after the abolition of all private property, is a progressive or graduated income tax. The United States of America has adhered to that communist plank since 1913. The nation that first instituted communism --- Russia --- abandoned the progressive or graduated income tax in 1998 for a flat tax of 13 percent, growing the country's revenue by 28 percent.

Part II: What Is a 'Fair' Income Tax Rate?

Americans hear the refrain "fair share" virtually every day from left-wing sources like socialist Bernie Sanders and progressive Hillary Clinton who believe businesses and the rich must pay their fair share of taxes.

So what is the fair share for the wealthy? It's nearly impossible to pin the left down on an actual number. According to them, it's simply more --- more than the 42.6 percent in federal taxes currently being paid by those in upper income brackets. It's apparently entirely fair to the left that 50 percent of Americans right now pay zero federal income tax, and some even enjoy what's called a negative tax rate.

FDR told Americans paying higher taxes was a privilege. He also believed, at a times of great national danger, no American citizen ought to have a net income of more than $25,000 a year after paying taxes. It seems reasonable to assume that Karl Marx would have agreed. The outrageously high taxes throughout the '30s and the '40s certainly didn't help America pull out of the worst depression in American history.

As it stands now in the United States, the top one percent of wage earners, those who are continually disparaged by the left in America, bring home nearly 18 percent of the nation's income. But they pay 35 percent of all federal income taxes. That would seem, to some, almost double their fair share.

So what happens when the tax rate is raised significantly? Study after study has shown that when taxes are lowered, it stimulates the economy and brings in more revenue. For example, during the Roaring Twenties, tax rates were slashed dramatically, dropping from over 70 percent to less than 25 percent. Personal income tax revenues increased from $719 million in 1921 to $1,164,000,000 in 1928, an increase of more than 61 percent. Increasing taxes also hurts the tax base, as oftentimes people and businesses flee higher tax states for lower tax states.

In 2012, French socialist candidate for president, Francois Hollande, proposed a massive 75 percent income tax on the wealthiest citizens. It didn't go over well with some of France's most well-known millionaires. French actor Gerard Depardieu was personally handed a new Russian passport by the President Vladimir Putin after Depardieu was granted Russian citizenship. The tax revenue from the super tax was down significantly from the first year to the next, while the deficit skyrocketed another $97 billion. In January of 2015, the French government quietly killed the tax.

Unfortunately, historic lessons once learned have been unlearned. Instead, the mindset is now this very much in step with the socialist and communist planks of punishing the wealthiest producers with the highest taxes --- completely antithetical to the Founders' position on taxation.

Part III: The Reagan Years

During the presidential election of 1976, then president Gerald Ford and candidate Jimmy Carter battled over taxes in a debate. Carter’s class warfare argument resonated with enough Americans to help win the election. Under Carter, taxes remained over 70 percent for the wealthiest Americans while the economy was the worst in peacetime since the Great Depression. Interest rates, unemployment and inflation all skyrocketed under Carter, and Americans endured gas lines and shortages and a general dampening of American morale.

Into this environment came a former actor, former governor of California — Ronald Wilson Reagan.

His middle name “Wilson” was an ode by his parents to Woodrow Wilson. However, he couldn’t have been more different from his namesake. Reagan was a true conservative, socially and fiscally. He received advice from economists like Art Laffer and Milton Friedman. After his election in 1980, Reagan promptly fought for and obtained a massive tax cut in 1981, lowering the top tax rate to 50 percent. It sparked the economy and pulled the United States out of its economic and morale malaise.

In 1985, from the Oval Office, Reagan pitched further tax cuts to his fellow Americans.

In 1981, our critics charged that letting you keep more of your earnings would trigger an inflationary explosion, send interest rates soaring and destroy our economy. Well, we cut your tax rates anyway by nearly 25 percent. And what that helped trigger was falling inflation, falling interest rates and the strongest economic expansion in 30 years. Over the course of this century, our tax system has been modified dozens of times and in hundreds of ways. Yet, most of those changes didn’t improve the system. They made it more like Washington itself: complicated, unfair, cluttered with gobbledegook and loopholes designed for those with the power and influence to hire high-priced legal and tax advisers.

But there’s more to it than that. Some years ago, an historian, I believe, said that every time in the past, when a government began taxing above a certain level of the people’s earnings, trust in government began to erode. He said it would begin with efforts to void paying the full tax. This would become outright cheating and eventually a distrust and contempt of government itself until there would be a breakdown in law and order.

Well, how many times have we heard people brag about clever schemes to avoid paying taxes, or watched luxuries casually written off to be paid by somebody else, that somebody being you? I believe that in both spirit and substance, our tax system has come to be un-American. How would the proposal work?

The present tax system has 14 different brackets of tax rates, ranging from 11 to 50 percent. We would take a giant step toward an ideal system by replacing all of that with a simple three-bracket system, with tax rates of 15, 25, and 35 percent. By lowering everyone’s tax rates all the way up the income scale, each of us will have a greater incentive to climb higher, to excel, to help America grow. The power of these incentives would send one simple, straightforward message to an entire nation: America, go for it.

To young Americans wondering tonight, where will I go? What will I do with my future? I have a suggestion: Why not set out with your friends on the path of adventure and try to start up your own business? Follow in the footsteps of those two college students who launched one of America’s great computer firms from the garage behind their house. You too can help us unlock the doors to a golden future. You too can become leaders in this great new era of progress, the age of the entrepreneur.

Reagan and his policies, derisively referred to as Reaganomics, were mocked by the left. He was called stupid, reckless and senile. However, Reagan succeeded in lowering taxes. In fact, instead of 35 percent for the top rate, he actually lowered it to just 28 percent in 1986 --- the American economy boomed.

Today, many of the same people who reviled Ronald Reagan sing his praises.

Part IV: The 2016 Candidates

Proponents of high income taxes have long had one undeniable problem: The facts are not on their side. When taxes go up, revenues go down. However, the answer to that problem for high taxation advocates is simple --- ignore it. Instead, they change the argument and focus on fairness, playing on Americans' emotions and inciting class envy.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama discussed why he would raise capital gains taxes despite evidence it would lower revenues. His answer? It boils down to a matter of "fairness."

So how is it fair that the top one percent of wage earners in America today --- who bring home only 18 percent of U.S. income --- pay 35 percent of all federal income tax? The bottom 47 percent of wage earners pay zero income tax. The current rate on Americans' top income bracket is 40 percent, yet somehow the class warfare rhetoric continues unabated.

America faces a choice. Bernie Sanders' plan is to raise taxes by "a damn lot" and redistribute the wealth. As a result of his plan to institute so many socialist policies, like free college education for everyone, he will have to raise taxes across the board. For the wealthiest, some speculate his references to the 90 percent rate under Eisenhower is the figure he has in mind.

Hillary Clinton's plan is also to raise taxes on the wealthy and redistribute the wealth.

Donald Trump's plan is to raise taxes on the wealthy and redistribute the wealth.

Ted Cruz's plan is to cut taxes for everyone, institute a flat 10 percent tax --- with taxpayers under $50,000 paying zero --- and eliminate the IRS. The Nonpartisan Tax Foundation estimates it would produce 4.9 million new jobs, increase capital investments and increase after-tax income of every single income group in America by double digits, at least 14 percent.

As Americans finalize their taxes for 2015 and go to the polls during the primary season and the general election, they are confronted with a clear choice, perhaps the clearest choice in American history. Does America become more like Denmark and Sweden or go back to being more like the United States of America?

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Can you remember the economic crisis of 2008 and how you felt when the news broke that Lehman Brothers had collapsed? I have found an economic threat that everyone needs to be aware of, so you can prepare yourself in case we see another 2008 type collapse. I am going to present the evidence to you and I urge you to verify everything and to form your own opinion.

What is that threat?

It is a bank called Deutsche Bank. They are by far the most dominant bank in Germany which is the world's fourth-largest economy. In 2018 they had €2.08 Trillion worth of assets and the second-placed bank (DZ Bank) had €506 Billion worth of assets. To show you how dominant this bank is, they have more assets than the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th sized banks combined.
When we review a business there are three key parts to analysis:

  • Market sentiment
  • Business numbers
  • Technical Analysis

Market Sentiment

Deutsche Bank has a long history of potential scandals including going all the way back to World War 2 and dealing in Nazi gold. Below are five recent stories which have increased the negative sentiment around Deutsche Bank.

  1. In 2007, they purchased a portfolio of loans worth $7.8 billion and purchased insurance from Warren Buffets Company. It was discovered they did not set aside enough capital to cover any potential losses. Over the course of the ten years, they lost $1.6 billion, and when they sold the loan they did not update their financial statements to include the big loss
  2. The Panama Papers are an ongoing investigation looking for many things including offshore tax havens. These investigations have resulted in several heads of state resigning including in Iceland and Pakistan. Last November, 170 police raided 6 different offices in Frankfurt looking for evidence of money laundering.
  3. Estonia is a small country in Eastern Europe. It has a population of 1.3 million people and a GDP of €26 billion. In January, it was discovered Deutsche Bank got involved with a Danish bank called Danke Bank and processed over $230 billion worth of cross country payments (including from Soviet Russia) through one bank in Estonia.
  4. There have been rumors of issues with Deutsche for a while now and one of the solutions put forth was a merger with a bank called CommerzBank. The leaders of both companies met and they even got support from politicians. In April, news broke that the merger talks had failed because over worries the risks and costs would be too great.
  5. Last week in France, Investment banking boss Garth Ritchie and others were arrested in France over illicit tax transactions.

Business Numbers

Deutsche Bank is already struggling as they are losing staff, losing market share, and bonuses are expected to be down at least 10% and further rounds of cost-cutting to come. Now imagine the impact if business costs start going up.

The banking industry works in a very simple way. They raise funds through large bonds at low-interest rates and then sell those funds to business and individuals thru products like loans and credit cards at a higher interest rate which results in a potential profit.

Earlier this year, Deutsche Bank tried raising money through several bonds. They paid 180bp (basis points) on a two-year bond and 230bp on a seven-year bond. Let me put this in context for you. There is a small bank in Spain called Caixabank which paid 225bp on a five-year bond and one of the larger banks in Spain, BBVA paid 130bp on a five-year bond.

  • How and why is a small bank in Spain getting a better deal on bonds than a huge bank in Germany?
  • Why is a large bank in Spain getting a bond 100bp cheaper than a German bank?
  • What does the market know that we do not?

Stock Price

Deutsche is also missing revenue projections which further hurt the business ability to survive and prosper. As you can imagine all of this news has a deep and lasting impact on its stock price which is in deep trouble. Before I share the stock price, I need to put this into the context of the market and the industry compared to the big economic crash of 2008. Below you will see a chart of some banking stocks from around the world with their peak price prior to the 2008 crash, the low of the 2008 recession and the price today:

As you can see from the above chart the banks in America have recovered from the 2008 recession by anywhere up 375% and JP Morgan has not only recovered its price in full but is constantly setting new high's. Ireland went bankrupt and had to be bailed out by the EU/IMF following the 2008 crash and even our national bank has more than doubled its price since 2008. The worst performing bank I could find was Societe Generale which has issues but is still hovering around its 2008 low price levels.

Now let's put that into the context of Deutsche Bank. Not only has the stock not rebounded but it is over 65% below its 2008 low at $6.75.

Technical Analysis

When you are dealing with the stock market, you also have people who study pricing through technical analysis. Experts look at things like FIB sequences, trend lines, and support levels. Support levels are a key metric for a stock failing because are looking to find where it will find support and potentially bounce higher.

We are very close to a key support level ($6.40) and if the price goes below this level, there is no saying exactly how low the price could go. At least one company expects Deutsche to fall below this support level, as several weeks ago UBS downgraded the stock to a sell order. This news was compounded last Friday when rating agency Fitch, downgraded their credit rating to BBB or two levels above JUNK status.

Other Information

I know you are likely reading this and thinking "this bank must have smart people in charge and surely they have a plan, right?" I am sure there is a plan and while they have kept their cards close to their chest, they have spoken in the past about the areas they foresee having growth for the company – they include business in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt. Do they strike you as countries which are stable and will offer steady and reliable growth? Do you have to think really hard to imagine how this could go potentially very wrong?

Questions

I believe there is at least a solid case Deutsche is in a LOT of trouble. So what are possible scenarios for the future? I will lay out the key questions below but I must stress that it's impossible to say for sure what exactly will happen. One of the key numbers to remember here is they have roughly €50 billion worth of derivatives.

  • How likely is it that the bank can turn things around and survive?
  • How likely is it the bank continues to run into trouble, its stock price fails and eventually fails?
  • If you think it is likely it will fail, the question becomes what will the fallout be? Who will be affected?
  • Will they be bailed out?
  • If so, by whom? The German government, ECB, IMF, the Federal Reserve?
  • What will the German government think? Some members recently spoke out saying they would block public money for the proposed merger? Will they block funds if it failed?
  • Will other banks be exposed and affected? Will they have to take losses?
  • Will those losses be spread around or will one or more bank be mainly affect?
  • Will this affect the sentiment of the banking sector and cause a panic?
  • If there are issues and it starts affecting the stock prices, what will be the impact on other industries?

Last Question

The last question revolves solely around the banks and the regulators? How secure are the other banks? We all hear about how banks are now put through "stress tests" but how much trust do you put in those results? How much trust do you have in the regulators?

I know this may make me sound like a conspiracy theorist to some but it's an honest question. The Fed is on public record saying they want to keep this economy strong as long as possible. If a bank did not perform strongly in a stress test or even barely failed one, do you think they would report it?

Can you imagine the pressure that body would come under to stay silent? Can you imagine the rhetoric they would face with questions like, "Are you really going to fail one bank? Do you know how many people will lose their jobs if you do that?" Am I saying this is happening? No, but can you really rule it out 100% as a possibility?

I urge you to ponder on these questions, do your own research and find YOUR answers.

Update: The most freaquently asked question I have received from this column / show is how much time do we have to prepare. This is an impossible question to answer, as it could fail tomorrow, next week or might be next year. However I want to provide you a potential date for your diary – July 24th. That is when Deutsche will release their next earnings report and if it comes in below expectations, it could cause a further drop in price casting more doubt over the future viability of the bank.

Please support Jonathon's weekly podcast which is exclusive to the Blaze Media and available for FREE. He offers a unique perspective by promoting America's Founding Principles and brings every issue back to a set of core principles which are always based around the laws of nature. You can find links to his show by clicking here or by searching for Freedoms Disciple on your favorite audio platform.

Survey: Where do you stand on these conspiracy theories?

Thought Catalog / Unsplash

Have you seen this survey on the most-believed conspiracy theories in America?

It's no surprise the survey has been getting so much attention. The results are actually a pretty disturbing.

Infographic: Belief in Conspiracy Theories in the United States | Statista

I decided to put together a quick survey of my own, with slightly different wording.

Up-vote the ones you agree with and down-vote the ones you disagree with.

I believe Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK alone. However, I would not be surprised to find out the government sealed evidence that others were involved.

If by "deep state" you mean long-time Washington power brokers who are used to calling the shots and now feel threatened by Donald Trump not listening to their advice or council — yes, I do believe that many people like that are working against him and his administration.

Whether alien bodies are in Area 51 or not, I do believe the government knows more about UFOs than they have told us.

I do not believe the U.S. government was involved in 9/11, but as we know, NSA advisor Sandy Berger was caught destroying documents from the national archives related to both Bush and Clinton. All U.S. administrations have been to close to the Saudis, and the Saudis were involved in 9/11 at some level.

I believe the climate is always changing — it's natural. I would be willing to accept that man MAY play a role in this. But I do not believe in the solutions currently being discussed, nor do I believe the intention of most political activists are pure.

Any talk of the Illuminati provides the true dangers to man's freedom — like very powerful NGOS and men like George Soros — a perfect cover.

The U.S. government has done some horrible experiments on people and land — I also suspect they will do more things in the future. But I do not believe in the systematic spraying of chemicals using chemtrails.

The moon landing was real, but I see a time coming when people will not be able to trust their eyes due to deep fakes.

What do you think?

Let me know in the comments section below.