How the Death Tax Hurts the Living

With the House Ways and Means Committee voting on repeal of the death tax next week, there is renewed hope that this inappropriate tax will soon kick the bucket. Although descendants of the deceased are most directly hurt by the death tax, everyone else gets hurt economically as well.

Repeal of the death tax would create a small, but significant, economic boost, according to Alan Cole of the Tax Foundation. “Repealing the estate tax in the United States would increase investment, add jobs, and expand the economy,” Cole says. Over the course of a decade, repealing the death tax would create 139,000 jobs. It would also boost the economy by 0.8 percent, or by over $100 billion dollars. Wages would rise by 0.7 percent.

The boost comes from lifting the tax burden on accumulated wealth, which Cole says improves the economy. When accumulated wealth is taxed, the government redistributes it in inefficient ways, and those hit by the tax try to shift their assets into less productive endeavors. As a result, money flows into life insurance policies and government coffers instead of into job-creating capital.

Read the rest at the Washington Examiner…

The Fight Against Drug Prohibition Ain’t Over Yet

Too many people have had their lives ruined by by the war on marijuana. Too many people have gone to jail. Too many patients have been arrested for seeking out medicine to cure their ills. Too many children grow up with parents rendered nearly unemployable because of an arrest in their youth.

José Niño recently wrote an excellent post in this space, claiming that the end of marijuana prohibition would be not only inevitable, but would come swiftly. He calls others to action to tear down the wall of prohibition with their words, to unite, to fight to end the drug war now.

All of this is noble, but it is also important to be clear that prohibition will not end tomorrow. It will be a process that will take years of work by professionals who organize campaigns, who meet with legislators, who work within the government to implement the regulations that are key to public support for the end of cannabis prohibition.

Energy is not enough. It must be channeled in ways that prove to the public that the benefits are real.

Many grassroots reformers take the tides of social change as inevitable. In this case, I think they are. Cannabis prohibition will end in the United States, whether prohibitionists would prefer that or not.

Yet, that “inevitable” does not mean now, it might not even mean this decade. José rightly notes that public support sits at about 52 percent on any given day, and that this is far higher among younger people than older people.

Still, it will take years for the less supportive older generation to pass away and the more supportive younger generation to become dominant. At best, it will take a decade and some lucky political wins to bring the era of cannabis prohibition to a close. At worst, it could grind to a halt in the short term if something “goes wrong,” like a surge in crime in a legalizing state that laymen voters attribute to the change.

Read the rest at the PanAm Post…

March Madness Office Pools Are Technically Illegal, But Not Likely Prosecuted

More than three-quarters of gambling related to March Madness is illegal, according to the American Gaming Association. But before you opt out of your office bracket pool, keep in mind that few people, if any, are ever prosecuted for gambling on brackets.

“It’s pretty rare for these things to be prosecuted,” Chris Moyer, the director of media relations for the American Gaming Association told the Washington Examiner.

“They are never prosecuted,” Ryan Ellis, an enrolled agent and the tax policy director of Americans for Tax Reform, told the Examiner. “The IRS doesn’t have that kind of bandwidth.”

If a crime is never prosecuted, why make it illegal in the first place?

“There is no tax reason for these pools to be illegal,” Ellis said. “They are illegal due to rent-seeking regulations on the part of casinos. … All voluntary economic activities should, by default, be legal. The burden of proof is on the state to show why not.”

Read the rest at the Washington Examiner…