Archive for June, 2010

I recently participated in a Twitter debate (http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23wdys), and the topic was whether or not governments DNA fingerprint their citizens.

I, like many others in the debate, disagree with governments doing this.  One point was made in clarifying the topic was if you have nothing to hide, then you should have nothing to fear.  Although I understand the rationale behind this, I strongly disagree.  Doing something solely because it leads to an end does not justify the action.  If everyone subscribed to the “if you nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear” logic, then government could expand rapidly into every facet of our lives, and we might become enslaved by the government.  People arguing for big government intervention are thinking idealistically; believing that government is benevolent and would have to reason to abuse their power.  However, I am thinking realistically; government is made up of people, and everyone is pursuing their own self interest.

One point I made against DNA fingerprinting was that government has a plethora of ways to identify people (i.e. drivers’ licenses, birth certificates, social security numbers, passports, etc).  If government used something as invasive as keeping records of everyone’s DNA, then they might as well go another step further and force people to allow government officials to install some type of tracking chip in everyone’s person.  With DNA fingerprinting, government severely reduces any anonymity among its citizens.

Another, more idealistic, point made by http://twitter.com/ender227 was that freedoms are seldom recovered after they are taken away.  I strongly agree with this.  Look at the growth of the American Federal government.  It has grown rapidly since after WWII, and is always difficult to scale back.  I am not saying that growth of government in this case is necessarily a usurpation of popular freedom, but the same idea holds.

In my opinion, the role of government is to solely protect the unalienable rights and freedoms of its populace, and I can see how it moves to that end when keeping records of all citizens’ DNA.

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I was reading Cato economist Dan Mitchell’s blog (http://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/russia-getting-rid-of-capital-gains-tax/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter), and he said that Russia was eliminating their capital gains tax.  His video went on to outline how different types of taxes work.  He also went on to mention that the Obama administration was going to further increase capital gains taxes in the US.  How ironic that men who were part of a Communist mega-state are adopting a smarter tax policy that the supposedly liberal USA.

I went on to think of how the United States would react to such a tax policy.  Let me say this now: I am very interested in how good economic policy can help and empower the poor.  I also think regressive tax policies are unfair.  Though consumption taxes are fair in that they only tax on what an individual consumes, and they encourage personal saving.  They can be unfair because the poor do not have the ability to save (they must spend most of their earnings on food, housing, etc.).

So what if the US followed Russia and eliminated the capital gains tax?  Increased investment creates more jobs (good for the poor).  Assuming a consumption tax policy is enacted, the rich would still pay their fair share because they would still consume (A common argument against eliminating capital gains taxes is that the rich would end up paying nothing if most of their income came from capital gains).  And since the poor would also pay for what they consume, maybe they could get tax rebates because of their income level.

These are just thoughts on the video and blog from Dan Mitchell.  Please respond with any thoughts on my points or offer better alternatives to what I have said.  Also, if any of my points are invalid or wrong, please let me know.

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