Wednesday, August 30, 2017

City Wants Thought Police in Cheyenne

One of the cornerstones of a free society is the protection of property rights. Once a person has rightfully acquired property, he or she has an unabridged right to dispose of that property as he or she pleases. The only condition is that the property owner's use of it does not do harm to another person's life, liberty or property. 

That is the only condition. Beyond that, a property owner has the right to use his or her assets wisely or stupidly. If he owns a business, it is his business (literally) whether he wants to reach out to as many customers as possible, or if he wants to limit whom he sells to, to a small, narrow group of people. 

A Note on Wind Energy Taxation

This article is a follow-up on a vigorous debate on my Facebook page about wind energy taxation. 

Over the summer, this issue has gotten more wind in its sails (no pun intended, of course...), and it is likely going to become a major topic of deliberation during the legislative session. Before we get to the meat of the issue, though, let me thank the main participants in the Facebook debate, John Brown, M Lee Hasenauer and Matt Micheli, for keeping it civil and respectful. That is how we do it here in Wyoming, and that is exactly the way I want it on my Facebook page. In this day and age, when people throw verbal rocks at each other for the rhetorical equivalent of a scratched finger, it is great to see such intelligent - yet vigorous - discussions between grown-ups. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Jobs and Wages in New-Normal Wyoming

Since the spring, I have pointed to weak but consistent signs of an end to our state's serious economic downturn. An update of employment and earnings data, reported below, confirms the transition from a downturn to a new macroeconomic normal.

Before I get to the data, let me - as always when I mention this new normal - explain that the end to the downturn is in no way a reason to assume a return to high levels of macroeconomic activity. The best forecast is that this new normal will establish itself over the next year.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Revenue Committee Needs to be Honest

Many years ago, an old friend who was on a good career track in politics decided to call it quits. When I asked him why, his simple answer was: "lies, more lies, politics". 

This is a misstatement of what politics is about, at least in general. Here in Wyoming, for example, we have many good, honest, dedicated politicians who selflessly serve their communities. However, there are occasions when I am reminded of my friend's words, even here in the Cowboy State. Thursday's article about taxes in the Casper Star Tribune is a good example:

Friday, August 25, 2017

Taxes, Colleges and Economic Growth

Last night I sat on the panel at a town hall meeting in Gillette. It was organized by the John Patriots and debated the proposal for a 0.25-percent increase in the sales tax in Campbell County. I had the privilege to sit on the opposition side together with Representative Clem, with Mark Englert of Gillette College and Phil Christopherson of Energy Capital Economic Development on the pro-tax side. 

A special shout-out to Vicki Kissack for organizing and managing the event. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Austerity Storm: Robbing the Millennials

Are you a Millennial or younger? You might want to take a look at this video. 

I am working on a white paper about the austerity storm awaiting us when the welfare state runs out of money. As the work progresses, I will publish parts of the project in video format. Here is the first one, about how our federal debt is robbing future generations of their money - long before they make it:


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Lesson on Tax Hikes from Pennsylvania

Today, we are taking a trip to Pennsylvania. I invite all the tax-hiking members of our state legislature to come along. They might learn a thing or two about the negative impact that higher taxes have on an economy. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Eclipse of the Welfare State

While lots of out-of-staters clog up our highways to see the solar eclipse, an entirely different kind of eclipse is slowly making its way across America. Unlike the solar one, this eclipse is not for us to ignore. It is an eclipse that affects the entire country, but it is even more important here in Wyoming than in any other state.

It is the eclipse of the welfare state. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Republican Party Tax Resolution

This is from blog readers - I have not seen the original document - but given the veracity of their communications, here is the Wyoming Republican Party's tax policy resolution:

Friday, August 18, 2017

When Taxpayers Speak Up, Things Happen

Just back from a trip to Washington, DC. Meetings, a seminar, and more meetings. Learned lots of things that are relevant to us here in Wyoming. More on that later, though, because things are moving here in the Cowboy State. 

As a follow-up from Wednesday, Representative Marti Halverson declares:
The only tax tax I would consider raising is the wind energy tax.  Let's get some of those subsidies back.  Otherwise, no new taxes, no tax increases, no new fees, no fee increases.  No to a proposed sales tax on services.  No to a proposed tax on businesses.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Growing Worry among Taxpayers

The agenda is out for the September meeting with the Joint Revenue Committee. The Gross Receipts Tax is very much on the agenda, though for reasons that are not yet entirely clear they have renamed it "Gross Products Tax". The Committee intends to vote on the tax in November; the September meeting is a stopgap.

I get comments and questions from blog readers about the possibility of tax increases. Most recently, I got a call from someone who was worried about a proposal for a local sales-tax increase. Below is another comment, which I would like to share, as it mirrors the concerns of many voters and taxpayers around the state:

Monday, August 14, 2017

In Defense of Liberty

The articles on this blog are about the economic problems in Wyoming, and what we can do to solve those problems. With a large and steadily growing readership, I am thrilled to be part of this very important conversation.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Right and Wrong about Spending Cuts, Part 2

I sometimes receive news tips and other suggestions for articles from you readers. I want to thank you all for this - I value them all. As best I can, I try to work them into my regular writing schedule. Sometimes, though, I just don't get around to a particular topic within reasonable time, but please do not think that this means I don't appreciate your suggestion. I always make a note of it, and more often than not those notes come in handy at a later point in time.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

While You Were Busy Raising Taxes...

After the Revenue Committee meeting in Thermopolis, it is clear that our legislative leadership is still going to push for tax increases. In the face of growing resistance from taxpayers, there are rumors that the legislative leadership is working on a plan to facilitate the passage of higher taxes. I have a good idea of what those measures would be, but for now I will keep that piece of information tight to the chest.

What is more important right now is the fact that the more time our lawmakers spend trying to raise our taxes, the less time they spend solving important problems.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Wyoming Coal vs. Congolese Cobalt

Sometimes, people ask me if I don’t like the minerals industry. On a couple of occasions, I have even been asked if I am anti-coal. The reason is that I criticize how the state government has allowed itself to become irresponsibly and unsustainably dependent on severance taxes.

Of course, I am not “anti-coal”, nor am I against the minerals industry. I support free enterprise, free markets and capitalism, and that includes all businesses, minerals and non-minerals.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Right and Wrong about Spending Cuts

Now that we have both Senate President Bebout and Senator Peterson, Chairman of the Joint Revenue Committee, on record saying that they prefer spending cuts before tax increases, it is time to focus the discussion about our state budget on just that: spending cuts.

First, though, let me make one point about taxes, one that addresses one of the main arguments for a Gross Receipts Tax (GRT).

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Good News from the Revenue Meeting

I am currently in Thermopolis attending the Joint Revenue Committee meeting. This morning they heard testimony about Tax Reform 2000 and they discussed the Gross Receipts Tax. There is a lot to be said about the discussion so far, and there will be even more to talk about when the committee has covered the rest of today's agenda, which primarily includes sales and property taxes. For now, though, here is a quick update.