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What’s Yours Is Now Mine: America’s Era of Accelerating Expropriation

Summary:
The takeaway here is obvious: earn as little money as possible and invest your surplus labor in assets that can’t be expropriated. Expropriation: dispossessing the populace of property and property rights, via the legal and financial over-reach of monetary and political authorities. All expropriations are pernicious, but the most destructive is the expropriation of labor’s value while the excessive gains of unproductive speculation accrue to the elite that owns most of the nation’s wealth. In a nation in which the leadership has finely honed the art and artifice of legalized looting and financial legerdemain, it’s not surprising that the expropriation of labor’s value takes many forms. For the self-employed and small business

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The takeaway here is obvious: earn as little money as possible and invest your surplus labor in assets that can’t be expropriated.

Expropriation: dispossessing the populace of property and property rights, via the legal and financial over-reach of monetary and political authorities.

All expropriations are pernicious, but the most destructive is the expropriation of labor’s value while the excessive gains of unproductive speculation accrue to the elite that owns most of the nation’s wealth.

In a nation in which the leadership has finely honed the art and artifice of legalized looting and financial legerdemain, it’s not surprising that the expropriation of labor’s value takes many forms. For the self-employed and small business proprietor, the list is practically endless:

1. Proliferating junk fees for permits, licence renewals, applications, late fees, penalties, fines for violating obscure regulations, etc. (Never mind if you’re losing money; by definition, as a business owner you’re “rich” and deserve petty expropriations. If you’re Amazon, however, we’ll shower you with subsidies and tax breaks.)

2. Sky-high liability insurance, disability insurance and workers compensation insurance, because all the fraud and friction in these systems adds expense and you’re the one who will pay for it all.

3. Sky-high rent. Now that the Federal Reserve jacked up the “market value” of a $1 million commercial building to $10 million via asset inflation, rents have soared even though no improvements have been made to the tenants’ spaces. Thanks to the Fed, rents are many multiples of what they would be if the Fed hadn’t jacked up real estate to absurd overvaluations.

4. Taxes on wages. Consider the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State: let’s start with the 15.3% federal self-employment tax on wages up to $142,000, then add federal tax rates that quickly reach 32% and up and state taxes that hit 10% and higher in high-tax states, and then don’t forget the extra 3.9% Medicare tax above $125,000, and when we add all this up, the total tax rate exceeds 61%. (You want to quibble? OK, make it 55%. How much difference does this make? None.)

Now this may be acceptable in Scandinavian nations where you receive virtually free healthcare and higher education, but here in the Accelerating Expropriation USA, the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State has to pay insanely costly healthcare insurance out of the 39% that’s been oh-so-generously left to live on, as well as the insanely high student loans that were taken out to attend university.

Factor those in and the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State gets a third or less of her labor’s value. This only rises slightly in so-called lower-tax states, which tend to compensate for lower income taxes with high sales taxes and property taxes (“they get you coming and going.”)

Inflation is stealth expropriation, and like all expropriation, we’re told it’s for our own good, just like any other beating delivered by authorities. So as the Fed pushes asset inflation to Mars and whines that real-inflation isn’t high enough yet, the Self-Employed in a High-Tax State are experiencing a monthly expropriation of the purchasing power of what little labor value has been left to them.

I received an insightful email on this topic from A.C.:

“Expropriation.

Once you’ve had it done to you personally (as I did through my business) you view the world in a whole new light.

Without assets in which you can store the excess value of your labor minus the worry of debasement or theft, the incentive to create that excess goes away. That’s why the BLS ‘take this job and shove it’ JOLT measure is staying so stubbornly high.

Unfortunately, it’s that excess labor that funds what we call civilization.

People without the margins which excess labor can create tend to revert, for their own security, to community groupings based on familial bonds. They’re a store of value that’s stable and can’t be inflated away.

Those without such bonds are SOL. Hunger goes a long way in mitigating the personality disorders which impair the creation of such bonds.”

Charles Hugh Smith
Charles Hugh Smith is an American writer and blogger. He is the chief writer for the site "Of Two Minds". Started in 2005, this site has been listed No. 7 in CNBC's top alternative financial sites. His commentary is featured on a number of sites including: Zerohedge.com., The American Conservative and Peak Prosperity. He graduated from the University of Hawaii, Manoa in Honolulu. Charles Hugh Smith currently resides in Berkeley, California and Hilo, Hawaii.

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