Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cost of Living Adjustment to SS & CPI-W

Been working on tracking down whether the rumor I'd heard about the "cost of living" surveys the gummint makes do not include the prices of transportation (like gasoline) and staying alive (like food).

The story thus far: Proper terminology is Consumer Price Index(es-or indices) or CPI. And there are lots of 'em, calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The most comprehensive (biggest "shopping basket"-ful) of them is the CPI-U--Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers. It appears that this includes gasoline and food prices. The Social Security Administration uses CPI-W, a subset of CPI-U. Here's what the BLS FAQ has to say about the CPI-W:

The Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) is based on the expenditures of households included in the CPI-U definition that also meet two requirements: more than one-half of the household's income must come from clerical or wage occupations, and at least one of the household's earners must have been employed for at least 37 weeks during the previous 12 months. The CPI-W population represents about 32 percent of the total U.S. population and is a subset, or part, of the CPI-U population.
I'm not sure whether a price index that is based on one third of the population is apposite to the cost of living encountered by those receiving social security payments. What I am sure of is that I've never heard about these hair-splitting decisions from anyone in "the modalities" of communication (formerly known as media, but I'm tired of that--and I think modalities is a more precise/accurate definition).

This is akin to the official unemployment rate monthly reports, and whether the modalities should be reporting "U-3" (the official rate) or "U-6," the total rate, or what I call the real unemployment rate. The U-3 for May, 2011 is 9.1%, the U-6 is 15.1%. And no longer is this called an unemployment number. Now it's Underutilization of Labor. Gotta love it.

Which index is the "Official CPI" reported in the modalities? (The BLS web site is fairly useful. It certain reveals that there is a whole galaxy there of sliced and diced statistics, and to find out what's actually going on, you have to discover the right solar system, then the right planet some other agency has fastened on as the peg for its cost of living adjustments.

As the BLS frequently-asked page notes:

How is the CPI used?

The CPI affects nearly all Americans because of the many ways it is used. Following are major uses:

  • As an economic indicator. More.
  • As a deflator of other economic series. More.
  • As a means of adjusting dollar values. More
Perhaps NPR's Planet Money team could explain some of this stuff to us? Or check out Kevin Phillips' Bad Money. And do check the "underutilization of labor" (Luntz-speak if ever I heard it/read it) figures every first Friday morning.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

PACTs: Coming of Age As A Corporation

[A reminder, PACT stands for People Are Corporations Too, the corollary of United Citizens vs. the Federal Election Commish holding that CAPT, Corporations are People, Too. And while the whole case reeks to high heaven, I'm more than willing to have it be the fertilizer that nourishes the ground from which the playing-field leveler, People Are Corporations, Too, is growing.

Probably the simplest way to acknowledge the corporate-ness of every U.S. citizen is, when they're physically able to grasp their corporate charter in their tiny, wee hands--which in my experience is almost immediately after birth -- to give them their corporate charter. Their footprint could be impressed upon it. [Baby] Jane Doe Inc. In ink.

I don't know as how we'd need to have the Secretary of the Commonwealth (writing from Massachusetts) attend each birth to confer the corporate charter on our newest of CEOs. Seems to me that this all should be taken care of legislatively, by statute.

But at any rate, each individual, as a corporation, his his or her own corporate charter, bylaws etc. to come later, perhaps.

At what we used to call the "age of majority" (even though it's only a majority of one), every Domestic Domestic Corporation (DDC) officer would become a "solo" corporation, no longer a subsidiary of the DDC he or she became associated with by virtue of birth.

Consider for a moment the impact of this recognition that People Are Corporations Too (PACT, as opposed to United Citizens' holding of CAPT, corporations are people too).

The various duties and obligations, rights and powers of a corporation would be available for the child CEO. We would probably want our offspring corporations to be wholly owned subsidiaries of the, literally, Parent Corporation.

But after 18 years, and perhaps sooner, the young CEOs might want to merge with some other corporation.

There would of course be contracts negotiated all round before the merger (heretofore known as ante-nuptial agreements); as the DDC officers continued to do business after such mergers, there would be bylaws and sub agreements, etc. And were the merger to fall apart, of course, there would already be in place pre-merger, merger, and corporate dissolution (formerly known as divorce) agreements.

Whether in anticipation of young CEOs leaving subsidiary status in one DDC for a merger with another single-occupant DDC (formerly known as marriage), or as the natural course of conducting business in an ongoing merged DDC, various pieces of property, for example, could be assigned to a child's DDC, or to the mother's or father's DDC, or acknowledged to be shared property. All of which would make the dissolution of a DDC much simpler and straightforward than it is today--except perhaps in states with no-fault divorce, so-called.

At any rate, in this new DDC scheme, citizens' relationship to the governments they've ordained and established is that of a business corporation. On the matter of marriage, co-habitation, or whatever form two or more merged DDCs take, that's an individual matter between the representatives of whatever religion, if any, and the DDC officers.

As I read the US Constitution, there is no discussion of marriage rules and regulations; I classify those issues as 9th Amendment retained rights--those "others" retained by the people. If you insist that the public health of the common weal is important, and that blood tests should be performed before the state allows DDCs to merge, I would suggest that if we had universal health insurance, PACTs would already have had what we consider the requisite tests today.

[I'm thinking that an individual, a PACT--a people are corporations too person, might be called a "pac -- person as corporation" or perhaps a peroration, or part or pertion or persation or porp. Or persion or persporation or person--nope, that'd be circular--or poration, or peration. Hmm. I kind of like "pertion" as it reminds me of Bobwa Walters.]

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Supreme Court Says "Corporations R People, Too"; I Say People R Corporations, Too"

So five "supremes" have declared, in Citizens Untied (or United) vs. The Federal Election Commission (558 US ____, Jan 21, 2010), that corporations are people, have the enumerated retained rights in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and, no doubt, the unenumerated "others"-- other retained rights acknowledged by the Ninth Amendment ("The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.").

Though the decision seems on its face to be ridiculous (can you imagine any corporate charter, which is the birth certificate & the person-hood-ness-ness of a corporation, jumping up and down, shouting at a war rally, holding a sign-on-a-stick with two of its four curled corners? What would happen to those parading charters if it started raining. They'd dissolve and run down the storm drains, though I suppose they could hobble over to the nearest Kinkos and get laminated. I mean, just as a f 'rinstance), the decision actually gives us all a spectacular opportunity to acknowledge, by the same Supremes' logic, that people are corporations, too.

People are in the business of providing food, clothing, shelter, education, transportation for themselves and/or, in cooperation with others, are in the business of raising little corporate executives for their companies.

Corporations are creatures of the states, and are called "domestic corporations" if they're incorporated in the state in which they do business. They're called "foreign corporations" when incorporated in a state other than the one or ones in which they do business.

Because I'm also speaking about another, new corporate meaning of the word "domestic," as in "of the home, the domus," in Latin, as well, I call the new "family corporation" a Domestic Domestic Corporation--of the state in which chartered, and of the home it's in business to run.

I've a batch of work to do to collect all the figures and such to describe the impact of having every individual, or couple, or family "be a corporation, too," as Citizens Untied suggests, but the essential points are these:
  • Domestic Domestic Corporations pay corporate taxes.
  • Officers of Domestic Domestic Corporations will have to negotiate with their current "employers," if any, for a contractual relationship with any companies of which they've heretofore been employees. This won't be easy, unless unions of all sorts, with their experience in negotiating with simple domestic corporations, help out, or legislation is passed which does away with the concept of employees, "employees at will," and such "quaint and irrelevant" concepts.
  • Wages will be replaced by 1099 corporation-to-domestic domestic corporation contractual payments. Legislation could speed this along.
  • Individuals, couples etc., would automatically be declared Domestic Domestic Corporations. That would essentially define the relationship between our gummint and individuals.
  • Marriage would become a matter between individuals and their church, churches, etc. The state would have no play, and no say, in the matter. (I would say that marriage or other domestic relationship was one of the other rights retained by the people, as noted by the Ninth Amendment.)
Now comes the very interesting issue: What would be the relationship between officers of the Domestic Domestic Corporation (hereafter, DDC) and the taxing authorities? Let's take a look, shall we? Basically, the tax relationship between corporations and gummints would not change. But of course, if it were to change, then the changes would affect all corporations--GE corp, DDC You corp and DDC Me corp.
  • All the expenses involved in running the DDC would be deductible from gross income.
  • All corporate income would be corporate income, not "personal wages".
  • DDCs would never hire employees, but rather would contract for any services/goods that the board members of the DDC could not supply on their own.
  • DDCs, if they had the additional moxie it would require, could "go public" and raise funds from stock- and bond-holders.
What impact would the new, universal DDC have on state and federal tax revenues?
  • The states would gain additional corporate tax revenue, annual licensing fee revenue from the DDCs--and any other tax or fee revenue the state chose to impose. Of course, remember that any such change would affect all corporations.
  • The federal government would gain additional corporate tax revenue from this massive number of new DDCs.
  • On the other hand, the federal government and state governments would lose all personal income tax revenue. With DDCs, there's no more personal income. (That giant sucking sound you hear is the federal government gasping for tax dollars that no longer exist, to spend on bankers, bomb-makers, UAV-makers (unmanned aerial vehicles, formerly known as Really Big Radio-Controlled Model Airplanes, or RBRCMAs, pronounced "men-who-NEV-er-grew-up").)
  • States will recoup their lost "federal revenue, less the rake-offs, sharing" by raising corporate fees, which is standard fare for the so-called "no income tax" states like New Hampshire (Motto: Live Fee Then Die).
Many might say that we can't do without a federal government, but I merely ask for a moment's reflection on the jobs the federal government has been unable to do:
  • Despite trillions of dollars in expenditures, our military-industrial-legislative complex was unable to shoot down three of the four large flying things that crashed in various places in the US on 9/11/2001.
  • Despite trillions of dollars (or maybe just billions) expended on national emergency preparedness, New Orleans and other spots along the Gulf of BP coast were devastated by the long-predicted Cat. 5/4 hurricane nennt Katrina.
  • Despite more billions of bucks, our government has been unable to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." In fact, our government has acted only to restrict, limit or outright repeal wholesale (and retail) most of the rights retained by the People of the United States (suspend Writ of Habeas Corpus, deny due process, wire- or fiber-optic-tap all American telecommunications, permit breaking-and entering into people's homes without benefit of judicial warrant...need I go on?
  • Despite having taken oaths to support and defend the Constitution, federal legislators and the federal military have invaded sovereign nations without a declaration of war being made by the Congress.
  • Despite having taken oaths to support and defend the Constitution, top-ranking federal legislators like the Speaker of the House have, on their own initiative, suspended or repealed sections of the Constitution ("Impeachment is off the table" is the functional equivalent of repealing three clauses of the Constitution dealing with impeachment itself, and the entire Article V, which sets out the sole methods by which the Constitution can be amended. And refusing to enforce its provisions ain't one of 'em.
  • I could go on, but basically, except for the pittances set aside for medical insurance, building roads, providing food stamps (which is now called providing supplemental nutritional assistance, or some such euphemism), money put into the hands of federal government folks, elected, appointed or, in some cases, "electipointed" ( see Bush, George W. – 2000 and 2004 "elections"), almost all federal government expenditures of money hurt us more than help us. And unless we're a nation of masochists, it hardly seems sensible to continue the practice.
Also, federal government is harder for the people to control, but essentially shooting fish in a barrel for lobbyists, as they only have to manage, bribe, control, etc., 537 elected officials and their staffs, plus a few hundred appointed deputies, assistants and such.

However, if virtually all of the money--corporate tax revenues--moves to the states, it is much easier for the people of the United States to fill the galleries of government and provide the daily oversight (24/7 actually) required to keep state governments in line. First, it's a much shorter commute to state capitals than, in most cases, to Foggy Bottom (Wash., D.C.). Second, lobbyists will have to try to control, bribe, manage thousands and thousands of officials, rather than the 537+ in D.C. Which of course tends to further level the playing field between citizens and plutocrats.

---more later---