Friday, February 24, 2012

And then came Citizens United

And five of the nine Supremes decided that, with the wave of some words, they could animate a piece of paper. They brought the dead to life, turned Pinocchio into a real boy, turned a piece of paper that before didn't even have hands with opposable thumbs into a political force that could firmly grip a pen and checkbook and make multi-million-dollar political campaign contributions.

     What necromancers and all sorts of other hominids have toiled to do for human-time immemorial, the "Gang of Five" achieved over the course of a few hundred days, with a few thousand words typed into an Atex terminal--or whatever word-processing system they're now using.

  But what a boon that decision may turn out to be, in an entirely unanticipated way, to finally level the playing field between the 0.1% and the rest of us--the 99.9% of the US population.

   Here's how.  The decision in Citizens United essentially stands for the principal that "corporations are people, too," having certain judicially given inalienable rights, and that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of profits.  Of necessity, the decision also brings into being and supports the corollary that PEOPLE are corporations, too.

      And if people-as-corporations (hereinafter "PACs"--a nice Ironi-nym) carried out their daily activities AS corporations, the impact would be substantial in taxation, social structure, education, government, ....

   Here's what would happen in the realm of taxation.  First, our residences, homes, apartments, become our Corporate Headquarters, the PACs' Corporate HQ. In addition to interest payments on mortgages that people as people could deduct, PACs would deduct principal payments as well, and local property taxes, depreciation, maintenance/upkeep/repairs in addition.  PACs could also deduct the fair market value of, say, a couple of Thomas Hart Bentons, or William Gropers, a Lambinet landscape, or a Nambe serving platter for board meetings, a few pieces of Maria Martinez' black pottery from San Ildefonso. (Recall IBM and its -- former -- wonderful art collection up in Armonk.)

    The PACs would also have regional offices, foreign offices. So, more expenses, more deductions.

    The once-personal wardrobe is, in a wand-wave, transformed into corporate uniforms. Deductible.

    The kitchen, pantry, freezers, become the Corporate Cafeteria. Deductible.

    So that takes care of shelter, clothing and food.

     Next, transportation. Again, loan interest, loan principal, maintenance and depreciation are deductible.

    Education? Now it's Corporate Training Courses. No waiting around for Congress to act on the astronomical cost but questionable results of K-16 education. K-12 is indirectly deductible as tax on PAC realty, but private schooling would be also deductible. As would college and graduate school corporate training programs be.

     Entertainment?  Well, only 50% deductible, I think is the current rate.

     States get a boost in income from their minimum corporate taxes, at the very least, and from their annual corporate filing fees collected by the various secretaries of state or commonwealth. In Massachusetts, those are something like $415 minimum tax and $125 filing fees.

    Unemployment would be eliminated. Corporations are never unemployed. They're either profitable, running at a loss, or bankrupt. There would be no more employees to be "underutilized," as the Bureau of Labor Statistics euphemizes the issue.

     The transformation of employees into PACs may be one of the most difficult hurdles, as former employees, having become PACs, would have to negotiate contracts for services, etc., with their former employers. However, because what formerly were "employers" no longer have employees--no more unemployment insurance payments, no more pension fund payments, no more FICA and other withholding calculations and payments, these corporations would have great incentive to go through the conversion to an entire work-force comprised of independent corporate contractors.

   This would also mean no more wages, no more "personal income," unless PACs elected to pay salaries to some of their board members (spouses, offspring, perhaps parents, sub-contracting for the care of grandchildren or children, or great-grandchildren).

     State legislatures, that control corporations, could simplify the transformation of our society to a plethora of PACs by statute, defining what once were wages, what once was personal income, henceforth to be treated as payments by one corporation to another, a business transaction. And the legislatures could create laws that determine each citizen to be a PAC at birth. PACs could combine, could divest, could spin off. The legislatures could go so far as to create a new chapter of laws called the Domestic Domestic Corporation Act(s), setting up useful infrastructure for the merging and dissolution, termination, bankruptcy, perhaps even taking PACs public, selling shares to the public.

   And this would be the terminus of government's involvement with such things as marriage.  There would be combinations or mergers of PACs, and marriage would be left to individuals and their religious practices. "Social conservatives" should be happy at such a complete separation of church and state. And economic radicals (also known as free-marketeers or pirates) should be pleased that government's involvement has been minimized, and it's a full-bore capitalist system both socially and monetarily.

    In the matter of education:

    As with all other institutions, schools, colleges, universities would no longer have employees, but independent PACs. These individual PACs might agree to aggregate, in some form or another, and negotiate their service contracts as a group. Or as independent PACs. Groups of PACs might form and contract with some number of "teacher PACs" and so on.

Personal Income:

   As noted above, wages would be eliminated. There would be no personal income for the US or the states to tax, unless some PACs decided to pay wages. Otherwise, this conversion of people-as-citizens to people-as-corporations, PACs, should reduce government revenue from the personal income tax to about zero, effectively repealing the 16th Amendment, which many soi-disant conservatives have made a Holy Grail.

   That would leave only corporate profits for the governments to tax. Whether it's the profits from an LLC, a sub-chapter C corporation, a 501(c)3, or a People-as-Corporation corporation (I used to call them "Domestic Domestic Corporations," but I find that an awkward appellation; PAC works nicely, equally as descriptive, ironic and ambiguous enough even for XIVA* members). If the government is intent on making up the shortfall of something like the 25% of its revenue currently derived from tax on personal income, it will be forced to raise corporate tax rates. '

    And now that every person is a corporation, too, the corporate profits tax affects corporations, as before, AND PACs.  However, for the 99.9% of the population, the level of profitability  will essentially be what before people managed to put into savings accounts year-to-year, so not awfully much. Furthermore, as CAPs--corporations as people, lobby to reduce their taxes, they would be standing shoulder to shoulder with all of the PACs, everyone on a level playing field, demanding the reduction of taxes for CAPs as well as PACs.

No comments: