The Future of Consumption: The Solution

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To: consumerforum@motherjones.com
From: max_sawicky
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Money spent by businesses for advertising reduces their net income. It is a cost of doing business and therefore should remain a deduction. Income received by those in the advertising business is and will remain taxable as income.

It is possible to construct a progressive consumption tax. This would be accomplished by allowing a deduction for net savings on a personal income tax form that would resemble the present one. The corporate income tax would be replaced with a value-added tax. There could be graduated rates, a generous standard deduction, and full taxation of inheritances. The interested reader is referred to recent books by Lawrence Seidman and David Bradford.

There is also a place to talk about environmentally motivated taxes (EMTs). In fact, these go more to the interests that spurred this discussion in the first place than taxes on consumption in general. As with consumption taxes, EMTs can be regressive and raise legitimate issues of fairness.

As I noted in a previous post, taxing or otherwise discouraging consumption doesn’t necessarily solve any problem we’ve discussed, since the money saved by forgoing consumption could spur spending by businesses on plant and equipment, leading to faster economic growth and more consumption down the line.

In closing, I would reiterate that the right focus, politically and on the merits, is on how to direct growth into socially beneficial directions, not on how to hold it back.

Happy holidays,
Max Sawicky

To: consumerforum@motherjones.com
From: bill_mckibben
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I’d just bow out with the simple observation that living a little more lightly on the earth does not detract from doing any of the other necessary things that need to be done—from fighting global warming to taking on poverty to…whatever. In my experience, it just makes you a little lighter and more fit for those fights, and fills your own life with a bit more joy. If that’s selfish, so be it. Happy holidays, all.

Bill

The Forum Part II: Searching for Solutions 1 2 3 4

The Forum Part I: Defining the Problem

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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