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

SIX TRUTHS

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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