RE: More Green Party

From: altamira (
Date: Thu Jun 29 2000 - 17:09:23 MDT

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Emlyn (onetel)

> I'm currently living in the world of self employed IT contracting. It's
> pretty risky, and I don't have savings to fall back on (yet)
> ...
> this is a terribly risky venture for me.
> This is a difficult situation that many contractors face; I do not know
> whether I will have a job past 1 August. Do I stay? Suddenly, my income
> stream may evaporate, and what does my family eat?
> Do I go?
>Luckily, I'm in a country with a solid welfare system.
> Much as I'd loathe doing it, I have this to fall back on.

I'm with you so far, Emlyn. I've been self-employed in one line or another
for most of my adult life, and I've subsisted on beans, bread, and vitamin C
tabs while all the money that came in from my business went to pay my
employees & for other overhead expenses. After being wildly successful for a
while, I've had the experience of utter failure and shutting the doors to my
business & moving to a one bedroom apt. in one of the worst parts of town
(across the street from a crack house frequented by gang members--I had to
teach my kid to drop to the floor when the shooting started outside our
windows), pedalling away from my 4500 sq. ft. house in the ritzy
neighborhood, the big bank account and the shiny red Alfa Romeo only a
memories, dragging my remaining possessions behind me in a bugger (that's
the name of a bicycle trailor). I've had to drink gallons of water to get
rid of a bladder infection, because I couldn't afford to go to a doctor and
get antibiotics. I know what it's like to take a risk.

>Luckily, I'm in a country with a solid welfare system.
> Much as I'd loathe doing it, I have this to fall back on.
> If there was no welfare system, I would be back in the public
> service like a
> shot.... The system I'm building would
> likely not exist, and have no hope of existing.

Here's where you lose me. Most of the entrepreneurs I've know personally
have been what you might call risk-seeking individuals. They thrive on risky
situations. It's apparent that at least some of the theoretical work behind
new technologies is done by risk-averse people; that's why people like your
employer are important in the overall scheme of things, because they can
provide the steady (though perhaps uncertain) pay check for the people who
are not willing to take the raw risk.

I can understand why a person would want a safety cushion, and a solid
welfare system is one way to acheive this. I'd like to suggest that it may
not be the only way or the best, and one reason is precisely because a
welfare system generally depends on rather steep levels of taxation which in
turn often discourage innovation.

For reasons having mainly to do with the ease of collection, many taxing
authorities have adopted some form of income tax or value added tax (VAT).
Both of these tax transactions between persons (either flesh and blood
persons or legal entities such as corporations). Both of these taxes could
theoretically be designed so that they didn't discourage innovation--for
example by levying the VAT only against a few luxury consumer items, and by
allowing a fairly high exemption for the income tax. In practice, however,
both forms of tax seem to inexorably expand. The income tax is the more
onerous of the two, particularly in times of inflation where a person must
have a higher and higher income just to purchase the basic necessities.

The reason I say this discourages innovation is that it tends to preserve
the staus quo. This is intuitively obvious, and I've seen it operate time
and time and time again when I was selling legal and accounting services to
small businesses. It's hard to start a business from scratch to begin with
(especially if your product is something completely different)(from anything
available before); doubly hard when half your net income's going for taxes
(here I'm assuming that the entrepreneur hasn't quit his day job yet, thus
has some positive income flow).

What are some of the other ways of maintaining a safety cushion that come to
mind? Voluntary insurance, for one. I get pretty excited about some of the
things I see certain ethnic groups doing--forming investments clubs, for
example, which can act in part as a source of short term loans to get
members over rough spots in "this road we call life." Personal savings
accounts are another option, but more difficult, especially for someone
young who's just starting out. It might be a fruitful exercise for the
people on this list to think of other ways. I myself have always preferred
to depend on my wits. It gives me great peace of mind to know that, as long
as I'm not greatly incapacitated by illness or injury, I can survive.
There's also human kindness which, sadly, doesn't seem to figure much in
people's plans these days. Over the span of my life, people have mostly
been kind to me and picked me up when I needed picking up. I think maybe
when you look for the kindness in people you almost always find it. I even
got to be friends with some of the kids in the gangs (mostly I had to side
with the Latin Kings over the Bros since I lived in a mostly Mexican area)(I
think maybe the "PC" term is hispanic, but the people in that barrio and in
this part of Texas in general refer to themselves as Mexicans or around the
border sometimes as Tejanos) (Texas was part of Spain for almost 400 years
until the Mexican Revolution, then part of Mexico until 1836 when the
Republic of Texas won independence)

There are two uses for public welfare systems which I see as having a net
positive effect: one is to support parents of young children; the second is
to support people who are incapacitated by illness or injury. I don't think
either of these would work very well unless they're administered at a very
local level where everyone knows almost everyone else at least by name if
not personally (groups of, say, 1000 people or fewer).


> I'd be paying less tax. But I'd be far less innovative.
> Emlyn

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:14:46 MDT