Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From INC. Magazine: High Tax Norway is an Entrepreneur's Paradise

Today's must read. Share this INC. magazine article with a small business person you know.

"Only two countries in the OECD—Chile and Mexico—pay a lower percentage of their gross domestic product in taxes than we Americans do.

"But there is precious little evidence to suggest that our low taxes have done much for entrepreneurs—or even for the economy as a whole. "It's actually quite hard to say how tax policy affects the economy," says Joel Slemrod, a University of Michigan professor who served on the Council of Economic Advisers under Ronald Reagan. Slemrod says there is no statistical evidence to prove that low taxes result in economic prosperity. Some of the most prosperous countries—for instance, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, and, yes, Norway—also have some of the highest taxes. Norway, which in 2009 had the world's highest per-capita income, avoided the brunt of the financial crisis: From 2006 to 2009, its economy grew nearly 3 percent. The American economy grew less than one-tenth of a percent during the same period. Meanwhile, countries with some of the lowest taxes in Europe, like Ireland, Iceland, and Estonia, have suffered profoundly. The first two nearly went bankrupt; Estonia, the darling of antitax groups like the Cato Institute, currently has an unemployment rate of 16 percent. Its economy shrank 14 percent in 2009."

Why did these "high tax" countries weather the recession better? Because their citizens didn't have the bottom drop out of their world. They didn't panic about their retirement accounts because they have a government that insures that. Safety nets are there to guard against the uncertainty problem. The Right in this country thinks the only ones entitled to safety nets are large corporations. That's what's holding us back.

INC. is the international magazine of entrepreneurship. It's the small business bible. It isn't aimed at or written by Wall Street or corporate types. And this article makes perfect sense. America isn't falling behind because of high taxes. We'd be much better off, less worried, more stable, more secure if our tax rate was higher and fairer. If the government took care of the things individuals and companies shouldn't have to worry about. Consumers would be freer to spend. Entrepreneurs would be freer to innovate. Think how productive we could be. Look at how entrepreneurs thrive in Norway. All they have to focus on is what they do best.

A fairer system with Eisenhower era tax rates could remove the healthcare burden from small business and from everyone. That is a major source of uncertainty today. Imagine not having to worry about it. Imagine being able to concentrate on what you do best. (I'm a small businessman, have been for 35 years. I know I would like this.)

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