Guns don’t kill people; taxes do

The NPRI proposal can be found at
Here’s the NTA website:

Guns don’t kill people; people using guns kill people. Taxes aren’t paid by businesses; people transacting business pay the freight.

Emotion-laden thought patterns put the blame on guns or taxes. But this part of the column isn’t about guns or taxes. It’s about ways in which people delude themselves into believing such tools are good or evil.

As post-modernists, we’re prone to believe magical thinking is gone. Nothing could be more bogus than this lack of understanding that, despite science elbowing spirituality and reason trying to trump superstition, we still believe in Holy Grails, ghosts and goblins.

Guns aren’t totems or talismans. Neither are taxes. They are means to ends. We decide how to use them and to whichever ends we choose.

Some cling to guns as symbols of freedom and count themselves conservative for it, yet most gun owners don’t use these tools as often as either their cars or can openers. We kid ourselves that guns make us secure.

Some cling to notions that businesses pay taxes, counting themselves liberal for subscribing to equitable means for financing government. Yet most taxpayers don’t see that they pay the freight via higher prices or curtailed services. We kid ourselves that business taxes cut our personal tax burdens and help keep society secure.

From here this column is about taxes, leaving guns behind for the most part. But remember: People point guns one way or another before firing them; taxes are levied one way or another before being paid.

With that lengthy preamble, I now commend to you the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) analysis called “One Sound State, Once Again,” which was issued as part of the dialogue on Nevada’s taxing dilemma. I also commend to you the Nevada Taxpayers Association (NTA) series on Nevada’s state/local government spending dilemma.

Here is the gist of the NPRI taxation analysis: Nevada’s Legislature should eliminate the modified business tax (MBT) and the state insurance premium tax while broadening the state sales tax to include services as well as goods. It also recommends spending controls, but controls are more thoroughly outlined by the NTA.

It is NPRI’s proposal, however, that prompts most of the comment here. It is an opening shot on the fate of Nevada and a shot across the (currently) Democrat-controlled legislature’s bow. Democrats like business taxation schemes, and state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford is angling for more from business going forward.

But dropping the MBT, which now gets passed along to consumers as a cost of doing business or holds down employment, will position Nevada well for a boom when economic recovery inevitably comes. In addition, taxing services as well as goods in an increasingly service-oriented economy just makes sense.

The NPRI plan would broaden and lower the state sales and use tax rate to make receipts from the plan revenue neutral. But lowering it less than the institute advocates would help the state treasury without gouging people in untoward fashion.

To those who say sales taxes are regressive, not progressive like income taxation, I say, “So what?”

This notion that folks with more should put up more for government ideas, rather than for ideas in the private sector, over the past half century thrust us into our current tepid service economy soup. In fact, it’s turning from tepid to insipid.

But if you prefer state corporate and/or individual income taxation, I say move someplace that has it. Remember, though, most such states are broke—just like Nevada.

Such places, however, likely would also have gun control laws you might prefer.