Small communities could, and do, organize festivals based on local culture: Trout fishing in the summer, Ice festivals in the winter, Duck races in the spring, etc. They get people interested in some aspect of the community, be it a festival, music, the climate, foods, textiles, history, etc. Either way, the community sends stuff out or brings people into itself for 'free' as the taxes have already been paid.
This incentivizes these small communities to plan for the festivals, to clean up the streets, to pay people to make it look nice, get a bunch of bunting ready for the 'homesick' tourists that they sent AirBNB vouchers out to. People come in, spend money at the diners and in the shops, at the mechanic's when a tire goes flat. There are knock-on effects that the community feels.
Or it incentivizes them to get better at food/textile/goods production. Maybe they make a mean steamed-ham. They get better at curing and steaming the hams, they find a niche in the market they didn't know they had, they hire more workers to fill the niche. City-slickers get some steamed-hams, realize that they don't have any rolls to eat them with, and go out and buy some. Again, knock-on effects.
For communities that are very small, they could run mini-lotteries, like one during a Wednesday night bowling league. You sign up, they draw a name out of a hat, you get 10% of everyone's tax money that entered (something less than the 30% that the community would have sent out).
Communities that don't participate still receive taxes as before. Some that choose to spend these taxes are taking a chance, true. But, I feel that this 'priming of the pump' is fantastic idea. It gets people moving about, making things, buying meals and plane tickets.
And while your vision sounds nice, the end of the article made it sound more like it's become a race to the bottom with most rural towns offering the maximum amount allowed in gift vouchers which people resell for cash.
So it's mostly just a convoluted tax distribution/credit system in a lot of ways. And as much as it would be nice to have something like what you wrote, it would be near impossible to set out rules such that it didn't become another cynical race to maximize profits by attracting 'donors'. Even if you outlawed gift cards, there's always going to be some good/commodity a community can offer that will hold a liquidable cash value.
That should be enough.
It takes a village to raise a child. Well, if that village turned you into someone who lives a successful life in one of the few metropoles in the country, maybe it's only fair to share that wealth with the hometown(s) that formed your childhood and adolescence.
This, as you might guess, was an incredible waste of money. Many podunk towns built flashy "multi-purpose halls" (多目的ホール) perfect for all those symphony orchestras just dying to perform in the middle of nowhere. More memorably, the town of Utazu, Kagawa purchased a solid gold toilet...!
The biggest problem is that some local governments are apparently giving return gifts that have a value that's higher than the 2000 yen part of the hometown tax that isn't tax deductible, which means that by opting in to donating to these local governments you do slightly better than if you didn't donate money in the first place. These governments are obviously trying to get people with absolutely no local connection to send money purely for the gifts.
One option would be to set a limit on the value of the gifts, but there's absolutely zero reason to allow the return gifts in the first place. The whole reason for the first 2000 yen not being tax deductible is this is something you are only supposed to do if you seriously want your money to go to a local government, and allowing non-taxed return gifts defeats the intention of how the system is set up. Having tax money go back into return gifts is also ridiculously inefficient.
Unfortunately, based on the way the government is set up, rural votes have disproportionate power, and for this reason the LDP has a tendency to pander to rural interests, so they probably have no interest in eliminating the gifts entirely. However, at least they recently announced that they are looking into introducing legislation to limit the value of gifts (and ban the worst abusers from participating entirely) in the next regular session of the Diet.
There are reasons, but just ones that you don't agree with or haven't thought of. You need to understand that reciprocation is in the culture, and people are not purely rational economic actors. It's entirely possible some towns would outright refuse 'assistance' without being able to reciprocate somehow.
Where does the reciprocation ends? You give money to your hometown because you have very found memories and you feel grateful about the education etc., your hometown sends you plums, you send a pie to thank the plums, then they respond back with something else, ad infinitum.
But more practically speaking, from the perspective of say, the mayor of a town in Japan - he has revenue being conciously directed towards him from mostly anonymous citizens of the country. Reciving a real (monetary) gift from someone you hardly know definitely would require a reciprocation. In some ways, sure, you're reciprocating to your hometown for your education/etc, but it's not being seen that way from the town's perspective.
There's also the factor that the redirected tax revenue is a physical thing, where as the 'education and life experience' imbued upon a child growing up is a rather non tangible gift .
There's of course a cynical tax play here. But it is entirely possible that people also _feel good for helping their hometowns_. Sure, there's the vouchers, but there are also the (not super resellable) plums!
It's maintaining emotional bonds in the community. At least that's the most optimistic way of thinking about it
The town I grew up in, Boston, receives a christmas tree every year from Nova Scotia due to the fact that Boston sent a lot of emergency aide to Halifax and the surrounds after a large explosion there in 1917. Something similar could be done with small towns sending local art and culture items to large cities in free exhibitions to demonstrate what the tax money is benefiting or just as a gift or maybe a small japanese town might sponsor a fair in Tokyo where free plums are available using a portion of the tax money they received. This would be a way to express thanks in a common manner for the sum of the donations made by citizens without creating perverse tax loop holes that are exploited to simply lower the amount of money coming out of your pocket.
Certainly it is a (somewhat mitigated) loophole that can be exploited, so in that respect it is not good. But weighed against the positive impact for the rural towns and the connection it makes back to hometowns, you could argue it's worth it.
Is there a Western government that isn't set up this way? You could write this same blurb about the United States. I would be very curious to hear about what happens when rural areas have political power consummate with their population instead of with their land area or with the mere fact of their historical existence. (For example, does it look less or more "fair"? Are there unexpected consequences, like maybe further depopulation of rural areas?)
In Japan the central government isn't supposed to work this way and it is as least viewed as a problem: the disparity in the power of votes is considered unconstitutional, but the supreme court isn't willing to actually invalidate election results (they made up a distinction between being "unconstitutional" and being in an "unconstitutional state" which is not at all supported by precedent (although it's a civil law country so technically there's no binding precedent) or the constitution), so the ruling LDP does the absolute bare minimum to act like they're trying to improve the situation so they can pretend their doing something while actually dragging their feet as much as possible.
Probably the main negative consequence of ensuring that all votes have equal power would be to make it easier for the central government to ignore the wishes of rural areas, but this depends on how the government is structured in other ways.
In Japan, prefectures are relatively weak. For example, Okinawa recently attempted to invalidate approval for filling in of land for the new US military base because residents of Okinawa want the base out, but there's basically zero chance that this will actually end up working because the central government considers the base essentially for national security.
For those of us living in urban areas, we're simply vastly underrepresented in federal government, and quite a few of us don't like it.
It really depends on how you conceptualize it: there isn't much of an issue if you think of the Senate as a body that represents states as sovereign political entities not population. IIRC, Senators were originally elected by state legislatures, which made that role clearer.
If the Senate is to be reorganized to be proportional to population, some other "anti-democratic" compromise will need to be implemented to prevent small states from becoming neglected backwaters. The current comprise means neither small nor large states can ram through legislation that neglects the other's interests.
But to be honest, the cleaner solution to the problem is more federalism: increase the power of state governments over their own state, and correspondingly decrease the scope of the federal government over areas that aren't truly national concerns. The sacrifice there is that many groups would have to abandon their dreams of national dominance and satisfy themselves with regional influence.
That doesn't remove the problen, it just clarifies that it is a fundamental design problem and not a problem with an implementation details.
> If the Senate is to be reorganized to be proportional to population
That's a bad solution.
A better solution is just to transfer it's quasi-executive powers to the House, and it's quasi-judicial powers either to the House or the Supreme Court (if the House, then some consideration may need to be done of how charging works for impeachment, but that's not an insurmountable problem), and perhaps reduce it's legislative powers as has been done with the similarly problematic British House of Lords.
Or (and this can be combined with the above) rearrange it so that both seats from a state are in the same class (elected simultaneously), and instead of FPTP mandate a two-seat, preference ballot, proportional method like STV for Senate elections.
Besides, you can't restructure the Senate to make it proportional to population (at least without unanimity among the states), as that is literally the one thing that an Amendment cannot do. (There used to be another, but that was time-limited.)
> The current comprise means neither small nor large states can ram through legislation that neglects the other's interests.
Small states are slightly overrepresented in the House, radically overrepresented in the Senate and in judging electoral votes, and overrepresented at a level between those two in the Electoral College.
There's no real compromise or two-sided balance there.
It's only over-representation if representation must only be proportional to population.
> There's no real compromise or two-sided balance there.
There is a compromise and a two-sided balance: in the House, big states are "radically over-represented" because of their large populations; in the Senate, small-state individuals are "radically over-represented" because they're divided into more states per capita. Big states/urban areas have the power to block in the House, small states have the power to block in the Senate. The balance is that both sides have enough concentrated power that they're forced to compromise and cooperate or nothing can get done.
Right, it's only over-representation if you believe that all men are created equal.
> Right, it's only over-representation if you believe that all men are created equal.
You're being glib and forgetting important concepts like the tyranny of the majority, etc.
Tyranny of the majority can only be prevented by establishing norms that limit what government can do even with support of majorities in representative institutions either as absolute norms or with some things requiring a higher bar than a one-time majority (bicameralism with both houses not being elected fully simultaneously does this, requiring concurrence between branches does this, supermajority requirements for certain actions does this, Constitutional limitations with amendments requiring supermajorities of states even after legislative passage do this.)
That comment is basically a repetition of your last one with no further explanation or elaboration. It's pretty clear that you have the opinion that political representation should only be proportional to population and that all other systems are bad. We can't have a discussion if you don't want to engage other ideas.
Though, if there was enough support, it could be done with two amendments. The first would be an amendment to Article V, removing the requirement of unanimous changes to the Senate composition. The second would actually change it.
The likelihood of that happening is effectively nil, but it is allowed by the rules set out in the Constitution.
Curiously, Federalist papers even have an explicit warning to that effect. Although originally it was written about the structure of the federal government under the Articles of Confederation - where it was one-state-one-vote, and many matters required a supermajority. But you can easily see how it can apply to the Senate and EC:
"To give a minority a negative upon the majority (which is always the case where more than a majority is requisite to a decision), is, in its tendency, to subject the sense of the greater number to that of the lesser. ... The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security. But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority. In those emergencies of a nation, in which the goodness or badness, the weakness or strength of its government, is of the greatest importance, there is commonly a necessity for action. The public business must, in some way or other, go forward. If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good. And yet, in such a system, it is even happy when such compromises can take place: for upon some occasions things will not admit of accommodation; and then the measures of government must be injuriously suspended, or fatally defeated. It is often, by the impracticability of obtaining the concurrence of the necessary number of votes, kept in a state of inaction. Its situation must always savor of weakness, sometimes border upon anarchy.
It is not difficult to discover, that a principle of this kind gives greater scope to foreign corruption, as well as to domestic faction, than that which permits the sense of the majority to decide; though the contrary of this has been presumed. The mistake has proceeded from not attending with due care to the mischiefs that may be occasioned by obstructing the progress of government at certain critical seasons. When the concurrence of a large number is required by the Constitution to the doing of any national act, we are apt to rest satisfied that all is safe, because nothing improper will be likely to be done, but we forget how much good may be prevented, and how much ill may be produced, by the power of hindering the doing what may be necessary, and of keeping affairs in the same unfavorable posture in which they may happen to stand at particular periods."
"It may happen that this majority of States is a small minority of the people of America; and two thirds of the people of America could not long be persuaded, upon the credit of artificial distinctions and syllogistic subtleties, to submit their interests to the management and disposal of one third. The larger States would after a while revolt from the idea of receiving the law from the smaller. To acquiesce in such a privation of their due importance in the political scale, would be not merely to be insensible to the love of power, but even to sacrifice the desire of equality. It is neither rational to expect the first, nor just to require the last. The smaller States, considering how peculiarly their safety and welfare depend on union, ought readily to renounce a pretension which, if not relinquished, would prove fatal to its duration."
In fact, the current situation is even worse than the Articles: today, if you take all states, rank them by population, and take the bottom 3/4 of them, that group has less people in it than the top 1/4. This, by the way, means that the Constitution can, in theory, be amended without having even a simple majority on the national level. How long do you think that state of affairs is sustainable, before the large states decide they've had enough?
I'm in a bigger state, I think we've basically had enough and if the subversion of democratic votes such is being attempted in Georgia right now happens, that might the thing that starts the bigger states to think about leaving. I know the current pres got elected by a situation that was unlikely, but the power majority the republicans have could keep going for a while. If it wasn't for China and Russia, the us could all go our own way right now, maybe into 3 or 4 countries.
We don't really have a solution for the people without much hope of a decent job, and hateful rhetoric like we see now won't get us anywhere. I don't feel ill will for the true believers, that somehow think dinosaurs walked the earth with people, but I would prefer we can live in separate countries and not hate each other.
That's not going to work very well, and would lead to the secession of about 90% of the states, and then you'd find out that your urban paradises depend absolutely on the rest of the country to exist.
The founding fathers set up a pretty good system, and they specifically did not set up a democracy for a whole bunch of relatively obvious reasons. Straight democracy doesn't work.
Expanding the house doesn't change representation.
By what standard?
> that's how it was designed.
That may have been the design goal, but it's debatable whether the original design met the goal, and key elements of the original design (the original representation ratio) were not fixed in the Constitution or preserved over time.
> Expanding the house doesn't change representation.
It changes both the equality of representation (reducing quantization artifacts) and the proximity of Representatives to the represented, both of which are key elements of representation.
You can argue about gerrymandering all day long, both sides do it and have done it since the beginning.
Yes, you have more people in the population centers. They're generally a very homogenous group by political thought, and vote almost as a left wing bloc in most cases. You're simply arguing that the left should be more powerful than it is. Nobody cries about the electoral college until a Republican wins. Nobody cries about representation when the left is in power.
There are things that are wrong in the US political system, but the electoral college and the house representation aren't those things. They're the best of the bad solutions to keeping away from a tyranny.
And also, the majority of this country votes democrat in every election since 2000, but because of gerrymandering the house retains a Republican majority. If the house matched the breakdown of national popular votes for house reps, it would be significantly Democrat.
You're using a tiny fraction of history to discuss this, and even within that tiny fraction your numbers are incorrect as the the dems held the majority from 2007 to 2011 and only lost it in the backlash from the health care debacle.
Also the national popular vote is totally irrelevant to the house membership. It's not set up that way.
Pretty sure the rest of the country depends on states like CA and NY as well. It is hardly a one-way street.
There are many objective criticisms of the system. Like election methods, for instance. I personally think it's ridiculous to suggest that our understanding of governance and political systems hasn't increased enough to substantially improve the US. It's been 300 years.
I would point to the amendment system as evidence that the founding fathers knew they hadn't made a perfect system. I would point to the fact that they explicitly warned against political parties to show that the system is not at all what they intended. And lastly I want to say that this deification of the founding fathers is a big part of the problem.
Just remember, you have to get 2/3 of the states -- including all your fly-over states.
Thing is, though, Constitution is just a piece of paper, if enough people - or states - believe that it is. Small states need to understand that the power that they wield is theirs only because the large states agree to abide by this arrangement. If that power is abused too much, the deal might just be altered - and in any such alteration, the larger and more powerful states will call the shots.
The majority of the small states still have to sign off on "altering the deal" for it to pass.
The Constitution is far more than a piece of paper, it's the foundation of all law in the US.
Access to the courts and their attendant enforcement mechanisms is not something restricted to the large states. Agreements were made, documents written and signed, and at least one bloody war fought to preserve that "just a piece of paper", and the result has been quite clear throughout the history of this nation.
But the contention is evidently that we need to remove their representation in federal government because people don't understand how the federal government was set up.
Also every party represents their constituents proportionally. In the last election 10,563,456 votes were cast, so every 704,230 votes (1/150th) gets you a seat. There are basically no thresholds, so it happens regularly that parties with less than 2% of the votes get seats.
But in order to change a law or rule, there must be the political will to do it. Japanese culture appears to give the return gifts a plausible pretext. If you oppose the return gifts, it could sound like you don't understand tradition.
I definitely found it strange Japan is allowing the local governments to gift 50% back.
In the US, legally any portion of a charitable contribution you get back in personal benefit (e.g. an expensive banquet) is not tax deductible.
I have no idea, but in a highly reciprocal culture I could well imagine that effectively punishing reciprocation in that way would be a political non-starter.
On the other hand I have always lived in Northern Italy, and around half of my taxes go to the poorer regions of Italy, mostly to be squandered by corruption, clientelism, and organized crime.
Heh, funny that richer parts of the EU say this about Italy itself.
Unfortunately that's blatantly false. Italy paid contributions to the EU in vast excess of contributions that were taken by Italians. Didn't find historical figures, but this is the most recent , and by memory I know that the same unbalance has been going on for a long time:
- Total EU spending in Italy: € 11.592 billion
- Total Italian contribution to the EU budget: € 13.940 billion"
If your goal was instead to make a funny joke, you succeeded at being offensive to me (as an Italian).
In all seriousness, your comment feels to me as equivalent to a guy writing about how women waste money more than they earn (I would be the woman in this case).
And I don't think they do. Some people, sure. Every population has a bunch of people who would say things like that. Because they can, because they enjoy it, it likely makes them feel better, or so they think.
And there are people who enjoy listening to them and repeating what they say.
It's not about whether it's true, or accurate, it's just "funny" because irony can be funny.
Just like the "unwashed masses" have a bad impression of eg Turkey based on racism/classism towards their local Turkish-$NATIONALITY minority, they have the idea that Italy has to be a poor backward place based on racism/classism towards the local Italian-$NATIONALY minority.
But that's beside the point. I invoked the modern use of the term "racism" that includes different ways of segregating a population and not just genetics. "Southerners are lazy, corrupt" etc. Call it cultural racism if you wish.
AFAIK most of the genetic variation in Italy dates back from ancient times. Everyone thinks "of course, it was the Islamic invasions in Sicily and the Germanic invasions in the North", but the genetic impact of those was surprisingly small. The variation was there before.
The Greek colonization of southern Italy is the one historical migration that _did_ have significant impact, according to the article.
Race is not about genetics. It's a cultural construct, which is predominantly based on historical and ethnological differences (with the inevitable, but not critical mix of genetics that comes with the latter), and has little to do with actual "races".
People from Italy and the Balkans for example where perceived as "non white" when immigrating to the US, while being caucasian. They just weren't anglosaxon, germanic, or nordic, as the dominant WASP Americans of the time. There are is lots of historical and cultural studies on this .
WASP Americans badmouthing Greeks or Italians were racist, even if talking about people the same race.
And it's a similar cases between Northern and Southern Italians (there are cultural, historical and ethnological differences between the two areas). The racism of north vs south comes from that -- and it even fed into actual far right / neo-fascist parties, like the Lega Nord ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lega_Nord ).
Whether Southern italians are indeed "less productive" is beside the point too. Blacks in the US are also poorer and less 'productive', more likely to be convicted felons (statistically), etc, but people still consider someone badmouthing blacks to have racist motives.
 The immigrants from the southern part of Italy and Sicily were not considered wholly white by Anglo-Saxon standards, a notion which was reinforced by the US Immigration Department classification of northern and southern Italians as two distinct caucasian ethnic groups. In reaction to the large-scale immigration from southern and eastern Europe, Congress passed legislation (Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and Immigration Act of 1924) restricting immigration from those regions, but not from Northern European countries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Italianism#Anti-Italianis...
"Modern" racism can be more subtle than that, more about xenophobia or just classism.
Races do not exist biologically, but they do 'exist' as a social construct. And I second your second sentence :)
The latter have no problem with dividing different people into groups based on ancestry based on what continent their ancestor came from though the word race is passé.
Yes, since they were the poorest provinces, and thus the ones that produced most immigrants.
A "fun" read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Italianism#Anti-Italianis...
edit: We done fixed some grammar.
Everybody says that, Catalonia that it pays more to Spain that it receives back, California and New York to the rest of US...
But it's the only way to have nation states, otherwise we'd have to go back to city states (which some people like Taleb actually advice).
E.g. Germany is the largest net contributor to the EU, but guess what would happen if Germany decided to stop putting out those few billions a year. Yeah, not so good for the economy (not just of Germany, pretty much everyone). Turns out, those few billions spurred trade much greater than that. It's literally "one stick, alone, weak — many sticks, together, stronk". Just that the bundle is stronger than its constituents.
(I've heard the UK is working earnestly on an experiment confirming this.)
I can't wait for tax redistribution to be renamed "fascism". :D
The issue is that you are forcing the stick to give up its national identity, borders, fishing rights, and laws in order to be part of the bundle.
As for all the rest, they can't disappear soon enough. None of those things work in favor of the general people. And while we keep cultural and national identities, we could also do away with nationalist politics. They are irrational and nowadays it just feels like Religion Wars 2.0.
Isn't there a word for a bundle of sticks bound together?
So that's why they say those people are living in the sticks.
The Union wasn't fighting for more powers for the federal government, just for the integrity of the existing federal government and it's powers.
The war resulted in some expansion of federal power, but that wasn't what motivated the Union.
The Union wasn't (particularly the slave states in the Union weren't) fighting to abolish slavery, the Union wasn't fighting to preserve the Union, a goal to which the popular (in most of the North) cause of abolition had been deliberately subordinated in the elections prior to the war.
OTOH, by seceding, the rebel states also lost their leverage on preserving slavery within the Union, so the whole rebellion backfired. Abolition probably would have happened eventually without the war, but it wouldn't have been right away.
Small countries don't have much leverage on their own on the world stage. CA and NY are almost certainly better off as part of the greater whole.
Often it's the other way around - for example, in the pre-Civil War era, a big point of contention (that was specifically cited later by those states that tried to secede) was that the federal government enacted the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which forced the free states to, basically, participate in enforcement of slavery on behalf of the slave states.
The federal government doesn't seem concerned that the state I live in requires you to pay about $200 and get the local chief of police to sign off before you can exercise a particular right in any capacity whatsoever.
Civil asset forfeiture is still a thing in many states.
Some state could adopt an obviously unconstitutional hate speech law tomorrow and it would take years before it's struck down and even then there'd be no recourse for those already punished under it. If the state continued to enforce the law then what would happen? After another year or three of hearings and court whatnot they'd get cut off from some funding or something.
The best you can hope for when your state is violating your rights is a supreme court ruling that makes your state go "aw shucks boys, guess we can't do that anymore" and that your state actually does stop doing it. I don't see a weaker federal government changing that status quo.
The danger of putting all your eggs in the federal basket is that when something dumb happens on that level it affects us all (e.g. the net neutrality debacle). At least with the states the stupidity has to happen on it's own in each state.
It’s far from perfect. States still try to violate civil rights and it still takes a long time to fix that, if ever. The feds sometimes push more restrictions against the wishes of states that want more freedom, like with marijuana. But overall, based on history, I think that giving the states more freedom would be a huge step backwards.
This is been tried already, and it didn’t work. What changed things was force, first military, then legal.
There's a huge culture problem in the US.
Schools are still segregated. We're still enslaving people in prisons.
Sure. There aren't LAWS that say segregation MUST exist. That's a step in the right direction, I suppose...
Of course, TFA describes a different way to come to substantially the same result. Tokyo still makes the important decisions.
I have friends who say literally that (taxes are theft). How does one argue against that? I have a hard time finding a way that it's technically wrong. I mean, taxation is literally the state taking your money (whether you want it or not, voted against it or not, etc).
I can't help but feel that there's some difference, but I can't find what it is. Do you have suggestions on readings that would inform me better on the issue?
Taxation is much more like "protection money" than theft.
That's just the political rhetoric. Red-staters love their entitlements just so long as they go to the "right" people.
And then the cause of the problem is presented as if it were the solution.
And the default, if someone doesn't choose any categories, would go to some proportion that Congress would decide. However, allowing even a "small" portion - which could still be billions of dollars - to be allocated directly by taxpayers would gather some very interesting data.
It would be very interesting to see which agencies would attract the most money, and what strategies they'd use to attract people to give their discretionary tax dollars to them.
Would people give more to the CDC, NIH, NASA, the Dept of Housing, Dept of Transportation, Dept of Homeland Security, ... ? We could start to get a direct temperature of what is ailing people the most and what they want their money to fund.
Government agencies could even "advertise," or at least try to get positive news articles that really highlight what they're accomplishing, to spread the word about the good they're doing. It could engage people more in exactly how their money is being spent, and care further about government, because they have at least a small hand in directly funding different departments.
At a used bookstore, I found a book(1) about Marian Franz that illuminated the history behind their attempts.
Weirdly enough, there was a personal dedication in the front by David Gross(2), one her colleagues and someone who wrote extensively about the 'War Tax Resistance'.
I'm not religious, so it kinda made me sad, but that book sent me down a rabbit hole. Could you live on 20k a year to avoid income tax and contributing to a war effort? Its impressive.
I lived for quite a while in Kansas, where the state constitution makes adequate funding of schools mandatory. The result is a never-ending series of lawsuits in which the legislature claims to have provided adequate funding, and a court finds that they haven't and orders them to increase or redistribute the funding (sometimes it's found that they under-funded the schools overall, sometimes it's found that they distributed the funding in ways which result in some districts not having adequate support).
This and a few other back-and-forth fights led to the former governor and his party-aligned state legislature attempting to change the selection process for judges, and attaching a rider to that law which would completely defund the state court system if the courts ruled they didn't have the authority to change the selection process, and hinted that if they still ruled against him he'd attempt to recall the entire state supreme court and replace them with partisans who'd support him.
In my mind part of the job of elected politicians is to ensure that tax money is spent where their platform said it would.
I think outside of being offended, you'd just have a hard to getting any agreements on what would qualify.
The HN crowd might over-allocate $1000s per person to NSF, NIH and NASA and short Social Security while 100+M people contribute $0 to science, but depend on SS to survive. We might end up with the same budget but people feeling more in control.
We'd also see large scale advertising which is actually a good thing: ads are pretty cheap/efficient, make people feel better about their government and society, and employ an army of creative people. I imagine you wouldn't see branches of government running negative ads against each other - it would be more like the feel-good military recruiting ads today.
Sorry if this sounds utopian, I've had a rough week (in addition to everybody's rough week) and need something to feel good about.
And hang in there, the weekend is almost there. :-)
interesting to see how impactful a public health plan is ($158B) and raising the limit on social security income ($633B) and 2% VAT ($885B).
If Social Security is an entitlement program like any other, why is there any max income? Why is it only on "earned" income?
* Theoretical Sanders administration aside.
Plus the Better-Dead-Than-Red strain of US Libertarianism. We may be poor, unhealthy, and beholden to wealthy political donors... but at least we ain't no Commie!
What I do have on-hand is that NH has a higher median income than any other nation in the world (incl Luxembourg), despite being a net-payer of federal taxes.
But its lead is not an overwhelming one. Connecticut's 2016 median hh income was just ~$350 less. According to the the previous ACS in 2015, NH was number 8. And 6 of the top 7 were traditionally blue states.
- 1. Maryland
- 2. DC
- 3. Hawaii
- 4. Alaska
- 5. New Jersey
- 6. Connecticut
- 7. Massachusetts
Of course, the median income metric is not the end-all be-all, either. For example, it ignores all the state-provided benefits that those high taxes pay for.
And that’s a testament to how ideas can evolve overtime and be accepted which otherwise would never be considered.
This did end up much better than most perverse incentive situations. In fact, I'm not even sure I'd call this a perverse incentive but maybe I'm musinderstanding the definition.
(And anyway, I had to title it something. 'Japan's Hometown Tax' makes it sound unutterably boring & technical, when the second-order effects are what's interesting.)
1. Earn $2000 in Tokyo.
2. Owe $200 to Tokyo.
3. Donate $80 to Gifu.
4. Receive $40 from Gifu.
5. Liquidate gifts for $38.80
You just saved almost 20% on your income taxes. This presumably lowers the deadweight loss associated with them. Does it lower it by more or less than the 3% loss you take converting gift cards to cash or more appropriate gift cards?
Don't double-count the 3% "overhead" of liquidating a gift card and "deadweight loss in gifts"; those are the same thing:
> You really do get plums from childhood in your mail from your hometown (if you don’t optimize for cash equivalents).
> and of course, the existence of a competition at all means that the hometown which incurred the expenses of rearing/educating you in the first place probably isn't going to get your tax revenue because they don't offer anime pineapple rewards
With a legal cap on return gifts at 50% of donated value, this shouldn't be the case. You can donate anywhere and you'll get exactly the same return; why wouldn't you donate to somewhere you liked?
If any tax dodge which feeds money to third-parties to exploit a loophole while doing nothing productive on its own is efficient, the problem is with the tax rates in the first place. To say that an elaborate charade involving indirectly buying plums or gift cards through tax rebates is 'efficient' and 'the overhead of the system is paid for' is quite a claim and not obvious, let us say.
> Don't double-count the 3% "overhead" of liquidating a gift card and "deadweight loss in gifts"; those are the same thing:
I was referring to the non-monetary gifts like the products or grave visits. As far as the gifts go, the gift cards are probably the least harmful as they 'only' have a 3% overhead involved in turning them (back) into cash (plus whatever else goes into redeeming them, I suppose, in terms of time/effort/hassle/delay), which is probably a lot less than most of the others.
> With a legal cap on return gifts at 50% of donated value, this shouldn't be the case. You can donate anywhere and you'll get exactly the same return; why wouldn't you donate to somewhere you liked?
Because what are the odds that the place which incurred the expenses of educating you, out of the hundreds of competing muncipalities, large and small, near and far, naive and sophisticated, meibutsu vs trips vs gift cards, high or low, will give you exactly the right thing and win the competition, and this will happen in almost every case and produce the same net flows as simply sending the rebates to, say, people's registered birthplaces?
I would estimate those odds as near 100%. I assume you can choose what services you'd like to receive, simply because not everyone needs a grave maintenance service -- and if you do need one, there is no way to get it without specifying the particular grave you want serviced.
The OP explicitly states as much:
> A number of cities in Japan, including my adoptive home town of Ogaki, have made this offer: for a no-cost-to-you donation of $100 or more, the city will send someone out to any grave in the city limits. That person will clean the grave, make an appropriate offering, and send you a photo. This is a beautiful thing.
> Most of the gifts are more prosaic. Locally produced food is very popular. If you miss the taste of home, they’ve got you covered.
> Cities partnered with local firms to handle the e-commerce aspect, and eventually with platforms to bundle many different items into a single donation; think of it as a shopping cart you could fill with donated money.
This isn't a system where you have to buy a poorly-optimized bundle from the town that happens to offer something close to what you want. You send a donation and you can choose the return gifts you'd like to get back from among the services that town offers. And in the steady state, all towns will offer cash equivalents for people who want them, as well as more hometown-specific services (which have a higher profit margin!) for people who want them.
Remember, long term the government ends up raising the taxes to cover that 40$ and your just out 1.20$ for zero gain.
On top of that even if you kept the full 40$, the dead weight loss of extra paperwork is pure economic waste.
1. Lower Tokyo's income tax by 20%
2. Transfer 25% of Tokyo's (reduced) income tax out to rural areas chosen for sentimental reasons.
3. Incur overhead costs of 3% of the value transferred. This seems comparable to what you'd pay to directly transfer through Square.
It strikes me as a little excessive to look at this list of effects and condemn the system as "perverse".
I.e. you can look at it like an accountant and consider it a 3¢ loss for every $1, or you could consider that perhaps a system like this increases societal goodwill towards redistributing money to poorer parts of Japan.
If it wasn't for that goodwill would you have $1 to work with in the first place? Or would political opposition to the redistribution already have cut that down to 90¢?
> Widespread gaming or no, the system pretty much works according to the internal aims. Cities get a list of their internal diaspora, and do make considerably more effort to stay in touch with them than they did previously. (This includes lovely holiday cards and sometimes even I-can’t-believe-they’re-not-alumni-magazines.) You really do get plums from childhood in your mail from your hometown (if you don’t optimize for cash equivalents). Cities with declining local tax bases really do get enough money to do material projects with. Tokyo takes a hit to revenue but can afford it.
You could say that hometown marketing and alumni magazines are "overhead", but you can't say that at the same time you're listing them as a beneficial effect of the program.
And those other things are not overhead if and only if the person actually derives value from "hometown services". If all they do is send money there to get a gift card back and cash it, then all the bureaucracy in that town that handles gift cards is also overhead.
For example, a few years ago Justice Minister Midori Matsushima got in trouble for distributing essentially worthless paper fans since they were considered gifts, whereas paper pamphlets would have been okay, and she had to resign as minister.
There are other various other rules about campaign activity though (where/when it can be performed).
"Oh crap, the hometowns just kick back a percentage to the taxpayer and suddenly Tokyo is bankrupt - as the hometowns outbid each other in a race to the bottom, eventually they lose too and it ends just being an expensive and complicated tax cut".
Reality turned out even worse, with brokers skimming off a percentage.
I suppose it's fair. In Japan, registering yourself in Delaware for bullcrap reasons isn't just for corporations anymore!
If you're a Japanese politician, you should probably invest heavily in voucher-brokers, then lobby for a rise in the tax.
This is exactly counter to the concept government -- a system that should be run as a monopoly ends up being full of waste due to competition with no net improvement.
You might be able to mostly solve this by automatically registering people to a default hometown, and making it very annoying to change your registration.
That latter part might be doable by simply allowing the municipalities to administrate their own hometown lists, so you'd have to contact your current hometown to transfer your registration to a your new hometown. They'd be economically motivated to make it as difficult as canceling a gym membership.
Ie, cities each vote on what they think a "proper" maximum reward would be, then set it at the average.
Relatedly, I'm not sure why a supermajority of cities agreeing to limit gifts would be generally in their best interests:
1. Lower status ("less popular") cities gain more donations via rewards
2. I would guess status/popularity probably follows a power curve
3. Therefore the long tail cities are able to flatten the distribution curve by bidding their way up
4. If they went back to a level playing field, they would drop back down the curve, likely losing the (smaller but nonzero) overall financial boost gained after bidding
Basically: if I am a small city with few "natural" benefactors, I can bid my way up the curve (admittedly depending on the elasticity of "demand") such that I gain more from more donations than I lose in larger rewards.
...unless the market today just drives everyone to offer the maximum reward?
Super interesting though, thank you for sharing this!
Yes please, this is how it should work for most of the population without special issues.
I was thinking about why Tokyo doesn't do the same and reciprocate, thereby competing with the smaller towns.
I do realize that Tokyo/(any other big city) wouldn't want to do this till the number of people opting in hits a threshold within their city but maybe that is the equilibrium point. Does anyone have any insight into that?
It's obviously very economically inefficient. The larger this thing grows, the more it will distort and hurt the economy.
I wonder if would be more appropriate if:
a) you could only give to 'where you went to school' and
b) regions could only respond with a nominal, non-cash gift, like a fruit, flower, or some culturally relevant thing.
It would close the loophole, provide for meaningful tax redistribution and encourage legitimate cultural contact between regions and the mega-centre.
Of course trying to get big business out of Tokyo might be an opportunity as well, though that's a hard thing. Creating industrial clusters is hard, and regions fight over it.
Schools in Europe and Australia are funded by centralized government more evenly so doesn't have this problem and dont need this donate to a region system the article talks about. I think its much fairer.
I once conversed with a friend in college who had grown up upper-middle class and attended very nice public schooling. She told me that poor schools would be better if the parents just got more involved with PTA, etc. I thought, what an ignorant and privileged position to think that, yes, a single mother working two jobs to make ends-meet has the time and energy to go to PTA meetings! Locking kids into the school they are closest too only means that they've got basically the same support structures as the local community. And if the people of that community aren't in a position to help improve things, then improvement doesn't come.
What a smug and condescending attitude!
Poor schools are a very hard problem. Your friend's point certainly only capture's one aspect of a many-faceted problem. However, her point is borne out, to some extent, by performance of inner city parochial schools:
"...a growing number of researchers who have found that poor, minority children do particularly well in Catholic schools compared with their public school peers.
Public school defenders insist that the comparisons are unfair because only the most motivated parents and children, however poor, choose Catholic schools..."
Rather than calling out your friend's privilege, how about assuming good faith on her part. If you assume she would like poor schools to improve as much as you would, how would your response have been different? Maybe you both could learn something.
But in Mad Max America only the strong survives so none of that will ever happen. I hope the "winners" like the world they are creating because I find it fucking horrifying.
It is a darn shame.
The problem with having "good" and "bad" school districts within a metro area is that you aren't just creating inequal and un-diverse educational facilities, you're contributing to the stratification of the neighborhoods themselves. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that people who can't afford to live in a nice school district will end up moving to a poorer one with fewer high-quality education options.
Which is comically high all around. Montgomery County, an expensive DC suburb where housing is more than most of Westchester or Long Island, spends about $16k. Baltimore spends the same, with lower local funding being offset by much higher state and federal funding: https://www.empirecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/sbs1.... Fairfax County, VA, routinely the highest or second highest income county in the country, spends $14k.
As to the idea that aggregating by state doesn't capture what we're interested in: the second image in your link shows that, accounting for federal funding, poor school districts get more money in almost every state, including most of the most populous ones: California, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, etc. The only populous states where poor districts receive less than rich ones are New York and Pennsylvania, and in both states the delta is less than 10%.
Now, if you're talking about comparing between states, that would be very misleading. All it does is set up specious comparisons: e.g., Baltimore, MD gets half as much as Scarsdale, NY, conveniently ignoring the fact that the rich MD suburbs around Baltimore also get half as much as Scarsdale.
Something related has happened in recent elections: higher income is correlated with voting Republican in every state, but richer states are typically bluer. So if you aggregate by state, it looks like there's no relationship, but if you aggregate by people, there is one.
Returning to school funding, the complicating factor is that so far as costs of construction and labor are higher, New Jersey arguably would spend more per student than Mississippi in a completely equitable world. Because of that, I said that the map was somewhat conducive to your point of view, but there's still a lot of work to determine the net effect.
The U.S. isn't like the EU, where there are "rich" states and "poor" ones. Adjusted for purchasing power, the states are fairly closely clustered in terms of income: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-vwpy8_glsgc/Vi5llZ9ZILI/AAAAAAAAIv.... New Jersey and Mississippi differ by about 25%, whereas Camden and its rich neighbors differ by 600-700%.
That means that if school funding within states is even, there is a pretty low upper bound on how big the disparity can be between "rich states" and "poor states."
Locally, i can tell you that despite the bulk of funding coming via the state California district spending per pupil varies widely. The quite adjacent districts of Fremont, Oakland, and Piedmont spend $10k, $14k, and $20k per student, respectively.
And even if you want to break it down further, some states are rather poorer than others, so that state funding for education is bound to be lean too relative to some wealthier states.
And what he's saying in some other countries schools are funded more evenly by the central government, not that U.S. schools receive no funding from our central government whatsoever.
I certainly can't say which works best, but I'm appalled by the ass-licking during fund-raising events. It's beyond gross... Call me a socialist, but I'd rather spent my taxes on fixing this, without getting me involved community-wise, though every year we pay our "voluntary" debt, or you feel guilty about it (and not get invited to the yearly party or so... lol).
Oregon cut property tax (used largely to fund schools) and mostly centralized (at a state-level) educational funding. The result - budget cuts and service decreases, lasting through to today.
The sad fact is people care far more about their schools (or more likely their stadiums/football teams but that's another matter), and will vote for tax increases (or at least not vote for tax decreases) if they know the money is supporting that. A naturally global perspective doesn't come easy to Homo sapiens.
Looks at current affairs more generally...
This has the other problem that in Europe, governments write all the education program to the letter and this leads to complete brainwashing of the kids or silly educational policies (like completely changing how kids learn how to read, which led to about half a generation of kids with very poor reading/orthographic skills in France just to name one disaster), so pick your own poison.
Says the one (I presume) from the country that recites the pledge of allegiance in school.
I find it poignant that I am pledging allegiance to the Flag and the Republic, rather than to the political party in charge, or to the federal government, etc. Are the differences meaningful? Why? What can I be doing better as a citizen? These are all questions that can run through my mind when saying the pledge with mindfulness.
You're right, there's probably an element of brainwashing there. However, one can also use it as an opportunity to meditate on civic duty. :)
There has been a bit of a splash in Germany recently when a study found very strong negative effects compared to the traditional method and several regional governments decided to ban schools from using those methods. (So it's not about centralized education forcing silly policies onto schools but the other way around.)
I'm having trouble finding quality sources in English, but the German conference poster  has graphs and you asked for graphs. The line plot shows a longitudinal study and the box plot is of a cross-section with higher sample size, where the horizontal axis represents time in steps of half a school year. The vertical axis shows a measure of writing ability normalized to units of standard deviations from the mean.
red = traditional method using a primer
green = reading by writing
blue = "reading workshop", another method were kids are supposed to decide for themselves what to learn next
The longitudinal study (line plot) also controlled for pre-existing knowledge at the beginning of the study. Students enrolled in schools using the "reading by writing" method had significantly better initial conditions, but students using the traditional method showed much greater improvements. In the cross-section, the traditional method had consistently both higher means and lower variances.
Conclusion: the two alternative methods "cannot be recommended unconditionally".
No matter where you are, sometimes we want to try something new, sometimes things have to change, and sometimes it doesn't work or there are growing pains.
The other side of the coin is that states and local governments aren't that much better equipped to set education standards. That's how you get things like trying to teach bronze age mythologies as science and a bunch of feel good proclamations about how "we know how best to teach our kids and that's why we should be running the show".
No system is perfect, but having some centralized standards gives you something to shoot for and gives people from other regions the ability to have some expectations about what students (should) have learned.
I love this line
10% losses due to middle men doesn't sound that bad when it gets you the freedom to choose where your tax dollars are spent.