Sunday, July 25

John Kerry and the yacht tax

(mega h/t to commenter Bogie Wheel at Belmont)

You may have read on the Net that the great Democratic supporter of the Little Guy, Senator John Theresa Heinz Kerry, recently bought a seven million dollar yacht.

Wonderful. You've done well in life, John, so enjoy your wife's wealth.

The story here is that Kerry is a resident of...anyone know what state? That's right, Taxachusetts. Which levies two types of taxes on yachts: For Kerry's modest playtoy that would be $437,500 in sales tax--even for yachts built and purchased outside the U.S.!--and $70,000 in annual "excise taxes" on boats berthed in that state.

That's quite a bite. But of course Kerry is a rich guy, so presumably he could afford the tax. So what did John Kerry do?

He's berthed the boat in Rhode Island. Because it's so close to his home and all.

Oh, wait, sorry. A Kerry spokesman said the boat is being kept at Newport Shipyard not to evade taxes--perish the thought!--but "for long-term maintenance, upkeep and charter purposes."

The Kerry yacht tax avoidance illustrates yet again a fundamental lesson of human nature:

Regardless of party, the vast majority of people will consistently make choices that keep more money in their own wallets.

This in turn leads to a second observation: While everyone--regardless of their status in life--can be tempted to use the levers of government power to feather his own nest, only the Kerrys of the world actually have the power to do that. The struggling middle-class guy recognizes this, and his sole defense is to ask (or demand?) that the law be applied equally to everyone.

The struggling guy doesn't have to be a Harvard lawyer to recognize that if we tolerate two different standards of law--one for the rich or powerful, another for the non-elite--he is going to be the one who loses.

This is why equality before the law is so crucial to a free society. If enough "little guys" conclude that the law consistently hurts them while letting the rich get away with murder--whether literal or merely financial--they’ll shrug off the “let’s all obey the law” credo and start building IEDs in the garage.

While no one knows exactly how much tolerance the non-elites have for being shafted and shaken down by the "ruling class", it seems likely that there’s some point at which the struggling class decides that "enough is enough;" that if ridiculous government spending and punitive laws are killing 'em, and they can't reform the government (which administers the law) via elections, they're gonna take someone down with 'em.

This is one of the reasons being arrogant and vindictive after an election victory is a bad idea: After the '08 election Democrats/leftists/progressives practically did anal inversions, crowing "I won, you lost, deal with it!" When 2000-page bills set off alarm bells among serious congressmen on both sides, so that passage seemed doubtful even with the huge Democrat supermajority (61-39 in the senate, a 50-vote margin in the house), the leftist crew bribed members of their own party with special goodies to win enough votes.

And now the shoe-shine guys are eyeing the lathes in the workshop.


Oh, there's a postscript to the Kerry yacht tax story: A spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue said Kerry would be liable for Massachusetts taxes if he berthed the boat in the Bay State within six months of its purchase. But if the the boat is brought to Massachusetts after that period, the state would have to decide if it wanted to pursue the taxes.

With Kerry still being a senator, any bets on whether he brings the boat to Mass after six months, and whether the state will decide to waive the taxes?

Oh, and for any socialist/Dem/"progressives" out there: You think this yacht tax story is bullshit, from some wacko wingnut website? Okay, okay, you're partly right: It's a wacko lunatic site all right--MSNBC.


UPDATE: Most cheatin' pols know how to handle the spotlight of public attention: They either try to control it via sympathetic flacks in the MSM, or else they stop appearing in public until the attention spotlight is pulled elsewhere. But *sometimes* that spotlight can have an absolutely salutary effect--as in this case. Kerry agreed to pay the taxes to his home state.

I suspect he realized continuing to stonewall might have put his senate seat at risk. What's a measly half a million bucks compared to what you can knock down every year as a U.S. senator? Not to mention that their pensions increase with more years in office (or used to, at least; it's just barely possible that changed).

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