James Thomson, an embryologist at the University of Wisconsin, cultivated the first embryonic stem cell lines in 1998. By then the prohibition on using federal funds for scientific research in which human embryos are destroyed was already on the books; President Bill Clinton had signed it nearly three years earlier. So how did Thomson secure a government grant to finance his landmark achievement? He didn’t. His work was funded by the Geron Corporation, a California biotechnology company that develops treatments for cancer, spinal cord injuries, and degenerative diseases. …this a good moment to ask a threshold question: Why should the federal government be funding controversial medical research in the first place? As Thomson’s 1998 discovery proved, pathbreaking accomplishments in stem-cell science are possible even when the government isn’t footing the bill. That was no anomaly. If the feds didn’t fund the search for embryonic stem-cell therapies, the private sector would. …For-profit corporations and their shareholders aren’t the only source of private-sector stem-cell funding. The Washington Post reported in 2006 on the private philanthropy that was building new stem-cell labs in academia. “Los Angeles philanthropist Eli Broad gave $25 million to the University of Southern California for a stem cell institute, sound-technology pioneer Ray Dolby gave $16 million to the University of California at San Francisco, and local donors are contributing to a $75 million expansion at the University of California at Davis. . . Early this year, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg quietly donated $100 million to Johns Hopkins University, largely for stem-cell research.’’ …Imagine those that would do so if the federal government stopped underwriting research that so many taxpayers find problematic. Douglas Melton, the co-director of Harvard’s Stem Cell Institute, told the Boston Globe last week that private support is “the only durable and consistent source’’ of funding for embryonic stem-cell research. He’s right. Medical research would not wither away if the government took a back seat to the private sector. In this as in so many other areas, perhaps it’s time to re-think Washington’s role.
Archive for September 2nd, 2010
Posted in Australia, Brain drain, Government Thuggery, International bureaucracy, Jurisdictional Competition, Laffer Curve, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Tax avoidance, Tax Competition, Tax Compliance, Tax evasion, Tax Harmonization, Tax Haven, Taxation, tagged Australia, Crocodile Dundee, Tax avoidance, Tax Competition, Tax Compliance, Tax evasion, Tax Havens, Taxation on September 2, 2010| 4 Comments »
Actor Paul Hogan, star of the “Crocodile Dundee” movies, has vowed to continue fighting the Australian tax office which has barred him from leaving Australia until he pays a massive bill, saying he’s victim of a witch hunt. Hogan, 70, was served with a departure prohibition order 10 days ago while in Australia to attend his 101-year-old mother’s funeral which has prevented him from leaving to return to Los Angeles where he lives with his wife and son. The Australian Tax Office refused to comment on reports of seeking tax on A$38 million ($34 million) of allegedly undeclared income from Hogan, saying it cannot give details of individual taxpayers. But the actor went public in the Australian media this week to put forward his side in his five-year row with the tax office, saying he had done nothing wrong and the tax office was on a witch hunt for a high-profile case. …”If I was a tax evader, which I’m not, I must be the dumbest one in the world to keep coming back here instead of fleeing to a tax haven … I know they’re absolutely desperate to nail some high-profile character with money to justify the expense to the taxpayer.” Hogan, who was once a painter on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, is under investigation as part of Australia’s biggest probe into offshore tax evasion, Operation Wickenby. The operation is budgeted to cost at least $300 million. The tax office has claimed he put tens of millions of dollars in film royalties in offshore tax havens, a claim that he has denied. He has never been charged with tax evasion.
In the case of tax policy, politicians impose high tax rates and punitive forms of double taxation. As anybody with a modicum of common sense could predict, this bad tax policy undermines economic performance and drives economic activity to jurisdictions with better tax law. The politicians then have two ways to respond. They can lower tax rates and reform tax systems, an approach that simultaneously would boost growth and improve compliance. Or they can tighten the thumbscrews on taxpayers, trample their rights, and conspire with other high-tax nations to punish the jurisdictions that do have good policy.
Not surprisingly, most politicians choose the latter approach. And the attack on low-tax jurisdictions is a particularly loathsome part of their response. As this video explains, tax competition is a liberalizing force in the world economy and the effort by high-tax nations to penalize so-called tax havens is driven by a statist impulse to prop up decrepit and inefficient welfare states.
Posted in Competitiveness, Corporate income tax, Corporate tax, Laffer Curve, News Appearance, Tax avoidance, Tax Competition, Tax Reform, Taxation, tagged Competitiveness, Corporate income tax, Corporate tax, Corporate Tax Rate, Laffer Curve, News Appearance, Tax Competition, Taxation on September 2, 2010| 1 Comment »
I tangle with my old nemesis Christian Weller, one of the statists at the Center against American Progress, in a debate on whether the corporate tax rate should be reduced. I was somewhat amused that Christian defended the current system because companies currently are earning profits. Maybe I’ll eventually convince him to be a capitalist.
The debate was fairly uneventful, but I was a bit disappointed that my comment about the Laffer Curve got buried at the end of the segment. The fundamental point is that America has a very high corporate tax rate by world standards, yet we collect relatively little revenue. My argument, not surprisingly, is that revenues are low because the tax rate is high.