23 thoughts on “Economics & Finance

    1. It would attempt to restrict any activity which limits the experience and exercise of equality. Chris Schaefer

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  1. We are told that Rudolf Steiner said there would be another opportunity for the ThreeFold Social Order in 100 years, i.e., now.  Perhaps this excerpt from the following article is confirmatory:

    “Where is  technology taking“  the economy?

    “We are creating an intelligence that is external to humans and housed in the virtual economy. This is bringing us into a new economic era–the distributive one – where different rules apply”
    “Freed labor resources, history tells us, always find a replacement outlet and the digital economy will not be different.
    I am not convinced.
    Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology point out that when automotive transport arrived, a whole group of workers—horses—were displaced, never to be employed again. They lost their jobs and vanished from the economy.”
    McKinsey Quarterliy, Oct 2017
    where-is-technology-taking-the-economy

    Cheers,  Edward

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  2. TAX ON EXPENDITURE
    I would like to know if someone understands that Steiner means when he says “the capital must be taxed at the time of its transfer to the economic process”. Thank you
    “Among all those who at the present day profess to be experts in practical life, there is not a single individual who doubts that an improvement has been made by the transition from all kinds of indirect taxation and other sources of national income to what we call the income tax, especially the graduated income tax. Everyone thinks it is unquestionably right to pay income tax and yet, however paradoxical this may sound to the modern mind, the belief that the imposition of a tax on income is a just measure is only an illusion resulting from the modern financial system of economy. We earn money; we trade with it. By money we detach ourselves from the sound productive process itself. Money is made into an abstraction, so to speak, in the economic process, just as thoughts are in the process of thought. But just as it is impossible to call up by enchantment real ideas and feelings from abstract thought, so it is likewise impossible to bring forth by enchantment something real from money, if that money is not merely a symbol for commodities which are produced. if it is not merely a kind of book-keeping, a currency system of book-keeping, in which every piece of money must represent a commodity. This subject will also be more fully discussed in the following lectures. Today it must be stated that in a period which is only concerned with turning money into an economic object, incomes cannot escape being considered an object of taxation.
    But by imposing taxes we make ourselves co-responsible with others for the whole system of financial economy. Something is taxed which is not a commodity at all, but only a symbol for a commodity. We are dealing with an abstraction from the economic life. Money only becomes a reality when it is spent for something. It then takes its place in the circuit of economic life, whether I spend it on amusement, or for bodily or mental necessities, or whether I bank it to be used in the economic process. Banking my money is a way of spending it. This must, of course, be kept in mind. But money becomes a reality in the economic process at the moment it passes out of my possession into the process of economic life. If people would reflect, they would see that it is of no use for a man to have a large income. If he hoard it, it may be his; but it is of no use in the economic process. The only thing that benefits a person is the ability to spend a great deal. In public life to-day, in a life fruitful of results, the ability to spend a great deal is just the sign of a large income. Hence, if a system of taxation is to be created which constitutes a real service of the economic process to the good of the general community, instead of a parasitical growth upon it, capital must be taxed at the moment it is transferred to the economic process. And, strange to relate, income tax comes to be transformed into a tax on expenditure, which I beg you not to confound with indirect taxation. Indirect taxation is often the expression of the wishes of rulers at the present day, because the direct taxes and income tax do not ordinarily yield enough. We are not referring to either direct or indirect taxation, in speaking of the tax on expenditure; the point in question is that at the moment my capital passes into the economic process, and becomes productive, it shall be taxed.”
    (Zurich October 25, 1919, O.O. 332a)

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    1. Rudolf Steiner also had the following to say about taxation:

      🤨 the point in question is that at the moment my capital passes into the economic process, and becomes productive, it shall be taxed

      In Appendix V the editor says: APPENDIX V

      Rudolf Steiner’s repeated warning that outworn habits of thinking will prove stumbling blocks to many who seek to understand his ideas, refers especially to this recommendation of taxes on expenditure, preferably when applied to the investment of capital. This recommendation can only be rightly appreciated when it is borne in mind that the full realization of this tax principle demands the threefold membering of the social organism as a prerequisite. If this prerequisite is taken fully into account, it becomes evident that taxes on expenditure would not be inimical to the consumer nor to the producer. For it is presumed that the consumer enjoys a sufficient income so that when he is taxed on his expenditures, he will find it fair and equitable to pay taxes to the extent that advantage is taken of society’s labor as a whole. He does this by buying goods, and investing money in their production. In any case, the amount of capital put at the unrestricted disposal of the producer will be sufficient for the production of essential gods, because decisions on capital transfer intended for productive investment will come from sources quite different from those to which we are accustomed at present.

      Source: The Social Future II
      THE ORGANIZATION OF A PRACTICAL ECONOMIC LIFE
      ON THE ASSOCIATIVE BASIS.
      TRANSFORMATION OF THE MARKET AND FIXING OF PRICES.
      MONEY AND TAXATION. CREDIT.

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  3. More on the subject of Rudolf Steiner and Taxation. Here from Steve Usher is, as he says, …”a brief comment on this rather deep idea.

    In the standard intro economic text book you will find the idea of regressive taxes. It is said a tax is regressive when the tax forces the poor person to pay a greater percentage of his income than the rich person. Thus a sales tax on food is regressive as the poor person spends a greater percentage of his/her income on food than the rich one. Steiner’s idea of a tax on money when it enters the economic process is not regressive. To make sense of the below passage ((Zurich October 25, 1919, O.O. 332a) note that he is basically talking about paper money that one has in ones pocket, or under one’s mattress, or in one’s private vault at home. In particular, Steiner is not talking about modern definitions of money like M1, which includes both currency in circulation – paper money – and checking accounts. In the sense of the passage below, when a person puts the currency in his pocket into a bank checking account it would be taxed. Likewise when a CEO of a big corporation gets a huge – should I say obscene – bonus of, let us say, $100 million he will likely immediately put it in a checking account or buy stocks or bonds. For Steiner the movement to the checking account or into stocks and bonds should be taxed. Indeed, it would appear Steiner’s thinking would include the tax proposed by Tobin on all cross currency speculation, the Tobin tax, the idea of which sends terror into the hearts of investment bankers.

    Of course, Steiner’s tax also would apply on the money I take out of my pocket to buy eggs and bread. But Steiner’s tax is not regressive as it taxes the rich person on all the money he puts into economic circulation. And if one agrees that Steiner’s tax includes the Tobin tax features then it could well be progressive.

    The complexity of the current financial system has grown considerably since Steiner’s time and it takes a lot of mental effort to even begin to fathom the things now done with money, which Steiner explains below, should never be anything but an accounting system where each paper bill represents a particular commodity in circulation. Today money is pretty fully been made into a commodity, in innumerable forms and traded like we do wheat.

    Here is an interesting interview on aspects of the modern money madness and immorality. The person interviewed is Dr. Mark Skidmore, Professor of Accounting at Michigan State University: https://usawatchdog.com/missing-21-trillion-means-federal-government-is-lawless-dr-mark-skidmore/

    You can go down the rabbit hole a bit deeper in this interview with Katherine Austin Fitts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM-NEcWhj4c Fitts is former Under Secreary of HUD.”

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  4. For an interesting discussion of, “What next after capitalism?”, with a proposal (by Jeremy Smith) for a conference in 2019 on this topic to include the subject of Social ThreeFolding see: https://anthropopper.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/what-next-after-capitalism/. There are now other proposals and plans for one or more such conferences in 2019. Perhaps those who are up to date on these initiatives could post information about them here.

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  5. Rudolf Steiner was very clear: the threefold social order, so-called, is not something that can be applied. The threefold nature of society needs to be discovered in the realities in which one finds oneself. And not in ‘alternative’ movements or anti-capitalist notions but in practical change to existing institutions, such as moving from income to expenditure tax, transforming the corporation, ending the colaterallisation of capital, true price instead of price stability, and so on..A growing literature and resource on al these matters, as addressed at the level of Masters thesis and PhDs and in policy circles can be found at economics.goetheanum.org.

    Best regards, Christopher Houghton Budd

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  6. CHB – Just to be clearer could you please provide one or more citations where RS indicates that threefold social order is not something that can be applied. He appears to have expended a lot of time and energy trying to bring about a form of three folding in his time. This is not clear. Perhaps it is semantic. ECB

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    1. My understanding is that threefolding is a skeleton which can be applied but will be “fleshed out” differently by different cultures. It is a universal skeleton which will work for all of humanity, but it must be put into effect by individuals’ creativity using their own value system. Some aspects will be emphasized over others, depending on how the system is used by individuals in a community.

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  7. I also thank Christopher Houghton Budd but I repeat the question:
    I would like to know if anyone understands that Steiner means when he says “the capital must be taxed at the time of his transfer to the economic process”.
    He also says that tax on expenses is not a form of indirect tax.
    I know the matter is very complex, but if you don’t know the answer, it’s better to say it.
    Thanks

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