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Gold, Transient Workers, Negative Income Tax and Productivity

Listeners’ Questions, Peter’s Answers Audio – May 31, 2013

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Mike in Ulloa, TX
If the current sell off of gold is a good buying opportunity, would it be better to acquire physical metal or stocks that have an interest in them, such as mining companies, funds that are gathered around gold, and precious metal sectors.

Keith in Herndon, VA
What can be done about transient workers claiming exemptions as married with nine dependents on their W-2 form? A fake Social Security number is used, the employer isn’t allowed to question employees on their W-2, and by the time the IRS investigates what’s going on, the worker has already moved on to another employer and can’t be found.

Kristoffer in Hordaland, Norway
I came across a topic that is rarely mentioned by libertarian economists (other than Milton Friedman and a few others), and that is the Negative Income Tax.

The Negative tax system would mean that everyone pays a low flat tax, and those who make less than a set amount, say $2000 a month, would be given a negative tax, to make sure that everyone had at least a minimum amount of earnings.

What is your opinion of this type of taxing?

Michael in Beloit, WI
I recently read an article about new companies popping up to get around government regulations on taxi cabs Instead of a taxi service, they call themselves “ride shares” and operate on voluntary donations. How do you think this will this affect the government regulated taxi industry?

Samir in Portland, OR
Every now and then when new economic data comes in, I notice that productivity has “increased”. If we are looking at the number of items produced or manufactured, can the increase be justified given most corporations manufacture outside the US? Given the low employment data, shouldn’t the productivity decrease?

When Rothbard talks about higher orders of production declining in a depression, it makes sense commodities like copper, oil, etc are declining prior to the upcoming depression. Where does gold fit into an “order of production” schema, is it a consumer good or a higher order?