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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

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New Worldwide Index Reveals Value of Intellectual Property to U.S. Prosperity Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, January 30 2014
Just as greater economic freedom correlates with greater national does greater IP protection.

It’s no secret that America’s economy has continued to stagnate throughout Barack Obama’s tenure. 

Despite the fact that the last recession officially ended almost five years ago in June 2009, U.S. economic growth has averaged just 2.1% since that time.  That’s substantially below the 70-year postwar average of 3.1%. 

One bright spot endures, however.  Industries reliant upon intellectual property (IP) – the legal doctrine that protects inventors, creators, scientists and artists through copyright, patent and trademark laws – provide a notable and critical exception. 

Core copyright industries alone (sectors like computer software, movies, music, television programming, videogames, books, radio and newspapers) have maintained an annual 4.7% growth rate since 2009 – more than twice as much as the U.S. economy overall.  Those industries also pay an average salary of $86,000, compared to the $42,693 median per capita American income in 2012.  And at $142 billion, American copyright sectors accounted for a greater share of foreign sales than aerospace ($106 billion), agriculture ($70 billion), food ($65 billion) and medical ($51 billion) industries in 2012. 

The motion picture and television industry alone supports 2 million American jobs, which pay 38% more than the national average salary.  It also continuously registers a positive trade balance against nearly every nation in the world, with 2011 exports amounting to $14.3 billion.  That represented an increase of 5% over 2010, and movies and television enjoyed a 7-to-1 export/import ratio, which is among the highest of all American industries.  In fact, the industry accounts for 6% of the total U.S. private-sector trade surplus in the service industry. 

Shifting focus momentarily to the patent field, here’s a remarkable statistic:  The U.S. accounts for almost two-thirds of all new prescription drug and biotech patents in the world.  In comparison, the entire European Union accounts for just 24.8% of such patents, Japan represents only 10.7% and China a tiny 0.2%.  Few things personify our current era of technological advancement and breathtaking human innovation than pharmaceutical creations, and that metric speaks volumes about America’s dominance in that critical arena. 

And what accounts for all of this?  America’s tradition of strong IP protections. 

That was brought to bear this week with the release of the 2014 International IP Index by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC). 

Just as greater economic freedom correlates with greater national prosperity, as we noted earlier this month with the release of the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom by The Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation, so does greater IP protection.  In fact, the Heritage/Wall Street Journal Index incorporates property rights as one of its critical measurement components. 

The GIPC’s Index constitutes a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive analysis of current IP laws across the globe.  And like the Heritage/Wall Street Journal Index, it not only ranks nations according to their relative strengths and weaknesses in IP protection, it also correlates those IP protections with resulting economic growth, job creation, foreign investment and positive business environment.  The Index evaluates fully 30 components of each nation’s IP environment, including copyright, patent, trademark, trade secrets and participation in beneficial international accords.  Reflecting our dominance in worldwide innovation and creativity, the U.S. achieved this year’s highest global IP score. 

Unfortunately, however, America has also receded in certain aspects recently.  According to GIPC President and CEO David Hirschmann, “The United States may lead the overall ranking, but has fallen behind in its enforcement efforts.”  He continued, “Therefore, we urge the Obama Administration and Congress to expand on current enforcement programs and allocate dedicated resources throughout the government to effectively enforce IP rights and protect consumers.”  That is particularly relevant at a moment in which 12 nations are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, which would help solidify IP standards that demonstrably boost innovation and economic growth for all parties involved. 

Nevertheless, the GIPC’s new Index establishes in clear, measurable manner how stronger IP laws translate to national prosperity and inventiveness.  It is not by coincidence, after all, that the U.S. has become the most prosperous, artistically influential and technologically innovative nation in human history.  Rather, that is a direct consequence of the fact that we’ve maintained uniquely protective IP laws to reward and incentivize the rightful fruits of innovators’ labor. 

In an era of increased international competitiveness and economic uncertainty, we simply cannot allow the IP rights that have brought us to where we are to erode. 

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