Legal work precluded me from blogging today, but I have some ideas for the rest of the evening. Meanwhile, as a warm-up act, a few clever political posters.
Prager U is out with another video, this one asking whether the economy benefits or suffers from government intervention. Steve Forbes makes the case (with which I agree) that government helps an economy best when it creates optimal economic conditions (low taxes, low regulation) and then sets the economy free. Government hurts the economy when it taxes job creators and regulates them to death.
Incidentally, I continue to believe in the saying “Few rules but unbreakable.” Rather than trying to micromanage every step a business takes, go big: “Don’t lie to consumers.” “Don’t sell dangerous products.” “Don’t withhold information from potential investors.” The more rules there are, the more rules that can be broken — and the more opportunities for graft.
Here’s the video:
Without diving into the details, there are two central flaws with this poster that negate everything it advocates: It assumes (1) that the money Bernie wants to spend belongs to the government, not the taxpayers, and (2) that the government will spend that money better under Bernie’s aegis than you would spend it for your own benefit or that past governments have spent it for the “public good.” One needs only to look at the history of socialism everywhere to realize that, when it comes to managing money (your money, that you earned), the government (which simply took it at gunpoint) does a lousy job and that individuals make smarter decisions.
Let me turn the rostrum over to Milton Friedman:
My daughter introduced me to a pro-Bernie site called I Like Bernie, But…. There, in response to various concerns voters might have about Bernie (e.g., he’s a socialist or a taxer), the website provides short, pithy, and entirely inaccurate responses aimed at setting those fears to rest.
Because I know that the website appeals strongly to young voters, I created a website called I Don’t Like Bernie, Because… that challenges the misinformation. Today I challenged the pro-Bernie’ website’s breezy promise that higher taxes on the rich will easily fund Bernie’s spending plans, leaving tons of money left over for everyone else. Here’s that post:
The new website I Like Bernie, But… tries to calm people’s fears about Bernie Sander’s socialist extremism. It states questions reflecting concerns that people might have about Bernie, and then provides pithy little answers refuting those fears.
In a previous post, I addressed the myriad falsehoods, omissions, and misconceptions in the website’s assurance that Bernie isn’t a dangerous socialist, he’s a good socialist. This post addresses the misleading answer to a concern that “I heard he [Bernie] wants to raise taxes.”
Here’s what I Like Bernie, But…. has to say about Bernie and taxes:
That’s simply false. Here’s the truth:
Another excellent Prager University video, this time about America’s tax code, which is fair if you believe (a) in income redistribution and (b) that one can still have good government if almost half of America’s people, because they pay no taxes, have no skin in the game when it comes to government spending.
Here, I’m happy to say, it’s raining! Considering that Marin is constantly hovering just a few gallons away from water rationing during this drought, rain is always good news. Equally good is the fact that it’s supposed to rain for another day, and then rain again in five days. Woo-hoo!!!
Last year was a triumphant year for gay marriage in California. That means that this year, for many newly wed gay couples, April 15 was the first time they filed their taxes as married couples. I have it on very good authority that many of these newly nuptialed couples are extremely unhappy now that they’re dealing with the infamous marriage penalty.
Considering how politically powerful gay men have become, could gay marriage lead to lower taxes?
And while we’re talking about taxes, Bill Whittle offers a sensible tax policy, one that would give all citizens a stake in America, while ending the current policy of taxing the producers right out of existence:
Flat taxes, once I understood how they worked, were one of the stepping stones on my way to conservativism. Twenty years ago, a brilliant conservative managed to explain to me how an across the board 10% sales tax would work. When he first told me about it, I got ruffled, pointing out that this was regressive tax that would hurt poor people. He shook his head sadly at my ignorance and explained that the most that poor people would get taxed, if they spent every penny they had, would be 10%, which is a reasonable amount to pay to have a stake in this country. (This was 20 years ago, before 51% of Americans paid nothing at all.) Moreover, he said, the bulk of taxes would come from those who aren’t poor, because middle class and rich people buy more. Everyone buys staples, but it’s the classes above the poverty line who have always — as a practical matter — bought into the American dream.
A 10% tax wouldn’t be high enough to deter high income spending, especially if there were no other taxes, so middle and upper class Americans would have an incentive to invest in the economy through purchasing goods. In the meantime, a 10% sales tax might be high enough to encourage a poor person to save more, rather than to buy inessential products, helping the poor person to stay solvent.
Certainly, a flat sales tax (or any flat tax) would be cheaper to administer than our current tax system. If it unleashed a rising tide of prosperity, it would bring in more revenue. On the other hand, if it brought in less revenue, it would stop rampant government spending (this was also before debt ceiling wars).
Bottom line: Anything more simple and more fair than what we have now is a better tax system.
One of the things I’ve tried to drill into my children is the truism that the single biggest indicator of poverty is single motherhood. That data, incidentally, does not reflect the old-fashioned kind of single motherhood, which was the result of widowhood or abandonment. Instead, we’re talking about modern single motherhood, the kind that sees women who are deluged with birth control choices nevertheless get pregnant with boyfriends or hook-ups who feel no emotional connection or sense of economic obligation to either mother or baby.
One of my children has a part-time job at a cafe and is, for the first time, meeting adults who have full-time jobs but who aren’t middle-class professionals living in single family homes in solidly upper middle class neighborhoods. One of these adults is pregnant and is unhappy about the fact that the cafe, where she’s been working for only five months, will not give her maternity leave.
Inquiry revealed that the pregnant woman is not married; that she’s living with a boyfriend who may or may not be the father of her child (my kid doesn’t know), and that the boyfriend doesn’t work. Except for getting regular nooky at night (assuming that the pregnant woman still wants that kind of attention), the mother-to-be will be, for all practical purposes, a single mother.
My child found it concerning that the boss won’t pay this single mother not to work for him. My child was therefore stymied when I asked this question: “Why should he pay for her foolish choices?”
I noted that, while it’s entirely possible that this woman was using enough birth control to protect six woman, and nevertheless still managed to get pregnant, the greater likelihood was that she was careless. Indeed, if she really wanted to protect against single motherhood, she could have abstained from sex until she had a ring on her finger and some economic prospects.
I threw in the fact that it’s incredibly costly to do business in California, especially in the food service industry, which have extremely low profit margins. Employers generally are drowning in regulations, which makes businesses very expensive to run. Add in taxes and all the other costs of business (rent, insurance, salaries, benefits, supplies, etc.), and it’s guaranteed that the employer is clearing just enough money for his personal expenses (mortgage, insurance, food, etc.). This owner is almost certainly not living extravagantly but is, instead, living a very temperate life.
Much of the money that the federal and state government are taking away from this man, both from his business and from him personally, is going to welfare programs for single mothers, something this employer must know. Since he’s already paying for the welfare this young woman will inevitably end up using, why should he pay twice by carrying her on the books even though she’s contributing nothing to his business? Even if he was feeling charitable, the government has left him nothing with which to be charitable, not to mention the fact that the government, by snatching money from his pockets, has already decided on his behalf which charities he should support — including economically foolish single motherhood.
Such a simple question: “Why should he pay for her foolish choices, when the government is already taxing him heavily in advance to pay for all the foolish choices of intentionally single mothers across America”?
We went to our accountant last night. She looked exhausted. When we asked why, she explained that this has been an exceptionally painful tax season. Obamacare taxes are hitting this year, and she had to informed people (well-to-do people, admittedly), that their taxes have increased by thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. They were not pleased.
Interestingly, none of them saw this coming — which, when you think about it, tells you an awful lot about the mindset of people here in Marin, most of whom are overwhelming Leftist, including the rich. The rich here know how to make money, but they really don’t know much else. They’re uninformed about the world and how it works. Moreover, because they think that voting Democrat makes them nice people, and voting for a black Democrat makes them good people, they are as blindly uninformed and as easily led as the 20-year-old college student or the 50-year-old cafeteria worker who reads only People and watches only Dr. Phil.
It’s a no-brainer:
The IRS’s Lois Lerner, who bungled taking the Fifth the last time she appeared before Congress, is now set to return to Congress. Her lawyer has announced, however, that she’ll testify only in return for immunity, otherwise her lips are sealed.
It seems to me that whether Congress takes her up on that offer depends on how much information she has. If she’s a criminal pipsqueak, giving her immunity means she gets away with a crime, while offering nothing in return. However, since she is a highly placed IRS functionary, if the agrees to sing like a birdie, it may well be worth it simply to get information on everyone else. Having said that, I suspect that there are people in government who will not be thrilled if she talks. Am I being overwrought if I think that she might actually find herself at risk if her testimony has the potential to send high government officials to jail?
I deeply disrespect the Obama administration, from the top down, but it’s a big step from disliking them to considering them capable of turning to violence or even murder. It seems to me that Lerner, who knows the administration better than I do, assumes that they will not hurt her, or else she wouldn’t have made the offer. Even if the whole administration doesn’t go rogue, though, there may still be some lone fruit-loop out there who will stop at nothing to avoid jail or just the end of a career. If I were Lerner, I’d look very carefully before crossing any streets.
What’s your take on this? Would you offer her immunity in exchange for information?
A few days ago, I commented about a profound problem with the Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA: before DOMA, we had a societal consensus that marriage was between one man and one woman. During DOMA, we had a law that said marriage was between one man and one woman, even as the societal consensus broke down. Post-DOMA, we have nothing. There are no boundaries, and there is nothing to stop a “loving” marriage based upon bestiality, incest, pedophilia, polyamory, etc. The boundaries are gone.
In addition, the demands on government will change substantially with this “new frontier” approach to marriage. A friend of mine who knows all things military sent me this email:
The other thing I’ve been thinking about is how recent Supreme Court decisions have rendered marriage and family meaningless. For instance, if I were a young private or PFC in the military I would find another guy to get married to (contract marriages between service members are nothing new. It’s a great way for two otherwise unattached people to get free money for being married). Getting married is often the best way for service members to get themselves out of crappy barracks life so I could marry a male service member from another unit and move into my new house. We would not even have to be gay to do it. Then we could run around with as many women as we wanted and essentially be room mates and get paid a basic housing allowance (x2) for being married. If I were caught in some kind of adultery situation (hard to prove usually) I would simply state that I and my life partner are straight and though we are married we do not sleep together. Further, who is to judge how we choose to run our family/household? Anything goes according to the Supreme Court and if two gay men can get married why can’t two straight ones?
So that’s two of us figuring out that Anthony Kennedy’s decision creates tremendous societal problems. Can we add three of us or four of us? Yes, we can!
I don’t want to tread upon copyrights, so let me just direct you to Michael Ramirez’s post-DOMA cartoon and Terminal Lance’s post-DOMA cartoon (warning: ever so slightly risque). They both make the point perfectly, one with regard to society at large and the other with special focus on the military.
Andrew Klavan is right that we need to view this as a Democrat “squirrel” moment, one in which the Democrat powers that be distract their sometimes mindless constituents from more important issues such as the economy, or the fact that Syria is imploding, Egypt is on the verge of imploding, and Turkey is working towards imploding. However, we cannot ignore the legal ramifications flowing from the Supreme Court’s rulings, because these ramifications can become very expensive very quickly.
If nothing else, the end of DOMA is one more reason that the tax code and IRS should be done away with and a flat tax instituted. After all, the current tax code gives married couples distinct benefits, with an eye to advancing a stable, two-parent family. Since that’s now out the window, we better revisit where all those tax benefits are flowing.