Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Inequality and Iniquity

I see that Matt Singer has posted on Left in The West about an Yglesias article regarding the inequality of wealth and how that leads to situations like our current financial collapse.  Matt offers:
But what I found interesting was an explanation that inequality appears to be correlated to debt, which in turn may trigger economic collapse.
 Once again, we confuse correlation with causation.  While it is true that poor people are more likely to be stretched by their borrowing, it is a chicken or egg argument.  Do poor people have to borrow?  Well if you have to borrow to pay for essentials, i.e. for food or shelter, you are probably never going to recover, and will end up even poorer.  On the other hand, if you are borrowing to finance a new television, or furniture, that is a choice not a necessity.  And if you choose to act irresponsibly, why should the rest of us have to rescue you?
Oh yeah, that's right, we already did that with the mortgage bailout.  But when we do this, we subsidize bad behavior.  There is no advantage to taking out more debt than you can afford.
The other problem that I have with the whole wealth inequality thing is that it is a distorted view of the situation.  As the TaxProf Blog noted when it commented on the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
A reason for the "wealth or income gap": Smart people keep on doing things that are smart and make them money while stupid people keep on doing things that are stupid and keep them from achieving.
People who get an education, stay off of drugs, apply themselves, and save and wisely invest their earnings do a lot better than people who drop out of school, become substance abusers, and buy fancy cars and houses that they can't afford, only to lose them.
We don't have an income gap. We have a stupid gap.
 Another distortion of the graph is that people can move between the differing quintiles. For instance, in 1979, I was a married college student with a baby on the way, living off of the $360 a month that the GI Bill paid, and student loans.  I would have been considered to be in the bottom 10% of all wage earners.  Today, I am in the top quintile of tax payers.  Why the change?  Sure, it was some luck, but most of the luck was the kind that I made.  I chose to go to school, get a job, stay off of drugs and stay married, paid my bills and avoided interaction with law enforcement.  It really wasn't that hard.
The problem is not that the rich have gotten wealthier, it's that the poor are starting out from a stagnant position.  Admittedly, that position includes access to many government programs that assist them in moving up if they want to take advantage of them.  But the disparity is more a recognition that hard work can now take you farther than it could 40 years ago. 
Is that really such a bad thing?

And Your Point Would Be . . . ?

A former Justice Department lawyer is saying that the case against the New Black Panther Party was dismissed for political reasons and that the Attorney General lied to Congress.  While this would make Fox News with no problem, does anyone really think that the rest of the so called media would be interested?  Of course not.
One of the things that irk me, is that so many conservatives blame the Lame Stream Media for bias.  Well, they are of course entirely correct, but it doesn't matter.  Those who purport to be the Fourth Estate have zero pride or sense of honor.  Theirs is a mission, and they will not let down their masters as directed by those who run the Journolist.  What the conservatives need to do is to call these people out individually.  With today's technology, it shouldn't be that hard to have a cell phone with all of the local journalist's biased remarks as backup.  Then when challenged by one of these "journalists," point out their past efforts that have demonstrated bias, and ask them why they should be considered seriously for an answer.  A turn the tables strategy that forces them to demonstrate their bona fides.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cheap Shot

Okay, I know that it's not nice to speak ill of the dead, but I think that it should be noted that the Democrats have finally removed their last vestige of the KKK that is serving in the Senate.

Of course, they remain a safe bastion of racists.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

He Has to Resign

Gen McChrystal is on his way from Afghanistan to Washington DC for his mandatory ass chewing related to an article in Rolling Stone magazine.  In the article, the General questions the civilian leadership above him and their commitment to success.
Whatever the merits of his complaints, it seems as though we have already forgotten the lessons that were gleaned from the aftermath of Viet Nam.  Gen. Maxwell Taylor is still reviled to this day for his willingness to cooperate with the dysfunctional strategy of Lyndon Johnson, rather than to resign in protest.  While Taylor may have felt that he was doing the right thing, he ended up enabling the failure.
Now we have McChrystal, who also seems to want to be involved in the politics more than the war fighting.  If McChrystal really does believe that he cannot effectively communicate his needs or concerns to his civilian authorities, he needs to resign.  Once he resigns, he is just another citizen who can freely criticize the government.  But until then, his duty and his oath require him to obey and support the leaders appointed over him, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits him from speaking ill of the President, the Vice President, the governor of the state in which he is serving and the Secretary of the Treasury. (Art. 88 UCMJ)
There is no other option, resign sir!  You have reached the pinnacle of your career, don't do any more harm to your reputation than you already have.
UPDATE:  I just saw this piece by Byron York that is also very telling.  If you are going to deploy soldiers, they need to be allowed to do their jobs.  If on the other hand, you are telling them not to do anything, then, why are they there?  Get them out!  At least make up your collective minds.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Have They No Shame?

California is planning for a license plate that also sells advertising. The idea is that when you are rolling, it would function as a normal plate, but when you are stopped for more than 4 seconds it switches to advertisements.  The reason is to help reduce the budget deficit.
But what if the driver has an opinion about what is being advertised on their car?  Should the driver receive a share of the revenue?  This stuff has simply gotten to be too ludicrous to even be funny anymore.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Our Potemkin President

The President's popularity continues to fall at an alarming rate. Much of the fall seems to be as a direct result of the lack of competence exhibited by the White House.  The most recent example being the Gulf Oil Disaster, for which the President has said that his administration has been on top of it since the very first day.  What the spinmeisters cannot seem to fathom, is that means all of the problem is his fault.
The reality of course, is that he was not in charge.  In other words, he lied.  But the administration is caught in a mess of their own making.  All of the usual fallbacks (It's Bush's fault) are no longer available.  Instead, the President who promised us competence is demonstrating how difficult that really is.
The usual solutions are trotted out of course: We need more regulations!  The only question I have, is what have you done with the ones that you already have?  But Washington's solution is always going to be more control, more bureaucrats, more money in order to once and for all eliminate the problem.  Never mind that the regulations were ignored by the MMS, that is just a continuation of the inefficiency of regulations.  Remember Bernie Madoff, the Ponzi scheme guy?  He had the SEC supervising his activities, at least as long as those activities were on a porn site.  Same with the MMS inspectors who were wined, dined, and given access to prostitutes in order to approve the BPoil drilling.
If Obama really wanted to make regulations work, I would suggest that he quit trying to threaten BP with criminal protection, but instead, prosecute the bureaucrats who failed in their jobs.  At the least, you should be able to prosecute them for felony theft for taking their paychecks under false pretenses.
Come to think about it, Obama may be guilty of that as well.  But I guess he can pronounce nuclear, even though he can't pronounce corpsman.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Some Pretty Incredible News

Instapundit had a link to this page in reference to a good cancer news.  While the main article is very interesting, the related articles are also intriguing.  The amount of progress is simply amazing in what can be done to treat the treasonous cells of one's own body.  I am sure that it is not that far off that you will go to the doctor who will tell you that your diagnosis is cancer.  Then she will take a vial of your blood and tell you to come back in three days where they will reintroduce the genetically modified blood back into you to remove the cancer.
Sure would be a heck of a lot better than right now, where it's pretty much all bad news.  And thank goodness for Obamacare's direct support of this kind of research.  Oops, that may be the sort of thing that the budgeteers are going to cut if there aren't immediate results.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A Pretty Good Question

I read Arthur Laffer's essay in the Wall Street Journal where he predicts that because humans are rational, they are going to kill the economy next year when the Bush tax cuts are eliminated. Laffer shows that growth was limited for the first two years of Reagan's Presidency because Reagan agreed to delaying the effect of the tax cuts until 1983.  It's at that time that read GDP took off.

Although many on the Left complained that this was the start of massive deficits, they are only partially correct, in that revenue did go up when the tax cuts were implemented.  It's just that spending went up even faster.  If spending would have held steady in the Reagan years, there would have been a surplus, but that fact is always lost on those who see Reagan as the incarnation of the Anti-Christ.
We are now in a position where we are spending even more than GW Bush spent.  In fact, Obama is something like three times the spending per day that Bush had spent, and there is little that seems to be done about the problem, except to create a commission to study the problem.  Of course, the first thing the commission does is to declare that they need more funding.
So, it seems inevitable that there will be tax increases.  As I have always said, the idea that the rich aren't paying their fair share of taxes means that people should demand a rate cut for the wealthiest individuals.  As noted in this article:
The results of such a system can be plainly seen in the U.S. tax system. According to Congress’ official and nonpartisan tax estimator, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the top 3.7% of filers earn 27.1% of the nation’s income. Yet they pay 54.8% of the total income taxes—more than double their income share. In contrast, the bottom two-fifths of earners (39.9%) earn 7.7% of the income and pay negative 2.1% of the income tax (due to government spending in the form of refundable credits).
Our tax code is a mess.  We pretend to make it fair by calling it progressive, when the only thing progressive is the rate of confiscation at higher levels.  Which leads me to the question in the title.  At what rate does an increase in the "progressive tax rate" become unfair?  According to Obama, there is a point at which you can supposedly earn too much.
So, what exactly is that point, and why?

Friday, June 04, 2010

More Crony Capitalism

Another Example of How Not to Write

Earlier, I had used a Left in The West posting by Cowgirl as an example of shoddy writing.  Little did I know, that she was following in the footsteps of "real" journalists.  For example, take this story which describes an aide to former Gov. Palin.  The actual title of the article is especially fun:

Sarah Palin aide Fred Malek helped former President Richard Nixon dump Jews from government

Now, from this it would appear as if Mr. Malek is an unrepentant anti-Semite, someone more akin to Rachel Corry, or the Gaza flotilla brigade than any decent human would want to be.  Except if you actually read the article, you find out 
"As Mr. Malek has said before, he has made mistakes in his life for which he has apologized, atoned and learned from," Malek's spokesman Mark Corallo said.. . . . .

Many prominent Jews have rallied behind Malek, a successful GOP businessman and philanthropist, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), The Washington Post reported.
So the question has to be asked, why is this newsworthy?  Again from the article:
The Democratic Party fired off at least 13 e-mails to reporters blasting Malek - who ran George H.W. Bush's 1992 campaign - and forwarded unflattering stories about the new tape.
And the answer is- it is only newsworthy to the Democratic Party.  And the FTC wants you to pay a tax to maintain this kind of "journalism?"