Monday, August 30, 2010

Miller Time

I really don't think Bob Schieffer understands what Joe is saying. But until Cubachi provides some more Christie clips, consider this your Commonsense Conservative Porn fix:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chris Christie Contrasts Common Sense vs. Government Drones

Some fresh Chris Christie awesomeness [Hat Tip: Cubachi]

Another reason to decentralize government. Why should states have to fill out a thousand-page application to get money from the US government? Let the feds tax us less, and each state can raise that revenue instead.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Want Your Money

This looks very promising:

Words Mean Things: Surrendering the High Ground

Good old Jazz Shaw and I engaged in a little back-and-forth via Twitter today, sparked by his tweet:

Dear Congress: You can keep all the Bush tax cuts, but you have to cut spending. This isn't rocket surgery.
I responded by pointing out the missing word in that first clause:
@JazzShaw Not "tax cuts". Tax RATE cuts, which INCREASED tax revenues. Expiration will REDUCE tax revenues.

In subsequent volleys, Jazz assured me that I was reading in meaning he hadn't intended (that the two parts were linked, so that the "tax cuts" would result in lower revenue, which then must be "paid for" by the spending cuts). I'm glad to hear I was wrong about that, but I still believe that we should always refer to "tax rate cuts", and avoid even the appearance of linking tax rate cuts to spending reductions, in order not to surrender ground in policy debates.
I wasn't just reacting to Jazz when I tweeted that, but to the kind of "argument" provided yesterday by Nancy Skinner on Freedom Watch with Andrew Napolitano:

Now, I don't for a moment mean to compare Jazz to Nancy, who seems to fill the same role for Andrew as Alan Colmes did for Sean Hannity: mindlessly repeating Democratic talking points that serve as hanging curve balls to be smacked out of the park. You can almost see her flipping through the list of liberal shibboleths (shall I go Palin and coin the portmanteu "lib-oleths"?) until she could find one that fit the situation at hand.

But when we debate on their terms, we unnecessarily handicap ourselves. As you can see in the above clip, Nancy spewed such a barrage of BS that Charlie Gasparino got stuck dealing with only one particularly large pile of it (the idea that money in the hands of higher-bracket earners has a smaller "multiplier" than money "redistributed" into the hands of lower-income people who will use it to consume more, thereby providing a "stimulus" to the economy). I think Don Boudreaux was trying to make the same point as mine but it got lost in the crosstalk. (Note to Napolitano: Try having two guests instead of three; it might make cut down on that.)

I don't want to get bogged down debating the Laffer Curve here, but to put it simply, the idea is that higher marginal tax rates will change the behavior of high-bracket earners. They may put in less time on the job to spend more with the kids, or divert money that would have gone into investing in new production capacity (which means more jobs for lower-bracket folks) and put it in tax shelters like municipal bonds. These alternative investments aren't expected to make as large of a profit, but after the effects of the tax rates are considered, the taxpayers figure they'll actually get to keep more. This pulls capital out of the economy and somewhat depresses the rates paid on the tax-sheltered investments.

Either way, if the marginal rate goes above a certain point, it will actually result in lower revenues for governments. Leftists refer to a tax rate reduction as a "tax cut" that must be "paid for", even when the tax rate reduction produces the same or higher revenues, in effect paying for itself. Note that even a rate reduction that goes below the point of maximum revenues can still meet that standard, because for any point above the maximum, there exists a point below it that brings in the same revenue.

The reason the "Bush" tax rate cuts, like the "Reagan" cuts before them, worked so well, is that they reduced those highest marginal tax rates to a level where people could improve their after-tax income by concentrating on making their investments profitable, and stop worrying about the tax implications. The money that was tied up in arcane shelter instruments came back to create new jobs. Tax revenues went up in real dollars under both the "Reagan" and "Bush" tax rate cuts.

However, there was a difference. The earlier cuts were "permanent", meaning that they would remain low until Congress took action to increase them again (during the Clinton administration) but the "Bush" cuts had a built-in expiration date, which will see them end this year unless Congress extends them with Jazz' permission. For several years now, taxpayers have been making investment decisions recognizing that Democratic majorities in Congress are very unlikely to "cut taxes on the rich", so the high-bracket marginal rates are nearly certain to rise back to pre-Bush levels.

Restoring those tax rate cuts, and committing to keep them for several years, will not need to be somehow tied to spending reductions to "pay for" them. As they have done before, they will again pay for themselves. Using our opponents' terminology of "tax cuts" reinforces their ability to frame the debate in terms of fiscal responsibility. We need to convey that cutting rates will actually be a tax increase. Everyone understands that a business can cut prices and increase revenues. We need to talk about tax rate cuts as putting taxes "on sale".

[Even if those tax rate reductions do result in lower revenues, we can't allow ourselves to be in favor of that being an excuse to raise the taxes. Government spending always costs us, regardless of how it's "paid for". But that is a topic for another day.]
[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]

Friday, August 20, 2010

A lesson for our times: The Cookies

Posted with the Author's permission

The Cookies
by Andrew Michaels
Copyright© 2010 by Andrew Michaels

A mother was contemplating a dilemma. Normally, she assigned cleaning the toilets as a grungy chore for misbehavior. But none of her five children had misbehaved enough to be assigned the chore, and the toilets really needed to be scrubbed.

Then she had an idea. She took five large cookies from a tray of leftovers from her latest ladies meeting, put them and a ziplock bag, and called all of her children to her. "I need the toilets cleaned," she told her children, "and I will give the five cookies in this bag to the one who cleans them." She then offered the task to her children beginning with the oldest. Each made an excuse: "Sorry, Mom, I have too much homework." "I promised my friends I would play ball with them." "I told Becky that I would come by." "I need to finish my school project today." Finally, she came to the youngest. He thought about the last time that he had to clean the toilets, and how the smell had almost made him sick. Then he thought about how delicious those cookies would taste. "OK, I will do it," the youngest told his mother.

He gathered the cleaning supplies, and went to each of the three toilets in the house, scrubbing them thoroughly. By the time he came to the third toilet, he was against almost sick from the smell. But he forced himself to finish, them reported to his mother that he was done.

Mother inspected the toilets, expecting to have to point out some areas for rework. She was impressed that her youngest had done a thorough job, not rushing through the task just to get finished. "You have done an excellent job," she told her youngest, "and here is your reward!", handing him the bag of cookies.

The child opened the bag of cookies, the delicious smell wiping out the nausea from the odor of the toilets. He started to reach into the bag for the first cookie.

"Not so fast," his father spoke. The father had come in the door from work just before the mother handed the boy the cookies, and decided he needed to teach a valuable lesson. "What were you planning on doing with those five cookies?"

"Eating them?" the youngest replied.

"Don't you think it is greedy for you to eat all five cookies?" his father continued.

"Not really, since I earned them," the son answered. "All of my brothers and sisters were offered the opportunity to earn the cookies. I only got the job because they refused."

"Regardless of that, we need CHANGE in this household. I cannot continue to reward selfish and greedy behavior in my house. Give me the bag," the father demanded.

The boy reluctantly handed the bag of cookies to his father. The father took the bag, and distributed one cookie to each of the siblings, leaving the smallest cookie in the bag and returning it to his son, who was in tears.

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," the father quipped, repeating a quote he had heard from Barack Obama. He was so proud to live in a country that had elected Barack Obama as president, a country that valued fairness above all else, a country that would no longer excuse greed and selfishness, just because someone supposedly "earned" their money.


The lesson had been well learned. No child ever volunteered to do another task in the house, no matter how great the reward the mother offered. Once the oldest figured out that they could call human services if the parents ever did anything to punish them, and shared that secret with his siblings, they ignored the threats of their parents. No child ever did another chore, spending their days in idleness and fun. As each came of age, they proudly took their place in public housing and on the welfare rolls, continuing their idle existence. The father could not figure out where the mother had gone wrong with their upbringing.

The End

Monday, August 9, 2010

Krista Branch: Remember Who We Are

Can't wait for the official video to come out. Here's a unofficial one for Krista Branch's new song:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Reason TV: Evolutionary Psychology

I've been planning on writing a series of posts about how our species evolved into its current condition, and how that process has influenced the way people think about the organization of society. Here is a husband-wife team of researchers into the very topic. Listen to what they have to say; it helps to explain a lot we need to be looking at.