The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM
Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
June 20, 2005 5:36 AM
Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
Oct. 31, 2005 12:41 AM
Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM
Americans Voting With Their Feet.
Nov. 30, 2005 1:33 PM
Idea Majorities Matter.
May 12, 2006 6:15 PM
Twilight Zone Economics.
Oct. 17, 2006 12:30 AM
The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
Dec. 13, 2006 1:01 PM
From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
Dec. 18, 2006 6:37 PM
Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
Dec. 21, 2006 12:31 PM
Let Economic Freedom Reign.
Dec. 22, 2006 10:22 PM
Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM
Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM
Right To Work States Rock.
June 9, 2008 12:25 PM
Social Security Reform Thursday.
March 13, 2008
Caption Contest: Enter Today!
Due: July 29, 2008
The Carnival Of Classiness.
Mar. 14, 2006
Quotational Therapy: Obama.
Apr. 4, 2008
Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
May 19, 2007
Pundit Roundtable: Leaks.
July 9, 2006
A WILLisms.com(ic), by Ken McCracken
July 14, 2006
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If Only He'd Pulled The Trigger
It is a classic ethical dilemma: if you could go back in time and strangle the baby Hitler, would you?
Well, Henry Tandey, recepient of the Victoria Cross and Britain's most-highly decorated private during World War I, was in an even better position to snuff out the Third Reich before its inception. He had Adolph Hitler in his sights at Marcoing, France (or perhaps earlier at Ypres).
He didn't pull the trigger.
As Wikipedia puts it: 'Hitler subsequently saw a newspaper report about Tandey being awarded the VC, recognized his photo, and kept it. Tandey, now a war hero, was featured in a famous painting by Italian artist Fortunino Matania, carrying a wounded soldier at Ypres. In 1937 Hitler asked Tandey's old regiment for a large photograph of the painting, which was sent. Captain Weidmann, Hitler's Adjutant, wrote the following response: 'I beg to acknowledge your friendly gift which has been sent to Berlin through the good offices of Dr. Schwend. The Fuhrer is naturally very interested in things connected with his own war experiences, and he was obviously moved when I showed him the picture and explained the thought which you had in causing it to be sent to him. He has directed me to send you his best thanks for your friendly gift which is so rich in memories.' Hitler also obtained a copy of Tandey's service record.
In 1938 when Neville Chamberlain visited Hitler at his alpine retreat, the Berghof, for discussions that led to the Munich Agreement, he saw the picture and asked about it. Hitler said "that man came so near to killing me that I thought I should never see Germany again, providence saved me from such devilishly accurate fire as those English boys were aiming at us". He also asked Chamberlain to convey his best wishes and gratitude to Tandey, so Chamberlain promised to phone Tandey in person on his return, which he did.
At the outbreak of the Second World War Tandey tried to rejoin his regiment to make sure "he didn't escape a second time" but failed the physical because of old war wounds. He was living in Coventry when the Luftwaffe bombed it in 1940, and only survived a collapsing building by sheltering in a doorway. He was also in London during the Blitz and told a journalist in 1940, "if only I had known what he would turn out to be. When I saw all the people, woman and children he had killed and wounded I was sorry to God I let him go".'
There is a lesson in here somewhere, but I am not sure what it is. That an act of kindness can end up loosing a horror upon the world? That you should always go ahead and shoot? How about this: the world is thoroughly inscrutable, and second-guessing contingencies is a complete waste of time.
Taliban 'Offensive' Going Nowhere
Yep, I told you that the vaunted Taliban spring offensive, supposed to be the largest and most powerful yet, would sputter and fail.
American airpower in particular has been devastating to the woefully underequipped and poorly-trained Talibs. AK-47's are no match for Apache helicopters, as Taliban commander Mullah Najibullah should have known before attacking U.S. and coalition forces in Helmand province.You can see stills of Najibullah's recent demise on video here.
The Taliban have been so ineffectual and inept thus far, that Army Col. Mark Schweitzer, commander of forces in eastern Afghanistan, is not even sure the much-anticipated spring offensive has even begun. "I hope this is their spring offensive, because it's not very effective," Schweitzer said.
Busting Liberal Myths
Here is a leftist bit of propaganda that is utterly, completely false:
President Bush LIED in his 2003 SOTU speech when he said that the British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa .
It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Nigers exports, the intelligence was credible.
The report has been criticized because France supposedly controls Niger's uranium mines. Ahem - wasn't that the same France that built the Osirak nuclear reactor for Saddam? The French track record of preventing proliferation has been less-than-stellar, so color me unimpressed.
Anyway, the Senate did its own investigation, and also found this claim to be credible. Not only that, no less a person than Joe Wilson himself helped prove through his report that "for most analysts" Wilson's trip to Niger "lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal."
So this debunking is a two-fer: first, it proves Bush told the truth, second, it proves that Wilson told anything but the truth when he later claimed that Iraq was not seeking yellowcake from Niger.
In related news, Dean Esmay is trying to put together an Iraq Wiki which will also debunk liberal myths, including such classic hits as:
Dean needs your help in this valuable cause - go check it out.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 101
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
President Bush delivers remarks about worldwide anti-terrorism efforts and the war in Iraq during a speech at East Grand Rapids High School in East Grand Rapids, Mich., Friday, April 20, 2007.Oh what a rotten caption. Tell us the real story here, and give us a real caption.
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, May 1. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at email@example.com.
2. Jim Rose:
If captioning doesn't kill you, it only makes you stronger. Enter today!
Toyota Passes GM.... And Not Arbitrarily, Either.
Here in Austin, one of the above-the-fold front page headlines this morning dealt with Toyota surpassing GM in sales:
Toyota Motor Corp. sold more cars and trucks around the world in the first three months of 2007 than any other manufacturer, surpassing General Motors Corp. for the first time and ending one of the longest runs of dominance in global industry.
A couple of Trivia Tidbits from yore on the topic shed light on why:
My blogging will hopefully resume a regular schedule soon, by the way.
Quotational Therapy: Part 134 -- Joe Biden Blames Everything On Gingrich.
Republicans taking over Congress in 1994 led to pretty much everything bad over the past several years, according to Delaware Senator Joseph Biden.
Check out this eye-popper of a quotation:
"I would argue, since 1994 with the Gingrich revolution, just take a look at Iraq, Venezuela, Katrina, what's gone down at Virginia Tech, Darfur, Imus. Take a look. This didn't happen accidentally, all these things."
The picture alone speaks volumes about the good Reverend's renewed stature in the Democratic Party:
This quote, incidentally, is very difficult to find in media articles, even as swarms of media gathered around Sharpton's organization in the wake of the Don Imus incident.
How could that be?
Why would our reliable and trustworthy media obfuscate and omit this particular "hate speech"?
They just wouldn't do that, so there must be some mistake.
And let's not act like Biden was the only one in attendance last Thursday. All the major Democrats showed up to preach at the pulpit of the First Sharpton Church.
Hillary Clinton threw this unintentionally hilarious bit out there:
"When I walk into the oval office in January 2009 I’m afraid I’m going to lift up the rug and find so much stuff under there....what is it that we have to clean up after people, but this is not just picking socks up off the floor,” Clinton said.
Does she not remember her husband's administration? Or the way they left the White House completely trashed-- literally trashed-- when they left office?
The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 100
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Jimmie 'J.J.' Walker, best known for his work on the comedy series "Good Times", and columnist Ann Coulter pose together backstage at the taping of the 5th Annual TV Land Awards in Santa Monica, California April 14, 2007. The show will be telecast on the TV Land cable channel April 22.Lamest.caption.EVAR! Tell us what is really going on here, with a real caption.
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, April 24. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Justin B :
Captioning is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Enter today!
America = Federal Government?
So much for the pioneer spirit of independent self-reliance, I guess. Just pay your taxes unblinkingly with a huge smile on your face, or, according to Matt Stoller, you are unAmerican!
"And I suppose, if you hate democracy, as the right-wing does, then taxes are the price for paying for something you really don't want. Personally, I find banking fees, high cable and internet charges, health care costs, and credit card hidden charges much more abrasive than taxes, because with those I'm just being ripped off to pay for someone's summer home."
Yep. If you in any way express support for the idea of lower taxes, you hate democracy! I guess that means John Fitzgerald Kennedy hated democracy. That's not all - wanting to cut taxes makes you 'deeply unpatriotic and immoral' and a 'charlatan' on top of it, especially if you are Grover Norquist. As if you have the democratic right to question how the public's money is spent.
Isn't this blog post just the precise type of thing that liberals claim to hate so much about McCarthyism? Who is Matt Stoller to proclaim that anyone is 'unAmerican' or 'deeply unpatriotic'? You can make your points without making extreme claims about the patriotism, morality, sanity, intelligence, etc., of your enemies. Not that the points he tries to make without ad hominem attacks aren't without their flaws: in addition to thinking that the federal government is the reason America exists, Stoller thinks that taxes somehow equal democracy. How America became a thriving democracy for over one hundred years before the creation of the income tax, Stoller does not explain.
(h/t Patrick Ruffini)
'The Voice Of God'
A clip about Don LaFontaine. You might not recognize him, at least by his face . . .
Mission Impossible: Negroponte Goes To Sudan
Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte arrived in Sudan yesterday to attempt to convince the Sudanese government to allow UN peacekeepers into Darfur. Darfur is wracked by genocidal violence between the government and the Janjaweed militia, against several rebel groups operating in the region. The Janjaweed are basically privateers on horseback, paid a stipend by the Sudanese army and keeping whatever plunder they can take. While the Sudanese government denies any sponsorship, the State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Haroun is under indictment by the International Criminal Court for atrocities committed in Darfur (Humanitarian Affairs? How Orwellian is that. War is peace, freedom is slavery and all that.)
Negroponte hopes to convince President
Omar al-Bashir to allow UN peacekeepers approved by UN
Security Council Resolution 1706 which calls for 22,500 UN troops to support
the 7,000 African Union peackeepers already in Sudan. The AP
reports that "Sudan's government has agreed to the initial stages of
the proposed deployment. But President Omar al-Bashir has rejected full deployment,
concerned that Sudanese sovereignty will be violated and the troops will arrest
Sudanese officials suspected of authorizing war crimes."
Meanwhile, Senator Joe Biden said this week that it was a 'moral imperative' for the U.S. to send troops also, adding that 2,500 troops could "radically change the situation on the ground now."
Dear Joe, it may already be too late:
Click to enlarge. This image is a public domain product of the U.S. Government.
Don Imus' Crime: Rapping While White
I suppose I should be describing Don Imus' 'nappy-headed hos' comment as reprehensible, disgusting, etcetera and so on . . . but I can't in all honesty bring myself to do it. On a scale of 1 to 10 it feels like about a 2.5 on the outrageous statement richter scale - and that is not nearly high enough for someone to get fired over. Rosie O'Donnell's 'truther' statements, and Barney Frank accusing President Bush of ethnic cleansing in New Orleans are far more outrageous and inflammatory, not the least because they both accused the President of heinously criminal behavior.
Yes, prostitution is also illegal, but it seems that in rap culture, calling someone a 'ho' does not mean someone is literally being accused of prostitution. In fact, from what I have seen from rap culture, calling someone a 'bitch' or a 'ho' is so common now it has become banal, and drained of all pernicious meaning. Unless it is a cranky white guy saying that about black women, and suddenly the term 'ho' is reinfused with supposedly outrageous content.
If Imus were black . . . would this even be an issue?
Is it really fair for two race-baiting, hate-filled black men, such as Al 'Crown Heights' Sharpton, and Jesse 'Hymietown' Jackson to point fingers at anyone about what they say? When Al Sharpton dresses down young black rappers about their misogynistic lyrics on his radio show as he did to Imus, and when Jesse Jackson organizes a boycott against Death Row Records, perhaps they will have regained a modicum of moral authority to even speak on such a matter.
Imus has thrown himself at the feet of and kissed the rings of these two race hustling extortionists - but when are we going to get sincere apologies from Sharpton, in particular? Mike Nifong has apologized for his 'errors in judgement' in the Duke non-rape case, but when are we going to get apologies from Nancy Grace, the New York Times, or the 88 Duke professors who proclaimed the preordained guilt of those three innocent white men?
The media has now turned me into a Don Imus supporter, even though I have never heard his show and frankly don't know much about him. I am opposed to this dreary, predictable media-directed kabuki theater that seeks to pit blacks against whites in a black-and-white morality tale. I am not cheering along with the self-righteous mob as they throw Imus onto the PC bonfire.
Stem Cell Sleight-Of-Hand
Here is a very encouraging article on the success of stem cells at literally curing diabetes, which is of course awesomely great news.
But read the article, and a few little odd things jump out: the article does not mention that the successful treatment was accomplished with adult stem cells - and yet the article gratuitously goes out of its way to note that President Bush is a critic of embryonic stem cell research (at least when funded by the federal government) which had nothing to do with this incredible breakthrough.
I guess there is always room in a news story to take a swipe at the President, no matter what the story! And the way this story is written borders on dishonesty in my humble opinion.
I am not one of those folks that gets hung up on embryonic stem cell research - but I am one of those folks that gets hung up on 'journalists' trying to score political points.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 99
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Contestants for the upcoming Miss Philippines-Earth 2007 pageant wave during a photo opportunity at a hotel in Makati City, south of Manila April 11, 2007.What a pathetic excuse for a caption! Please give us a real one.
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, April 17. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at email@example.com.
What a bonus crop of great entries, folks! Heh, but with a pic like that, you have a lot to work with . . .
2. Rodney Dill:
3. Harry L:
Caption, and the world captions with you. Enter today!
The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Today is the 142nd anniversay of the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse, the final defeat of the Confederacy which led to Robert E. Lee's surrender. Though not a huge battle by Civil War standards, it of course is important for finally ending the conflict.
A famous bit of trivia about the battle: the formal surrender
took place in a house owned by Wilmer McClean. McClean originally owned a
farm in Manassas, Virginia, and the First Battle of Bull Run took place on
his land. To escape further brushes with the war, he moved house to Appomattox
Courthouse, Virginia. When the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse finished, Ulysses
S. Grant took Robert E. Lee's formal surrender in McClean's drawing room.
Thus, the American Civil War 'started in Wilmer McLean's back yard, and ended
in his front parlor.'
More Media Malpractice
It is this kind of dishonest, defeatist article that drives conservatives absolutely nuts about the liberal, agenda-driven press. Surrender advocate (i.e., 'journalist') Mark Thompson of TIME claims that the U.S. military is 'broken-down', and profiles a young soldier named Matthew Zeimer killed in Iraq as proof. Thompson claims that the soldier received inadequate training, and implies that this is what killed him (never mind that another soldier killed alongside Zeimer was a 14-month Iraq combat veteran). Here is what Thompson says about Zeimer's training:
Zeimer and about 140 other members of the 4,000-strong brigade got a cut-rate, 10-day course on weapon use, first aid and Iraqi culture. That's the same length as the course that teaches soldiers assigned to generals' household staffs the finer points of table service.
Ray Robinson at RealClearPolitics absolutely excoriates Thompson's shoddy reporting here, by actually researching Zeimer's background. Lo and behold, Zeimer actually had months and months of training, including training in Kuwait, before he went to Iraq. Robinson was able to Google this information in mere moments.
Either Mark Thomspon doesn't know how to Google, or . . . he is a partisan hack more interested in delivering John Murtha's talking points than the truth. Either way, he should not be employed at a supposedly prestigious publication like TIME.
Quotational Therapy: Part 133 -- JFK On Taxes.
Kennedy Seemed To Understand That Some Tax Cuts Pay For Themselves-
What's the deal with Democrats these days? On foreign policy, other than Joe Lieberman, there's really no such thing as a "Scoop Jackson" type of Democrat. On trade, they've almost all gone "native" (as in nativist, isolationist, protectionist, etc.). On abortion, formerly pro-life Democrats who want to do well in primaries are now ardently pro-choice, and it's difficult to name a single pro-life Democrat in Congress today.
On domestic economic policy, meanwhile, Democrats have completely fallen off the cliff. When we had a Cold War going on, there were plenty of Democrats who still seemed to believe in the power of free enterprise. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the extinction of the conservative Southern Democrat, today's Howard Dean-run Democratic Party has lurched severely to the left and down into the swamps of economic illiteracy.
Indeed, there is not a single prominent Democrat today who could deign to give this speech, by President Kennedy in 1962:
A couple of excerpts:
That is the right kind of a tax cut both for your family budget and the national budget resulting from a permanent basic reform and reduction in our rate structure, a creative tax cut creating more jobs and income and eventually more revenue.
Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create a new job and a new salary. And these new jobs and new salaries can create other jobs and other salaries and more customers and more growth for an expanding American economy.
The Club For Growth blog has the entire transcript.
What's the deal, Democrats? In an era of increased global economic competition, we need to constantly strive to make America the best place on earth to do business. Democrats in the Midwest last year talked a lot about outsourcing and out-of-whack CEO pay and such, but where are the solutions? Where are the ideas to grow the economy at a rapid and sustained rate? What are the practical things we can do to beat the pants off the Chinese, economically-speaking, in the next half century?
Why is there no Democrat today who can admit, at the very least one or two of the following points:
-that President Bush's tax cuts have been good for rich, poor, and everyone in between.
While Kennedy was no free market radical by any stretch of the imagination, he did seem to grasp that cutting exorbitant tax rates was a great way to stimulate the economy and make everyone better off. Today's Democrats could learn a lot from this speech.
The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 437 -- Taxes Are Too High.
Flatter, Simpler, Fairer Tax Code The Only Solution-
The American Shareholders blog has an ugly (a little blurry) graph with some great information, so I made it prettier and not blurry:
Just in case you were wondering what a "heavy progressive or graduated income tax" looks like. And also just in case you were under the mistaken impression that Bush's tax cuts were just some scheme to make his rich buddies happy and harm the poor.
And, yes, those words in quotes are from the Communist Manifesto. I am always surprised more people don't tie Marx's writing to the Democrats in America. Is it a fear of being labeled a "McCarthyite" or something? Is it because most Americans have no idea who Karl Marx was?
Because, yikes, we're still far from a socialist nation, but the Communist Manifesto sure reads like the Democratic Party's legislative agenda these days (or vice-versa), especially since the extinction of the moderating force that was the conservative Southern Democrat.
And on taxes, it's high time that America moved away from Karl Marx and Noam Chomsky and back toward Adam Smith and Milton Friedman.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: It Costs Too Much To Do Our Taxes.
'Damascus Nancy' And Unlawful Diplomacy
Nancy Pelosi's recent bumbling foray into foreign policy with Syria shows why diplomacy should be left to that branch of government - the executive branch - that actually has the authority to conduct it. Pelosi conveyed a 'peace message' from Ehud Olmert to Bashar Assad that - woops! - the Israeli government says it never gave to Pelosi. Apparently Nuancy not only missed the shades of gray there, she missed the black and white as well.
Amateurish and embarassing, yes, but is it illegal also? There is a law called the Logan Act that forbids U.S. citizens from conducting diplomacy without approval from the government. The act, as amended in 2004, reads as follows:
18 U.S.C. § 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments.
Members of Congress are not immune from the Act, nor do members of Congress have any constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy. The role of the Senates in foreign policy is basically to ratify treaties and confirm ambassadors. The role of the House is to declare war, and control the purse strings. That's it, no more - only the President has the power to actually conduct or authorize foreign policy and diplomacy. Congress has no more authority to conduct diplomacy than it has to tell General Petraeus how to run the war in Iraq (and why do Democrats find it chronically impossible to understand the separation of powers doctrine? Is it laziness, political expediency, or mis/disinformation? Inquiring minds want to know).
Some have come close to violating the Logan Act: in 1971 John Kerry treacherously met with North Vietnamese government officials in Paris while President Nixon was trying to negotiate peace. Kerry much more recently raised toasts with the mullahs in Iran while proclaiming that the U.S. is a 'pariah state'. The irony of declaring the U.S a pariah state from Tehran was obviously lost on the master of nuance. Speaker of the House Jim Wright nearly ran afoul of it for meeting with the Sandinistas, Jesse Jackson came up with a propaganda 'agreement' with Fidel Castro, and Messrs. Jim McDermott and David Bonior infamously provided aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein on the eve of the Iraq invasion.
Given that history, can Nancy Pelosi be prosecuted under the terms of the Logan Act? Well, sure. A federal grand jury can indict a ham sandwich if it so chooses, but such a case is not likely to go anywhere for a myriad of reasons. As a matter of practical policy, no one has ever been prosecuted under the Act since it was passed in 1799. Moreover, the Logan Act may well be unconstitutional because it is vague and overbroad, thus leaving citizens to guess what behavior is proscribed, and criminalizing speech that would otherwise be protected. There is a question however, as to whether First Amendment protections extend to speech by U.S. citizens in foreign countries. But, no matter: it would be politically impossible for such a prosecution to take place. If the DoJ ever tried to prosecute the Speaker of the House for conducting unlawful diplomacy, it would certainly, invariably, lead to more silly show trials on the Hill, more calls for the impeachment of Bush, and spin in the mainstream media that would attempt to convince you that Pelosi, not Bush, is actually President.
Sadly, too many Americans would believe that to make such a prosecution possible.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 436 -- It Costs Way Too Much To Fill Out Our Taxes.
Flatter, Simpler, Fairer Tax Code The Only Solution-
As "Tax Day" quickly approaches and ever more of those H&R Block commercials appear on television and radio sets, let's revisit the issue of tax compliance costs.
A great graphic from USA TODAY:
More than 300 billion dollars. H&R Block's dream, in other words.
And some text to go with it:
...that is a 20% levy on top of the $1.5 trillion they will actually pay in taxes.
The IRS Commissioner is paying a pro to do his taxes... because he doesn't want the IRS to audit him. That says a lot about not just our tax code but the pernicious and overzealous nature of the IRS itself.
Go look at the original data at the website of The Tax Foundation.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Spam Is Costly To The Economy.
International Tax Competition: Capital & People Go Where They Are Treated Well.
Some interesting actions on tax policy from around the world.
Sweden looking to rid itself of its unfair "wealth tax" that is driving some its best and brightest out of the country:
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Maybe the next Bjorn Borg won't feel compelled to move to Monaco now that Sweden plans to scrap a decades-old "wealth" tax that imposes levies on assets -- not just on income.
So, yeah. Money flows to where it is treated well. Countries around the world have begun to understand this, for the most part.
It's why so many countries in recent years have adopted flatter, lower taxes, and dropped some of their protectionist tariffs and such. Not surprisingly, these countries, like Ireland and Iceland, are flourishing economically.
The Czech Republic is now proposing a flat tax:
The Czech government has announced a raft of major tax reform plans, which include a flat tax on personal income, a significant reduction in tax on corporate income, and changes to the value-added tax regime.
And India is looking seriously at major tax reform.
Dubai has gone from a desert wasteland to the most exciting city on the planet, not on the strength of oil, but because it is now a low-tax financial hub.
Even the UK is cutting its corporate tax rates, if only slightly.
Even in Germany there are steps in the lower-tax direction, especially on personal and corporate tax rates (being cut roughly 10 points).
Hong Kong and Singapore have enjoyed rapid growth and now rank among the world's wealthiest jurisdictions -- thanks, in part, to their low tax rates and open markets. But no good deed goes unpunished. Today, both thriving jurisdictions face possible economic sanctions courtesy of the U.S. Congress.
This is just mindnumbingly stupid.
Meanwhile, as America's political class has developed a phobia of doing anything that could be perceived as beneficial for the evil corporations, and other countries have aggressively lowered their business taxes, the United States suddenly has the second-highest corporate income taxes in the industrialized world.
Tax competition around the world has yielded some highly illuminating results, and we ignore those results at our own economic peril. Low-tax countries are just plain doing better economically than high-tax countries. And you can even see the results of tax competition within the United States itself. Capital and people are fleeing high tax states and moving to low tax states.
It's so obvious, yet we still have these economically illiterate knuckledraggers like Dorgan and Levin, completely beholden to the dying labor unions, with their protectionism, isolationism, and socialism, now in power in the Senate.
The United States still has many advantages, economically-speaking. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, however, America is below average in two important categories:
The two low points in an otherwise fantastic report card:
Fiscal Freedom - 79.4%
Our advantages are being undermined by our burdensome tax policies, and now our very economy is threatened by our new Congress.
It's time to throw Dorgan (and Conrad, while we're at it) out of office and back into the frozen, desolate streets of Bismarck or Fargo or wherever he is from. It's time to elect Senators in every allegedly-Republican state who, even if they are not pure free market conservatives, are are least not beholden to the worst kind of long-discredited mercantilist labor union hocus-pocus now so rampant in Congress.
When Democrats are in charge, they clearly have no problem letting the lunatics run the show. When Republicans are in charge, you may not necessarily have ideologically or philosophically "pure" conservatives in committee chairmanships, but at least there's a buffer that keeps clowns like Levin and Dorgan from getting anywhere with their "low tax nation blacklists" and such. And-- occasionally-- when the GOP is in power, you'll even get someone like Paul Ryan or Mike Pence fighting for and succeeding in advancing economic liberty.
In 2006, a lot of Republican-leaning voters sat out or even voted for Democrats, to send a message. Now we face the end of the "free trade era" in America. We face one of the largest tax increases in world history amidst a climate of global economic competition-- and global tax cuts. We face the ironically named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). We now face more pork than ever, with less accountability, and no entitlement reform anywhere on or over the horizon. Forget the tort reform movement. Forget property rights advances. Forget deregulation and privatization. Forget fixing SARBOX's excesses. Forget all sorts of issues where Republicans were making slow-but-steady advances before this last election.
Just forget about it. Jimmy Hoffa is still apparently very much alive and is now in charge of America's economic policy.
No, but there are no differences between the parties or anything silly like that. Republicans are just as bad as Democrats.
For those who sat out in 2006 to send a message, consider for a moment how that message has actually been received and interpreted by the left-leaning establishment media and the Democrats now in power.
All they've heard is, "we want left-wing economics. Please, we beg of you, give us left-wing economics!"
Why Did Iran Capitulate?
Iran thinks it has achieved a great propaganda coup by 'pardoning' the sailors and giving Tony Blair an Easter gift by returning them to Britain. In the twisted way such things are perceived today, releasing the hostages (calling them 'prisoners' makes a mockery of the situation) has in fact made Iran look reasonable and wonderful to the credulous among us.
Don't believe for a minute that Iran released the hostages from any magnanimous intent. In fact, Iran capitulated by releasing the sailors, and it demonstrates weakness on their part and not strength.
It seems a bit odd, and quite out of character for a regime that held Americans for 444 days to suddenly feel all warm and forgiving when it comes to hostages. Iran fears an attack against its atomic enrichment and research sites, and holding hostages would presumably be something of an insurance policy against such an attack. As the embarrassing inaction and limp response from the British wore on, it should have occurred to the Iranian mullahs that it was possible to drag the crisis out indefinitely, raising the stature of Iran among the Muslim crazies throughout the world, cause confidence to wilt in America's most important ally, and instill fear of growing Persian power among their neighbors in the gulf.
So why did Iran give in?
The only reason that makes any sense is that George W. Bush issued an ultimatum. When you are routinely painted as a bloodthirsty warmonger with nukes who lives for killing Muslims (never mind that he has liberated more Muslims than any Muslim ever has) your ultimatums have a certain credibility. So instead of holding the hostages indefinitely, the Iranians decided to wring what little benefit they could from the situation and opted for a propaganda coup. For once, the Iranians did the wise thing instead of acting upon their usual primitive impulses.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 435 -- Spam Costs.
Wasting The World's Productive Flavor-
According to a group called "Nucleus Research," spam messages sent to the inboxes of American workers are responsible not just for a little wasted time here or there, but more than 70 billion dollars annually:
:: Looking at the total e-mail traffic, Nucleus estimates that at least 90 percent of e-mail reaching corporate servers is spam.
But spam-blocking filters, spam sequestration, and such seem to have helped a little bit over the past couple of years:
Even with expensive and burdensome spam filters, spams just keep getting through to personal and business email accounts, alike.
The study calculates the costs based on 21 spam emails received per day per worker, and 16 seconds for the average worker to deal with any given spam (identifying it as spam, maybe reporting it as spam, then deleting it). Sixteen seconds seems like a long time, as some spam emails are easy to identify and delete within a few seconds, but if you run a small business, each email could be a potential or existing customer, so the delete process can't be handled so wantonly. Moreover, 21 spam emails might be on the low side for anyone who has had the same email address for more than a year or two.
And that number does not even count all of the negative effects of spam-killing overkill.
Think about all of those times when someone told you they sent you an email, but you never got it because it was in your spam folder-- or even automatically zapped by an IT guy or your spam-prevention software. Think about all the times you've tried sending a legitimate (and maybe even important) email to someone that did not get through for whatever reason. Think about all the time you've spent sifting through the spam quarantine folder hoping to find an important email you've been waiting on.
Indeed, certain spam-fighting strategies actually contribute additional costs on top of the base costs:
Deleting spam without user review is the most costly policy for corporations, costing the average user 7.3 minutes per week or an additional $183 per user per year.
In blogging terms, the trillions of spam comments I receive each second cause all sorts of problems, most of all wasted productivity. The trillions of trackback spams received each second have essentially ended trackbacks as a useful tool for inter-blog communication.
Spam is not free speech, and it is not a legitimate advertising method. Unsolicited and infested with fraud, scams, and objectionable material, spams are more than a waste of time. They amount to harassment. Often, they are just pure nihilistic gibberish-- 100% meaningless and not at all effective even just as a potential scam. Seriously, what is the point of some of those kinds of spam emails?
In terms of practical solutions, there may not really be any at the moment. Many spammers set up camp in Africa or Asia or otherwise out of the purview of anyone who could do anything about the sources of spam. A "Do Not Spam" registry would probably be mockingly gleaned and used by spammers.
The only thing that might get through to American-based spammers is a cold, hard jail cell, although hastily-written anti-spam legislation might lead to all sorts of unintended consequences, including the undue violation of liberty.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: We All Need School Choice.
Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 98
This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York reacts to seeing and old friend during a campaign stop at the National Education Association New Hampshire, in Concord, N.H., Friday, March 30, 2007.Sheesh, do you believe that caption? I don't! Give us a proper one, please.
Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, April 10. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. charles austin:
Captioning is its own reward. Enter today!
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 434 -- Texas Needs School Choice.
Fantastic Savings Possible-
Some school choice research from the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation:
...each dropout costs the state $3,168 per year in lost tax revenue and increased Medicaid and incarceration costs, every year for the rest of his or her life. Each year’s class of dropouts costs the state $377 million every year. A modest school choice program, increasing private school enrollment by 5 percentage points, would improve public school graduation rates, reducing dropouts by up to 17,440 students per year, saving up to $53 million per year in public costs.
Those costs come from higher rates of incarceration, higher rates of Medicaid utilization, and lost tax revenue.
For example, note how many more dropouts than non-dropouts require Medicaid funds (.pdf):
Calculations of savings from school choice depend on school choice programs reducing the dropout rate. In studies across the country, this is decidedly the case. Much more on this phenomenon and others is available at the Friedman Foundation. There are a lot of reasons people oppose school choice. "It costs too much" really shouldn't be one of those reasons.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: Our Official Government Think-Tanks Are Doing A Poor Job.
Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 433 -- JCT & CBO Projections.
Very Wrong, Very Often-
You have have heard or read about the recent controversy involving the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Basically, the CRS, now that the Republicans are no longer in charge, will no longer track earmarks/pork passing through Congress. Pretty shady business, there.
But the CRS is not the only taxpayer-funded organization to play politics with research and analysis. Other essentially in-house government think-tanks have some 'splaining to do, when it comes to their faulty projections, slanted assumptions, and often worthless analysis.
The track record of both the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation are terrible:
...Congress cut the capital gains tax rate from 20 percent to 15 percent in 2003. The JCT estimated that this would cause a revenue loss of $5.4 billion from 2003 to 2006.
First, a visual of the JCT's 138 billion dollar error, with regard to Capital Gains tax relief:
Next, the CBO's 68% error:
And that's just the Capital Gains tax relief.
JCT and CBO made the same estimating errors for the 1997 capital gains rate cut, underestimating capital gains tax revenue by $217 billion in the first two years after the cut alone. But, inexcusably, the two agencies learned absolutely zero from the 1997 experience and went ahead with similarly ridiculous projections for the 2003 rate cuts.
Lots of errors on display here, typically due to a lack of dynamic analysis of the effects of tax policies, and a lack of understanding of pro-growth policies. Sure, on a static balance sheet, cutting taxes will reduce revenue, especially in the short run. But reducing tax rates also propels economic growth, narrowing the expected revenue gap. Over the long haul, though, lower taxes (and the economic conditions created by them) produce higher levels of tax revenues than higher taxes.
Unfortunately, Congress relies heavily on CBO and JCT projections to make its decisions; even some Republicans in Congress sometimes reject proposed free market reforms because they would be "too costly" according to the CRS, CBO, and JCT. The Washington press corps also relies on these official governmental publications to frame their articles on a variety of policy topics.
Whether it's tax policy, Social Security, health care, education, or just about anything else, our government's official analysts seem to consistently spin the numbers in a partisan/ideological fashion, hurting free market conservative Republican proposals in the process. Maybe they are doing it on purpose, or maybe they are just incompetent. Either way, it's bad.
While trying to abolish these acronym-heavy government organizations, or even replace their personnel (pretending for a moment that conservatives control Congress), would be fodder for the latest media-driven non-scandal, fitting perfectly into the narrative about Republicans firing civil servants with which they disagree, something really must happen to change the way these groups project consequences of policy proposals.
In a global economy increasingly reliant on information, we just deserve better from our "official" think-tanks.
Previous Trivia Tidbit: A Little Less Tax Freedom This Year.
Quotational Therapy: Part 132 -- Ronald Reagan.
Message To British Parliament, June 8, 1982-
In light of the British hostage situation in Iran, let's turn to Ronald Wilson Reagan for a little perspective. Twenty-five years ago, President Reagan addressed Margaret Thatcher's British Parliament.
This is precisely our mission today: to preserve freedom as well as peace. It may not be easy to see, but I believe we live now at a turning point. In an ironic sense, Karl Marx was right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis -- a crisis where the demands of the economic order are conflicting directly with those of the political order.
Read the entire speech here.
One wonders how Reagan and Thatcher would have handled the recent provocation from the Iranian theocracy.
Previous Quotational Therapy Session:
The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.
A pink bluebonnet, amongst the regular bluebonnets:
Must be an Aggie April Fool's joke. At least it wasn't maroon.