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Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 584 -- Globalization.

Our Recent Throwback To 1930s Policy Not A Good Sign-

The world is changing rapidly. Meanwhile, many of our nation's political leaders are feeling nostalgic about the 1960s or 1930s. Republicans had a lot of fresh ideas and a lot of steam behind those ideas in the 1990s but couldn't get anywhere with them with a Democrat in the White House. Unfortunately, despite the persistent myth about total Republican dominance of government during the Bush administration, Democrats still controlled the Senate until after the 2002 elections. Republicans really didn't advance the ball much on all of those pending issues from the 1990s until after 2002.

From early 2003 to early 2005, Republicans got a few things done at the federal level. Pretty major tax relief. Various reforms. But Democrats and saboteur RINOs such as Arlen Specter still had enough votes to kill meaningful entitlement reform, meaningful education reform, meaningful tax code reform, and so forth and so on.

These policies are meaningful. India has more honors students than America has students, and they have no plans to abide by silly climate change treaties. The United States is accumulating debt at an extremely rapid and accelerated pace, all while watching the rest of the world become more competitive as they lower their tax burdens and we either stand still or raise ours.

We needed a change in 2008. That was obvious. We went entirely the wrong direction, however.

This video has a lot of facts and figures about the future of the world, and America's place within it:

We won't make America more competitive through socialized medicine, higher taxes, ignoring the entitlement bubble, and otherwise undermining our limited government roots. We're increasingly carrying around a government-induced burden that is simply not sustainable. More and bigger government is not the cure, it is the very virus that is dragging us down.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Obama Boosted By Media.

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 April 2009 11:38 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 583 -- Obama's Glowing News Coverage.

Media Bias Alive & Well-

The non-partisan Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University has done some research on Obama's first months, and found that he is still the golden boy of the media:

Mr. Obama has received not only more press but also better press than his immediate predecessors. On the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news, fifty-eight percent of all evaluations of the president and his policies have been favorable, and 42 percent were unfavorable. CMPA’s previous studies of network news found that George W. Bush received only 33 percent positive evaluations by sources and reporters during the first 50 days of his administration in 2001, and Bill Clinton received only 44 percent positive evaluations during his first ten weeks (70 days) in office in 1993.

This is all very reminiscent of the 2008 campaign season, which the media gave to Obama through their consistent praise (.pdf):


The positive coverage for Obama was the best media coverage any candidate has received since the CMPA began analyzing coverage in 1988. It is a real scandal.


A great video recap of Obama's first 100 days:


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Debt Under Obama.

Posted by Will Franklin · 29 April 2009 01:12 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 582 -- Debt!

Major Acceleration Under Obama-


This speaks for itself.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Corporate Taxes.

Posted by Will Franklin · 28 April 2009 03:55 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 581 -- Corporate Taxes

America Not Paying Attention To Global Trends-

Some global trends on corporate taxation, from KPMG (.pdf):


The numbers are similar for both the entire world, as well as just the developed world:


Some discussion on America's place in the world:

United States (2008 rate = 40%) The marginal federal corporate income tax rate on the highest income bracket of corporations (for 2007, USD 18,333,333 and above) is 35 percent. State and local governments may also impose income taxes ranging from less than 1 percent to 12 percent, and the top marginal rates of which average approximately 7.5 percent. A corporation may deduct its state and local income tax expense when computing its federal taxable income, generally resulting in a net effective rate of approximately 40 percent. The effective rate may vary significantly depending on the locality in which a corporation conducts business. The United States also has a parallel alternative minimum tax (AMT) system, which is generally characterized by a lower tax rate (20 percent) but a broader tax base.

The United States once had a corporate rate in line with the world, maybe even lower than some of the direct competitors in the world. Now, we've been passed by all of our competitors.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Massive, Rapid Debt Accumulation.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 April 2009 08:13 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 580 -- Massive Debt Accumulation.


Let's start off by saying that a little bit of government debt, in and of itself, is not a terrible thing. Debt can be healthy, productive, and useful.

There is a tipping point, however. When crippling levels of debt are accumulated rapidly and future balance sheets just don't add up, we've got a problem.

Right now, we have a problem. Government debt, driven mostly by entitlement spending, has truly gone beyond reasonable levels. Without major entitlement reform, we're looking at junk status in a generation or so.

The first 100 days of the Obama administration are not promising, from a debt accumulation perspective:


Woah, nellie. Let's pull up on the reigns a little bit.

While we're on the subject of debt, let's inject a bit of yesterday's hypothetical Texas secession talk in here. Texas has the second lowest debt per-capita of all the states in the union. Maybe Texas is on to something there.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Is A Donor State, Even Militarily.

Posted by Will Franklin · 24 April 2009 09:20 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 579 -- America's Military & Texas' Contribution.

Texas, A Whole Other Country-

With the wild talk about Texas secession very much still alive out there (despite the fact that Governor Perry, who served in the United States Air Force for 5 years, never advocated secession-- but I digress), and rather dubious polls showing that 40% of Texas independents and roughly half of Texas Republicans favor secession, I thought it might be interesting to look at some hypotheticals. This is bar talk type of stuff, and totally theoretical (for fun, not serious), but let's really dig into how Texas would fare as its own country, and let's look at what an incredible void that would leave in America.

Today, let's look at the military. I've heard a lot of left-wingers make sneering comments about how dysfunctional Texas would be without the wonderful federal government's help and how Texas would lose America's military shield and be taken over by Mexico or some other third world country.

False. Let's preface this by saying that Texas is a donor state. Texas sends more tax dollars to the "banks" of the Potomac and elsewhere than it receives back in benefits, and that figure includes federal dollars spent on military personnel, equipment, and facilities inside of Texas. Only 8 states receive fewer federal dollars per capita than Texas. If you take out the military spending number, which counts as federal spending received by the state, Texas' donor state status becomes even more pronounced.

That's important. Any discussion along the lines of "how are you going to build roads, Texas? Out of magical libertarian fantasy dust?" is really, really misinformed. Again, Texas sends MORE elsewhere than it gets back. In other words, if Texas were freed from having to subsidize the rest of the country, we'd be just fine with regard to our roads and infrastructure. In fact, we already do build quite a lot of our own infrastructure as it is-- with state dollars. Texas has its own self-sufficient electric grid, for crying out loud, and a long-term state-funded strategic water infrastructure plan.

Texas also provides far more than its fair share of military personnel to the United States military:


Numbers above 1 mean that a state sends more than its proportional share. Numbers below 1 mean that a state sends below its proportional share. On three key measures of military contribution, Texas sends more than its proportional share.

Assuming all of the Texans in uniform became Texas citizens, Texas would be plenty covered on military. Texas would probably also work out some kind of deal where the United States would retain access to the various U.S. military installations in the state. Over time, Texas would amicably purchase stake in the bases until it could fully buy out the American government and eventually take 100% ownership. That's the peaceful solution, at least.

The worst thing about Texas' theoretical secession would be the sharp leftward jolt America would take afterward. The United States sans Texas would suddenly find itself to the left of much of Old Europe, politically speaking. With increasing international competition for dollars and people, the United States under that sort of intractably left-wing political regime would take a major blow relative to the rest of the world.

Migration would be an interesting measure to watch for, as well. Sure, a lot of Texas residents would freak out about the whole secession thing and move back to California or Michigan or wherever they are originally from, but, as is already the case, people and businesses would move to Texas in droves to escape the punitive taxation and draconian regulatory environment that would emerge in an America without Texas. Currently, roughly a thousand more people move to Texas each day than move away to other states. While it is difficult for liberals to wrap their minds around that concept, that pattern of migration is nothing new and is something I've written about on WILLisms.com extensively over the years.

Again, let's review: Texas would be free of the burden of being a donor state, so funding for the military is not an issue. The issue is people, and Texas would have plenty of people to take up the slack. Texas' hypothetical military would be one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world. Texas would join NATO and would probably take up a peacekeeping mission somewhere, if only so we could boast about it later.

Just to reiterate: This is just for fun, not real. I am certainly not advocating secession. Far from it, but I will say that this is something most Texans have discussed very hypothetically, often at establishments that serve alcohol, at one point or another.

The point of this post is to underscore various areas where Texas contributes far more to the rest of the country than vice-versa, and to address the simpleminded web videos and commentaries from left-wingers along the lines of how lost and helpless Texas would be without the nation propping it up. Being a donor state or not is not the only criteria for determining whether a state could or should be self-sufficient, but it does undermine the rather widespread misguided arguments that Texas is somehow mooching off the rest of the country.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Job Losses.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 April 2009 03:12 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 578 -- Job Losses In America.

Some States Are More Equal Than Others-

More than 4 million jobs have now been lost in the United States since February of 2008. Those losses are not evenly divided:


Texas is by no means immune to this downturn. We could easily hit 8% unemployment in Texas before things turn around, but if we're at 8%, the nation will be at 10 or 11%. Possibly even 12 or 13%, with 15% in some states.

Right now, though, Texas has an unemployment rate in the mid-6% range, while the nation has a rate in the mid-8% range. A pretty big difference when you're talking about the vitality of an economy and the ability for people to make a living and feed their families.

Forbes magazine lists the top 10 large, top 10 medium, and top 10 small cities for jobs, and Texas accounts for 12 of the 30, as well as a staggering 5 of the top 5 large cities.

The top of the complete ranking--which, for ease, we have broken down into the two smaller lists, of the best big and small cities for jobs--is dominated by one state: Texas. The Lone Star State may have lost a powerful advocate in Washington, but it's home to a remarkable eight of the top 20 cities on our list--including No. 1-ranked Odessa, a small city in the state's northwestern region. Further, the top five large metropolitan areas for job growth--Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Dallas--are all in Texas' "urban triangle."

Texas has been doing a lot of things right over the past few years, while other states and Washington, DC have been busy trying to mess things up as badly as possible.

Rick Perry and former Speaker Tom Craddick both deserve more than a mere smidgen or two of credit for perpetuating a climate where people and capital want to flow. Texas still needs to look at deeper and broader tax cuts and additional tort reform, but compared to most other states, Texas is fiscal and economic nirvana.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Congress Constantly Ruins America.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 April 2009 10:11 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 577 -- Congress Ruins America.

Congressional Wealth Destruction-

Congress is back in session after a lengthy Easter break. Not surprisingly, the market tanked. That's what it does when Congress is meddling:


For 2009, the basic trend holds:

For 2009, the Fund is down -0.99%, while the S&P 500 Index is down -7.05%, a difference of 6.06%. From inception in May 2008 through the end of 2008, the Fund was down -2.19%, while the S&P 500 Index was down -34.20%, a difference of 32.01%.

Save America. Limit government.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Federal Dependency Culture.

Posted by Will Franklin · 21 April 2009 08:17 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 576 -- Federal Dependency Culture.

Federal Subsidies-

This just makes me sick to my stomach:

To illustrate the broad advance of the federal welfare state, here is a sample of large and small subsidy programs added since 2000 and their annual cost:

Medicare prescription-drug benefit ($62 billion)
Homeland-security state grants ($1 billion)
Local firefighter-staffing grants ($180 million)
Clean-diesel funding ($156 million)
Healthy-marriage promotion ($150 million)
Community abstinence education ($117 million)
Education-data-systems grants ($100 million)
Small-shipyards subsidies ($98 million)
Bioenergy-fuels grants ($80 million)
Anti-gang state grants ($45 million)
Laura Bush library program ($26 million)
Specialty-crop block grant ($49 million)
Seniors’ farmers-market program ($22 million)
EPA community-action grants ($2.4 million)
Drug-free-workplace grants ($1 million)

Government seems destined to grow inexorably. When, if ever, has government actually retreated from our lives?


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Taxes Up.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 April 2009 07:19 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 575 -- History Of Taxation.


Scary graph:

You can see taxes growing fairly steadily over time. The various bumps are a combination of changes in law and economic cycles. Still, even given those factors, the total amount of inflation-adjusted dollars going to the federal government has clearly climbed over time. In real terms, government’s take has gotten bigger.

A nice post. Read the whole thing. Lots of graphs on this subject.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Human Activity & Global Warming.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 April 2009 11:40 AM · Comments (2003)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 574 -- Human Activity & Global Warming.


An interesting graphic:


Don't tax me, bro!


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Who Pays What In Taxes.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 April 2009 11:17 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 573 -- Who Pays What In Taxes.

We're Taxing Our Most Productive Citizens Way Too Much-


The Heritage Foundation adds:

In 2006, the latest date data is available, the top 20% of earners paid 69.3% of all federal taxes. Never has the top 20% of earners paid such a high share of federal receipts. Meanwhile, the bottom 90% of households paid only 45%, and the lowest 20% of earners paid only .8% of all federal taxes.

The lopsidedness of our nation's tax structure is bound to cause our economy to cave-in/topple or-- a much better option-- it could produce a tax revolt.

Ari Fleischer adds:

A very small number of taxpayers -- the 10% of the country that makes more than $92,400 a year -- pay 72.4% of the nation's income taxes. They're the tip of the triangle that's supporting virtually everyone and everything. Their burden keeps getting heavier.

As a result of the 2001 tax cuts enacted by a bipartisan Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, the share of taxes paid by the top 10% increased to 72.8% in 2005 from 67.8% in 2001, according to the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Contrary to the myth that Mr. Bush cut taxes only for the wealthy, the 2001 tax cut reduced taxes for every income-tax payer in the country. He reduced the bottom tax rate to 10% from 15% and increased the refundable child tax credit to $1,000 from $500 per child, both cuts that President Barack Obama says we should keep. In so doing, millions of lower income taxpayers were removed from the tax rolls, shifting the remaining burden to those at the top, even after their taxes were cut.

According to the CBO, those who made less than $44,300 in 2001 -- 60% of the country -- paid a paltry 3.3% of all income taxes. By 2005, almost all of them were excused from paying any income tax. They paid less than 1% of the income tax burden. Their share shrank even when taking into account the payroll tax. In 2001, the bottom 60% paid 16.3% of all taxes; by 2005 their share was down to 14.3%. All the while, this large group of voters made 25.8% of the nation's income.

When you make almost 26% of the income and you pay only 0.6% of the income tax, that's a good deal, courtesy of those who do pay income taxes. For the bottom 40%, the redistribution deal is even better. In 2001, these 43 million Americans, who earn less than $30,500, made 13.5% of the nation's income but paid no income tax. Instead, they received checks from their taxpaying neighbors worth $16.3 billion. By 2005, those checks totaled $33.3 billion.

Today, Mr. Obama and many congressional Democrats want the "wealthy" to pay even more so there is more money for them to redistribute. The president says he wants the wealthy to pay their "fair share." Who can argue with that? But he never defines what that means. Is it fair for 10% to pay 70% of the income tax? Does he believe they should pay 75%, or 95%, or does fairness mean they should pay it all? It's clever politics to speak like that, but it is risky policy.

It's an important discussion to have. When more and more Americans pay ZERO income taxes, they have very little incentive to care about what the rate is for people paying income taxes. When everyone pays the same flat rate, everyone has an incentive to keep the rate low. For themselves. For everyone.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: ObamaCare.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 April 2009 09:24 AM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 572 -- Obamacare.

Socialism On The March-

While there was much outrage and gnashing of teeth in 1993 about HillaryCare, ObamaCare seems much more innocuous and thus is slipping in under the radar:

Mr. Obama's proposal would be open to everyone and necessitate a huge permanent increase in government spending as a share of the economy. Medicare and Medicaid alone account for 4% of GDP today and will rise to 9% by 2035, according to the Congressional Budget Office. CBO estimates that individual and corporate income tax rates would have to rise by about 90% to finance the projected increase in spending through 2050 -- without the new middle-class entitlement.

Proponents will say we are exaggerating, but the consequences we describe are inevitable when government bulldozes into a market. Democrats want to sell their "public option" as a modest and affordable reform that won't affect anyone's private insurance. It isn't true. Republicans, especially those in the Senate who want to cut a deal on health care, should understand that a public option is the beginning of the end of private health insurance.

Vote for real conservatives in 2010. Let's get back on the right track.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Entitlements Are Scary.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 April 2009 10:50 AM · Comments (2639)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 571 -- Auto-Pilot, Next Stop Socialism.

Federal Revenue As A Percentage Of GDP-

Right now, our entitlement programs account for less than 10% of GDP. They are certainly big costs that harm our economic strength, but they are not yet crippling. They do account for 40% or so of the total federal budget right now.

Our current federal revenues as a percentage of GDP are currently in the upper teens, give or take a couple points.


As it stands right now, our entitlements are on an auto-pilot growth trajectory, and even if we make the laughable assumption that politicians won't periodically vote to add new sub-entitlements into the benefit calculus, we are looking at three programs-- Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security-- that will by themselves reach more than 20% of GDP.

In other words, our taxation regime must become far more aggressive, far more creative, and far more punitive for federal tax receipts to climb to 30 or 40% (or 50%) of GDP. This doesn't even take into account all of the eye-poppingly large debt and non-entitlement spending that we are currently rushing to take on. It also does not consider the binge of state and local spending we're currently witnessing. It is an ugly picture. We need our Republicans to act like Republicans. We need to somehow soften the Democrats' penchant for socialism. We need to win back the independents and moderates. To say that we have a lot of work to do is a frightening understatement. Every bit of progress made since Ronald Reagan first took office has been unraveled and then some over the past 6 or 7 months.

We have a task before us that is disheartening. We won't make any progress until we win back the hearts and minds of Americans. As long as Republicans like Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison are earning mediocre C+ ratings from the National Taxpayers Union, how can we sell to the American public that we are any different-- let alone any better-- than the Democrats?


Previous Trivia Tidbit: KBH Loves Pork Barrel.

Posted by Will Franklin · 10 April 2009 09:53 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 570 -- Senator Hutchison's Earmarks.

Not Pretty-

Earmarks, compared to entitlement programs, are a drop in the bucket in the fiscal nightmare of a deficit we currently face. That much needs to be stated up front (.pdf):


Nevertheless, pork is harmful to the conservative movement for a few key reasons:

1. It is strongly correlated (with some causation, as well) with higher overall federal spending. All other spending tends to go up when pork escalates.
2. Pork also subsidizes bigger government at the state and local level. It eliminates the need for states, counties, and cities to set priorities, so they ratchet up spending.
3. Many pork projects lead to criminal corruption at worst and the appearance of it at best. Earmarks are slipped into bills without sunlight, without deliberation or debate, and without a vote on them. By definition, they are secretive and antithetical to open and limited government.

When we examine Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison's earmarking record, we learn that she is the number one porker in all of Texas politics. She is also in the top quartile of all Senate porkers in the country. She justifies her porking as a perfectly legitimate role of Congress and important to her constituents, and she even parted with Texas' Junior Senator John Cornyn and voted against conservative hero Senator Jim DeMint's earmark reform package just one week ago today. Think about it. LAST WEEK she did this.

Citizens Against Government Waste lists some of the earmarks from this year, including:

$3,760,000 for the LBJ Library in Austin.
$195,000 for the Dallas Women's Museum.
$1,960,000 for a trolley in Galveston.
$137,200 for "streetscape" in Beaumont.
$137,200 for a performing arts centre in Temple.
$111,216 for goat research.
$1,843,008 for cotton research.
$219,453 for wool research.
$548,136 for grain sorghum research.

All told, it is a lot of earmarks, and it totals $259,351,654, according to CAGW. That is more than 250 million dollars. That is THIS YEAR alone.

And now she wants to be our Governor? No, thank you.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Cap & Trade.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 April 2009 03:47 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 569 -- Cap & Trade.

The Costs Of Global Warming Hype-

The Heritage Foundation does great work 99% of the time, but this particular post is just in a category above and beyond "great work". With a true plethora of awesome graphics, it just thoroughly annihilates cap and trade:


All of this for what?

Analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency concludes that if the U.S. reduces CO2 emissions 60 percent by 2050, it will reduce global temperature by 0.1 to 0.2 degree Centigrade by 2095.

Go read the whole post. Take a look at all of the graphs and charts. It's a masterpiece.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Stimulus Will Cost Texas (and other states) LOTS Of Jobs.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 April 2009 12:25 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 568 -- Impact of Stimulus Spending On States... Negatory.

Federal Stimulus Will Do The Opposite-

The Texas Public Policy Foundation has released a study showing that stimulus will actually not stimulate at all (.pdf):

The ARRA Act of 2009 will increase the government expenditure wedge from 49.16% to 52.41% for an overall 3.25% increase. This increase will reduce the growth in real net business output by 2.5%, which translates to a reduction of 1.7 million jobs nationally—of which between 131,400 and 171,900 jobs will be lost in Texas.

Great. Thanks, Obama.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Versus California.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 April 2009 09:12 AM · Comments (1159)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 567 -- Texas Versus California.

Recent Tax Changes Will Only Exacerbate California's Brain Drain & Capital Flight To States Like Texas-

There is a new version of Art Laffer's Rich States, Poor States publication, and there is a whole chapter on Texas versus California available to the public (.pdf):


What is doubly astonishing about this graph (and troubling, if you're California) is that Texas already had a lower tax burden and California already had a higher tax burden to begin with. These changes in the chart above were made during the recent good times. Now that times are not so spectacular, California is going to have to add an even greater tax burden onto its residents to cover its 40+ BILLION dollar deficit, while Texas can hold the line and be fine, as it is one of the few states in the country without a state budget deficit.

Maybe there's a lesson here. Will all the thousands of Californians and others moving to Texas every day understand that lesson?


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Fiscal Nightmare.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 April 2009 11:19 AM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 566 -- Fiscal Nightmare.

Can't We Just Start Over?-

From 1968 to 2008, the composition of federal spending changed dramatically:


The auto-pilot programs have a mind of their own, and we rarely do anything to slow their growth. Indeed, our government only tends to feed these programs every few years.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Government Debt Looks Scary.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 April 2009 01:48 PM · Comments (0)