Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Build a statue

Senator Kennedy has only been gone a few hours and political opportunists on the left are lining up to push "health care reform", a.k.a. socialized medicine under the banner of "Do it for Ted!". I didn't like Senator Kennedy much as a person and perhaps even less as a Senator, but if you insist on honoring the man, lets declare a day of mourning, or build a monument on Cape Cod or something. But to pass a horrific health care bill that is losing support every day under the guise of finishing Ted Kennedy's legacy would be to build a trillion dollar monument, and that is something no politician deserves. I guess it is to be expected since emotional appeals are all the Left has at this stage of the socialized medicine ship sinking but they might just find that Ted Kennedy doesn't evoke warm, fuzzy feelings outside of Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Support democracy, end payroll tax withholding

This is one of the clearest, non baloney editorials I have read in a long time: Tax Withholding Is Bad for Democracy. Charles Murray writes in the Wall Street Journal with such a wonderful clarity and with such common sense, you have to wonder why more people don’t get this. From the editorial (emphasis added):

Yes, you read it right: 1% of American families paid 40% of America's personal taxes.

The families in the rest of the top 5% had family incomes of $160,000 to $410,000. They paid another 20% of total personal income taxes. Now we're up to three out of every five dollars in personal taxes paid by just five out of every 100 American families.

Turn to the bottom three-quarters of the families who filed income tax returns in 2007—not just low-income families, but everybody with family incomes below $66,500. That 75% of families paid just 13% of all personal income taxes. Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation has recast these numbers in terms of a single, stunning statistic: The top 1% of American households pay more in federal taxes than the bottom 95% combined.

That kind of flies in the face of the “let the rich pay their fair share” rhetoric we get from the Left in general and from the White House in particular. Everyone knows these numbers. Everyone. Still we hear calls for the rich to “pay their fair share”. These stats are not new and they are not skewed. This is the truth of it. When the Obama administration suggests that tax increases are OK because the rich don’t pay their fair share, they are flat out lying. The top 1% of Americans get 1% of the vote but they pay more in taxes than the lower 95% combined. The result of this disparity?

This deforms the behavior of everyone—the voters who think they aren't paying for Congress's latest bright idea, the politicians who know that promising new programs will always be a winning political strategy with the majority of taxpayers who don't think they have to pay for them, and the wealthy who know that the only way to get politicians to refrain from that strategy is to buy them off.

People are always whining about the influence of money in politics. Well, duh what do you expect? The people who pay all of the money into the system are the same people who buy off politicians. Little wonder when they see the rest of their fellow Americans greedily eyeing their wallets. It is apparent that there is a school of thought that assumes that the top 5% of wage earners should pay all of the taxes in this country and the rest of us should reap the benefits. That is a democracy? We all get a vote but only a tiny fraction of us have to pay for the results of that vote?

The big problem in our democracy is that we all get an equal vote (which is good) but we don’t all have an equal stake in the game (which is bad). If you are like me and are part of the one third of Americans who pay no income tax, why do you care about what the government spends? It is not my money that they are spending. That simply is not a healthy way for democracy to function. One third of Americans get to vote themselves a share of the pockets books of the other two thirds of Americans with no corresponding monetary sacrifice.

Mr. Murray’s solution is two-fold. First, make sure that even if people pay no income tax they still see the dollar figure for Social Security and Medicare on their 1040. The second is to make everyone, everyone, pay the taxes by check. It is not a big deal to have a couple hundred bucks taken out of your check each payroll because you pay it every week and never miss it. Write a check in March for $5000 for Social Security and Medicare? That might give you pause. Imagine instead of payroll deduction that you open a savings account and from one year to the next you have to set aside money each paycheck toward your taxes and you see that balance grow and then in one fell swoop you write a check and it is gone. You wouldn’t pay one nickel more than you pay now but you would have to pay it yourself. The payroll tax is one of the most ingenious inventions of the government because it allows them to suck taxes out of you every week (and at great expense in the form of complex payroll systems) that you barely feel. It is the death of a thousand little cuts.

Mr. Murray ends his editorial with a call to return our democracy to one where we are all in this together instead of one where we are pitted against one another by our rulers to deflect attention from their malfeasance:

End the payroll tax, end withholding, and these corrosive misapprehensions go way. We will once again be a democracy in which we're all in it together, we all know that we're all paying a share, and we are all aware how much that share is.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I still can’t get over this…

…that President Obama would invoke the inefficiency and enormous deficit of the postal service to defend socialized medicine…

"UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right?" the president said. "It's the post office that's always having problems."

So we are supposed to be heartened by the failure and inefficiency one government agency and decide to entrust yet another industry into the hands of the government?

Of course there is also this issue. As I mentioned before, no one really thinks we should privatize the mail service. It is what it is, and no private company will do what the postal service can do. Along with defending our border, delivering the mail is one of the two main domestic functions of the Federal government. There is not a private sector alternative. Conversely, there already is in place a private sector delivery system for health care that provides high quality service already.

Socialized medicine is DOA. It is time for the President to check the clock and call the time of death. If he manages to cram this through with virtually no republican support, he is looking at a massive defeat in the 2010 elections. If he lets this fight drag on, he progressively looks more and more inefficient and borderline petulant. It didn’t happen and it is time to drop it and move on.

Doing for health care what the public schools have done for education

This is a great analogy from an editorial by William McGurn at Opinion Journal:

“Think of public education,” says James Capretta, a health-care expert at the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center. “They want to do for health care what they’ve done for education—establish a government-run, universal system. Once in place, they will defend such a system whether or not it delivers the results it promised.”

Everyone who is honest admits that the public school system is broken. It doesn’t do what it is advertised to do, it is incredibly expensive and wasteful, it is above reproach and because of entrenched interests it is virtually un-reformable. Health care will be the same way. With what is essentially a blank check, special interests will be tripping over themselves grabbing a piece of the pie and once they get some, they will fight like the dickens to keep it from being taken away. Like public education, we are going to end up with a completely unaccountable system that is immune to reform or change, and the sinkhole for public funds that the schools have become will be nothing compared to the drain on resources government funded health care will turn into.

What sort of insanity assumes that an inherently inefficient entity can give us a more efficient delivery of health care?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Representation without Taxation

This is lovely. As it stands, in 2010 the Census will count every person in the United States and those numbers will be used to reapportion congressional seats. Included in that number, according to John Baker and Elliot Stonecipher, will be illegal immigrants. Not all of them are illegal, but a whole bunch of them are.

According to the latest American Community Survey, California has 5,622,422 noncitizens in its population of 36,264,467. Based on our round-number projection of a decade-end population in that state of 37,000,000 (including 5,750,000 noncitizens), California would have 57 members in the newly reapportioned U.S. House of Representatives.

However, with noncitizens not included for purposes of reapportionment, California would have 48 House seats (based on an estimated 308 million total population in 2010 with 283 million citizens, or 650,000 citizens per House seat). Using a similar projection, Texas would have 38 House members with noncitizens included. With only citizens counted, it would be entitled to 34 members.

Of course, other states lose out when noncitizens are counted for reapportionment. According to projections of the 2010 Census by Election Data Services, states certain to lose one seat in the 2010 reapportionment are Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania; states likely (though not certain) to lose a seat are Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ohio could lose a second seat. But under a proper census enumeration that excluded illegal residents, some of the states projected to lose a representative—including our own state of Louisiana—would not do so.

In other words, at least eight and as many as twelve states are going to lose a seat in Congress to California and Texas based on counting people who are breaking our laws to be here. Because of that, each voter in states losing representatives will be partially disenfranchised and people in California and Texas will be overly represented because of the millions of criminals being counted in their states. My home state of Michigan will have one fewer representative to represent us. How in the world did we come to the place where the balance of power in Congress is going to be shaped by millions of people living in this country illegally?

Where is the outrage over this?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Great editorial by Peggy Noonan

Very perceptive editorial from Peggy Noonan in the Journal today on Obama and the misreading of the American mood for socialized medicine.I loved this line:

And so the shock on the faces of Congressmen who’ve faced the grillings back home. And really, their shock is the first thing you see in the videos. They had no idea how people were feeling. Their 2008 win left them thinking an election that had been shaped by anti-Bush, anti-Republican, and pro-change feeling was really a mandate without context; they thought that in the middle of a historic recession featuring horrific deficits, they could assume support for the invention of a huge new entitlement carrying huge new costs.

A mandate without context. Marvelous line. We won, so the people will just go along with everything we say. Guess what, America didn’t sign on for a massive expansion of government. Look at the size of the margin in the House. It is made up of largely moderate Democrats who won in traditionally conservative districts. People were looking for leadership and hope, what they are getting served up is thinly veiled socialism and liberal politics as usual.

If there was a lesson from 2008, it was that people were fed up with what they perceived to be ineffective, unresponsive, reckless government. So imagine the shock and anger of many voters who found that instead of a new, better government what they got was merely the same sort of government they have been seeing for decades writ large. They wanted “hope” and “change”, what they got was Jimmy Carter’s second term 28 years late. Little wonder the “mobs” are showing up at these townhalls and are angry. The left is spinning this as GOP operatives because they are dressed better than liberal rabble-rousers, but no one is buying their spin and it is making them look bad. People understand the hypocrisy of touting Obama’s experience as a “community organizer” last fall but then referring to communities being organized as mobs one step removed from Nazis.

President Obama used all of his trust, goodwill and political capital on the stimulus package. As the bill for that became more apparent, people are rebelling against even more deficit spending and an even bigger government. Every day that goes by sees support for this effort slipping. The Democrats have overreached and misread the electorate. The real question now is: do they still cram through socialized medicine and how badly does all of this hurt them in a year when the elections roll around?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It is only a mob if they are conservatives

Normally, the Congressional recesses are times for the members Congress to go back to their district, do a couple of town hall meetings for show and relax a bit. Not this year, because as news outlets all over the place are reporting, their constituents are waiting for them and they are not happy. Of course, we get the normal even keeled response from the Democrat leadership….

"This mob activity is straight from the playbook of high-level Republican political operatives," the Democratic National Committee says in a new Web video. "They have no plan for moving our country forward, so they've called out the mob."

Hmmm. When conservatives speak out, it is a “mob”. When liberals speak out, they are exercising their right to free speech. So much for a new style of politics. Obama was full of Rodney King rhetoric in the campaign, but now that he has the power he is back to the old skool Chicago politics of personal attacks and character assassinations.

I have to say that I agree with the Dems, I mean who do these taxpayers think they are? How dare the tax payers have the temerity to come to these townhalls and demand to be heard by their well-paid, elected public servants? Don’t they know these dog and pony shows are just that, for show? If the members of Congress wanted to hear actual opinions, they would stay in Washington D.C. and talk to the people who matter like lobbyists and party leaders, not the people they were elected to represent. Just shut up, sit down and close your eyes. They know what is best for us and we should just sit back and relax. This will only hurt a little.

No worries though about Nancy Pelosi getting ambushed, she is going to be spending her weekend sucking up to her big donors in opulence undreamed of by the little people. After all, she is such as stalwart advocate for the poor that she deserves to live in luxury. Hey, it worked for the Party bigwigs in the Soviet Union, why not here? Of course, to maintain control over discourse the Soviets also encouraged people to rat out their neighbors for counter-revolutionary speech. I guess the Democrats have taken that page from the Politburo handbook as well…

Monday, August 3, 2009

The new world financial capital

I only heard a snippet of the piece, but a couple of people were talking on NPR about whether the financial capital of the world was moving. It has been New York City for a long time, but that may be changing.

It seems not only possible but quite likely that we will see, if we have not seen already, a shift whereby the financial capital of the world moves south from New York to Washington, D.C. I think we are already seeing that taking place and we should expect that trend to accelerate.

Future success in business will not be driven by which company is most innovative, most daring, much fiscally sound, led by the best management team. It will be driven by who is the most successful at lobbying, who manages to weasel the best competitive advantages out of the Federal government. Winners and losers in business are no longer decided in the marketplace but in the committee chambers where tax laws are written and where some companies get positive treatment and others negative at the hands of Congressman and bureaucrats.

No longer will MBA’s from the best schools be valued, now companies will recruit the best lawyers to be lobbyists. The captains of industry will no longer sit in Manhattan high rises but in lobbyist offices on the alphabet streets of D.C.

Make no mistake, business people are resourceful and adaptive. If you change the rules of business, they will simply change how they do business. Entrepreneurs and business executives will continue to make money. Where we will see the harm done is in the working classes of America as America’s business climate becomes more inhospitable. Do we really want the people who run the DMV in charge of the greatest free market in the world? I think not.