Archive for the ‘Taxes and Spending’ Category

Wednesday Night Linkorama

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007
  • You know what I’m always saying about the Law of Unintended Consequences? Here’s an example.. There are agencies out there that will give you an advance loan on your paycheck. But in order to make it economically feasible, they have to charge a small fee which, if extrapolated over a year, works out to an extremely large interest rate. We’re talking 50% or more. Many of the people taking these loans were military personnel. Clark Howard, in particular, used to go off on how evil these loans were, branding the loan companies “unpatriotic”. So Congress outlawed them. And now the soldiers can’t get paycheck loans. Nice.
  • Maryland and Michigan are sending their taxes through the roof. I knew this would happen when O’Mallay was elected. I knew it. Serves you right, Maryland idiots, for rejecting Mike Steele. Enjoy the recession.
  • While I love college football, I hate what it does to academics.

    After the facilities are completed, the meter keeps running. Thanks primarily to the football stadium upgrades, the Longhorn athletic department’s yearly debt service will double over the next year, to about $15 million annually. Utilities — air conditioning, heat, water — and maintenance cost the athletic department another $4.75 million a year — $115,000 just to keep the department’s grass football, softball and soccer fields soft and green.

    Heavily recruited high schoolers expect flashier personal amenities, too, and UT obliges. Following its Rose Bowl victory, the football team was rewarded with a $200,000 renovation of its players lounge, a retreat with four TV projectors (screens drop from the ceiling at the push of a button embedded in a six-foot replica of the UT tower), six flat screen TVs, four X-boxes and three PlayStations.

    Two floors down, the football locker room boasts another new lounge area, with five flat-screen TVs and a three-dimensional, lighted 20-foot Longhorn on the ceiling. Men’s and women’s basketball players can relax in their own private living rooms, each with large TVs, video games and recliners. (New recliners cost $15,020 last year.) The golf teams have a private player lounge at their new clubhouse.

    This is absolutely disgusting. The football team gets is prestige from the University, not vice versa. They should be pouring money back into the school to fund scholarships and reduce tuition.

  • Radiohead is giving the middle finger to the big record companies. Bravo.
  • Wednesday Night Linkorama

    Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
  • Jack Kemp agrees. The Republicans are destroying any potential future with minorities.
  • God, I’m glad I don’t live in Baltimore anymore. Anyone who knew O’Malley as a mayor knew precisely how he would screw up as governor.
  • Dan Rather — what a dick.
  • My response to Barack Obama’s 1992 Clinton campaign economic plan is here.
  • The Prebate Problem

    Sunday, September 9th, 2007

    Maybe I’ll post this over one at of the Neal Boortz boards just to see the fur fly. Like the supporters of any sweeping policy — socialism, neoconservatism or liberalism — Fair Tax supporters can’t admit that anything might be wrong with their ideas. The commenter on this post is smart, polite and makes some good point. But he still can’t resist telling me I’ll get a bigger paycheck or getting more focused on what the Fair Tax does right (“eliminate” the IRS and give you your “full” paycheck”) than what it does wrong.

    My biggest problem with the Fair Tax is the prebate. For those of you who don’t know, this is the check the government writes to every family that “prebates” the tax they are being charged for the basic necessities of life. It’s what supposedly makes the Fair Tax fair.

    But as far as I can tell, there are several massive problems with this:

  • The prebate puts the lie to the idea that the Fair Tax will eliminate the IRS. Who is going to make sure that people aren’t claiming a bigger househould than they have? If I’m going to claim a prebate for a family of four, I will have to give the IRS the identities of all four family members and they will have to check to make sure none of them are being claimed elsewhere (Imagine the nightmares for divorced parents. Do they each claim a Solomon-esque half a child?). I’m sure that will never go wrong. I’m sure no parent will ever get arrested for claiming a household member with a social security number that an illegal alien is also using.

    Granted, this is a massive improvement on the current situation in which the IRS can arrest you for incorrectly filing out a form based on their instructions. But it doesn’t “eliminate” the IRS; it merely reduces it.

  • If that were the only problem, I’d support the Fair Tax. But the prebate is also massively unfair. It prebates the amount of tax a family will pay on a certaining spending allowance that is set by the government. It is a uniform amount for the entire nation. This is ridiculous. A family of four in NYC might pay $30k for the cost of living but get prebates based on $25k. A family of four in New Braunfels might pay $20 for the cost of living but get a prebate based on . . . $25k. By my reckoning, that means the family in NYC just paid $1150 to the family in New Braunfels.
  • The prebate will become the most massive middle-class subsidy in American history. There will suddenly be 200 million people clamoring for the amounts to be raised. Do you not think the first Presidential campaign after the Fair Tax will have the Dems promising to raise the tax rate, while raising the spending allowance to $50k? After all, that’s just above the median family income.
  • Some Fair Taxers want the spending allowance tied to the poverty rate to prevent just this thing. But that only makes the problem worse. Now instead of poverty advocates clamoring to raise the povery rate, everyone will be — which mean an explosion in anti-poverty spending.
  • Do we really want a generation of Americans growing up who expect a monthly check from their wonderful government? Every April 15, Boortz clamors against those who say, “I didn’t pay any tax today! I got some back!” Well now, 300 million Americans will be saying that every month.
  • Ask the nearest Social Security recipient if they have ever had any problems getting their check. You might hear a colorful answer. Do we really think the federal government, whose computers are older than I am, is going to pass out nearly two billion checks a year without a hitch? That we won’t have some family missing a mortgage payment because they didn’t get their prebate? That they won’t accidently put $2 billion into some old lady’s account? Dream on.
  • There are other criticisms of the Fair Tax, but the prebate is the deal-breaker for me. It has always sounded odd to me and the more I think about it, the dumber the idea seems.

    All right, Fair Tax partisans. Fire away! Just keep in mind:

  • I’d love to “eliminate” the IRS too. The IRS was a constant foe of my grandfather and may have played a key role in my uncle’s fatal heart attack. I’m no fan of the current system at all.
  • I don’t care what, if anything, Scientology had to do with the Fair Tax. Hitler came up with the basic principles of mechanized warfare – ideas that we still use today. Good ideas can come from bad sources.
  • The statement that prices won’t go up but my take-home pay will is not true. And the man who has said so is Neal Boortz.
  • I realize the Fair Tax has advantages over the current system. I love that the Fair Tax people are stirring the debate. I’m on your side. I just think there are better ideas out there. The flat tax. A VAT. I don’t think this is the way to go.
  • More Fair Tax Nonsense

    Friday, August 31st, 2007

    See if you can spot the flaw in Boortz’ argument that it will be easier to buy a house under the Fair Tax.

    Memo to Neal: house are not purchased based on one year’s earnings. If my marginal tax rate is under 30%, then by the “logic” you’ve used, I’ll be worse off.

    Of course, neither makes a difference. The problem with the Fair Tax is not that prices will go up. It’s the transition shock of some prices going up (because the employers can’t cut employee gross salaries down to the current net) and others not going up (because they can). The problem is the hideous black market that is almost guaranteed to appear — which is why Bartlett favors a VAT. The problem is that we won’t “get rid of the IRS” but simply infest it in every business and every home in America. The problem is that we’re going to have to create a massive agency to figure out the welfare prebate amounts for every person in the country (since only a batshit insane person would advocate equal “prebates” for people in New York City and New Braunfels).

    So much easier to bash Bartlett’s Scientology straw man and fulminate over the pointless inclusive-exclusive argument than to address substantive complaints.

    Blue Dog Night

    Thursday, August 30th, 2007

    Remember how the blue dog Democrats were supposed to be centrist? Eh, not so much.

    Voting records from recent years confirm that the blue dogs are less than consistent spending hawks. The National Taxpayers Union did some checking and found that the blue dogs had an average fiscal score of 24 out of 100, earning them a grade of D as a group. It also found that last year the blue dogs sponsored $145 of new spending for every dollar of budget reductions, for a net spending increase per member of more than $140 billion.

    There is one important caveat here — Bush is President. A lot of this might be pandering or going along with the party knowing it will be vetoed.

    Still, it takes a certain reprehensible kind of spinelessness to go along with that nonsense. It’s like when Republicans pass laws they know the Supreme Court will bounce (McCain-Feingold for example). I understand the reasoning but it’s still playing Russain Roulette with the law. And sometimes, as in the case of McCain-Feingold, the gun goes off and we’re all screwed.

    Fisking Boortz

    Monday, August 27th, 2007

    Because it’s too damn easy.

  • Boortz has his boxers in a bunch this morning after Bruce Bartlett had the nerve to criticize the Fair Tax. While the main thrust of Boortz’ complaint — that Bartlett incorrectly linked the Fair Tax to Scientology (as if that matters) — seems valid, he doesn’t address the main complaint.

    And Boortz is in a glass house here. He is still running around saying that the government will get the same amount of tax revenue, that prices will not go up but you will take home your entire paycheck — which is mathematically impossible. Something’s got to give. And I think Bartlett’s right that it will be prices.

  • Boortz also links to a piece criticizing Craig Hanson for saying the oceans will rise 25 meters in the next century. I really hate being on the side of the enviros, I really do. Hansen is full of shit. He’s no better than the anti-global warmers claiming that the .01-.08 degree adjustment of US temperatures disproves global warming (it doesn’t — the scientist who found the error said it doesn’t). The IPCC has concluded that oceans will rise — at most — eight inches by 2100. So Hansen is exaggerating the situation by a factor of 100. God damn it, you enviros. Do you realize the damage you are doing by exaggerating every claim, jumping on every disaster and dismissing any criticism. Will you just please shut up and let the science do the talking?!
  • Interesting quote: “If al-Maliki doesn’t get his act together … if some sort of spirit of cooperation doesn’t begin to emerge … more and more Americans are going to wonder why we continue to make sacrifices; and they’ll have a point.” I think Bush’s supporters — his few remaining supporters — are setting the stage for withdrawal. It’s all the Iraqis fault. (Well, also the Dems and the liberal media.)
  • It’s depressing that 57% of Boortz’s reader think Alberto Gonzalez resigned because he was being hounded by the Democrats and not because he’s a corrupt, lying, totalitarian Little Legal Creep. More on that later.
  • Boortz does have the best comment on the idiotic Miss South Carolina. Or rather Royal does. He calls it the “white man’s boo-got-shot”.
  • Porks Away!

    Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

    The DHS budget has more pork than a honeymoon suite.

    In 2006, Florida received more homeland security grants than any other state, $79.6 billion, followed by Texas with $34.5 billion, and Louisiana with a total of $20.1 billion, according to OMB Watch. New York — arguably the most at-risk state — ranked ninth at $4.5 billion.

    I would argue that the entire DHS budget is just a massive pork barrel. The way to solve this abuse is to kill the DHS grant programs — every single one. The federal government is not responsible for making Texas safe from terrorism — the residents of Texas are. DHS should focus on broader security issues, intelligence and disaster response. So that the next time we have a disaster, they don’t go all Katrina on us . . . again.

    Infrastructure

    Friday, August 17th, 2007

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The decay of our infrastructure is not a result of our government lacking money.

    Thursday Night Linkorama

    Thursday, August 9th, 2007

    I just can’t seem to find the time for half a page of scribbled lines. I’m way behind on blogging these days. But the lawn is mowed, the babby asleep and the wife placated. Here’s a linkorama to tide over until I get my mojo back.

  • The Democrats are worse with the pork than the GOP. Of course, Bush might actually veto some of this crap.
  • The IRS already wants their piece of the Bonds Ball. Christ, can’t they leave the guy alone for ten minutes? It’s not worth anything unless he sell it. FYI – the guy who caught McGwire’s ball and gave it to him? The IRS tried to get him too.
  • Stephen Bainbridge compares what Bush supposedly said to what he actually said. Look, liberal dweebs. It does not do your side any good to misrepresent what the President says. Doesn’t he mangle the language and logic enough on his own?
  • NYT debunks the idea that we need to get food locally to save the planet. The thing is, you don’t need a sophisticated analysis to tell you that the environment is better off when we get our lamb from New Zealand than from next door. The market is already telling you that – with the price.
  • Sunday Sunday SUNDAY Linkorama

    Sunday, August 5th, 2007
  • A fantastic story in the NYT about how New Zealand farmers are better off without subsidies. P. J. O’Rourke said the best thing to do with farm subsides was to take them behind the barn and kill them with an ax. That looks more true with every passing day.
  • Neal Boortz has an interesting breakdown
    of where all the highway money in Minnesota has gone. People are blaming the Governnor for not raising taxes. In the meantime, the state spent $1.5 billion on bailing out the Teachers’ Retirement Fund and building a stadium for the Twins.
  • Cato on the liberal media again. I don’t mind a media that’s biased, but I do mind paying for said bias. But as we all know, only Fox News is biased. Everyone else is just “right”.
  • Continuing on the liberal media theme, the NYT has their article on the SCHIP bill. Notice that they don’t even question any assumptions, failing to point out that SCHIP will cover “poor” families making $82,600, 90% of whom already have insurance. They also fail to mention the crowd-out effect which means millions will lose their insurance and we’ll spend $15 billion insuring less than a million kids. Give me $15,000 and I’ll insure more than one child. They also fail to point out that we need 20 million new smokers to pay for this.

    Oh, that liberal media! You know things are bad when the NYT’s reporting looks like a position paper from the Democratic party.

  • The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again! Children’s programming is being gutted by a lack of sponsors since junk food advertising has been banned (because we all know that parents can’t stop their kids from eating junk food). The solution will be to force them to pay for educational TV.
  • The house has OK’d drug reimportation. This could be a good thing if it forces the drug companies to refuse to do business with socialist price-fixing countries. We are paying almost all the R&D costs of the drug companies. Let’s see if they have the balls to fight. Of course, most libs have the “kill the goose” option – fix prices in this country.
  • Collapse!

    Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

    Two thoughts on yesterday’s bridge collapse.

  • It’s amazing, when you think about it, how often we entrust our lives to people we don’t even know. Think about your car and your house – built by people you don’t know. The roads, the bridges, the tunnels, the airplanes, the buildings — all of which could collapse if built poorly. When I drive to work, it’s in a car I didn’t build on roads I didn’t supervise over bridges built by strangers using gas I didn’t refine into a 17-story office building. It is amazing how much we trust strangers. And amazing how rarely that trust is betrayed. The surprising thing is how rare these collapses and how rarely it is a result of shoddy work. We’ll find out what happened, but I’ll be very surprised if it’s bad workmanship.
  • Second — as I’ve harped on before — I am very nervous about the state of our nation’s infrastructure. Most of it was built decades ago (this bridge was 40 years old) and a lot of it is teetering. This bridge appears to have been well-maintained by how many hundreds out there aren’t? And our governments are too busy shovelling money at farmers and a broken education system and expansion of socialized medicine to notice. What is it going to take for this nation to wake up and smell the incompetence? You would have thought Katrina would have alerted people to the delicate state of our engineering, but they were too busy saying that Bush hates black people. Do we need a dam to burst, a building to collapse, a main to blow? Do thousands need to die before we get a fucking clue?
  • I lived in Minnesota for four years and took 35W back and forth to school. I know the Minnesotans. They’ll mourn, buckle down, rebuild the damn bridge and move forward. They won’t get into the morass of, say, Ground Zero and never rebuild anything.

    We’re the Cow

    Saturday, July 28th, 2007

    Good gravy, just when you thought our out of control farm subsidy program couldn’t get worse, the Dems somehow manage to jack spending through the roof.

    Hopefully, the Prez will veto this piece of cow dung.

    Lesson Unlearned

    Saturday, July 21st, 2007

    The Dems and GOP are trying to shove even more spending down my six-week old daughter’s throat.

    (Since we are $500 billion in annual deficit right now — Bush Administration lies about the budget aside — they are spending the money she will earn when she’s an adult).

    It’s so depressing.

    Shirley, You Can’t Be Serious

    Thursday, July 19th, 2007
  • Owe $1.63 in taxes? Lose your home. Seriously, when are we going to apply some controls to the IRS?
  • David Weigel brings some perspective to the Ellison quote. I mentioned the Zimmerman Telegram; he mentions the Maine and the Gulf of Tonkin. It’s amazing how often I hear from liberals “learn some history, man!” only to find out that they know nothing about history. Seriously, libs, stop talking out of your ass.
  • The Mayor of London wants to spend $4 million celebrating a murderous monster. Seriously, what is wrong with Leftists?
  • Tom Tancredo was the only GOP candidate willing to address the NAACP and got massive applause for it. Seriously, do the Republicans expect to win elections when they write off the black vote every single year. Could you guys at least try to tap into the conservative tendencies of many blacks? Just try, that’s all I’m asking. Dickheads.
  • Due to our last panic about terrorism, an innocent man may be executed. One of the bizarre side effects of our stampede from British Common Law adherence to its spirit of the law toward Napoleonic blind obedience to the letter of the law is that it’s perfectly find to execute an innocent man — so long as the forms were filled out right. On the ther hand, one procedural error would have been enough to give even the guiltiest man off. Seriously, this is law and order?