Two Numbers in the Dark

The Heritage Foundation has a completely bullshit study of how much illegal aliens are costing us. Supposedly, the are costing us $2.2 trillion. However

  • This is over ten years. I’m getting sick and tired of this business of projecting things over five or ten years and proclaiming them gigantic.
  • As Heritage itself will attest, this is almost entirely due to our progressive tax system. Illegal aliens tend to be in the lower income brackets and lower income brackets pay very little taxes while consuming enormous benefits. I don’t see that 12 million illegal aliens are necessarily worse than 30 million people living in “poverty”.
  • Here’s what makes me doubt the whole smash. The study bases this on 2/3 of the illegals. But what of the other 1/3? Are they revenue neutral? Revenue positive?
  • And finally, it’s a huge mistake to confound government revenue with national revenue. Are the illegals going to produce $2.2 trillion in goods and services in that period of time? If they’re paying $9,000 per annum in taxes, that means they are growing the economy by at least $40,000 per year. That’s $4 trillion they are contributing to the economy.
  • There’s another Number in the Dark out there — the supposed $400 billion tax hike the Democrats are giving us. First, this is over five years, so it’s actually an $80 billion tax hike. Second, they are not raising taxes, they are allowing the tax cuts to expire. And third, who was it who gave us expiring taxes in the first place? Who was it who, rather than give us a permanent tax cut, gave us a perpetual issue to bash Democrats with? Who was it who had a six year spending orgy?

    Why, geewhillikers, that would be the Republicans!

    They’ve been caught by their own cynical political ploy. Or rather, the America taxpayer has. Yes, the Democrats should extend the tax cuts for “the rich”. I’m getting that tax cut and I’m not rich. But the GOP have only themselves to blame. They empowered the Democrats, in every way imaginable. The Dems must be chuckling now. Thanks to the Republicans, they can raise taxes without a single vote.


    Read about this outrage in which United – who recently cancelled my frequent flier miles when I was just a few hundred shy of a free ticket, not that I’m bitter – abandoned 110 people in Wyoming. You haven’t heard much about this. Not nearly as much as you’ve heard about, oh, JetBlue.

    There’s also been a lot of publicity recently about JetBlue having an industry-low on time rate. But as baseball expert Nate Silver notes, that has more to do with JetBlue’s routes, not their performance.

    Now might the assault on JetBlue — and the relative kid gloves used on United — have something to do with United being unionized while JetBlue isn’t?

    Naaaaaah. It’s not like they did that do Airtran. Oh, wait.

    Bias aside, the airlines still need to clean up their act. As Silver notes in the linked article, they’ve improved. They put realistic arrival times on schedules and you no longer need to go Abu Ghraib on them to find out why your plane is late. And — this can not be overemphasized for someone who flies in white-knuckle fear — their safety record is outstanding. But there are still times when they don’t get it.

    Iran Redux

    It occurred to me that my posts on the Iran situation may have come across as your standard “blame Bush” diatribe. I’m not a liberal or a Democrat and I don’t reflexively blame Bush for everything (although if my upcoming observing run is clouded out, that might change). But there are two points worth making, both of which fly in the face of the rantings and raving of the Right.

    First, politics has to deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it were. The Bush Administration has long had problems with reality. But the situation we had with Iran was that we had 150,000 troops pinned down just west of them, an Iranian leadership practically begging us to bomb them and a situation that could be and was eventually resolved diplomatically. What we did, given the circumstances, was the right thing.

    However, my second point is that those circumstances were the product of the man in the Oval Office. Were we not pinned down in Iraq, were Iraq at peace, Iran would not have pulled this stunt. Our problems in Iraq have emboldened our enemies and this was but a sample of what may be coming.

    You see, the Right lauded Bush when Libya, in the wake of Iraq, ended its weapons programs. They said that the terrorist nations were scared and, I believed, they were right. But you can’t, on the one hand, give Bush credit when our actions intimidate evil men and then, on the other, not give him blame when our actions embolden the enemy.

    Yeah yeah yeah, I know. It’s the Democrats. It’s the media. It’s the wussy American people who have emboldened the enemy. The same wussy American people who supported the war for three years and continue to support the troops despite incompetent leadership. And Bush never takes any blame. Nothing is his fault. Everyone can be blamed for Iraq and foreign policy problems except the one man was has unfettered power in these areas.



    Read this story about the how the Bush Justice Department has been recruiting heavily from Pat Robertson’s law school. Regent has actually improved its reputation remarkably over the last few years but was a bottom-tier school when Bush began recruiting from it.

    The law school’s dean, Jeffrey A. Brauch, urges in his “vision” statement that students reflect upon “the critical role the Christian faith should play in our legal system.” Jason Eige (’99), senior assistant to Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, puts it pithily in the alumni newsletter, Regent Remark: “Your Résumé Is God’s Instrument.”

    This legal worldview meshed perfectly with that of former Attorney General John Ashcroft—a devout Pentecostal who forbade use of the word “pride,” as well as the phrase “no higher calling than public service,” on documents bearing his signature. (He also snatched the last bit of fun out of his press conferences when he covered up the bared breasts of the DoJ statue the “Spirit of Justice”). No surprise that, as he launched a transformation of the Justice Department, the Goodlings looked good to him.

    The problem here is not so much where Bush is recruiting from or what battles they choose to fight. If they think “persecution” of Christians is more worthy of being investigated that blacks being denied votes, that’s their perogative. What bothers me is the same thing that always bothers me about the Religious Right. When you think that God is on your side, anything is justified. How can laws, the Constitution or fundamental rights stand up to the Will of God? How can you can accept an election that will turn out his chosen candidate?

    A lot of the problems in the Bush Administration become clearer when they are seen through the lens of religious dogma. The insistence on loyalty and having “our guys” in charge, the treating of unbelievers as though they were subhuman (Abu Ghraib, etc.).

    As I have said many times, I have no problem with a religious President. But I get concerned with one who thinks God talks to him.

    Decline and Fall?

    Peter Scobic throws some cold water on the idea that the Iran situation demonstrated the weakness of the west.

    The specter of Western decline is an old conservative and neoconservative trope that wasn’t true during the cold war and is even less applicable now. Great Britain has two active carrier battle groups and spends more on its defenses than all but four countries, lagging significantly behind only the United States and China. It also deploys 16 megatons of nuclear explosives on its Trident submarines. That’s about 1,000 times the power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Put it this way: If British leaders woke up one day and decided that Iran should no longer exist, Iran would no longer exist.

    As a matter of history, the United States is more powerful now, relative to the rest of the world, than Rome was at her peak.

    However, allow me to quibble. I am not worried that our country is going to be invaded any time soon. I am worried, however, about Iran being able to choke off a third of the world’s oil or send a million men westeward into Iraq. The military ability of the United States is defined primarily by how much power we can project and the deterrence that our power buys. We have a huge military precisely so that we never have to used it.

    Bush’s mismangement of Iraq has seriously degraded both our deterrent and projection ability. We currenly have 150,000 troops bogged down in Iraq and an Iranian nation that’s feeling frisky because they’ve seen us stumble. Mr. Scoblic, the point of Iran is not that they can beat us in battle, it’s that they might feel stupid enough to challenge us. And we’d win but at a high cost in lives and treasure.

    The High Ground

    We’ve lost it. Read this account of how the Brits were treated. And remember that we can’t really condemn it because these techniques — and worse — have been practiced by the United States.

    And again, don’t come here with “they were in uniforms”. This legal distinction is lost on the rest of the world — you remember them. We’re trying to win their hearts and minds.


    I recently found out that a relative of mine enjoys Soduku puzzles. I have to admit I am a recent addict. I started doing them because I was bored and my powerbook has a widget. But I spent most of my recent flight to Atlanta working on the in-flight magazine ones and i now use them to fill in spare time that would be occupied by reading or writing or wondering what passing women look like naked.

    I’ve always loved logic puzzles. When I was a kid in the gifted program, we used to get a weekly work packet that had logic puzzles like quotefalls and some box thing whose named I can’t remember. I ate them up.

    Doom and Gloom

    It may surprise you, since I embraced the IPCC report on Global Warming, but I think the most recent report that our planet faces a catastrophe is garbage. It is irresponsible panic-mongering. It is difficult enough to predict whether the planet is going to warm or not over the next century. But predicting all kinds of ecological disasters — in the same hysterical manner with which Paul Ehrlich did thirty years ago — is dumb as hell.

    Apart from the difficulty in predicting the secondary effects when the primary effect is not understood, they ignore that human beings adapt. Global warming is not going to happen so fast that we can’t account for it. What is with the anti-humanist agenda of the greens that they think of human beings as helpless creatures who are incapable of innovation, improvement and adaptation? That we can never meet the challenges we face? We have brought down air pollution, water pollution and acid rain significantly in the past century — problem once thought insoluble. Overpopulation turned out to be a bunch of crap, just as the skeptics said. So now we’re supposed to believe the hype?

    Definition: SMT

    Sports Media Twerp — the kind of individual lambasted at Fire Joe Morgan who is self-important, utterly certain of his predictions, unaccountable for anything stupid or wrong he says and sets the common fan’s understanding of the game backward rather than forward.

    The defining traits of the SMT are: 1) overconfidence (“Ohio State is clearly the best team in the nation!”); 2) condescension (“See, he moved the runner over. That’s what wins championships!”); 3) ignorance (their ability to ignore a key block on a big run, or Kobe’s blatant travelling); 4) star-worship (MNF’s endless worship of celebrities, the inability to criticize obvious mistakes, such as a launching a three-point shot with 20 seconds left on the shot clock and a ten-point lead).

    It’s easier to define an SMT by who isn’t one than who is since they are very common. Greg Easterbrook isn’t. Rob Neyer isn’t. Most of the boys at Baseball Prospectus aren’t. John Sickels isn’t. Ron Jaworski isn’t. Mark May isn’t (Chris will disagree). Chris Berman and Tom Jackson aren’t, except in self-mocking humor. Keith Jackson and Vin Scully aren’t. One sign of someone who isn’t an SMT is that they will admit to having been wrong and usually be more excited when they’re wrong than when they’re right. All the above qualify.

    Where can you find the best example of SMT’s? Monday Night Football is loaded with them to the point of being unwatchable. Rush Limbaugh is, big time. Or was. Bill Simmons can be, especially on the subject of Payton Manning. Bill Walton. And much of the crew of Baseball Tonight.

    Hot Links

    I always knew iPods were good for you.

    VDH says what I said about Iran, only better. The smart Muslims have figured out how to play the victim. Unforunately, our President is only too happy to oblige them.

    Another story on the crackling infrastructure in this country. The biggest unreported story in our nation is the slow decay of our infrastructure. The money is there to fix all this. All we have to do is stop building bridges to nowhere.

    We’re not opening a dialogue with Iran. Well, no surprise. We missed our chance. After 9/11, the Iranians had a vigil in Tehran to honor the fallen. If I had been Bush, in addition to going to war with Afghanistan, I would have re-opened diplomatic relations with Iran (I said so at the time; too bad I didn’t have a blog). We are not presently at war with Iran and re-opening relations wit them in the wake of 9/11 would have given a huge signal that we are at war with radicals, not with Islam. It might have averted the situation we are in now. We can’t do it now and “reward” them for the abduction. But we should be looking for a way to re-open our embassy.

    Say, for example, if they agree to seal their border and keep insurgents out of Iraq.

    That right-wing rag, the Washington Post, gives a broadside to Nancy Pelosi. She’s may be the first woman speaker, but she’s not the first dumbass to wield the gavel. Sadly, she won’t be the last, either.

    Yeah, privatizing Social Security would be soooo risky. Always remember the four ways money is spent.

    It seems to me that the Supreme Court decision earlier did not so much accept global warming as it kicked the EPA in the head and told them to make a decision about it one way or another.

    I’m not even going to quote this story from Cato on welfare for the wealthy. Read it. And remember what Milton Friedman pointed out. Government tends to help the rich a lot more than it helps the poor.