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Category: Finances

Waxman cancels witch hunt after being reminded of the Constitution

Posted by – 4/14/10

You read that title right. Apparently after a gentle reminder of the people’s right to free speech by Rep. Barton, Waxman canceled his intimidation hearings for next week.

As surprising as it was to find out that Waxman wanted to investigate companies merely for following the laws Congress itself had passed, this comes as an even bigger surprise. I’m actually stunned. Am I awake? Is this real life?

Two-time Lottery Winner in Kansas

Posted by – 8/10/09

When I hit $75,000, I figured lighting struck once, it won’t ever hit again,” Williams said in a prepared statement released by Kansas Lottery officials.

Kind of makes you wonder why he kept playing the lottery, doesn’t it?

JP Freire Interviewed about Tea Parties

Posted by – 3/1/09

“You know, there are places for people who can’t afford large homes. They’re called smaller homes.”

Intelligent Economics on the Corporate Tax Rate, Not Pandering to Populism

Posted by – 3/1/09

In trying to figure out just how much the corporate tax rate increases the cost of necessities like gas, I came across this little gem:

After examining data on more than 50,000 companies in nine European countries, [Wiji Arulampalam, Michael P. Devereux and Giorgia Maffini of Oxford University] concluded that “a substantial part of the corporation income tax is passed on to the labor force in the form of lower wages,” adding that “in the long-run a $1 increase in the tax bill tends to reduce real wages at the median by 92 cents.”

And it comes from the most unlikely of rags, the New York Times. In a piece published on June 1st of 2008, professor of economics N. Gregory Mankiw notes:

Despite these findings, a corporate tax cut as a way to help workers may strike some people as needlessly indirect. Why not just pass an income tax cut aimed squarely at working families, as Senator Barack Obama proposes?

The answer is that while most taxes distort incentives and shrink the economic pie, they do not do so equally. Compared with other ways of funding the government, the corporate tax is particularly hard on economic growth. A C.B.O. report in 2005 concluded that the “distortions that the corporate income tax induces are large compared with the revenues that the tax generates.” Reducing these distortions would lead to better-paying jobs.

Read the whole article. I like this guy, and I might start keeping track of him through his blog.

Arguing against the realities of Porkulus

Posted by – 2/12/09

While the Democrats are making emotional appeals, fighting the Republicans with straw man arguments, and continuing to pretend that the issue is already settled (have you noticed how Dems love pretending there’s a consensus?), Republican House Leader John Boehner’s blog details some serious problems with the “stimulus” and backs them up with hard numbers. Highlights:

  1. The final agreement will cost each and every household more than $6,500 in additional debt.
  2. The “Making Work Pay” tax credit at the center of the plan amounts to $1.10 a day, not even enough to ride the bus one-way to work.
  3. The final agreement is almost as much as the annual discretionary budget for the entire federal government.
  4. The $789.5 billion final agreement slated for a House vote either today or tomorrow will exceed more than $1 trillion when adding in the interest of approximately $300 billion between 2009-2019.
  5. Apparently included in the final “jobs” bill is money for plug-in vehicles, money for STD prevention, and money for ACORN (via the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and CDBG program).

Not that I am under some illusion that Republicans have suddenly come back to sound fiscal policy — how many Austrian economists could there possibly be in Congress?— but the points he makes are excellent nonetheless.

And while I’m at it, I should note that I cannot find a single, non-partisan economist who thinks this thing is a great idea. (Not to mention that this stimulus bill is so bloated beyond direct monetary injection it looks nothing like the specter of a bill that they’re arguing in favor of!) Obama sets up an awfully good argument that “[t]here is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jump-start the economy.” Except with all due respect Mr. President, that is just not true. There is serious disagreement with the President on this.

What about you? Are you too partisan to see beyond this ruse, or are you willing to look at the facts, listen to the experts, and make a rational decision based on common sense? If artificially low interest rates, astronomical government spending, corporate and personal welfare, and unchecked printing of the dollar is the key to prosperity, why are we in this mess?

Health Care Overhall: The Part of Porkulus that No One is Talking About

Posted by – 2/9/09

You’re simply not going to believe this. Apparently Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are trying to sneak the foundations of universal healthcare into the “stimulus.” Yet another reason they want it passed without debate.

Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”

But if you’re still ignorant enough to believe universal healthcare will be a utopian dream come true, hold the phone.

Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. 

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446).

And yes, eerily enough, many of the provisions mirror recommendations Daschle made in his 2008 snoozer Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.

According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Awesome. I’m so glad to super-efficient, omniscient Federal Government will be in my exam room to save the day. They’ve already proven to be so brilliant in their prescription to provide mortgages to people who can’t possibly afford them. And then there’s this little Orwellian gem:

Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties.  “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill.

Ah, of course. And “meaningful user” will be defined by an unaccountable, appointed board called Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. Like the Federal Reserve, but for all things medical. Get excited!

And now for some downsides (obvious ones, at least, for those who haven’t yet noticed them):

[Daschle] praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

That’s right, Americans. Quit being so hopeful. That is, of course, unless it’s Hope rationed out by the Federal Council of Prosperity, Happiness, and Fairness. You see, when you’re so damn hopeful, you’re taking away the hope of others. Share it. There’s only so much to go around.

Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

Folks, get ready for this kind of stuff. THIS is why private insurance is good. When you get into a single-payer health insurance system, it doesn’t turn out well. And telling seniors to just suck it up and prepare to die is only one of the heartwarming benefits that comes with universal healthcare.

The Unreported Side of Walmart

Posted by – 2/9/09

Charles Platt, writer for the New York Post, went undercover at Wal-Mart. Considering the dark fascination journalistic America has with the corporate behemoth, I decided to give his story a look. It was really quite interesting. And aside from the surface-level niceties that are apparently overlooked by most reports on Wal-Mart, Platt found himself reaching an inescapable conclusion:

I found myself reaching an inescapable conclusion. Low wages are not a Wal-Mart problem. They are an industry-wide problem, afflicting all unskilled entry-level jobs, and the reason should be obvious.

In our free-enterprise system, employees are valued largely in terms of what they can do. This is why teenagers fresh out of high school often go to vocational training institutes to become auto mechanics or electricians. They understand a basic principle that seems to elude social commentators, politicians and union organizers. If you want better pay, you need to learn skills that are in demand.

The blunt tools of legislation or union power can force a corporation to pay higher wages, but if employees don’t create an equal amount of additional value, there’s no net gain. All other factors remaining equal, the store will have to charge higher prices for its merchandise, and its competitive position will suffer.

This is Economics 101, but no one wants to believe it, because it tells us that a legislative or unionized quick-fix is not going to work in the long term. If you want people to be wealthier, they have to create additional wealth.

It’s a good read. There is, of course, this eloquent rebuttal by syrup in the comments:

well in the most part you are right! however the wal=mart i work at was great for the 1st 6 months.Then it all change career oppertunities are very slim.the micro-management runs rampant!the employees lie,cheat,and have no regaurd for each other.No respect for there co-workers.what you saw is an act. after 6 months your coworks stop being friendly to you and management turn on you and scream and yell at you for there lack of commacation.because you did the task wrong and they told you wrong.look i have managed a busniess before i tought people how to win.Yes I still work there.I have more to say about wal-mart and Sam Waltons dream is dead! employee Iowa

Yeah, that guy is definitely the managerial type. He’d probably make a better journalist, too, what with his rightin skillz and all. I do think the idea that all the employees of a store are able to work out a friendliness ruse for the first six months of each new hire’s employment is a bit suspect though. Timelines don’t exactly match up…

On Being Presidential

Posted by – 2/9/09

Let’s review. In stark contrast to Dr. Hopie Changington, whom we experienced thanks to a sycophantic media during the campaign, Obama is not very Presidential.

Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, however, is:

 

…and I hope to see him in such a position one day. Here’s the article pictured early in the video. A portion of said article:

We’ve already unloaded truckloads of sugar in a vain attempt to sweeten a lake. Tossing in a Twinkie will not make the difference.

Give it to him, Mo!

Posted by – 2/4/09

Mr. Obama’s errors on the helter-skelter stimulus package were also self-induced. He should put down those Lincoln books and order “Dave” from Netflix.

When Kevin Kline becomes an accidental president, he summons his personal accountant, Murray Blum, to the White House to cut millions in silly programs out of the federal budget so he can give money to the homeless.

“Who does these books?” Blum says with disgust, red-penciling an ad campaign to boost consumers’ confidence in cars they’d already bought. “If I ran my office this way, I’d be out of business.”

Mr. Obama should have taken a red pencil to the $819 billion stimulus bill and slashed all the provisions that looked like caricatures of Democratic drunken-sailor spending.

Wow. Reading Maureen Dowd hand Obama his backside is like actually watching hell freeze over.

Note to Pelosi: America Only Has 305 Million People

Posted by – 2/4/09

 

Proof positive that this whole “stimulus” boondoggle is complete garbage. Friends, be wary of the snake oil salesman who tries to sell you something with the conditions

  1. there isn’t time to debate,
  2. I’m the only one with the answer, and
  3. disaster will come if you don’t immediately do what I say.

This has been the message of the great charlatans of history, right up to last year with Hank “Corleone” Paulson. Don’t let it happen yet again in such short order.