Islam and the First Amendment

… Thomas Jefferson wrote that the Virginia statute protecting religious freedom, which he drafted, deliberately covered “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination,” and that a proposal to mention Christ in the bill “was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend” all religions.

Which is as it should be. Read the whole thing. Via The Volokh Conspiracy » Islam and the First Amendment.

Our Tax Code Is Corrupt

In spite of our having the second-highest nominal corporate-income tax rate in the developed world (Hello, Japan!), the rates actually paid by businesses vary wildly according to their political clout. Progressives look at that and see the evidence of businesses’ having undue influence on Washington; I look at that and see evidence of Washington’s undue influence on business. But it’s a two-way street, and the end product smells the same.

There are many arguments for a flat tax: Compliance costs are lower, it’s easier to understand, it doesn’t create a divide-and-conquer dynamic with regard to the tax brackets, it aligns taxpayers’ incentives, etc. But there’s a practical moral argument, too: The tax code is corrupt. Using the tax code as a cookie jar full of special favors for friends and supporters is corrupt. It does not matter that it’s legal, it is immoral. The purpose of taxes is to raise revenue for the government, not to repay political favors or to bribe voters with their own money. I do not think our tax system probably is really salvageable: Obamacare is not the only thing that should be repealed and replaced.

via Our Tax Code Is Corrupt – By Kevin D. Williamson – Exchequer – National Review Online.

“Subsidizing the markers of status doesn’t produce the character traits that result in that status; it undermines them.”

The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.

via Reynolds’ Law « The View from Alexandria.

Your Savings Are Not Worth As Much As You Think

United States government debt in public hands is now more than $9 trillion, but most people still don’t realize what it will take to pay that off.

Here’s an example: Say that you have $20,000 in Treasury bills. You probably believe that you own $20,000 in wealth. This will encourage you to spend and come up with ambitious plans. Yet someone — quite possibly you — will be taxed in the future to pay off the government debt. The $20,000 may be needed in order to do that.

via The Fiscal Illusion and How to Face It – Economic View – NYTimes.com.