Too Much Wishful Thinking on Middle-Class Tax Rates

When President Obama talks about taxing the rich, he means the top 2 percent of Americans. John A. Boehner, the House speaker, talks about an even thinner slice. But the current and future fiscal imbalances are too large to exempt 98 percent or more of the public from being part of the solution.

Ultimately, unless we scale back entitlement programs far more than anyone in Washington is now seriously considering, we will have no choice but to increase taxes on a vast majority of Americans. This could involve higher tax rates or an elimination of popular deductions. Or it could mean an entirely new tax, such as a value-added tax or a carbon tax.

To be sure, the path ahead is not easy. No politician who wants to be re-elected is eager to entertain the possibility of higher taxes on the middle class. But fiscal negotiations might become a bit easier if everyone started by agreeing that the policies we choose must be constrained by the laws of arithmetic.

Emphasis mine. Via Too Much Wishful Thinking on Middle-Class Tax Rates – NYTimes.com.

Why not let taxes rise on the middle class?

How can we expect people to care about the growth of government if it doesn’t cost them anything?

Instead of paying for the current miasma of spending, we’ve been borrowing the money from our children and grandchildren. The national debt has grown by nearly $6?trillion in the four years since Obama took office. That generational theft cannot continue. We must not keep financing big government by passing the bills on to the next generation. Ideally, we would stop the spending binge and live within our means. But if the nation is not up to that, then we should all pitch in and pay for it — all of us.

Sorry, taxing the rich won’t solve our problems — that’s nothing but fiscal snake oil the president has been selling. He is demanding $1.3 trillion in higher taxes on the wealthy over 10 years. Imagine he got it. We are adding nearly that much to the national debt every single year. Taxing the rich would not put even a minor dent in our debt. It would pay for less than three weeks of federal spending every year. The only way to pay for the current expansion of government is to raise taxes on the middle class.

So let’s do it. Let’s all of us experience the true cost of big government in the form of a bigger tax bill.

via Marc Thiessen: Why not let taxes rise on the middle class? – The Washington Post.

Men: To Get Some Peace, Clean Up After Christmas Dinner

Someone has to do the dishes and this is an opportunity at which you should leap.  First of all, your tackling clean-up lets a woman kick back and actually enjoy the meal she’s prepared with everyone, without feeling the burden of clean-up looming over her shoulder.  Having gone to the effort to provide such a feast, shouldn’t she be able to enjoy it in peace?  Second, it permits you to politely escape the postprandial conversation that, unlike most conversations of the holiday season, necessarily involves the “participation” of both sexes seated at the table, which in practice usually involves the women repeatedly interrupting each other while the men sit in silence wondering when they can escape the performance art and turn on the game.

This is a device I learned from that man among men, the Marine’s Marine, my grandfather.  I used to marvel at his selfless generosity, and the way after every holiday meal, he would quietly excuse himself and disappear into the kitchen.  By the time everyone had left the table, the dishwasher would be running, the kitchen would be spotless, and everyone was happy and well-loaded with alcohol.  Including, of course, my grandfather.  When I asked him why he felt he needed to do the dishes, when at his age he deserved to take it easy, he laughed and pointed out that while he’d been happily cleaning up, watching the football game, and polishing off the rum, I’d been sitting there for 20 minutes, nursing my wine glass, staring into space, and listening to people ramble on about other people I couldn’t identify if my life depended on it.

via Alpha Game: Holidays: postprandial labor.

An opinion on gun control

The single best way to respond to a mass shooter is with an immediate, violent response. The vast majority of the time, as soon as a mass shooter meets serious resistance, it bursts their fantasy world bubble. Then they kill themselves or surrender. This has happened over and over again.

Read the whole thing; it’s quite long but I think it’s worth it. Via An opinion on gun control « Monster Hunter Nation.

Why liberals should love the Second Amendment

Liberals can quote legal precedent, news reports, and exhaustive studies. They can talk about the intentions of the Founders. They can argue at length against the tyranny of the government. And they will, almost without exception, conclude the necessity of respecting, and not restricting, civil liberties.

Except for one: the right to keep and bear arms.

When it comes to discussing the Second Amendment, liberals check rational thought at the door. They dismiss approximately 40% of American households that own one or more guns, and those who fight to protect the Second Amendment, as “gun nuts.” They argue for greater restrictions. And they pursue these policies at the risk of alienating voters who might otherwise vote for Democrats.

And they do so in a way that is wholly inconsistent with their approach to all of our other civil liberties.

Those who fight against Second Amendment rights cite statistics about gun violence, as if such numbers are evidence enough that our rights should be restricted. But Chicago and Washington DC, the two cities from which came the most recent Supreme Court decisions on Second Amendment rights, had some of the most restrictive laws in the nation, and also some of the highest rates of violent crime. Clearly, such restrictions do not correlate with preventing crime.

So rather than continuing to fight for greater restrictions on Second Amendment rights, it is time for liberals to defend Second Amendment rights as vigorously as they fight to protect all of our other rights. Because it is by fighting to protect each right that we protect all rights.

via Daily Kos: Why liberals should love the Second Amendment.

Why Wait For Sensible Gun-Control Legislation? Become An Ambassador For Gun Control Now!

We should not wait for our elected officials, in President Obama’s good words, “to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” We should do our share. One way to proceed is to mark our homes, apartments and condos, with a “gun free” sign. Parents should notify their friends that they would be reluctant to send their child over for a play date unless the home was safe from guns. Residential communities should pass rules that ban bringing guns onto their premises, clearly marking them as gun free.

Anyone who puts up such signs will become an ambassador for gun control, because they are sure to be challenged by gun advocates to explain their anti-gun positions.

Put your safety where your social stand is. Via Amitai Etzioni: Gun-Free Homes and Communities.

Empirical evidence suggests a sure fire way to dramatically lower gun homicides: repeal drug laws

I now want to point out that in fact, while the empirical evidence on the relationship between gun control and homicide is (at this time at least) utterly inconclusive, there certainly are policies out there that we have very solid evidence to believe would reduce gun-related homicides very substantially.

The one at the top of the list, in my view, is to legalize recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.

The theory behind this policy prescription is that illegal markets breed competition-driven violence among suppliers by offering the prospect of monopoly profits and by denying them lawful means for enforcing commercial obligations.

The evidence is ample.  In addition to empirical studies of drug-law enforcement and crime rates, it includes the marked increase in homicide rates that attended alcohol prohibition and the subsequent, dramatic deline of it after repeal of the 18th Amendment.

via Sentencing Law and Policy: “Empirical evidence suggests a sure fire way to dramatically lower gun homicides: repeal drug laws”.

A Response To “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother”

An affluent resident of an upper middle class town, Lanza had exactly the kind of resources that you would want for taking care of a kid with these kinds of problems. His parents had all the money he needed to get him help, and his school did everything they could to help him cope, according to the Wall Stret Journal: “Not long into his freshman year, Adam Lanza caught the attention of Newtown High School staff members, who assigned him a high-school psychologist, while teachers, counselors and security officers helped monitor the skinny, socially awkward teen, according to a former school official.

“Make more mental health resources available” or “early identification and treatment of troubled children” is a fine answer to many cases, but Adam Lanza had all that you could wish for in terms of resources.  It didn’t stop him from picking up a gun and going to that school.  

What Lanza shows us is the limits of the obvious policy responses.  He had all the mental health resources he needed–and he did it anyway.  The law stopped him from buying a gun–and he did it anyway.  The school had an intercom system aimed at stopping unauthorized entry–and he did it anyway.  Any practical, easy-to-implement solution to school shootings that you could propose, along with several that were not at all easy to implement, was already in place.  Somehow, Lanza blew through them all.  

via There’s Little We Can Do to Prevent Another Massacre – The Daily Beast.

Assets in Name Only

Big news in pensions today: Silverdex, a major US-based conglomerate with fingers in just about every economic pie, from mining to solar cells, turns out to have been stuffing its main pension fund full of . . . it’s own corporate bonds.  For decades.  It’s still not clear how this happened without anyone noticing, but essentially the pensions that current workers have been counting on for thirty years turn out to be backed by nothing more solid than the company’s promise to pay.  Amazingly, when confronted by reporters about this behavior, a representative declared that this was a big fuss over nothing.

“It is perfectly legal to invest a pension fund in corporate bonds.  That is what we have done.  These bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of Silverdex, and it is defamatory to suggest that they will not be paid.”  

Silverdex is still pretty profitable after all these years, but “defamatory” seems absurd; obviously, it’s quite conceivable that the firm will run out of money, and the workers will be left with no jobs, no pensions, and no retirement.  Though no charges have yet been filed, a congressional hearing is scheduled for next week, and observers expect high-level resignations from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, which regulates pensions, to follow.  

I don’t really know how to say this, but sorry, I lied a little bit.  I’m not talking about a private company at all, because of course, if a private company did this, it would be completely and totally illegal.  Regulators would have shut this down decades ago and probably at least a few lower-level executives would have spent a little time in the pokey.  Instead this is, of course, a description of how the United States Social Security “trust fund” works.

(Emphasis mine.) As usual, if a corporation did what the Federal government does, people would be howling for blood. But it’s the government, so somehow it’s OK. Via Assets in Name Only – The Daily Beast.

Candidates Cultivate Cults of Personality

When every area of life becomes politicized, and political conversations are filled with elaborate terminology laced with virtually incomprehensible numbers, voters aren’t going to rush out and master macro-economics, or learn how to do math with ten-figure sums.  They’re going to decide which candidate they like more, and trust him to get everything right on their behalf.  Or, perhaps more pertinently given the nature of the 2012 contest, they’re going to back away from the candidate they dislike, and therefore distrust.  Those eyebrow-raising 100-percent-Obama voting districts in the 2012 election were cultural achievements, not the result of successful political arguments.

File under “politics is not about policy.” Via Buying into the culture war | Conservative News, Views & Books.