Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tax Loopholes

Tax loopholes are measures enacted by Congress to achieve some policy goal, like encouraging oil production or getting people to move back to central urban areas from the suburbs.

Tax loopholes are evil economic manipulation, I think.

But closing a loophole doesn't help the economy, generally. All it does is remove the incentive it was put in place to provide, so discouraging the activity it was designed to foster. Generally there isn't a lot of money for the government to gain.

Another effect of closing tax loopholes is to raise the general level of economic uncertainty. What is a good business activity? Companies and individuals don't know what the rules are if they keep changing.

Similarly, the more loopholes that are created and subsequently removed, the less effective tax policy will be.

But I guess in the end, any business which bases its activity on the presence of a tax loophole for it deserves what they get when the loophole goes away.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Proof Robert Reich is an Idiot

As if more proof were required to verify his status as world-class moron, Robert Reich provides it:

We're in a deepening recession, in case you hadn't noticed. The biggest challenge is to ramp up aggregate demand. Yes, we have to borrow lots from the Chinese and Japanese to do this, and, yes, it's costly in terms of additional interest payments to them. But there's no choice. In fact, if the slump gets worse -- and I have every reason to fear it will because that's the direction we're heading in as fast as you can imagine -- we'll probably have to have a second stimulus. And if the second isn't enough, a third. And so on. FDR's biggest mistake was doing too little until World War II. (No one should interpret this as a recommendation for more military spending -- I'm just saying Obama will probably have to think and do much bigger than the $787 billion stimulus so far.)

Shorter Reich: A never works, B has worked before, and there is no C. Let's do A.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Santelli Gets To Obama

Robert Gibbs, the partially sentient White House Press Secretary, lashed out in an ad hominem attack at Rick Santelli.

My, what thin skins these Obamians have.

Mr Santelli had the audacity to say that if the Keynesian multipliers were above 1.0, that is, if every dollar of government spending yielded more than a dollar in private sector growth, then why do we need to worry any more? Just keep spending, and spending, and spending as we have been, and everything would be fine.

But the fact that no sane policy maker would do that, shows that the "multiplier" is not above 1.0. Instinctively, we know that to be so.

In fact, the multiplier is not a constant number at all, but a variable depending on a number of factors we don't even fully understand, and cannot predict. The multiplier is a random function, rather than a constant. The effect of government spending is not linear, but decreases after some maximum point.

But Mr. Gibbs did not address that point. He merely attacked an American citizen who dared to speak out, to raise his head up from his miserable work to question the One.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Leave Climate Science to the Scientists From Now On

Doug Ross points out this howler.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), a global warming alarmist bureau, predicted in May of 2008 that the North Pole would be free of ice last summer.

But it seems they underestimated the extent of Arctic ice by 500,000 km². That's about 190,000 square miles, an area the size of the States of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland combined — with room left over for West Virginia, South Carolina, and Indiana, to boot.

They weren't using the most accurate methods to measure, but were using older, inaccurate methods because they were in line with their earlier data.

In other words, even though they knew that the methods used to gather their earlier data were inaccurate, they continued to use them for prediction.

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93% Of US Are Not Stupid Jerks

2% In Foreclosure
5% Delinquent
33% Current
27% No Mortgage
32% Rent

w/t Malkin

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A Nation of Slaves

Now comes Barack Obama, with his vast experience as a mortgage broker, corporate CEO, Chairman of the Board, and Wall Street investment analyst, to

  • Adjust mortgages negotiated by lenders and borrowers,
  • Set executive salaries
  • Tell us all that unless we completely reorder our society, culture, and most of all our economy, all three are irretrievably bound for unmitigatable disaster.
Have we, a once proudly free people, accepted the premise that we need the government to run our economy, our business, our very lives?

Notice the strings attached to the TARP, after companies accepted money from the government, often under duress: "You have taken our money, now you must run your business to suit us. No longer can you offer incentives to salespeople to accel. No longer can you structure executive pay as you wish. Now you are our slaves, and will do as you are told."

Can there be any other result with the other bailouts that are coming? States, beware. Car makers, you know who will run your companies already.

And you, slave, you accepted a loan. How dare you smoke on these premises? How dare you purchase that foreign-made vehicle, while you sit in this home we bought you? And that thermostat setting on the in the home we bought you -- do you not know how much carbon dioxide you are venting into the public's air?

Do as you are told, slave.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Read Iowahawk

And for once, you will not laugh.

How many thousands across Africa die every year because someone decided DDT was thinning bird egg shells and killing bees? It does neither. The replacements for it, on the other hand,do kill bees.

Of course, those are all African bees, the eradification of which would have been a net positive.

But without the more effective DDT, uncontrolled mosquitoes spread malaria to thousands of Africans, many of whom then die of the disease.

But to the radical environmentalists, that may be the net positive.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

A Put Down for the Ages

It's from a whole blue-on-blue essay.

You're not a coward merely because you're afraid to seek the truth when it might not conform to your views ... rather your chickensh** views are shaped by the fact you're a coward.

w/t the indispensable Moe Lane

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Friday, February 13, 2009


We have reached the point in the US at which pain is treated not as a useful spur for individuals to accel, but as a barrier to be avoided or defeated.

The trouble is that economic problems are not fixed objects. If the government tries to cure the problem of increased home foreclosures by borrowing money to give to lenders or borrowers, the only possible results are increased home prices and a worse problem in the future.

A collapse in home prices, or a glut of homes on the market, make homes more affordable. Isn't affordable housing what the liberals claim to want? Home prices will fall until people start to buy houses. They won't fall while the government is promising to subsidize prices.

More generally, any time the government offers money for people to buy something, look for prices of it to increase to match the offer.

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Democrats' Three Favorite Words

Spend, Spend, Spend.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Of Envy and Admiration

Sometimes people are successful at what they do. Others are not. Sometimes people succeed, sometimes they fail. Having failed, we learn (or not) and try again.

When we see other people who are more successful, we have really only two options, though a third lingers: we can resent them, or we can emulate them. The lingering third is what most people end up doing, which is observing from afar and doing nothing. On some level we pass judgment, either in favor of or against the more successful. From the link above:

Some people assume that if any person they don't like is more successful than someone they like it is primarily or solely due to moral inferiority - a greater willingness to lie, cheat and steal. This mindset is common in underground subcultures, though some mainstream progressives also think this way. A more advanced version of this mentality adds the assumption that anyone who is successful in the "wrong" areas - for example dating or country music - must be a despicable and morally inferior individual.
There is a danger in giving up, in deciding that your sweat and diligence are no match for the world. But there is no higher virtue than working, being paid for it, and saving for a better future in which you no longer work for money, but money works for you. That, and not mere home ownership, is the American Dream.

When people decide that the only way they can get ahead is to lie, cheat, and steal their way to the top, they have one of two options: do it themselves, or vote for it. We call the first group criminals, and the second group liberals.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Big Boondoggle Rescues FutureGen Boondogglet

Chris Edwards has a piece on FutureGen in the Cato@Liberty blog. FutureGen is a project to take CO2 from burning coal and pump it into layers of rock beneath Illinois farmland. I live and work near Mattoon, and would probably personally benefit from the boondogglet. Edwards:

FutureGen was launched in 2003 by President Bush as a public-private partnership to build a low-emission coal-fueled power plant and demonstrate technologies to capture carbon dioxide. The government was to share the cost of the project with 12 private energy companies. The project was originally estimated to cost $1 billion, but by 2008 the estimate had ballooned to $1.8 billion. By mid-2008, $176 million had been spent.
A lot of the money spent for FutureGen in the Mattoon area went to building an interstate exchange. The exchange also serves other light industry in the area. It was needed already.

The FutureGen decision to locate in Mattoon was still ringing in the air when Rod Blagojevich sent a letter to President Bush asking him to come to Mattoon for a photo op demonstrating the President's commitment to fighting greenhouse gases and such. The tone of the letter, and Blago's announcement of it, were a clear attempt to rub the President's nose in the fact that Illinois had been chosen over Texas. It was embarrassing to me that Blago thought Bush so small-minded, but that's what we had for a governor.

Immediately after that letter was announced, the project got the axe (or got sent back to the proverbial committee).

Maybe it was a coincidence, but I've always thought that if Blago had just kept his mouth shut, the project would have gone on as planned.

As a global warming skeptic, I see little need for this project. I've also seen too many B-movies not to be scared silly about pumping steamy-hot CO2 into underground rock formations. It just screams Godzilla plot.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Iowahawk Speaks Truth to Power

They may be criminals, but they care.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

America Is Useless and Doomed Without Obama

This recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.

It's not polite to call the President of the United States a liar.

So I'm impolite: Barack Obama is a liar, and a fear-mongering liar, at that.

An irreversible recession? The American economy does not depend on the skill with stimuli of the politicians in Washington. It depends on the hard work of Americans. It will recover, despite Obama's best efforts to destroy it.

All of this is a sham, anyway. He knows it will recover. He's just bad-mouthing the economy until some kind of "stimulus" package passes. After he gets his economic program through, he will become a cheerleader. When the economy recovers, which it is bound to do by its very nature, he will take credit.

What a disingenuous, self-serving piece of work that man is.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bottom-up, or Craniorectal Inversion?

During this year's presidential campaign, Barack Obama posited that the economy should grow not from the top down, but "from the bottom up".

After the election he is showing his true big-government beliefs in action. Only government can solve our problems, he says.

Clearly, he's a top-down kind of guy.

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Why Universal Health Insurance Is a Bad Idea

First, it's an expansion of government into an area that it has no business running, which is our health. Once the government funds or controls insurance, it is not just a slippery slope but a fait accompli that the government will dictate who gets how much health care -- and who is cut off.

Secondly, one of the benefits of competition in the marketplace is that some people have the choice not to buy a product or service. All of the market is trying to get them to buy, and it must provide enough benefits at a low enough price to entice them to buy whatever product or service is offered. If everyone is compelled to have health insurance, the clumsy and ineffective alternative of price controls will have to be employed, and it will fail.

Therefore, people must be given the opportunity to opt out and save some money. Let people decide if their health is good enough, or the risk to them great enough, to choose health insurance over some other priority.

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Blagojevich and the Party Machine

In the days of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party existed as a kind of shadow government. There was an official government, with a President, ministers, a legislature, and so on. As The Columbia Encyclopedia puts it, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

... had been organized to parallel the territorial hierarchy of government administration and all significant institutions, including the press and armed forces, thereby effectively controlling all policy.

Sometimes the official government position was a mere figurehead, who did nothing without consulting the Party, of which he had to be a member. But sometimes the Party boss was also the government official for the corresponding geographical area.

And so it is in Chicago. The Democratic Party machine in Chicago, liberal activist groups, unions, and limousine class form a shadow government, without whose approval the official government makes no move.

Blagojevich, Emanuel, and Obama are products of that machine.

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