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Archive for January, 2012

Non-daily Digest

January 31st, 2012 No comments

Townhall — Obama Builds the Wrong Car

The truth is, Mr. President, America simply doesn’t want the cars you’re pushing—and wasting our tax dollars on.

Thomas Sowell — Fearful GOP Party Bigwigs Sabotage Gingrich Campaign

WSJ — Why Europe Isn’t Growing

AP — Occupy protest rekindles debate about flag-burning

Ricochet.com — The Conversation With a Florida Tea Partier That Should Scare Every Republican

Watts Up With That? — Bitter cold records broken in Alaska

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Global Warming: More Media Malfeasance

January 31st, 2012 No comments

When you have an agenda, you can never let facts get in the way of your conclusion. NASA’s most visible global warming alarmist, James Hansen, is banging his drum again with the assistance of a compliant media. As reported by Wendy Koch of USA Today,

The Hansen-led study, published in the December issue of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, said the magnitude of the Earth’s energy imbalance is fundamental to climate science. If the imbalance is positive and more energy enters the system than exits, the Earth warms. If the imbalance is negative, the planet cools.

His conclusion?

This provides unequivocal evidence that the sun is not the dominant driver of global warming.

Assume, for the sake of argument, that this is correct—that the energy imbalance described by the report has a greater effect on global temperatures than the sun. The problem is that, while the imbalance predicts warming, we haven’t seen any for the last decade or so, even as CO2 levels have risen.

Ms. Koch tries to refute this fact, but facts are hard to refute:

On the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page, 16 scientists recently said there’s no need for drastic action to “decarbonize” the world’s economy. “Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now,” they wrote without providing data.

Not so, according to U.S. government records. In December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that all 11 years of the 21st century so far (2001–2011) rank among the 13 warmest in the 132-year period of record.

[Note the italics and links are hers.]

She opens with a smear of the scientists who wrote the WSJ piece. While it’s true that they provided no data, they didn’t need to. It’s widely and publicly available. Her insinuation that these scientists’ claims are unsupported by facts is truly a below-the-belt blow. Consider some of their identities, which she conveniently omits:

  • Claude Allegre, former director of the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; Crafoord Prize for geology, Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society of London, Gold Medal of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
  • J. Scott Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International Journal of Forecasting
  • William Happer, Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University; Alexander von Humboldt Award, Herbert P. Broida Prize, Davisson-Germer Prize, Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award
  • William Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology
  • Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; American Meteorological Society’s Meisinger and Charney Awards, American Geophysical Union’s Macelwane Medal, Wallin Foundation’s Leo Prize
  • Rodney Nichols, former President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences
  • Henk Tennekes, former director, Royal Dutch Meteorological Service
  • Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists, Geneva

Not exactly a bunch of yahoos. Yes, I realize that appeal to authority is a logical fallacy, but it’s important for the reader to know that there are some rather eminent scientists in the list. Fortunately, Ms. Koch supplies the necessary data in her next link, simultaneously displaying either an ignorance of what the data show or a willingness to hide it.

First note that while the scientists in the WSJ point out that warming has been absent for more than a decade, Koch replies with a standard global warming talking point about the last 11 years being among the warmest on record. That’s not a rebuttal. It’s a non sequitur. The point made was that global temperatures aren’t increasing. Koch either doesn’t understand the difference—in which case she’s ignorant of logic—or she does but thinks you’re not smart enough to notice her sleight of hand.

Now consider the following sequence of numbers: 0.54, 0.60, 0.61, 0.56, 0.64, 0.59, 0.58, 0.50, 0.58, 0.64, 0.51. Would you characterize the sequence as increasing or decreasing? Well, a least squares analysis tells us the slope of a line approximating those data points is -0.0024, so the numbers are ever so very slightly decreasing.

Why am I boring you with a math exercise? Those numbers are the published deviations (from the NOAA report Koch cites) of the annual global temperatures from 2001-2011 from the average for the 20th century (in degrees C).

Global warming alarmists are insisting we dismantle our economy in order to combat a threat that can quickly be shown to be non-existent using their own data. Global CO2 emissions have increased significantly over the last decade as emerging economies like India and China have ramped their use of “dirty” energy sources, primarily ultra-evil coal. Global temperatures have not increased—they’ve flat-lined.

Do us all a favor and check the agenda at the door.

Categories: Global Warming Tags:

Non-daily Digest

January 30th, 2012 No comments

Mark Steyn — The State of Our Union Is Broke: Obama calls for more of the unaffordable same.

Michelle Malkin — The SIGA scandal: Calls for investigation mount

Yep, the most ethical administration ever.

Mike Adams, Townhall — A Black Man Can

WSJ — What the Bible Teaches About Capitalism

An interesting perspective from a rabbi.

What do you call someone who owns at least one vehicle, home entertainment and game systems, a computer, and has cable TV and a cell phone? In much of the world, “wealthy.” In America, apparently, “poor.”

Investor’s Business Daily triple play:

Naked D.C. — Obama says you wouldn’t succeed without government, so you’re welcome.

UK Daily Mail — Forget global warming – it’s Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again)

American Thinker — MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell gets his facts wrong

Deconstructing his blast against Republicans on racial issues.

Neal Boortz — An America divided

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Non-daily Digest

January 26th, 2012 No comments

Washington Times — Obama’s crony capitalism: Friends of the president are given billions in government largesse

and

Heritage — Soros May Benefit From White House’s Natural Gas Proposal

Nothing quite like Chicago-style backscratching.

Forbes — Warren Buffett’s Secretary Likely Makes Between $200,000 And $500,000/Year

Oh, the irony. Leave it to Obama to trot out one of the 1% as his big example of how unfair the tax system is. And how about having his own staff pay their taxes:

Hot Air — Great news: The “fair share” administration owes over $800,000 in back taxes

Investor’s Business Daily triple play:

Michelle Malkin — Obama’s Green Robber Barons

Walter E. Williams, Human Events — Schools of education

John Ransom, Townhall — Unions, Buffett, Robber Barons and Cronies Now Have Our Oil, Oh My

Thomas Sowell, National Review — Is Anybody Serious?

WSJ — The Buffett Ruse: Obama’s ploy means the highest capital gains tax rate since 1978.

Karl Rove — Channeling David Axelrod

Not usually a fan of Rove, but this one had me snickering.

Real Clear Politics — The Hyper-Partisan President

NY Post — Adding up to nothing: O’s fast talk on the economy

MSNBC — Cops: Man, 65, kills teen who knocks him off bicycle

Jim Brady and the rest of the anti-CCW crowd would rather see a 65-year-old man be the victim of these thugs.

National Review — Ballot-Box Zombies

But requiring voter IDs is racist!

CNN — Obama pushes clean energy theme in Nevada, Colorado

Obama called his energy plan an “all-out, all-in, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.”

At this point does anyone really believe this line?

CNET — U.S.-backed battery firm Ener1 seeks Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Why did the company fail? Low demand for electric vehicles. Duh. They’re EXPENSIVE! You know, when someone finally gets around to writing a book about the incredible failure of Obama’s brilliant “green economy” plan, it will have only one long chapter…11.

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World’s Greatest Innovator

January 26th, 2012 No comments

In a recent poll, young people aged 16-25 picked Thomas Edison as the greatest innovator of all time. Considering his innumerable contributions to technological advancement, that’s not at all an unreasonable choice. But take a gander at the top 7, as highlighted in the article:

  1. Thomas Edison (52%)
  2. Steve Jobs (24%)
  3. Alexander Bell (10%)
  4. Marie Curie (5%)
  5. Mark Zuckerberg (3%)
  6. Amelia Earhart (3%)
  7. Temple Grandin (2%)

Are you serious? I’m often accused of being an Apple fan-boi, but Steve Jobs? A quarter of our youth think he was the greatest innovator of all time? I suppose if you were born after the Mac was invented you might be excused for believing Jobs was the greatest innovator of your lifetime, but in history? History is apparently limited to your generation.

The bottom four are equally revealing. Zuckerberg? If you don’t know how life could possibly exist without Facebook, …

The other three point out the success of the feminist movement within our educational system. Yes, Curie and Earhart were pioneering women in their field, but if you’re considering aviation, wouldn’t the Wright brothers have been a better choice? Inventing flight, and all that. Oh, but they’re men. Madame Curie was certainly a brilliant scientist, but, well…not so much as an innovator. But she was a she. Did I mention her work killed her? And Grandin? You watch one made-for-TV movie about an autistic woman and suddenly she’s a great innovator?

The ignorance of this generation regarding real innovators throughout history would be stunning if it weren’t so terribly predictable. Do they even know who da Vinci was? (Or that he didn’t actually have a code?) What about our own Founding Fathers, such as Franklin and Jefferson? Oops. Old, dead, white guys.

Sadly, most of this age bracket is old enough to vote. That should be enough to scare anyone into fighting for real educational reform.

Categories: Education Tags:

The Tax “Fairness” Lie

January 26th, 2012 No comments

The Left, led by our Wealth-Redistributor-in-Chief, keeps hammering away at how the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes. The latest faux example of unfairness they’re trotting out before the gullible (and sadly ignorant) public is Republican candidate Mitt Romney. In what can only be either a deliberate hit piece or shoddy journalism (or, more likely, both), the AP today asks, “ Why is investment income taxed less than wages?

From the beginning to the end, the article is sprinkled with liberal talking points and misleading inferences.

Why do Mitt Romney and other wealthy investors pay lower taxes on the income they make from investments than they would if they earned their millions from wages? Because Congress, through the tax code, has long treated investment more favorably than labor, seeing it as an engine for economic growth that benefits everyone.

Yes, and the reason Congress has done so is that it’s true. As I pointed out before, when you tax something too much, you get less of it. If you want capital to flee the country for better business environments, raise the capital gains rate.

They throw in the obligatory comment from a conservative economist who points out that capital gains taxes amount to taxing the same income twice. This of course, is immediately rebutted with:

Lots of people are double taxed, says Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy for the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “Check out your last pay stub: There‘s income tax and payroll tax, so you‘re double taxed, too,” Marr said.

The problem with this—and Marr can’t possibly be ignorant of the fact—is that before a shareholder receives a capital gain from a stock investment, that money has already been taxed under both the income and payroll taxes at the corporate level. The shareholder, as an owner of the company in question, has already paid both income and payroll taxes. The capital gains tax is an additional tax on the same money, belonging to the same person. It’s as if the IRS looked at every individual taxpayer on April 16 and said, “Oh, you have money left over? Let’s take another 15% of that.”

No, it’s actually worse than that. If I want to buy shares in a company, I have to first earn the money with which to do so. That income is taxed (income and payroll) at my individual rate. With what the government graciously allows me to keep, I take a risk investing it in a company. As an owner of that company I pay taxes on its earnings (income and payroll). If there’s enough left over for the company to pay me a dividend, I now pay a third tax for capital gains.

But the real gotcha is this beautiful class warfare gem:

Romney, who released his 2010 and 2011 tax returns this week, has been forced to defend the fact that he paid a tax rate of about 15 percent on an annual income of $21 million. His tax rate is comparable to the one paid by most middle-income families. His income, however, is 420 times higher than the typical U.S. household.

It took me all of thirty minutes to research the facts that display how utterly false this statement is. If I can do it on my own time for free, why doesn’t a “journalist” do the same? Consider:

  • CNN points out that “roughly 45% of households, or about 69 million, will end up owing nothing in federal income tax.”
  • According to the Census Bureau, median income is $49,777 for 117,538,000 households.
  • According to the IRS, the total individual tax liability was $865,948,271,000.

So even though almost half of households pay no taxes at all, the average household tax liability is just under $7400. Now 15% of $21 million is $3,150,000. So Romney paid roughly 425 times the taxes of the typical household. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that 425 > 420. So Mitt Romney paid more than his fair share in taxes.

So when the prevaricator who currently occupies the White House tells you,

“Now, you can call this class warfare all you want,” Obama said. “But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.”

take a look at the facts and use your own common sense. Don’t buy the “fairness” lie.

Categories: Conservatism, Economy Tags:

Non-daily Digest

January 25th, 2012 No comments

Obama’s first TV ad of the 2012 campaign contains deliberately misleading information. (What we used to call a lie.) Who knew? The WSJ notes that

In bold type, the ad proclaims: President Obama “kept a campaign promise to toughen ethics rules” and it cites: “PolitiFact, 1/21/09.”

But

Just two days later, on Jan. 23, Politifact moved its ruling to “compromise” when Obama gave a waiver to William J. Lynn III, the nominee for deputy defense secretary. By March 17, PolitiFact called it a “promise broken” because so many waivers had been granted.

CNET — Obama at Intel: America, make more stuff

And how are we supposed to do that when you cut access to our own natural resources and kill our ability to provide the massive amounts of energy required for manufacturing?

WSJ — Showdown Over ‘Showrooming’

Showrooming is a moral failure which crosses the political divide. I’m saddened by how often I hear people talk about going into a store to check something out, then bragging about how they bought it from xyz.com for so much less. Why? When you do that, you are stealing from the brick-and-mortar store—you’ve deliberately used their resources when you had no real intention of purchasing from them.

Townhall — 15 Questions The Mainstream Media Would Ask Barack Obama If He Were A Republican

City Journal — It’s Working in Walker’s Wisconsin

And it will work elsewhere in America if we can break the unions’ grip on taxpayer funds.

NY Times — Arizona Candidate Challenged Over English Skills

Don’t be mislead by the headline. This lawsuit is being brought by the ultimate Mexican-haters…fellow Hispanics!

Carville & Begala, CNN — Yes, there’s a lot we don’t understand about the GOP

You have to love seeing experienced Democratic strategists open a piece with a litany of pure strawmen then spend the remainder attacking Gingrich. If he’s such a terrible candidate, why not throw your support behind him? Your guy should beat him handily, right? Right?

LA Times — Sterilized by North Carolina, she felt raped once more

She has every right to be furious. What was done to her by the state is nothing short of despicable. But holding current North Carolina taxpayers accountable for something done before many of us were born is simply piling one injustice on another. Make those guilty of the act liable. Punishing the innocent does nothing to achieve justice.

Fox News — Atty Says School Threatened, Punished Boy Who Opposed Gay Adoption

Once again, “tolerance” is demanded for all opinions except, of course, those of Christians.

NY Post — Don’t we need a food-stamp prez?

Investor’s Business Daily triple-play:

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Obama’s “Fair” Rules

January 25th, 2012 No comments

Did anyone else just love this little nugget from Obama’s State of the Union?

Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.

By “same set of rules” I can only assume he intends to stop taking money from people who have made good decisions and worked hard—and are now enjoying the fruits of their effort—and handing it to people who haven’t. The rules I live by—I stayed in school, worked hard for my grades, spent twenty years developing marketable skills, so I am able to own a home, feed and clothe my family and enjoy the occasional vacation–now apply to everyone? Yeah, right.

Categories: Conservatism, Economy Tags:

Econ 101: Capital Gains Taxes

January 24th, 2012 No comments

There’s been a lot of overblown rhetoric coming from the Left lately about the capital gains tax. Even some big investors—like Warren Buffett—who know better have been banging their drums to raise the capital gains rate. To see why this is terribly wrong-headed we need to look at the purpose and impact of taxes and see how that relates to capital gains.

Taxes are imposed for two reasons. The first, and most obvious, is to generate revenue for the government. Everyone agrees that some level of taxation is requisite and reasonable in order to fund necessary government functions. The second, often overlooked, is to encourage or discourage specific behaviors.

Having recently moved from Arizona to North Carolina, I can attest to an obvious example of the complex interaction of these two purposes: cigarette taxes. Many states impose high taxes on cigarettes in order to discourage smoking. Arizona’s cigarette tax is $2 per pack, while North Carolina’s is $0.45. When AZ raised its rate from $1.18 to $2, total revenues from the tax fell as smokers quit. In NC, not only is the tax low, but practically everyone in the state lives within a mile of a tobacco farm—and smoking is rather prevalent. When NC initially raised its rate from $0.05 to $0.30, there was a drop in sales volume, but not enough to counter the tax increase—tax revenues increased marginally. Another interesting impact of taxation rears its head here: when NC raised its cigarette tax, sales increased significantly in neighboring South Carolina which, at the the time, maintained a $0.07 tax rate. I doubt that South Carolinians suddenly started smoking in droves—those sales were going north across the state line. In AZ, sales on Indian reservations—which do not tax tobacco—went up as well, mitigating the smoking cessation effect and leaching both cigarette and sales tax revenues from the state.

I use this as the near-perfect example because it highlights the tension between the purposes and effects of a tax. When tax rates are increased, there may be a corresponding increase in revenues, or there may be a decrease as demand for the underlying activity or product decreases. It may well be that the effect of decreasing smoking incidence is of greater societal benefit than the loss in revenue is detrimental. But that goal is diminished when demand can be met simply by taking business elsewhere. What is of importance here is not to discuss the cigarette tax specifically, but to see and understand the effects of tax increases.

Now let’s slide into the capital gains tax (CGT). Simply speaking, a capital gain is realized when an investor sells an interest in something (most often in the form of property or stocks, bonds, or fund shares in a business, or dividends) for an amount higher than he originally paid. Taxes on the gain are paid at 15% for long-term investments (reduced to 0% for the bottom two personal income tax brackets) or the personal rate for short-term investments (less than a year). Consider a simple example.

An investor buys into a company for $1000, and later sells for $2000. The capital gain is $1000, so at the current 15% rate, he would pay $150 in capital gains tax. That sounds like a screaming deal, right? The guy just walked off with an 85% return on his investment! This is exactly what the Left and their media tail-waggers want you to think. The problem is that they’ve left out a huge factor in the equation: time. If the sale were made relatively soon after the purchase, then the investor really did come out with a screaming deal. But the overwhelming majority of investments don’t double in value over a short period. In fact, when you look at the stock market as a whole you begin to see why financial advisors tell you to pick solid investments for the long-term. Suppose instead that the investor keeps his money in the company for a number of years. Well, if inflation were only 3% then in 17 years his initial $1000 has inflated to $1650 so his real gain from the sale is only $350. That same $150 tax is 43% of the real gain. If, as the Left wishes, we raise the capital gains rate to 35% to match the top personal rate of 35%, then his tax becomes $350 and completely swallows his real gain. In the end he’s only left with the money he started with at its new, inflated value.

One effect, then, of a capital gains increase is to make long-term investment less valuable. Mega-investors like Warren Buffett and George Soros are very well aware of this impact on the market, and use it to their advantage. Think of how often you read in the paper that one of those two just invested hundreds of millions of dollars in some particular venture—nearly every week. Billionaires like those two can afford to play more often in the medium-term market—and do—because they can afford to take the occasional significant loss. (Consider in particular that Soros made his name by shorting the pound in the U.K., contributing greatly to the crash of their monetary system.) Now you can see why Buffett has no problem raising the capital gains rate—because his investments are often of shorter term, they are less impacted by inflation. (Short enough to diminish the effect of inflation, but long enough to avoid the short-term CGT, which is the same as the higher personal income rate.)

The second effect of a capital gains increase is—as in the case of the cigarette tax—to move monetary transactions (and the profits they generate) elsewhere. Why do you think so many people worldwide sink their money into Asian, Caribbean, and South American banks and funds? Barbados, with no CGT, reportedly has over $25 billion in Canadian investments. Other growing economies with no CGT include Belize, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica and, on the other side of the Pacific: Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore. Do you think it sheer coincidence that many of these are also major financial centers with investors from around the world? And even Brazil, with a CGT of 15%, stands to gain if we were to raise our rate to the Left’s envisioned 35%. Their economy is booming. Do you really think that if we raise our rate investors from both here and abroad will even hesitate to move their funds to Brazil? Get real.

You don’t improve an economy by undermining the capital base upon which growth is built. Before you buy into the class warfare rhetoric being spewed by the current denizens of the White House, consider the real purpose and effect of taxes and decide for yourself where the greater good of our nation lies.

Categories: Conservatism, Economy Tags:

Non-daily Digest

January 23rd, 2012 No comments

Parts 2-4 of Sowell’s discourse on disparity:

And his newest column — Too Many People Speak Out Of Their Ignorance

NY Times — Justices Say GPS Tracker Violated Privacy Rights

WSJ — The New American Divide

A very thought-provoking look at cultural differences in America.

Fox News — White House delay of budget proposal infuriates Republicans

It should infuriate all Americans. This is the third time Obama has failed to meet his statutory requirement to file a budget on time, and the Democrat-controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in three years. Like it or not, under the Constitution the House controls the purse, and should lay it out for the public to see by passing a severely cut—balanced is too much to hope for—budget early enough to even more clearly expose the lack of seriousness in the Senate and White House.

Washington Examiner — The welfare state is destroying America

Washington Times — The truly dismal state of the union

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