Thursday, October 31, 2013

Are Taxes a Form of Theft?

Are Taxes Theft? and

Tom’s previous post was blunt: Simple Solution: Raise taxes! Some readers commented that taxes should, in addition, be PROGRESSIVE. This means that the more you make, the greater PROPORTION of your income you should hand over to the government - not just a larger ABSOLUTE amount. Steve called himself an “Eisenhower Republican and a conservative.” He agreed with Eisenhower, during whose presidency the top marginal tax rate was over 90%.

We want to pursue this. For the sake of argument, let’s talk about a group, which we shall call the “$10 million+ a year club.”

Personally, if we were members of this club, we would be fine with what Steve, the “Eisenhower Republican” said, above. We wouldn’t mind handing over $9 million of our earnings each year, and live on the remaining one million.

How many people are there in the “$10 million+ a year club”? Anecdotally, we hear about the many NBA, NFL and MLB players who are there, along with dozens of Hollywood superstars, and of course thousands of business executives and assorted other professionals. Read more...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why do Americans want Health Care to Fail?

An Englishman was recently heard asking some American visitors: “Why do you Americans want healthcare to fail?”

Such a question can only be asked by a sober outsider, because American society is in the grips of a frenzy, as if drug-induced orgy of piling on Obamacare.

It began with ridiculing the technical difficulties experienced during Obamacare’s roll-out. The website didn’t work (very well). This attack is not lethal. Everyone has had a good time with this issue, including Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live. The White House can parry this attack, explaining that the technical problems will soon be solved, and that they have nothing to do with the substance of Obamacare.

Let me also remind you that the initial implementation of Bush’s drug plan in 2003 was an even greater fiasco, even though it was piggy-backing on an already existing bureaucracy - Medicare. Read more...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Fight About Obamacare is a Symptom of a Virulent Disease

The Right has lost the defund-Obamacare battle, but it won’t go quietly.

As the next “best” thing, the Right has brainwashed public opinion into believing that Obamacare is a “train wreck.” The Right is achieving this by harping on the technical problems associated with the program’s inauguration.

Yes, the program, the website(s), the software, the coding, all that does seem to be problematic. I don’t know whether these problems are unprecedented. I don’t remember how severe the “glitches” were when Social Security and Medicare were launched, or for that matter the new FBI website, or Apple’s iPad and iPhone.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why We Need a New Narrative for Our Planetary Future

By Scott G. McNall and George Basile

Most of us understand that humans are heating up the planet. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that by the end of this century summers will be hotter, sea levels higher, droughts more prolonged, and storms more severe. But there were anomalies in their original predictions of an ever-warming planet; in fact, there has been a slowing in the heating of Earth’s surface since 1998. Climate scientists noted that such “plateaus” are to be expected; that the overall trend since the beginning of the industrial revolution remains a steady upward progression in global warming. The panel upped its level of certainty from 90% to 95% —from “very likely” to “extremely likely”— that humans are responsible. The certainty has not been sufficient to overcome the ongoing debate about scientific predictions or drive increased action.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Simple Solution: Raise Taxes

raise taxes

Regarding the never-ending political crisis in the US: The solution is obvious, but hardly anyone is able to see it, or has the courage to mention it, or is not willfully ignoring it. A combination of imbecility, cowardice and evil.

There are two aspects to the crisis: (1) the government shutdown and (2) the looming default. The second aspect is by far the most serious. It exists because of the government’s insane indebtedness. $17 trillion so far, i.e. 110% of GDP. Worse than Greece.

The growing debt is the PRIMARY CAUSE OF AMERICA’S IMMINENT RUIN. The government spends more on finance charges than on nearly any other budget item. Half as much as the military budget. Imagine what goods and services could be provided with the $400 billion squandered every year on finance charges! Read more...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Some Amusing European Experiences

As I already told you, I recently returned from Europe after a month. I went there primarily to participate in my mother’s 100th birthday celebration in Holland. She is truly a grand lady, a famous and brilliant photographer. Google her at  or just type in her name - Ata Kando - and click on “images.” You’ll see some of the most beautiful photos imaginable.

There were six hundred and fifty people at her birthday celebration, including the mayor, the embassador, the media and assorted VIPs. It was held in a museum that devoted several floors to her photos. I’m incredibly proud of her, but I will delay telling you more about her and her work in a future post. Nor is today’s piece political. It’s more lighthearted and meant primarily to amuse you. Read more...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Are Public Opinion Polls Meaningless?

In the current political turmoil, all sides are relying more than ever on political polls to support their positions. This is called democracy. If Republicans can show that a majority of Americans oppose Obamacare, this proves that they are the good guys, just fighting for what most Americans want.

Similarly, newspaper articles and editorials invariably cite the results of opinion polls as proof of what the American people want. But isn’t it time to declare opinion polls meaningless?

I’m not talking about the oft-mentioned methodological flaws: leading questions, biased samples, and all the other gimmicks used to make sure that a survey produces the foreordained results which the interviewer is looking for.

Friday, October 4, 2013

America: Stop Fighting and Fix your Roads, your Schools, Your Cities

I was in Europe when the latest phase of the Syrian crisis broke out. As everyone knows, Assad used chemical weapons which killed nearly 1500 civilians. Thereupon, President Obama announced that a “red line” had been crossed and that this required a new American bombing campaign.

Although I was on the other side of the world and entirely out of touch with American public opinion, my reaction was knee-jerk and immediate: President Obama, please don’t do it!

That the overwhelming majority of Europeans around me were adamantly opposed to bombing, was a predictable no-brainer. More surprising was the fact that the vast majority of Americans were also opposed to another military adventure.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Driving in Holland

The Dutch are known for their liberal policies. They have legalized prostitution and the recreational use of Marijuana, same sex marriage and euthanasia. These policies are not entirely altruistic; by legalizing sex and drugs, the Dutch government is raking in millions in taxes. But these sources of revenue are peanuts compared to what the government earns as a result of their insanely complicated parking system and their exorbitant speeding fines.

In Holland the speed limit is neatly marked on signs the size of postage stamps. By the time you have taken out your binoculars, a camera has already fined you for speeding. Five or ten miles over the speed limit and you are in deep Dutch doo doo. Nobody in Holland seems to mind that the speed limit changes every five minutes or that road sections under construction have two or three different speed limits. It is not clear which one overrides the other. Read more...