This crusade is based on three questionable claims. One is that the wealthy are mostly Wall Street bankers benefitting from rising stock and real estate prices, or executives who pay themselves extravagant salaries. Another claim is that such people unfairly benefit from a system that taxes capital gains at half the highest marginal rate paid by those who earn salaries and wages. Then there is the assertion that the “super rich” have abundant funds that can be taxed to improve the living standards of everyone else.
All of these claims are false.
Emanuel Saez of the University of California ( Berkeley ) has shown in a series of papers that, as he writes, “The top income earners today are not ‘rentiers’ deriving their incomes from past wealth but rather are the ‘working rich,’ highly paid employees or new entrepreneurs who have not yet accumulated fortunes comparable to those accumulated during the Gilded Age.”
The typical “rich” person today is someone who works for a salary and accumulates stocks and bonds through savings, retirement plans and (for business executives) stock options.
From 1980 to 2010, as the top 1% increased their share of total before-tax income to 15% from 9%, their share of the individual income tax soared to 39% of the total paid, up from 17%. Most were paying federal taxes at the highest marginal rate: In 1980 that rate was 70% and in 2010 it was 35.5%—but it has now climbed back to 39.6%. The share of federal taxes paid climbed dramatically in those 30 years even as marginal rates were cut almost in half.
According to the White House budget office, in 2010 the federal government raised approximately $900 billion from the individual income tax, of which about $350 billion (39%) was paid by the top 1% of income earners. The remainder of total federal tax collections (nearly $2.2 trillion in total) was paid through corporate, payroll, estate and excise taxes.
Those who want to “tax the rich” to redistribute income to the poor and middle class usually propose to raise the marginal rates on incomes or the capital-gains rate, or both. Yet as Scott Hodge recently documented in these pages , it will not be easy to raise vast sums this way.
The individual income tax accounts for slightly less than half of federal revenue and the top 1% already pays a substantial share of that total. Most of the wealth owned by the top 1%, and especially by the “super rich” in the top 0.1%, is also held in stocks, bonds and real estate that are not subject to income taxes until sold. It is a fool’s errand to try to raise the living standards of the bottom 60% through higher income taxes on the top 1% or 0.1%.
If climate science is settled, why do its predictions keep changing? And how is it that the great physicist Freeman Dyson, who did some climate research in the late 1970s, thinks today’s climate-change Cassandras are hopelessly mistaken?
They deal with the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere and oceans, argues Dyson, ignoring the effect of biology, i.e., vegetation and topsoil. Further, their predictions rest on models they fall in love with: “You sit in front of a computer screen for 10 years and you start to think of your model as being real.” Not surprisingly, these models have been “consistently and spectacularly wrong” in their predictions, write atmospheric scientists Richard McNider and John Christy — and always, amazingly, in the same direction.
Settled? Even the U.K.’s national weather service concedes there’s been no change — delicately called a “pause” — in global temperature in 15 years. If even the raw data is recalcitrant, let alone the assumptions and underlying models, how settled is the science?
Last Friday, Obama ostentatiously visited drought-stricken California. Surprise! He blamed climate change. Here even The New York Times gagged, pointing out that far from being supported by the evidence, “the most recent computer projections suggest that as the world warms, California should get wetter, not drier, in the winter.”
Republicans are now focused on fixing Obamacare rather than repealing it.
Republicans have shifted their strategy on ObamaCare. Weeks ago, many Republicans — including Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) — said ObamaCare was too broken to fix. But now, the GOP is drafting legislation that aims to do just that. The GOP wants to rebuild its political capital and public credibility by solving ObamaCare’s implementation problems. This pivot comes after Republicans took major hits in polls following the government shutdown. The House this week will vote on a measure called the Keep Your Health Plan Act. It aims to do what the president promised years ago: If you like your healthcare plan, you can stay on it. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing for a vote in their chamber. That measure has already attracted Democratic support.
Due to the insurance market and ObamaCare mandates, millions have recently lost their healthcare coverage. Many of these dropped people will obtain coverage through the new ObamaCare health exchanges, but some, if not most, will pay higher premiums. After their costly political strategy to defund ObamaCare, GOP lawmakers are more willing to support measures that will repair the president’s signature healthcare law, political science Professor Jack Pitney said. “Republicans took a look at the polls. They finally realized that defunding ObamaCare was unpopular, but a measure like this [is] very popular. They realized that, despite all the brave talk, that the shutdown did not work to their advantage, and now they are trying to get on the right side of public opinion,” he said.
Some Republicans believe that with full enactment of the law — and the inability to defund it — the party won’t be hurt politically with attempting to solve the problems arising from ObamaCare. “Before [ObamaCare] went into effect, the only goal is to stop it; now the goal is still stop it, but I don’t want to treat people harshly,” Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) explained. The House legislation that is scheduled for a vote this week is sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.). More than 100 Republican lawmakers have already endorsed it.
Of course, what they don’t understand is that they are playing right into the Democrats’ hands – the Democrats election strategy is to admit that ObamaCare has flaws, promise to repair them and argue that Republicans will only make things worse. (See link I will post in first comment). Once the public sees that both Republicans and Democrats accept Obamacare, acknowledge its flaws and seek to fix it, t…here will be no compelling difference between the parties this November and no reason to vote for Republicans over Democrats. And worse: Democrats will always club Republicans by saying or implying that Republicans’ secret desire is to repeal Obamacare, whereas the Democrats want to “protect” it and “reform” it.
The GOP leadership is on a suicide mission. — Ed Mazlish
From an editorial in The Orange County Register:
The successful efforts of a community activist group to scuttle a planned Trader Joe’s development in an economically distressed neighborhood of Northeast Portland, Ore., illustrates the depths to which ideologues will go under the deceptive banners of racial justice and economic fairness.
On paper, it seemed to be a match made in heaven: the famously progressive city of Portland and Trader Joe’s, with its emphasis on organic, non-GMO food, locally sourced goods and animal- and environmentally-conscious sensibilities. But that was not enough for the Portland African American Leadership Forum.
The group’s reasoning for killing the development is as empty as the two-acre lot on which it was to be built. According to a strongly worded letter PAALF sent to the Portland Development Commission, “A new Trader Joe’s will increase the desirability of the neighborhood to nonoppressed populations, thereby increasing the economic pressures that are responsible for the displacement of low-income and black residents.”
In other words, they are concerned that economic development will make the neighborhood too successful and attractive, thus further oppressing the poor (in their minds).
Perhaps it has never occurred to PAALF that it is economic opportunity – not government mandates and handouts – that helps the poor improve their lot in life. And government dictates were central to their proposed “solutions.” The group demanded an affordable housing mandate (serving those earning up to 60 percent of median family income), a “legally binding community hiring agreement,” and “an independent, community-controlled body [that] can negotiate a legally binding community benefits agreement.”
So it is not enough that the $8 million development of four-to-10 retail businesses, with Trader Joe’s serving as the anchor tenant, would bring new jobs, quality food and other goods and services, and tax revenues, to a poor neighborhood. PAALF wanted to extract tribute from the developers and businesses in order to further advance its social and political agenda. It is almost like a scene from Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” where the unproductive members of society increasingly feed off of the productive members until the producers decide they have had enough.
And, just as in the novel, Trader Joe’s shrugged. [Editorial: Trader Joe’s shrugged]
CROSS: FCC Fascism – “Open Internet” and “New Neutrality” as Doublespeak for The Government Takeover of the Internet
“Today’s announcement reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day,” wrote Pai. “In the wake of a court defeat, an FCC chairman floats a plan for rules regulating Internet service providers’ network management practices instead of seeking guidance from Congress, all while the specter of Title II reclassification hovers ominously in the background. I am skeptical that this effort will end any differently from the last.”
“I am deeply concerned by the announcement that the FCC will begin considering new ways to regulate the Internet,” said O’Rielly. “As I have said before, my view is that section 706 does not provide any affirmative regulatory authority. We should all fear that this provision ultimately may be used not just to regulate broadband providers, but eventually edge providers.”
The D.C. appeals court that overturned the anti-blocking and nondiscrimination portions of the FCC’s 2009 Open Internet order did concede that ISP’s have the ability and incentive to discriminate against edge providers in the provision of competing data or video services, and the power to regulate broadband in the interests of deployment if it concludes such discrimination would discourage that deployment.
“It appears that the FCC is tilting at windmills here,” said O’Rielly. “Instead of fostering investment and innovation through deregulation, the FCC will be devoting its resources to adopting new rules without any evidence that consumers are unable to access the content of their choice.”
The criticial issue is to prevent the FCC from regulating internet content; which would be the next step in principle once the FCC is in control of the internet infrastructure which is presently the property of the ISPs who built and maintain it.
For more on “net neutrality” see:
Interesting comparisons of the revolutions going on in Ukraine and Venezuela:
Both Venezuelans and Ukrainians showed unusual courage against their rogue states — at least four Venezuelans were killed — but by Wednesday, the EU had declared sanctions against the Ukrainian regime and the U.S. announced it would follow suit. Venezuela got nothing. The crowds thinned and everyone went home.
Why the difference?
Dr. Harry Binswanger has released How We Know – Epistemology on an Objectivist Foundation. From the book description:
What is knowledge? How is it acquired? How are claims to knowledge to be validated? Can man achieve rational certainty, or is he doomed to perpetual doubt?
How We Know presents an integrated set of answers to these and related questions, based on Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy, including her unique theory of concepts.
Rejecting the false alternative of mysticism vs. skepticism, Harry Binswanger provides an uncompromising defense of reason, logic, and objectivity. Using vivid examples, he traces the hierarchical development of knowledge, from its base in sensory perception, to concept-formation, to logical inference, to its culmination in the principles of science and philosophy.
How We Know explains how following methods of cognition based on the facts of reality and on the nature of our cognitive equipment makes it possible to achieve rational certainty, no matter how abstract the issue.
The How We Know website also includes excerpts from the book. Definitely worth visiting.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reveals the Obama Administration’s Federal Communication Commission (FCC) draconian attempt to intimidate the media:
Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.
The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.” [Wall Street Journal]
Though not quite as disgraceful as last week’s article promoting an alliance between social conservatives and Muslims in order to promote bans on abortion and same sex marriage.
Nowhere in this article is there even a mention of the enormous damage George W. Bush did with 6 years of GOP control of Congress. No mea culpa is offered for the damage done by Bush and the Republicans between 2000-6. No mention is made of the similarities between what Obama is doing and what Bush and the Republicans did. And most importantly, not a single word offered as to how to prevent the disasters of the Bush Administration in a future GOP administration.
If National Review, The Weekly Standard and Commentary Magazine want to advocate this kind of nonsense in Blue states, fine. But to advocate it as a national strategy is beyond asinine: it is pre-emptive surrender to Obama’s evil.
With “allies” like this, send me my enemies. Please. — Ed Mazlish
Writes Harry Binswanger at Forbes:
Statism, the concentration of power in the government at the expense of individual liberty, cannot be sold to the American people. The statists in this country have always cloaked their agenda, marching us blindfolded toward the elimination of our freedom and our rights.
Statists do not dare announce: “The individual must be subordinated to the state, rights be damned.” Instead, they change the meaning of old terms and introduce new ones to disguise the nature and meaning of what they advocate.
President Obama has developed this perversion of language into an art form.
His first campaign spoke of “Change we can believe in” without once explaining change from what and to what. He couldn’t, because the change he sought was from semi-freedom to unfreedom.
He spoke of “hope” without once naming what was to be hoped for. He couldn’t, because, for him, the object of that hope was government handouts funded by money taken from those who had earned it–legalized plunder, in the well-turned phrase of Frederic Bastiat.
“We’re all in this together,” the President repeatedly says–without telling us what “this” is. The woozy, undefined “this” turns out to be a package-deal of the voluntary cooperation of free men and the forced regimentation of rightless serfs of an omnipotent state.
As an aid to those who treasure their freedom, I offer this dictionary of Obamaspeak, so that they may know what they are actually up against.
Read the rest of A Dictionary of Obamaspeak.