Monthly Archives: October 2012

Spoiled Kids Acting Like 1%’ers

Found this while reading through Say Anything:

Some classics:

  • Hey, dude, that’s not cool!
  • It’s not fun to take people’s candy.
  • This is my candy.  I worked hard for it.
  • He stole my candy already!
  • You can’t split candy ’cause that’s not right.  That’s HIS candy.
  • I’m gonna call the police!

Notice that the kids felt that this was theft.  Taking something from them that they had earned was “not right.”

It’ll be years before these kids learn that when a monkey does it they can call the cops.  But when the government does it, the GOVERNMENT calls the cops.

These kids are learning what legal plunder looks and feels like.

The Power Of A Word

From The Economist - True Progressivism

I was going through my edition of The Economist the other day.  It was a treat really, in the “old days” I used have lunch across from the Barnes and Noble, buy the print edition and read it over Thai food.  I’ve long given that ritual up in favor of a subscription and electronic reading but hey….

So, anyway, there I was with my Phad Thai and the print version of the Economist.  I flipped to the “Leaders” section and just shook my head when I say this title:

True Progressivism

I’ve come to see The Economist as a more moderate magazine than I used to, but every now and then I hit an article that makes me wonder.  I nearly just turned the page and walked away.

But I read on.  And boy am I glad that I did!

To be sure they came out of the gate pretty slowly:

BY THE end of the 19th century, the first age of globalisation and a spate of new inventions had transformed the world economy. But the “Gilded Age” was also a famously unequal one, with America’s robber barons and Europe’s “Downton Abbey” classes amassing huge wealth: the concept of “conspicuous consumption” dates back to 1899. The rising gap between rich and poor (and the fear of socialist revolution) spawned a wave of reforms, from Theodore Roosevelt’s trust-busting to Lloyd George’s People’s Budget. Governments promoted competition, introduced progressive taxation and wove the first threads of a social safety net. The aim of this new “Progressive era”, as it was known in America, was to make society fairer without reducing its entrepreneurial vim.


But the plot improves quickly:

Thus, on America’s campaign trail, the left attacks Mitt Romney as a robber baron and the right derides Barack Obama as a class warrior. In some European countries politicians have simply given in to the mob: witness François Hollande’s proposed 75% income-tax rate.

I’m willing to trade a whole bunch of ideology to someone who’s willing to admit that the left is nothing more than class warriors.  So anyway, the article moves along and then comes some true gems:

In the rich world the cronyism is better-hidden. One reason why Wall Street accounts for a disproportionate share of the wealthy is the implicit subsidy given to too-big-to-fail banks. From doctors to lawyers, many high-paying professions are full of unnecessary restrictive practices. And then there is the most unfair transfer of all—misdirected welfare spending. Social spending is often less about helping the poor than giving goodies to the relatively wealthy. In America the housing subsidy to the richest fifth (through mortgage-interest relief) is four times the amount spent on public housing for the poorest fifth.


The Economist is calling out the label, “Too Big To Fail.”  And then the truly Libertarian line of logic that begins to pin back the lawyers and the docs.  Who WOULDN’T love the racket that allows barristers and snake oil salesmen to restrict competition?  And how about that fact regarding the mortgage-interest?

So, ideas?

Compete, target and reform

The priority should be a Rooseveltian attack on monopolies and vested interests, be they state-owned enterprises in China or big banks on Wall Street. The emerging world, in particular, needs to introduce greater transparency in government contracts and effective anti-trust law. It is no coincidence that the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, made his money in Mexican telecoms, an industry where competitive pressures were low and prices were sky-high. In the rich world there is also plenty of opening up to do. Only a fraction of the European Union’s economy is a genuine single market. School reform and introducing choice is crucial: no Wall Street financier has done as much damage to American social mobility as the teachers’ unions have. Getting rid of distortions, such as labour laws in Europe or the remnants of China’s hukou system of household registration, would also make a huge difference.

Next, target government spending on the poor and the young. In the emerging world too much cash goes to universal fuel subsidies that disproportionately favour the wealthy (in Asia) and unaffordable pensions that favour the relatively affluent (in Latin America). But the biggest target for reform is the welfare states of the rich world. Given their ageing societies, governments cannot hope to spend less on the elderly, but they can reduce the pace of increase—for instance, by raising retirement ages more dramatically and means-testing the goodies on offer. Some of the cash could go into education. The first Progressive era led to the introduction of publicly financed secondary schools; this time round the target should be pre-school education, as well as more retraining for the jobless.

Last, reform taxes: not to punish the rich but to raise money more efficiently and progressively. In poorer economies, where tax avoidance is rife, the focus should be on lower rates and better enforcement. In rich ones the main gains should come from eliminating deductions that particularly benefit the wealthy (such as America’s mortgage-interest deduction); narrowing the gap between tax rates on wages and capital income; and relying more on efficient taxes that are paid disproportionately by the rich, such as some property taxes.

Thoughts on paragraphs 1, 2 and 3:

1- A gigantic FU to the teacher’s unions and labor laws!  What I wouldn’t do to compromise if the deal included teacher’s union destruction and the loosening of labor laws.  I mean, holy shit – “No Wall Street financier has done as much damage to American social mobility as the teacher’s unions!”

2- Welfare reform.  We can only hope to slow the increase, but we should!   Though they do slip on early education; there isn’t any data that suggests the gains last beyond 3rd grade.

3-  This sounds exactly like Romney’s tax plan.

And to think, I almost passed this by because of the word Progressivism.

The Inner Libertarian

Jack Chambless nails it:

I am voting for Mitt Romney for three reasons.  First, the hidden camera bit where he discussed the “47%” was dead on.  Saying that in private and getting busted for it was wonderful.  He got busted for telling the truth.  I like it when people speak economic truths.  That says a lot about what he understands and where his perspective lies.

Second, much of what he wants to do – economically speaking – is good stuff and he understands the case for building businesses, creating jobs and reducing our debt.  Will he do it?  I sure hope so.

Third – and this is where my fellow Libertarians need to focus – the long-run consequences of four more years of the hope and change wagon rolling over us and the Constitution must end.  Now is no time to stand by our hard-headed, Fed-hating, dope legalizing views and vote for Mr. Paul or Mr. Johnson.

If you Libertarians truly are as smart as you think you are then you will adopt some good old fashioned John Nash game theory and look at a strategy that minimizes the damage of your options rather than trying to maximize the gain from some choice.  This, dear friends is the case…

If Mr. Obama wins, liberty in the long run is in such trouble, and the debt hole, health care hole, tax hole, etc. etc. will be so deep that no future disciple of Ron Paul or Ronald Reagan will be able to pull this fragile republic out of the depths of entrenched Socialism.

Sing it sis’tah!

The State Of The State Of North Carolina

Back and forth – forth and back.

Carolina is back to trending Romney:

Raleigh, N.C. — Mitt Romney has moved ahead of President Barack Obama in North Carolina in the final week before the election, according to a WRAL News poll released Tuesday.

SurveyUSA polled 682 likely voters statewide between Saturday and Monday and found that 50 percent would vote for Romney and 45 percent for Obama if the election were held now. The remaining 5 percent were either undecided or voting for another candidate.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

In a WRAL News poll conducted four weeks ago, Obama and Romney were in a virtual dead heat for North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes, with Obama at 49 percent and Romney at 47 percent.


Romney’s Tax Plan

It seems that the whole campaign season has been about Romney’s tax plan.  Namely that it’s nothing more than a giant gimme to the rich at the expense of the middle class.  The argument goes along the lines of this:

You cannot reduce the marginal rate by 5 points across the board and eliminate enough deductions from the wealthy to make the plan both revenue neutral.  Therefore the plan MUST raise rates on those of us not in the upper 5 to 1 percent in income.

First this: I am a firm believer in the Laffer curve, a concept that describes what people do with their money to expose it to a tax burden.  The idea is that a tax rate of 0% will bring in the same amount of income as a tax rate of 100%.  Revenue increases at the beginning of each end until it reaches some theoretical maximum along the way.  Conservatives like to use the Laffer Curve as an argument against HIGHER taxes.  In this I am using it as an argument against LOWER taxes.  While I disagree with liberals that we need to raise taxes, I think that inserting a level of confidence that we are simply going to keep tax rates consistent is enough to grow the economy.

Second this: Romney’s plan has three planks –

  1. 5 point reduction across the board
  2. Deficit neutral
  3. Revenue neutral

Admittedly I get frustrated by the confusion created when “deficit” and “revenue” are used interchangeably, but it is what it is.

With all of that said, if Romney’s plan IS impossible, all it means is that what he is describing cannot be done.  It does NOT mean that there MUST be a tax hike on the middle class.  Of that he’ll blow a hole in the deficit.

For example, it could mean that he can’t move the rate by 5 points for the wealthy.

Okay, so my two issues aside; is the Romney tax plan impossible as the Obama campaign posits?

Rumor has it at “Yes.”

Princeton professor Harvey Rosen tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD in an email that the Obama campaign is misrepresenting his paper on Romney’s tax plan:

I can’t tell exactly how the Obama campaign reached that characterization of my work.  It might be that they assume that Governor Romney wants to keep the taxes from the Affordable Care Act in place, despite the fact that the Governor has called for its complete repeal.  The main conclusion of my study is that  under plausible assumptions, a proposal along the lines suggested by Governor Romney can both be revenue neutral and keep the net tax burden on taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 about the same.  That is, an increase in the tax burden on lower and middle income individuals is not required in order to make the overall plan revenue neutral.

I’ve always thought that Romney’s plan counted on growth.  Growth of existing salaries and then growth of the transition from unemployed to employed.

Now, do I think that’s the path we need to take?  Not necessarily.  But do I trust Romney more than Obama on anything, and I mean ANYTHING financial?  Most assuredly.

Benghazi Continues To Demand Attention

I’m preparing a post regarding the continued saga that is Benghazi.  However, before I do I think it’s important to point out a little analysis I did on a past post in the comments.

Scott mentioned that Obama referred to the attacks as “acts of terrorism” the next day.  I’ve read the transcript and listened to the remarks.  And I don’t remember ever thinking that Obama referred to the attacks in Benghazi as those “acts of terrorism.”  In fact, I was struck by how he AVOIDED that reference.  He does this here in the same way that he refuses to name terrorism instead referring to it as “man caused disasters.”  In the same way that he refers to the Ft. Hood shooting as “work place violence.

Obama does NOT want to label events as terrorist attacks.

So I went back to the transcript and looked for Obama specifically referencing the attacks on the consulate.  This is what I found:

He mentions the attacks directly in the statements I’m copying.

The first:

Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.

The second:

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.

The third:

We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

The fourth:

Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya. Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.

The fifth:

And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi.

The sixth:

We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.

The seventh:

But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers. These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.

And that’s it – seven mentions of attacks and not one single reference to terror.

Now, to be sure, the left has some righteous ammunition on statements and context.  Take the republican’s attack on “You didn’t build that.”  Clearly Obama was referencing the infrastructure work he mentioned directly before that comment.  That didn’t stop the right, and me, from scorching him over those comments but at least I mentioned that the context supported Obama’s contention.  But here, the democrats are trying to pull the same shennanigans – they wana change the context.  And theyjust can’t do it.

Obama Bounce Was Just That – A Bounce Up And A Fall Down

Romney was losing badly before the first debate.  Largely due to the fact that America hadn’t seen him and was relying on the negative attack ads delivered by the Obama campaign they viewed him as a monster.

Then came Colorado.

And Romney showed himself as a compassionate capable leader who would deliver America to a path far more favorable than Obama.

And he sky rocketed.

Obama won the second debate in a narrow decision, it did very little to slow the momentum.

The third debate was more of a decisive victory for the President and he enjoyed a resurgence; Gallup, a favorite of the left, saw Romney’s lead go from +7 to +3 in days.  However, today Romney is back to +5 thanks in part to rising Romney and falling Obama.

Further hurting Obama is the on going drama that is Benghazi.  It’s clear now that the Obama administration handled this badly.  They had direct knowledge within hours, failed to act appropriately and then lied to the American people starting in the Rose Garden, in spite of Candy Crowley’s defense.


Romney gains as Obama loses in Likely voters while Obama suffers a 6 point turn around in Approval.

Oh Minnesota How I must Weep

So I was researching some stuff for my post on the USS Minnesota when I came across this trivia:

Minnesota has the longest streak of voting for Democratic presidential candidates than any other state in the nation.

And this is during a discussion of who Romney should choose for a running mate.

Minnesota giveth and Minnesota taketh away!

West Wing

Just a short 5 hours ago I acquired Season One of the show West Wing.

I am looking forward to a mini-marathon tonight.

Military Freakin Coolness

My views on the United States’ military decisions are some of the most dynamic and fluid that I hold.  IN the past I was more anxious to “kick ass and take names” than I am now.  Where before I was in strong agreement that we should “kill the bad guys” I know find myself thinking about what happens if we do.  And, perhaps, how we could accomplish the same thing without killing anybody.

With that said, this is just pure freebased testosterone:

The USS Minnesota, the Navy’s newest attack submarine, will be christened on Saturday in Newport News, Va.

A crew of 134 officers and enlisted personnel will operate the $2 billion, 7,800-ton, 377-foot-long Virginia-class submarine. It is capable of diving deeper than 800 feet and operating at speeds in excess of 25 knots when submerged. The Minnesota is designed with a nuclear reactor that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship. It is expected to officially become part of the Navy fleet when it is commissioned next summer.

The Minnesota is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship warfare, strike warfare, special operations, surveillance, irregular warfare and mine warfare missions. The Navy said it is capable of operating in both shallow regions and deep waters.

May she carry the Minnesota name into service with equal honor that goes back to the Civil War and Minnesota’s contribution to the Union victory in that conflict:

The story of Col. William Colvill and the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry is too well known to need extended repetition. When President Lincoln called for volunteers to prevent the dissolution of the Union, this was the first regiment offered. It gave valiant service upon many a resolutely contested field, but its most conspicuous record was made at Gettysburg on the second day of that decisive battle. When the forces under the command of General Sickles advanced into action a little after noon, the First Regiment, of which only eight companies were present, numbering 262 men, took the position they vacated. The overwhelming forces of the Confederates under Longstreet and Hill repulsed and drove back the command of General Sickles and were advancing on the left flank of the Union Army, which was in grave danger of being rolled up in defeat. It was at this juncture that General Hancock ordered this depleted regiment to charge the advancing Confederates.

The gallant First Minnesota, led by Colonel Colvill, at once responded with an impetuosity that broke the first and second line of the enemy and stopped the advance. When the action was over but 47 men of the 262 who began the charge were still in line. The remaining 215 lay dead or wounded on the field. In all the history of warfare this charge has few, if any, equals and no superiors. It was an exhibition of the most exalted heroism against an apparently insuperable antagonist. By holding the Confederate forces in check until other reserves came up, it probably saved the Union Army from defeat. What that defeat would have meant to the North no one can tell. Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and the whole heart of the North would have been open to invasion, and perhaps the Union cause would have been lost. So far as human judgment can determine, Colonel Colvill and those eight companies of the First Minnesota are entitled to rank as the saviors of their country.

– President Calvin Coolidge

Here’s the back story:

After the Confederates had broken through General Sickles’ forward position, General Winfield S. Hancock looked about for a unit to plug a gaping hole in the Federal line before Confederate forces would force itself through to split the Union forces. He later wrote about this moment, “I needed five minutes time” to allow adequate reinforcements to come up.

It would require a full regiment to fill the void, but all Hancock could locate were the 262 Minnesota. He rode up the Minnesotan’s commanding officer, Colonel William Colville, pointed to the Confederates closing in on the hole in the Union lines and shouted, “Colonel, do you see those colors?” (pointing at the advancing Confederate forces) “Then take them!”

The attacking Confederate forces consisted of General Cadmus M. W Wilcox’s Alababam Brigade of Anderson’s Division (A.P. Hill’s Corps). The day before, nearly 1,800 men had answered roll call in Wilcox’s Brigade. Now, those Rebels were driving across Plum Run to assault the gap in the Union line along Cemetery Ridge. If they succeeded, the Federal troops would be split and broken.

Ironically, do you know what Col. Colville ordered?

He ordered them to fix bayonets.

Ordering his men to fix bayonets, Colonel Colville led the 262 Minnesotans against the Alabamans, nearly five times the Gophers’ number. Lt. William Lochren of the First Minnesota remarked, “Every man realized in an instant what that order meant; death or wounds to us all, the sacrifice of the regiment, to gain a few minutes’ time and save the position and probably the battlefield.”

Bayonets indeed, Mr. President.

God bless the Minnesota, the crew that serves aboard and the country she defends.

Fair winds and following seas!