Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why Shouldn't We Buy into the Global Warming Hoax?

Because the UN is telling us it is so.

The UN, the promoter of the worldwide Aids epidemic will shortly be reporting that their numbers are wildly wrong, according to the Washington Post today.

One of the reasons the numbers are so far off is:

"There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda," said Helen Epstein, author of "The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS." "I hope these new numbers will help refocus the response in a more pragmatic way." (emphasis added).

The same money driven agenda will be shown to be at work in the Global Warming Industry. It won't be long now. As Radar used to say in M.A.S.H. "Wait for it".

The Trouble with "Liberals" Part 98

Dear old Senator Ted Kennedy put his prodigious writing and reasoning skills on display for us today in a piece published in The American Prospect. His subject is those nasty right wingers, Roberts and Alito. His thesis is that they jobbed the system and somehow got onto the Court without having to share with the public what their views and intentions really were.

His example is a job discrimination case, Ledbetter. I won't go into the facts here. They are boring and Ted finds them irrelevant anyway. His critique:

"And for two judges who repeatedly proclaimed a concern for the real-world impact of their decisions, Alito and Roberts have turned out to be remarkably blinded to the plight of America's most vulnerable. "

It is neither the job nor the function of the SCOTUS to match outcomes to policy. It is both its job and function to apply the law as it exists. The outcome will be whatever the best legal, not policy, minds in America determine it to be. Whatever the "plight of America's most vulnerable" might be, it is up to Teddy and his friends to fix it. Not SCOTUS.

One of the commenters at The American Prospect suggests that in Kennedy's view the best outcome would be determined by examining the net worth of the parties to the suit and giving judgement to the less wealthy of them. A logical conclusion to a customarily stupid Kennedy/Liberal argument.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Trouble with "Liberals" Part 97

Of course, it should read the "Troubles" with liberals, there are so many of them. When you preach the doctrine of "diversity" and opine that we should be non-judgmental contradictions flow so fast and hard that incoherence quickly results. If diversity is good why prevent conservatives from speaking on college campi? Non-judgmental? Not if it concerns vilifying conservatives for the sin of being conservative.

An NFL pre-game show was polluted with a bunch of PETA nonsense yesterday. It was so preposterous that I couldn't stop watching. The subject was PETA/Michael Vick. The story was about PETA's re-education of Michael Vick. A striking, although not unexpected aspect, was the PETA spokesman's (I don't recall his name) condescending attitude toward a repentant Vick.

Most striking, also not unexpected, was a line in a letter PETA sent to Vick's judge. I haven't been able to find a copy of the letter on PETA's web site (http://blog.peta.org/archives/vick/).
A sentence from the letter was shown, highlighted, during the show. As best I can remember it said something like Michael Vick should never have any contact with animals (that is on the web site) and that he should never (emphasis added) be allowed to own an animal. Imagine that. Never. What kind of mind conjures up a lifetime penalty for harming animals and finds no difficulty promoting the notion that a judge could/should order such an outcome.

Is this the product of a non-judgemental attitude? Of course not. What they mean by non-judgmental is that we ought not to judge anything they do nor criticize them for judging us.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rush Limbaugh, a Small Fault

I am a big Rush fan and have been for years. I even bought some of his "Club Gitmo" T-Shirts. I don't subscribe to his newsletter or Rush 24/7. Both strike me as manifestations of greed. Maybe its just me.

Like so many others I am always amused when some dem starts talking about what a rotten, racist, homophobic, misogynist etc etc person Rush is. The amusement stems of course from the obvious fact that anyone who would make such comments has never listened to Rush.

Like most of the rest of us, he does have some faults. There are two in particular that have annoyed me over the years.

When we went into Bosnia Rush (and I) were demanding an "exit strategy". The fact that we didn't have one was an anathema. Any idiot knows you have to have one. On Iraq, no exit strategy required. To quote Rush, "Winning is the exit strategy". Why the double standard? Well, because we are human I guess. Doesn't make it right though.

Rush also talks a lot about leadership. About politicians and people who do what they think is right regardless of what the polls say. How many times did we nod in agreement as he scoffed at the Clintons whose every move was preceded by "wetting a finger and lifting it into the breeze"?

Now, however, on the issue of Driver's Licenses for illegals and immigration in general, the fact that 70% of the country oppose the licenses and the comprehensive approach to immigration reform is supposed to mean that politicians who oppose the will of the majority are out of touch elitists, not leaders. They may indeed be elitists but that doesn't mean they are not leaders. They are leaders who will live and die (figuratively) promoting the approaches to these issues they believe to be right.

What Rush really means is that, like most of us, someone with whom we agree is a leader and someone with whom we disagree is not. The majority does rule. It doesn't mean we are always right.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

John Edwards, Constitutional Monarch Wanabee

I saw an hilarious video of John Edwards yesterday (if I could figure out how to link things I would). I know, they are all hilarious.

Here is what he had to say:

"When I'm president, I'm going to say to members of Congress, and members of my administration, including my Cabinet, I'm glad that you have health care coverage and your family has health care coverage. But if you don't pass universal health care by July of 2009, in six months, I'm going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you."

It is possible, even likely, that Johnnie thinks a President could do that. It is possible, even likely, that he doesn't care whether a President could do that.

It is interesting to consider the mind of a person who would say such a spectacularly stupid thing.

Equally stupid are the two women seated behind him nodding their approval of his stupidity, not to mention the unseen audience applauding heartily.

For all of you, here are some facts:

1) Every American has "Health Care".
2) Every American does not have Health Insurance.
3) All but a very few of us have the free will to choose to live a healthy or unhealthy life.
4) There are said to be 47 million uninsured in this country.
5) Of those, about 18 million choose to be uninsured. Mostly young people who see no
reason to spend good money on insurance they are unlikely to need anytime soon.
6) Of the remaining 31 million there is an unknown number eligible for Medicaid or
Medicare who will not apply for it until they need it.
7) There are also an unknown number eligible for S-CHIPS who will not apply for it
until they need it.
8) The population of the group described in #4 above is constantly changing.
9) There is no reason, as in NO REASON, to dismantle the world's best (yes, I know,
its not perfect) medical care delivery system to accommodate the
needs of less than 10% of the population of this country. If we feel compelled to supplement the county medical system in place across the country to accommodate them we can do that without removing the profit motive from, and thereby wrecking, the existing system.

Can you think of any other situation in which otherwise rational people would
consider such a thing? Of course not. The real problems here are demagoguery
and a hopelessly misinformed political class.

Among the model systems these misinformed demagogues praise is Canada's. I grew up there and know quite a few people who still live there. The system is great of you aren't sick. There is now objective proof for that notion: private clinics are being opened. Cleveland Clinic is now open in Toronto providing American style health care and charging for it. They are doing great. Can't imagine why.

With Friends like these...

Way back when, in 2001, W came to Washington expressing his determination to bring about bipartisan co-operation there as he had in Austin, Texas. I don't think much of bipartisanship. In my experience it is usually shorthand for republicans abandoning their principles.

It wasn't long before W embraced Ted Kennedy and "No Child Left Behind" became the unfortunate law of the land. It wasn't long before Ted Kennedy was calling W a liar and making his usual bombastic, insulting remarks about W and everything he said or did. Declaring Abu Ghraib to have been re-opened under American sponsorship. What a sickening piece of garbage he is. It is astonishing that he is so shameless as to open his mouth on the subject of waterboarding. Mary JoKopechne was not available for comment.

A year or two later Hill and Bill were invited to the WH for the unveiling of their portraits. I listened to W's incredibly gracious speech. It wasn't long before Bill was travelling the world taking pot shots at W.

Fast forward to May 2007. The "Comprehensive Immigration Act" (or whatever that putrid piece of legislation was called) is cooked up in private among the Senators. McCain tells us it will be passed without debate in 48 hours because he's happy with it. Hill is a supporter. W is a supporter. The bill gets beaten to death by an informed public. McCain and W are both big losers with the republican base.

Fast forward to November 2007. The dem presidential candidates are having a "debate". Russert is moderating. He asks Hill about NY Governor Spitzer's licenses for illegals plan. She gives a typical Clinton answer but is eventually pushed to say whether she supports Spitzer's plan or not. What does she do? Blame the Bush administration for failing to come up with a comprehensive immigration plan thus forcing governors to try to do something.

W spent enormous political capital trying to push the Senate's legislation through. Its failure had nothing to do with the administration. Does Hill give W an ounce of credit for his effort? Of course not. These people have not a shred of loyalty or decency.

UPDATE 12/26/07. The Clintons are nothing if not consistent. A few days ago Bill proclaimed that the first thing Hill would do as Prez would be to send him and Bush 41 on a world tour to repair the damage Bush 43 had done to our reputation.

Puts me in mind of a phrase credited to Benjamin Disraeli, speaking about William Gladstone:
"Nothing delights me more than the sight of an unsophisticated rhetorician intoxicated by the exuberance of his own natural verbosity".

Bill, in the instant info world of 2007, actually believes that he can pretend to have the co-operation of 41 in trashing 43! Amazing, but consistent. No fallout of course. 41 issued a statement supportive of 43 and no doubt will go back to calling Bill his "other"son. Just because the Bushes are too nice to hold a grudge.

Readers of the NYTimes probably didn't hear about 41's statement and are no doubt doubled over laughing at their dinner parties: "Even his own father thinks he's an idiot!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Your Money as Viewed from the Left

Jonah Goldberg in today's NRO quotes Gene Sperling, Hillary Clinton's chief economic adviser, as saying "The question is, should we be giving an extra $120 billion to the top 1%?"

Sperling's reference is to tax cuts. His perspective is instructive. Apparently everything we earn belongs to the government. The only question, in his view, is how much of it the government will let us keep.

It is difficult to quantify how far removed from basic American principles this view pushes the left. Sentiments like this dredge up images of Soviet Commissars concocting five year plans that were the laughing stock of the world while dooming millions to lives of desperation and never ending queing up for food.

What sort of egotism results in the view that a bureaucrat should take from a producer as much as he sees fit in order to spend it differently than would the producer of all this wealth? If I am so smart, lucky, rapacious or energetic as to place myself within the top 1% of all earners in the biggest, wealthiest economy in all of human history it is quite possible that I would spend it well. In fact, it is arguable that whatever I choose to spend it on would be spending it well and spending it more effectively than government would.

I took an economics course long ago about which I remember very little except the color of the text book cover, blue, and one nugget of information. The nugget is that spending by the private sector creates more wealth than spending by government. I don't remember the explanation for that bit of information. I do know that I have seen it repeated in real life twice. The tax cuts of the 80's produced a huge boom and dramatically increased tax revenues. The tax cuts of the 2000's produced a huge boom and dramatically increased tax revenues.

That the Congress, state, county and local governments have chosen to use most if not all of it to fund new programs and produce budget problems doesn't change the facts: Less taxation = more economic activity = more tax revenue.

The fruits of my labor do not belong to the government. They belong to me. I am willing to contribute a portion of what I earn to the government for the common good. I think that is the sentiment this country was founded on.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Buffet Continued

In my previous post I wrote about Warren Buffet's dubious determination to pay more taxes to the Federal Government. In my opinion, he really wants us, not him, to pay more taxes.

As I thought more about the issue I realized that he is right in one respect. People in the middle-income bracket pay too much in taxes. That is not because the rich pay too little. It is the result of misguided policies put in place by incompetent, corrupt politicians.

I have heard, countless times, of the dismal savings rate of Americans. Small wonder. The government confiscates 6.2% of our income, regardless of our income level, and forces us to "save" it in Social Security. How much do people really have left to "save"? Do you earn 6.2% more than you wish to use for living expenses? Few of us are so fortunate. As has been well documented, the Social Security Trust Fund earns nothing so the confiscated assets of every working American earn nothing. My theory on why it earns nothing is that it is invested exclusively in US Treasury Bonds that have to be repaid with tax money, the money we pay the Federal Government in income tax, for the most part.

If that is not bad enough, Social Security confiscations end at $92,500 of annual income. This is simply neither fair, nor right. It clearly places the heaviest burden for funding Social Security on those least able to afford it, although arguably those to whom it is most important in terms of retirement planning. According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007 , Table 673 about 17% of households earned more than $100,000 in 2004 (the latest year reported) and so had an advantage over those earning less in terms of the impact of SS confiscations on them. (Household income is not the perfect measure here but all I could find for now.)

So about 17% of households are less burdened by the current system than the other 83%. Should the misery be shared equally? No.

In my view Social Security and Medicare should both be means tested. For those of us in the top 5%, the idea that we "need" SS is ridiculous. If SS is going to continue as it is (a bad idea) then we should continue to pay to the $92,500 cap but not be eligible to receive any benefits.

What would be the impact on the system of removing me, Bill Gates, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy (oops, probably not in it since he has done nothing but "work" for the federal gov't his whole life), John Kerry (oops, same problem) and Warren Buffet from it?

Even though my skills are lacking, please consider the following:

If I received $14,400 annually ( $1200/month) and live to age 80 I would have received $216,000.

As of 2001 (Table 700, 2001 is the latest data available) there were 3,510,000 millionaires in the USA. If we were all removed from SS eligibility (how could any of us object in any meaningful way) and lived only to age 70 the system would save $252.7 billion dollars(based on the figures I used for my case and generalising them). If half of us lived to 70 and the rest to 75, $379.1 billion would be saved and so on and so forth.

The SSA site indicates that SS payments will be reduced, probably to zero, although it is hard to tell, by withholding SS benefits for all earned income over $34,400 (there are other numbers but this is the most common in my opinion). If I understand it correctly, $1 is withheld for every $3 earned.

Not surprisingly only ordinary income is included in the calculation. By 65, most, if not all of the income earned by the vast majority of the millionaires will be dividends, interest , capital gains or pensions. None of this income would reduce our SS payments. We get a break again. We don't need it in the first place. A retiree who has to work to make ends meet has his benefits reduced, but I don't? Ridiculous.

Please do not leap to the conclusion that I am a bleeding heart. I'm not. I realize that, for the most part, we end up where we end up through a series of choices. Generally speaking, those who end up with bad outcomes have made bad choices. That doesn't mean that I should be living off their misfortunes, earned or serendipitous. Nor does it mean that they should live off the fruits of my better choices. Given a choice between the two, however, I would rather contribute meaningfully to their well-being rather than force them to contribute meaninglessly to mine.

This post is long enough. I'll leave medicare to another day.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Silly Warren

Warren Buffet, among the richest people in the world, has declared that he doesn't think he pays enough taxes and that the rich should pay more. As James Tarranto pointed out in Monday's Best of the Web at http://www.opinionjournal.com/, he can always send in money to the "Gifts to the Treasury" address if he wants to pay more. Don't hold your breath.

In fact, Buffet is an excellent example of the "say one thing, do another" culture that makes the sanctimony of the left so amusing and annoying.

Buffet complains that he pays less federal tax, as a percentage of his income, than do any of his employees. No doubt this is true. The reason for this is obvious: Most of his income is either dividends (often not taxed at all) or capital gains, taxed at 15%. Neither of these sources of income is subject to Social Security taxes, which end at $92,500(a much greater percentage of his employees' incomes than his own) anyway. His argument is knowingly misleading. That makes him a liar, not an advocate. What he really should be saying is that he wants you and me to pay more taxes.

The hypocrisy does not end there. A year or two ago he announced that the bulk of his estate would be distributed to charitable foundations before his demise. There is one reason to do this: To avoid estate taxes.

How pathetic.