Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama: Taxation Without Forethought (Part One)

Everyone's heard the campaign rhetoric- Obama will raise taxes only on the rich, that he will cut taxes for 95% of Americans. Couple of points on this.

First off, it is impossible to cut the taxes of 95% of Americans. According to the IRS, 35% of Americans pay no federal income taxes to begin with, with the top 2% of earners already paying 40% of the load. A phrase often used on Obama's campaign trail was "tax relief"- most certainly not the same thing as a tax cut. A "tax cut" is the action of lowering taxes. "Tax relief" is a Democrat's euphemism for expanding welfare. If we needed another obvious indication of Obama's intent to "spread the wealth" in a socialistic manner (besides his direct quote "I intend to spread the wealth around" in the now-famed "Joe the Plumber" incident), that would be the best candidate. How this expanded welfare is going to be paid for; with the government already toeing the line for a $1.2 trillion dollar deficit this year, is rather ambiguous. Merely raising the taxes on the already unfairly-taxes 2% would most certainly not cover this, so it is impossible to believe he will not raise taxes on the same middle-class worker he swore to serve.

Even assuming he managed to keep this promise (anyone remember the "Read my lips" line from Bush(41)?), his massive spending plan would surely eat up even more of our tax dollars. Though he has included what he calls "tax cuts" in the new update to his bailout package ($350 billion of it) in order to entice Republicans to support it, we conservatives must look beyond just the phrase "tax cut" to see what it entails. He basically wants to give a $500 tax rebate to every American, and typically I have no issue with the government giving us our money back.

However, there are two main flaws with this. One can be shown by looking at the 2008 "stimulus package" in which Bush gave a $600 tax rebate to Americans. The idea was to put money in consumer pockets, so they'd have more to spend and thus boost the economy from the demand-side of things. However, research shows that only 6% of it was used to buy new things- everyone else either saved it or used it to pay off debts. Consumers look ahead- only a permanent, fixed tax cut would give them the confidence to start buying more. This check would go the exact same way as the last, doing nothing to stimulate the economy and being a complete waste of taxpayer dollars.

The second, glaring issue with this is he wants to give this tax rebate to ALL Americans- including the ones who don't pay taxes already. Taxpayers would actually be losing money on this proposal, as their hard-earned dollars they are promised back would go to those who don't pay any taxes whatsoever. And again, the rebates would not inspire any consumer confidence, merely be used to pay off debt and saved.

If Democrats insist on focusing on the demand-side of economic stimulus, they might as well try something that works: cutting taxes across the board. Reagen did it, worked wonders.

A better policy would be to look at the "low end" of economics by looking at employment. Again, conservatives have mostly lost the message that Reagen clarified: lowering business taxes an regulation helps the little guy as well as the "big guy". In free markets, when one fails; the other typically does as well (today is a good example of that, as well as the great depression and any other free-market recession in the past hundred years).

A common argument today is that the current failure is due to the "deregulation" of the markets. Au contraire! Allow me to quote at length Walter E. Williams:

"The Federal Register, which lists new regulations, annually averaged 72,844 pages between 1977 and 1980. During the Reagan years, the average fell to 54,335. During the Bush I years, they rose to 59,527, to 71,590 during the Clinton years and rose to a record of 75,526 during the Bush II years. Employees in government regulatory agencies grew from 146,139 in 1980 to 238,351 in 2007, a 63 percent increase. In the banking and finance industries, regulatory spending between 1980 and 2007 almost tripled, rising from $725 million to $2.07 billion. So here's my question: What are we to make of congressmen, talking heads and news media people who tell us the financial meltdown is a result of deregulation and free markets? Are they ignorant, stupid or venal? "

As has been proven time again through history, and is applicable today; is the rule of thumb that more regulation and more taxes means more cost to doing business. You increase the cost of doing business, companies have less money to hire new people or pay more to their employees, thus hurting the little guy at least as much as said company, if not more.

Inasmuch as this has dragged on more than I'd expected, I'll give outline the rest of the issues with Obama's proposed tax policies at a later date.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I'm Pro-Choice, Too!

Among the more notable phrases marking an extremely left-wing person is for them to say that they’re “pro-abortion.” Inasmuch as the left is typically denouncing Republicans’ devious use of code words to try to reinstate slavery or introduce fascism to America, it is the left who never really say what they mean. You’ll never hear an abortion advocate say that they’re “for abortion”- after all, nobody is “for abortion;” there are only people who are “pro-choice.” But it’s those conniving Republicans you have to watch out for, they’re attempting incite lynchings with tax cuts (Representative Chuck Rangel (a Democratic Congressman from New York): “It’s not ‘spic’ or ‘nigger’ anymore. They [Republicans] say, ‘let’s cut taxes.’”)

As an aside, ought racism, fascism, or bigotry be self-evident in an argument? If it were, merely reciting the proposal itself would be able to explain its fallacy, why always the “Bigot!” or “Nazi!” or “Homophobic!” warning label? You’d think if Republicans actually had all of this hatred for minorities it would occasionally bubble over into the public discourse, yet you never hear any direct quotes belying what evil racists Republicans allegedly are. To paraphrase Ann Coulter, the only way to be sure to avoid any “code words” and appear to be what we are not, conservatives must be consciously, stultifyingly boring.

In any case, from the same crowd we get the idiotic “tax cuts equals slavery” formulation, we get the “pro-choice” wording. “Pro-choice” only refers to abortion, of course, with them there is no “pro-choice” tax hikes or “pro-choice” gun control or “pro-choice” school prayers. The only issue with which we must be concerned about the individual’s right to choose is on abortion.

So, tell you what: I’m “pro-choice” on gun control, allowing taxpayer money to be spent to pay for art therapy for the homeless, taxes in general, torture, the death penalty…you get the picture…

Allow me to continue commenting on the state of abortion affairs in America: I had to admit it was outright surprising to see how many young Christians were campaigning for a man who has easily the most pro-abortion records among presidential candidates to date. Any Christians agree that a baby is a “punishment” you should be allowed to kill in order to avoid consequences? No Christians out there campaigning for him even seemed to want to comment on his positions about abortions, only about the “change” he would bring about (apparently by selecting a nearly all-Clinton/Bush staff- yes, I know he’s the one in charge but does that not rankle with anyone?).

Another comment on his policy, and another paraphrase (I don’t have the internet available at the time of writing this), this time by renowned economist Thomas Sowell: “Americans are reacting to the economic trouble by cutting back their budgets, buying cheaper and buying less. Only does the government believe that having less money can be solved by spending more.” Obama’s plan to add another $755 billion on top of the last $700 bil is going to tank us faster than almost anything else that could be done. To be fair, I was extremely irritated with Bush completely ignoring Congress’ (correct) decision to not bail out the automakers and giving them the money himself- more than they’d even asked for. When the auto industry collapses under the weight of its union-responsible cost of production, allow me to be the first to blame the Bush administration (probably second or two hundredth by this juncture, but I don’t defend people of my party if they do stupid, non-conservative things. Ignore the repetition there.).

Why the “bailout” policy has suddenly become so popular I have no idea. Perhaps its caused by the people believing the government should be doing something, primarily because they’re unaware that markets fluctuate regularly and pretty predictably (this recession predicted time and again by conservative economists wary of Fannie and Freddy, and the government-mandated loans to people who couldn’t afford them). But I do have a pretty clear idea of is the effect of government intervention in free markets throughout history- heavier the intervention, the faster the market tanks.

Contrary to the op-ed section of the New York Times, FDR’s New Deal actually prolonged and greatly increased the severity of the Great Depression. Economic historians know this, and yet people today are all praising Obama’s “new New Deal”.

The unemployment did not tank when the stock market did in 1929- it climbed steeply after the effects of FDR’s government-intervention policy took hold, the unemployment hitting double digits in the early ‘30’s and hitting its peak in 1935. The “job creation” programs that Obama wishes to emulate would cost the taxpayer something along the lines of $285,000 per worker. The biggest flaw with such programs is that the jobs are intended to build public works- that’s great and all, but no consumer-buyable product is being created. Instead of cutting taxes on businesses to stimulate private industry employment, which has lasting effects on those employed because it enables them to have a job doing something that continually needs manufacture and servicing, thus creating long-range job security; the government wants to take millions away from the private sector in order to build dams, roads, etc. etc.- temporary jobs that will not stimulate the economy, as taxpayers will have to shell out even more in order to accommodate public works programs. Extremely telling are the words of Henry Morgenthau JR, FDR's Secretary of treasury:

"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong … somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. … And an enormous debt to boot."

Feel free to write your Congressmen and President, and tell them to butt out of the free market- would do us all a great service

"Candidate of Change" Promotes 60's Agenda

Every time a politician says that they want to change things, be cautious. When people promote him as something completely new- be downright frightened. There is an old saying that there is nothing new under the sun- and this goes triple for politics. Believe it or not, there are no new ideas.

One of the trademarks of the left is their preference of the planet’s state to actual human beings. I would argue that the planet’s been around for some time now, and to think we could destroy it is pretty arrogant- but no matter, that’s speculative and thus of no real value. I do wish they would have some argument for global warming other than saying “the debate is over!” and holding their hands over there ears and screaming like a two-year old when anyone tries to bring up all of the scientists against this idea. A recent Senate report on global warming had over 600 scientists (well-renowned, doctorate-holding climatologists, physicists, astrophysicists) saying that there is in fact, no global warming (and many even expressed concerns over “global cooling”, some believing that the next Little Ice Age may be upon us soon).

With temperatures hitting record lows across the country, and the hysteria over “the ice caps are melting!” now well-known to be debunked (for those of you who don’t, only the Arctic one is shrinking by a miniscule amount- the Antarctic is actually growing); the left’s desperation for people to believe them about global warming is becoming apparent for what it is: fear-mongering. You know, the same thing they accuse Republicans of doing about terrorism. Except that I can think of 3,000 reasons right off the top of my head from fall 2001 that terrorism is real, whereas global warming has not only killed no one, but is also- to be really generous- highly questionable.

In any case, the real issue of this column is about Obama’s plans for the coal industry. The San Francisco Chronicle revealed that earlier this year Senator Obama offered the following during the course of an interview: “If somebody wants to build a coal power plant they can, it's just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.” He has said outright that he plans to bankrupt the coal industry via cap-and-trade policies and heavy taxation; in order to help our environment. This would almost be understandable if coal these days actually hurt the environment.

When people think of “coal plant”, they generally think of grainy images in textbooks of smokestacks releasing noxious black clouds into the air stretching for miles. Rarely do they envision the truth of the coal industry today: state-of-the-art, modern facilities which emit 98% less noxious fumes than they did even twenty years ago. Apart from various environmentalist group studies (hardly unbiased) that put “coal-pollution deaths” at around 24,000 per year, the two fumes that are released by coal plants turn out to be ones that wouldn’t be harmful to humans if they were present ten times as heavy.

I find it dangerous and infuriating to have a president who knows so little about something he wants to effectively shut down. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that coal plants do kill 24,000 people a year, on a national level. Okay. Now, what do you suppose will happen to states that are almost completely dependent on coal-powered electricity if Obama bankrupts the coal industry? West Virginia, Ohio, Wyoming, Colorado, etc. These states’ economies will come grinding to a screeching halt when none of their businesses have power. What about their hospitals? Is it not arguable that the power to hospitals saves more lives than the 24,000 coal fumes supposedly kill?

This exposes the fallacy of the argument anyway: cars kill many more people per year than coal ever has total- but people are aware cars are necessary and the benefits of transportation outweigh the risks. Why can they not see the same about coal power? Furthermore, what will you replace it with? Liberals will not let us build nuclear power either (though every other civilized country has it). Wind power? Texas has the most wind-power of all the states; guess how much their huge windmill fields generate?

Two percent.

Those hot, arid days when people need air conditioning the most in Texas (you know, the days when there isn’t any wind blowing), they use coal (34%), oil, natural gas. Those things that actually work. Imagine what would happen to West Virginia (95% coal-powered).

So, basically, Obama is saying that not only people’s standard of living, but their life, their financial security, and their health must all step aside in the name of the environmentalist lobby- even when that action would be disastrous for our country’s economy and healthcare, and standard of living as a whole.

Inasmuch as there is no alternative that is ready and able to replace coal (unless you count those they won’t allow us to build), especially in the aforementioned and other coal-dependent states, this is a completely irrational idea and we as citizens need to mobilize against it, as well as other eco-idiocies.