Morning Links

Monday, April 13th, 2009
  • Surprise! MADD tries to exploit the death of Anaheim Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart to push its agenda. As I’ve explained before, there’s really no scenario under which MADD doesn’t think an ignition interlock law would be a swell idea.
  • Here’s another piece on U.S. citizens getting mistakenly arrested, and sometimes deported, in over-zealous immigration raids.
  • Man serves his time for drug crime. Tries to get his life together, attempts to buy a house. Finds out he owes the state government $47 million. Louisiana is one of several states that still has a drug stamp law. Meaning anyone convicted of drug distribution will also owe the state a huge chunk of money in unpaid “taxes” on the illegal drugs. Doesn’t seem like a particularly helpful law when it comes to rehabilitation.
  • Mythbusters guys vaporize a compact car with a rocket sled.
  • The guy loves his cilantro.
  • Kanye West responds to the “gay fish” episode of South Park.
  • Ari Fleischer says everyone should have to pay some income tax. That isn’t going to happen, though I agree with his main point–that it isn’t healthy for an increasingly small percentage of income earners to be funding a rapidly growing federal government. Milton Friedman argued for a negative income tax for the poor instead of deductions, which seems like a more politically palatable way of addressing the problem. At least then, everyone feels the bite when government grows. Personally, I don’t like the privacy violations, money laundering laws, and control over our lives the government gets by funding itself with an income tax. But switching to a national sales tax probably isn’t going to happen, either.
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  • 36 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

      Do you like fishsticks?

    2. #2 |  Michael Pack | 

      M.A.D.D is never bothered by the 90% of deaths caused by sober drivers.What I find interesting is they keep dropping the number.They at one time claimed 25,000,then 18,000 and now just over 13,000 deaths caused yearly by drunk drivers.Still the overall death toll remained at around 49,000.

    3. #3 |  Aresen | 

      I couldn’t tell whether Kanye West was complaining about the South Park piece or thanking them for it.

      The compact compact car was good.

    4. #4 |  Sam | 

      Dude, I don’t know where Ari’s peeps got their data from, but if I can make 40k and pay no taxes someone show me the way…I’ve only made more than that 2 years of my life and giving the gubmint their due has been an undying fact of my expense calculations. I usually lose between 18-22% from my check (depending on year and job) and pay a couple of grand come april 15th using a 1040EZ or 1040A since I don’t have scads of deductions. Even the two years the deduct from my mortgage made it worth it to scrape together the other medical expenses etc I still owed them *another* $800 on top of the cash they took from my paycheck. I know ppl that make less than 15k/yr with three kids, they don’t end up paying taxes, but I don’t know anyone making more than 20k/yr that has that luxury…so wtf is the political agenda behind twisting statistics to say otherwise?

    5. #5 |  Judi | 

      Off the subjects: How ’bout them NAVY SEALS?

      NAVY SEALS-3
      PIRATES -0

      Go NAVY!

    6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

      Whatever MADD started out as, it has now matured crusade where all that matters is it’s own self-promotion. Whether a law makes sense of not is immaterial. MADD hitches its wagon to anything that brings it attention and possible contributions. It’s only mission is to survive.

    7. #7 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      Pedro Guzman’s story is a good illustration of the complete failure that is US Immigrations (and, of course, the failure of pretty much everything the US government does with the exception of blowing things up and killing people…they have that perfected…just not always the right targets).

      They failed to protect a US citizen, they failed to protect a mentally handicapped man, they failed in support of his mother to find him and get him back quickly.

      Don’t fear a protracted depression…just get a government job and take the decade off. Just make sure you take lots of showers every night. With the new USSA (United Socialist States…yada yada), they’re always hiring.

      DRUG STAMP: it ain’t about rehabilitation, is it? Vote whoring!

    8. #8 |  David | 

      Surprise! MADD tries to exploit the death of Anaheim Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart to push its agenda.

      Mitch Albom was trying to make a similarly overwrought on Sports Reporters yesterday, implying that the other driver had received a “slap on the wrist” and this leniency. Naturally, as a sportswriter his solution was prison (rather that interlocks) for all DUIs. Predictably, his colleagues nodded along.

    9. #9 |  Mattocracy | 

      MADD is a religion. Alcohol is their satan. All unbelievers will be punished.

    10. #10 |  Scott | 


      A Sisyphean task if there ever was one.

    11. #11 |  David | 

      That first sentence should have read “… this leniency was the real cause of Adenhart’s death”.

    12. #12 |  Tsu Dho Nihm | 

      I used to think Born In East LA was just a silly comedy. Now I see the truth and I consider Cheech Marin to be a visionary.

    13. #13 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      “But switching to a national sales tax probably isn’t going to happen, either.”

      We’ll get a NST in addition to income tax…probably soon. It’s not like we can reduce the government’s budget or anything (it’s for the children).

    14. #14 |  Chance | 

      “But switching to a national sales tax probably isn’t going to happen, either.”

      That’s too bad. I’ve always thought a national sales tax (at least in some form) would make more sense than an income tax. I’m surprised there isn’t more support for it on both sides of the political spectrum.

    15. #15 |  Shane Haithcock | 

      First and foremost, MADD needs to disband. They have done all they can to push for a .08 law that traps people into spending thousands of dollars in the court system, and it’s a law that sets people up to fail.

      National sales tax? Never happen. Our Govt loves its riches and its not going to just give it back. Keep growing and not learning from Socialism in Europe. We are going there and they are proof that it doesn’t work. The UK is going back to the private sector for a reason.

    16. #16 |  claude | 

      “Whatever MADD started out as, it has now matured crusade where all that matters is it’s own self-promotion. Whether a law makes sense of not is immaterial. MADD hitches its wagon to anything that brings it attention and possible contributions. It’s only mission is to survive.”

      Sorta the definition of a parasite.

    17. #17 |  Chris | 

      No one has ever made it clear to me why one segment of the populations income is ours for the taking and another segment’s is off limits.

      I still don’t get it.

    18. #18 |  freedomfan | 

      I am pretty sure the Fleischer’s tax numbers are about right. I looked them up from the data the IRS published a few years back and, whether or not the numbers were exactly the same, I found the conclusion was the same.

      Either way, I totally agree with his point that having a diminishing fraction of the citizenry pay most of the bills while a large chunk pays for very little of the bills creates a system with little incentive for people to think about the costs of programs. If a big chunk of voters thinks the government is essentially free, basic economics guarantees that we will get more government. And, that’s just the direct costs; larger government will always carry with it the ancillary costs of authoritarianism.

      I’ve often said that the terms in the whole “the ‘rich’ must pay their ‘fair share'” argument are typically too ill-defined to be serve as anything but fodder for class envy. And, I have issues with so-called progressive income taxes in the first place, but, setting that aside, there should be no zero-tax-rate tier. I don’t know what numbers work out, but no income earner, no matter how low, should pay 0% income tax. Of course, I’m not holding my breath for that…

      I still say that Election Day should be the day after Tax Day. I actually think that is doable, politically. It’s just plain stupid to divorce the costs of government from people’s voting decisions.

    19. #19 |  Randy Bean | 

      MADD suffers from the “March of Dimes Syndrome”. As you recall, the March of Dimes campaign raised money to find a treatment or cure for polio. Once the polio vaccine was developed, the March of Dimes didn’t disband, but continued on. Such as it is with MADD.

    20. #20 |  J Mo | 


      I think you need to take your taxes into a professional. I make in the 40’s right now, and they take about 20% total out of my check (including federal, social security, medicare and state taxes), and I usually get back a couple hundred bucks from the federal government. I don’t know what you’re counting in that 18 – 22% range, but if you’re withholding federal income taxes throughout the year, I can’t imagine you’d still have to pay a couple grand at the end of the year. Are you taking your standard deduction and your personal exemption? That’ll be about $9k deducted from your gross income.

    21. #21 |  andyinsdca | 

      Has anyone tried to find out how much money in “donations” MADD is getting from the makers of ignition locks?

    22. #22 |  Mattocracy | 

      But Sam shouldn’t have to go to a tax professional. It pisses me off that an entire profession exists because the tax code is so goddamn complicated an average person can’t figure it out on his/her own.

      Let’s think about this. A group of very smart people, with a tremendous amount of cognitive skill, went to college to apply their talents towards deciphering regulations. Their talents could go towards scientific research, medical expertise, or any other service or industry that adds economic value. But instead, we waste those talents so we can have people proficient in the collection of wealth and economic output. Paying a CPA is just another form of transferring wealth to people who quiet frankly doesn’t deserve it. It’s welfare by creating unnecessary jobs.

      So…anyway…I feel better now that I’ve preached to the choir.

    23. #23 |  Bronwyn | 

      We had to have a CPA do our taxes this year, because with my husband’s sole proprietorship and ownership of stores in two states, the mess was too complicated.

      We got our returns bundled in a tidy spiral bound booklet about 1/2 an inch thick.

      Jeezus, there’s gotta be a better way.

    24. #24 |  B | 


      Actually, I would say writing that sentence is a pretty good start…

    25. #25 |  MacGregory | 

      As soon as I read about Adenharts death, I wasn’t at all suprised to see MADD ready to pounce. In fact I expected it.

      There is no doubt that the neo-MADD’s mission is prohibition.
      Ater leaving MADD in the 80s Candy Lightner (founder of MADD) was quoted in the Washington Times:
      “[MADD] has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I had ever wanted or envisioned … I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.”

      The beast wouln’t die. It adapted and got stronger.

    26. #26 |  Mike | 

      But writing it in all caps, sorta nullifies the sentiment

    27. #27 |  Chuchundra | 

      Well, I’m hip-deep in taxes right now, currently trying to find all my 1099s.

      I’d still say that for most people tax filing isn’t all that complicated. If you have only W-2 and interest income and don’t have any deductions you can do the EZ in less than a half hour. Before I had any real side business income, I used to pop out the 1040 long form in under an hour.

      Now things are bit more complex for me, but my life is pretty complicated. It’s not surprising that my taxes are complicated. I still do them myself though.

    28. #28 |  Francis | 

      The Earned Income Tax Credit (aka EITC) is a negative income tax.

      Federal tax regulations are complex because (a) this country has many layers of government with taxing authority, (b) there are a lot of very complex ways to make money, (c) there are a lot of even more complex ways to minimize your “profit” for tax purposes while maximizing it for economic purposes, and (d) our fellow citizens keep electing people who promise a small group of us a special tax break due to our special circumstances, thereby riddling the code with weird exceptions.

      Lots of politicians have promised re-writes to the tax code. But the lobby for a clean tax code always gets clobbered by the multiple lobbies for various complexities in the code.

    29. #29 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

      The problems I have with a National Sales Tax are:

      1) Government being government, I don’t see it backing off on the invasion of privacy. Instead State Sponsored Snoops will spy on you to make sure that all the sales tax has been paid and that nobody is getting anything untaxed and under the table.

      2) Sales tax too easily becomes Value Added Tax.

      3) All of my life, every time somebody enumerates various wasteful Government programs, older and wiser heads chuckle indulgently and explain that all those “wastes” are only a few hundred thousand each, and Congress can’t be bothered with such petty drains. A few hundred thousand a year would make ME very happy indeed, and from where I stand, until the swine in Congress are ready to do the metaphorical equivalent of looking in the sofa cushions for loose change, it won’t matter a damn what kind of tax we pay. It will be too much, and it will be wasted.

    30. #30 |  Nick T | 


      Greta point about Albom. that was so thoroughly insulting and frustrating to see such a normally smart guy opine with absolutely no facts. He basically said that these deaths will continue to happen until we start to “do something” as a society to punish drunk drivers. He then said that Japan has something like a year of jail after your first offense as though that is a GOOD solution.

      Just ridiculous to think that a) we don’t do enough in this country to punish and stop drunk driving and that b) the asshole who killed the pitcher and his friends would have cared about the law.

      Radley, I am begging you to email Albom with some facts and ask him exactly what his point was or what solution he thinks would make sense. Like a typical dumb sports-writer venturing out into politics, he has no actual solution or plan, just some emotional bluster and a request to “do something.”

    31. #31 |  Joel | 

      re: Fleischer

      How about this:

      1. we lower the downward limit for income tax
      2. we also tax capital gains as income

      that should make everyone happy, since they’ll be taxed fairly and all

    32. #32 |  The Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name - Crispy on the Outside | 

      […] Via The Agitator […]

    33. #33 |  Andrew Williams | 

      I first read about the NST (and its possible benefits) 20 years ago in The Real Frank Zappa Book. I remember thinking the same thing then as now: “Gee, that’s a damn good idea–but the gov’t will never do it.” Why? As an anonymous character on M*A*S*H once said, “Because it would be a good idea.”

      This is one of those times where I fucking HATE being right. : (

    34. #34 |  Michael | 

      #2 Michael Pack

      I only have a problem with your claim of 90% sober. Even, with the lowest numbers you sated, rounding off for convenience, 12,000/48,000 is 25% or conversely 75% sober drivers. The last CDC report I looked at (2006?), looking for drugged driving statistics said 32% of auto fatalities were legally drunk. Of those, 18% had drugs in their system as well. But, no statistics were available about fatalities involving drugs alone. ????? (0.00%?)

      Could it be that they have the wrong drug prohibited? Just kidding. Prohibition a dumb thing to try. It has never worked, so far! And MADD is a neo-prohibitionist group, even, by their own acknowledgment, now!

      But, I admit interlocks are beatable, so useless and stupid. What could help to stop these irresponsible jerks (drunks) from killing innocents? I do feel killing someone while driving drunk is a violent act. And, as such, should require more prison time than selling cannabis! But, I believe that cannabis sentence is cruel an unusual if it is even one day!

    35. #35 |  El Caballo de Sangre | 

      I’ve got a question: forget MADD, forget interlock (which is, of course, easily beatable and therefore qualifies as one of those legal mechanisms that only undermines respect for laws in general).

      Is there any such thing (or the possibility of such a thing) that would accomplish the same goal that interlock seeks, incompetently, to accomplish? And if there is, or if there could be, would that be all right with Radley or any of the others here? If not, why not?

    36. #36 |  Z | 

      How do you tax the proceeds of an illegal transaction? By reaping the financial benefits isn’t the state an active conspirator?