Morning Links

Thursday, September 1st, 2011
  • This looks like a case we’ll be hearing more about. From the article, it isn’t clear why a 20-man SWAT team (allegedly) would have been necessary.
  • Woman punches bear in the face, saves dog.
  • I’ll be giving a “webinar” for the Students for Liberty on Wednesday, September 14th.
  • Will Saletan wants to know how anyone could possibly oppose Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I don’t even know where to begin.
  • Good piece on Jon Huntsman, who I’m starting to think would be someone worth rooting for should the GOP nominate him to run against Obama. Which of course is a good sign that the GOP will never nominate him.
  • Feds tell trucking company they aren’t allowed to fire an alcoholic driver. But they’re still liable if he drives drunk and kills someone.

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72 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Highway | 

    The company has liability for an accident while he’s on the job, but normally that liability is shifted to the driver if the guy is drunk. But then if it comes back that the company *knew* that he was a higher risk for driving drunk, then even more liability is on them.

    And we don’t know that the company was actually going to fire him. They *were* going to make sure he wasn’t a driver. If the guy wouldn’t accept another task, that’s an issue, but what the EEOC is doing is stepping in and saying “NO, you have to treat him the same as anyone else, no matter that his circumstances would seem to increase your exposure.”

  2. #2 |  awp | 

    Re: alcoholic driver

    An even better example of govt. regulation damned if you do and damned if you don’t is the Ricci case from 2009.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricci_v._DeStefano

    Where New Haven’s fire fighters test opened them up to a law suit because for whatever reason no black fire fighters were eligible for a promotion. Since racial statistical disparities are treated as evidence of discrimination they would have lost that suit.
    So New Haven decides to ignore the test. This opened them up for a law suit from 19 white and 1 hispanic fire fighters who passed, since the adverse effecets of ignoring the test were distributed unevenly across races(again with the racial statistical disparities).

    The only way to address racial disparities is with methods that have racial disparities in their effects. Therefore, almost by definition, in order to comply with the law one must break the law.

  3. #3 |  Matt | 

    @50

    There was a story on H&R a while ago of a guy who got drunk at a restaurant on a lunch break and injured someone in his personal car while driving back to work. The company was found liable and had to pay.

  4. #4 |  Steamed McQueen | 

    Oh yes, Alcoholism is a disability. I know of several people collecting disability payments for it.

    Maybe I’ve been doing it wrong all these years. I drink a lot, maybe I should have some doctor classify me as an alky that way I can get on the gravy train too!

    Why not? 40 years of working and paying taxes didn’t do anything for me.

  5. #5 |  Mattocracy | 

    Seeing as how the estimates are that about 45% of Americans don’t pay any federal income tax, I don’t mind getting more contributors. I am always skeptical of claims by either side when they start talking raising or lowering taxes on whatever demographic makes the sound bite sound best. I’d like a link that outlines how someone is going to actually do the things claimed.

  6. #6 |  supercat | 

    //#54 | Mattocracy | “Seeing as how the estimates are that about 45% of Americans don’t pay any federal income tax, I don’t mind getting more contributors.”

    IMHO, what’s far more important than the absolute quantity of money that flows between a person and the government is the marginal amount by which each dollar earned will increase a person’s wealth (which I’ll call the marginal income wealth ratio/MIWR). If a person who sees a $100 product knows that he’ll be able to buy it if he earns an extra $125, that person would be more likely to try to earn the extra $125 than if earning $125 would only leave him $50 richer (not enough to buy the $100 product). Unfortunately, the way many of today’s government-dependency programs are set up, the MIWR ratio is very low toward the bottom end of the income scale (sometimes even negative), and even in places where it’s fairly high, it’s not tied to the income tax rate paid by the so-called “rich”. If the MIWR were uniform for everyone, a lot of people would recognize that it’s better to receive a smaller subsidy from the government, but be able to keep more of what one receives, than vice versa, and a lot more people would recognize how much a low MIWR discourages work at all income levels.

  7. #7 |  croaker | 

    @13 The victim is going to be bending the management company, its employee, the City of Lakewood, the Lakewood PD, and the individual cops over the desk. I doubt they’ll get kissed either.

    And they’re going to find that replacing the toilet plunger with a Louisville Slugger has the same effect as 3 weeks of eating MREs. Specifically, Four Fingers of Death (Franks&Beans).

  8. #8 |  thefncrow | 

    “Seeing as how the estimates are that about 45% of Americans don’t pay any federal income tax, I don’t mind getting more contributors. I am always skeptical of claims by either side when they start talking raising or lowering taxes on whatever demographic makes the sound bite sound best.”

    You know what’s a lot better for getting more contributors? Fixing the vast income inequality issue. 45% of Americans have no federal income tax liability not because the rules for taxing the poor are unfairly slanted in their favor but because that 45% barely enough makes enough money to subsist. If you want more contributors, fix the income inequality problem, and the problem will solve itself.

    Meanwhile, you have Warren Buffet and his fellow billionaires paying a 16% effective rate while their office managers and secretaries are making 1/1000th of what Buffet & co. make while paying an effective rate between 2 and 2.5 times higher. You can debate and discuss various solutions to that problem, but making those secretaries and office managers pay more so that Buffet and the billionaire set can pay nothing isn’t a solution to correcting that inequality.

  9. #9 |  elroy | 

    I drive 18 wheelers for a living. i am wondering if the ruling applies in the case of dui convictions. if i get a dui even in my own car i will probably not be able to get a truck driving job for 3 to 5 years. i would likely lose my current job. a dui makes you uninsurable. some companies wont hire you if you have ever had a dui. i dont think the government ruling gives the company any cover. it is all about what a jury might decide not about logic or justice. trucking companies have deep pockets and a sympathetic plaintif is likely to win regardless of what the government forced the company to do.

  10. #10 |  TC | 

    The very day Huntsman ot tagged with heading out to Dhina, the entire state of Utah got into a big azzed party. Hell even the church leaders had one!

    Dis boy was fathered by a real man, handed over to a woman and unfortunatly daddy might as well have been 1000 miles away! She made sure the silver spoon was used and da boy aint grown a pair EVER!!!

    What you hear from him is NOT what you will get. The magic boy playing potus today is just a close second to Huntsman. But don’t believe me! Please don’t.

  11. #11 |  Mattocracy | 

    “Meanwhile, you have Warren Buffet and his fellow billionaires paying a 16% effective rate while their office managers and secretaries are making 1/1000th of what Buffet & co. make while paying an effective rate between 2 and 2.5 times higher. You can debate and discuss various solutions to that problem, but making those secretaries and office managers pay more so that Buffet and the billionaire set can pay nothing isn’t a solution to correcting that inequality.”

    I don’t think anyone wants them to pay more. This is such a hysterical talking point. Anytime anyone talks about tax cuts, they automatically scream about the poor and middle class paying higher rates. No is raising their rates, they’re just reducing the rate for the top brackets.

    I’m a flat tax advocate myself. I don’t care if Buffet only pays 16% so long as everyone is paying 16%. And let’s not blame just conservatives for this. The loop holes and tax breaks for the well connected is a bipartisan effort. I seriously doubt any rich connected liberal is “paying their fair share” any more than rich well connected conservatives.

    The solution isn’t to tax rich people more, it’s to eliminate the deductions and loopholes.

  12. #12 |  celticdragonchick | 

    So how do you address the problem is that if the guy kills someone because he was drunk behind the wheel, and it comes out that the company was aware of his alcohol problem, the company is pretty much screwed?

    The company is compliance with federal laws by requiring him to seek treatment if he voluntarily says he has a problem BEFORE BEING CAUGHT IN A RANDOM DRUG/ALCOLHOL SCREEN!!

    Random tests are required by law for any transportation type employment. I had several of them working in aviation. However, in order to make employees take responsibility and not hide problems, you could opt to admit you have a problem if you indeed had one and then get treatment, therefore keeping your job. This is not controversial in the industry, and the company is covered since they sent the guy for treatment IAW the law.

    Do some homework on this, Radley. This has been around for awhile.

  13. #13 |  thefncrow | 

    “I don’t think anyone wants them to pay more.”

    John Huntsman’s tax reform proposals, which were the reason this whole discussion started, is based on a proposal that raises taxes on anyone who was residing in the lower brackets. The entire purpose of the proposal is that it increases tax revenues at the same time that it cuts the rates of the top brackets significantly. Huntsman acknowledges that this increases government revenue and wants to use that tax increase to offset the end of capital gains and dividend taxes, which are the only mechanisms by which the wealthiest Americans pay any income tax. So, yes, someone is advocating that position. That was the entire reason I brought it up.

    “I’m a flat tax advocate myself.”

    Congratulations on being an advocate for regressive taxation, I guess. Clearly, the loss of $100 to taxes out of a yearly income of $1,000 is truly as painful as the loss of $100,000 out of a yearly income of $1,000,000, right? It’s not like the person with the $1,000 yearly income desperately needs that $100 while the person with the $1,000,000 yearly income will be only slightly inconvenienced, right?

    It’s the wealthy in America that benefit more from government services than the poor and middle class, and to me that speaks to the wealthy having a greater tax burden.

  14. #14 |  albatross | 

    Thefncrow:

    Regressive taxes would be at a higher rate on poor people than on rich people. A flat tax (not actually much of a solution for the problem it tries to address, IMO) is flat, neither regressive nor progressive. Flat taxes with some lower bound on income taxed (like a deduction of $10K per family member) is actually progressive, because someone making lots of money pays a much higher rate than someone making just above the deduction. An example of regressive taxation is the social security tax, which has a ceiling on taxed income. If you’re a dockworker somewhere, you’re paying a higher rate on SS taxes than I am. This sucks, FWIW.

    The tax code should be simpler, and ideally should treat all forms of income (whenever dollars or assets worth dollars go to a human being) exactly the same way wrt tax rate. But I’m quite skeptical that even serious tax code simplification will lead to very rich people paying the same effective rate as everyone else, and have no faith at all that this will work for multinational corporations. In both cases, the amounts subject to taxation are so large that it’s worth spending a *lot* of money and trouble shifting around dollars and transactions and categories to drop that effective tax rate a couple percent, and very rich individuals and large companies tend to have a lot of degrees of freedom to configure their assets and transactions. By contrast, a middle class person like me simply doesn’t have the incentive (dropping my effective tax rate a couple percent is not worth very many hours of tax attorney/accountant/financial manager time) or the means (I can move around my savings/retirement, but I probably still need to keep a big fraction of my assets in hard-to-dodge stuff like a house and a couple cars and furniture and clothes and books and such).

    That said, I think a massive simplification of the tax code would pay off for us, because it would eventually pull lots of very smart, hard working people away from playing elaborate zero-sum games between taxpayers and tX collectors, and put them back into doing something useful.

  15. #15 |  thefncrow | 

    “Regressive taxes would be at a higher rate on poor people than on rich people. ”

    That’s an incomplete definition. The complete definition is that a regressive tax is a tax that has a greater effect on low-income people than it does on high-income people.

    A sales tax is a great example of a tax that is regressive despite being nominally flat. The lower your income is, the more of your income you spend. Sales tax may be a nominally flat rate of, say, 8%, but poor people end up spending close to 100% of what they earn while the top 2% spends probably less than a quarter of their income. The impact of the nominally flat tax is greater on the poor than it is on the rich, thus it is regressive. Most places even introduce the progressive element of exempting certain goods (like food) from the sales tax, but even with such elements in play, the sales tax remains a regressive tax.

    A flat income tax is nominally flat but regressive in effect. The only way to negate the regressive effect is to introduce progressive elements to the tax, such as tax brackets or deductions and exemptions.

  16. #16 |  Mannie | 

    #39 | 2nd of 3 | September 1st, 2011 at 2:33 pm
    Yeah, reporting is a huge issue, because obviously you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know about it. Back in 1998, we conducted a huge cultural survey on patient safety, and one of the questions we asked was, “Why don’t you report?” And the major reason — most people think it’s going to be fear of malpractice or punishment, but it wasn’t those. It was embarrassment, humiliation.

    There’s another reason. Some conditions must be reported to The State for action. In New York, they have to report your high blood sugar. No one knows what must be reported and what must not. Moreover, no one knows what will be required next year.

    Many would rather risk death than risk being put onto some sort of police state list that may hurt them.

  17. #17 |  Kolohe | 

    Yeah, count me as one more under-outraged by the trucking company article. It creates a perverse incentive when you fire someone for self-reporting an alcohol problem – even those the military won’t and can’t fire you if you self-report, as long as you stay clean afterwards. And I don’t suppose Heritage would find them a bunch of Commie-Symps

  18. #18 |  supercat | 

    #65 | thefncrow | //That’s an incomplete definition. The complete definition is that a regressive tax is a tax that has a greater effect on low-income people than it does on high-income people.//

    Very few people in this country spend their money optimally (in the manner that would ultimately best promote their objectives, whatever they happen to be). Give Bill Gates an extra hundred bucks today and he would probably add it (or a significant portion of it) to one of his investments, where it would find its way to a business that could use an extra $100 in capital to generate far more than $100 in extra profits. Enough of those extra profits would make their way back to Mr. Gates that, after a year, Mr. Gates would end up more than $100 richer because of the extra $100 he got today. Further, other people involved with the business that had received his investment would also be richer than they would have if the $100 hadn’t been given.

    By contrast, if one were to give that $100 to a poor person selected at random, how much better off would that person be a year from now than if one hadn’t given the money? There are certainly some industrious poor people who, given $100, would invest it in some fashion that would truly improve their life. There are an awful lot, however, who would end up squandering it such that, a year from now, they’d been no better off than if the money hadn’t been given. The covetousness preached by some people encourages a belief that the rich just squander their money while the poor are diligent with theirs, but in fact many people who are rich are reasonably diligent with their money, and those who are poor tend to squander it; in many cases, that’s why they’re rich or poor, respectively.

  19. #19 |  JOR | 

    The problem is that taxes aren’t primarily used to fund the state (the state spends far more than it brings in through taxes), so it’s not a question of who deserves greater respect or deference or relief for funding the state. Congrats to all the proud, upscale net taxpayers for funding rape-infested prisons, imperial wars, drug and gun prohibition, public indoctrination camps, and the “progressive” state that manufactures poverty as we know it, though – the poor really owe you for that. Well, they owe you something, but I’m not sure you’d like it very much if they gave it to you.

    Rather, taxes are a weapon targeted at taxpayers to engineer their lives and funnel their activities in ways that benefit the state and the corporate elite who run it. Sure, the poorer one is, the more vulnerable one is to this kind of manipulation, and other things equal, it’s more deeply immoral to do bad things to the more vulnerable than to the less vulnerable. But even that’s not really the point.

  20. #20 |  Jasper | 

    Gonna have to differ with you here, Balko. What someone does in their own time is none of your (or their) business. As a Libertarian you should be able to relate to this sentiment.

    Lots of people with drinking problems never let it interfere with their jobs. I’ve done lots of drugs, even been addicted to a couple, and they never interfered with MY work.

    Assuming that someone who drinks on their own time will therefore automatically be inebriated is silly.

    Again, as a Libertarian I’m a little surprised our views differ.

    Love the blog!!

  21. #21 |  Radley Balko | 

    Again, as a Libertarian I’m a little surprised our views differ.

    I don’t think the company should be forced to fire him. I also don’t think the company should be forced to keep him on staff. I don’t see anything un-libertarian about that position. You should have the right to hire and fire who you want.

    If they deem him a liability, then they should be permitted to fire him. If they think he’s got his problem under control, they should be permitted to keep him around. But if you’re going to hold the company liable if he injuries someone later, you can’t also say they shouldn’t be permitted to fire him, or to give him a non-driving job.

  22. #22 |  Mattocracy | 

    ‘Congratulations on being an advocate for regressive taxation, I guess.”

    Gee thanks pal!

    “That’s an incomplete definition. The complete definition is that a regressive tax is a tax that has a greater effect on low-income people than it does on high-income people.”

    Well, sorry. It’s definitely not fair the other way either. Taxing the people the same is the only far way. Sorry its rougher for those making 20,000 compared to 200,000. People shouldn’t be punished for success. And before any says that no one should be punished for making less, they aren’t. Being taxed the same rate isn’t a punishment for anyone.

    I don’t like this class warfare thing. Everyone complains that the rich don’t pay their share even though the top 5% account for close to half the total tax revenue and will continue to do so with a flat rate.

    The problem isn’t who’s paying taxes. It’s spending. The problem isn’t with cutting taxes, it’s that no one in either party cuts spending to coincide. The inflation that accompanies governments printing money to pay for debt hurts the poor the most. As long as this is happening, no amount of tax breaks for poor people will protect them from the crippling effects of inflation.