Saturday Links

Saturday, February 11th, 2012
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36 Responses to “Saturday Links”

  1. #1 |  Mike T | 

    Rich people like to put forth the idea that everyone should pay an equal percentage. The “flat tax,” for example. This ignores the fact that such a plan leaves the rich far more well off in terms of actual dollars. If we’re picking random mathematical measures of fairness out of the air, we could just as easily say that everyone should give back to society until we all have, say, $50K per year. Fair is fair.

    Rather than choose either of these extremes, we tend to try to find something middling, in which success can be amply “rewarded” (with money) but enough is given back to ensure the needs of all are met.

    Unless your tax code looks like an exponential curve, it won’t be “fair.” 20% on a family making $80k is substantially more destructive than 50% on a family making $500k in take home in terms of real buying power and investment capital.

    This is why I don’t understand why liberals don’t support a heavy sales tax on luxury items and a very low income tax since that would create a clear delineation between the activities of the rich which are self-indulgent and those that produce wealth.

  2. #2 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “Yet he sees no future in it. British rulers ordered ‘so many murders’, he says, ‘my father was unable to sit, he was always called for a hanging’. Today there is nothing to do.”

    Well hopefully he at least has a good dental plan. Maybe he should sue car makers, tobacco companies, proprietors of fatty foods and old age for taking so much business away from him (I am echoing Bastiat, if I am not mistaken).

    Hey, maybe some day in the distant future there will be a story about the dwindling amount of work available for narcotics agents.

  3. #3 |  Stephen | 

    I don’t see Obama winning Texas’s electoral votes no matter who eventually becomes the Republican nominee.

  4. #4 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “But for now there’s been a stunning reversal in the race and Santorum’s your new leader.”

    Jesus Titty Fucking Christ (yeah, that one was for you, Rick). Ok, maybe there is still hope. If Santorum supporters google “Santorum” they may be so stricken that they will not be able to make it to the polls. Ok, then one of the other guys will win, so maybe hope wasn’t the right word.

  5. #5 |  The Rabbi's rabbit | 

    About the birth control mandate:
    Issues of mandates and appropriate health policies aside, why does the Catholic Church get to ignore so many laws? Why are they so friggin special, and why do they seem to be the only ones who complain about these things?

  6. #6 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    RE: Gawker story…

    “Which is to say, the rich are welcome to live well, but not ridiculously well”

    Ok, so where is the cut-off? Where do you cross the line to ridiculously well and which bureaucrat makes that decision?

    This criticism aside, I am somewhat sympathetic to this argument. I am not, after all a “Randian libertarian” (as if name-calling helps, Gawker). So who likes a show off? Why should one flaunt their possessions? Knowing when enough is enough tends to be a good thing. Don’t drink too much, don’t eat too much, don’t spend too much and don’t gloat too much. This seems totally sensible to me. But when you bring government into the matter, things get arbitrary and potentially ugly.

  7. #7 |  Z | 

    #3 ditto for Oklahoma, most of the old confederacy, Idaho, Utah, Alaska and the Dakotas.

  8. #8 |  M | 

    I only think big house building people are asses if the house goes to within a foot or two of the neighbor’s yards. Why would you ruin a neighborhood to live inside all the time when a city warehouse with furniture would have as much space and character? Big mansions with big yards? Classy and awesome. I want one. If you can make your entire life a work of art through ostentatious consumption, go for it.

  9. #9 |  perlhaqr | 

    Yep. Bourbon for breakfast.

  10. #10 |  perlhaqr | 

    M: Why would you ruin a neighborhood to live inside all the time when a city warehouse with furniture would have as much space and character?

    Because city zoning codes won’t let me live in a warehouse.

  11. #11 |  M | 

    Also, George Washington won every single electoral vote twice.

  12. #12 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    The problem with Gawker’s argument is that money spent by “the rich” to show off gets back into the part of the economy that makes things. Money taken from the Rich in taxes goes to support parasites, with any money spent on society’s actual needs being an afterthought.

  13. #13 |  CyniCAl | 

    I know there’s too many non-police being murdered by police these days to keep track of and post about, but this story from South Orange County is getting traction:

    http://www.ocregister.com/articles/loggins-339765-deputy-marine.html?fb_comment_id=fbc_10150574879859123_21146036_10150574959779123

  14. #14 |  kant | 

    RE: birth control

    I’m torn on the cato’s stance. Cochrane makes a lot of good and valid points but there are number of points he makes that just kind makes me want to disagree with him.

    Insurance is a bad idea for small, regular and predictable expenses

    Most of medicine is, maybe not small but, “regular and predictable”. My dad will forever be on cholesterol and other heart meds for the rest of his life. My grandma will be on Alzheimer’s meds for the rest of her life. Diabetics who need insulin shots will need those for their entire lives. My point is that if this idea doesn’t hold water when applied to things that aren’t controversial.

    Anyone who can afford a cell phone can afford pills or condoms.

    Again this is just a ridiculous claim. Someone who can afford a phone doesn’t necessarily have money for both a phone AND birth control. And moreover it is possible to have prepaid phone which you can hold on to (but no necessarily use) for a long time. which of course means it doesn’t have the regular payments.

    And by making pills free but not condoms, the government may inadvertently be contributing to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

    This one makes about as much sense as demanding abstinence only sex ed and that any other form of sex ed will inevitably lead to mass spread of std’s and unwanted pregnancies. Unless there’s statistical evidence (which obviously there wouldn’t be yet about gov’t mandated birth control coverage) this is a load of hogwash.

    ————

    I don’t want to say it was a bad piece. It wasn’t. It was just filled with these extremely dubious claims that throw into doubt the rest of his writing.

  15. #15 |  Habbaku | 

    “Also, George Washington won every single electoral vote twice.”

    Uh…no.

  16. #16 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    Kant;

    I believe that it’s more or less uncontested that the sexual revolution resulted in a huge increase in STD’s. The issue is whether the djinni can be stuffed back in the bottle. Fundamentalist Christians are devoted to the idea that sex for pleasure is a sin, and thus must push for abstinence lessons regardless of their utility. The Progressive Left is equally devoted to the idea that the Sexual Revolution was A Good Thing, and thus cannot permit any examination of disease rates or alteration of the public school status quo, lest that produce numbers undermining their belief.

    Nobody is much interested in actually looking at the available facts, if any.

  17. #17 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    I thought Lucy’s Law was the proposed bill to make yanking the ball away at the last second a felony.

  18. #18 |  Juice | 

    “Also, George Washington won every single electoral vote twice.”

    Uh…no.

    Uh…yes.

    He ran pretty much unopposed both times.

  19. #19 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Rich people like to put forth the idea that everyone should pay an equal percentage.

    Technically, I said everyone should pay the same amount. Like $20/month for a health club membership. Only thing that seems remotely fair to me.

  20. #20 |  jb | 

    #14,
    In addition, from the insurance company perspective if they don’t pay for BC they will be paying for abortions/prenatal care, both of which are vastly more expensive. So the company actually wants to cover BC.

  21. #21 |  David | 

    Re: George Washington. The original format of the Electoral College gave each elector two votes, each of which had to be cast for a different person, with the top vote-getter winning the presidency and the runner-up being named vice-president. Until the 12th amendment changed it so the electors voted once for president and a second time for vice president, it was impossible for a single candidate to receive all of the votes, even if he was every elector’s first choice.

  22. #22 |  Marty | 

    re Gawker’s nonsense- who gets to decide ‘reasonable’? my neighbor was chastised by an inspector because the inspector didn’t think he ‘needed’ a 30×50 shed.

  23. #23 |  Mark Z. | 

    #14: Cochrane also seems to believe that drug companies would do research to develop less expensive birth control pills if only the end users had to choose them based on price. This says to me that Cochrane doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    - It’s basically impossible to develop a new drug that’s cheaper than existing drugs that do the same thing, because you have to recover the research cost.*

    - As for research into male contraception and more effective or convenient contraception for women, that’s a red herring. Those things are all being researched anyway, and the demand for them has nothing to do with end-user cost. Cochrane is just applying the broad brush of “anything that’s not an Econ 101 free market stifles innovation”.

    - It’s not like insurance companies are blind to price, either. “Never pay a penny more than we have to” is basically their entire business model.

    - The orthodox-libertarian assumption that Cochrane follows here is that having health insurance is like having Bill Gates treat me to lunch. Naturally I’ll order something I probably wouldn’t choose if I were buying. And with everyone doing this, Bill ends up spending way more on lunch than we all would for ourselves.

    But of course that’s not how it works. Your doctor prescribes a specific drug, and either you pay for it or your insurance does. If you have insurance, they’ll also try to steer the doctor toward prescribing generic drugs. So it’s like more Bill Gates treating me to lunch at Subway, and then calling my wife and asking her to order for me.

    * Y’all can now grumble about the FDA making it so damn expensive to put a new drug on the market, with all their stupid rules about providing “evidence” that your product actually cures cancer before you sell it to cancer patients for a hundred grand a year.

  24. #24 |  Elliot | 

    And that, kids, is how Barack Obama became the first candidate to win every single electoral vote in a presidential election.

    And that, kids, is the Agitator melodramatic hyperbole of the week.

  25. #25 |  Onlooker | 

    I don’t know that Gawker site at all (though I’ve heard of it in passing at some point), but it appears to be a piece of crap, for sure.

    That was a “top story?” Doesn’t a “story” in the “news” imply reporting on something rather than full on editorialism? Just wondering.

    And that “story” was full on socialism. It sure seems that proponents are becoming increasingly emboldened and unafraid to be right out there with this crap. A bit scary, and I’m certainly not rich.

  26. #26 |  supercat | 

    #1 | Mike T | “Unless your tax code looks like an exponential curve, it won’t be “fair.” 20% on a family making $80k is substantially more destructive than 50% on a family making $500k in take home in terms of real buying power and investment capital.”

    Actually, no. Imagine two parallel universes, which are identical except that in the first, both Bill Gates and a randomly-selected welfare recipient are each given an extra $100 which they are not given in the second. In one year’s time, how would one expect the lives of the two people would be different in the universe where they received the gift, compared with the one where they hadn’t?

    I would expect that the money given to Bill Gates would probably be pooled with his other investments, and at the end of a year the extra $100 he got in the first universe would translate into more than $100 difference to his net worth. The welfare recipient, by contrast, would most likely end up finding various things to spend the $100 on; few if any of them would have any lasting effect on the person’s well-being.

    To be sure, there are some industrious people who are poor, in some measure because of government policies that punish efforts by poor people to get ahead in the world. An extra $100 might make a huge difference in the life of such a person. In general, though, tax policies that try to “soak the rich” will punish the industrious for the benefit of the slothful. Nothing good will come of such policies. Tax X and subsidize Y, and the result will be less X and more Y. Economics 101. Tax the rich and subsidize the poor, and there will be fewer rich people and more poor people.

  27. #27 |  Mark Z. | 

    ” Tax X and subsidize Y, and the result will be less X and more Y. Economics 101. Tax the rich and subsidize the poor, and there will be fewer rich people and more poor people.”

    Obviously the solution to poverty is to just tax the hell out of the poor, so that nobody will want to be poor. Genius! Why aren’t you in the Republican primaries?

  28. #28 |  JOR | 

    “The welfare recipient, by contrast, would most likely end up finding various things to spend the $100 on; few if any of them would have any lasting effect on the person’s well-being.”

    Translate that to, “few if any of them would make the person better off by my own external standards”. To be fair, though, all interpersonal comparisons of utility are inherently worthless.

    The rich own and run the government at every level. I don’t support taxing them (because that just gives the government more resources to use for stuff like blowing up Iraqi villagers), but I’ll never feel sorry for them for their “burdens”. They are the beneficiaries of the system. They get more value out of the state than any fabled Welfare Queen will ever see, to say nothing of other economic parasites like prison inmates and the lucky recipients of government ordinance.

  29. #29 |  Bill | 

    #22, Marty, of course the inspector was right. If you “need” a 30×50 shed to keep your stuff in, then you have too much stuff, and/or too much property, if you need all that stuff to take care of it.

    And in a cool little aside, that inspector now writes for Gawker.

  30. #30 |  Radley Balko | 

    And that, kids, is the Agitator melodramatic hyperbole of the week.

    Or, just maybe, an attempt at humor.

    Although even in the absolute best-case scenario, I don’t see Santorum winning more than a dozen states.

  31. #31 |  supercat | 

    #27 | Mark Z. | “Obviously the solution to poverty is to just tax the hell out of the poor, so that nobody will want to be poor. Genius! Why aren’t you in the Republican primaries?”

    Conservatives don’t want to tax the hell out of anybody, but subsidizing people who don’t work will encourage people to not work. Telling people that spending an amount on food below their food-stamp allowance will result in forfeiting any extra will discourage people from trying to economize. Telling people that their subsidy checks will get cut off if they they reduce their spending to the point that they could accumulate $100 or so in savings will discourage thrift. Telling people that if they do a one-off job and earn $100, the increase in their housing payment and decrease in their subsidy check will leave them about where they started will discourage people from taking such work.

    Besides, if “taxing the hell” out of people who have never aspired to earn a nickel from anything other than a welfare check caused 10% of them to become productive workers while the other 90% starved, I would consider the 10% that redeemed themselves to be an improvement over the nearly 0% that might otherwise do so. I’m not trying to suggest that all, or even most, welfare recipients fall into that category, but when there are children whose parents and parents have never held a job, it’s likely that those children will follow in their parents’ footsteps if allowed to do so, to everyone’s detriment.

  32. #32 |  Cyto | 

    All this talk about Lucy’s Law makes me grateful that we still live in a Lucy’s Law-less world.

    Thanks, I’ll be here all week!

  33. #33 |  supercat | 

    #28 | JOR | ‘Translate that to, “few if any of them would make the person better off by my own external standards”. To be fair, though, all interpersonal comparisons of utility are inherently worthless.’

    There is a very strong correlation between financial discipline and wealth. Many of the people who are poor lack the financial discipline necessary to be otherwise. One could give such people $1,000,000 (as sometimes happens, when they win the lottery) and they’d soon be back where they started.

    It’s not just an issue of “standards”. Odds are very good that if one were to ask someone who spent $100 so they could have a 50″ television whether they’d rather have had the experience of having a 50″ TV or would rather have spent $50 buying outright a nice-though-antiquated tube-style television with converter box and having $50 in their pocket, many would in retrospect prefer to have bought the older television which they could then afford to keep. [note: if anyone doubts that the poor spend money on 50" televisions, why else would firms like Rent-A-Center promote them?]

    I’m not sure the best way to infuse the poor with financial discipline, though getting rid of government programs which discourage it would be a good start. Throwing money at people who lack financial discipline, however, will be at best a total waste (and more likely, counterproductive).

    Mitt Romney is wrong not to think the “safety net” for the poor is adequate. The problem, though, is not lack of money, but rather the existence of policies which discourage the financial discipline necessary to escape poverty–a problem which alas none of the candidates are addressing.

  34. #34 |  JOR | 

    “I’m not sure the best way to infuse the poor with financial discipline, though getting rid of government programs which discourage it would be a good start.”

    You’re thinking like a social engineer, and that’s the whole problem.

    The system is designed to herd the underclasses into dependence on the elite – either for jobs or food stamps or whatever. In its present form it is largely the doing of the early Progressives who thought that anyone who lacked “financial discipline” of good American middle class WASPs didn’t have the right to scratch by in their own way, with some degree of dignity and independence, though similar patterns have played out in many times and places (this is how capitalism was created in the first place).

  35. #35 |  supercat | 

    #34 | JOR | “You’re thinking like a social engineer, and that’s the whole problem.”

    The system, as you say, is designed to herd the underclasses into dependence on the state. I don’t have any particular insight into the motives of all the people who have shaped it into the monstrosity it is; in particular, I don’t know how many were trying to do good, but were oblivious to the harm their programs caused, and how many recognized the pattern of dependency such programs would create as a useful means of securing political power. I believe both types of people have had their role.

    I really don’t care what people do with *their own money*. I think a lot of people would be happier off if they deferred luxuries until they could afford to acquire them without putting themselves into expensive debt, but if people want to spend $100 to rent a TV for a week, and then end up having to pay $10 in fees to get a payday loan, it’s no skin off my back, provided they’re using *their own money*. What I object to very strenuously is the notion that a person who spends lots of money on things he can’t afford should consequently have any right to demand money from people who are wealthy, in significant measure, because they *haven’t* spent money on things they can’t afford. If someone takes $40/week he could have spent on a large-screen TV and for 20 years invests it in some small business which consequently starts earning him some money, why should any money be taken from him to pay the guy who instead of investing his money, spends it renting a large-screen TV?

  36. #36 |  Goober | 

    On the Dick Cheney shooting thing – can anyone on this site explain to me why in the hell this was ever considered to be such a big deal? Apparently Radley thinks it is still a big deal because he is bringing it up.

    For the life of me, I simply cannot explain why people were lining up in slavering schadenfruede when this happened. If you’ve got a problem with Dick Cheney and his way of doing things, then fine, but a true human being would have felt badly for Cheney and for the guy he accidentally shot, and nothing more.

    I remember very clearly feeling horrible for them both, ebcause there but for the grace of God go I – I was almost shot by one of my bird huntin buddies once, too. If it weren’t for a sixteeth of a second’s delay in his smacking the trigger, I’d have been in the hospital (I don’t hunt with him anymore.)

    People that wanted to blame Cheney for being a horrible man, or for the “cover up” (which never saw any compelling evidence that anyone tried to cover up anything – they just weren’t in a hurry to break the story and a couple of hours went by before the press caught wind of it, and with the slavering response to the whole thing, can you blame them for not being in a hurry to tell everyone?) really need to stop and consider whether the incident really upset them that much, or if they are just using this incident as an outlet for their overall hatred of Cheney and his way of doing things.

    Be a human. Stop taking pleasure in a situation where any true human being would have felt truly awful for the people involved.

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