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The Magnitude of Lobbying October 27, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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Never really understood how much money is spent on lobbying every year. Open Secrets tallied it up:

OpenSecretsLobbying.GIF
That’s $2.5 billion every single year.

It’s no wonder Washington DC doesn’t seem particularly well-aligned with the interests of the rest of us.

The Terror of the CA Fires October 27, 2019

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This video, taken by a family’s doorbell camera, shows the family’s panicked evacuation from their home as the CA fire approaches. You can see flames at the right of the screen.

Freaky stuff.

Merkel Recants October 21, 2019

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The poster chancellor for open borders finally acknowledges reality:

Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel said allowing people of different cultural backgrounds to live side by side without integrating had not worked in a country that is home to some four million Muslims.
“This (multicultural) approach has failed, utterly failed,” Merkel told the meeting in Potsdam, south of Berlin.

She said too little had been required of immigrants in the past and repeated her usual line that they should learn German in order to get by in school and have opportunities on the labor market.

 

What a difference 2 years make:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her controversial decision to admit over a million refugees in 2015, and insisted she had no regrets, saying she would take the big decisions “the same way again.”

“It was an extraordinary situation and I made my decision based on what I thought was right from a political and humanitarian standpoint,” she told the Welt am Sonntag.

“I’d make all the important decisions of 2015 the same way again,” Merkel added.

After years of lecturing the world on their moral responsibility to accommodate society-shifting levels of refugee immigration, Merkel finally acknowledges the damage she has caused.

Molokai Tide October 20, 2019

Posted by skinbad in Music.
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So yesterday, I was sitting in a parking lot in the family truckster waiting for the Mrs. to return from stimulating the local economy. The radio was dialed in to an easy-listening/oldies-ish station and a song came on that I’d never heard. My thought process went something like this:

  • That’s a really pretty song
  • That sounds like The Beatles
  • No. It’s more like a folk song
  • What the hell is he saying?
  • Molokai Tide?
  • That’s a weird Hawaiian song
  • Bagpipes? Whaaa?

Then I found some paper and scribbled down some lyrics so I could look it up. So it’s “Mull of Kintyre” written by Paul McCartney (with Wings) in 1977 and is about the area in Scotland where he has had a home since the 60s. It’s one of the best selling singles of all time in the UK. You can read about it if you care. Anyway, the bagpipes make a lot more sense for Scotland than Hawaii. Mystery solved. Once in a while I’m reminded that those Beatles lads were a talented bunch.

That Wacky Colorado Weather October 10, 2019

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Yesterday’s High: 79°F

Yesterday’s Low: 22°F

The Racism Trap October 9, 2019

Posted by geoff in News.
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Just reading Campus Reform’s article on San Diego City College’s flyer for their “Confronting White Supremacy through the Arts” event (H/T to Instapundit). The flyer included this graphic:
SDCCRacism
There are obvious and detestable incidences of racism (Housing Discrimination, Hiring Discrimination, etc.) mixed in with ridiculous items such as “But we’re all just one human family.”

But trying to sum up the the philosophy of the graphic, I come to these conclusions:

  • A non-POC cannot contest any points made by the racism cottage industry, or you’re a racist
  • There is no solution to racism, because the racism cottage industry is about browbeating, not racial harmony

Note the way the points in the graphic fence the non-POC individual in:

  • You can’t try to help (“Self-appointed White Ally”; “White Savior Complex”)
  • You can’t try to treat everybody equally (“Colorblindness”)
  • You can’t try to enjoy/integrate other cultures (“Cultural Appropriation”)

So all of the paths to a solution are cut off. Even trying to propose a solution makes you a racist.

The only “solution” that the racites seem to entertain is perpetual racial navel-gazing on a finer and finer scale, accompanied by wealth transfer based on race.

That approach means that there will never be a solution to racism.

Taxing Wealth, Part IV October 2, 2019

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OK, all the distractions are gone and I can finally keep my promise and talk about the Cato poll. This study focused on trying to determine the importance of compassion for the needy vs. resentment toward the rich in defining attitudes on wealth and capitalism.

I think the most telling chart was this one:

Cato Poll Billionaires Immoral.GIF

Compassion for the needy is actually slightly anti-correlated with the acceptability of billionaires, while resentment of the wealthy is high correlated.

So Bernie and his Bros are really just envious of wealth, and looking to cut the legs out from under those who are wealthy.

Attitudes Toward Capitalism. It has long been my thesis that those who hate capitalism are those who suck at it, and who envy those who don’t. As the poll results below indicate, the level of  compassion you have for the unfortunate is more weakly correlated with hating capitalism than is harboring resentment toward the rich:

Cato Poll on Capitalism.GIF
Obviously resentment/envy isn’t the only reason people don’t like capitalism, but it’s just as obviously a leading cause.

Taxing Wealth, Part III October 1, 2019

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Before I get to that Cato poll, I remembered that I forgot to address one of Bernie’s points from the NYT article (discussed in Taxing Wealth, Part I):

Mr. Sanders is blunt about his desire to reduce the size of America’s biggest fortunes, even highlighting how much individual billionaires would have to pay in taxes under his proposal. He said last week that he did not believe billionaires should exist in the United States.

“There’s no question to my mind that the United States is moving toward an oligarchy,” Mr. Sanders said. “This is an issue that has to be addressed, and this wealth tax begins to do that.”

The thing about oligarchies is: they need a source of power. In this case, the power of the billionaires is derived from their influence over the government.

geoff’s First Axiom (of the day, that is): The only way of reducing the power of the oligarchy is to reduce the power of government.

Taxing the wealthy and giving the money to the government does not reduce the influence of the billionaire class on government, it just gives more resources to government for them (the billionaires) to influence and control.

So Bernie is doing the exact opposite of what he should be doing.

And I’ll be getting to that fershlugginer Cato poll tomorrow morning, it looks like.

Taxing Wealth, Part II October 1, 2019

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As I mentioned in the previous post, the Cato Institute conducted a poll to ascertain why people supported wealth taxes and opposed capitalism. Before I talk about those results, I’m going to tell you why people support wealth taxes and oppose capitalism.

It’s because this is their conception of rich people and their money:

ScroogeMcDuck.jpg

They’re thinking, “Why not take some of that unused money out of those vaults and give it to the poor?”

That would make an immoral kind of sense if that was what people were doing with their money, but as we know, probably only George Soros has a room like that. The rest of the people are investing their money in a variety of financial instruments, and those instruments generally provide needed funds for loans and investment.

The rapid increase in the ultra-wealthys’ share of the nation’s wealth has come under scrutiny, but it’s direct evidence that a significant fraction of their wealth is invested in the stock market.

Which is a good thing for everybody.

OK, I’ll really really get to the Cato poll in the next post.

Taxing Wealth, Part I October 1, 2019

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A couple of articles about wealth today: the first was from the NYT, discussing Warren’s and Sander’s notions of wealth taxes and curbing the fortunes of the ultra-rich; the second described the results of a Cato poll which looked at the motivations of the wealth-taxers. First let’s look at the plans from the Democratic candidates (descriptions of the plans are from the NYT article):

Elizabeth Warren Bernie Sanders
“Ms. Warren…would impose a 2 percent tax on net worth above $50 million, and a 3 percent tax on net worth above $1 billion.” “Mr. Sanders’…tax would start out at 1 percent on net worth from $32 million to $50 million, and it would top out at 8 percent on net worth over $10 billion.”

These plans seem naive, damaging, and dangerous. Here’s why:

  • Naive:
    • Wealth Taxes Aren’t Constitutional: …at least the way Warren and Sanders are envisioning them.  The Constitution requires that wealth taxes be apportioned per the states’ populations, so that poor and rich states with similar populations would be required to pay the same tax. That’s not workable, so an amendment would be required.
    • The Rich Ain’t Gonna Pay: The ultra-rich always have financial resources and options that allow them to avoid the impact of taxes, such as hiring the law-writers to find loopholes or moving their assets overseas. They can lobby lawmakers to create loopholes or soften the taxation terms. Bottom line: Warren and Sanders will never see the revenues they’re expecting.
  • Damaging:
    • Wealth Taxes Inhibit Investment: …just as capital gains taxes do (which Dems are also interested in increasing). I think most people are familiar with the concept of the return on investment (ROI), which is basically how much money you can expect to get back on your investment. ROI projections are calculated carefully (in most business plans they’re wildly optimistic, but still…) to convince investors that they have a good chance of making money on a venture. Risk and taxes mean that a higher ROI projection is required to convince an investor to pony up. And discouraging investment hurts innovation and economic growth.
    • Impact on Charities: Every dollar taken from the wealthy is a dollar less of their discretionary spending. Charities will be the first entities impacted.
    • Wealth Taxes Have a Questionable Morality: All the wealth accumulated by the ultra-rich has been, or will be, taxed already. Their income and capital gains were taxed, and the appreciation on their real estate will be taxed. Appreciation on items is also taxed. Saying that you’re going to add taxes simply because somebody owns something (unlike real estate property taxes, which are to support public services) makes me queasy.
  • Dangerous:
    • The Slippery Slope: It’s well-known (and griped about) that: “The original income tax was 1% for the bottom bracket, which was comprised of income up to $20,000, and 7% for the top bracket which was comprised of income over $500,000.” Sounds kind of like Bernie’s plan, doesn’t it? And like Warren’s? Do we really think that the average joe is going to be immune from wealth taxes 20 years from now? The 1% tax for the bottom bracket was doubled 3 years later, and 4 years after that it was 5%. I can’t imagine that our modern government will be any less avaricious.
    • Control: The income tax evolved from a simple money-collection mechanism into a tool to encourage/discourage social and economic behaviors. This, despite the fact that the government and its advisors have shown no particular competence in defining good and bad behaviors. Giving them more knobs to turn seems like a bad idea, given that they can’t properly use the current ones.

I’ll talk about the second article in a following post. This one kind of got out of hand.

Nutritional Science Finally Gets It Right October 1, 2019

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In the world of nutritional advice, you only need to wait long enough until you get the answer you want. And this week our nutritional ship has come in:

You DON’T need to cut out red meat: Scientists say official advice on eating less beef, pork and lamb is based on bad evidence and having it four times a week poses ‘NO cancer risk’

It also poses no additional risk for heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.

Now I just have to wait until the truth about the nutritional benefits of ice cream are revealed.