About Hate Crimes

In my opinion, hanging an effigy of any public figure is in poor taste, regardless of their race. But there’s a bigger issue at play here.

Based on the outcome, I have no choice but to assume that the hanging effigy of Palin is not a hate crime because she’s white. Apparently — In this case — it falls under freedom of speech:

“The sheriff made this clear: This is a country that has freedom of speech, and we protect that right even when we think it’s idiotic and stupid and in bad taste,” said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department.

“If it is nonviolent and doesn’t cause any problems, then they have the right to do it.”1

I have no problem with freedom of speech. But hiding behind that principal is riddled with the danger of bias. Consider Timothy Lynch’s comments about The Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 20072 passed by the U. S. House of Representatives on May 3, 2007:

… it is important to note that the whole concept of “hate crimes” is fraught with definitional difficulties. Hate crimes generally refer to criminal conduct motivated by prejudice. Should all prejudices be included in the hate crime definition–or only a select few?

For the proponents of hate crime laws, the dilemma is this: if some groups (women, gays, environmental political activists, whatever) are left out of the “hate crime” definition, they will resent the selective depreciation of their victimization. On the other hand, if all victim groups are included, the hate crime category will be no different than “ordinary” criminal law.3

And therein lies the problem:

The reaction obviously would have been much worse if it were Obama hung in effigy, though the historical reasons behind that reaction would be justifiable.1

Obviously, my ass. Unless you’re a Native American, this was destined to be my country well before you and your ancestors got off the boat. If you want to argue that blacks are a special circumstance because of the terrible things that happened in their past, I suggest you Google for “Trail of Tears” and read about how 14000 Native Americans were forcably evicted from the only home they’d ever known and marched across the country on foot in the dead of winter, unable to do anything as 4000 of them died.

Blacks are not the only minority in this country. But being a minority myself, I strongly believe that entitlements serving to protect a single class of people against bias is, in and of itself, biased.

Whatever you may think of me because of this post, I am not a racist. But I do fully stand by equality and fairness… and double standards make the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

I’ll bet you dollars to donuts if someone hung an effigy of Sitting Bull, no one would give it a second thought.

1 http://mobile.latimes.com/detail.jsp?key=187804&rc=top&full=1
2 http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h110-1592
3 http://www.cato.org/testimony/ct-tl04172007.html

The Laffer Curve

In economics, the Laffer curve is used to illustrate the idea that increases in the rate of taxation do not necessarily increase tax revenue.1

Interesting stuff. Take the extreme case: If I make $50,000 and pay 0% in taxes, I’m probably pretty motivated to keep working. If I make $50,000 and pay 100% in taxes, there’s obviously no reason for me to keep working — I quit my job and the government loses money.

The theory is that the most likely outcome of a variety of tax rates is somewhat of a bell curve and that there is a point at which increasing taxes causes a behavior change that results in decreased federal revenues.

The Laffer Curve, Part I: Understanding the Theory2

The Laffer Curve, Part II: Reviewing the Evidence3

The Laffer Curve, Part III: Dynamic Scoring4

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve
2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIqyCpCPrvU
3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsB_rnzBA08
4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATDzKSOQCi8

Make the Rich Pay!

Senator Obama and the Democrats have long maintained that the Bush tax cuts have disproportionately helped the wealthy, shifting the tax burden to the middle class. Since I never believe anything either party says, I decided to check the tax figures myself.

I looked at two years, 2000 — the last year of the Clinton era — and 2006, the most recent year for which the government has published detailed tax statistics. All of the data was obtained from the IRS website1.

I started with the lowest income level — tax payers earning $20,000 or less:

# of tax payers (millions): ~50 ~35
% of total tax payers: 39% 35%
Taxes paid (millions): $16,639 $7,875
Average taxes paid: $332 $165
% of total taxes paid: 1.7% .8%

Not a large difference, but this group clearly did better. The average tax was bill was cut in half along with their share of the overall tax burden. However, they weren’t paying much to begin with.

What happens if we include a higher tax bracket — people making $50,000 and less?

# of tax payers (millions): ~93 ~111
% of total tax payers: 85% 67%
Taxes paid (millions): $132,256 $85,758
Average taxes paid: $1622 $930
% of total taxes paid: 25% 8%

Now I’m getting confused. It looks like this group did pretty well too. I was expecting their tax burden to have gone way up. Instead, their share of the overall tax burden dropped from 25% to 8%, and their average tax liability dropped by 43%.

Let’s continue moving up the food chain and look at the taxpayers earning $100,000 or more.

# of tax payers (millions): ~11 ~16
% of total tax payers: 6% 8.7%
Taxes paid (millions): $632,704 $753,696
Average taxes paid: $58,287 $46,659
% of total taxes paid: 65% 74%

Now wait a minute! This group was supposed to making out like bandits. Instead, it looks like their share of the tax burden has gone way up. I though Senator Obama was saying that the well off — those making over $100,000 — weren’t paying their fair share and unfairly benefited from the tax cuts. This group is now paying 74% of all taxes to the tune of $121 billion more. True, they did see an average 20% reduction in their individual tax bill — much less than the 43% reduction in the $50,000 and under group — but as a whole, they are paying much more in taxes. Economic expansion increased the size of the group by just under 3%, but the tax burden has gone up by over 9%.

So… what happens when we look at even higher income levels, say $500,000 or more. Certainly this group must be better off.

# of tax payers: 635,816 943,399
% of total tax payers: .3% .43%
Taxes paid (millions): $302,280 $367,273
Average taxes paid: $475,422 $389,309
% of of total taxes paid: 31% 36%

What’s that? Less that 1% of the tax payers pay over one-third of all income taxes? Even with an 18% average reduction in the average tax, this group is paying 5% or $65 billion more in taxes, while the $50,000 and under group is paying $46 billion less. It seems to me that the tax burden has already been shifted to the well off. And at $1,000,000 or more the numbers are even more significant with .1% of the taxpayers paying 27% of the tax bill, up from 23% in 2000.

Well now I’m more confused than ever. So let’s look at a few more numbers.

Total # of tax returns (millions): 129 138
Tax returns with tax (millions): 97 93
% of returns with no tax: 25% 33%

That’s right! In 2006, we had nine million more filers and 5 million less payers. I wonder who is paying all of those taxes. According to Senator Obama, it is the underclass since clearly the wealthy aren’t paying enough! So 45 million tax filers don’t pay anything in income taxes — that’s about one-third of all taxpayers. I wonder what Senator Obama thinks the number should be, maybe 50%? If Senator Obama’s tax plan is not spreading the wealth and income redistribution, either I need a new dictionary or Senator Obama needs a new calculator.

But wait you say… the rich should pay more because they got a bigger slice of the pie. Let’s look at the $200,000 and higher numbers.

Adjusted Gross Income (trillions): 6.4 8
% of AGI ($200,000 or more): 25% 31%
% of tax burden 46% 53%

Oh well, I tried. They took in 4% more of the pie and paid 7% more for the privilege.

While we are looking at numbers, let’s quickly visit the claim that Senator Obama is going to raise taxes only on those making $250,000 or more, and provide 95% of all tax payers a tax cut. Unfortunately, the IRS doesn’t break out the $250,000 income level — but 3% of all taxpayers make $200,000 or more and they are currently paying over 53% of all income taxes. That’s right, more than half of all income taxes are paid by only 3% of the taxpayers. If you try to get to the top 5% of taxpayers, you need to include everyone earning about $125,000 (estimated), and they are paying close to 70% (estimated) of the tax burden.

Since numbers are so much fun, let’s look at the actual budget. Note that personal income taxes account for about one-third of the total Federal receipts.

Federal Receipts (billions): $2,025 $2,568 $543 27%
Federal Outlays (billions): $1,789 $2,730 $941 53%
Surplus (deficit): $236 ($162)

I thought I heard that Federal receipts were down under Bush. Oh well… I must have misunderstood Senator Obama. Let’s see… a 27% increase in receipts and a 53% increase in outlays. Is this a revenue problem or a spending problem? Plus, all of this is before the estimated $2 trillion dollar outlay for the financial meltdown and the $1 trillion in additional spending proposed by Senator Obama.

So what gives? Why can’t Senator Obama and the Democrats see this. Can you say “Democratic Math”? Here is how it works.

Say you have two people — one paying $1000 in taxes and one paying $10,000. Now let’s give everyone a 10% tax cut; the first person gets back $100 and the second $1000. Is this fair? Not according to “Democratic Math”. The person paying $10,000 got 10 times more tax relief than the person paying $1000.

Let’s say we set the poverty level at $20,000 and we have 10 people — two earning less than $20,000 and eight earning more than $20,000. Clearly we have a 20% (2/10) poverty rate. Some time later after economic expansion, we take another look and we have three people earning less than $20,000 and 17 people earning more. Are we better off? According to “Democratic Math”, we have a 50% increase in poverty (up from 2 to 3). Of course, what we really have is a 15% poverty rate (3/20) for a 5% decrease.

I’ve always believed that everyone should pay their fair share. And according to the IRS numbers, the well off are paying a lot more and the less fortunate are paying a lot less. Isn’t that what we wanted?

What’s going on here should be obvious. Individuals can spend $1 much better than the government. By modestly lowering tax rates and growing the economy, not only does the government take in more money — the tax burden is properly shifted to the wealthy.


1 http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/article/0,,id=98123,00.html

Is Obama a U.S. citizen or not?

Here’s what I don’t get.

Why would the Governor of Hawaii go to the trouble of sealing Obama’s birth certificate on October 261, months after the Obama campaign posted what they say is a copy2 of it?

And is it just a coincidence that the Governor of Hawaii sealed the birth certificate a few days after Obama travelled to Hawaii to visit his ailing grandmother?

Polarik’s analysis3 of the images posted on the Web is certainly enough to raise an eyebrow.

But what’s really disturbing is that there seems to be a critical difference between an original birth certificate and a certificate of live birth. The latter might actually be a document that was prepared when a child is adopted4 with the original one being sealed under court order.

I’ve pretty much concluded that Obama’s refusal to produce his birth certificate more than warrants all of the speculation about what he’s hiding.


1 http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=79174
2 http://conservativepolitics.today.com/2008/06/25/proven-barack-obama-presented-forged-certificate-of-live-birth/
3 http://polarik.blogtownhall.com/
4 http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_a_certificate_of_live_birth_the_same_as_a_birth_certificate_in_Florida_A_friend_may_be_adopted

Thought for the day…

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure helps with the down-payment.

1 http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008309258_camphappy250.html

Racism at its best

I don’t like Howard Stern. But the audio clip he aired of Sal Governale interviewing voters in Harlem is just sickening. In the last two elections, there were people jumping up and down screaming about disenfranchising voters for one reason or another. What about my vote? It’s going to be diluted by a bunch of idiots who don’t even know who they’re voting for or why. And these same idiots are going to call me a racist if I don’t vote for Obama.

Don’t get me wrong. If anyone — black, white or green — says “I’m voting for Obama because he’s black”, more power to you. At least you’re being honest. Same goes for anyone who says “I’m not voting for Obama because he’s black”. But to stand there and pretend you have political convictions when you don’t have a clue is just downright irresponsible.


More Financial Crisis

The more I think about it, the more ticked off I get!

The New York Times reports:

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.1

And John McCain addressed the Senate on May 25, 2006:

Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae’s regulator reported that the company’s quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were “illusions deliberately and systematically created” by the company’s senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae’s former chief executive officer, OFHEO’s report shows that over half of Mr. Raines’ compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac.

For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs–and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.2

1 The New York Times http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E06E3D6123BF932A2575AC0A9659C8B63 (accessed Oct 26, 2008)
2 GovTrack.us. S. 190–109th Congress (2005): Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, GovTrack.us (database of federal legislation) http://www.govtrack.us/congress/record.xpd?id=109-s20060525-16&bill=s109-190 (accessed Oct 27, 2008)
3 GovTrack.us. S. 190–109th Congress (2005): Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, GovTrack.us (database of federal legislation) http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-190 (accessed Oct 26, 2008)

Stories about my Dad

My Dad was among the oldest of 12 children. After getting through sixth grade, he had to get a job to help support the family.

He was pretty good at laying bricks, so someone came to him looking to build a chimney. Now, Dad knew that this guy had a habit of hiring someone to do a job and skipping out when it came time to pay the bill… but he needed the money so he built the chimney anyway.

As he expected, the guy wouldn’t pay up. So my Dad waited for the weather to turn cold. Once again, as he expected, along comes the payment-dodger complaining that the chimney won’t draw. Dad says “if you pay the bill, it’ll start working”. Finally the guy pays up.

Dad goes over to the guy’s house, climbs up on the roof and drops a big rock down the chimney. Turns out Dad had inserted a sheet of glass about one-third of the way down the chimney.

Just goes to show that street smarts are just as important as book smarts.

Way to go, Dad. I miss you.

Orson Scott Card gets an A+…

… for telling the truth.

Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights? 2 presents a clear and concise account of the events leading up to the 700 billion dollar bailout.

Will it have any effect? Doubtful. Everyone’s so caught up in blaming George Bush for even breathing, there’s no time left for seeking out the truth about anything.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orson_Scott_Card
2 http://www.linearpublishing.com/orsonscottcard.html

Why I hate political campaigns

So Tom had to run out to the local grocery this afternoon. Right where we exit off Route 9, there have been a bunch of signs for a specific candidate. Today, someone from the opponent’s campaign staff was putting up new signs and strategically placing them so the original signs couldn’t be seen.

My take is that if you have to hide the opposing candidate, you probably don’t have much of a platform to begin with.