Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quick hits 4/22

Notes from my reading:

Larry Elder, from a column on big government economics:

An economics professor asked his class which of these two scenarios the students preferred. First scenario: Japan grows at an annual rate of 7 percent, and the Unites States grows at 4 percent. Second scenario: Japan and the United States both grow at 3 percent. Overwhelmingly, the students chose the second option. In other words, the students accepted their own lower domestic growth rather than allow Japan — a friendly nation — to outpace us. In exchange for "equality," they chose an otherwise lower standard of living. They, at least, acknowledged the existence — and accepted the price — of the trade-off. If people understood the damage done when government takes from A and gives to B, how many would sign on?

It is stunning and sad that these students have become so brainwashed by Marxist rhetoric that they would explicitly choose making everybody poorer for the sake of a Utopian fantasy. That is exactly the position that big government advocates advance, but at least many (most?) of them are ignorant that such a trade-off exists.

Elder recognizes this:

Collectivism is a bargain that most people — if they knew the real price tag — would reject. These trade-offs include lower productivity, diminished initiative, fewer jobs, rewarding reckless behavior and poor choices, a lower-than-otherwise standard of living, less economic freedom, greater government dependency, and fewer resources to spend on national security and to secure our borders.


Michael Barone, from a column on increasing Wall Street regulation and its beneficiaries:
Little wonder that Goldman Sachs likes the idea. It will be able to borrow at lower cost than small competitors and will be assured that its large counterparties will qualify for government bailouts. Big firms tend to favor regulation because it insulates them from competition and protects them against loss. […]

In the 2008 campaign cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics' website, Goldman Sachs personnel contributed $4.5 million to Democrats and just $1.5 million to Republicans.

Add in three other big Wall Street firms — Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup — and the total take was $12.7 million to Democrats and $6.7 million to Republicans. The image of Wall Streeters as solid Republicans is as dead as J. P. Morgan himself.

With a (massively regressive, it should be noted) Value Added Tax push coming after the elections are safely over, it’s worth looking at their rate history elsewhere. Canada has actually lowered their VAT from the original 7% to 5%, but every other nation has later increased the rate (source: The Wall Street Journal):

Denmark 9-25%
France 13.6-19.6
Germany 10-19
Italy 12-20
Japan 3-5
Spain 12-16
Sweden 17.7-25
Switzerland 6.5-7.6
United Kingdom 8-17.5

Ahh, but maybe they reduced their income tax rates? Not so much.


Jay Nordlinger on our tax code:

The tax code pits Americans against one another. It pits homeowners against renters, married people against unmarried people, people with children against people without children, people with children going to college against people with children going into trades — and on and on. The tax code is packed with social policy, and bias. That’s one reason I say, a pox on it.


More Nordlinger:
I offer you good news out of Havana: “A surprisingly small crowd sweated and sang along to performances by Cuban rock, folk and salsa stars Saturday, at what the communist government billed as a politically important ‘concert for the homeland.’”

The article continued, “Organizers had said the show would be headlined by Cuba’s most famous folk singer, Silvio Rodriguez. But instead the pro-Castro government activist made fans wait for an hour in unrelenting afternoon sun before he took the stage, read a letter defending the single-party communist system — and then left without performing.”

Doesn’t that warm your heart?


From another Nordlinger column:

President Obama has another pick coming up. If I were able to question him, I might ask something like, “When you were in the Senate, you voted against both John Roberts and Samuel Alito. You said they were qualified in traditional ways, but they were conservative — therefore, in your eyes, they were unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. By your standard, should Republican senators vote against your nominees because they’re liberal?”


Finally, Charles Krauthammer on the fatuousness of US nuclear policy:

[T]he Washington summit was part of a larger misdirection play — Obama’s “nuclear spring.” Last week, a START treaty, redolent of precisely the kind of Cold War obsolescence Obama routinely decries. The number of warheads in Russia’s aging and decaying nuclear stockpile is an irrelevancy now that the existential U.S.-Soviet struggle is over. One major achievement of the treaty, from the point of view of Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, is that it could freeze deployment of U.S. missile defenses — thus constraining the single greatest anti-nuclear breakthrough of our time.

The left wing resistance to missile defense has never made any sense to me. I'm sure some of it was the anti-American, pro-Soviet worldview that infected the political left of the 80's, but shouldn't that silliness have been relegated to the dustbin of history as well? Is raw hatred for the US still driving opinion this issue?

Just bizarre.

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