“Starve the Government of Needed Revenue”

OvereatingThe New York Times had another extraordinary editorial today so full of wrong-headed thinking you don’t know where to begin. More Help for the Wealthy.

The piece is about supposedly outrageous efforts by the GOP to implement new laws covering small business. The net effect, The Times believes, is to give the wealthy yet more tax breaks.

Whatever the merits of taxing or not taxing the wealthy more, they lose me immediately in the first paragraph with this line that the effect of the laws will be to ‘…starve the government of needed revenue…’. This is like denouncing calls for the fattest man on the planet to eat just 9 hamburgers instead of 10 today.

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NY Times: ‘Too little regulation…”

A New York Times editorial today, They Have Very Short Memories, restates a very popular liberal belief that has influenced much of the left’s thinking about our economic situation.

The New York Times

They write (boldfacing added):

Never mind that reams of Congressional testimony, market analysis and academic research have shown that regulation has not been an impediment to raising capital. In fact, too little regulation has been at the root of all recent bubbles and bursts — the dot-com crash, Enron, the mortgage meltdown. Those free-for-alls created jobs and then imploded, causing mass joblessness.

To me, ‘too little’ is simply wrong.

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Domestic Energy Production: Output on Federal vs. State & Private Lands

The left, and even the President himself, are making a lot of noise about how domestic oil production is up under President Obama policies and leadership. Heretofore, I have understood this increase to be due largely to increases in production on private and state land that is not subject to Federal permitting.

This issue has been highlighted in today’s news stories and it turns out the issue is well studied. Not surprisingly, there is data to illustrate the situation.

According to data published by the Institute for Energy Research, production on Federal lands has declined significantly over the past decade, including a 10%+ decline in 2011. IER is a conservative group and it’s data will, no doubt, be dismissed out of hand by the left. As I often do, I looked for alternative sources with a leftward bent, but none are to be found. Continue reading Domestic Energy Production: Output on Federal vs. State & Private Lands

NYT and WSJ react to Obama’s budget: Through the looking glass

Obama’s 2013 budget was released yesterday. In today’s papers, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have shared their reactions. They could not be more different.

In their piece titled A Responsible Budget, the NYT totally buys into the Democratic narrative of how the world works and what the Federal government’s priorities should be. Even as it runs up an unprecedented fourth year in a row with a $1T+ deficit, they do not question a single thing, except to assert that Obama was too soft on defense and could have found more than a measely $5b in cuts.

As is common in liberal analysis (even analysis of budgets), they use very few numbers or charts. In this case, their write-up contains a grand total of 4 numbers (dollar amounts, percentages, dates, etc.) and no charts at all. You’d think that commenting on such a numerically-driven document would require greater use of figures, but why get bogged down with objective reality? The NYT keeps their focus squarely on the liberal plotline.

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RomneyCare appears to be working

So I lived in Massachusetts until last year and was there during the years the health care law changed over. It was controversial at the time, but nothing like the venom that has been unleashed by ObamaCare.

I think one big difference there was that a clearer economic argument was made to justify the shift – it was understood by most everyone, including business people, that a tremendous amount of money from private insurance plans was already being funneled off to pay for uninsured residents.

A second big difference was that the focus was on covering the relatively small percentage of the population that was not covered – I seem to recall it was 8% uncovered. Since MA had fairly extremely high coverage rates already, this seemed fairly achievable.

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Growing dependency on Federal income

The New York Times yesterday ran a long article on benefit programs administered by the Federal government. Naturally, they couldn’t just show the data, but told a political-motivated story around it and hence the title “Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It“.

To me, the most remarkable thing is the time-series data that show how the share of Federal household income from government benefits programs has grown over time, especially recently.

1969: 7.8%

1979: 11.2%

1989: 11.5%

1999: 12.6%

2009: 17.6%

Federal benefits as percent household income by year

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Gasoline taxes by state

I’ve been doing a lot of driving along the east coast this year and have noticed large variations in the cost of gasoline from state to state. I was thinking this was due in part to differences in state and local taxes, but never stopped to figure it out.

On future trips, I’d like to be a little more strategic and buy gas in states where the taxes are lower. Here’s a chart showing tax burden for each state.

The range from highest to lowest is pretty significant – more than double. Alaska is the cheapest at 26.4 cents. California has the highest taxes at 67.7 cents.

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Liberal meme: Regulations create jobs

After my dismal experience yesterday with Lakoff’s attempt to create a wholistic model of progressive and conservative thought, I’m drawn to the idea of memes and how the thinking on each side is a loose constellation of memes. Some are more foundational. Some are more emergent. Some enduring, some ephemeral.

Pilfered from tessarickart.wordpress.com

The memes idea is appealing because it would allow for narrow, but contradictory beliefs to coexist more easily – and for beliefs to shift more fluidly over time in response to events and trends as they obviously do (on both sides).

It also is a more organic way to imagine diverse constellations of human actors to develop collective beliefs – since neither progressives nor conservatives are meeting all at once to ratify grand philosophies, it is really the only possible way for them to develop: piece by piece, bit by bit.

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Comparison of Top 1%

In Paul Krugman‘s post today, he references a useful database created by the Paris School of Economics called The World Top Income Database.  I’m sure it is full of lots of useful info, but I went for the easy stuff and grabbed the excellent chart below.

Source: The World Top Incomes Database

Like other similar charts I’ve posted have shown, it shows a sharp change wealth held by the top 1% in the past 25 years or so. I’ve been wondering about the causal mechanics behind this.

What I never realized before is how sharply it changes in a particular year – 1987 – and carries on from there. At that point, the USA started to diverge significantly from other countries.

So the obvious question is: why? What happened in that year? I don’t really know.

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