A Taxing Subject

So we have a tax cut, at long last, I guess. I haven’t read into it deeply, to me, tax language is about the fifth circle of Hell, and that day is coming soon enough, so why volunteer. But from what I’ve read there is some pretty good stuff in it, and some bad, no doubt. Well, that’s how legislating goes, and frankly, what we are trying to undo would have better never been started. Bookworm at Watchers of Weasels has some thoughts about some of the good stuff in it.

I’m not an economist, but I was blessed with a fair amount of common sense. Despite Democrat hysteria, it’s obvious that “the little people” will fare better under the proposed tax bill than they do now — and for a reason the Republicans ought to be speaking about a lot but, because they’re bozos, they are not.

That last sentence may be the most self-evident piece of truth ever written. They are indeed bozos, who wouldn’t know a good policy if it bit them on the ass. But we both digress.

Currently, America ostensibly does not have a “Regressive” tax system. This is a lie. America’s tax code is highly regressive. This is because we have the highest corporate tax rate in the Western world. Yay, say Lefties. Let’s stick it to the corporations. That sentiment proves that Lefties are either stupid or uninformed.

The reality is that corporations don’t pay taxes. This is because the buck doesn’t stop with the corporation, meaning that corporate shareholders will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that their return on investment is not affected by the tax. After all, once that money goes into their pockets, it will again be subject to a tax.

To avoid double taxation on corporate dollars, corporations do two things: they place a cap on employee wages and — here comes the regressive part — they pass the costs on to the consumers. The higher the tax imposed on corporations, the higher the cost of consumer goods and services.

A widget that would sell for $10 under a lower tax code is priced at $20 to offset taxes while still showing a profit. This kind of price mark-up is bad all around. It makes the product less desirable, which can hurt corporate sales and, potentially, drive the corporation out of business. It also places on poor people a disproportionate burden connected to buying the item. For Jeff Bezos, that extra $10 is as insignificant as a microscopic speck of dust falling on a $100 bill when he opens his wallet to pay. For the guy who mows my lawn, that $10 means that he cannot buy the product, even if he needs it, or that, if he must buy the product, his available money is substantially decreased.

That is why this article is here, she just gave the best description I’ve read of why the corporate income tax is not only counterproductive but downright evil. It disproportionately hurts the poor, by raising the price of literally everything you buy, even if you buy things that allow you to make the things you need yourself. Literally, everything you use or buy from birth to death is subject to this hidden tax, and that doesn’t even mention the (perhaps many) things you simply cannot buy (indeed that you may never have dreamed could exist) because the corporations could not make enough on them to market them.

It’s pretty obvious that it also increases unemployment. Why? Because while to employ somebody, they have to make enough to cover the costs involved in employing them, and that includes the overhead of the tax one pays on their labor. Actually to be accurate the amount of tax that the customer is willing to underwrite for whatever they do, which is a different, higher number.

And yes, the corporate tax rate really should be 0.00%. It is an iniquitous fraud perpetrated by the government on those not paying enough attention to what the government is doing. Sadly, that’s us, almost all of us.

 

Advertisements

Welcome to December

Well, another week, for a lot of us Christians, we start a whole new year today, as we anticipate the birth of Jesus. I’m ready for one, and suspect you are too. He’s back!

Well, the President retweeted some British group (that hardly anybody had heard of, although they have now) and HMG came unglued. I wonder of it was because Britain First was correct. Less NSFW than usual, BTW.

Well, another week, another bunch of unemployed famous men who can’t seem to understand that women are not their property, or something.

More palatably

Christmas shopping?

And, of course

Mostly from PowerLine, Sleeping Beauty from Ace.

Beobachte den Osten; the German Outlook

FILE PHOTO: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

Yesterday, we talked about the British, through the eyes of Katie Hopkins, one of the best spokespeople for the people like us amongst the cousins. But what about the Germans? They are an even bigger economy and the mainstay of the EU, yet Mütti Merkel cannot seem to form a government, in fact, her problems parallel those of Mrs. May, and speak to why Hillary! failed so badly. All three countries (and France, as well) have specific problems but there are also commonalities. Much of this comes from PowerLine but also from where Steve sourced his: The New York Review of Books. Timothy Garton Ash writes in It’s the Kultur, Stupid this…

[L]ike all contemporary populisms, the German version exhibits both generic and specific features. In common with other populisms, it denounces the current elites (Alteliten in AfD-speak) and established parties (Altparteien) while speaking in the name of the Volk, a word that, with its double meaning of people and ethno-culturally defined nation, actually best captures what Trump and Le Pen mean when they say “the people.” In Angst für Deutschland, her vividly reported book about the party, Melanie Amann, a journalist at the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, notes how some of its activists have appropriated the slogan of the East German protests against Communist rule in 1989: Wir sind das Volk—We are the people. Like other populists, Germany’s attack the mainstream media (Lügenpresse, the “lying press”) while making effective use of social media. On the eve of the election, the Alternative had some 362,000 Facebook followers, compared with the Social Democrats’ 169,000 and just 154,000 for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Its criticism of globalization is familiar, as is its angry and self-congratulatory denunciation of political correctness. Typical of all European populisms is a negative attitude toward the EU in general and the euro in particular. The Alternative started life in 2013 as an anti-euro party. Although overall German support for the EU is still very strong, a poll conducted for the Bertelsmann foundation in the summer of 2017 found that 50 percent of those respondents who identified themselves as on the “right” (carefully distinguished from the “center-right”) would vote for Germany to leave the EU, if Germans were offered a Brexit-style in-or-out referendum. This is a remarkable finding. Unlike Brexit, Germexit would be the end of the European Union.

Yep, that is remarkable, 50% of the right in Germany would vote to exit the EU. But I don’t think that is the main takeaway here. I think the main takeaway here is that so many of its supporters come from the former GDR, the old Deutschedemokratischerepublik, or East Germany. Like the Poles, the Czechs, and the other east Europeans, they know how socialism works (or doesn’t) and they aren’t buying into it again. We Americans have always fought off the worst effects, and the British some of them, but the east ended up with the very worst, subject to the Soviet Union and they haven’t forgotten. I’m guessing that in Germany like the rest, the kids simply can’t (or won’t) believe what their parents and grandparents tell them, but it is all true, in all its grim majesty.

In Germany, I think it worse because teaching much of any real history about the Nazi era is mostly verboten, much as if we didn’t teach FDR’s presidency.

Unlike in Britain and America, economic factors play only a small part here. It’s not just that Germany as a whole is doing well economically. In a 2016 poll, four out of five AfD voters described their personal economic situation as “good” or “very good.” This is not a party of the economically “left behind.” It gathers the discontented from every walk of life, but those who predominate in its ranks are educated, middle-class men. A leading CDU politician told me that the angry protest letters he gets from defectors to the Alternative will typically be from a doctor, businessman, lawyer, or professor. This strong presence of the educated upper middle class distinguishes German populism from many other populisms.

Among the leaders of the party, they are visibly represented by its other designated “leading candidate,” Alexander Gauland, a seventy-six-year-old former CDUfunctionary who almost invariably wears a check-patterned tweedy jacket and dark green tie. He is one of those elderly conservative gents who look so English that you know they must be German. Then there is Beatrix von Storch, a shrill and tiresome minor aristocrat with neoliberal, Hayekian intellectual pretensions. (Her maternal grandfather was Hitler’s finance minister—but we are not responsible for our grandfathers.) As for Alice Weidel: this former Goldman Sachs and Allianz asset manager, white, blonde, always neatly turned out in business attire, lives just across the border in Switzerland, in a same-sex relationship with a Swiss filmmaker of Sinhalese heritage and two adopted sons. These are not the German equivalent of the American rust belt manual worker, or of what is known in England, with liberal condescension, as “white van man.” (The van is white as well as the man.)

Here he is blinded by his own prejudices. In my experience, neither the rust belt manual worker nor ‘the white van man’ is typical, the support for Brexit and Trump extends far beyond these illiberal stereotypes, and the blindness of our so-called ‘betters’ is one of the main reasons they are losing. In fact, I find that they are exactly parallel, the most productive parts of society are the ones most frustrated by the dangerous silliness of the elites, who have rarely had a real-world job.

In any case, an interesting pair of articles. And something rare, an encouraging report from the continent.

Once again, America, partnering with England, shows Europe what freedom looks like and how to achieve it. Perhaps we will be able to say, with William Pitt the Younger:

[B]ut Europe is not to be saved by any single man. England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example.

Beobachte den Osten

The American Way

(Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Here we talk across the pond a good bit, and one of the things we notice is how different we and the cousins are in our relationship with weapons, guns yes, but even edged weapons. It goes back far into our history and has shaped the development of both countries. In a surprisingly good article, The Washington Post delved into it a bit.

This essay is based in part on Nicholas J. Johnson, David B. Kopel, George A. Mocsary & Michael P. O’Shea, “Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy,” 2nd edition (Aspen Pub. 2017).

It is widely agreed that the United States has an exceptional gun culture. Although Great Britain is America’s “mother country,” the two nations have very different arms cultures. Why so? Historically, two reasons were especially important in the early colonial period:

1. The practical differences between conditions in America and in Great Britain.
2. The influence of American Indians.

What today is called “American gun culture” is founded on American Indian arms culture. The convergence of Europeans and American Indians produced a new, hybrid arms culture. Although that culture has changed over the centuries, we can still find in 21st century arms culture the influence of the Anglo-Indian convergence along the 17th century Atlantic seaboard.

The English

Let’s start with the English immigrants, who began settling in Virginia in 1607 and in New England in the 1620s.

In England, there was no written, express guarantee of a right to arms until 1689, when Parliament enacted the English Bill of Rights. In America, arms rights were recognized in the Virginia Charter of 1606 and by the New England Charter of 1620. Geographically, the two charters covered all the future English colonies in what would become the United States of America. According to the charters, the colonists had the perpetual right to import arms, ammunition and other goods for their “Defence or otherwise.”

The Virginians and New Englanders also had an express guarantee of the right to use their arms at ‘‘all times forever hereafter, for their several Defences,’’ to “encounter, expulse, repel and resist’’ anyone who attempted ‘‘the Hurt, Detriment, or Annoyance of the said several Colonies or Plantations.’’ In practice, the colonists’ right of self-defense against invaders and criminals would need to be exercised through the collective action of the colonists, there being no British army anywhere near.

As history turned out, the willingness of Americans to be subjects of the British crown ended when the crown began violating its guarantees of American arms rights. The American Revolution began when Americans used their firearms to resist house-to-house gun and powder confiscation at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. The attempted confiscation was part of a royal plan to disarm America, set in motion by King George III’s October 1774 embargo on the shipment of firearms and gunpowder to America. (By that point, Americans considered their arms rights to have been guaranteed by the 1689 Bill of Rights, because the 1606 and 1620 charters had long since been replaced.) […]

Yes, there were other reasons for the Revolution, but the spark in the magazine was the raid on Lexington and Concord. But America even then was different, first, there were the Indians.

American Indians got nearly all of their protein from hunting. Although the Anglo-Americans (English in America) did hunt, they were not as dependent on hunting because the Anglo-Americans had cattle-raising and Atlantic fishing as fairly reliable protein sources.

Not surprisingly, the Indians were highly proficient with bows (as the English had been long before). They could shoot accurately at moving targets and could shoot while moving.

Indian warfare was very different from European warfare. Whereas European battles were usually known in advance to both sides, Indians fought primarily with surprise attacks and small-scale raids. The European infantryman was trained to be an automaton, absolutely obedient to his officers; he had to stay standing in line, reloading his matchlock, while lines of enemy soldiers fired at him. The Indians, however, extolled individual valor in combat. In battle, each man was his own commander. […]

Sounds kind of like us, even to this day, doesn’t it? What happened when they shoved up against each other?

But when push came to shove, possession was at least 9/10th of the law and possession was based on armed victory. None of this changed when Europeans began arriving in America. Indian territories, such as the lands of the Powhatan Confederation in Virginia, that had been conquered from  other Indians came under pressure from the Europeans. Warfare was endemic, with many shifting alliances between various colonies and various tribes.

Trade was also endemic. The Anglo-Americans had plenty of high-quality trade goods. For Indians, the most desired of these were firearms, right from the start of the early days in Virginia. (See Frederick Fausz’s “Fighting ‘Fire’ with Firearms: The Anglo-Powhatan Arms Race in Early Virginia.”) […]

Of course the colonial laws included mandatory participation in the militia by able-bodied males and mandatory personal arms ownership for such participation. That part of the story is well-known. But the colonial laws went further.

Many laws required firearms ownership by any head of a household, even if the head were not militia-eligible (e.g., the head of the household was a woman or an old man.) Heads of households had to ensure that there was at least one firearm for every male in the household age 16 or over. This included free servants and indentured servants. Some colonies required that when a male indentured servant completed his term of service, his “freedom dues” (goods given by the master, so that the former servant could live independently) had to include a firearm.

To encourage settlement, the Carolina colony (today, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) induced immigration by offering immigrants freehold land ownership, along with strong guarantees of religious liberty. To receive the land grant, an immigrant had to bring six months worth of provisions to take care of his family while his farm was being cleared and cultivated. Also required: ‘‘provided always, that every man be armed with a good musket full bore, 10 pounds powder and 20 pounds of bullet.’’ […]

American legal history of the right to arms has always paid attention to English legal history, especially the 1689 English Bill of Rights. Sometimes, efforts have been made to draw one-to-one comparisons, to assume that English law and practice about the right to arms must have been fully transposed to America. To the contrary, Anglo-American arms culture began diverging from English arms culture starting in 1606 and continuing ever since. The different environmental conditions in America were one cause; another was the distance from London and the necessity that the colonists take care of themselves. Accomplishing the opposite of what the despotic Stuart monarchs were attempting to impose on England, the Anglo-Americans developed a culture of near-universal armament, with a preference for guns that were more reliable, easier to conceal, faster to shoot, and quicker to reload.

The American colonists of the 17th century moved away from the European model that civic virtue in use of firearms meant standing in line, blindly obeying your social superiors and shooting with minimal skill a gun you didn’t even own. The American model was responsible individual initiative, widespread personal ownership of high-quality arms and proficient accuracy. The divergence between English and American arms ideals was a cause and an effect of similar divergences in social and political life, including a broader electoral franchise and less rigid class distinctions in America compared with England.

The colonists’ new arms culture was profoundly influenced by Indian arms culture, which the colonists imitated in many respects. Perhaps this weekend you may practice precise riflery on a 200-yard range. Or you may take a defensive handgun class that trains you to make quick individual decisions under pressure. Whether or not you like American arms culture, you shouldn’t think of it as something that was brought across the Atlantic Ocean by European immigrants. It’s true that those immigrants brought the firearms. Yet those firearms were quickly integrated into an arms culture that had already existed in America for centuries and that would eventually become the arms culture of American of all races. That was the arms culture founded by the first Americans, the American Indians.

I think he may be on to something here, only Americans really understand how important it is, at least to us, to be self-sufficient in all things. It is a lot of the explanation for our weapons, yes, but also for our respect for the guy that can do almost anything acceptably well.

From the building trades, to fixing your own car, to growing your own food. We are a culture that holds high regard for the man (or woman) who is able to take care of him (or her) self. In fact, mostly we lionize such people, and we pretty much always have. It’s evident from our westering ways to our disdain for government to our way of making war.

It’s an American thing, and if you don’t understand it, you won’t understand us either. It’s also part of why we have changed the world, while totally mystifying a goodly share of it.

You remember this, right?

Thing is, this was made in 1970, by leftists, who thought they were making an anti-war film, a misjudgment for the ages, because whole generations of Americans found a hero in that film, who did it the American way.

 

Trump v. the Administrative State

If one is to think about it, and one should, what is the biggest impediment to starting or growing a business today in the United States? The answer is subtly different in the UK, but not much, I think. The answer is that we all do far too much paperwork for the government, and essentially it is on our own time, cause we don’t get paid to do that and there’s no profit in it anywhere.

In PowerLine yesterday, Steven Hayward, talked about this as well.

Last month I noted here and in the Los Angeles Times that the Trump Administration is conducting the most serious effort at de-regulation and true regulatory reform (as opposed to mere temporary relief) since the Reagan Administration, and in some ways superior to the Reagan efforts. (Though to be fair, many of the worst excesses of executive branch regulation have grown up since the Reagan years.)

Yesterday my regulatory rabbi Chris DeMuth took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal with a long feature explaining in his usual lucid way exactly what is going on. This is one of those times when you really ought to buy a copy at the newsstand because of the subscription paywall if you’re not a subscriber.

Which is fine and I would if there was anyplace out here that carried it, but the subscription is a bit high, even though I grew up reading it, so I’ll just have to suffer along with you. Chris says,

Consider three leading indicators. First, Mr. Trump has appointed regulatory chiefs who are exceptionally well-qualified and are determined reformers. . .  Second, the Trump administration is turning back from unilateral lawmaking. Mr. Obama made several aggressive excursions into this dangerous territory. . .  Each was justified by legal arguments that administration officials conceded to be novel and that many impartial experts (including those who favored the policies on the merits) regarded as risible. Each ran into strong resistance from the courts.

A third indicator is the introduction of regulatory budgeting, which sounds tedious but is potentially revolutionary. . .

Many readers may be puzzled that our tempestuous president should preside over the principled, calibrated regulatory reform described here. I have a hypothesis. Perhaps our first businessman-president, whatever his troubles in dealing with Congress, foreign leaders and other outside forces, is comfortable and proficient in managing his own enterprise, which is now the executive branch. He devoted unusual personal attention to his regulatory appointments, including those whose programs did not figure in his campaign strategy. He gives his subordinates wide running room, checks in with questions and pep talks, and likes management systems and metrics. He may even understand that modern presidents have become too powerful for their own good and can benefit from sharing responsibility with Congress.

Makes sense to me, whatever Trumps various difficulties, and I see them as surprisingly minor, he does know how to select executives (mostly) give them a mission and watch them run. I’ve been impressed.

From Steve again

Footnote: In my Los Angeles Times piece earlier this month, I wrote that “It is inconceivable that any of the other leading Republican candidates from the 2016 cycle would have governed as boldly as Trump has.” I had in mind things such as repudiating the Paris Climate Accord, and the EPA’s move to end the corrupt “sue-and-settle” lawsuit racket, which should have been done in the last Republican administration led by someone named Bush.

And you know, that is so much of the business cycle, how you feel about it when you get up to go to work, sometimes you can’t wait, and sometimes you’d rather not bother, and it really doesn’t depend on externalities like the weather. It depends on whether you think you’ll accomplish something, as much as anything. If you think all you’ll accomplish is another pile of government paperwork, it is easy to say “the hell with it” and over the last eight years many of us did.

That’s a lot of the traditional disdain for overreaching government instilled very deep in many Americans, we see it (truly, I think) as still another artificial constraint placed on us.

But because Trump is lifting the miasma from the swamp, at least some, we are seeing growth numbers that were inconceivable under Obama, because we believe things will get better, instead of the last eight years, when we always assumed worse.

And, as always, as the numbers go up, another one goes down, unemployment, however you measure it, yes, some are more honest than others. But we’re growing now at a rate now that would please China, let alone the UK.

Draining the swamp is a large part of making America great again.

Camille Paglia: Bring on the Revolution, One Year Later

Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia

I ran across this yesterday while looking for something. It’s pretty amazing how accurate she is here, first published on October 28th, 2016. Hint: it may be the most accurate prediction of the last year made. Neo.

Emily Hill had a chance to interview Camille Paglia for the Spectator recently in London. As usual, many oxen were gored, and I found it quite refreshing. I often disagree with Professor Paglia, but I always enjoy a clear position, argued vigorously. Some bits…

[…] It’s only on turning to Hillary Clinton that she perpetrates an actual murder: of Clinton II’s most cherished claim, that her becoming 45th president of the United States would represent a feminist triumph.

‘In order to run for president of the United States, you have to spend two or three years of your life out on the road constantly asking for money and most women find that life too harsh, too draining,’ Paglia argues. ‘That is why we haven’t had a woman president in the United States — not because we haven’t been ready for one, for heaven’s sakes, for a very long time…’

Hillary hasn’t suffered — Paglia continues — because she is a woman. She has shamelessly exploited the fact: ‘It’s an outrage how she’s played the gender card. She is a woman without accomplishment. “I sponsored or co-sponsored 400 bills.” Oh really? These were bills to rename bridges and so forth. And the things she has accomplished have been like the destabilisation of North Africa, causing refugees to flood into Italy… The woman is a disaster!’

She sounds here, more conservative than me, but in a lot of things we do agree, we’re both pro-freedom to do pretty much what you want, her standard of ‘scaring the horses’ may be somewhat higher than mine, however. In any case, on Hillary Clinton I surely agree, her career is more like something out of Mad Men than anything to do with feminism, however defined. And yes, I too rather liked Bill Clinton, until the whole Lewinski thing showed that he too lied about everything.

She continues:

Paglia’s feminism has always been concerned with issues far beyond her own navel and the Hillary verdict is typical of her attitude — which is more in touch with women in the real world than most feminists’ (a majority of Americans, for example, have an ‘unfavourable view of Hillary Clinton’ according to recent polling).

‘My philosophy of feminism,’ the New York-born 69-year-old explains, ‘I call street-smart Amazon feminism. I’m from an immigrant family. The way I was brought up was: the world is a dangerous place; you must learn to defend yourself. You can’t be a fool. You have to stay alert.’ Today, she suggests, middle-class girls are being reared in a precisely contrary fashion: cosseted, indulged and protected from every evil, they become helpless victims when confronted by adversity. ‘We are rocketing backwards here to the Victorian period with this belief that women are not capable of making decisions on their own. This is not feminism — which is to achieve independent thought and action. There will never be equality of the sexes if we think that women are so handicapped they can’t look after themselves.’

Exactly what I believe.

Paglia says she has absolutely no idea how the election will go: ‘But people want change and they’re sick of the establishment — so you get this great popular surge, like you had one as well… This idea that Trump represents such a threat to western civilisation — it’s often predicted about presidents and nothing ever happens — yet if Trump wins it will be an amazing moment of change because it would destroy the power structure of the Republican party, the power structure of the Democratic party and destroy the power of the media. It would be an incredible release of energy… at a moment of international tension and crisis.’

All of a sudden, the professor seems excited. Perhaps, like all radicals in pursuit of the truth, Paglia is still hoping the revolution will come.

I think Ms. Hill may have a point, Paglia, like a lot of us, may well think it time for The Revolution 2.0, or as a good Lutheran would put it, a Reformation. Besides, I have to respect a person who shares my hero worship of Katharine Hepburn and Amelia Earhart, even if I’m not as taken with Germain Greer.

via ‘The woman is a disaster!’: Camille Paglia on Hillary Clinton. Do read the whole thing.

%d bloggers like this: