Blog Archives

Do Not Aim At Face

It’s been 22 years since the last amendment to the Constitution took effect, but Senate Democrats are hoping to alter the nation’s founding document once again… Despite that seemingly insurmountable hurdle, Senate Democrats are forging ahead with a plan to bring S J Res 19 to the floor.

This resolution would add a 28th Amendment, stating that Congress can regulate contributions and spending in federal elections. It would also give state governments the same authority in statewide contests.

Yet another example of the short-sightedness of liberals/leftists/progressives, or whatever they’re calling themselves this week. Democrats may succeed in regulating money in elections for now, but they can’t stay in power forever. Eventually – or sooner, the way this administration is running things (into the ground) – the Republicans will be in charge again.*

It’s the same lack of foresight that animates all their “living Constitution” moments. Do they really want to build a weapon and then have it turned back against them later on? By the unenlightened minions of Satan, no less?

Perhaps they thought a shift in American demographics will favor the Democrats for a few decades before they needed to worry about it. For a while there, I may have grudgingly agreed with them, but the last year or two seem to indicate that they’re slipping down to the end of their rope.

* I know, I know, it depends on the Republicans somehow overriding their hardwired instinct for running an easy touchdown through the wrong goalposts.

Tomorrow’s Annual Xtortion

Swiped taxed from Ed Driscoll, ReasonTV busts out a jam –

For those who kick it old skool and the only Pharrell you know is the guy who played BJ on M*A*S*H…

Social Fairness

Brent Parrish on The Inequality of Equality, and questioning the concept of “social justice.” It’s not too long, check it out.

Where most Social Justice types get hung up is confusing fairness for justice. What’s fair is not always necessarily just.

The hot trend among social justice crusaders nowadays is “income inequality.” This parallels another problem, which I believe is just as serious – Traffic Inequality. It’s not fair that Sunshine Mary and Donal Graeme, among others,¹ get more readers than I do.

Clearly, the answer is to redistribute readers. Enacting a Minimum Traffic law would transfer excess readers from high-traffic sites to writers like myself who fall under the Readership Poverty Line. Seriously, does Mary really need all of her (as of this writing) 1,378,008 hits, compared to my 9,923? That’s over one million more hits, and she only started writing about 3 weeks before I did (and if we consider that those numbers only track her current site, I’m actually about 8 months ahead). If she cared, she would distribute some of those hits to the rest of us.

Under the labor theory of value which many SJ crusaders seem to subscribe to, I should get the same amount of traffic as SSM, and more than Donal. So why should they get more traffic?

Readers – like most incomes – aren’t distributed, they are earned. Value isn’t determined by labor, but by the benefit one gains from the product. Other writers post material that readers place a higher value on, and so those readers are more likely to return.  More people want to read about traditional sex roles or the definition of Game than about 3D printing firearms or Batman vs. Donkey Kong. One might even argue that they are better writers than I am.²

Those others also post on a more consistent schedule than I do, which attracts and keeps readers. They also promote their work more than I do. They’re the 8 PM show five nights a week and get paid accordingly, whereas I show up Saturday night and hang around the parking lot after hours entertaining a few friends and passersby with off-the-wall stories for tips and free sodas.

No one held a gun to anyone’s head and forced them to read SSM or Donal or whoever over me.³ Unfair as it might be, it’s not unjust. Trying to get readers from them by any means other than writing to suit the existing market – or finding a new one – would be coercion, which is both unfair and unjust.

¹ Waaayyy too many others. A pimp can’t catch a break these days.

² Stop smoking crack. Your mom would be so ashamed.

³ Okay, Donal might have. He’s tricky like that.

Tweets For The Rest Of Us

Sen. Rand Paul begins Festivus with The Airing Of Grievances

No comments about the lack of a Festivus pole in Congress

No comments about the lack of a Festivus pole in Congress

I for one would welcome such a Feats Of Strength event.

Dollars And Centenarys

Today is the 100th anniversary of the day President Woodrow Wilson signed the income tax into law.

I knew I felt kinda down for some reason.

Donald J. Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek asks “Did The Income Tax Lead To Prohibition?”

 Prior to the creation in 1913 of the national income tax, about a third of Uncle Sam’s annual revenue came from liquor taxes. (The bulk of Uncle Sam’s revenues came from customs duties.) Not so after 1913. Especially after the income tax surprised politicians during World War I with its incredible ability to rake in tax revenue, the importance of liquor taxation fell precipitously.

By 1920, the income tax supplied two-thirds of Uncle Sam’s revenues and nine times more revenue than was then supplied by liquor taxes and customs duties combined. In research that I did with University of Michigan law professor Adam Pritchard, we found that bulging income-tax revenues made it possible for Congress finally to give in to the decades-old movement for alcohol prohibition.

Before the income tax, Congress effectively ignored such calls because to prohibit alcohol sales then would have hit Congress hard in the place it guards most zealously: its purse. But once a new and much more intoxicating source of revenue was discovered, the cost to politicians of pandering to the puritans and other anti-liquor lobbies dramatically fell.

Prohibition was launched.

Despite pleas throughout the 1920s by journalist H.L. Mencken and a tiny handful of other sensible people to end Prohibition, Congress gave no hint that it would repeal this folly. Prohibition appeared to be here to stay — until income-tax revenues nose-dived in the early 1930s.

From 1930 to 1931, income-tax revenues fell by 15 percent.

In 1932 they fell another 37 percent; 1932 income-tax revenues were 46 percent lower than just two years earlier. And by 1933 they were fully 60 percent lower than in 1930.

With no end of the Depression in sight, Washington got anxious for a substitute source of revenue.

That source was liquor sales.

No surprise. I wonder if there are any studies on whether alcohol sales spike every year around April 15th.
Dan Mitchell considers this the worst day in American history

We now have a top tax rate of 39.6 percent, and it’s actually much higher than that when you include the impact of other taxes, as well as the pervasive double taxation of saving and investment.

And the relatively simply tax law of 1913 has metastasized into 74,000 pages of Byzantine complexity.

Not to mention that the tax code has become one of the main sources of political corruption in Washington, impoverishing us while enriching the politicians, lobbyists, bureaucrats, and interest groups. Or the oppressive and dishonest IRS.

However, even though I take second place to nobody in my disdain for the income tax, the worst thing about that law is not the tax rates, the double taxation, or the complexity. The worst thing is that the income tax enabled the modern welfare state.

Before the income tax, politicians had no way to finance big government. Their only significant pre-1913 sources of revenue were tariffs and excise taxes, and they couldn’t raise those tax rates too high because of Laffer Curve effects (something that modern-day politicians sometimes still discover).

Once the income tax was adopted, though, it became a lot easier to finance subsidies, handouts, and redistribution.

Yeah, I’m cheering the anniversary over here. Without so much as a taxable and formerly illegal beverage, even.

Pure Progressivism

From Cafe Hayek comes Rents And Race: Legacies of Progressive Policies” (PDF). The abstract reads –

Could it be that the institutional racism of Jim Crow occurred not despite the Progressive era but because of it? Not only did the Progressive reforms create new economic rents that could be exploited by whites and by the politicians who enacted those reforms, but many leading Progressives espoused views on racial purity and segregation that put them in the vanguard of the American apartheid system.

The authors continue –

Robert Higgs ([1977] 2008) writes that despite racist views by whites and despite the residual interracial violence and discrimination that existed after the Civil War, black Americans made significant economic and social gains. Many of those gains, however, occurred before the onslaught of Progressive economic regulation and the imposition of Jim Crow.
Thus, one cannot claim that the institutionalized racism that came with progressivism simply was based on residual racism that existed after the war, as though the racial attitudes of that time inevitably would end in Jim Crow.  [1977] 2008. Competition and Coercion: Blacks in the American Economy, 1865–1914. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.]
Links between Progressivism and racism have been explored elsewhere.  Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism contains a chapter titled “Liberal Racism: The Eugenic Ghost in the Fascist Machine” which details how progressives of the day allied themselves with eugenics. Thomas Sowell wrote that ordinary citizens were insufficiently racist for Jim Crow laws to be effective. Walter Williams outlines the explicit racism behind the minimum wage law
The Davis-Bacon Act is a pro-union law that discriminates against non-unionized black construction contractors and black workers. In fact, that was the original intent of the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931. During its 1931 legislative debate, quite a few congressmen expressed their racist intentions, such as Rep. Clayton Allgood, D-Ala., who said, “Reference has been made to a contractor from Alabama who went to New York with bootleg labor. This is a fact. That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country.”
Davis-Bacon was enacted in 1931, at the tail end of the Progressive Era, and long after the end of the Civil War. So much for the “legacy of slavery.”

Property Rights Vs. Abortion

The libertarian case against abortion –

…My journey and reasoning on abortion begins and ends with the view that it is the taking of an innocent life. Whatever the cause of the pregnancy – chosen or not – the unborn child was innocent of causing the pregnancy and therefore not justifiably subject to aggression in the so-called self-defense of the mother.
However, for my purpose here, I will approach this issue via the positions of two of the staunchest libertarians of recent times – Murray Rothbard and Walter Block, and primarily Block.  Although I believe it to be a moral issue, I will approach it here on their terms. Both have written in favor of abortion (although Block uses the term “evictionism”), and both have defended their respective positions from what they consider to be a libertarian viewpoint: a trespass by the unborn child and the property rights of the mother.
With this in mind, I will present the case that it is the unborn child, and not the mother, that has the right of use of the womb for the term of the pregnancy.  I base this on causation, reasonable reliance, unilateral contract, and, as Block has introduced the language of landlord and tenant, a lease and the covenant of quiet enjoyment.
Many abortion proponents (including some libertarians) present it as an issue of individual sovereignty, the usual refrain being “my body, my choice” or something similar. The fallacy is that the fetus is assumed to be an extension of the mother’s body – or sometimes even a parasite invading the woman’s body, therefore trespassing on her property – instead of a separate, sovereign being of its own.

Hat tip to The Observer.

Hot Women, Cold Ca$h

[Or: “Me So Warm-y”]

From The Hill

Several House Democrats are calling on Congress to recognize that climate change is hurting women more than men, and could even drive poor women to “transactional sex” for survival.

The resolution, from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and a dozen other Democrats, says the results of climate change include drought and reduced agricultural output. It says these changes can be particularly harmful for women.

“[F]ood insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health,” it says.

Climate change will make women into prostitutes. Of course. Why couldn’t anyone see it before now? It will be so hot in here, women will be forced to take off their clothes to stay alive.

I’m not sure how transactional sex would increase the rate of STIs and unplanned pregnancies any higher than the present climate (heh) of uncontrolled recreational sex is now. In fact, the dreaded early marriage may even serve to reduce the occurrence rate of disease and unplanned pregnancy, by limiting the number of sex partners people have.

Also, whatever legitimate concerns there may be about climate change,* this shines a high powered neon spotlight on how climate change has become a prop for the most nakedly transparent political nitwittery –

In a statement to The Hill, Lee said women are critically underrepresented in the development of climate change policy.

“My resolution will affirm the commitment to include and empower women in economic development planning and international climate change policies and practices,” she said.

…The resolution calls on Congress to recognize the effects on women, and to use “gender-specific frameworks in developing policies to address climate change.”

Lastly, Rep. Lee has shown she doesn’t consider climate change to be a real problem that needs solving, but an excuse for social engineering. No one would be worrying about gender-specific frameworks during a real disaster. Except maybe in Hollywood…

Gen. Eric Militarybuffoon – “The nuclear space asteroids are headed directly for Earth! We don’t have enough missiles to stop them all! The world is doomed!”

Smarttinkerer Nebbishly – “Sir! I’ve developed an asteroid-destroying ray that will save the planet!”

GNEM – “Did any women assist you in building that ray?”

SN – “Uh…. no…?”

GNEM – “Were any women involved in the development and design stages?”

SN – Can’t say that there were…”

GNEM – “Did your mother at least bring coffee down to the basement for you?”

SN – “…no…”

GNEM – “Sorry, can’t let you use that device. H. Con. Res. 36 states that we need an integrated gender approach in climate change prevention policies.”

SN – “This isn’t climate change, this is nuclear space asteroids about to vaporize the Earth!”

“GNEM “That would change the climate rather drastically, wouldn’t you say?”

SN – “….”

GNEM – “How many poor and disadvantaged women have turned to prostitution and early marriage because you didn’t hire them to help with your Earth-saving contraption?”

______________________________________________________

*There aren’t any.

King Solomon Had The Right Idea After All

From Reason.com

Melissa Harris-Perry says that children belong to the community, not their parents.

No, really. I’m not paraphrasing, that’s what she said.

“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we have this private notion of children. ‘Your kid is yours, and totally your responsibility.’ We haven’t had a very collective notion of ‘these are our children.’ So part of it is to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.

“Once it’s everybody’s responsibility, and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.”

There’s another video of her at Newsbusters where she dismisses a fertilized egg as nonhuman and opines thusly –

[T]he reality is that if this turns into a person, right, there are economic consequences, right? The cost to raise a child, $10,000 a year up to $20,000 a year. When you’re talking about what it actually costs to have this thing turn into a human, why not allow women to make the best choices that we can with as many resources and options instead of trying to come in and regulate this process?

This is a purely materialist worldview, and a zero-sum one at that. On top of that, despite her claim of the process being “regulated,” she in in fact proposing a system of that can only function by mechanism of regulation. Collective child-raising has to have rules and regulations, determining whose turn it is to handle which duty and when.
By pure coincidence, right after I found this, I read this column by John Hawkins about Margaret Thatcher. This quote struck me in sharp contrast to everything Harris-Perry stated –
“I think we have gone through a period when too many children and people have been given to understand ‘I have a problem, it is the Government’s job to cope with it!’ or ‘I have a problem, I will go and get a grant to cope with it!’ ‘I am homeless, the Government must house me!’ and so they are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first… There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.”
People taking care of themselves and their own. Such a radical, selfish concept, isn’t it?

Low Grade Politics

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek reports –

WASHINGTON (CH) – In a bold effort to improve the educational fortunes of students who perform at academic levels significantly below the average of their peers, Congress has mandated a minimum grade to be assigned to each student in each course taught at any school in the country.  Starting in September, it shall be unlawful for any teacher, professor, or instructor charged with assigning course grades to assign to any student a grade lower than C-.

Sponsors of the Fair Academic Standards Act decry the injustice that occurs each time a student earns a low grade, such as a D or an F. ” It’s impossible for students with ‘D’s and ‘F’s on their transcripts to succeed as they deserve in life,” remarked Sen. Bernie Franken, an Independent from Elitia.  ”This law ensures that no American will ever again suffer that hardship.”

…Sen. [Paul] Rand responds by insisting that grades should accurately reflect each student’s actual performance in class.  He says that the minimum-grade requirement, to the extent that it doesn’t simply cause academically challenged students to be kept from enrolling in school, will result in report cards and school transcripts that are full of “lies” – grades that do not reflect each student’s actual performance.

…“That accusation is typical of Sen. Rand and his ilk,” alleges Paula Krueger, the influential columnist.  ”Sen. Rand is bought and paid for by rich and privileged elites who know that a more fair distribution of school grades will threaten their and their friends’ hold on this country’s levers of power.”

…Not that Ms. Krueger thinks the Act is ideal.  ”It’s not perfect.  In my view the minimum grade should be much higher.  I think A-.  And I’d also like to see the minimum grade indexed to grade inflation.  That way all students in America, now and in the future, would be exceptionally high-achievers and very well educated.”

Read the entire post.