Archive for February, 2013

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What he said

February 26, 2013

Mencken-on-freedom

Via Maggie’s Farm

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Ba da bing, ba da boom

February 24, 2013

I had a funny e-mail yesterday from a former workmate who’s been cruising the eastern U.S. coast aboard s/v Far Niente.

At a bar tonight in the Keys I heard a bartender ask a middle aged Hispanic-looking gentleman if he wanted to run a tab. He replied yes.

“What name should I put it under?” she asked.

“Barack Obama.” Then he added, “That way somebody else will pay for it.”

He got high fives from several patrons who overheard the exchange. I will now use that tactic any time someone asks my name.

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Counting the cost

February 21, 2013

A bit long but worth the time.

Via Coyote Blog

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Gun control laws

February 15, 2013

Since I’m fairly cynical about politicians in general, all their to-do about gun control in the wake of the Newtown school shootings is just business as usual, IMO. Politicians will exploit any calamity or crisis to pander to voters and/or to keep their names and faces in the media stream.

Feh.

Dan Mitchell has written frequently about the gun control topic and he had a good column yesterday titled Another Honest Liberal Writes about Gun Ownership and Second Amendment Rights.

Like Dan, I find peoples’ faith in gun control laws easily satirized since it seems so amazingly naive. This image is a good example.

gun-laws-smokes-pot

But the best parody of this faith-in-laws attitude is this clip I found at Dan’s site.

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Labels

February 12, 2013

I try to limit the number of Milton Friedman clips here, lest they overwhelm everything else. (I don’t see many I don’t like, in other words.) This one’s worth making an exception.

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Happy Anniversary

February 3, 2013

Here’s the start an op-ed piece by Ryan Ellis, tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform. There’s some interesting history in it.

The income tax: A century of bigger government

On February 3, 2013, taxpayers will celebrate a very dubious centennial: the 100th anniversary of the Sixteenth Amendment’s ratification. The Sixteenth Amendment gives Congress the power to levy income taxes.

We can derive a couple of lessons from this somber occasion.

First, taxes which are foisted upon us by politicians with the promise that they will only be assessed on “the rich” will eventually fall on much of the population, including the poor.

Second, higher taxes lead to more government spending and even more and higher taxes.

Update (2/4/13). Dan Mitchell chimes in

The 100th Anniversary of the Income Tax…and the Lesson We Should Learn from that Mistake

[…] Let’s not get bogged down in details. The purpose of this post is not to re-hash history, but to instead ask what lessons we can learn from the adoption of the income tax.

The most obvious lesson is that politicians can’t be trusted with additional powers. The first income tax had a top tax rate of just 7 percent and the entire tax code was 400 pages long. Now we have a top tax rate of 39.6 percent (even higher if you include additional levies for Medicare and Obamacare) and the tax code has become a 72,000-page monstrosity.

But the main lesson I want to discuss today is that giving politicians a new source of money inevitably leads to much higher spending.

Here’s a chart, based on data from the Office of Management and Budget, showing the burden of federal spending since 1789.

Since OMB only provides aggregate spending data for the 1789-1849 and 1850-190 periods, which would mean completely flat lines on my chart, I took some wild guesses about how much was spent during the War of 1812 and the Civil War in order to make the chart look a bit more realistic.

But that’s not very important. What I want people to notice is that we enjoyed a very tiny federal government for much of our nation’s history. Federal spending would jump during wars, but then it would quickly shrink back to a very modest level – averaging at most 3 percent of economic output.

US-spending-vs-GDP

So what’s the lesson to learn from this data? Well, you’ll notice that the normal pattern of government shrinking back to its proper size after a war came to an end once the income tax was adopted.

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