Saturday, March 12, 2011

Some tax advice for Stephen King

Here's one of my typing heroes, Stephen King, on the tax code, compliments of a link from Don Surber:

Some of the highlights:

Now you might say, what are you doing up there? Aren’t you rich? The answer is: thank God, yes. Because I grew up poor. I lived in a family where my mother asked donated commodities from a Republican administration and got turned down. That’s where I came from. And you know what, as a rich person I pay 28% tax.

What I want to ask you is why am I not paying fifty?

The answer, Mr. King, is that you have chosen to pay less.  Just like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Michael Moore, Harry Reid all pay less than they could.  Why do they pay less than they could? 

Because none of them are idiots, and because all of them pay accountants to ensure that they pay less. 
Stephen King, unless he's a total idiot, has a tax advisor.  This person works very hard to see to it that Stephen King's money isn't wasted. 

If Stephen King wants to pay more, he can write a check to:

Gifts to the United States

U.S. Department of the Treasury
Credit Accounting Branch
3700 East-West Highway, Room 622D
Hyattsville, MD 20782

Friday, March 11, 2011

On Prayer, Japan, and Bumperstickers

Because of this site, I've got Facebook friends all over the world that I've never met. Since the libertarian cause seeks to be a very big umbrella, I've corresponded with Rastafarian marijuana enthusiasts, Bible-quoting homeschoolers, transgendered gay rights activists, gun fetishists, anti-war activists, free market economists, property rights devotees and more than a few people who don't like going outside because of all those black helicopters that follow them around.

Because of the horrible destruction in Japan this morning, a lot of my Facebook buddies are asking everyone to pray for the people of Japan. 


Should I ask God to prevent any more destruction?  Or should I ask God to not cause any more destruction? 

How much involvement on God's part are we assuming here?  Does God only intervene when enough of us ask him sincerely enough?  Can God be trusted to do the right thing without us having to nag him about it, kinda like I sometimes have to be reminded to set the recycling out on Thursday mornings? 

I have a standing joke with two of my employees about work and bumperstickers.  There are some people who go through life figuratively wearing this bumpersticker:

Things are beyond their control.  Life happens to them.  They are victims.  People wake up in the morning just to take advantage of them.  Most of their lives are predestined. 

And then there are those joyous souls who obviously have a different philosophy. 

These people exercise some serious "scene control".  They either control their own destiny, or believe that they do.  They believe that they have a free will, that they are responsible for their actions and the consequences. 

Which bumpersticker do you think God would put on his Cadillac?  Does he just set things in motion and let them play out?  Or does God make things happen? 

Another Don Boudreaux Karate Kid Crane Kick

Of all the anti-protectionist slapdowns Don Boudreaux has ever issued, this is my favorite:

9 March 2011

Mr. Ian Fletcher

Dear Ian:

In your latest essay at the Huffington Post you state that sensible protectionists, like you, want to use tariffs to protect, not “dying” industries, but, rather, only industries of “the future” (“Protectionism of the Past vs. Protectionism of the Future,” March 9).

Who but a backwoods bumpkin doesn’t cheer for the industries of “the future”? But I’ve some questions.

- How do we identify such industries? Who’ll be charged with determining which industries are of “the future” and which industries are sufficiently passé as to be left unshielded from being slain by foreign competition – slayings that you suppose are the inevitable fate of all U.S. industries not protected by high U.S. tariffs?

- What criteria will be used to distinguished industries of “the future” from what I suppose we ought to call “industries of the past”? Rates of return on capital? Total volume of employment? Productivity per worker? Rates of annual productivity growth? Rates of export growth? Total amount of corporate taxes paid? The technological ‘wow-ness’ of the industries’ outputs – as determined, perhaps, by the amount of positive attention such outputs receive from nightly network news reporters? The age of the industry?
Oh! I know the answer: total dollar amount of contributions to the political campaigns of incumbent members of Congress and the U.S. presidency.

Ok, here comes the Don Boudreaux Karate Kid Crane Kick, the takedown, the crushing blow:

- In those inescapable instances when dispassionate minds, such as yours, discover that protection was mistakenly given to industries of the past that were for a time wrongly thought to be industries of the future, will the shareholders and workers in those industries, whose prosperity has for a long time been made possible only by the tariff protections that their industries received, gracefully accept the revised determination that they have all along been investing in, and working for, industries of the past and, therefore, must now lose their assets and jobs for the greater good? What will you tell these poor workers, shareholders, and bondholders?

- Finally, if an industry really does have such a promising future that even government bureaucrats recognize this promise, why wouldn’t this same promise be recognized by private investors? Seems as though it would. And private investors, then, will pour sufficient amounts of private financing into this industry. Isn’t it one of the central functions of private capital markets to identify – and to shower with liquidity – upstart firms that are likely to be parts of industries of “the future”?

I’m eager to receive your replies.


Donald J. Boudreaux

Hit the link at the top to read his readers' comments, involving Godzilla, Bambi, priests, and some discussion about failed "Industries Of The Future". 

A modest wager about NPR funding

Ok, unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard something about this video.

James O'Keefe posed as a potential NPR donor, and extracted the following from Ron Schiller (then president of the NPR Foundation and senior vice president of development):

The current Republican Party, particularly the Tea Party, is fanatically involved in people’s personal lives and very fundamental Christian. I wouldn't even call it Christian; it's this weird evangelical kind of move.

The current Republican Party is not really the Republican Party, it’s been hijacked by this group; that is, not just Islamaphobic but really xenophobic. I mean, basically, they are, they believe in sort of white, middle American, gun toting — I mean, it's scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.

Besides bashing the Tea Party movement, Schiller also advanced the bigoted stereotype that the media is Jewish-owned and/or has a pro-Israel bias. He and Betsy Liley, another NPR executive at the lunch, both reveled over the joke that NPR stands for “National Palestinian Radio.”

Oh, I forgot to mention....O'Keefe was posing as a donor from the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Ok, all of this skullduggery merely confirms what anyone with one eye and half-sense already knows.  NPR is a seriously biased news organization.  Big deal.  CNN, Fox, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, and the Sunflower County News are all seriously biased news organizations.  Bias is what happens when you sit down and start typing. That's why governments should never be allowed to fund journalism.  

The point of all this is to get the Republicans to defund NPR.  NPR recently fired their only remotely "conservative" commentator, Juan Williams.  One of the money shots from the O'Keefe video is when Schiller affirms that NPR would be better off without government funding. 

NPR has totally crapped in the punch bowl.  They are the leading Statist propaganda tool. 

And the Republican Party will NOT defund them.  Republicans don't cut programs.  They just talk about it. 

I repeat....The Republican Party is going to continue funding NPR.  I'm betting $20.00 to the first commenter that NPR will still be getting government funds until the 2012 elections. 

Any takers? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Here's what happens in a free market, with unlikely comparison to healthcare

This is from Slashdot:

"Joe Konrath has an interesting interview with independent writer John Locke who currently holds the coveted #1 spot in the Amazon Top 100 and has sold just over 350,000 downloads on Kindle of his 99 cent books since January 1st of this year, which, with a royalty rate of 35%, is an annual income well over $500k. Locke says that 99 cents is the magic number and adds that when he lowered the price of his book The List from $2.99 to 99 cents, he started selling 20 times as many copies — about 800 a day, turning his loss lead into his biggest earner. 'These days the buying public looks at a $9.95 eBook and pauses. It's not an automatic sale,' says Locke. 'And the reason it's not is because the buyer knows when an eBook is priced ten times higher than it has to be. And so the buyer pauses. And it is in this pause—this golden, sweet-scented pause—that we independent authors gain the advantage, because we offer incredible value.' Kevin Kelly predicts that within 5 years all digital books will cost 99 cents. 'I don't think publishers are ready for how low book prices will go,' writes Kelly. 'It seems insane, dangerous, life threatening, but inevitable.'"

1) Should government intervene, and put in a price floor on books? 

2) Should President Numb Nuts initiate another "Cash For Clunkers" program to take old copies of, say, James Michener and Earl Stanley Gardner novels out of circulation to create demand for new books? 

3) Should we be prepared to bailout Random House, Putnam, Simon and Schuster, and all the rest? 

4) And what about this incredibly selfish and destructive writer, John Locke, who now has a $500,000.00 income?  He took a huge risk, and has been rewarded handsomely for it.  How thoroughly should he be punished? 

5) What would happen if we allowed one nurse in every city to set up shop on his/her own, with no regulations, no oversight, and hell, no training requirements.  Just like this John Locke character is doing with publishing.  Let the good ones prosper and the bad ones go under.  And what if we gave these nurses an exemption from lawsuits and insurance programs?  Ditto for their suppliers?  And what if we allowed more and more nurses into the program based on market demand???  And then a few doctors?  Kind of like writers are going to do with John Locke's monstrosity. 
Do you think medical costs would drop like a stone? 

This John Locke must be found and stopped before his ideas catch on. 

In which Jesse Jackson Jr. proposes a constitutional right to an Ipod and a laptop

Here's noted manufactuer and constitutional law expert Jesse Jackson Jr., proposing a constitutional amendment to give every ghetto kid a "right" to an Ipod and a laptop.  Imagine if someone had proposed similar sentiments 30 years ago.

"Every ghetto kid should have a constitutional right to... an 8-track tape player !  And then a Sony Walkman !  And then a Betamax ! And every child in these United States should have a constitutional right to a TRS-80 !!! No, wait, a Commodore 360 !!

And if you take the time to watch the video, he really does frame all of this lunacy in terms of creating jobs.

We are slowly, slowly losing our minds.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Guess who manufactured the planes and helicopters for the Libyan Air Force

Here's a partial list of the aircraft that Gaddafi/Qaddafi/Khadafi is using to train pilots, transport soldiers, and move equipment in his campaign against the Libyan people.  I found it on Wikipedia, not the most reliable of sources, but it seems to check out. 
Make and model is on the left, country of origin is in the center, followed by purpose, and then quantity on hand. 
Gulfstream II   USA   Light transport1

Lockheed C-130H Hercules USA  Heavy transport 10
Bell 206 JetRanger   USA  Training helicopter4

Bell 202 Twin Huey    USA Light transport helicopter2

Boeing CH-47 Chinook     USA   Heavy transport helicopter 8

I know that we're trying to Save And Create Jobs in the military/industrial complex, but....

Did the Libyan dictator have to pass a background check before he purchased these? 

Do we sell these planes and helicopters to Middle Eastern nutcases knowing full well that we would eventually be sending our own soldiers and pilots to fight against them? 

Some of these helicopters went to Italy first.  Then they wound up in Libya.  Should Italy take responsibility for enforcing the much-discussed no-fly zone over Libya?  Especially since we're kinda busy elsewhere? 

Manufacturing aircraft to sell to our enemies so we can boost our economy by blowing them up later....Is that a sustainable economic model?

Are the manufacturers of these aircraft not happier than old hogs in new slop, knowing that they might be supplying equipment to both sides in yet another conflict? 

Should we not put some restrictions on this type of sale before we worry too much about forcing me to have a permit for a handgun? 

The map of the Military/Industrial complex came from here. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Green Industry - A few things you probably already knew

This bit of brilliance is by Timothy P. Carney of the Washington Examiner
No, the industry of painting machines green isn't driven by a a desire to save the planet. 
Environmental policy is not driven by tree-hugging activists, earnest liberal bloggers, or ecologically minded citizens. Instead, it flows from the lobbyists and executives of well-connected multinational corporations and built-for-subsidy startups that see profit in the loan guarantees, handouts, mandates, and tax credits Congress creates in the name of saving the planet.
K Street is the epicenter of this green-industrial complex, and ground zero might be the firm founded by Democratic revolving-door earmark lobbyist Steve McBee.

McBee, a former top staffer for Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and powerful House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., reportedly wrote key provisions in the stimulus bill to open the spigot of green corporate welfare. Also, he has hired up the Capitol Hill staff at the center of big environmental legislative pushes like cap and trade.

Exploring corporate lobbyists' central role in Obama's "green energy" push provides us two important lessons. First, it reveals as hypocritical the Democratic attack that opponents of cap and trade and other green policies are simply shills for big business.

Second, it ought to heighten our skepticism that these "green" policies are really crafted with an eye to helping the environment -- they are more likely skewed toward the bottom line of lobbied-up Big Business.

McBee's clients include SolarCity and the Green Tech Action Fund as well as electric-car maker Better Place Inc., waste-to-power company Ze-gen, and solar-power developer BrightSource Energy. But the big guys -- Boeing, JP Morgan, and Google -- also hire McBee to lobby for green-energy subsidies.

Electric car company Tesla signed on with McBee days after Obama's election, and soon won a $465 million loan guarantee to aid in building a new all-electric car.

With McBee's former boss being a senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, McBee Strategic used to be an earmark factory. After Obama's election, though, McBee pivoted to green energy and saw revenues soar in 2009.

"I attribute it to the bets we've made on clean energy and energy," he told Roll Call.

Late last year McBee hired Kathleen Frangione, described by Politico as "Sen. John Kerry's top climate staffer." You see the play: advance green legislation, then lobby for the companies trying to make money off that legislation.

Hit the link up top to read the whole thing. 
The pictures of the Room Cleaner (a space heater with a feather duster taped to it) and the gasoline powered alarm clock, both of which were approved as "Energy Stars" by regulators, came from here. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Matt Damon, you ignorant slut

Matt Damon, the guy who narrated last year's brilliant Academy Award winning documentary "Inside Job" on the origins of the housing bubble/crisis...

Matt Damon, who brilliantly plays Jason Bourne, the lead character in Robert Ludlum's Bourne Identity/Supremacy/Ultimatum series.  My favorite spy thrillers EVER.... 

Matt Damon, who plays one of the angels in Dogma, my favorite theological comedy....

Yeah, that Matt Damon.

Compliments of Libertarian Reddit, here's this embarrassing Matt Damon Facepalm moment in defense of the Nanny State:

I just got a 3 per cent tax cut. Do you think I'm going to start a small business with that money? You're out of your mind if you think so. I'm going to put it in the bank. So is every other guy that makes the kind of money I make.

Yeah.  Hit the links and you'll see that Matt Damon thinks he's undertaxed.  Banks don't loan out his money to start small businesses, do they?  Only the government has the wisdom and knowledge to loan out Matt Damon's money, via stimulus and kickbacks. 

Good God in heaven.