Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hong Kong vs Detroit

Here's a Canadian writer lamenting the high sales tax in The Frozen Tundra, as compared to that of Hong Kong.  (50 years ago, Hong Kong was a 3rd world slum, but was later set up to have the smallest government possible.) 
“I did a little calculation yesterday,” says Stuart Iliffe, a Canadian working in Hong Kong as chief financial officer of publishing house PPP Co. Ltd.

“If I earned $100,000 [all figures Canadian unless noted] in Canada, after tax I would keep $54,000. If I earned $100,000 in Hong Kong, and made use of the married man’s tax allowance, I would keep $90,100.”“Hong Kong keeps it very simple. There’s no capital gains tax, there’s no dividend tax, there’s no tax on interest, and you are only taxed on income earned in Hong Kong – not overseas. The system here makes people more entrepreneurial. Maximum personal tax is 15 per cent, but there are lots of allowances to get it lower, and corporate tax is set at 16.5 per cent – so people are not spending half their time trying to avoid or evade. You have money in your pocket and you do things with it. You invest. You buy shares or you start second businesses,” he says.

Ayesha Lau, partner in charge of Hong Kong tax at KPMG China, broadly agrees with Mr. Iliffe, but takes the view that low and simple taxation is one among a number of factors that make the city competitive. “Others are the rule of law, respect for private property, freedom from corruption in the business environment, efficient government, the free flow of capital – we have no exchange controls – protection of intellectual property rights, and the strategic location as a SAR which is part of China,” she says.

“You need to be able to make a profit before you pay tax, so the entrepreneurial culture is not driven by tax alone.”
Sounds like a good place to be, right? 

Let's compare that to Detroit. 
[The] per capita tax burden on City residents is the highest in Michigan. This tax burden is particularly severe because it is imposed on a population that has relatively low levels of per capita income.

The City’s income tax… is the highest in Michigan.

Detroit residents pay the highest total property tax rates (inclusive of property taxes paid to all overlapping jurisdictions; e.g., the City, the State, Wayne County) of those paid by residents of Michigan cities having a population over 50,000.

Detroit is the only city in Michigan that levies an excise tax on utility users (at a rate of 5%).
I've heard on the radio that they have the 3rd highest overall tax rates in the USA, but can't find documentation....but I did find this:
A study by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy looked at effective property tax rates in the 50 largest U.S. cities in 2011. Detroit had the highest property tax rates of all 50 cities on homes, apartment buildings, commercial buildings, and industrial buildings.

What to make of all this? 
Here's a picture of Hong Kong. 

 Here's a picture of Detroit. 

The defense rests.  Keep the thieves from taking the income of the producers, and you'll have a much better chance at prosperity. 

Go here to purchase a coffee table book that documents the effects of letting Statists run your city for 3 generations.  It's called "The Ruins Of Detroit".  Incredible photography.  Treats the bombed-out shell of a city like most artists would treat ancient Rome or Athens. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Statist Bingo

I spend way too much of my life arguing with the servile, the subjugated, and the lovers of enslavement.  Sometimes in bars, sometimes on Facebook, and sometimes via email.  The only thing that keeps me going at it is a) knowing that I'm right, and b) that it eventually shuts down my opponents, and c) knowing that I'll never, ever convert these boot-lickers, but that I've converted TONS of bystanders to the discussion. 

I saw this thing on Reddit, and had to laugh.  I can't wait to use it.  Save this link.  If I could change something on this card, the "Free" space would read "You just want to ______"  (turn back the clock, put black people in chains, see children die, give lots of free stuff to rich people, or any of the other stuff Obama is currently doing.) 

My new goal is to get an Obamaphile to score 5 in a row.  Hey, it's not really a game if you don't keep score. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Who's to say that Libertarian politicians, over time, wouldn't become Statists?

I get variations on this all the time:  "Who's to say that your Libertarian candidates wouldn't start spending and regulating like Statists if they stayed in office long enough?"

My answer  "If you left mulitiple generations of them in office long enough, without changing any of the rules of the game, or changing the worldview of the electorate, they probably would become Statists."

People are people.  They don't become cherubs when they win the beauty contests that we call "elections".  I'm sure that Ron Paul could be swayed by flattery and donations.  Ditto for Gary Johnson.  Judge Jim Gray is one of the finest men I've ever met, but I bet if you agreed to fund one of his favorite causes, he'd be willing to consider using a few taxpayer dollars to build that new stadium, or blow up some brown people overseas, or throw some stimulus in the right direction. 

This is why it's so important to have a government that is as small as possible.  Government is force.  The power to take other people's stuff and redistribute it.  The power to throw your enemies into steel cages.   I honestly don't know anyone that I would trust with that power for a long period of time. 

Here's some vintage Milton Friedman:
The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or it they try, they will shortly be out of office.
I believe that Libertarian candidates are the most likely to do the right thing.  But it's even more important for you to be aware of the right thing - stopping redistribution, ending privacy violations, curbing the spending and ending the wars. 

In the meantime, we're getting the government (and the wars, and the debt, and the wealth transfers, and the black incarceration rate, and the taxes) that we deserve. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Rich Are Different Than You And Me. They Read.

Dave Ramsey recently featured a neat list of factoids generated by Thomas C. Corley, author of "Rich Habits".  Here's Corley's list of things that differentiate the wealthy from the rest of us.  I've known a lot of rich folks, and this list rings true. 

Contrary to the belief system of the statists and the redistributionists, it appears that most rich people are rich because they planned to be rich.  Or, to phrase it properly, they had a goal and worked toward it.  The money came later. 

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically 4 days a week. 23% of poor do this.

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% for poor people.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% for poor.

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read 2 or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% for poor.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% for poor.

8. 80% of wealthy make hbd calls vs. 11% of poor

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% for poor

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs 2% for poor.

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% for poor.

12. 79% of wealthy network 5 hours or more each month vs. 16% for poor.

13. 67% of wealthy watch 1 hour or less of TV. every day vs. 23% for poor

14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% for poor.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up 3 hours before work starts vs.3% for poor.

16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% for poor.

17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% for poor.

18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% for poor.

19. 86% of wealthy believe in life-long educational self-improvement vs. 5% for poor.

20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% for poor.

On a related note, here's The Whited Sepulchre list for avoiding poverty.  I've seen variations of studies about this all over the 'net, and the documentation should be easy to find.  Poverty doesn't hit people at random.  If you live in the USA, and do the following, it is unlikely that you will end up in poverty. 

1.  Finish high school.

2. Get a job, any job, as soon as legally possible.  Mow yards.  Sack groceries.  Whatever.  Get something, anything, to fill up that "Previous Experience" section of your future job applications. 

3. Don't get pregnant until you are married, and don't get married until you're 21. 

4. Don't become a drug addict. 

5. Vote for Libertarians. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Guess which shipping company can't get me my stuff?

I've always bought a lot of books, but haven't purchased many at all online.  I like going to Half-Price Books and rummaging around to see if I can locate the titles on my search list.  The chase is almost as good as the capture.  Pointing and clicking on the Ebay, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon sites seems like cheating.  I spent about ten years in the (now dying) bookselling industry, and maybe I just like being surrounded by words and information and paper and book people. 

Plus, those of us with slightly addictive personalities can easily blow a fortune making online purchases. 

I got some B&N gift certificates for my birthday, and decided to pop that online cherry.  I bought four used books through their used and remaindered network.  And they are freakin' awesome!  Here's a picture:

But wait a minute, I can hear you all saying....those are only three books!  Whited, please tell us what happened with book #4?  (It's titled "Forty Centuries Of Wage And Price Controls", BTW.) 

The first three books shipped from bookstores in New Jersey, Arizona, and Connecticut on July 10th.  They went via UPS and FedEx small package, and I had all three of them in my sweaty little hands by July 16th. 

The fourth book didn't go via a private company, but went through other channels.  I've written B&N about it, and they politely stated that I should always give this particular company 10 working days (that's two weeks for the rest of us) to make a delivery.  Even in a case like this one where THE SHIPPER AND I ARE BOTH IN TEXAS !!!! 

Here it is July 23rd.  I really don't expect to see "Forty Centuries Of Wage And Price Controls" tomorrow. 

Is there any doubt in your mind who this Texas bookseller still uses for shipping?

Go here if you are very, very young, or if you just can't figure it out.   LOL. 

The picture I used at the link came from the "Think Progress" website.  LOL.  Again. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

If Barack Obama Were To Enter My Department Store

It looks like it's going to be "All Trayvon, All The Time" through the November 2014 elections.  We're going to be overlooking the tragedy, and the easily preventable causes, of thousands of black kids murdered by other black kids every year (see previous post) and concentrate on the one black kid who was murdered by a Hispanic guy who was also partly black and part white.  I think. 

I'm so sick and freakin' tired of political hacks dividing us into Hutu's and Tutsi's.  But if you had Obama's track record to defend, you'd talk Trayvon too. 

Therefore, it's time to start ridiculing every statement that the President Of The United States makes on the subject of race.  He gave a shameful speech the other day, in which he identified with the black kid who had the Hispanic guy on the ground, pounding his head into the curb.  There was no indication that this shooting was a "hate crime", but that's the direction that Obama, going off-teleprompter, chose to take it. 
There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.
Oh, sweet mantle of victimhood !! 

Barack, if you think people were following you around before you were president, wait until you see what happens afterwards.....

The actor James Woods recently tweeted that they only reason they've ever followed you was to make sure you wouldn't raise their taxes. 

I can top that.....  If Barack Obama were to enter my department store, I'd have him followed to make sure he wasn't going to break my windows.  The "broken windows" parable of Frederic Bastiat really does appear to be his dominant economic misunderstanding. 

If Barack Obama were to enter my department store, I'd have him followed to make sure he didn't take what wasn't his.  I've never known a human who was so enthusiastic about taking money from Person A to give to Person B, but not before raking some off the top to give to his Washington flunkies in Group C. 

If Barack Obama were to enter my department store, yeah, I'd have him followed.  "You Didn't Build That" isn't that much of a leap from "You Don't Deserve That", followed closely by "I Know Some People Who Could Use That And They All Voted For Me".

If Barack Obama were to enter my department store, well, I gotta be honest.....  I'd ask him for a subsidy.  I'd point out my Green Energy Perpetual Motion Machines that are invisible to the naked eye, I'd show him the documentation that the entire store is heated and cooled by Compressed Green Fairy Flatulence, and I'd agree to change the name of my website to "The Greened Sepulchre".  And, like so many of his other green energy subsidy benefactors, I might get a buncha money that I could walk away with before letting the thing go bankrupt. 

If Barack Obama were to enter my department store, I'd ask him to simply buy it.  Then I'd watch him destroy it, the way we shamefully destroyed all those cars during the "Cash For Clunkers" debacle. 

If Barack Obama were to enter my department store, I wouldn't insist on a cash payment.  Hell, there's no telling how much more of the stuff was printed while his limo waited in the parking lot.  I wouldn't want a check.  All of his post-dated checks are going to be bouncing soon.  I would want his credit card.  Please dear God, I know that I'm a sinner, but let me get my hands on that damn fool's credit card.  Whatever he bought, I'd add $51,000.00 to the total charge.  That's the additional amount that he's put on mine. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Let's Have A National Dialogue About Race

For the last week, we’ve been plagued by Talking Heads and politicians wanting to have “a national dialogue about race”.

That’s a great idea. We’ve got good people of all races in the U.S. I just finished putting in a long weekend’s work with a crew of mostly black guys who went at it so hard that I almost wept out of gratitude. So let’s start with this. Black folks are only 14% of our population in the U.S., but make up almost 40% of the prison population. The overwhelming majority of these incarcerations are because of the NixonObama Drug War. We could end this war tomorrow if we had the political will. But there are more than one million government employees and contractor employees who would lose their jobs if we were to do so.

Many of these people are behind bars because they consumed or sold marijuana. Have you ever seen the black street gangs who support themselves by selling Budweiser, Jim Beam or Coors Light? No? Well, neither has anyone else for the last 90 years. We ended Prohibition, and we ended the violence.

I know a lot of black guys who like to smoke weed. Unless they’re driving one of my forklifts, or semi-tractors, their habits are none of my business. Or your business. Or Barack’s or Boehner’s or Rick Perry’s. I do know that “stoned” drivers are safer than drunk drivers, but that’s beside the point. If someone isn’t hurting you, he should be left alone to live life as he pleases, and not hectored to death by a gaggle of Washington puritans and their prison contractors.

Let’s have a national dialogue about race.

Let’s talk about black education. Young black males, depending on who you talk to, are dropping out of school at a rate somewhere around 50%. This is not an act of despair on their part. In many cases, it’s a calm rational response to what they (and many others) perceive as a total waste of time. I often meet and hire high school graduates who can’t read a tape measure, can’t do long division, and can’t spell well enough to fill out their own job applications.

But why should someone put in “seat time” in an institution that is failing in its mission? (And “seat time” is how our government schools are ranked for funding.) If black families were given a choice in where their education dollars go, like we are currently given a choice in where our grocery dollars go, we would see a revolution in minority education and minority achievement. This is a solved problem. But can you imagine the wailing from the Department Of Education if, say, Texas were to institute a 100% school choice/school voucher system? Can you imagine how far that would go toward ending white flight from our cities and into the suburbs?

Let’s have a national dialogue about race.

Black teenage unemployment is at 50%, the highest it has been since World War II. Why? Because our government has priced black teenagers out of the market.

Arthur Laffer has written that “The minimum wage is the black teenage unemployment act. The guaranteed way of holding the poor, the minorities and the disenfranchised out of the mainstream is to price their services too high.” Our first minimum wage law, the Davis-Bacon Act, was written for the sole purpose of guaranteeing full white employment at the expense of blacks. It was openly debated in those terms in Congress. Here’s Walter Williams (a brilliant economist who just happens to be blacker than both Barack Obama and George Zimmerman combined) explaining why this law, unlike so many other social engineering schemes, has been uncommonly successful:

“Put yourself in the place of an employer and ask: If I must pay to whomever I hire $7.25 an hour, plus mandated fringes such as Social Security, vacation, health insurance, unemployment insurance, does it pay me to hire a worker who is so unfortunate so as to have a skill level that allows him to contribute only $5 worth of value an hour? Most employers would view hiring such a person a losing economic proposition.

Therefore, the primary effect of a minimum wage law is that of discrimination against the employment of low-skilled workers.

Teenagers tend to be low skilled. They lack the experience, knowledge and maturity of adults. That means they will be the primary victims of a minimum wage law. But why are black teens more heavily impacted than white teens? Black teens are far more likely to come from broken homes and attend some of the worst schools in the nation. Therefore, a law that discriminates against the employment of low-skilled workers will have a greater impact on black workers. Moreover, the minimum wage subsidizes racial discrimination. After all, if you must pay $7.25 an hour to whomever you hire, you might as well hire people you like the most, even if they are of identical skill.

The little bit of money a kid could earn after school and on the weekends is not nearly as important as the other benefits from early work experiences. Any kind of job, paying any wage, teaches a youngster that he must be on time, respect supervisors, develop good work habits, plus there's the self-esteem and pride that comes from being at least financially semi-independent. Early work experiences benefit any kid but are far more important for kids from broken homes, who reside in crime-ridden neighborhoods and attend rotten schools. If they are to learn anything that will make them a more valuable employee in the future, it will have to come from work; they won't learn it at home or in the schools. For Congress to enact higher and higher minimum wages, to benefit their union supporters, is shameful and cruel.”

Well said, sir. (BTW, Williams put that bit about the union supporters in there because many government labor contracts are expressed in multiples of the current minimum wage.)

So let’s have that national dialogue about race. Let’s talk about the incredibly destructive (but profitable for government employees) War On Drugs. Let’s talk about the dismal failures (with incredible pensions and job tenure) in our public schools. Let’s talk about the economic apartheid enforced by our government.

Yeah. Let’s have that national dialogue about race. But instead of watching politicians digest the news and shit platitudes, let’s really start talking about how to improve things.

So where should we start?