It's on tonight. I have 25 guests and a whole heap of haggis. So posts tomorrow may be a bit light
There's tax, taxes and moronic taxes -- and that's BEFORE Obama gets started
It just bugs the dickens out of left-wingers, but we still have "private property" in America. The question is, for how much longer? Although the Supreme Court decision on eminent domain in the 2005 Kelo case dealt a heavy blow to private property rights, the bigger threat may come from taxation. Even so, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously opined: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization". K, but might we be getting more "civilization" than we can afford?
Government in America is a ravenous beast. To feed the beast, We the People get taxed on just about everything, including work, consumption, profit, windfall profit, ownership, gifts, fuel, gambling-even life and death. We are hit by individual and corporate income taxes, payroll taxes (FICA), sales taxes, real estate taxes, property taxes, gasoline taxes, capital gains taxes, estate (death) taxes, you name it. The tax on life itself is levied by the "individual mandate". Heck, they even used to tax voting.
Every expense the government heaps on us can be thought of as a tax, as can our rococo tax system's costs of compliance. And right when you've retired and are beginning to look eternity squarely in the face, the IRS up and complicates your taxes with even more schedules and worksheets. (Can't the IRS just.send us a bill?)
When I filed my 2008 Personal Property Declaration with Jackson County, Missouri, I noticed that most of what the county assesses is modes of transportation-automobiles, motorcycles, RVs, boats, airplanes, and the like. One's declaration is for what one owns on January 1. So if it's late in the year, Missourians will postpone buying a vehicle until after New Year's Day. That way they won't have to pay property taxes for an entire year on a car they owned only at the end of the year. (Buying a new car in late December is something a Kansan ‚migr‚ might do.)
Inspecting my personal property declaration a little further, I noticed in the lower left that I had to list my barrows, gilts, replacement ewes, sows and other livestock.
But why is the county taxing my livestock? Won't sales taxes be paid when I take my livestock to market? Then I read this: "MARKET VALUE OF ALL GRAIN & OTHER AGRICULTURAL CROPS IN UNMANUFACTURED CONDITION".
Now this was just too much-what if I'm not selling? What if I'm farming just to feed my family? Is this some vestige of the New Deal? At least they seem to want to leave my "victory garden" untaxed. Or does that fall under "other agricultural crops"?
The thing is: Jackson County hasn't the means to inspect every farm to see how many calves were dropped or how much grain's on hand. This is especially so if all the inspections were to be conducted on January 1, as noted above. Last time I checked, Jan. 1 was a holiday, as well as a big game day.
Not long ago, the personal property tax in Missouri was even worse, as the state amended its constitution to exempt household goods, such as furniture and apparel. (Better think twice about buying that plasma HDTV; they might re-impose the personal property tax on your household possessions.) Enforcement of this tax must have been interesting, as I don't think folks would have taken too kindly to tax assessors coming to their homes and rummaging through their stuff just to see if their personal property tax declarations were accurate. (Hmm, was this Ethan Allen armoire on the list?)
Latter-day lawmakers never seem to remember that this nation was founded by a bloody revolution caused, in part, by unreasonable taxation. To wit:
Some local governments want to tax e-tail, Internet commerce. Compliance would be a heavy tax on these businesses, if not an outright nightmare to administer. Tariffs are taxes on foreign goods. But tariffs cause price inflation, a hidden tax paid by Americans-think of what America pays for cane sugar. What about cap-and-trade? Whether you approve of cap-and-trade or not, it's a tax, my friend-a carbon tax. (Are we taxing any other elements yet? Molybdenum perhaps?) And don't forget the taxes levied on things that have already been taxed, like gifts and dividends. One enterprising lawmaker tried to impose a "pole tax" for attendees of "gentlemen's clubs".
The actions businesses take to prevent lawsuits-call it "defensive management"-are taxes. Think of the costs of sensitivity training (re-education?) and diversity programs and how they affect the bottom line. What do such government-imposed burdens have to do with the actual products and services of a business? The cost of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is a tax, and an especially onerous one for smaller businesses. (Are they taxing your patience?)
The government is big on taxing "tangible property". But why stop there? Why not tax the intangible as well, even the ephemeral? Why not tax this idea I have for a rococo opera in the style of Rameau that concerns this poor wretch struggling to comply with the regime's rococo tax laws? It's sure to make a ton of money, and hey, that'll be taxed, too. Just as we have "thought crimes" (e.g. hate crimes), we can have taxes on thought. And since photovoltaic cells are becoming so popular, let's tax sunlight.
But regardless of how many types of taxes they institute, the Keepers of Civilization will still spend more than they take in. And no matter how high they jack up tax rates, it's never enough; the Keepers will still run a deficit. So while we're at it, let's not forget the taxes on vice-the "sin taxes"-such as the tobacco tax.
Tobacco users ought to be plenty miffed about the steep tax on their humble vice as it is supposed to be a dedicated tax. But the revenue from tobacco taxes is often spent on other things, even things outside the purview of health-care. It really shouldn't be spent on anything other than tobacco-related ailments, such as lung and mouth cancers. But the tobacco tax revenue has become yet another government slush fund.
Although aficionados like El Rushbo and the Governator would surely decline, regular tobacco users ought to just "grow their own". Not only so they won't have to pay for the government's fancy trial lawyers-whose fees in the tobacco cases ran to the billions-but to deprive government of its tobacco tax slush funds. (HillaryCare 2.0 and the revamped S-CHIP were to have been funded by new sin taxes.)
It remains to be seen whether, in addition to sin, Congress will tax virtue. If lawmakers do indeed plan to tax virtue, they would do well to take note of a corollary to an Arthur Laffer axiom: If you tax something, you get less of it.
Stockmarket not convinced by Obama's remedies
The stock market provided a rude shock for incoming US President Barack Obama, displaying renewed volatility as investors grew increasingly cautious about prospects for an economic recovery. In the holiday-shortened week to Friday, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.46 per cent to 8,077.56. The technology-heavy Nasdaq lost 2.4 per cent to 1,477.29 while the broad-market Standard & Poor's 500 shed 2.14 per cent to 831.95.
Stocks plunged as Obama assumed the presidency on Tuesday, as fears grew about the global banking sector and investors remained uneasy about the new administration's ability to spark a recovery from the year-old recession. Lewis Alexander, chief economist at Citigroup, said the economy is caught in a downward cycle that is becoming self-reinforcing. "The outlook for the global economy continues to deteriorate," he said. "A significant contraction in international trade is helping to propagate these shocks around the globe.... There are scant signs that the momentum of this negative cycle is waning."
Kevin Giddis, analyst at Morgan Keegan, said the 44th US president faces "an economy that has too much personal debt, too little personal savings and too few jobs." "It is also an economy that has rotting homes and mortgages attached to much lower stock and bond prices," Giddis said. "Do you really believe that the new administration will be able to just simply float 850 billion dollars back into consumers' hands and make it all better? This will likely take all of 2009 and maybe even some of 2010 to right the ship."
The impact of the crisis became evident in corporate earnings over the past week, with software giant Microsoft announcing unprecedented cuts of up to 5,000 jobs while warning that the global economy and technology spending had "slowed beyond our expectations." "The financial dark cloud has extended over the entire stock market, although it doesn't appear as dark as it did last fall when the credit markets seized up" last year, said Fred Dickson at DA Davidson & Co. Still he said the market is deeply "oversold" and may have already priced in the worst likely economic scenario.
"While we don't see a near-term solution to the huge problems facing the banking system, the flow of money into the economy through the credit markets should provide some stimulus to get the economy moving forward, albeit at a very slow pace," he said. Al Goldman at Wachovia Securities said the change at the White House may help the stock market turn the corner. "How President Obama will handle the inevitable international problems and terrorism are not able to be known at this time, but he enters office on a wave of optimism," Goldman said. "Optimism is another word for faith, and it is critical to the future of the stock market." ....
The bond market faltered despite the troubles for stocks, with investors worried about the ballooning US deficit that is flooding the market with bonds. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond surged to 2.622 per cent from 2.304 per cent a week earlier, while that on the 30-year Treasury leapt to 3.332 per cent from 2.894 per cent. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.
Wow! Keith Burgess-Jackson has really pulled out all stops in his latest demolition of the nasty far-Leftist "philosopher" Brian Leiter. If Leiter has any grounds to do so he will be suing Keith over his remarks. But truth is a defence in American law so I predict no such action from Leiter. That will tell its own story, of course.
The French State does its usual thing: "French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to double state spending on adverts in newspapers as part of measures to help an industry losing readers and advertising revenue. Like their counterparts across the world, French newspapers have faced financial problems in recent years as readers desert them in favour of Internet sites and free dailies. They have also struggled with an antiquated distribution system. The measures over three years, based on recommendations from a special commission, include a one-year moratorium on a planned increase in postal charges for newspaper distribution. "It is the state's primary responsibility to respond to an emergency and there is an emergency caused by the impact of the collapse of advertising revenue on the financial position of the press," Sarkozy said. He told newspapers they had to try to save themselves, by looking at their content, editorial innovation and how to find a younger readership. "You can't say there's crisis and not think about what it is you're offering," he said. National dailies from the leftwing Liberation to the conservative Le Figaro and the highbrow Le Monde have been forced to make cuts under the added pressure of economic crisis."
Wisdom from Bibi: Rare for an Israeli political figure, the 59-year-old Mr. Netanyahu is a phenomenally articulate man -- Obama-esque, one might even say -- not just in his native Hebrew, but also in the unaccented English he acquired at a Philadelphia high school and later as an architecture and management student at MIT. True to form, near-lapidary sentences all but trip from his tongue. Such as: "I don't think Israel can accept an Iranian terror base next to its major cities any more than the United States could accept an al Qaeda base next to New York City." Or: "If we accept the notion that terrorists will have immunity because as they fire on civilians they hide behind civilians, then this tactic will be legitimized and the terrorists will have their greatest victory." Or: "We grieve for every child, for every innocent civilian that's killed either on our side or on the Palestinian side. The terrorists celebrate such suffering, on our side because they openly say they want to kill us, all of us, and on the Palestinian side because it helps them foster this false symmetry, which is contrary to common decency and international law.... Mr. Netanyahu mentions that he has met with Barack Obama both in Israel and Washington, and that the question of Iran "loomed large in both conversations." I ask: Did Mr. Obama seem to him appropriately sober-minded about the subject? "Very much so, very much so," Mr. Netanyahu stresses. "He [Mr. Obama] spoke of his plans to engage Iran in order to impress upon them that they have to stop the nuclear program. What I said to him was, what counts is not the method but the goal."
The Gipper trumped Obama: "After the cultural explosion in America that celebrated this week's presidential inauguration, could there be any doubt that this would have been the most-watched inaugural ceremony in history? It wasn't. Despite Obama pictures in convenience stores, non-stop television coverage on virtually every broadcast and cable-TV network before, during and after the event, and enough hype and hyperbole to make a Madison Avenue ad executive cringe, President Obama's inauguration was not the highest-rated presidential inauguration in television history. That honor goes to President Ronald Reagan's inauguration in 1981 which drew millions more viewers than President Obama's (41.8 million versus 37.8, according to Nielsen)."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)