Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Sometimes good manners pay off
Lots of businesses try to get free advertising by posting their advertisements in the Comments facility of blogs. Most bloggers delete such pseudo comments as soon as they see them. So it is not a good strategy for the businesses concerned. It is basically an attempt to steal publicity.
So I was amazed to receive the following email. It was the first time in my 12 years of blogging I had seen an attempt to get publicity through a polite request. I am sufficiently impressed by such rare decency that I am doing as he asked
"I operate a small website that sells conservative/libertarian posters and t-shirts. I work a 9-5, but run the site on evenings and weekends. I am struggling with generating traffic and sales. Would you be willing to link to my shop anywhere on your blog?"
The shop is Right Posters and it does have a very comprehensive range of posters available. Go there and reward the man for his principled approach. "Ask and it shall be given you" (Matt. 7:7).
UN Elects Iran to Women’s Rights Commission
Will the next Republican president please withdraw America from this monstrous organization? Just sending no representatives to it should suffice, though kicking it out of America holus bulus would be desirable
The United Nations elected Iran this week to seats on five subcommittees of the Economic and Social Council, including one on the Commission on the Status of Women. That’s right, Iran—“a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged ‘immodest,” writes FoxNews.com—will now hold a four-year seat on a commission that is “dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.”
Iran's election comes just a week after one of its senior clerics declared that women who wear revealing clothing are to blame forearthquakes, a statement that created an international uproar — but little affected their bid to become an international arbiter of women's rights.
"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," said the respected cleric, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi.
As you can imagine, once word got out Iranian women’s rights activists petitioned the U.N. to ask that member states oppose the election.
“In recent years, the Iranian government has not only refused to join the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), but has actively opposed it,” the letter states. “The Iranian government has earned international condemnation as a gross violator of women’s rights. Discrimination against women is codified in its laws, as well as in executive and cultural institutions, and Iran has consistently sought to preserve gender inequality in all places, from the family unit to the highest governmental bodies.
“Iran’s discriminatory laws demonstrate that the Islamic Republic does not believe in gender equality: women lack the ability to choose their husbands, have no independent right to education after marriage, no right to divorce, no right to child custody, have no protection from violent treatment in public spaces, are restricted by quotas for women’s admission at universities, and are arrested, beaten, and imprisoned for peacefully seeking change of such laws.”
According to its website, the Commission plays a vital role in promoting women’s rights, documenting the reality of women’s lives in countries around the world, and shaping global standards on gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Iranian gender-equality activists cautioned that, through membership in the CSW, the Iranian government will use the opportunity to do just the opposite.
Why Do the Poor Demand the Rich Pay More Tax, Rather Than They Pay Less?
A comment from Britain
The answer might seem obvious, that the more the rich pay the less the poor have to pay.
Let’s get one myth out of the way. The one which says that taxing the rich ever higher amounts leads to greater and greater tax being collected. When you keep increasing tax on the ‘rich’ your total tax take falls, because the seriously rich will live in another country or find another solution to escape the robbery.
The theory behind this surprising set of effects [i.e. lower
tax receipts from taxing the rich too much] is now associated with the name of US economist Arthur Laffer. The ‘Laffer Curve’ suggests that when governments initially start to raise tax revenues, they pull in greater and greater receipts. But as rates continue to climb, receipts start to level off until, eventually, further tax rises produce falling receipts. This is because there comes a time when, facing large tax bills, people simply stop bothering to work, or move into the black economy, or go abroad, or lie about their income, or employ expensive accountants to help them avoid the tax.
What the poor and their supposed representatives in, for example, the Labour Party call for is punitive taxes on those they perceive to be rich, which would have the effect of increasing the tax burden on the poor.
Consider how much tax the poor actually pay. Those on very low wages and benefits won’t have to pay income tax, but depending on what they buy, they could be paying a very high tax rate.
In the days long ago when I was a very heavy drinker on benefits, I paid an enormous tax rate, as do drinkers today.
Both Westminster and Edinburgh governments want to impose a minimum price per unit for alcohol, citing ‘health’ as the concern. NHS Scotland states in its defence:
"Research shows that people on a low income or who are living in deprived areas are more likely to suffer from a long term illness as a result of drinking too much . People who live in the most deprived areas of Scotland are six times more likely to die an alcohol-related death than those in the least deprived areas."
The poor drink more. Or if you weren’t poor to begin with, you will be eventually if you cannot stop drinking.
But to reiterate, the poor are encouraged to complain about the tax rates of the rich while conveniently being unaware of their own tax burden.
Just picking some of my old favourites and working out the total tax, these are the results (retail prices correct at time of writing):
Kronenbourg 1664: 20 x 275ml bottles – cheapest price £12.
The total tax on this lager is £7.15, or 59.6% of the retail price.
The poor are most likely to drink to excess and consequently pay huge amounts of tax, but aren’t encouraged to complain. For a few years, I probably spent almost my entire benefit money on booze. Other expenses were supplemented by borrowing a few thousand from my parents while also making savings, such as practically freezing some winters. Of course, minimum pricing will plunge problem drinkers into even deeper poverty.
The poor are also more likely to smoke. According to Audit Scotland’s “Health Inequalities in Scotland” (pdf) report from December 2012,
"Prevalence is around four times higher in the most deprived areas than in the least deprived areas. Around one in ten people in the least deprived areas smokes, compared with four in ten people in the most deprived areas."
Yet the total tax on cigarettes is 77% of the retail price; a figure which ASH agrees with exactly (pdf). Without tax, cigarettes would cost around £2.00 for 20.
Then there’s the price of petrol and diesel, "British drivers pay a higher rate of tax on fuel than any other motorists in the European Union, according to a new study. For every litre of unleaded petrol bought in the UK, 61 per cent of the pump price goes to the government as fuel duty and VAT along with 59 per cent of every litre of diesel".
Yet again, this disproportionately affects the poor. Even people without cars who rely on buses and taxis pay more because of this. Groceries cost more due to the high cost of deliveries.
Then there’s council tax, which isn’t related to income and the 20% VAT on almost everything you buy except for food, but you pay it on takeaways, so loved by the poor.
So the poor are being hammered left, right and centre with tax, but as if under hypnosis are oblivious to it, just as they probably don’t appreciate just how much of everybody’s taxes are frittered away unnecessarily.
They’re concentrating on the hypnotist’s watch….despise the rich….they’re the source of your poverty….carry on paying massive amounts of tax on your meagre income without noticing…
80% of Americans Pay More in FICA Taxes Than They Do In Income Tax
We have been on a lot of college campuses over the past 4 years. At each stop, I have asked undergrads several questions.
Hardly any of them knew what a FICA tax was. At all.
Of course, we older Americans know that a 'FICA tax' stands for 'Federal Insurance Contributions (sic) Act'. It is the money we send in every pay period to pay for Social Security and Medicare benefits of current retirees (not your own future benefits).
Well, get ready for this then: 80%+ (and growing) Americans pay more for FICA taxes than they do for federal income taxes today. Many will do so for their ENTIRE LIVES!
'Just wait til you start your own business and get hit with the self-employment tax of 15.7% of your income right off the top!' we tell them. 'Not just the 7.9% or so that is taken out when you work for a company...but double the rate!'
If you are young and you don't know anything about taxes, you might want to bone up on where your taxes are going since you are going to be paying them for the next 45-50 years or so.
Because your taxes are not going where you think they might be going.
The reason why so many people pay more in FICA taxes than income taxes is because approximately 50% of taxpayers don't pay any income tax at all every year. 0%. None. The breakpoint for a family of 4 to pay no income tax in 2013 was about $34,000.
However, everyone pays the FICA or SS/Medicare tax on every dollar earned starting dollar 1. You can't get away from it; no deductions or exemptions allowed. It is a de facto 'flat rate tax' that opponents of the flat rate tax say 'we can never have in America!'
We already have one. It is called 'the payroll tax'.
One of the problems with modern American politics is that it is very easy to boil down to the core emotion of an issue that motivates people to vote. One of the favorites is that some program is 'for the children' and therefore 'critical to the future of this nation!'
Know how much of the US federal budget is actually dedicated to 'children'?
The Brookings Institute says that for every $7 in federal spending on seniors, $1 is spent on children.
We are surprised the ratio is even that low. Social Security and Medicare are almost 98% dedicated to support of senior citizens. Their combined budget for 2013 was over $1.3 trillion or about just under 40% of the entire federal budget of $3.4 trillion.
So whenever you hear some politician plead that 'we must do this for the children!', check out the budget first. You will see that 'we have already done it for the seniors!'
Once we lock in that huge amount for the seniors every year, there is precious little left for the children, notwithstanding environmental cleanup, road construction, welfare for the poor, welfare for the corporations....you know, everything else we say we want.
We have done this before as a public service to our nation but we beg you to take the time soon to read the April 2014 CBO Budget Projections so you too can become as well-informed as perhaps maybe 100 other people in this nation about the nuances and details of our enormous federal budget.
Ok, maybe 200. But who is counting?
Our hope is not that you agree with us on everything we have to say about anything. Our hope is that once you get the facts about our tax system and federal budget, you will be able to use your own native intelligence and basic math skills to be more informed about what is really going on in the federal budget and with your taxes so you will be able to persuade others to vote for people who can do the same.
Right now, it appears as if we have elected 435 kindergartners to Congress, 100 1st-graders to the Senate and 1 pre-schooler to the White House when it comes to fiscal and budgetary discipline.
That is an insult to every kindergartner, 1st-grader and pre-schooler out there who can actually add and subtract basic numbers.
Remember what has been commonly attributed to Winston Churchill when it comes to emotion in politics (although the Churchill Centre denies he ever said such a thing):
'If you are young and not a liberal, you don't have a heart. If you are old and not a conservative, you don't have a brain'.
Remember that when you get your first pay stub and start staring at the FICA box to see where the largest part of your withholdings are going.
You'll stare at it so long you may start the paper on fire as if you were using a magnifying glass to burn an ant on your sidewalk. That is your money that you earned. And it is not coming to you.
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.
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Posted by JR at 12:43 AM