URLs du Jour

2009-02-08

  • John Kerry was unwittingly honest on the Senate floor:
    I've supported many tax cuts over the years, and there are tax cuts in this proposal. But a tax cut is non-targeted.

    If you put a tax cut into the hands of a business or family, there's no guarantee that they're going to invest that or invest it in America.

    They're free to go invest anywhere that they want if they choose to invest.

    And Mary Katherine Ham noticed just how well that little snippet captures the essence of 21st-century American liberalism.
    Indeed, people with their own hard-earned money in their own pockets are free to spend, save, invest, or not wherever they please. Kerry betrays the fear that haunts every good liberal-- that the American people won't spend their money on exactly what good liberals would spend it on. Good liberals must, therefore, advocate for forcibly relieving the American people of the better part of a trillion dollars of their own money to fund things like STD education, welfare programs, and water parks.
    Plus which, you get to pat yourself on the back for saving the American people from the only sin liberals believe in anymore: variously called "selfishness", "greed", or sometimes "minding your own business."

  • Libertarian-tilting people looking for an answer to "Well, what would you do?" will want to check out Harvard's Jeff Miron's article (from an unlikely host: CNN). He proposes "a stimulus package libertarians can endorse." The major points:

    1. Repeal the Corporate Income Tax
    2. Increase Carbon Taxes While Lowering Marginal Tax Rates
    3. Moderate the Growth of Entitlements
    4. Eliminate Wasteful Spending
    5. Withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan
    6. Limit Union Power
    7. Renew the U.S. Commitment to Free Trade
    8. Expand Legal Immigration
    9. Stop Bailing out Businesses that Took on Too Much Risk

    Details at the link. Being an impure libertarian, I have problems with the "withdraw" recommendation, and, whatever its merits, the immigration item is unlikely to get much support, at least in our immediate high-unemployment future. You can read more on from Miron on killing the corporate income tax at Reason.

    But everything both (a) deserves to be at least seriously considered, and (b) won't be, in the current political climate. (CNN link via Greg Mankiw.)

  • Skip at GraniteGrok is your go-to guy for displeasure at Judd Gregg's nomination for Commerce Secretary. One immediate result is that Gregg has chosen to recuse himself from voting and discussion on the "stimulus" package, depriving the people who elected him of representation with his (usual) voice of fiscal sanity.

  • Via Power Line, an amusing correction from the New York Times:
    A chart last Sunday with an article about a generational shift in the new Senate misidentified the home state of Senator Jeanne Shaheen and former Senator John E. Sununu. They are from New Hampshire, not Nebraska.
    A mistake we have yet to make at Pun Salad, but then we are not Professional Journalists.

  • A couple of Southern Illinois University links:

    • Margaret Soltan, the University Diarist, points out and quotes extensively from an article that describes the connections between political contributions to everyone's favorite ex-Governor, Rod Blaogojevich, and appointment to the SIU Board of Trustees.

    • And SIU (the Carbondale campus) has been given the dishonor of being selected as owning the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education's Speech Code of the Month.

    Theory: political hacks in charge of a university tend to turn it into a mini-despotism filled with shoddy scholarship. I mean, more so than average.

Robert Frost on the Stimulus

President Obama:

THE PRESIDENT: Then there's the argument, well, this is full of pet projects. When was the last time that we saw a bill of this magnitude move out with no earmarks in it? Not one. (Applause.) And when you start asking, well, what is it exactly that is such a problem that you're seeing, where's all this waste and spending? Well, you know, you want to replace the federal fleet with hybrid cars. Well, why wouldn't we want to do that? (Laughter.) That creates jobs for people who make those cars. It saves the federal government energy. It saves the taxpayers energy. (Applause.)

So then you get the argument, well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill. What do you think a stimulus is? (Laughter and applause.) That's the whole point. No, seriously. (Laughter.) That's the point. (Applause.)

Robert Frost:

Pod of the Milkweed

Calling all butterflies of every race
From source unknown but from no special place
They ever will return to all their lives,
Because unlike the bees they have no hives,
The milkweed brings up to my very door
The theme of wanton waste in peace and war
As it has never been to me before.
And so it seems a flower's coming out
That should if not be talked then sung about.
The countless wings that from the infinite
Make such a noiseless tumult over it
Do no doubt with their color compensate
For what the drab weed lacks of the ornate.
For drab it is its fondest must admit.
And yes, although it is a flower that flows
With milk and honey, it is bitter milk,
As anyone who ever broke its stem
And dared to taste the wound little knows.
It tastes as if it might be opiate.
But whatsoever else it may secrete,
Its flowers' distilled honey is so sweet.
It makes the butterflied intemperate.
There is no slumber in its juice for them
One knocks another off from where he clings.
They knock the dyestuff off each other's wings—
With thirst in hunger to the point of lust.
They raise in their intemperance a cloud
Of mingled butterfly and flower dust
That hangs perceptibly above the scene.
In being so sweet to these ephemerals
The sober weed has managed to contrive
In our three hundred days and sixty five
One day too sweet for beings to survive.
Many shall come away as struggle worn
And spent and dusted off their regalia
To which at daybreak they were freshly born
As after one-of-them's proverbial failure
From having beaten all day long in vain
Against the wrong side of a window pane.

But waste was of the essence of the scheme.
And all the good they did for man or god
To all those flowers they passionately trod
Was leave as their posterity one pod
With an inheritance of restless dream.
He hangs on upside down with talon feet
In an inquisitive position odd
As any Guatemalan parakeet.
Something eludes him. Is it food to eat?
Or some dim secret of the good of waste?
He almost has it in his talon clutch.
Where have those flowers and butterflies all gone
That science may have staked the future on?
He seems to say the reason why so much
Should come to nothing must be fairly faced.*

* And shall be in due course.

Emphasis added, probably unnecessarily.


Last Modified 2012-10-08 7:49 PM EST