URLs du Jour

2012-04-17

  • Fat Cat Moe Excellent Conn Carroll editorial on the shaky justifications for the "Buffett Rule", which was fortunately shot down by Republicans (all but one, anyway) in the Senate yesterday. President Obama has made some references to its (fanciful) benefits in fighting "income inequality". But:
    The real danger to our economy is not income inequality, per se. The real danger to our economy comes from wealthy special interests who use government power to squelch competition and enrich themselves.

  • To illustrate Conn Carroll's point: I'm currently reading Charles Murray's Coming Apart. (And you can too; just click the link over there on the right.) I'm just about persuaded that Murray has his finger on real problems, but I think he'd agree that (a) focusing on income inequality is too simplistic; and (b) it's not something easily fixable via tax policy in any case.

    One of Murray's chapters discusses so-called "SuperZips": the zipcodes containing unusually large percentages of the rich and super-rich. From a recent WSJ article from Murray:

    If you are invited to a dinner party by one of Washington's power elite, the odds are high that you will be going to a home in Georgetown, the rest of Northwest D.C., Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Potomac or McLean, comprising 13 adjacent ZIP Codes in all. If you rank all the ZIP Codes in the country on an index of education and income and group them by percentiles, you will find that 11 of these 13 D.C.-area ZIP Codes are in the 99th percentile and the other two in the 98th. Ten of them are in the top half of the 99th percentile.

  • An amusing history lesson from Geraghty the Indispensable, in which he quotes President Obama's stern pledge today to "strengthen federal supervision of oil markets, increase penalties for market manipulation and empower regulators to increase the amount of money energy traders are required to put behind their transactions."

    Comments Geraghty:

    If this pledge sounds familiar… it’s because Obama and his administration announce some new initiative to do this every year, usually as spring turns to summer and the price of gas increases as Americans drive more. It’s almost like the Cherry Blossom Festival.
    Example:
    “Energy traders and companies will face fines of up to $1 million a day if they manipulate oil markets, the Federal Trade Commission ruled on Thursday in a crackdown on fraud that they said causes widespread damage to the U.S. economy. The agency issued a rule, which takes effect November 4, to prohibit fraud or deceit both in the cash, or physical, energy markets and on the regulated futures exchanges.”
    That's from 2009, three years ago. Possible explanations:

    1. Those wily market manipulators were just too damn clever in the past, but we'll get 'em this time, just wait and see.
    2. It's all just rhetorical bluster from the Administration, who are (continually) trying to fool the short-memoried boobs into thinking they're "doing something" about high gasoline prices.

    I think I know which way I'd bet.

  • When show biz mixes with academia, hilarity ensues:
    Jose Angel Santana has sued New York University for wrongful termination. He claims he was fired because he dared to give actor James Franco a “D” in his class, and that the NYU film department has been taken over by Franco.
    This was an acting class. Which is odd, because you don't have to be a good student to get a good grade there; you just have to act like one.


Last Modified 2017-12-02 9:04 AM EST