URLs du Jour

2019-02-05

[Amazon Link]

  • Usually our Amazon Product du Jour is a t-shirt or bumper sticker containing sentiments with which I broadly agree. Today is an exception; it's instead meant to illustrate the mentality described in J.D. Tuccille's recent Reason article: Taxes Are Getting Weaponized for Partisan Purposes.

    Government agencies and laws have devolved into weapons to be wielded against political opponents in this country. Why wouldn't taxes follow?

    Too many Americans promote taxes as a means of hurting people they dislike, putting the raising of revenue as a secondary consideration—or dropping it entirely.

    Given the destructive nature of taxation, it's a potentially effective strategy, at least for a while. But it may also totally delegitimize the tax system in the eyes of the people who are supposed to pay the bills.

    Democrat-backed proposals are Tuccille's main examples, but Trump's unbaked threats against corporations that don't toe his nationalistic line are mentioned as well.

    There was a time when politicians were concerned with equity, right? Making sure that people in similar situations were treated equally? Yeah, that's over.


  • At National Review, Robert Bryce Three Major Problems with a Carbon Tax. What, just three? Well, they're bad enough:

    Proponents claim that a carbon tax would be the most cost-effective way to cut carbon-dioxide emissions. But the carbon tax keeps running aground. There are three big problems with the concept: It would disproportionately hurt low-income consumers, it would inevitably be watered down by special interests, and it would have to be imposed on our trading partners.

    As a low-income consumer myself, I'm especially wary of that first one.


  • Another mental disease on the upswing amongst our political class: assuming they can deliver advice to companies on how to run their businesses more wisely. The latest culprits are Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders. At AEI, James Pethokoukis reveals The new Democratic plan to tell American companies how to invest makes no sense.

    In a New York Times op-ed, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders argue that Congress should limit corporate stock buybacks — and maybe dividends, too. And what is the compelling reason for such government intervention? American capitalism is broken — or, rather, still broken. Schumer and Sanders contend that Corporate America — for “decades … obsessed with maximizing only shareholder earnings” — has been putting its cash to use in ways that hurt both workers and the long-term strength of their companies.

    As near as I can tell, Chuck has never held a job in the private sector, let alone run an enterprise. Bernie (on the other hand) rattled around with a "variety of jobs": Head Start teacher, psychiatric aide, carpenter, filmmaker, writer. Not exactly CEO-level resumes in either case.

    The Schumer/Sanders op-ed (link above) drew some (probably paywalled) attention from the WSJ's James Freeman too. He asks, wistfully: Remember When Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders Loved Business? He concentrates on their dewy-eyed opening paragraphs:

    From the mid-20th century until the 1970s, American corporations shared a belief that they had a duty not only to their shareholders but to their workers, their communities and the country that created the economic conditions and legal protections for them to thrive. It created an extremely prosperous America for working people and the broad middle of the country.

    But over the past several decades, corporate boardrooms have become obsessed with maximizing only shareholder earnings to the detriment of workers and the long-term strength of their companies, helping to create the worst level of income inequality in decades.

    Freeman calls these "perhaps the two least honest paragraphs in American newspapers today". That's a high bar.

    In claiming that U.S. corporations have somehow become selfish weapons of mass economic destruction, Messrs. Sanders and Schumer encourage readers to look back to those good old days of the 1960s when American businesses were the engines of broad prosperity. The two men remember those times well, and clearly they were highly impressed. That’s why as young men they became stalwart champions of the free enterprise system.

    Just kidding. That was the era when Chuck Schumer was becoming active in Harvard’s Young Democrats club before volunteering for the left-wing presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy. Later, after graduating from Harvard’s law school, he made a name for himself in the New York state assembly by attacking asphalt companies and commercial real estate operators, among others.

    Mr. Sanders for his part kept busy attacking not just particular businesses, but business itself. In the early 1960s he joined the Young People’s Socialist League and seems never to have lost that old time non-religion.

    Say what you will about Howard Schultz and Mike Bloomberg, but at least they've run something other than their mouths.