URLs du Jour

2019-02-23

[Amazon Link]

  • Nick Gillespie writes at Reason: America Is Not as Racist as Jussie Smollet's Defenders Fear or White Supremacists Hope.

    Over the past few weeks, at least two major news stories have vied for our attention because they seemingly revealed the deep truth that not only has America always been a racist nation but that things are getting objectively worse because of Donald Trump.

    The hate-crime attack on Jussie Smollet, we're told, somehow reveals a cancer on the American soul even if the actor engineered it as a bizarre contract-negotiation ploy. So too does the arrest of the Coast Guard's Lt. Christopher P. Hasson, who according to court documents called himself "a long time White Nationalist" and had drawn up a kill list of "traitors" that included CNN and MSNBC personalities along with politicians ranging from Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Hasson has amassed many weapons and had, prosecutors say, planned on committing "focused violence" that would help to "establish a white homeland."

    I would (slightly) demur: the alacrity with which some jump on ludicrous tales of violent hateful oppression shows they really want to believe in Fundamentally Racist America. That's not a healthy attitude for anyone, and it's not good for the country either.


  • Jonah Goldberg's sujet de la semaine is related: Jussie Smollett and the Hate Hoaxes to Come. Skip down to his bold prediction:

    Obviously more Smollett-style hoaxes are coming. If the negative attention heaped on mass shooters is enough to inspire other losers to commit that kind of evil, it’s easy to imagine that the attention Smollett has gotten will inspire losers to do likewise. But that’s not my prediction. There will be a hoax involving MAGA hats, but the fake victims will be those wearing them. We already saw the hunger for this kind of thing in the Covington case — but those kids were in fact victims. President Trump invited that kid named Trump to the State of the Union precisely because he wanted to exploit this great reservoir of pity. And the coverage of this legitimate outrage will no doubt encourage others to get a piece of that on the cheap.

    So mark my words, some loser, desperate to be lionized by Candace Owens or applauded at CPAC, will manufacture some story of victimhood that will ignite a bonfire of outrage on the right and a riot of sympathy about MAGA persecution. The mainstream media will suddenly remember the professional integrity it forgot in the Smollett case and debunk it. But before then, the pitiables of the right will claim victimhood by proxy and denounce the insensitivity of an uncaring media that hates them. The roles will be reversed, but the script will be the same, and the actors will all yell just a little bit louder, as the snake ups the tempo of its own repast.

    Could be. We'll see, and remember to credit Jonah if it happens.


  • Reader, if you've been doing your taxes, you probably are not feeling a lot of love for the Internal Revenue Service. But believe me, you do not despise it anywhere near as much as does Daniel J. Mitchell, who was recently on CNBC Debating the IRS Budget. From his collection of factoids (original from the NYT):

    Private debt collectors cost the Internal Revenue Service $20 million in the last fiscal year, but brought in only $6.7 million in back taxes, the agency’s taxpayer advocate reported Wednesday.

    That was less than 1 percent of the amount assigned for collection. What’s more, private contractors in some cases were paid 25 percent commissions on collections that the I.R.S. made without their help…the report stated, “the I.R.S. has implemented the program in a manner that causes excessive financial harm to taxpayers and constitutes an end run around taxpayer rights protections.”

    A rich litany of malfeasance, misfeasance, scandal, blunders, arrogance,… You would expect some of this from an agency devoted to parasitic bloodsucking from the productive. But they're really going above and beyond those expectations.


  • At Inside Sources, Michael Graham wonders: Amazon Paid Zero Corporate Taxes Last Year. Why Aren't 2020 Democrats Talking About It?.

    The current crop of Democrats seeking their party’s presidential nomination have made it clear who they’ll be coming after once they’re in the White House: Big corporations and the wealthy 1 percent. Candidates like Sen. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris echo the sentiments of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has all but declared war on “these rich guys who have been waging class warfare on the middle class for decades” through a “rigged system that props up the rich and powerful, but kicks dirt on everyone else.”

    So when news broke that Amazon–the world’s third-most valuable company, run by the world’s richest man—paid zero federal corporate income taxes on their $11.3 billion in US profits in 2018, what did these candidates have to say about it?

    Surprisingly, nothing.

    Interesting. Of course, Bernie's an exception. Is everyone else afraid of the Bezos? Or do they realize that there's not a lot of resentment available for a well-run company that gives people what they want quickly, for a decent price?


  • Michael Graham seems outraged by Amazon's successful tax strategy. Maybe he shouldn't be. At Marginal Revolution, Tyler Cowen offers Amazon and taxes: a simple primer.

    The main reason Amazon as a corporate entity does not pay much in taxes is because the company so vigorously reinvests its profit.  The resulting expensing provisions lower their tax liabilities, in some cases down to zero or near-zero.  That is in fact the kind of incentive our tax system is supposed to create, and does so only imperfectly, noting that many economists have suggested moving to full expensing.

    And, of course, the obvious: corporations don't really pay tax themselves, even though they write the check. Who pays, in varying proportions: (1) their customers; (2) their shareholders.