URLs du Jour

2021-04-07

[Amazon Link]

Our Amazon Product du Jour is for those readers who need one more damned thing to worry about. Otherwise, go ahead and wreck your Iodine-deficient life!

Of course, your Iodine Crisis fears may be assuaged by that big canister of iodized salt in your pantry. The author says: Don't be! It's a scam!

Disclaimer: I have no idea whether the author, Lynne Farrow, is a quack or not.

  • Not Content With Damaging American Prosperity… the Biden Administration has global prosperity in its green-eyeshade sights. Ryan Young reviews the current battle: Janet Yellen & Corporate Taxes.

    A mammoth infrastructure bill is on the way from Congress, and policy-makers are touting a corporate-tax-rate hike to help pay for it. Treasury secretary Janet Yellen even proposed a global minimum corporate-tax rate this week. These are both bad ideas for three reasons.

    First, corporations do not pay any corporate tax — individuals do. That is because companies pass on their costs. Some of the tax is paid by consumers, who pay higher prices. Company employees pay some of the tax through lower wages. And investors’ retirement accounts pay some of the tax through lower returns.

    And to summarize the other two reasons: (2) Yellen's proposed "minimum" corporate tax rate would remove competitive pressure on high-corporate tax countries (e.g., the US, if Biden/Yellen get their way); and (3) it also provides a powerful incentives for companies to lobby for higher rates in other countries to handicap competition there.

    But Ryan's real point is: the government should tax people directly, rather than hiding an indirect tax that gets passed on opaquely to consumers, workers, and shareholders.


  • "Shoddy and Dishonest" is an Understatement. Andrew Wilford examines The Misleading Push for Corporate Tax Hikes.

    President Joe Biden's plan to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure was noteworthy not for proposing trillions of dollars in new spending—that's now par for the course in Washington—but for proposing commensurate tax hikes as well. The corporate taxes that Biden laid out are likely to be popular among Americans constantly bombarded by stories about large businesses with low tax burdens. But the increases will do real damage to the economy.

    Whenever a new story comes out about "profitable" corporations not paying taxes, it almost invariably can be traced back to the Institution on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). This is the advocacy group that launched that round of articles about Amazon paying zero federal income taxes a couple years back, and it just put out a report declaring that 55 large American corporations with "pre-tax profits" are getting away with paying no federal income tax.

    Andrew exposes the fallacies in ITEP's analysis. For a more freewheeling discussion, see Dan Mitchell, who looks at the Dishonest Tax Analysis from the New York Times based on ITEP's "shoddy and dishonest report".


  • Also Probably Causes Iodine Deficiency. Randal O'Toole looks at the environmental impact of a futuristic boondoggle: Maglev to Destroy Habitat, Climate. ("Other than that, though, it's fine!")

    A proposed maglev line between Washington and Baltimore will disrupt 1,000 acres of “parks, recreational facilities and wetlands,” according to a recently released draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the project. That’s a lot of land considering that all but nine miles of the project would be underground. While 180 acres are for a maintenance facility, the remaining acres represent a right‐of‐way that is an average of 750 feet wide.

    This potential disruption has raised the ire of the local chapter of the Audubon Society, which is opposing the plan. As I recently noted, such land disruptions will be an issue for all high‐speed rail lines, and in that analysis I was clearly being conservative in assuming a mere 80‐foot right‐of‐way. By contrast, airlines don’t need any right‐of‐way once they leave the airports.

    If you don't bemoan the birdies, you might be impressed by the dollars involved:

    The project is economically dubious as well. It is currently projected to cost $13.8 billion to $16.8 billion, or $345 million to $420 million per mile. Of course, the actual cost will probably be somewhere between $20 and $30 billion. What do we get for that?

    Currently, Amtrak’s Acela covers the route in 29 minutes at fares ranging from $19 to $44. Amtrak’s conventional trains take 37 minutes at fares ranging from $8 to $25. Buses take as little as 40 minutes at fares ranging from $2.50 to $20.

    Maglev backers promise their line will take just 15 minutes and that fares will range from $27 to $80, with an average of $60. In other words, it will cost $8 to $36 to save 14 minutes, $19 to $55 to save 22 minutes, or $25 to $60 to save 25 minutes.

    Randal speculates that maglev customers will be "bureaucrats and lobbyists" travelling on someone else's dime. Probably yours.


  • Heresy From Williamson. Kevin D asks the provocative question, going against the implicit narrative behind all the "voting rights" stories: Why Not Fewer Voters?.

    There would be more voters if we made it easier to vote, and there would be more doctors if we didn’t require a license to practice medicine. The fact that we believe unqualified doctors to be a public menace but act as though unqualified voters were just stars in the splendid constellation of democracy indicates how little real esteem we actually have for the vote, in spite of our public pieties.

    There are tradeoffs in voting, as there are in all things. Democrats prefer to minimize attention paid to voting fraud and eligibility enforcement, but even a little bit of fraud or improper voting is something that should be discouraged and, if possible, prevented. It is — spare me your sob stories — something that should be prosecuted in most cases. It is a fact that many of the things that would be useful in discouraging and preventing voting fraud would also tend to make voting somewhat more difficult for at least some part of the population. Republicans generally think that tradeoff is worth it, and Democrats generally don’t. Is there motivated reasoning at work there? Of course. But the mere presence of political self-interest does not tell us whether a policy is a good one or a bad one.

    One argument for encouraging bigger turnout is that if more eligible voters go to the polls then the outcome will more closely reflect what the average American voter wants. That sounds like a wonderful thing . . . if you haven’t met the average American voter.

    [Amazon Link]
    [Amazon Link]
    If you are getting mad at this argument, it could be you haven't read Bryan D. Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter and/or 10% Less Democracy by Garett Jones. Amazon links at right.


  • Maybe Brains Would Work Better For This, But… The HTML of Joy Pullmann's Federalist article has the title: If Left Will Cry 'Racist' No Matter What, Republicans Should Grow A Pair.

    The headline, however, is a little more mild: "If Democrats Will Cry ‘Racist’ No Matter What, Republicans Should Pass Much Stronger Laws."

    In March, Georgia Republicans amended their state’s election laws in a weak attempt to assuage voters disgusted with their enabling of the 2020 election circus. To punish their political opponents for requiring voter ID and creating an election season of a month long or more Democrats called up their character assassination squads.

    Democrats have been throwing every bit of pressure they can at Georgia elected officials to get their way without winning power legitimately through elections. This has included pressure from Democrats’ current and last U.S. presidents, Joe Biden and Barack Obama.

    Joy suggests, of course, that the GOP should (er) man up, ignore the lies, and wait for Democrats to start negotiating in good faith.

    She also notes Mike Lee wondering if it's time to repeal MLB's antitrust exemption. What say you, Elizabeth Warren and all you other antitrust hipsters?

    The go-to article on voting reform is (still, unfortunately) behind the National Review paywall. But check it out if you can: How to Secure Elections by the Baseball Crank himself, Dan McLaughlin.