URLs du Jour

2020-02-27

  • At the (probably paywalled) WSJ, Phil Gramm and John F. Early say what apparently needs to be said: Wealthy Americans Already Pay Their Share.

    Even amid a freewheeling presidential primary, Democrats are of one mind when it comes to taxation: Rich Americans are not paying their fair share. Congressional Democrats have joined the debate, proposing a 10% surcharge on incomes above $2 million. Once imposed, the Democratic tax wish list could quickly grow into a massive drain on American families—much as the income tax grew in its first 50 years. What began in 1913 as a mere 7% levy on earnings above $500,000 (almost $13 million in 2019 dollars) rose by 1963 to a 72% tax on incomes above $44,000.

    The claim that rich Americans pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than any other households is verifiably false. The nearby graph shows that taxes actually paid, as a percentage of income earned and received in transfer payments, rise steadily from 5.1% in the bottom quintile of households to 39.6% in the top 1%. While it’s too small to show on the graph, the top 0.1% of earners, which included 127,586 households in 2017, had an average gross income of $2,892,434 and paid $1,304,769, or 45.1%, in federal, state and local taxes.

    And here's the graph they cite:

    [Fair Share]

    There's nothing that sets my teeth on edge more than Democrats demanding "the rich pay their fair share". And they've been playing that tired tune for decades without ever specifying what that "fair share" is. My guess is it always means "more than now".


  • At City Journal, Guy Sorman looks at The Time-Warp Socialist. You'll never guess who he means!

    Just kidding. You know who he means.

    Socialism these days is like the Hydra of lore: for every head chopped off, the monster regrows two. One cannot escape this metaphor when watching Bernie Sanders’s seemingly irresistible progress toward the Democratic presidential nomination. He defines himself as a socialist and clearly meets the criterion, starting with the historical models that he cites. The European social-democratic template of the 1960s, as achieved in the Scandinavian countries (the so-called Swedish model) and in France and Germany, is Sanders’s blueprint for the United States. Nostalgia likely inspires Sanders, at least to some degree—social democracy was at its peak when he was young.

    The same nostalgia, mixed with a significant dose of ignorance, may explain his positive comments about Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba. He could not bring himself to condemn totally a government that had launched literacy programs. This is the classic posture of the “useful idiot,” Lenin’s term for intellectual admirers of Communist regimes. Sanders shows no sympathy for Communism’s victims and voices no qualms about Castro’s violence. And he gets the facts wrong: Cuba’s people were educated before Castro seized power, and they had the most reliable health-care system in Latin America. Sanders’s admiration for Castro and other dictators in the region—he often mentions Nicaragua—reveals an attraction for the aesthetics of violence, widely shared among leftists. In Marxist parlance: one can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. Sanders, perhaps, would not mind breaking some eggs to achieve his goals.

    Unfortunately, a lot of Americans remain beguiled by promises of a benevolent state providing security, safety, equality, etc., overruling bourgeois notions of liberty and personal responsibility.


  • And methinks Kevin D. Williamson (in an "NR PLUS" article, unfortunately for cheapskates) has the accurate take: Bernie Sanders Hates America. It's masterful, and I hope you can read the whole thing, but here's the bottom line:

    Does Senator Sanders bear in his heart some secret love for Fidel Castro or the Bolsheviks? Possibly. But that is not the relevant question. Senator Sanders has come to this point not because of what he loves but because of what he hates. He is naturally sympathetic to the Soviets and the chavistas and the Castros because they hate what he hates: American power, American prosperity, the American way of life. Common causes are made by a common enemy.

    In this case, us.

    Indeed.


  • But there are more nuts-and-bolts problems with Bernieism. For example (as Peter Suderman details at Reason) Bernie Sanders’ New Favorite Medicare for All Study Has Major Problems.

    No primary candidate is more closely associated with Medicare for All than the current front-runner and likely nominee Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.). At last night's debate, Sanders was once again asked how he would pay for the plan. He responded by citing a study "that just came out of Yale University, published in Lancet magazine, one of the prestigious medical journals in the world." The study, co-written by a former unpaid Sanders adviser, purports to show that Sanders' Medicare for All plan would save $450 billion a year, and 68,000 lives. 

    A detailed article produced by Kaiser Health News and Politifact, however, rates Sanders' claim "mostly false." The true part is that such a study exists. The false rating comes from the story's conclusion that the Lancet study's major findings are wildly disingenuous because they ignore or discount much of the evidence about what effects such a program would have on the health care system.

    A good link to use to rebut anyone who took that Lancet article seriously. Suggested wording: "Even that notoriously left-leaning Politifact found…"


  • And a debunking of a different demand from the intrepid Veronique de Rugy: Paid Leave and the Composition of Compensation.

    Here's why: Because paid leave is costly, when firms provide this benefit, they change the composition of their employees' total compensation by reducing the value of workers' take-home pay to offset the cost of providing paid leave. While some workers prefer this mix in their pay packages, others don't. In particular, mandated leave would be a hard trade-off for many lower-paid women who would prefer as much of their income as possible in the form of take-home pay.

    In fact, polls show that when women learn of the trade-offs inherent in any government-mandated paid-leave policy, their support for such a policy collapses.

    Don't be gulled by people who tell you it's "free".


  • And finally… xkcd: Truck Proximity:

    [Truck Proximity]

    Mouseover: "See also: Farm animals and dinosaurs. I am so confident that there exists children's media that involves dinosaurs driving trucks on a farm that I'm writing this without even Googling to check."

    Pun Salad Fact Check: as far as I can remember from 30 or so years back, so very true.


Last Modified 2020-02-27 10:21 AM EDT