I Propose My Usual Alternative Explanations

Tim Carney is inspired by President Wheezy's tweet:

Carney's commentary: Joe Biden really doesn’t understand how income taxes work (or he's full of it).

A few years back, all the liberal activists, half the news media, and the leaders of the Democratic Party all invented a new tax system that exists only in their minds. And then, for some reason, they all decided to act like it already existed.

The trick here is using the term “wealth gain” in a way that makes people think they are talking about “income.” But the category of “wealth gain” is far broader than the category of income.

Specifically, the imaginary proposal includes unrealized capital gains. Don't worry though! Only on billionaires! We hates them, don't we, Precious?

Carney points out that Biden's tweet implies “everyone else” is paying taxes on their "wealth gain". That's untrue, of course. He proposes two theories behind the tweet:

  1. Biden's "pure ignorance".
  2. His "rank dishonesty".

There are other possibilities, to which I've alluded before. First, let's allow for the strong probability that Biden doesn't actually write these tweets himself. I assume there's some team in some dark DC basement whose job it is to write, review, and approve these tweets. So let's toss in alternative explanations:

  1. The people who wrote/reviewed/approved this tweet are purely ignorant.
  2. The people who wrote/reviewed/approved this tweet exhibit rank dishonesty.

But finally, the most likely explanation:

  1. The people who wrote/reviewed/approved this tweet are (indeed) dishonest, and they think that they can hoodwink idiotic voters with this bullshit anyway.

… and, you know, they could be right about that.

Also of note:

  • Got my Reason for living. Katherine Mangu-Ward's lead editorial in the print edition is out from the paywall; the issue is themed to … well, not my favorite state, but it's definitely in the top ten: People Flock to Florida for the Freedom.

    Florida is a land of attainable possibilities. It's sunny, it's warm, there's a magic castle anyone can visit, there's no income tax, and there's enough beach for everyone. It lacks the pristine glamour of California or Hawaii, but it's cheaper and more accessible in nearly every sense. What it lacks in polish, it makes up for in unpredictability. It's a paved paradise—with plenty of parking lots.

    As a child, I was shipped off to Jacksonville for a couple of weeks every summer to enjoy the kind of oversugared, under-structured time that happens when you're left in the care of out-of-practice grandparents. I'd stretch out on a patch of pinky-beige carpeting under the skylight in their house reading age-inappropriate Stephen King novels and waiting for the afternoon deluge, then head outside to watch the sun force steam up from the wet pavement. Sometimes we'd drive to see the Weeki Wachee mermaids.

    I have never seen the Weeki Wachee mermaids, but they are still an option.

    I regret that Reason has yet to do a special New Hampshire issue. But I realize that we're poor competition to Weeki Wachee mermaids.

  • Commies gotta commie, even in the Live Free or Die state. Suzy Weiss writes on a New Hamposhire's resident: He’s Got $250 Million to Spend on Communist Revolution.

    Nestled into the mountains of the Upper Valley in New Hampshire, up a semi-paved road in a house next to a tiny cemetery lined with white picket fencing, Fergie Chambers, 38, leans over his kitchen island, worrying over his commune.


    Fergie’s the General Secretary of the Berkshire Communists, which describes itself as a “revolutionary Marxist-Leninist collective, aiming to promote the formation of a powerful workers’ party.” But the urgent issue that late summer afternoon—before Hamas’s war against Israel; before Fergie called for “making people who support Israel actually afraid to go out in public”; before three of Fergie’s comrades were arrested on the roof of a weapons manufacturer in New Hampshire—was that 16 comrades were descending on Alford for a weekend retreat, and it’s been pouring rain. The canvas tents they pitched on the property are letting in water. A skylight in one of the six houses there is leaking. The punching bags in the barn-turned-gym are in the wrong place.

    It's an excellent profile of a slightly scary moral monster.

  • Hey, kids, what time is it? Megan McArdle suggests that it's time for Politicians in both parties need to face up to the national debt.

    Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and I disagree on any number of political questions, but I’ve never doubted his intelligence. So it was dispiriting to see him tweet last week that our national debt was caused by only four things: “1) Reagan’s tax cuts, 2) Bush’s tax cuts, 3) Trump’s tax cuts, and 4) Bush’s overseas wars.”

    “We don’t need a fiscal commission to study it,” he added. “Everyone knows Johnson’s fiscal commission will recommend cuts in Social Security & Medicare. Instead, we need to end the tax breaks for the ultrarich and make a moonshot investment in American industry.”

    Khanna’s assertions about the debt are simply not true, not even in the low, Washington sense of facially correct, yet wildly misleading. And I assume Khanna knows better.

    Yet it’s hard to bring myself to fault him too much, because at the moment everyone in Washington is playing the same damned game, a noxious hybrid of “let’s pretend” and “not it.” The budget hawks in the GOP have been effectively vanquished by the Trump faction, and the days when Democrats strove to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility are long gone. Now, approximately no one is trying to contain budget deficits, which stand at almost 6 percent of GDP, or the resulting national debt, which is on course to equal basically the entire annual output of the U.S. economy. Instead, they’re looking to allocate blame, hoping to force the other party to bear the responsibility for fixing it.

    Add Khanna to the list of politicians who insult your intelligence, hoping you won't notice. For a more detailed refutation, see Dan Mitchell: Knowingly Flunking Budget Math.

  • Your periodic reminder that we actually have a First Amendment. It's from J.D. Tuccille: Even Hateful Protests Are Protected, Free Speech Group Reminds Congress.

    If you know the history of Israel, that the country was created after one-third of the world's Jewish population was murdered by Nazis (it has yet to fully recover), it's difficult to stomach protesters who often slip from supporting the Palestinian cause to gloating over Hamas's terrorism and the prospect of destroying the Jewish state. There's not a lot of good will in projecting "Glory to Our Martyrs" on buildings or chanting "from the river to the sea"—let alone explicit endorsements of the attack.

    But even assholes have speech rights. That's because all individuals have rights, however they use them, and because free expression only works if it's available to everybody, not reserved as privilege for the "right" ideas. And, importantly, respecting free speech lets people show us who they are.

    Unfortunately, political officials' natural distaste for dissent can combine with honest revulsion at despicable sentiments to produce a reaction that would violate the right to free expression.

    If I weren't so darn lazy, I'd send a copy of J.D.'s article to New Hampshire state Senator Jeb Bradley who thinks UNH physics prof Chanda Prescod-Weinstein "should be fired." Maybe also throw in a copy of the US Constitution.

Recently on the book blog:

Last Modified 2024-01-10 7:10 AM EST

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag

[Amazon Link]
(paid link)

Note to blog-readers: the Amazon paid link at your right reflects the used edition I bought back in 2018 for $5.98. (Cover price: $1.50.) As I type, the vendor is asking $16.99. The Kindle version is cheaper these days, but (according to one reviewer) it only includes the titular item.

Futher consumer note: the cover is, I guess, a lunar landscape, and all the stories are entirely earthbound.

My version has these stories:

· "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" — I fantasize that someone dared Heinlein to write a mash-up of H. P. Lovecraft and Dashiell Hammet's Thin Man. Mr. Hoag has no memory of what he does during the day, so he hires a husband-and-wife detective team to find out. They get more, much more, than they bargained for.

· "The Man Who Traveled in Elephants" — A traveling salesman, now widowed, soldiers on. Until…

· "—All You Zombies—" — One of the too-few Heinlein works that they (loosely) based a movie on. Given its time-travel premise, it's all too plausible. The story has a Wikipedia page that will explain things for you if necessary, but I strongly suggest you read the story first.

· "They" — A guy in a mental hospital discusses his paranoid delusions with his shrink. Spoiler: they ain't paranoid delusions. Didn't I see a Twilight Zone episode based on this?

· "Our Fair City" — Two words: sentient whirlwind.

· "'—And He Built a Crooked House—'" — An arrogant architect builds a tesseract-based house for his client and his high-strung wife. Unfortunately, an earthquake traps them in a multi-dimensional nightmare on the walk-through.

A very enjoyable short read. Next up on my reread-Heinlein project is Time for the Stars.

Last Modified 2024-01-09 9:05 AM EST