Done Your Taxes Yet?

I have. But unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to make TurboTax do this:

But while we're talking about taxes, let me register hearty agreement with Frank J. Fleming:

Would some sort of ‥ um … enhanced interrogation techniques be appropriate to get to the truth here? Nah, probably not. Still…

Also of note:

  • Awkward! George Will explains Why good news about inequality is awkward for the left and right.

    In more than 50 years, government transfer payments (Medicaid, food stamps, etc.) to the average household in the bottom quintile of earners, have risen (in inflation-adjusted dollars) from $9,700 to $45,000 annually. Why, then, does the government, which is substantially staffed by progressives, use — actually, abuse — statistics to suggest the futility of progressive anti-poverty policies? Because this provides a permanent rationale for government growth: perpetual undiminished poverty.

    In their 2022 book “The Myth of American Inequality: How Government Biases Policy Debate,” Phil Gramm, Robert Ekelund and John Early demonstrate gross defects in the Census Bureau’s measurement of inequality. By not counting about 88 percent of government transfer payments that enlarge the buying power of lower-income households, and not counting taxes that lower the wealth of higher-income households, government statistics purport to prove that the average income in the top quintile of earners is 16.7 times that of the average in the bottom quintile. Counting transfers and taxes, however, the actual ratio is 4 to 1. Which is unsurprising, given this:

    In 2017, 40 percent of the $2.8 trillion in transfer payments distributed by federal, state and local governments went to the bottom 20 percent of income households, and 68 percent to the bottom 40 percent of households. Eighty-two percent of the $4.4 trillion Americans paid in all taxes came from the two most affluent quintiles. And allowing for transfers and taxes, the average household income in the lowest quintile is only 8 percent less than the average in the second lowest, and only 24 percent less than in the middle quintile.

    We reported on the Gramm/Ekelund/Early book on the book blog a few months back.

  • "Unserious" is too mild, I'd prefer "dishonest", but… Eric Boehm is otherwise on target: A GOP Plan To Raise the Retirement Age Reveals How Unserious Washington Is About Social Security.

    A Republican budget plan released Wednesday included one of the most obvious, low-hanging ideas for shoring up Social Security: Raising the eligibility age for benefits from 67 to 69.

    That idea was included within a 180-page budget plan released by the House Republican Study Committee (RSC), a policy-focused group that includes most but not all members of the House GOP. Proposals released by the RSC are in many ways similar to the president's annual budget request: an aspirational document that reflects big-picture agreement on important issues, but not necessarily an actionable plan that can be passed into law.

    So the call for raising the retirement age by two years—a change that the RSC plan says wouldn't even be implemented in the short-term to spare Americans currently approaching Social Security eligibility—would barely even be accurately described as a first step. It's also not a novel or surprising development: upping the eligibility age has been a part of the discussion about Social Security since at least the George W. Bush administration.

    Which is why what happened next is particularly illustrative.

    Well, you can click over to find out what happened next. It's unsurprising.

  • Weakened at Bernie's. Jonah Goldberg rescues one of those obscure words from the inpenetrable prose of Eric Voeglin; philodoxy. Analogous to how "philosophy" is "love of wisdom", "philodoxy" is love of opinion". Specifically:

    Intellectual projects based on falsehood or opinion untethered from wisdom and reality are philodoxical—or BS, if you prefer. The philosopher tries to understand and describe reality; the philodoxer plays games with words, feelings, opinions, and myths that might tickle our intuitions and feel truthy, but aren’t actually true.

    Jonah's immediate target is Senator Bernie's latest scheme:

    Bless Bernie Sanders’ heart. I think his proposal for Americans to work less is kind of adorable. It’s so retro, so old school, I feel like he should follow up with calls to enforce the Kellogg-Briand Pact—“Stop this war or we’ll shoot!”—or for the abolition of private property.

    “It is time to reduce the stress level in our country and allow Americans to enjoy a better quality of life,” Sanders insists. “It is time for a 32-hour workweek with no loss in pay.”

    Kevin Williamson or Scott Lincicome are probably better equipped to illustrate why this is such a cockamamie idea. But I’ll give it a whirl. Imagine if Sanders proposed that every business in the country—large and small—give every American an extra day’s pay without requiring an additional day of work. That’s like a 25 percent raise. (I say “like” both because math is hard and because I have no idea if you should count the value of health benefits and stuff like that. But if the standard workweek is four days under Sanders’ plan, paying for a fifth day looks like a 25 percent bump to me).*

    Rich Lowry is also unimpressed: Bernie Sanders’ four-day-work-week scheme is a prescription for poverty.

    “It is time to reduce the stress level in our country and allow Americans to enjoy a better quality of life,” the Vermont socialist insists.

    “It is time for a 32-hour workweek with no loss in pay.”

    The last clause is the key one: If everyone can work less and produce and earn exactly the same, why not?

    And if this is possible, why stop at four-days-a-week?

    It’d be positively cruel to make someone work four days when they can work three with the same outcomes.

    Of course, the promise that we can work less and make the same is the socialist equivalent of Mexico will pay for the border wall.

    It’s not just promising a free lunch, but a free breakfast, lunch and dinner, with room service delivering a late-night snack gratis.

    I don't want to irk those of you still working, but the absurdity of Sanders' arbitrary statist proposal made me realize that our current employment rules are absurd and arbitrary as well. There's nothing sacrosanct about 40 hours, time-and-a-half, $7.25/hour. etc. Junk 'em all.