Sunday, November 21, 2010
Warren Buffett Isn’t Much Helping the Conversation About Taxes
Warren Buffett believes that the truly wealthy should pay more taxes, asserting, essentially, that his peers don’t pay their fair share. He is a smart business man, but I’m not sure what he thinks a higher tax rate on the wealthy will accomplish. It won’t balance the budget and the money won’t be used well even if those taxes do increase.
If he wants the wealthy to be a force that helps the economy and helps the government’s bottom line, then he should encourage the wealthy to invest in new businesses, to invest in ideas, to work to support what they believe will lead our nation to better days. And if our government wants to see jobs created, they won’t get in the way. Every new job created is a productive, contributing citizen when that job comes from the private sector. Every new job created by the government, on the other hand, is another tax-funded drain on the coffers. We need more of the former and fewer of the latter--and Buffett is advocating for the wrong side of the equation.
If he wanted to help even more, he would encourage a smarter, more disciplined government less eager to spend money that it doesn’t have. I doubt very seriously that he would dare to run a business using the same rules that our government does--and if his business were running into the same kinds of difficulties, he would be looking for ways to run leaner and more efficiently. Our government, on the other hand, has a pair of crutches to keep it from having to behave in an adult manner: taxpayers and the ability to manufacture money. Why make the hard decision to cut programs or benefits, why austerity, when it is so much easier to print more money or raise taxes.
Whatever the case, though, Mr. Buffett is encouraged to give give give to the government coffers. The money won’t be used well and it won’t be used efficiently and it won’t make a difference in the final calculation. If it makes him feel like a better man to throw good money after bad, though, there is no one stopping him. If he doesn’t, though--if he chooses to find smarter, better ways to invest and spend and give charitably--then it proves that he doesn’t believe his own lie. It proves that he knows that the government isn’t the path to the best results.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Drudge Links As They Should Have Been
Seriously, though, what the hell is wrong with Mexico?
Friday, March 19, 2010
And From the Left
I don’t agree with much I read at FireDogLake, but I do agree with Jane Hamsher on this: the health care reform bill is bad legislation and it will hurt more people than it helps.
Well. That Will Be Good for Job Growth.
I know that some people think that I, being the Republican that I am, oppose this health care reform package because I hate poor people (or words to that effect). This ignores the fact that I am poor people, that my wife and I already pay a pretty good amount for our health care plans and might well see our direct costs reduced by the plan, and that I don’t, in fact, hate poor people.
What I fear is that government doesn’t do much well, efficiently, or within budget. I fear the tax increases, the cost burdens that will be faced by the states, and the relentless drive toward the Federal government regulating our lives in new and exciting ways. I would suggest these are all reasonable worries.
Here’s another one: job growth.
The direct effect of having to spend that much more on health care, of course, is less money available for investment, development, research and hiring. It also makes it harder for a company to want to hire new full time employees by making the long term commitment even more onerous.
It’s obvious, but I feel like I have to say it: profit is not a bad word and a company has to make a profit to survive. Without that profit, there are no jobs, there is no company, and there are no taxes paid. For that matter, when it becomes too costly to do business here, will they simply move their operations somewhere else? Somewhere more friendly to businesses? Certainly that’s never happened before.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Job Creation Worries in the Era of Obama
Yes, mining is a dangerous profession, particularly for folks working underground. And, certainly, mining is a dirty profession, again, especially if you work underground.
Add to that, though, that mining is a well-paying job that often requires technical knowledgge and good training, and for folks in mining communities those jobs are often much better options than anything else that they’ll find in the area. For mining engineers--like folks who go to schools like the Colorado School of Mines--the potential paycheck is mighty good. The popular view of mining might be a bunch of grimy faces marching underground with picks and hardhats, but the reality is much more complex.
So, again, let me say, these are good paying jobs. Indeed, these are good jobs--worthy work that helps America’s economy motor along and, because of mine worker advocates, far a job done far safer here than in much of the world. These are good jobs.
There is room for talking about environmental effects, safety, and the value of the different kinds of mining in the United States, but never forget that decisions made by the sophisticates in Washington DC have real world effects on families in communities that are probably very different from those that you or I live in. Johanna Maurice put it well in an article about her the effect that DC decision-makers were having on her home state:
Absolutely right, which helps explain why Colorado democrats tend to skew surprisingly conservative in some areas.
If you really want to see job “creation” from DC, don’t look to see where the government is spending all that borrowed money; look to see where government is getting out of the way of people doing business.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
“Little Drummer Boy,” Ray Charles
Ray Charles sings one of my favorite versions of “Little Drummer Boy"--complete with slide guitar, brass, and a really great vibe.
You know you love it.
None of which explains why our friends in Britain are imposing a 50% special tax on bankers’ bonuses. What irritates most about this (and do read the comments at the linked article) is the raw popularity of this kind of move. Class warfare like this is neither good business (in trying to punish these people, it fairly encourages work-arounds to maintain the pay schedule and avoid the extra taxes--achieving precisely neither of the stated goals) nor is it good ethics (it is not simply unfair, but injurious that a person face confiscatory and capricious taxes of this nature simply because of his or her chosen field).
You won’t see too many people crying for those bankers; the portrait of the banker is the fat cat who profits on the labors of the little people, so who cares about them? The principle is worth supporting, though: no citizen should live in fear of an arbitrary tax being levied against them because they chose the wrong job.
What do I know, though? I’m just some marketing guy who trusts that the government won’t come along and crush me with new taxes, regulations, and fees for such whimsical reasons. Which might just be another way of saying “sucker.”
Friday, November 06, 2009
For all the talk about making health care a “right” for all Americans (or, at least, everyone who happens to be sick, injured, diseased, or otherwise needy in a health care sort of way), it sure sounds potentially hazardous to fail to exercise your right in just the right way. If you take my meaning.
I know that there are readers of this blog (and friends of mine) who are big supporters of the Democrat’s health care reform proposals, but the more I read about it the more disturbed I am. Good intentions don’t make good policy; what the Democrats are trying to pass right now might be with the best intentions, but I’m terrified that it will hurt our already bleeding economy.
If it does manage to pass, though, I’ll have an easy guide to who to vote against in the upcoming elections.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Mr. President, You Haven’t Changed My Mind
Firstly, Mr. President, you argue in bad faith. When you assert that I and my fellow Republicans oppose health care reform because we want to score cheap political points, you are wrong. We oppose bad reform because we disagree with you over the proposed solutions. Most Republicans, and most Americans, want reforms, but we disagree wildly on what the best fixes should be.
Either you misunderstand our disagreement or you are intentionally miscasting it for, well, your own cheap political points.
With the country sinking in a hole of debt, I think this is a wonderful time to be skeptical of big, new government programs. While you, again, try to score cheap political points by tying the last administration as the bad guy whenever the debt question comes up, there are two things to realize: most of us understand that President Bush definitely helped the budget problems along, but most of us also understand the role that your administration has had in compounding the problems.
We don’t trust you with our money.
While we do our best to convey our opposition to things like the public option, you do your best to minimize our concerns by telling us to stop bickering. Let me explain something: voices are being raised because a sizable portion of the population is pretty sure you stopped listening. Instead, we are being told, in so many words, to “get out of the way.” With all due respect, Mr. President, I’m not much in the mood to get out of the way.
We don’t trust you to hear our voices.
The issue is compounded whenever I hear you talk about calling people out for spreading misinformation. While standing up and heckling isn’t much my style (at least, not outside my own home), I sympathize mightily with the sentiment because it seems that you are the one trying to mislead us.
When you tell us you’ll listen to constructive criticism and look at alternative plans, we know you aren’t telling the truth because you’ve continue to work to minimize our voices. When you tell us that you won’t sign onto a plan that will raise the deficit, we don’t believe you because it’s just another empty campaign promise, really, and the follow up that you’ll promise to make cuts to balance out new expenses if you prove to be wrong is simply laughable. Actually, it would be laughable coming from nearly any politician this side of Ron Paul, but from you it’s downright hilarious.
We don’t trust you to tell us the truth.
The left is absolutely right about one thing: Americans do want health care reform. That doesn’t we want the reform that they are selling, though, and it doesn’t mean that we have to sit down and shut up just because we are the minority party. To paraphrase one Van Jones, some of us have to get a little uppity.
Saddling the country with new debt and new regulations before we’ve even emerged from this recession is suicidal, and I don’t believe that he can achieve what he wants to achieve without adding new debt. Regardless of the feel good factor--and, yes, it would be lovely if we could live in a world where all the medicine and health care you needed was cheap and abundant and there weren’t any lines to get the good stuff--the reality is that government programs pretty much always cost more and do less than they were intended. If you want efficiency, then get government out of the way; if you want bureaucracy, long lines, confused consumers, and legislation that makes it harder to run your business, then, yes, more government is the answer for you.
You can keep pushing for this, Mr. President, but we will push back. We won’t be intimidated by union thugs or talk of “punching back twice as hard.” We won’t be shamed into submission for opposing legislation that would be harmful to the economy or to our health care system. And we don’t apologize for offering up our own solutions.
And let it be known: if it comes to a vote and the reform package is wrong, we damn well won’t vote for anyone, be they Republican or Democrat, who votes for that package. For a lot of us, this is the line.
Some other voices:
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Told You They Were Killing Themselves (In a Political Sense, That Is)
The post-election talk of a permanent Democratic majority is looking a little funny now--and, whenever I run across a true believer spouting the same kind of talk over the last few weeks in blogs and message boards, it’s downright hilarious. While the American public staged a painful spanking of the GOP, that doesn’t mean it isn’t noticing the bullying, hypocrisy, and overreach by an increasingly out-of-touch and belligerent Democratic majority. While we’re still a long way out from the actual voting, it would be pretty surprising if the right doesn’t take a big chunk out of that supposedly unassailable Democratic majority. Enough, in fact, that they might be able to function as a strong opposition party--a feat that they would be utterly incapable of right now if it weren’t for the left’s incompetence, increasing public outrage over government spending and the handling of some of President Obama’s signature policy issues (specifically, health care and cap-and-trade), and the blue dog Democrats who have made it possible for the Republican’s paltry numbers to be meaningful in this debate.
The GOP should be thanking Joe and Jane Public for taking interest in the political process this year and rank-and-file Democrats for treating Joe and Jane as if they were un-patriotic buffoons for daring to question their policy dictates.
Politically, for the left, the health care debate really is starting to look like political suicide.
As I’ve said before, though, if the GOP really wants to capitalize on this moment in a meaningful way, it needs to do more than sit back and watch the carnage. It needs to offer a meaningful and substantial alternative to the left’s excesses; it needs to be, again, a conservative party with principled conservative leadership that stands for something other than merely being better than the alternative (and not always even that).
For Democrats, it’s a tough situation. Any Democrat in a centrist or conservative state and any Democrat that won small in their last election probably wants some cover going into the mid-terms. They want the freedom to vote against unpopular legislation regardless of their own position on the subject. With health care, they aren’t getting that cover, and it may well be the defining issue going into the next elections.
It doesn’t help that the president is proving to be less popular and more divisive than many of his supporters expected. Staring down the muzzle of more than doubling the huge national debt over the next decade certainly isn’t helping his cause, but neither is the dismissive tone coming from the White House.
Is the Obama presidency already in danger? Hardly. The Democrats still have numbers and the public still harbors some mistrust of the GOP. But every week that goes by sees the president further and further back on his heels and he is in danger of losing the health care debate--a loss that would probably define him as more politically weak than anyone could have guessed.
For me, this is a tough thing to watch. I had hoped that Obama would govern well--that he would be moderate and careful, that he would reach across the aisle and help give the country some common cause to rally behind. I didn’t vote for him, but I wanted him to succeed (which, in case you’re reading this wrong, meant that I wanted him to have the right policies, the right ideas, and the right kind of leadership for our times). I don’t like watching any president fail because that means that the country is in worse shape at the end of his tenure than it was beforehand.
I’m becoming increasingly worried that we’re going to experience a profoundly failed presidency and that the damage is going to stretch far into our country’s future.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Colorado, Crisis, and a Larger Reflection (Updated)
Doesn’t square so happily with this, from this morning’s Denver Post:
Certainly, the money comes from different buckets. Our financial crisis is one based around a general fund that doesn’t quite pay for the soup of services, handouts, freebies, and bureaucracy that voters and lawmakers have built up in Colorado. The free phones will be paid for by fees that the rest of us non-free users pay on our existing phones. Which is to say, those of us who actually pay for the service subsidize those who do not.
My problem, then, is philosophical in nature: in this country we continue to push the bar higher and higher on what constitutes a right even against all evidence that we can’t actually pay for what we promise. No service is unlimited, no pot of money is bottomless, and good economic times don’t last forever.
With our nation bleeding red (and my state’s politicians, who know that they don’t have the votes to raise taxes, finding creative ways to raise fees on everything from getting married to milking cows) why are we finding ways to spend even more money on things that can hardly be defined as core functionality for our government?
And that report about Colorado’s economy? It’s hard to imagine that you couldn’t read our nation’s future in its words, too.
The problem is that our government is built to constantly grow, but it doesn’t have a mechanism for pulling back when times get tough.
When you, as an individual, face a tough month, you probably cut back on eating out or some other indulgence. At the same time, you pay your electric bill, your mortgage, and make sure you still have some left over to buy food. You have a priority list that defines what you need instead of what you merely want. Or, at least, you should.
Government, as dumb a beast as there is in the world, doesn’t recognize the difference. Once a thing is voted on and the money starts flowing, it’s a perpetual need and it often contains some mechanism for automatic growth. The government almost never steps back and says, “Yeah, that’s a nice service, but I can’t afford it this year. Let’s just not do that for a bit.”
Colorado’s TABOR (Tax Payers Bill of Rights)--which requires votes for tax increases, sets standards for government growth, and contains a ratcheting mechanism to decrease spending in times of hardship--was meant to address that. And it does, but TABOR has been undermined by voters, too (quite likely by many of the voters who helped establish it in the first place). TABOR says that you can’t raise taxes without the consent of the citizens and that spending has to contract in bad times. Other spending bills over the years have mandated increases regardless of the economy. Which is why that study cited in the DBJ story goes on to say this:
The solution, to me, would be found in fiscal responsibility or finding programs to cut. That wouldn’t be the government way, though. The government way is to find some backdoor path to the citizens’ wallets.
And it almost always starts with someone saying variation of, “We’re the richest country in the world. Why can’t we spend just a little more and buy lunches for poor students?”
Or buy cell phones for the poor. Or fund massive new health care mandates. Or “protects” us from climate change with a massive and complex system of taxes, payoffs, and giveaways that no one fully understands.
Republicans utterly failed to hold back the tide of spending when they held the House, Senate, and presidency; a failure that speaks volumes about the almost intractably expansionist nature of government and a broader failure of the GOP to actually embrace the conservative values that it has so long preached. It’s no wonder that the citizens didn’t trust Republicans to be good caretakers of the nation. That doesn’t excuse the left’s--especially the progressive left’s--bullying us down the road to ruin just that much quicker.
But it’s not all gloom. Some enterprising souls are still finding ways to grab with both hands.
See? The American dream lives on.
Update: A similar question from Foundingbloggers. A wonderful site for conservatives (but you’re probably already a fan, aren’t you?).
Monday, June 08, 2009
Crazy Right Wing Bastages (Updated)
This comes from the usually politics-free pages of AutoBlog:
Reading through the comments is educational. I hadn’t realized that the only reason that someone might be opposed to “saving” GM was because that person would like to see the country and Obama fail regardless of the cost to the nation. Philosophical and pragmatic worries about government involvement in private industry are entirely beside the point. Patriotic folks who care about jobs and the economic health of the company are well advised to tow the party line--even if it isn’t their party and even if it defies their principles and beliefs about what our government’s role should be when faced with failing companies (even ones as big as General Motors).
As I’ve said before, I’m not much for boycotts. But I won’t buy a car from a company that is being run like British Leyland back in the seventies. I also believe that our government at least twice overstepped proper bounds in dealing with the collapsing General Motors and Chrysler--first when the bailout plan under the Bush administration and second with the Obama administration’s handling of both GM and Chrysler in their bankruptcies. We could take specific points of contention, but that would be sidling past the point: I’m not skeptical about these deals because of Obama or any latent hatred of working class folks, it’s because I think the plans and our government’s involvement is bad for the companies, bad for the nation, and will ultimately be bad for the products.
Which apparently makes me a member of the “far right wing.”
Read the rest. And, remember: “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” is so 2007.
That’s a hell of a lot of fringe, indeed. I saw a picture of my mom in her 60’s leather hippy gear and it didn’t have that much fringe.
It was close, though.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Speaking of Our President (And His Little Stimulus Package)
Thank God they are ready to start quickly spending the money that they don’t have. I think they’re calling it the Recovery Act Implementation Plan. Go figure.
Phew. I was worried.
I mean, this slow descent into the Economic Pit of Doom was just killing me. Like tearing off those old school, bonded with Krazy Glue type Band-Aids, I say let’s get the pain over with as quick as possible so that We, the People can get on with fixing the damage this is going to cause.
And Speaking of…
...Well, no, that just seems unkind.
Anyway, speaking of something of which we weren’t speaking of, so to speak, I though that President Obama said he would stop rewarding companies who ship jobs overseas. Apparently I misunderstood, though. What he actually said was that he was going to encourage companies to ship jobs overseas.
For some reason.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
What Fucking Country Do I Live In?
I’ve been un-blogging of late. I’ve been busy, I’ve been cranky, and I’ve been tired of pawing over the same well-turned earth that’s kept me occupied for the last five or six years of my life.
It gets a little tiresome after a while.
But every day just gets me crankier, hoping like hell that things (in a national, political sense) would turn a corner and we’d be heading down a Clintonian path rather than Sir Don Ryder. To anyone who has looked at what happened to the British auto industry after the government took a heavy-handed role in running the affairs of British Leyland, it should be terrifying to read these words:
And General Motors, heading down the same path as Chrysler, should be terrified about the future of their company.
If you haven’t studied up on BLMC, now would be a good time because it looks like our current government plans on traveling a very similar path. Trace the paths of Jaguar, MG, Triumph, and Austin Healyey to see what happens when the government starts making decisions for auto companies. Even the latter day successes (Mini, for example) were bought up and are now run by others (BMW in that particular instance). Hopefully that isn’t the fate of GM and Chrysler, but I wouldn’t put my money on it either by buying stock or buying one of their cars.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Good Deals to be Had
Without going much into details, here’s a little story from my last week.
A bit ago, I decided that it would be nice if I had a newer car. Much as I love the old one, it seemed time for something different. Given my debt load--which is significantly higher than it should be--I wasn’t sure what kind of loan I was going to come away with. Would the limit be high enough for what I wanted? Would the rate be low enough to keep me feeling that happy, unscrewed feeling? I was pretty sure that the answer to one or the other was going to end up being “no.”
I was very wrong. In fact, I had pre-qualified myself with Capital One auto loans (they had carried my last car loan) and been given a rate of 5.76%, which sounded like a solid deal to me. The guy who helped us with our loan at Tynan’s VW here in Aurora looked over my credit report promised that he could do better. He did. I ended up with a JP Morgan/Chase loan at just 4.99%
I’m not writing this just to be writing, though, there’s an actual point. The point is that, if you were thinking about a new car but worried that the current credit climate might shut you out of a decent deal, you might want to take a look. The prices are low and there are good deals to be had (especially with the new cars, although I chose the 2008 to keep my payments down and get immediately past the massive depreciation that comes in the first few years of car ownership).
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Hey, but 95% of You Get a Tax Cut. So That’s Nice.
It feels like a card trick: keep your eyes on the $100 million in spending cuts and you probably won’t notice the billions in new spending that the administration has proposed. It is, in the final calculus, a pantomime of fiscal responsibility designed to convince the voters of his seriousness without actually having to do the hard work of being fiscally responsible. And the minuscule tax cut that we supposedly received is just window dressing on the fact that local taxes and fees are rising around the nation, the size of the national deficit has grown to unthinkable levels, and sooner or later someone is going to have to get around to paying back a lot of that new debt that is piling up in the corner. Buying me an extra Happy Meal with every paycheck won’t much change that equation.
It’s like a continuation of the Bush spending policies with an impressively redoubled effort to drown us all in deficit spending. Obama talked about making tough choices to curtail government spending, but he’s displayed a very different philosophy since he’s been in office.
I wonder how many people out there regret their vote right now?
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