Friday, June 05, 2009

average vs average

Atrios points out that Sotomayor is neither rich nor average. Indeed, it seems like just yesterday that we learned $20k-$30K medical bills sent lots of people into bankruptcy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

we must not waste our precious bodily fluids

As Paul Krugman points out, the people in government working on today's problems wouldn't really be distracted by trials or investigations into torture. In the same paper, Roger Cohen whines that everyone got it wrong, so there's no point in dwelling on the past. Krugman is, of course, as right as Cohen is wrong. It should be remarkable to see words like
The press failed... Scrutiny gave way to acquiescence. Words were spun in feckless patterns.
opposite a column written by someone who did not fail, who did not fail to scrutinize, who did not spin words in feckless patterns, but it's so common, it's trite. Somewhere in the Village rulebook, there's a provision that requires such counterpoint, and requires that the one who writes of a world that didn't exist to be treated as serious, while the one who describes the world as it was is derided as destructive of the normal order.

But I digress. I was supposed to be discussing the wasting of precious bodily fluids.

Who would be distracted, who would be mired in the past and unable to move forward by serious investigations and prosecutions of those who committed crimes and blackened our national soul over the past eight years? Not those on the hard left, not those trying to solve the problems of today, not those who were right. The Cohens, the Hannitys, the Becks, and Limbaughs of the world, however, would be forced to explain and defend themselves endlessly. Democratic fellow travelers, those who enabled and abetted the crimes of Bush administration, would be put on the defensive. The punditocracy who cheered them on and rationalized them would be forced to confront time and again how empty and (yes) feckless they were and continue to be.

In short, those who would be distracted and forced to waste their precious bodily fluids are exactly those who, lacking backbone and any semblance of moral fiber, shouldn't be contributing to discussions about the future, anyway. That investigations and prosecutions would distract them and waste their energy is a feature, not a bug.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

those in authority should always feel safe

Several blogs have noted the new Supreme Case in the war on everyone. Most of us feel revulsion over the facts of the case, but apparently not everyone. From the NYT article:
Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, dissenting, said the case was in some ways “a close call...”

“Do we really want to encourage cases,” Professor Arum asked, “where students and parents are seeking monetary damages against educators in such school-specific matters where reasonable people can disagree about what is appropriate under the circumstances?”

Of course not. The last thing we need are people in authority who have to worry about the consequences of their actions. Administrators shouldn't have to worry about either the effects of a search on its target or the possible future effects on themselves should they be sued. Phone companies shouldn't have to worry about the effects on the privacy of their customers if they allow the government to proceed with unlawful searches, and they certainly shouldn't have to worry about effects on their future bottom lines if they're assessed damages. Interrogators shouldn't have to worry about the pain they subject their subjects to, neither should they worry that they'll be held accountable. Police shouldn't have to worry about the health of those they shoot or tase, and shouldn't fear prosecution if their actions kill someone.

No one in authority should ever have to worry about the consequences of their actions. Such concerns are only for the little people. What's the point of having a position of authority if your use of power can be questioned? Where's the fun in that?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Standing up for workers' rights

The US Chamber of Commerce President has our backs:

"You've got to go up and tell them what will happen [if the bill passes], that no one is going to add a single job in the United States," Chamber president Thomas Donahue told the assembled. "Will I put a job here where it'll get unionized in an illegal way? No, I'll put it somewhere else."

He loves workers so much that rather than see them deprived of the right to a secret ballot, he'll ship their jobs overseas, where workers' right to work without representation is properly respected.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

corporate taxes and overall progressivity

In case you haven't seen this yet, the CBO has released a report showing that our tax system is, in fact, progressive.

This analysis rests on Table 1, where one sub-table assigns an "Effective Corporate Income Tax Rate" for each income group, by assigning all such corporate taxes proportionally to non-wage income. Since higher income groups have more non-wage income, they bear a disproportionate share of such taxes (40% of the entire tax burden for the top 0.01%).

That assignment only makes sense if you assume the economy to be uncompetitive. In an uncompetitive economy, a lower corporate tax would translate immediately into profits. In a competitive one, it seems that income tax is a corporate cost like any other, and that lowering the cost would lower prices, increase revenue, increase labor demand (and therefore wages), etc. I'm not sure how much of the tax should be assigned to each group (I can make a naive case that if 10% of corporate revenue is profit, 10% of the taxes should be assigned to owners, but don't have much confidence in it), but it's unreasonable to assign all of it to owners.

By assigning all the costs of corporate taxes to owners, the report is implicitly arguing that the economy is uncompetitive, and that raising corporate taxes would only affect the rich. This may be the first time I've heard conservatives make that argument.