Thursday, November 20, 2008

What I'm Reading - What I Suggest You Read

O.K. Down to business!

Enter the Comments Section of this thread and you'll find links to what I've been reading. Some links will stand alone - perhaps with a brief teaser description - others will be followed by commentary, my reaction and hopefully the reaction of other readers.

Think of this as an Open Thread. Perhaps you'll comment on an issue I've brought up. Maybe you'll provide your own link recommendation. The point is, I'm posting this thread as a general clearing house for news and information linkage which I believe is worth being aware of.

And so... ON TO THE BLOGGING!!!

20 comments:

William R. Barker said...

TESTING to see if the link works...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122714465532443171.html

BILL

William R. Barker said...

O.K. The above posted link works. For whatever reason you have cut/copy the link address and paste it to your browser to get there... but it works.

(For whatever reason, I'm having to "refresh" all the WSJ links today in order to get them to load.)

ANYWAY... let's see what Newt and Peter Ferrara have to say -

"That's not a tax cut. It's welfare."

They're referring to President-Elect Obama's tax plan and unfortunately... they're right.

** Oops! Something came up workwise. Gotta run! I'll continue this later...

BILL

Rodak said...

Bill--
To make the links in comment boxes live, here is the formula:

live link

Where I typed "live link" would be the words in a sentence that you want to serve as the link to the site you want your readers to see (i.e. http://...whatever.html in my example above).

Rodak said...

Ooops. I guess that didn't work. If I type out the formula, it does the task, even though I don't put a real URL into it.

here you would put the words you want to serve as your live link.
After the last word in your live link you would type

Let's see if this works.

Rodak said...

Nope.
Can somebody smarter than me explain this without having it work?

Mad said...

http://online.wsj.com

Mad said...

Oh hell, just copy and paste what Bill typed into the address bar of the browser!!

(I hate Google and Microsoft, they have to make everything so goddamned proprietary when it comes to html) ...

Mad said...

Okay, go to this Help page URL for blogger:

http://help.blogger.com/
bin/answer.py?answer=42051

(type all one line, no spaces in address bar of browser)

William R. Barker said...

Ha! Ha! Ha!

Oh, jeez... that was funny.

Boys. Bless you both! Thanks for trying!

You know what - it's not worth my time to do it "right." I'm just gonna post the actual link addresses and folks who are interested in following can open up the links in separate windows.

Heck - I don't even know why I have this particular comment format vs. the haloscan RAG has over at RT. (*SHRUG*)

This format is what Ed has over at Politics and Pigskins and I was never able to afix a working link there either. (*SHRUG*)

But, anyway... back to Newt...

"Mr. Obama's tax plan includes creating or expanding nine or more federal income tax credits..."

* Nope. Not a fan of tax credits - aka LOOPHOLES.

* Those familiar with my writings are aware of the following already, but for any new readers, one key component of the type of income tax code I favor can be laid out in two words: INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY.

* I want EVERYONE to pay SOMETHING - even if it's only a token 1% of income.

* Hmm... to illustrate what I'm getting at I'll add as a post parts of any email exchange (one way, so far) I recently had with pundit Amity Shlaes...

BILL

William R. Barker said...

It is time to tax individual citizens individually.

Yes, in theory a married couple can file "married filing single," but in the real world, when it comes to deductions and the actual ultimate tax bill paid, this rhetorical fiction translates into a loss for the average couple who chose to file separately as compared to if they file jointly - especially if the couple rents as opposed to being mortgaged to the hilt in order to be recognized as a home "owner."

What I want is for the federal (as well as the various state) tax system(s) to treat all individuals as individuals. Whether you make no money in a given year... $12,000 in a given year... $50,000/$150,000/$500,000+... my idea of fairness in line with the basic underpinning of American individualism is to tax each individual as an individual.

You have a family of four - husband, wife, two kids - if the wife makes $100,000 a year and the husband makes $35,000 a year then that's how they should be taxed - separately taxed - on separately earned income.

I'm not totally opposed to some progressivism. Let's say - just to flesh out the point - that we look upon $0-$24,999 as poverty. Let's say we tax "poverty" incomes at 1%. Say "Dick" makes $23,500 and "Jane" brings in $12,000. I don't care if they're married, shacked up, or have a kid or kids or not. "Dick" pays $23.50 in federal taxes and "Jane" pays $12. Simple. End of story.

Let's say we stick with a graduated, progressive income tax regime. Just making up "placeholder" rates to set the terms of the example, let's say that income between $25,000-$37,499 is taxed at 3%...

...$37,500-$44,999 taxed at 7.5%...
...$50,000-$74,999 taxed at 10%...

...and so on and so forth.

I'm not a tax professional. This is an illustration of my idea of theoretical tax fairness.

So... now we have "Jane" pulling in $74,000 and "Dick" pulls in an additional $44,000. First... FORGET THE WORD "ADDITIONAL." No such thing! "Jane" pays 1% on her first $24,999 of income. She pays 3% on her income between $25,000 and $37,499. She pays 7.5% on that portion of her income falling between $37,500 and $44,999. And finally... she pays a 10% rate on her income between $50,000-$74,000 - the summit of her income for the year.

"Dick...?" He pays the same 1% on his income up to $24,999. He pays the same 3% on his income starting at $25,000 and going up to $37,499. The top rate the highest portion of his income is taxed at... 7.5% for that portion of his income between $37,500 and $44,000 - the summit of his income for the year.

Sound fair to you? It sounds fair to me!

Here's the way I look at it. It's not the government's role to pick winners and losers, lifestyles to reward, lifestyles to punish. Two individuals wanna get married? Great! Good luck! They wanna have kids? Fine. They wanna buy a house? They have my hearty congratulations! But if they wanna shack up... if they wanna rent instead of buy... if they wanna adopt a dog from the local shelter and leave the child bearing/rearing to others... THAT'S O.K. TOO!!!

Enough with "deductions." Enough with social engineering. America is supposed to be the land of FREEDOM - INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM!

Oh... and btw... going back to "Dick" and "Jane," let's say they are married and have two kids. Let's say the kids did some modeling work. Two year old Bobby made $2,000. Four year old Susie made $4,000. Bobby owes the IRS $2. Susie owes 'em $4. EVERY INDIVIDUAL AMERICAN pays his or her fair share.

As for capital gains...

Why should they be treated differently from ordinary income if dividends and interest aren't? Oh, I understand that the investments themselves were made with after-tax income... but, again, if we're trying to "reward" investment then why treat a "win" in selling shares for a profit more favorably then dividends?

It seems to me that it's the "Vegasification" of Wall Street that has led to the current predicament the nation finds itself in - that and the present tax code that favors short term paper profits over long term build-up of our national private infrastructure base.

Listen. It seems to me that IF you're going to "reward" capital gains profits with a lower tax rate than ordinary income then you also want to "reward" dividends and interest profits/income. That said... just for the sake of argument assuming we are as a society going to reward "capital investment" via the tax code more favorably than "work" investment (aka ordinary income), then we've got to target that reward in such a way as to not have a situation where someone earning $100,000 a year via "ordinary" employment isn't paying more of that to the tax man than a trust fund holder who realizes $100,000 a year in dividend/interest/capital gains income.

BILL

William R. Barker said...

http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=311990589125833

"Piracy: India, from whose Hindi language we get the word "thug," knows how to handle them. Its navy blew away two Somali pirate ships in a week, sending a message in the only language thugs understand. Kudos."

* Kudos, indeed!

* In fact... I just phoned up the Indian Embassy in Washington to pass on my personal kudos! If anyone else wants to do the same, the number there is (202) 939-7000. (And for what it's worth, the gentleman I spoke to said that they were getting a lot of calls like mine and they appreciated them!)

"Tuesday, a pirate mother-ship crew aimed grenade launchers at an Indian naval frigate and tried to ram it. The Indian ship Tabar fired back, set the vessel on fire, and left it at the bottom of the sea. It was the second pirate ship India's navy had blown out of the water, another was taken out Nov. 11."

Now THAT'S the way to handle piracy!

"The West needs to heed India's example because its energy supply is at stake, and every ransom paid empowers the pirates and their terrorist allies. India's leadership and resolve should increase its international stature. That's what comes to nations that have the common sense to confront thugs."

* Hear, hear!

BILL

William R. Barker said...

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YmM1OGM4OGRiNTI5NTIzOTFkMDAwMTJiNGFlYWFiZGI=

File Under: Bill Concurs!

-- For these times, it is difficult to imagine a worse choice for AG than Eric Holder.

Much has been made, and appropriately so, of Holder’s untoward performance in the final corrupt act of the Clinton administration: the pardons issued in the departing president’s final hours. Of these, most notorious is the case of Marc Rich, an unrepentant fugitive wanted on extensive fraud, racketeering, and trading-with-the-enemy charges - but granted a pardon nonetheless thanks to the intercession of his ex-wife, a generous donor to Clinton’s library and legal-defense fund.

Holder’s role was aptly described as “unconscionable” by a congressional committee. He steered Rich’s allies to retain the influential former White House counsel Jack Quinn (Holder later conceded he hoped Quinn would help him become attorney general in a Gore administration); he helped Quinn directly lobby Clinton, doing an end-run around the standard pardon process (including DOJ’s pardon attorney); and he kept the deliberations hidden from the district U.S. attorney and investigative agencies prosecuting Rich so they couldn’t learn about the pardon application and register their objections.

There’s more. In 1999, over the objections of the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons, and prosecuting attorneys, Holder supported Clinton’s commutation of the sentences of 16 FALN conspirators. These pardons — of terrorists who even Holder has conceded had not expressed any remorse — were issued in the months after al-Qaeda’s 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, when the Clinton administration was pretending to be the scourge of terrorism. The commutations were nakedly political, obviously designed by Clinton to assist his wife’s impending Senate campaign by appealing to New York’s substantial Puerto Rican vote.

Equally noxious were the stealthy pardons of Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans — Weather Underground terrorists associated with Obama’s friends Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn — issued on the same day as the Rich pardon. Rosenberg and Evans had been serving decades-long sentences for bombings targeting American government facilities. With Holder again helping to circumvent the pardon process and to evade objections from prosecutors, the terrorists’ jail terms were commuted just weeks after the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole.

Under Holder’s stewardship, moreover, the Justice Department chose, in the Dickerson case, to oppose its own prosecutors and seek reversal of the conviction of a bank robber whose voluntary confession had been elicited without Miranda warnings. Taking the Justice Department's signal, the Supreme Court overruled the lower courts and vacated the conviction, upending 30 years of precedent which had held that Miranda was not part of the core Fifth Amendment guarantee. Thanks to this ruling, rendered in the comfort of pre-9/11 complacence, terrorists tried in civilian courts — which is where Obama and Holder want them to be tried — will enjoy a powerful argument against the admission of critical confession evidence.

To be blunt, Holder is a terrible selection. If there’s any Obama cabinet nomination that Republicans feel moved to oppose, this should be it. --

BILL

William R. Barker said...

http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/2574

Now here's an OUTSTANDING piece written by Joshua Rauh and Luigi Zingales on the Auto Bailout question.

I HIGHLY recommend taking the time to read it.

Here's the bottom line according to the authors:

"A GM bailout would delay restructuring and ultimately destroy jobs. Restructuring under Chapter 11 is the best solution, but credit market conditions require the US government to provide transitional, “Debtor in Possession” financing. To avoid political interference, the actual lending decisions should be made by a commercial bank with a stake in the outcome."

* Hat tip to Real Clear Politics/Economics where I first found the article.

** Hat tip to VOX where the article originally ran! (BTW, I'm going to add VOX to my bookmarks.)

BILL

Mad said...

Bill, you have to go to Halsoscan's website to get their comment code and format. This page is the default for the Blogger service.

William R. Barker said...

Thanks, Mad, but for now I think I'll stick with this format.

After reading your message I googled "haloscan" and it seems there's a certain level of unhappiness with their newest update (as well as their older version).

You and I have both seen it go wacko off and on over at RT. (*SHRUG*)

Anyway... I know it's two "extra" steps (*SMILE*) to copy the link addresses I provide and paste them in order to reach the link, but I have faith the extra five seconds of "work" won't kill anyone.

(*WINK*)

BILL

William R. Barker said...

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aRfqFMhlj5lk&refer=worldwide

-- Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) President-Elect Barack Obama‘s transition team is exploring a swift, prepackaged bankruptcy for automakers as a possible solution to the industry’s financial crisis, according to a person familiar with the matter. --

Well good for Obama!

On the other hand...

-- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that Democrats reject bankruptcy as an option. --

Hmm... I suppose if push comes to shove we'll soon see who's the new "decider" for the Democratic Party as a whole.

Putting aside for the moment the issue of whether Obama will or will not offer HRC the Secretariat of State and whether or not she'd accept, as things stand now it seems to me that in a battle of wills and influence between President-Elect (soon to be President) Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, if Hillary (and Bill) Clinton align behind Obama on this issue (or almost any other), Pelosi's toast.

Oh... and btw... I'm sure no one will be surprised to see who Pelosi's "allies" are:

-- Officials of the three automakers told members of Congress this week that they had studied a pre-arranged bankruptcy, championed by Republican lawmakers such as Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, before dismissing the idea as unworkable. “We have looked at all aspects, whether it’s a prepackage, whether it’s prenegotiated,” Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli told a Senate committee on Nov. 18. The options are all “more negative” than restructuring as a condition of receiving federal aid, he said. Wagoner and Alan Mulally, CEO of Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford, also said under congressional questioning that their companies had studied and rejected the idea of reorganizing under court protection. --

Birds of a feather stick together indeed.

BILL

William R. Barker said...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122722814865546291.html

File Under: What a Mess

-- Last June in Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time in our history that aliens captured and held as enemy combatants abroad (in this case, at the Guantanamo Bay military base) had a constitutional right to challenge their detentions by filing petitions for habeas corpus in federal court....Yesterday, the federal district court in Washington concluded the first such habeas proceeding for six detainees. It held that the government had established a basis for holding only one of them as an enemy combatant. The court acknowledged that the evidence the detainees were planning to travel to Afghanistan to join the fight was perfectly appropriate for use as intelligence (the purpose for which it was collected) -- but that such evidence was not sufficient to carry the government's burden of proving in court that the detainees were enemy combatants. --

THIS BEARS REPEATING...

-- The court acknowledged that the evidence the detainees were planning to travel to Afghanistan to join the fight...but that such evidence was not sufficient to carry the government's burden of proving in court that the detainees were enemy combatants. --

Listen. Foreign policy is a matter for the Executive and Legislative Branches. Congress can and should order the Courts to butt out under Congress' authority via Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution.

Listen. I'm NOT a supporter of unlimited Presidential powers. Just the opposite in fact. I'm a Constitutionalist.

In a nutshell, here's what I believe regarding how the president - any president - can constitutionally "run" the nation's foreign policy, including military policy and overseas intelligence operations:

If Congress has objections to specific policies of a president, it can use its legislative oversight, funding, and law-enacting powers to challenge the president and ultimately, if there's enough support, to override him and if necessary remove him from office.

I sympathize with the Judiciary to an extent. Congress continues to duck its Constitutional responsibilities and the President seems more committed to expansion of executive powers and pragmatic bureaucratic victories than to defending Constitutionalism. So of course the Judiciary seeks to fill the breech. Still... it's not their job!!! Not only is it not their job, but on a functional rather than theoretical level... rather than "fixing" the issues they're taking it upon themselves to address, the Courts are further muddying the waters and adding to the confusion!

Anyway... (*SIGH*)... read the op-ed.

BILL

William R. Barker said...

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=M2JiNGYwODllMGJiYzk3MzY5YzdjMDliMTJmNDU3ZDc=

-- There is no saving GM in its present state and no good argument for trying. It is currently losing $500 or more on every car it makes. As of 2007, it was paying its workers at a $20-per-hour premium over what Toyota was paying just down the road. It’s a company with terrible management, terrible unions, and not very many good products. Its shareholders already have been substantially wiped out; there’s very little left for them to lose. Congress must be reminded to view GM as a car company. It isn’t a health-care provider for the state of Michigan or a federal jobs program, even though members of Congress talk as though it were. The same goes for Ford and Chrysler. Congress is entirely unqualified to evaluate the Big Three as businesses; its members collectively know approximately zilch about the industry, and its own finances make GM look like the gold standard of financial sobriety....We have a good, proven process for dealing with companies that have short-term cash-flow problems and valuable underlying assets, and that process is called bankruptcy. There was a reasonable (though not ironclad) case to be made that government intervention was prudent in the case of the bank failures because of the risk of a systemic crisis in the credit markets. There is no comparable argument for GM. There may be a role for the government in softening the landing for GM, perhaps by offering some assistance in securing loans as the company reorganizes, specifically by guaranteeing the DIP — that’s “debtor in possession” — financing that a bankrupt GM would need to restructure its operations (as opposed to having its assets liquidated to pay its creditors). There is no shame in bankruptcy. It can be a good thing — dozens of companies have entered bankruptcy, reorganized their finances, and emerged stronger than before. Policymakers should endeavor to make use of the time-tested institutions we already have rather than invent new solutions — also known as “making it up as we go along” — whose unintended consequences we must later endure. We have 200 years of bankruptcy law behind us; our Constitution itself touches on the subject: “The Congress shall have power to [establish] . . . uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States.”....Shareholders have claims on GM. So do the UAW and its retirees, and so do creditors. The place to work out those competing claims is in bankruptcy court. GM and its taxpayer-funded lobbyist Debbie Stabenow — who moonlights as a U.S. senator — will come with their hands out, telling tales of global financial woe and talking rot about the Big Three’s being essential to national security. But GM isn’t in trouble because of the global credit crisis — it’s in trouble because it’s a poorly run company. If it is essential that American drivers have cars made in America by Americans, there are Toyotas rolling out of Kentucky. GM should roll into bankruptcy court. --

Makes sense to me.

BILL

William R. Barker said...

So... just out of curiosity... who's reading - or at least browsing - this thread's comments?

Am I posting links and info of interest or not?

What about the format? Does anyone feel that I should switch to the more "normal" format where instead of posting various items I find worthy of interest in a comment box like this one I'm separately posting - many times a day - on the opening page, the "front" page, of this blog?

Any feedback would be appreciated.

BILL

Mad said...

Bill, a blog is supposed to reflect your worldview. Don't worry about it being of interest to readers. "Build it and they will come."

Blogs are niche community. You're just now getting your mojo working ... don't sweat it (*WINK*)