American Elephants

Tax Hikes Don’t Mean More Revenue, or So the Evidence Says. by The Elephant's Child

Across the waters, the Labour government in its last days increased the marginal tax rate to 50%, in a tax-the-rich move, and the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition kept it in place. The tax rate which kicked in at £150,000 a year was the first increase since then Chancellor Nigel Lawson cut it to 40% from 60% in the late 1980s.

The argument (does this sound familiar?) was that “rich bankers” were responsible for the economic crisis and should pay for the clean-up. Mr. Cameron preferred to say those with the “broadest shoulders” should bear the heaviest burden.

Well, once again, it didn’t work. Preliminary figures show that there has been ‘manoeuvering’ by well-off Britons to avoid the new higher rate. Revenue has dropped by around 5%. The Treasury had projected that monthly revenues would actually increase by more than a billion pounds.  When will they ever learn?

The state of Illinois, Obama’s home state, increased its corporate tax rate to 7.0% from 4.8% in January 2011. (Yes, if you want the economy to recover, raise taxes). That’s a 45% increase in the overall corporate rate. Caterpillar made it clear to Illinois officials that it chose to build its newest manufacturing plant outside of Illinois due to the “business climate and overall fiscal health” of the state. And took 1,000 jobs with it. They have also threatened to move their corporate headquarters. Modern Drop Forge and FatWallet have taken their jobs and moved. Canadian National Railway moved its locomotive repair shop and 250 jobs to Indiana. Other major corporations’ threat to move, with their 8,500 jobs, have gotten tax breaks over the next ten years to remain in Illinois.

High taxes and mandatory union membership participation have forced over 800,000 residents to leave Illinois for neighboring states over the past 15 years. But the most growth has occurred in no income tax, right-to-work states Texas and Florida. Illinois has led the country in job losses — over 100.000 — since the increase in taxes, and raised the unemployment rate to 10.1%.

U.S. taxes really are unusually progressive, and more progressive that almost every other rich country. And the rich have options. Steeper tax rates are a dumb way to try to improve fairness and raise revenue. The high-tax states are losing businesses and losing high income residents. California has a huge out-migration. Indiana has lowered rates and become a right-to-work state and is gaining businesses and driving the unemployment rate down.

Small business is not hiring because they are concerned about rising health care costs, government regulations, and the economic climate. Twenty-four percent are worried about being in business in 12 months. 85% say they are not hiring. 61% say they’re worried about economic conditions. But nobody listens.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says that “If you don’t try to generate more revenues through tax-reform, if you don’t ask, you know, the most fortunate Americans to bear a slightly larger burden of the privilege of being an American, then you have to —the only way to achieve fiscal sustainability is through unacceptably deep cuts in benefits for middle class seniors, or unacceptably deep cuts in national security.”(This is the throw Granny over the cliff gambit)

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) rejects President Obama’s oft-repeated argument that in order to lower the deficit, it is mathematical certainty that taxes must go up. If President Obama and Congress set spending to match its historical level of 20 percent of GDP and keep it at or below that level, the deficit would be at its historical level in 2017, and the debt would fall as a share of the economy over time.  All that without raising taxes a dime.  Deficits are unsustainably high because the government is spending too much, not because it is collecting too little revenue.


Bambam needs a new campaign slogan… by American Elephant
February 26, 2012, 2:20 pm
Filed under: Election 2012, Humor, Politics | Tags: , ,

…so let’s help him out. I just slapped the above together, using a brilliant Death Star photoshop that’s been floating around (artist unknown), but I’m not sure I’ve got the best slogan. Got something better? Let me hear it in the comments.

But don’t feel limited to Star Wars. Got other ideas? Throw ’em out there; I love the inspiration!

Good mockery is a powerful weapon!

Richard Lindzen Speaks to the House of Commons: by The Elephant's Child

Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT is one of the world’s greatest atmospheric physicists. He spoke to the House of Commons this last week. As James Delingpole says:

“Dick Lindzen does not need to raise his voice.  He does not use hyperbole. In a tone somewhere between weariness and withering disdain, he lets the facts speak for themselves.  And the facts, as he understands them, are devastating.

Here is how he began his speech, which was organized on behalf of the Campaign to Repeal the Climate Change Act:”

Stated briefly, I will simply try to clarify what the debate over climate change is really about. It most certainly is not about whether climate is changing: it always is. It is not about whether CO2 is increasing: it clearly is. It is not about whether the increase in CO2, by itself, will lead to some warming: it should. The debate is simply over the matter of how much warming the increase in CO2 can lead to, and the connection of such warming to the innumerable claimed catastrophes. The evidence is that the increase in CO2 will lead to very little warming, and that the connection of this minimal warming (or even significant warming) to the purported catastrophes is also minimal. The arguments on which the catastrophic claims are made are extremely weak – and commonly acknowledged as such. They are sometimes overtly dishonest.

The full text of Professor Lindzen’s speech is available here.

ObamaCare: Myths, Lies and Backroom Deals by The Elephant's Child

How did we get into this dreadful health-care mess anyway? We were told that runaway spending on health care was having a terrible effect on the national budget, and if we didn’t fix it, disaster would occur.That seems to have been a convenient myth. The growth rate of national health expenditures has been declining for a decade  driven by better medical care and consumer choice.
This chart is from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency in charge of that sort of data. From the Wall Street Journal:

“New data show that health spending over the past several years has been normalizing toward the rate of general inflation, rather than growing higher and higher, as had been the case almost continuously since the 1970s. This moderation in the growth rate of spending predates the national recession. And it puts the lie to the claim that we need government to put the brakes on an “out-of-control” health-care system.”

“The moderation has been driven by cumulative improvements in medical care and by insurers, and by marketplace disciplines on the demand for medical care. Consumers are finally getting more involved in managing and paying for their own care.”

We have new breakthrough drugs for chronic disease, mental illness, HIV and cancer. Many are generics. The market works. You will notice that the spending starts back up again in 2010.

It took a lot of lies and misstatements to get us into ObamaCare, and ObamaCare is full of illusions and pipedreams. Before ObamaCare, you had three parties—the patients, the medical establishment, and the health insurance companies. ObamaCare assumes that those three groups cannot manage to care for the sick and the well without direction and supervision by many assorted bureaucracies full of smart people who went to all the right schools telling them what to do and how to do it. And those many bureaucracies (over 100 agencies) filled with all those smart people will make ObamaCare cost less? They cannot deny care to the elderly and the frail fast enough to compensate for the added expense of all that bureaucracy.

The goal of the system shifts from improving care for those who need it, to getting paid. In Britain, doctors are on salary and work for the state. Rules and regulations descend from the state. You will cut costs here, you will cut wait times there. So some hospitals parked patients in ambulances, so they wouldn’t be registered as entering the system and messing up the wait-time records. In other hospitals, sheets were used over without washing to save money, and patients were left soiled in their beds. Do the jobs in the medical establishment depend on the excellent care they give to patients or do they depend on meeting budget limits?

But back to ObamaCare: A single committee — the United States Preventative Services Task Force — is empowered to evaluate all preventive health services and decide which will be covered by health-insurance plans. They rate services with grades of ‘A’ through ‘D’. Colon cancer screening for adults age 50-75 must be covered by health-care plans without co-pays. Screening for ovarian or testicular cancer that get ‘C’s and ‘D’s may get eliminated. In 2009, it decided that women age 40-49 shouldn’t get routine mammograms. More recently it cancelled routine prostate-cancer screening and the use of tests that detect the viruses that can cause cervical cancer. Doctors are inclined to look at family history, symptoms, that kind of thing. People are not all the same and can’t be divided up by age categories.

Its advice is often out of sync with conventional medical practice. For example, it recommended against wider screening for HIV long after such screening was accepted practice…Only in 2009 did it finally recommend aspirin for the prevention of stroke and heart attack among those at risk — decades after this practice was demonstrated to save lives and had become part of standard medical practice.

That’s a perfect example of the problem of liberal belief in the overwhelming superiority of the liberal mind. Whatever it is, they just know better.  They went to the right schools, you see. They know the right people. They’re friends of your friends. They don’t require any specialized knowledge of medicine, pharmacology or administration. They’ll just look at some statistics and make the hard decisions.

No problem, unless you don’t fit the statistical norm, then you’re out of luck.

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