American Elephants


Understanding the Tax Battle by The Elephant's Child

Here’s a graph with information from the IRS, explained by AEI economist Mark J. Perry that explains some of the confusing parts of the tax questions. Read it carefully until it sinks in.   I asked Bing how many U.S. taxpayers there are, and the best I could come up with was 243 million as of 2013. They apparently haven’t counted up since then, although it seems like a number that would be needed.

But never mind. Do a little math, multiply 243,ooo,ooo by 95%, and 243,000,000 by 01% so you are talking numbers of people or households, and that will give you a sense of what they are talking about with the bottom 95% and top 1%. The standard assumption that we can just soak the very rich doesn’t work. It’s just a helpful exercise. They don’t have enough money to pay all the taxes.

I suspect that most people don’t really know what they pay in taxes. If you work for a corporation or good sized business, you probably have your taxes withheld, and get a total at the end of the year, which you enter on your return and promptly forget. But I may be describing myself, not you.

At any rate Democrats will tell you that the entire Republican tax plan is just a give-away to the very rich. Republicans will try to explain what is actually happening and get so tied up in the complicated explanation that nobody understands anyway.

We have an enormous deficit, thanks to Obama. Baby Boomers in their vast numbers are beginning to retire, so they need more money. I would suggest that since federal pay reportedly is about twice the pay of the rest of us, some pay freezes might be in order.  Just a thought.

Advertisements


“We Came, We Saw, He Died” She Joked. by The Elephant's Child

Hillary. Could not vote for her. She is a compulsive liar, and not a very good one. She keeps getting caught out. But I also knew that Mommar Gadhafi was a brutal dictator, and not a very nice one. But he kept his troublesome country in line. He had had nuclear ambitions, and when he saw Iran’s Saddam Hussein being dragged out of his hidey-hole and what happened to him, he discarded his ambitions thoroughly.

Hillary, as Secretary of State, not only ignored the rumbling of terrorists and revolutionaries in Syria, refused to send help to her ambassador and his aide, and extraction for the former Seals contractors who were attempting to save the embassy people, but decided to promote the end of the Gadhafi reign, apparently unaware of the fact that sometimes we have to support ruling bad guys in the interest of larger causes. Our ambassador died, unnecessarily, as did his aide and the two former Seals. Libya promptly descended into chaos, which continues.

Today USA Today reported:

Black Africans are being sold in open-air slave markets,  and it’s Hillary Clinton’s fault. But you won’t hear much about that from the news media or the foreign-policy pundits, so let me explain.

Footage from Libya, released recently by CNN, showed young men from sub-Saharan Africa being auctioned off as farm workers in slave markets.

And how did we get to this point? As the BBC reported back in May, “Libya has been beset by chaos since NATO-backed forces overthrew long-serving ruler Col. Moammar Gadhafi in October 2011.”

Under President George W. Bush, in 2003, the  United States negotiated an agreement with Libyan strongman Gadhafi. If Gadhafi would give up his weapons of mass destruction peacefully, we would not try to depose him. The Obama administration wasn’t much on continuing anything done by Bush, and in an operation spearheaded by Hillary Clinton, the United States went ahead and overthrew him. That has an effect on our options with North Korea.

The overthrow turned out to be a debacle. Libya exploded into chaos and civil war, and refugees flooded Europe, destabilizing governments there. But at the time, Clinton thought it was a great triumph — “We came, we saw, he died,” she joked about Gadhafi’s overthrow — and adviser Sidney Blumenthal encouraged her to tout her “successful strategy” as evidence of her fitness for the highest office in the land.

Uh huh.

 



If Trump Didn’t Tweet It, It Isn’t News for Today’s Media by The Elephant's Child

Salena Zito has become one of the more interesting reporters on matters Trump, because she actually goes out and talks to the Trump supporters who voted for him. In her column at the New York Post on Saturday, she wrote from Glen Dale, West Virginia, that “Bad news travels fast, Good news, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to travel at all.

Last weekend in Beijing, as part of his 12-day trip to Asia, President Trump announced that the US and China had signed an $83.7 billion memorandum of understanding to create a number of petrochemical projects in West Virginia over the next 20 years.

If the agreement holds tight, it is an economic game changer for the state.  And yet, speaking to the locals here, you wouldn’t even know it had happened.

“I am surprised I heard nothing about it on the national news, nor in my local paper and newscasts,” said Jerald Stephens, 67, a West Virginia native and union rep, who has been a keen observer of local politics for as long as he can remember.

The BBC and CNN covered the news in their business sections, while The New York Times picked up a short story by The Associated Press on the deal. The stories’ headlines were muted; their placement low-key.

Paul Scracic, political science professor at nearby Youngstown State University said that such an investment, three times the total annual budget for the department of energy would have been front-page news.

President Trump didn’t tweet about that, which is apparently the source for the media’s reports about the President. Easy, you don’t have to talk to anyone, just log on to twitter. Go out and talk the people? Nah.

So far the details are scant, but China Energy will invest nearly $84 billion in West Virginia, the biggest of the $250 billion deals Trump signed with China. The first efforts are scheduled to begin in six to eight months  with building two natural gas-fired power plants, likely in Brooke and Harrison counties which have major job and population losses over the past 30 years. West Virginia, understandably. is a solid red state. But voters in the areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio that also represent our coal and natural-gas areas matter as well.

The media usually mocks Trump’s promise of jobs to the Heartland as empty campaign rhetoric. Apparently to get their attention he has to shout about it on Twitter.

Tom Lifson of American Thinker also commented on the lack of media attention, and how much the deal tentatively offers”

Although the deal’s non-binding, it was welcomed in a state that’s borne the brunt of coal’s long-term decline. West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a coal and real estate mogul elected to office last year, has lobbied the Trump administration to prop up the state’s coal-mining sector.

“Expanding Appalachia’s energy infrastructure, including developing a regional storage hub and market for natural gas liquids, will have a transformative effect on our economy, our security and our future,” U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, said in the statement.



A Little History That We Need To Keep In Mind by The Elephant's Child

I posted part of this a couple of years ago, but I keep thinking that it’s  really important for us all to remember, and today things seem to go in one ear mind and out the other.

On January 20, 2009, the day President Obama was inaugurated and saved the nation from the clutches of runaway capitalism, the national debt was $10,626,877,048,913. 08. Obama, acting more responsibly than any Wall Street villain, increased that by $6,000,000,000,000. If Barack Obama paid the debt back at a dollar a second it will only take him 126,750 presidential terms to “finish the job” and put us back on solid fiscal ground, Assuming the debt didn’t grow in the meantime.
…………………………………………David Harsanyi, The Federalist

Today I am pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term in office. This will not be easy. It will require us to make difficult decisions and face challenges we have long neglected. But I refuse to leave our children with a debt they cannot repay—and that means taking responsibility right now, in this Administration for getting our spending under control.
…………………………………………
Barack Obama:  2/23/09
……………………………………..….Fiscal Responsibility Summit

Here’s the bottom line: Capitalism is the greatest engine for the production of wealth the ingenuity of man has ever invented. Are you interested in helping the poor? Embrace capitalism. Do you want to help clean up the environment? Embrace capitalism. Are you interested in obliterating the scourge of malnutrition in some ghastly African disease, or illiteracy, embrace capitalism. The global poverty rate, Kevin reminds us, has been cut in half in the last 20 years. Think about that. Then think about that. Then think about the sorrowful history of our species up to about 1830. How much progress against widespread—really, near total—poverty had been there from the beginning of time until then—until, that is capitalism started to take off? Not much.
………………………………………..Roger Kimball: 6/12/2014
………………………………………..on Kevin Williamson’s
………………………………………..Catholics Against Capitalism

 



A Helpful Guide to Leftspeak. Use it At Your Peril. by The Elephant's Child

The language of the left:

social justice: justice in terms of distribution of wealth. Opportunities and privileges within a society. The distribution of advantages and disadvantages in a society.

metaphysics: abstract theory or talk with no basis in reality. The branch of philosophy responsible for the study of existence. It is the foundation of a worldview that answers the question “What is?” It encompasses everything that exists, as well as the nature of existence itself. It says whether the world is real or merely an illusion.

xenophobe: One who is unduly fearful of what is foreign and especially of people of foreign origin—a person who fears or hates foreigners.

reactionary:
political views that favor a return to the status quo ante, the previous state of society which they believe possessed characteristics that are negatively absent from the status quo of society favoring extreme conservatism or rightism in politics, opposing political or social change, ultra-conservative in  politics.

empirical: based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or  experience rather than theory or pure logic.

historicism: a mode of thinking that assigns a major significance to a specific context such as  a historical period, geographical place and local culture. A theory, doctrine or style that emphasizes the importance of history as a theory in which history is seen as a standard of value or as a determinant of events.

critical theory: A philosophical approach to culture and especially to literature that seeks to confront the social, historical and ideological forces and structure that produce and constrain it. — a type of theory that aims to critique society, social structures and systems of power and to foster egalitarian social change.

positivism: a philosophical theory stating that positive knowledge is based on a natural phenomena and their properties and relations. Thus information derived from sensory experience interpreted through reason and logic forms the inclusive source of all authoritative knowledge.

metaphysics: The branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time and space.

The attainment of social or economic justice makes mere  philanthropy unnecessary. The pursuit of that objective renders philanthropy harmful. The alliance of experts and victims will progress toward its goals more slowly and with greater difficulty if amateurs, lobbyists and dilettantes are mucking about, trying to alleviate victims’ suffering. They don’t know what they’re doing, and should keep out of the way of people who do. Furthermore, caring for others by any other means than supporting, with votes and taxes, welfare state programs to enact and adequately fund those programs, postpones rather than hastens the realization of social justice.

There you go. You may now consider yourself among the enlightened.



A Bit of Advice for Republicans: by The Elephant's Child

Here’s an excerpt from David Horowitz’s Take No Prisoners:

Politics is always a gamble. No one can be sure what tactic will succeed, which is why we have to respect each other and keep our coalition strong, even when we disagree.

I said we are not good at politics. Actually we are pretty terrible at politics. Whenever a Republican and a Democrat square off, it’s Godzilla versus Bambi. They call us racists, sexists, homophobes, and selfish pigs,  and we call them …liberals. Who’s going to win that argument? They spend their political dollars calling us names and shredding our reputations; we spend ours explaining why the complicated solutions we propose will work and why theirs won’t. But when  you are being called a racist, an enemy of women and a greedy SOB, who will listen to your ideas about the budget? Who is going to believe you when all your motives are portrayed as vile?

This is the problem that not only Republicans but also Tea Partiers and conservatives in general have failed to address. It is why the Democratic Party, which supports policies that are morally repugnant and have also failed on an epic scale, still wins elections. Medicare is bankrupt and a mess; Social Security is bankrupt and a mess; the War on Poverty  is a twenty-trillion dollar catastrophe that has created worse poverty than it was designed to cure—and yet Democrats can still propose and pass the biggest socialist entitlement and redistributionist scheme ever and get away with it. Until Republicans and Tea Partiers are willing to fight fire with fire, these circumstances are not going to change. Twenty-five years after the most oppressive empire in human history collapsed because socialist economies don’t work, 44 percent  of American  youth, according to a recent Pew poll; thinks socialism is a good system. That’s a political failure on our part. We won the Cold War, but we didn’t drive a stake through the Communist heart. As a result the vampire of social justice has risen to fight another day.



Diversity and Inclusion. Meaningful Goals or Pure Bunk? by The Elephant's Child

Diversity and Inclusion are the primary buzzwords today, a catchphrase, and a required means to achieve some kind of excellence that is an end in itself. Perfected, you come closer to mirroring humanity at its best, or something like that. Human resources departments, university admission committees, organizations and clubs, schools and executive rosters, and if you finally achieve perfect diversity, what have you got? Nothing, nothing at all.

Approval, perhaps, but whose approval? If your organization or piece of an organization achieves the exact diversity of greater society will it be enough? Of course not. Diversity and inclusion are meant as guidelines for promoting victimhood. And it is entirely political.

An organization or executive roster that is all white will be criticized for prejudice, white supremacy, bias, and so on. An organization whose people are all black or all brown will not be criticized, because they are already  unfairly under-represented. Being under-represented is only a big deal if you believe yourself to be excluded from something to which you are entitled or something you want. We all get excluded at one time or another. Try sitting down at a table occupied by a group of high schoolers.

Human beings are tribal. The left has tried to make that one a dirty word, but it is only an observation of human nature. We like to associate with those who share our interests, our history, or our aspirations. It, of course goes back to our earliest history when we all belonged to real tribes.

Some are temporary, as a quilting circle, or a dog-training class, some are long term like the people you grew up with, or your high school class. I came up with 8 tribes to which I belong. In most cases the members of each tribe know each other well, but do not know any of my other tribes. None of my high school friends know my college friends, those who went on to college went to different schools. There are lots that were temporary, as neighborhoods, and as a subset of that we had a baby-sitting group in which we traded hours and our kids knew the moms who were keeping an eye on them.

Count up some of your own tribes. You will see that the instinct is quite normal, and has nothing whatsoever to do with diversity and inclusion.

Democrats. thoroughly defeated in the last election, were unprepared for that. They were quite certain that the “working class” was theirs, and astonished at being rejected. They have turned their attention to Blacks, and to immigrants and are encouraging them to think of themselves as victims of racist, sexist, homophobes, Islamophobes, nationalists, and anti-immigrationists. William Voegeli described the Democrat coalition in the pages of the Claremont Review:

Democrats were confident that immigration was a political issue that worked in their candidates’ favor. The multicultural “coalition of the ascendant” would embrace, even demand immigration policies that were welcoming rather than restrictive. The GOP’s pale, male, aging, raging coalition of the descendant would fulminate in front of its Fox News programs, lose election after election, and eventually die off, leaving behind a “majority-minority” America governed by a hegemonic Democratic Party.

The Obama administration was careful to place their refugees in districts where the additional numbers would affect the next census and thus the numbers of  electoral college votes. And Democrats have come to embrace the idea of egalitarianism — not just for people born in the U.S. but for everyone.

The egalitarianism that has come to insist on transgender rights, single-payer health insurance, and ending mass incarceration also requires “treating people born outside the U.s. as equals,” which necessitates  a strong presumption in favor of open immigration. Honoring this basic obligation of justice means that immigrants from such countries as Cambodia, India, Mexico, and Nigeria often earn several times as much as they would have in their native countries. …And if it turns out that the open immigration inherent in international egalitarianism does adversely affect some native-born American workers, international egalitarianism will solve the problem through more domestic redistribution to address poverty and hardship.

Richard Epstein reached much the same conclusions in a piece in Defining Ideas at the Hoover Institution titled “The Diversity Fundamentalists” in July.

Having chosen its members, D&I champions next embrace a message of “fairness and protection to all regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.” But rarely do they face up to the conceptual ambiguities and practical tradeoffs that this grandiose statement conceals. Does any organization welcome the individual who is bold enough to reject D&I? More concretely, does D&I make accommodations for employees or students who on bona fide religious grounds are opposed to same-sex marriage? More generally, does D&I embrace, or even tolerate, true intellectual and political diversity? If so, why are there, from top to bottom, so few Republicans or libertarians within their diverse and inclusive ranks?

You will notice that all  that diversity and inclusion quite specifically does not include Republicans or Conservatives or Libertarians. So much for inclusion.




%d bloggers like this: