Category: Economics

November 18, 2011

Hearings on tax reform

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on Hearings on tax reform

I watched the Senate’s hearing on “Could Tax Reform Boost Business Investment and Job Creation?“.  It’s fascinating. I’ve noted the important parts below. Listen to any bits that interest you.

There are four tax reform presenters (Entin, Stone, Mastromarco and Hanlon) and about a dozen lawmakers listening and answering questions. Each presenter has five minutes for opening remarks and each lawmaker has five minutes to comment and question.

Brady introduces the presenters with their education, significant job history and positions.

Entin talks about how taxation effects the economy negatively. He’s anti-Keynes and for tax reform and says taxes negatively impacts capital investment and ultimately hurts the workers. He’s for diddling with the current tax code which implies leaving the ability to engage in favoritism in place is a good thing. He’s well educated and smart but still sees the government as the “smart” manager of taxation and spending. Of the “retain the current tax code” crowd, he’s the most educated and aware of how theory and the real world don’t match.  He sees and understands the inequities in the current tax code.

Stone plays the part of the village idiot, unable to connect theory to history/proven fact. He’s straight Keynesian, advocating for increased taxes and thinks government taxation and government spending is the only answer to every question. He is unable to see or admit what he’s advocating has never worked and he does a lot of fumbling to try and avoid admitting or facing it. When the Senators start commenting and questioning him, one of them (Mulvaney @ 65:08) excoriates him for advocating policies that have been proven not to work. While Entin may see the tax code as fixable, which is bad, this guy is much much worst. He is advocating bigger government with the government distributing the taxes to influence/control (“fix”) the economy. This guy is bad news. It’s a good thing he’s not very articulate. Only people who already believe his warped logic are going to listen to him.

Mastromarco advocates for the Fair Tax. His intro speech starts at 42:24. While it’s well worth listening to he wastes a lot of time in the beginning blasting other plans instead of highlighting the excellence of the Fair Tax plan. That bit made me wince. Brady questions him at 54:25. One of the senators asks him about the likelyhood of tax avoidance (Campbell @ 86:21). Stone comments on the Fair Tax at 59:18. I don’t think Stone realizes how strongly he’s advocating for the benefits of the Fair Tax. He talks about how it would encourage hard work and investment like that is a bad thing, calling those activities a “natural disaster.” I did say he was the village idiot, didn’t I? The guy is as dumb as a rock. Mastromarco rebuts Stone’s Fair Tax comments at 63:39.

Hanlon advocates reform of the current tax system. He’s for greater infrastructure spending, increased taxation, taxing the rich and raising corporate tax rates. Hanlon’s the village idiot’s slightly more articulate understudy.  He may have been included to give Stone’s position support.  I don’t see that as one of the outcomes of the hearing.  I think he just widened the target area for some of the lawmakers’ shots.

61:18 – Casey talks about the inequity between types of companies in the current tax code to which Hanlon responds. More past, present and future ineffective tax code tweaking mentioned here.

65:08 – Mulvaney has some excellent comments about the current tax code and the comparison of real world versus theory. His section is a must watch. Stone props up his position as the village idiot in non-answering Mulvaney’s questions. “I think, I think, I think, I think . . . ” Who decided this was the guy to support the Keynesian model? Personally, I think they erred in their choice of an advocate.

After a bit of self-back-patting blah-blah-blah, Coats talks about good stuff starting at about 71:18. Start listening closely when he talks about consensus and the corporate tax rate/code and how uneven/unfair/unequal it is. That bit’s really good and Entin’s response to him is excellent and highlights how confusing and unequal the current tax code is.

77:20 – Duffy talks about the global marketplace and how our current tax code impacts our global competitiveness. He nails Stone and Hanlon by questioning them about taxes in other countries. Stone again reprises his village idiot role. The guy just doesn’t learn. In his responses, Hanlon again holds up his village idiot’s understudy role.  Duffy’s articulate and informed and Stone and Hanlon look even worse in comparison.

90:00 – Duffy asks Hanlon about a carbon tax, global warming and taxation. Well worth watching Duffy’s five minutes just for Hanlon’s squirming to avoid answering Duffy’s questions. Stone’s fumblings are equally amusing. Duffy’s responses to Stone are spot on. Entin’s comments are very interesting as are his revelations about burden tables. This last bit is in response to Stone’s comments about the “right size” of government and are some of the most enlightening of the hearing. Entin’s comments at the end support the Fair Tax plan without naming names.

95:43 – Brady’s closing remarks are good.  I got the impression most of the lawmakers are truly fed up with the current tax system, lobbyists and corruption.  If they can hold that light up and stay strong, we may actually make progress from their efforts.

Watch or don’t watch. I thought it was good.  If we’re informed we can fight for smaller government and a more effective and prosperity generating tax code.  I know enough to tell my legislators which way I expect them to jump.

Conversely, if we aren’t informed, we are going to believe legislators and lobbyists without it tipping our bullshit meter.

November 10, 2011

The Affordable Housing scam

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Wising upComments Off on The Affordable Housing scam

For a long time I’ve been a fairly silent advocate of “real life” classes for high school and college students.  With our current ability to write gaming programs we could develop a Real Life game to be played by every high school and college student to teach them about finance, politics and personal responsibility.

While this is actually the job of parents, mine didn’t do it and I know few of the teaming masses whose parents actually did instill fiscal and personal responsibility in their get.  Instead of learning how to manage a budget (and WHY you should HAVE a budget), how to save for a rainy day and retirement, how to stay out of trouble personally and legally, many of us had to learn at least a portion of that in the school of hard knocks.  If you haven’t attended that school, let me tell you, maturity and true adulthood comes only after this knowledge is fully assimilated.

There is currently a game called the “Game of Real Life” but it’s based on rolling dice, not on a “choose from this list of actions” personal decision making ideology.  I envision a computer based game that would let you make choices and your outcome (let’s assume the game lasts the length of a typical educational semester) at the end is based solely on the choices you made.  There needs to be an element of chaos in the algorithm because shit happens.  That thing did fall out of the sky, you did get rear ended and the windstorm did blow that tree into your house.  The game would encompass all the students in all the real life classes running for that semester so your “real life” activity would influence and be influenced by all the other students.

At the end you’d get a pass/fail based on attendance and participation.  The goal is to teach fiscal and personal responsibility, not score students based on how many karma points they acquired through the semester

I got off on a bit of a tangent.

Wadly and I are three years and two months away from having no mortgage.  When we bought this place we put a big chunk down and we’ve paid ahead every month we could.  The decision to do those two relatively responsible things has saved our butts twice.  If we can keep this up for the remaining three years and two months we will be rid of our last consumer credit bill.

The reason I tell you this is because of the problems in the housing market brought on by the machinations of James A. Johnson, CEO of Fannie Mae.  The housing market train wreck is explained in the new book Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner.

This rather rambling heads up is in part due to the governments’ creation of another panel to craft legislation to “fix” the housing market.  Haven’t they done enough already?

November 8, 2011

DOS attack on HeritageAction?

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Energy, Government, Social networking, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on DOS attack on HeritageAction?

One of the sites that’s doing a good job of highlighting the disparity between liberal spin and cold hard fact is the Heritage Foundation.  I tried to get to their spin-off Heritage Action this morning and got a 503 (no server available) this morning.  Denial of service attack was the first thing that came to mind.  I’ve seen it before . . . if someone doesn’t like the the view they try and paint over the window.

The word IS getting out.  It’s getting out on CO2 and anthropogenic global warming.  It’s getting out on what’s really going on in government.  It’s getting out on how bigger government is stripping us of our rights and freedoms.  The word IS getting out.

November 5, 2011

Romney, Abramoff, Greece and the Euro

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, PoliticsComments Off on Romney, Abramoff, Greece and the Euro

Mitt Romney is currently campaigning on making the government more efficient.  This is beyond scary.  We don’t need more efficient government, we need smaller government.  Smaller government is naturally more efficient.  Romney should be emulating Gary Johnson and vowing to get the government back within the confines of the constitution so our country can be strong, healthy and FREE again, but that’s not what he’s offering.  Johnson has proven he can reduce the size of government and New Mexicans love him for it.  If you’re expecting smaller government things from Romney, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.  What he’s promising isn’t what this country needs.  He doesn’t believe in smaller government and I can prove it with just one word.  Romneycare.

Greece and the Euro are in the midst of crashing.  If you want to know if big government socialism works, take a look at Greece.  Their socialist President is the guiding hand behind the Greek slow moving train wreck and it will negatively impact economies around the globe.  This will include the US.  And the even worse part is, we’re using a credit card to pay credit card debt.  If you don’t already know that doesn’t work, you haven’t ever handled personal finances.  Government finances are no different and our government is preparing to assist in bailing out Greece by borrowing money from China.  You and I are the ones who will have to pay it back, so that’s our money being throwing into the economic hole that is the Euro.  I hope you’ve got a ready supply of cash available to you (not in a bank) when things start to get really sticky.  If our government doesn’t pull their head out soon, you will need it.

Jack Abramoff’s got a book out.  I don’t know if you remember who he is.  In 2006 he was a lobbyist who was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy and he went to slammer for four years.  The good news is he took a lot of others down with him.  His book is a “name names” look at his time as a lobbyist.  The reason I mention Abramoff is because he’s naming names and highlighting the corruption.  Our tax system fosters corruption.  Our expanded government fosters corruption  At some point the citizens of our once fine country are going to rise up and pull the plug on the mess that is Washington and we’ll get our country back.  The Fed, Fannie and Freddie have GOT to go.  If we can get the Fair Tax passed it will remove the tax code as a corruption vector and give a boost to our economy the likes of which have never been seen before.

And finally, I’m offering some advice on vetting future political candidates.  If they won’t swear to remove at least one overreaching government agency during each term they are in office, don’t vote for ’em.  They aren’t prepared to do what needs to be done in Washington so there’s no point in sending them.

September 30, 2011

China Bashing

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on China Bashing

I’ve seen a lot of China bashing, blaming China for our trade deficits and how the economy is all China’s fault. What a load of crap. Anyone who has studied Hayek and/or watched Milton Freidman’s videos on economics knows better. It’s OUR fault we have a trade deficit. Our government keeps trying to pick winners and losers through federal legislation and it raises the cost of doing business in the US which raises the cost of our products and makes them less attractive abroad. It also causes our companies to open branches in countries like India where the atmosphere is more conducive to business.

Sorry for the mini-rant. Less government is the answer but business-as-usual legislators don’t have a shared interest in reducing their “control” over the country. Grrr.

Here’s a Cato article on China’s bad currency legislation.

September 28, 2011

The President’s Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Wising upComments Off on The President’s Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction

Patty Murray (Senator for my state) emailed me this morning saying the committee needed to “marshal every idea and resource” to get our deficit under control.  This is what I submitted as a reply.

If you’re interested in reducing Government spending, start by reading the Simpson/Bowles recommendation for getting the government’s wallet in order. That would be an excellent start. Obama ignored the report because it cut EVERYTHING and wasn’t what he wanted to hear, however necessary the cutting is.

Then start pulling the government out of those areas where the government has no constitutionally mandated place. Return control and funding of education to the states. Get the government out of the business of trying to control health care. It’s not in the constitution and the government has no place there. Get the government out of trying to manage finance. Return control of Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae to private sector. The government has no place trying to manage mortgage risk as the entire housing crisis has graphically displayed. Audit the Fed. Better yet, shut down the Federal Bank. The government has ZERO business trying to be in any aspect of banking. Turn the Post Office over to the private sector. The government cannot manage it efficiently as proven by the necessity to again extend the credit limit to keep the Post Office operating.

Stop borrowing money. Stop printing money. Stop monetizing the debt. Stop trying to micromanage the economy. The more the government fiddles, the wider the ripples are and the more the citizens suffer as a result.

The EPA has gotten totally out of control. It needs to be stripped of 90% of its power, 90% of its budget. Any regulation it wants to put in place needs to be run through Congress. Our constitution does not include a provision by which agencies could be created to write regulation outside the legislative process. This is wrong on so many fronts it should be obvious.

Reduce regulation so businesses can afford to grow their businesses and hire people. Of everything, this is the single most important thing you can do to get our economy moving again. Connect the dots. Increasing business activity will increase the economy which will increase revenue to the government, this providing money to pay down our debt, assuming those in Washington DC can figure out how to stop wasting the people’s money.

And finally, accept that our founders meant “regular” as in “all states treated the same” when they spoke of interstate commerce, not that the government should regulate how and what could be traded/sold/bartered/swapped. According to the Constitution, all states have to be given exactly the same deal in trade. Reinterpreting what the founders meant by interstate commerce being “regular” between states is an enormous power grab which is continually biting the American public. This one item has caused endless problems, the current largest being with health care and the inability to buy insurance policies across state lines.

Big government is bad government. It intrudes on our liberty and is contrary to our Constitution. Make government smaller. Do it now.

One more thing. Take a lesson from Arkansas on how they handle their budget. It works. It’s not a rich state, it’s not a prosperous state, but those are unchanged historically. The budget mechanism they implemented in the 40’s after going bankrupt during the great depression has stood this state in good stead. They have a balanced budget, they don’t go into debt and the method they use will work on the federal level as well.

I don’t expect much to come from the select committee. It is, after all, governmental.

September 22, 2011

What the people at home say

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Taxing the American Public, Wising upComments Off on What the people at home say

Gary Johnson, the legislation and budget reducing Governor of New Mexico (1995-2003 – he term-limited out), has been invited to the latest presidential candidates’ upcoming debate.  He has, in fact, been eligible (based on poll numbers, he consistently polls higher than Santorum AND Gingrich) for the previous debates but was not invited.

Gary Johnson is a candidate I can get behind.  He has all of Ron Paul’s “government within the confines of the constitution” ideology paired with innate likeability and ease of communication Ron Paul lacks.  Johnson supports the Fair Tax and has actually walked the walk.  He reduced the size and scope of New Mexico’s government and balance the state’s budget during his 8 years in office.  If that isn’t enough to convince you he has the right ideology and experience to help us tackle our bloated and intrusive government, look at this at home state favorability poll.

Gary Johnson is the ONLY candidate who receives a net positive (PLUS 12) approval in their home state.  Compare that to the next best cluster of candidates (Gingrich, Cain and Perry) with a net favorability is MINUS 8.  <wince>  The gap from plus twelve to minus 8 is very telling if we naturally assume the constituents in a candidate’s home state know the candidate best.  Johnson’s positive favorability from his home state says his constituents know who he is, like who he is and think he did a good job when he was governor.  As accolades go, that’s pretty hard to top.

I’m asking you to take a serious look at Gary Johnson for President.  We need government lite, not bigger, more costly and more intrusive government.  Everything I’ve read, all the videos and all the commentary I’ve watched leads me to believe Gary Johnson is the guy who can get it done.

September 20, 2011

Activism at work

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Wising upComments Off on Activism at work

Heritage Foundation has a new spin-off that could prove to be powerful and vital to the health of our country.  Heritage Action is producing a grass-roots effort to “guide” (influence) legislators into doing the right thing for our country and its citizenry.   They integrated a PopVox app which allows those interested to provide feedback to their legislators.  I submitted two directives this morning and have heard back from Maria Cantwell so far.

On government spending I sent this.

Government overreach is crippling our country.  During the past decade, Washington has increased spending by more than 50%, building tentacles into areas in which it does not belong. In the 2010 election, voters like me told Congress to listen to the people and stop both spending and government overreach but the only cuts in spending occurring are illusory future “spend less” pretend cuts that aren’t actually cutting spending or reducing the size and role of government.  I, personally, expect more for you as my legislator.

I expect you to support actual spending cuts that include removing government agencies with inappropriate and/or ineffective government overreach.  A prime example, the government cannot cost-effectively move mail.  Why hasn’t the postal service been moved to the private sector where the free market can control the cost?  The government has no place in this area and cannot do it efficiently.  This is just ONE example of government overreach and the ineffectiveness of same.

I want wasteful programs cut.  I want my legislators to push for reduction in government overreach to cure our nation’s deficits.  Government has no place in health care, transportation, energy or education.  Government bloat has GOT to go.  I expect you to work toward that goal.

On the disaster fund and deficits I sent this:

Our deficit is high enough. Additional spending for disaster relief must be offset with other spending cuts.

The disaster relief fund is running dry but it should not be replenished through additional deficit spending.  Refunding our disaster relief fund via deficit spending is the wrong approach on many levels.  I do not support this legislation and I am asking you to JUST SAY NO.

Please don’t allow disaster spending to increase the deficit.

I’m doing my part to communicate my expectations to my legislators.  Are you?

I watched a ReasonTV interview by Nick Gillespie.  Penn Jillette was the interviewee and he is a very interesting man.  My quote of the week came from that interview and is “I don’t think there is anything you can do more insulting than acting like you know what’s best for someone else.”  I’ve always seen him as a very smart and informed libertarian.

I’ve downloaded Jillette’s new book “God No’ and have added it to my reading queue.

June 24, 2011

Responsible Government

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Social networkingComments Off on Responsible Government

I can think of nothing the government does more effectively than the private sector. Can you? Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, border enforcement . . . they are all costly, poorly managed and riddled with unintended consequences. National security is supposed to be Government’s primary purpose yet we have a porous border that truly threatens our security.

With few exceptions, the problem isn’t that those we elect to public office don’t intend for the programs they create to be wasteful and not perform as expected, it’s that the “I’m the government and I’m here to help” mindset fails to acknowledge and accept the actual outcome. Instead, supporters continue to ride on the intention of the action. Once the unintended consequences are known, any attempt to reverse the action is attacked with rhetoric about the original intention with no acknowledgement of the actual crappy result. It’s much easier for government to create a problem than it is for the problem causing legislation to be reversed.

A group advocating for a certain program or policy may intend for it to do a certain thing, but when the actual result becomes known, the supporters have too much hubris to say “oops, sorry, wrong, kill it” because to do so would reduce their clout/influence/power and our impression of their effectiveness as our elected representative. As a result we end up with programs that cannot/do not do what they were originally intended to do with no expeditious way to defund, remove or eliminate the action. This is the mindset we must change in Washington. We need responsible realists willing to look at the actual result, not the intended result who are willing to reverse course and undo, undo, undo.
So the question when evaluating any action should be . . . does it do what was intended better/cheaper than the private sector could do/does the very same job? This single question should be the score card for EVERY government action (program/policy/bill/whatever). EVERY SINGLE ONE, right after is it the government’s JOB to do this thing. If the unintended consequence of the action does not meet expectation or intended result, if it cannot meet those expectations in a cost effective way, it should be scrapped.

If we did this, it wouldn’t take very long before we get a government very reduced in size and much more efficient and responsive to the people instead of our current unweildy monolith. If we begin to tie the result, including unintended consequences, around the neck of every legislator who supported the action (certainly every bill’s sponsor) we might start to see some caution in what is passed into law.

Changing who is making the decisions in DC isn’t going to change the mindset. We MUST require that the effectiveness of the action be the trigger for whether the action remains in force or is summarily scrapped.

June 3, 2011

Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget

by Nori — Categories: Economics, Government, Politics, Wising upComments Off on Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget

I’ve written about a number of issues I feel are vital to the health of our country and the furthering of the ideals of freedom fostered by our forefathers.  We are in a struggle for the very life of those principles.

The current big fight between freedom and bloated government is Congressman Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget.  The Ryan budget has garnered lots of Chicken Little “the sky is falling” rhetoric that is blatantly false.  Dubbed “Mediscare”, the tactics are working on those who get their news from the mainstream media and don’t look beyond the goal of the people advocating disaster.  I need you to look beyond that rhetoric and take the time to truly understand what Ryan’s budget is designed to accomplish.

We can save and strengthen Medicare but it requires getting the government out of the health care business.  Ryan’s plan puts Medicare on a sustainable path for those 55 and younger while preserving the benefits of current seniors.  I, personally, am on the cusp in the plan change from government coverage to vouchered health care.  I am praying I end up on the vouchered health care side so I can fully control my health care needs.  I watch the struggles my mother goes through to work within the government’s system and I truly want no part of it.

I am continually amazed at the overweening hubris of those who think the government can do anything better than the private sector.  History, even recent history, has proven the government is neither as thrifty nor as efficient and legislation can have the opposite of the intended effect when the government decides to intrude into the free market.

I am very concerned that some of our political representatives, while vociferously decrying Ryan’s plan in rhetoric that is both misleading and false, have failed to offer any alternative that will keep Medicare solvent.

Let’s get health care out of government control and back into the free market where market forces can reduce the cost and increase availability.  Government recycling of the taxpayers’ money in programs that are bloated, inefficient and misguided.  Let’s push to get us headed back to the nation our forefathers envisioned.

I’m asking you to support Congressman Ryan’s plan.  Let’s get government cropped back to those tasks the government was originally intended to perform.  Providing health care is not one of the jobs.

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