President Obama was so concerned that he had appeared to dismiss a question from New York Times reporters about whether he was a socialist that he called the newspaper from the Oval Office to clarify his policies.
"It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question," he told reporters, who had interviewed the president aboard Air Force One on Friday.
Presidents don't call newspapers. Newspapers call the president.
So says Peter Popham for the UK Independent, here:
The use of drones for the surveillance purposes sketched by Gitlin takes us back to their original function. The critical weakness of the Nazi doodlebug was the lack of control: its only use was as a mechanical kamikaze. Once you had control of the thing, everything changed. George Orwell was the first to describe the possibilities, in his novel 1984. "In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and dashed away again with a curving flight," he wrote in the novel's first chapter. "It was the police patrol, snooping into people's windows...". ...
It is the snooping function foreseen by Orwell that is the most significant next step for drones in our societies: with our cities and public buildings already saturated with surveillance cameras, we may fondly suppose that the state's monitoring of our daily lives has gone as far as it can go. But we ain't seen nothing yet. ...
Orwell's black vision of total surveillance – "It was even conceivable," he wrote in 1984, "that [the Thought Police] watched everybody all the time" – is finally achieving its technological apotheosis. In a few weeks, the US Army is expected to deploy in Afghanistan its latest helicopter-style drone, the A160 Hummingbird, equipped with 1.8 gigapixel colour cameras. Able to hover, unlike current drones, it will have "unprecedented capability to track and monitor activity on the ground", the Army says. Able to track people and vehicles from above 20,000ft, and with a 65sq-mile field of view, it will have 65 steerable "windows" able to follow separate targets. More modest surveillance drones may be used to enhance police monitoring of London's Olympics.
Central banks can proclaim that banks and the economy are one and the same, but that does not make it true. Again, there was no real danger of deflation in the real economy as currency, as in the usage of money to transact, was never in short supply. What has been in short supply, and remains in short supply, are sustainable streams of real income due to productive activities - the kinds of activities that have a hard time flourishing under continuously dysfunctional monetary regimes.
“Why would people want to live under the ‘dead hand’ of an eighteenth-century constitution that preserved not enduring values but specific eighteenth-century thoughts about how those values then applied?”
-- Justice Stephen Breyer, Bill "Depends on what the meaning of is is" Clinton appointee, quoted here
He might as well have said:
“Why would people want to live under the ‘dead hand’ of an eighteenth-century constitution archaic Hebrew narrative that preserved not enduring values but specific second millennium BC thoughts about how those values then applied?”
"After 3 1⁄2 years, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (“TARP”) continues to be an active and significant part of the Government’s response to the financial crisis. It is a widely held misconception that TARP will make a profit. The most recent cost estimate for TARP is a loss of $60 billion. Taxpayers are still owed $118.5 billion (including $14 billion written off or otherwise lost). But the analysis should not be focused alone on money in and money out. TARP’s costs and legacies involve far more than just dollars and cents. Using a microscope to narrowly focus on the profit or loss of TARP risks losing sight of the bigger picture of whether TARP has been successful in meeting its goals and whether lessons learned from the financial crisis have been adequately implemented so that Treasury, banking regulators, and Congress do not find themselves in the position of rushing out another massive bailout of the financial industry, i.e., TARP 2.0.
"While TARP and other Government responses to the financial crisis may have prevented the immediate collapse of our financial and auto manufacturing industries, and improved stability since 2008, the tradeoff is not without profound long-term consequences. A significant legacy of TARP is increased moral hazard and potentially disastrous consequences associated with institutions deemed “too big to fail.” TARP’s legacy also includes the impact on consumers and homeowners from the large banks’ failure to lend TARP funds. TARP continues to be subject to criticism that TARP helped large banks but not homeowners. In addition, after 3 1⁄2 years, community banks have an uphill battle to exit TARP because they cannot find new capital to replace TARP funds. Finally, TARP’s legacy includes white-collar crime that SIGTARP is uncovering and stopping."
-- Christy L. Romero, Quarterly Report to Congress, April 25, 2012
Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2012 (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2011, real GDP increased 3.0 percent.
Compared to Q1 2011 at 0.4, today's report at 2.2 looks pretty good, until you remember that Q1 2010 roared at 3.9 percent, Obama's best quarter so far but hardly what one would expect from an economy truly in recovery from the depths to which it sank in its little depression of 2008-2009. The post-war period in the United States saw average growth of 3.5 percent, so one lousy imprint of 3.9 does not a recovery make.
America is clearly not growing like it should, nor like it can. And the chief obstacle to that is spelled "Obama".
Here is the most recent statement of historical GDP from the release for the period 1996-2011:
Not that he wasn't a geezer already in 2006 when he was still thumping his global warming tub:
In 2006, in an article in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper, he wrote that “before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.” ...
Six years on he's singing a slightly different tune:
“The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened,” Lovelock said.
“The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now,” he said.
“The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time… it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising -- carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that,” he added.
He pointed to Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and Tim Flannery’s “The Weather Makers” as other examples of “alarmist” forecasts of the future.
In a less than $2 trillion budget world at the state level.
Because of promises to pay for pensions and healthcare for retired public employees out of future tax revenues, the big squeeze is on, according to Steven Malanga, here:
From 2008 through 2010 (the latest year data are available), state spending rose to $1.9 trillion, from $1.7 trillion. ...
Several years ago, for instance, the treasurer of Cook County, Ill., Maria Pappas, demanded that all of Cook's municipalities report their debt to her. It wasn't easy. They began with bonded debt, then totaled up pension liabilities, then found they had lots more they'd promised to workers for health care. ...
We couldn't get a handle on just how much debt states and their municipalities have accumulated unless every county treasurer does what Pappas did. But just what we can estimate in bonded debt and unfunded pension and health care promises for retirees now totals about $8 trillion. That's a lot of future state and municipal tax revenues already accounted for.
What's that familiar refrain we keep hearing at the federal level, that a present Congress can't bind a future one?
So how can present municipal and county governments bind the taxpayers to pay in future for unfunded promises in the present, huh?
The fact is, UK GDP has not recovered since the onset of troubles in 2008, despite the happy talk of "recovery" in Newspeak which must not call things what they really are, for example, here, at CNBC.com:
"Britain's economy contracted by 7.1 percent during its 2008-2009 recession and recovery since has been slow, with headwinds from the euro zone debt crisis, government spending cuts, high inflation and a damaged banking sector.
"Wednesday's data showed that output was still 4.3 percent below its peak in the first quarter of 2008, and the economy has only grown by 0.4 percent since the government came to power in the second quarter of 2010."
For the chart, the dark blue line in which shows the current decline in the UK since 2008 still 4 percent down more than three years on, see the UK Guardian here.
It's not a paler shade of gray, dammit. It's a faker form of black . . . on the Firth of effing Forth.
We're even dumber than we look, and our stupid party is the smart one of the two.
From John Carney for NetNet:
"A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 47 percent of Americans didn’t know which political party supports reducing the size and scope of the federal government. Forty-two percent didn’t know which party usually supports reducing military spending. Thirty-nine percent didn’t know which party generally favors restrictions on abortion. ...
"There’s a substantial ignorant minority on almost every issue. ...
"Forty-four percent of women, for example, did not know Nancy Pelosi is a Democrat (fewer men, 33 percent, got this wrong). Fifty percent of women didn’t know ... John Boehner’s party. ...
"People ages 50 and up are engaged by taxes and partisanship (70 percent correctly identified the party affiliation of Pelosi, 72 percent correctly identified which party is known as the G.O.P.). ..."
Read the rest HERE, if you're smart enough to find the link.
All at once, the passengers contorted themselves to get a view out of the starboard windows.
And there it was. The actual shuttle, the space shuttle Discovery, piggybacking a ride atop a Boeing 747, on the way to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where it would be retired. A ripple of excitement -- boyish, unvarnished excitement -- moved through the cabin.
It was an entrancing sight, and completely improbable, especially to people like me, who still don’t quite understand how a 747 gets into the air, even without a space shuttle as carry-on luggage.
The 747 and the space shuttle made a pass over the Washington Monument and the capital’s other grand marble temples, all consecrated to the American idea. They gleamed in the sun as they received a salute from a spacecraft that represented the physical manifestation of American ingenuity and confidence.
Then the 747 left our view. We settled back into our seats, having been elevated for a moment by a magnificent and elegiac vision -- elegiac, because the end of the shuttle program marks the first time since the dawn of the Space Age that the U.S. government has no immediate plan to launch humans into space.
A few minutes later, while we were still parked on the tarmac, ... the plane’s steering seemed to be malfunctioning. ...
We returned to the terminal, and I watched on CNN as Discovery finished the journey to its nursing home in the Virginia countryside. Only then did the obvious thought cross my mind: Newt is right.
This isn’t a thought that has often crossed my mind, especially over the past several months, but on the matter of space exploration and the role it has played in teaching Americans that they are capable of performing exceptional acts of creativity and bravery, Newt Gingrich is exactly right.
Mr. Obama's new approach puts him in the company of his recent predecessors. Mr. Bush, for example, failed to persuade Congress to pass a bill allowing religiously affiliated groups to receive taxpayer grants -- and then issued an executive order making the change.
President Bill Clinton increased White House involvement in agency rule making, using regulations and executive orders to show that he was getting things done despite opposition from a Republican Congress on matters like land conservation, gun control, tobacco advertising and treaties. (He was assisted by a White House lawyer, Elena Kagan, who later won tenure at Harvard based on scholarship analyzing such efforts and who is now on the Supreme Court.)
And both the Reagan and George Bush administrations increased their control over executive agencies to advance a deregulatory agenda, despite opposition from Democratic lawmakers, while also developing legal theories and tactics to increase executive power, like issuing signing statements more frequently.
The bipartisan history of executive aggrandizement in recent decades complicates Republican criticism.
IF TERRORIST murders by Hamas and Islamists did not stop well-intentioned future leaders of Norway from considering them heroic underdogs, an evil local man could think his act of terrorism would gain sympathy and change Europe’s politics.
After all, it has already changed the Middle East, and even been sanctified by Western media, intellectuals and governments.
When Norway’s ambassador to Israel tries to distinguish between “bad” terrorism in Norway and “understandable” terrorism against Israelis, that opens the door to a man who thinks his country is “occupied” by leftists and Muslims.
In this sense, the most important thing about the Norway terrorist is not that he is right-wing or anti-Islam. The most important thing is that he believed terrorism would work on behalf of his cause.
Had he held all of the same beliefs but didn’t think murder was a good tactic, nobody would be dead from his actions.
Of course, he was mentally unbalanced, but had a material basis for his imaginings.
What he didn’t understand is that many Europeans will accept terrorism against Israelis or even Americans; very few will applaud terrorism against fellow Europeans.
Nevertheless, many people gave him the idea that terrorism would change minds, and bring victory. They weren’t those whose blogs he quoted a few times in a 1,500-page manifesto, and who explicitly rejected violence. It was the successful terrorists and their Western enablers who gave him the tactic he implemented.
The latest lazy lies attacking the so-called privileges of the so-called middle class come from one Linda Killian at The Atlantic here:
"The three largest expenditures in the tax code are all things many middle-class Americans take advantage of -- tax-free employer-provided health insurance, the home mortgage interest deduction and tax-free 401(k) retirement accounts. ... The tax exemptions for home mortgage interest cost the government more than the entire budget of the Department of Housing and Urban Development according to Steuerle [an Urban Institute economist]."
These are NOT the three largest. They rank 1, 3 and 6, not 1, 2 and 3.
If Linda Killian had bothered to read the Joint Committee on Taxation's latest report on the subject, she would have known that.
Here are the top ten tax loss expenditures for 2011, according to this committee of the US Congress:
$109.3 billion Employer provided health insurance and related
$ 90.5 billion Reduced tax rates on dividends and capital gains
$ 56.4 billion Credit for children under 17 aka Child Tax Credit
$ 48.4 billion 401K-type plans
$ 42.7 billion Pension plans aka union retirement plans
$ 42.4 billion State/local income, sales and property tax deduct.
$ 38.0 billion Exclusion of capital gains at death
$ 31.0 billion Exclusion of benefits under cafeteria plans
$ 31.0 billion Exclusion of untaxed Social Security and RR benes.
Who benefits from the top three? It's hardly a middle class phenomenon . . . today.
Rich and poor and everyone in between gets health insurance when they are employed by an employer, not just the middle class. And they don't pay tax on that "income." But the size of this break is bound to decline dramatically in coming years, if ObamaCare is not struck down or repealed. Fewer employers will be providing coverage, choosing to pay lower fines instead. Other companies will deliberately downsize in order to escape the requirements under the law, making employer-provided insurance less common than it is today. The net effect may very well be that employer-provided health insurance becomes more and more an upper class phenomenon.
Reduced rates of taxation on dividends and capital gains primarily benefit the rich in America. Could that be why Killian overlooked it entirely? It certainly doesn't fit her narrative against the middle class, does it? But this category is the real number 2 in the list of tax loss expenditures.
Working class and middle class people who are lucky enough to have joined the investor class are investing primarily through tax-deferring vehicles like union pension plans and 401K plans, which rank number 7 and 6 in Congress' accounting of tax loss expenditures. It is questionable, however, for pensions and 401Ks to appear in this list of tax loss expenditures at all. Eventually the deferred money will become income, and it will be taxed.
But the more important point is that everyone in this bottom 66 percent of wage earners by definition makes less than $100,000 per year and by and large very few of them are playing around in the stock market, where fat cats like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and Mitt Romney derive their unearned income, taxed at the non-permanent lower rates under the Bush tax legislation of 2001-2003. Were these rates permanent, however, this tax loss expenditure wouldn't even make the list.
Contrast that with something which is more or less permanent: the exclusion of income from Social Security taxation. The current income ceiling after which income is not so taxed is almost $107,000 per year. In 2010 just under $2 trillion in ordinary wages and salaries made by the rich escaped the Social Security tax. The tax loss expenditure of that? $125 billion, higher than anything in the Joint Commission's report. And it all went to the rich.
Third is the ever popular whipping boy of the tax reform crowd, the mortgage interest deduction. It should worry average Americans who struggle on the crumbs which fall from their masters' tables that our betters want to make it harder for us to own four walls and a little garden and a tree. 100 million out of 150 million wage earners in 2010 made less than $40,000 per year. Try buying a house on that.
Democrats and Republicans have successfully conspired to attack Social Security for the first time by de-funding it temporarily and haven't yet been electrocuted by the once-feared third rail of politics, so I fully expect them to keep trying on mortgage interest.
Four years ago the mortgage interest deduction was more like $88 billion, so with the collapse of housing we have witnessed a decline in the amount of mortgage interest being paid, and so deducted. $10 billion less. The reason for this is two-fold. One, fewer homeowners. Two, refinanced mortgages at lower rates. With home ownership already under severe stress, it is astonishing that liberals of both parties continue to attack it under the guise of tax fairness. What it really is, is statists greedily looking for more revenue.
"[W]hat we see unfolding is the latest chapter in the tug of war between inflationary and deflationary forces. During the “goldilocks” economy of the last decade, investors levered themselves up. Homeowners treated their homes as if they were ATMs; banks set up off-balance sheet Special Investment Vehicles (SIVs); governments engaging in arrangements to get cheap loans that may cost future generations dearly. Cumulatively, it was an amazing money generation process; yet, central banks remained on the sidelines, as inflation – according to the metrics focused on - appeared contained. Indeed, we have argued in the past that central banks lost control of the money creation process, as they could not keep up with the plethora of “financial innovation” that justified greater leverage. It was only a matter of time before the world no longer appeared quite so risk-free. Rational investors thus reduced their exposure: de-levered. When de-leveraging spreads, however, massive deflationary forces may be put in motion. The financial system itself was at risk, as institutions did not hold sufficiently liquid assets to de-lever in an orderly way. Without intervention, deflationary forces might have thrown the global economy into a depression.
"The trouble occurs when the money creation process takes on a life of its own, because the money destruction process is rather difficult to stop. However, it hasn’t stopped policy makers from trying: in an effort to fight what may have been a disorderly collapse of the financial system, unprecedented monetary and fiscal initiatives were undertaken to stem against market forces. Trillion dollar deficits, trillions in securities purchased by the Fed with money created out of thin air (when the Fed buys securities, it merely credits the account of the bank with an accounting entry – while no physical dollar bills are printed, many – including us – refer to this process as the printing of money)."
Everything about Norway's AUF and its leader Eskil Pedersen has to do with a fanatical program of political action against the State of Israel, as shown in this photograph taken the day before Breivik's massacre, and in this story. The AUF's program is so extreme that even the already extreme position of the Norwegian Labour government against Israel isn't good enough for it.
An insane preoccupation with a country eleven days distant from Norway by sea by the children of the ruling political party doesn't come out of nowhere. It is a symptom of a wider mental disorder at work in Norway, indeed, it is the prevailing mindset.
Why should anyone be surprised that such a disease of the mind should also produce a deranged maniac like Anders Breivik?
Breivik's trial will not examine that, nor will much of the world ever examine it, because those who share in this irrational hatred of the Jews will not let it happen.
On Fox News Thursday night, Palin responded to the Post’s revelations about Chaney’s comments by saying she was disgusted that a Secret Service agent would make jokes about checking out her “backside” and called his behavior “pretty embarrassing.”
“This agent . . . was kind of ridiculous posting pictures and comments,” she said. “Well check this out, bodyguard. You’re fired! And I hope his wife . . . kicks him into the dog house.”
Palin stressed she viewed the scandal as emblematic of Obama’s poor management. “Look who’s running the show,” she said. “People will say its boys being boys. I’ve had enough of these men being dogs and not being responsible for the taxpayer’s dollars.”
Fox News host Greta Van Susteren told Palin she agreed Obama should be held accountable for how he reacted to the incident but stressed that the agent made his comments about Palin under the Bush administration.
The snake has been dubbed "Titanoboa" in the story here:
Partial skeletons of a new giant, boa constrictor-like snake named “Titanoboa” found in Colombia by an international team of scientists and now at the University of Florida are estimated to be 42 to 45 feet long, the length of the T-Rex “Sue” displayed at Chicago’s Field Museum, said Jonathan Bloch, a UF vertebrate paleontologist who co-led the expedition with Carlos Jaramillo, a paleobotanist from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. ...
Based on the snake’s size, the team was able to calculate that the mean annual temperature at equatorial South America 60 million years ago would have been about 91 degrees Fahrenheit, about 10 degrees warmer than today, Bloch said.
No word on what evil fossil fuel was responsible for the global warming.
The Washington Post story here cuts off the story, leaving out the part about temperature: "It would have to have been so warm . . .."
This is the extremist responsible for radicalizing the youth on Utoya with the Marxist doctrines of democratic socialism, doctrines which include virulent anti-Semitism. The day on the island before the attacks had been devoted to a Boycott Israel rally. Note Pedersen's defense of himself in fleeing the island where Breivik was busy picking off the kids one by one, a defense which is itself characteristic of a radicalized mind: "I thought the entire country was under attack."
On 22 July, the day of the 2011 Norway attacks, Eskil Pedersen was present at the annual AUF summer camp on Utøya. As the leader of the organization, he was one of the assailant's stated targets along with the Labour Party politician Gro Harlem Brundtland, who was scheduled to be there that day but left the island before he arrived. Breivik would later state that he had studied Pedersen's physical appearance and facial attributes to be able to recognize him during the attack.
Very soon after the shooting erupted, Pedersen along with his political aide sought refuge on the ferry MS Thorbjørn, and along with seven other people decided to make their escape from the island. Pedersen later stated that while being at the Hønefoss police headquarters he feared a coup d'etat had taken place, and could not trust any member of the police. In an interview with TV2 he states: "I thought the entire country was under attack [..] if we docked anywhere we would be killed."
There has been widespread speculation in forums and independent blogs about the conduct on the ferry, but most professional media outlets initially refused to participate in the criticism. News website Nettavisen published a story raising questions a day after the massacre, but dropped the case shortly after claiming huge pressure from "central Labour Party politicians", as well as the AUF.
More recently, one prominent survivor who himself was wounded has publicly questioned why the ferry chose to depart, saying that i[t] was "unbelievable" adding that they felt "helpless and abandoned" after watching it disappear. The survivor, 22-year old Adrian Pracon from Telemark later published a book detailing his ordeal, which AUF attempted unsuccessfully to block, drawing criticism. Another survivor, 20-year old Bjørn Ihler from Oslo said of Pedersen: "This was the leader of the group, it was as if the Captain abandons ship". Pedersen later defended himself in an interview with BBC saying: "I think I acted normally given the situation. I acted according to instinct. I did what I was told and boarded the boat".
Jah, just following orders. Like a Quisling.
The country's preoccupation with and hatred for Israel demonstrate that it is a fertile environment for insanity which now grows from the seedbed of revolutionary socialism instead of the national socialism of Adolf Hitler and his many sympathizers in Norway.
The candidate said he didn't expect a fair fight in the media, saying he believed many commentators on television were liberals. He also said CNN reporter and host Wolf Blitzer was a good interviewer, and said Fox News had been good to him. Fox News is owned by News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal.
"Fox is watched by the true believers," Mr. Romney said. "We need to get the independents and the women."
So think a number of people now, including Bruce Bawer, here yesterday:
"Perhaps the most lucid and succinct summary I’ve seen of the ensuing developments appeared this weekend in the Danish newspaper Weekendavisen. Klaus Wivel began by noting two ways in which Norway singles itself out: first, in no nation in the world are more defendants declared insane; second, in Norway, as opposed to many other countries, if a defendant is declared insane, that’s it: he’s put into the care of mental-health authorities, and the legal and penal systems no longer have any say in his future.
In the case of Breivik, this well-established state of affairs outraged many Norwegians, who, understandably, wanted to see him put behind bars forever. It also disappointed many on the Left, for whom the idea of Breivik as a madman was of no use at all; they wanted him put on trial, so that they could also try, as it were, their own enemies on the Right whose criticism of Islam, they insisted, had led to Breivik’s actions. Breivik, for his part, also hated the diagnosis. 'He claims to have rational arguments for his murder,' wrote Wivel. 'He wants to be declared guilty, not insane.'
Most important, as it turned out, the judges, too, were unhappy with the first psychiatric report. So in December, in a remarkable deviation from standard practice, they asked for a whole new report by two different doctors. Wivel quotes Norwegian journalist Jon Hustad, who wrote bluntly that 'the judges gave in to political pressure.' That second report, whose conclusions were made public last week, gave the Left, Breivik, and the judges exactly what they wanted: a declaration of sanity. On, then, to the trial, which begins today."
"There are more than 1,000 Jews in Oslo, but you never see them. Not one. Jews in Norway make upjust 0.003% of the total population, but the country is a bulwark of global anti-Semitism. Elsewhere, due to security reasons, Jews are fleeing the Swedish city of Malmo and Antwerp in Belgium, a town once proudly called 'the Northern Jerusalem.'
To quote psychiatrist Zvi Rex: 'Europe will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.' Europe doesn’t want to live under the psychological burden of Auschwitz forever. The Jews are living reminders of the moral failure of Europe. This leads to the projection of guilt on Israel and the remaining European Jews.
Indeed, it’s a tragic but unavoidable process: the New Europe will be a Jews-free continent."
The easiest way for people who've lost a job to start a business is to keep doing the same kind of work they've always done, but no longer as an employee of a company.
Call it miscellaneous work income, freelance income, sub-contracting or consulting, you're most likely filing Schedule C as a sole proprietor who works for competitors of your former firm, or maybe even still for your former firm.
Believe it or not, it's the single largest category of "company" in America. In 2009 22.7 million sole proprietor returns were filed with the IRS representing total business receipts of $1.2 trillion. This is a relatively small sum as you'll soon see, but this category of Mom and Pop small business easily outnumbers the others.
Partnerships in 2008, for example, numbered just 3.1 million returns, and represented 19.3 million partners and total business receipts of $5.9 trillion. A close second for numbers of individuals represented.
S Corporations came in at nearly 4 million returns in 2007, representing $6.1 trillion in total business receipts.
Rounding out the picture are the corporation heavy hitters most Americans still work for, which filed 5.8 million returns in 2008 accounting for total business receipts of $28.6 trillion. That's a lot of moolah. These are the companies which provided you with such things as workmen's compensation and unemployment coverage as a matter of the law.
When they fired you in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and you started your own "business", you learned that you had to fly without that net under you. You also got to learn about the true cost of such things as Social Security, for which you only used to pay half. Now you get to pay it all, but of course you also get an adjustment to income for it, just like a real business.
If you're in misery about it all as tomorrow's tax deadline looms, you've got lots of company. Around 22,699,999 strong.
[T]he Rockefeller Institute of Government noted on Friday that overall tax collections were still 2.1 percent below peak levels, and personal income tax collections were still 6.8 percent below the high reached in fiscal 2008. ...
The Rockefeller report noted that in fiscal 2010, total tax collections were down from the peaks by a much steeper 10 percent and in fiscal 2009 by 8.4 percent.
Brian Wesbury is very skeptical on historical grounds that adding a VAT can do anything to increase revenues relative to GDP:
"[T]here have only been eight years of balanced or surplus budgets in the 61 years since 1950; spending as a share of GDP averaged just 18.1% in those years. In other words, the more the government spends, the harder it is to balance the budget.
"[N]o matter the rate on the income tax, tax receipts are rarely above 19.5% of GDP. The top individual income tax rate has been as high as 90% and as low as 28% in the past 60 years, but revenues have remained in a fairly narrow range. ...
"In 2011, government spending was 24.1% of GDP, and under President Obama’s budget proposal it is never going to fall below 23% of GDP. In other words, there is no tax regime in the history of the United States that has generated enough tax revenue as a share of GDP to balance the budget today, or in the future."
But the problem with this analysis, of course, is that Wesbury is comparing income tax "apples" with value added tax "oranges." The latter have never been on the menu here. They have been elsewhere, as he discusses, but not as stand alone systems. Like Christianity, a VAT isn't a failure. It just hasn't been tried.
While there is every reason to be as skeptical as Wesbury is that a VAT would replace the income tax and wouldn't instead be layered on top of it and contribute to an even more onerous spiral of taxation and spending, Wesbury leaves out of account the moral virtue of a VAT as a tax on consumption and a spur to saving and investment.
Historically conservatism has too rarely taken a stand critical of materialism, especially of the American kind where 70 percent of the economy has depended on consumption. From this perspective, taxing consumption is a much more commendable idea than taxing income, which we say we want to encourage. "If you want less of something, tax it." Is it any surprise that incomes are declining?
Instead what Wesbury is unintentionally demonstrating is that our civilization has reached the limits of the income tax regime instituted in 1913, just as the limitations of the tariff and excise regime for financing mass democracy had been reached at the end of the 19th century.
Perhaps the even more fundamental point is whether mass democracy itself is viable anymore, whether in fact "mass democracy" is not an oxymoron. After all, once the people vote themselves goodies picked from their fellows' pockets, it can't help but implode.
The rich will only put up just so long with this arrangement until they pick up their capital and leave. Indeed, one could argue that precisely that has been occurring for quite some time already. The exodus of manufacturing capacity is the form it has most obviously taken since the opening to China. Less well recognized is the rise of the international citizen who picks up his family and settles in places like Singapore or Macau as the case may be. Greece has imploded under similar circumstances, its richest citizens having long ago made arrangements to avoid the plundering which its tax system means.
Aristotle even longer ago understood the affinities between extreme democracy and tyranny. The rich do what they can, and exile themselves. The rest do what they must.
Scott Rasmussen provides some insight about the size of Obama's base, here:
"Economic concerns dominate the voters’ agenda, and here the numbers for the president are more troubling.
"Some 49 percent of the voters trust Romney more than Obama when it comes to the economy. Just 39 percent trust Obama more.
"Middle-income voters are especially likely to have more confidence in Romney. Obama does best among those who earn less than $20,000 a year and those who earn more than $100,000 annually. Especially troubling for the White House is the fact that 20 percent of Democrats trust Romney more than Obama on this core issue.
"On other issues, however, Romney and Obama are essentially even. This includes health care, taxes, national security and energy."
The under $20K and over $100K wage earners favoring Obama numbered 71 million in 2010, according to Social Security. That leaves 79 million in the in-between category which tends to favor Romney.
Hence Romney's (inelegant) pitch to the middle class during the early primary season:
“I’m in this race because I care about Americans,” Romney told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien this morning after his resounding victory in Florida on Tuesday. “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.”
“I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling and I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.”
This statement notwithstanding, it's going to be a 52-48 type of fight, with the economy center stage right now.
The problem with libertarianism as argued by Tamny ("as human beings our natural rights are infinite and extend right up to when our freedom of action hurts others") is that both reason and nature tell us that it is not true.
Reason tells us that rights which extend only up to a certain point cannot be infinite.
And Nature teaches us that rights are not infinite. Otherwise the right to life would not end with the grave.
Thus the basic insight of conservatism is metaphysical: life has its limits, a man's got to know his limitations, government which governs least governs best, life is a mixture, into every life a little rain must fall, if it's got tits or testicles it's going to cause you trouble, simuljustusetpeccator.