The New Terrapin Gazette
11 May, 2012
Mr. Madison wished to relieve the sufferers, but was afraid of establishing a dangerous precedent, which might hereafter be perverted to the countenance of purposes very different from those of charity. He acknowledged, for his own part, that he could not undertake to lay his finger on that article in the Federal Constitution which granted a right of Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.
Squaw Make Bad Medicine, You Betchum
Her name is Elizabeth Warren, she’s a law professor at Harvard, she has claimed to be a Native American, she’s running for the US Senate, she’s a committed collectivist and culture warrior, and she really, really gets the GOP’s goat.
First, see what she’s got to say about tax policy and business in the USA — and note how she says it. Yes, she’s a believer in “fair” taxation, which tends to draw a bit of comment. She also thinks she’s got the upper hand when dealing with Congress, and even the NY Times could not put enough spin in its report of her scrape with a Congressional committee to hide her high-handedness.
She has never managed to dream up a credible explanation for listing herself as a Native American (she said she wanted to meet people), and Harvard cited her presence on its faculty as evidence the school does not discriminate against minorities. Ugh, because attempts to validate her claim of Cherokee ancestry — way, way back — have failed to get past genealogists. In fact it looks as if her ancestors were on the other side. Double ugh.
All right, no more sophomoric taunting; the problem with Elizabeth Warren is not that she is fast and loose with the truth, or has some sort of holier-than-thou complex when it comes to answering the questions of a Congressional committee, but that her concepts of tax policy and the role of government are ignorant, counterproductive, dangerous to Liberty, and inflammatory.
Note carefully what this female is saying (watch that video now if you didn’t already): she is upset that manufacturers use the roads, police, and legal system that everybody uses to some degree. She says successful businesses need to “pay forward” for having accomplished something profitable on top of a foundation built with tax money.
Now Warren knows that manufacturers pay taxes, and that those taxes pay for a lot of things everybody uses; she knows, for example, that property taxes pay for public education, but that the land on which a factory stands is not a residential community, so Warren also knows that even capitalists necessarily support governmental activities of all sorts. Her real complaint is that the manufacturers are not paying enough in taxes. She wants to drive up the costs of doing business — or she wants to increase the taxes on the income the capitalist gets from his factory. She’s concerned that the rich are getting away with something, in other words; they are making too much money.
She knows that any increases in the cost of doing business are passed on to the consumer, and she knows that increases in taxes will often result in declines in investment, as well as slower growth of manufacturing capacity and industrial output. She knows that when the government taxes something, it is discouraging the taxed activity.
Not one of these facts is a political statement. Everything in the above two paragraphs is accurate, fundamental economics.
In the event that you need to review some important facts about taxation — especially the capital gains tax, which is central to Team Obama’s message to culture warriors, do read the following indented paragraphs.
Nowhere are “progressive” ignorance and dogmatic extremism more obvious than in the case of the capital gains tax. A review of how this tax functions and what it accomplishes may be helpful.
If you buy stock, keep it for at least a year and then sell it at a profit, you pay a flat capital gains tax on the money you made, and in many cases that tax will be lower than the income tax you would have paid on your profits if they were considered ordinary income. So you are rewarded financially for having taken the risk, tied your money up for a year, and been smart or lucky enough to come out ahead. This is the government’s way of encouraging you to gamble that your stock will go up in value.
All right…so what? So over time, it has been observed that when the capital gains tax rate is reduced, more investors put more money into businesses and ventures of all sorts, and the total revenues (the money paid to the government in capital gains taxes) increase. The government makes more money, the investors who made profits keep more of those profits, and, most important, businesses and industries benefit from the increase in investment.
Note that a low capital gains tax simply encourages growth and innovation in general; it does not control, direct, manage, restrict, regulate or mandate economic behavior. It leaves decisions up to individuals and corporate entities, and permits them to act in self-interest. Its only interference with a free market is to encourage or discourage the flow of capital to enterprises of all sorts. While those who insist that all taxation is robbery object to a capital gains tax on ethical grounds, the fact is that as long as there is a personal income tax, the adjustment of the capital gains tax can be a powerful tool to stimulate economic growth — especially in times of rising consumer prices and unemployment.
Tossing out the capital gains tax would, in other words, make sense only if personal income taxes were also eliminated. The difference between higher rates of personal income tax and the capital gains tax is a mechanism government can use to promote economic growth. The Obamite conception of raising capital gains taxes in the interests of “fairness” is literally insane, for it would drive unemployment higher, increase poverty, drastically cut back on the ability of he economy to support government expenditures, and risk ruinous deflation.
As a weapon in the culture war, however, the call for increasing the capital gains tax is powerful propaganda. It is fundamental to anticapitalist recruiting efforts.
Warren has refused to increase her income tax voluntarily, which seems to indicate that she does not believe her taxes (on a relatively high income) are too low. Whether she is a hypocrite is a question you might consider.
In any event, she is certainly a demagogue who misleads her audience by pretending outrage at nonexistent misbehavior. She waves her arms wildly and shrieks, playing to people who are angry because of what they perceive as an unfair (and presumably unethical, therefore) distribution of wealth. She wants the government to punish the unrighteous and drain off their power. Warren is targeting ignorant voters, pandering to their prejudices with buffoonish histrionics. She is a stereotypical rabble-rouser who makes Rush Limbaugh look like an Oxford don. Her audiences should be insulted.
At this point, the “trickle-down” concept in economics typically comes up for discussion. The notion is simple: first, rich people invest and make a lot more money; then they do something with that wealth. They give their wealth to other people — to professionals such as CPAs, or to businesses like boatyards and real estate investment trusts — in exchange for goods and services. That means that money earned by a very rich person does not disappear; it is naturally passed along to other people.
That’s all to be expected. After all, think about it: what can a filthy-rich pig do with his undeserved wealth? What, exactly, are his options?
He can do only a very few things, and only one of them amounts to not giving his money to someone else (to keep or to use for a time). He can buy things (jewelry, an island, a Bugatti, a rare painting, and so on). He can obtain services (backrubs, psychotherapy, sex). He can invest (stocks, bonds, loans, putting his money in the bank; yes, when you deposit money in a savings account, you give that money to someone else to use, and you hope to get it back some day). He can donate to charity.
And that’s it. If he does not give his money to someone else, which is called “spreading it around”, he can only put his money away somewhere — not in a bank, not in gold, not in life insurance, because all of those involve giving the money to someone else — or he can destroy it.
That’s right: the only way that rich pig can avoid giving his money to someone else is by denying everyone, including himself, the use of it. If he does that, he takes that money out of the economy.
Do the super-wealthy do that with their money?
Warren and her ilk insist trickle-down does not work, and they are angry that anyone mentions it as if it were a beneficial process.
There are two aspects to trickle-down that “progressives” don’t want to talk about. The first is that it works, and the second is that when they say, “It’s been proved that trickle-down does not work,” they mean, “It’s not doing what we want.”
Of course trickle-down works; it works every time an obscenely rich jerk gives any of his money to someone who has less money than the obscenely rich jerk has. But Warren wants trickle-down to eliminate income and wealth disparities, or at least reduce them dramatically; she can’t say exactly how much money is too much, and should therefore be illegal to own, but she wants the rich to be relieved of most of their money and the poor to be elevated to the middle class.
Opponents of trickle-down would be all for it, if it could homogenize society and force the wealthy capitalists to work for a living. Fairness!
Cynics will point out that fairness is not at all the motive of collectivist rabble-rousers, and that propagandizing the ignorant is how collectivists acquire power. The cynics are right. All the talk of “fairness” and promises of a Utopia are expedient deceit. The acquisition of political power is the real goal of the Obamaniacs, Occupy activists, and all the other neo-Marxist and anticapitalist nutcases — like Warren.
Power can be an end in itself; it’s usually a means to something else, though.
Throughout most of the world, the rich are rich because they are powerful and connected. While that is true to a certain extent in the USA, it is often the case that wealth in North America results from luck, good business practices, and innovation — with power and connections playing no roles at all. That’s the truth behind the slogans that call the US the “land of opportunity” and imply that the level playing field gives everyone a chance to make it big. What most folks in the USA do not quite grasp is that the opportunities they take for granted, limited though they are, make the USA almost unique.
In most places on Earth, corruption is the key to wealth; hard work certainly is not, and even brilliant entrepreneurial innovation can be trumped by political skulduggery. Most governments are political shelters for the biggest thieves in the nation. Power is important around the world not because it protects the individual or insures justice for victims; political power is how bad people cripple their competitors and maximize their profits.
…when you look at history and when you look at empirical evidence it is clear that the key to prosperity is in institutions, not in culture nor in geography. Moreover, history is also equally clear that bad institutions were in place not because of leaders’ mistakes but by design: because they played a useful political and economic role for the benefit of the politically powerful in society. Source
To the extent that the above (sloppily written) quote applies to the USA, the Tea Party Movement would like to see reform — so there are no more Solyndras, and no corporation is too big to fail.
The efficiency of corrupt enterprises can be optimized when government is centralized; such institutions are attractive targets for the designs of ambitious criminals. (For an example, see “In re Warren: The Boss of Bosses”, below.)
With centralized power comes the potential for industrial-scale corruption. Those who think the USA is the exception to that rule are simply naive.
Warren and her allies want a strong central government that regulates, adjusts and repositions the social strata of the nation. She wants confiscatory taxation employed in the name of “fairness”, and with her shrieking and arm-waving, she indicates clearly that she is willing to instigate a culture war to accomplish that enormity. She demonizes Wall Street, backs the cretins in the Occupy movement, and preaches salvation to the “victims” of trickle-down economics.
The last thing Warren wants to see is a genuinely free market, for that provides the greatest range of choices for the individual, cripples the government’s ability to engineer the social structure and the economy — and militates effectively against unethical business practices. She works to reduce the individual to a serf who, overwhelmed by political propaganda, is expected to remain pathetically, eternally grateful for the benefits provided by a loving government. Her vision is of a Utopia that was crafted in the bloody fantasies of nineteenth century revolutionaries. The ethos she espouses is antique, authoritarian to the point of totalitarian, and thoroughly fascistic, displaying, as it does, a remarkable similarity to the National Socialism of Hitler. Her rhetoric is superficial sloganeering that conveys all the wisdom of a belch.
Of course Warren is scaring the “wingnuts” silly. Though there are growing concerns in the Democratic party that she is a bedlamite True Believer, the hard core of the opposition to Obama realizes the voters of Massachusetts will elect her to the US Senate.
In re Warren: The Boss Of Bosses
Perhaps one of the best examples of the symbiotic relationship between power and economic gain is the career of Thaksin Shinwatra, the former prime minister of Thailand. You have heard of this scoundrel before, because this newsletter was at one time written in and distributed from Bangkok.
Thaksin (Thais use first names, not family names, when referring to people) was a serial failed businessman until he married the daughter of a police general and talked the head of the military junta that happened to be ruling Thailand at the time into granting him a monopoly on mobile phone operation. Eventually Thaksin went into politics and became a zealous populist, seducing the nation’s poor with promises of benefits. He was prime minister for about five years. During that period, not one single charge of corruption was initiated against anyone.
Now anyone who knows anything about Asia and especially Southeast Asia knows that everything, literally everything, is corrupt there: the clergy, the schools, the national lotteries, the hospitals, the universities, the charities, the police, the military, all aspects of business and commerce, every government agency — all of it is permeated by corruption. No, that’s not an exaggeration.
Every Thai prime minister who was in office for more than a few months presided over the initiation of corruption cases against some few individuals. (The accused were losers in the power struggle; the winners, connected and influential, were able to evade prosecution. The jurisprudential system can be thought of as the sewer into which outclassed criminals are thrown.) Thaksin, however, had coordinated the crooks. He was effectively the Boss of Bosses, all of whom benefited from his protection and cut him in on the action. Of course there were malcontents, and no one knows how many of them were killed when Thaksin cracked down on the “narcotics trade” (those words belong in quotes because nobody who knows will say whether the approximately three thousand individuals murdered by the police and unknown others were all involved in drugs).
An Essential Book
Well, it’s not essential for you if you are an AGW cultist — it would be anathema, heretical; it would be diabolical lies produced by a whore in the pay of the power companies. And so on. Now if a True Believer in the concept of “climate change” (which used to be more honestly called “anthropogenic global warming” before the facts became more widely known) used all those words to describe a book, the entire staff of this newsletter would want to read the offending volume. Which leads to a confession:
Years ago, it was the author of this book — Andrew Montford — who posted on his weblog the information that proved to the satisfaction of NTG that AGW was a hoax. Before Montford’s revelation, a great deal was obviously wrong with the concept of AGW, and a lot of data had already been pulled together to illuminate the error, but there was no way to accuse anyone of anything more than simply making convenient mistakes and over-selling a bad product. A hoax is entirely different from a mistake, isn’t it? Hoaxes are deliberately crafted lies. And that is exactly what the Hockey Stick Graph is — a falsehood, a report its author knew to be a fake because he created it. Montford exposed the rascal.
But how does one convince sincere, concerned and worried “green” people they have been fooled? By accusing the confidence men of wrongdoing? Probably not. One might better depend on hard scientific facts, and let the personalities go (except, of course, for Jim Hansen and Al Gore, who are too disconcerting to ignore). So this newsletter reported such things as the physical properties of carbon dioxide, the actual records of global temperatures, and the facts regarding melted polar ice. It tried to explain why the hoaxers and their followers had agreed on the lies, and it asserted that the deception had taken on all the definitive attributes of a religious movement.
When Montford produced his book on the hockey stick hoax, this newsletter virtually ignored it. The book was not easy to obtain in the USA, and the core of its thesis was available on his weblog (and had been referred to here).
Now the book is in its second edition, and it is time for you to read it. The revised and updated text includes a lot of information on “Climategate”, the highly unusual incident in which a great deal of information tucked away in the computers of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia was released to the public.
Reading the book is an engrossing experience. The flood of information is overwhelming, astounding — even to one who has pored over many AGW-related documents. The emphasis is on the science and the statistics involved in using proxies to estimate temperatures hundreds and thousands of years ago. True, this book is a detective story with tremendous political, economic and ethical implications, but it portrays the entire farce in perspective without waxing conspiracist and denouncing shadowy robber barons (as so many AGW cultists do). Montford provides a detailed account of exactly what went wrong, and explains the technicalities clearly. You will share in the frustration of the men who tried to get Michael Mann, the principal architect of the hockey stick graph, to provide his data, explain what he did to get his results, answer questions directly (he is wont to answer unasked questions, and pretend that he has addressed the matters actually presented to him), and behave like a genuine scientist. Montford’s account is comprehensive, clear, convincing and utterly devastating.
Buy this book.
The Hockey Stick Illusion, Climategate and the Corruption of Science, A. W. Montford, ISBN 978 – 1 – 906768 – 35 – 5. Publisher: Stacey International. Paperback. List price, 10.99 British pounds, 18.00 USD. If you are in the USA, you can order from Amazon.
The Roots Of Dystopia
It is diagnostic and alarming: Team Obama came up with a cartoon depicting a dependent, compliant and perpetually immature female who needs constant help from a Peronist government. This is a depiction of the role models for the good Obamite citizen and the federal Obamist authority. The cartoon’s creators doubtless tried to imbue it with homiletic qualities, and must be proud of its candor; they certainly do not see it as unintentionally revealing, though. Bearers of rational ethics can only find the prospect of a collectivist society dehumanizing and contemptible.
Obama’s vision of a model citizen and her masters does not, can not mesh with the fundamental values and ideals of the North American variant of Western Civilization. And no wonder: Obama is not a man who cherishes or exemplifies the founding principles of the USA. He is a true alien. How bizarre, therefore, that he was elected and will be again.
The real shame of this deterioration of the character of both ruled and ruler is that it is irreversible. Having been abused and denatured by his bizarre, dysfunctional upbringing, Obama literally cannot understand the culture he incompletely inherited. That was not an inevitable result, of course; people do rise above inadequate socialization and harmful formative years. It was not to be in Obama’s case, and the causes of his cultural and ethical alienation are not wholly explicable, just as one cannot explain the success of many psychicly wounded children who accomplished great things as adults.
Still, the pattern is present: bad parents and inadequate nurturing do more lasting harm than can be balanced out by the good achieved by those who overcome the disadvantages of an unkind start in life. Obama’s political ascendancy and triumph testify to the widespread — and often-remarked — failure of modern families to rear their children responsibly; it’s not just Obama, it’s all those inadequately humanized people who will keep him in power. They see things the way he does. They and Obama are in, but not of, the most enlightened stratum of Western Civilization.
It’s exasperating: how can a nation that does not cherish and husband its greatest resource, its young, be expected to do anything well? As one critic said of juvenile delinquents, “They aren’t bad kids, basically — it’s just that nobody loves them enough to make them behave.”
The self-indulgent, narcissistic lives lived by millions who came of age after World War II have demonstrably harmed generation after generation of children. Those people breaking shop windows and demanding benefits so they can do as they please will…vote.
Truly, these pathetic guttersnipes constitute a segment of the population that would never volunteer for military service, or, having done so, would be energized by the example of former presidential candidate Kerry. The ethical implications of Kerry’s attempt to lead his nation may some day be fully understood; his contempt for simple truth is just one of the man’s moral failings. Kerry was more than just a rascal: he was a kind of harbinger — a precursor and bellwether whose real significance lay in the fact that someone with his malformed psyche could be a leader and a serious contender for the highest office.
How nice it would have been if, after seeing Kerry, the electorate had recognized him as the cautionary example he was. That might have prompted the realization that the USA is guaranteed nothing when it comes to quality of leadership. Given such insight, more voters might have taken a much closer look at Obama.
That would have entailed asking a great many more questions, insisting on answers, and rejecting a candidate who refused to provide them. It is clear now: on that basis alone, Obama should have been rejected.
But there he is, in spite of the ignored clues. Today Obama can be understood as, among other things, a symbol for the widespread failure of child-rearing, for the loss of the stability of the family, and for an all-too-common misunderstanding of the meaning of citizenship and human dignity. He is what he is, and those who are themselves half-formed will vote, and keep him in power.
No, that’s not just pessimism; it’s an expression of despair. There is, after all, nothing you can do about it.
Obama the magician: he makes the unemployment figures fall by making job-seekers disappear. No change, no hope, so…. Poof!
The Los Angeles Times carries an interview with a scientist who discusses Carrington events. No, no — it’s all right! Go ahead and read it. There is nothing in this article about The One saving civilization from catastrophe by deflecting the solar particles with a wave of his lob wedge.
Would it be racist to assert that these people were pretty smart?
AGW: there are some interesting things you should know regarding the UN and “green” ideas/groups. Note especially the advertisement for The Delinquent Teenager; that book looks as if it would be downright dangerous to the IPCC.
“…I believe that, when Barack Obama stated in 2008 that he wanted to ‘fundamentally change’ the United States…He meant to reverse what Locke and the American Founders had achieved. He intended to establish in this country a political regime unlimited in its scope and power. That is the meaning of the Hosanna-Tabor Case pursued by Attorney General Erich (sic) Holder, and it is the meaning of the individual mandate.” Wow. Anybody who can say that and then prove it has put a curse on Obama. See whether the curse is real.
What did they call it…The Lipton Legion? No…. Oh, sure, it was The Tea Party! Well, you thought they all went home and gave up politics, didn’t you? Gosh, they handed Lugar his walking papers the other day. Katie, bar the door; it’s gonna get interesting…!
Here’s some powerful stuff that the “wingnuts” and individualists could use against Team Obama. It’s composed of videos explaining the facts to the moderate, independent voters, and it provides devastating commentary. The problem: very few people want to take the time to watch or read. Getting the facts, in other words, is work. That’s why slogans are so important in political propaganda: they are for lazy people.
Here’s a genuine mess…whatever the truth is! Hillary and The One had better watch out, or they will appear to be unethical, uncaring, slow-witted and unqualified to hold their respective offices. (Golly, what is it with Hillary and Chinese folks? She seems to be snake-bit when it comes to dealing with the Celestial Orientals.) And: here’s more stuff you probably already knew, from that unimpeachable source, the Los Angeles Times.
You may have heard of this even if you haven’t seen it yet: it’s a propaganda video that must be infuriating its targets. Call it deceptive, unfair, exaggerated and nutty, but all of those labels could be debated; the video is, however, effective, and that’s beyond dispute.
There’s always room for another tax increase, and especially so if you just tax the worst people in society — you know, the people who have most of the money.
Bias? Media bias? What bias? (Tip: don’t skip the third paragraph.)
More on Fast and Furious, the scandal that should put Obama out of the White House and Holder, Napolitano and a few others in prison. But won’t. Seldom in US history has government been this corrupt, this deceitful, this cynical, this incompetent and this divisive. It’s not utterly unprecedented, but that does not mean it is tolerable. (And people are preoccupied by the legality of same-sex marriage…cripes, what a disgraceful state of affairs!)
Ah, yes — The Guardian — a British bastion of bubbleheaded babble blaming the blackguards behind big business for botching and blocking all beneficence and benevolence. Or maybe one could simply say the rag is about as close to being a conduit for Islamofascist propaganda as is any Western newspaper. Still, there is the occasional item worth reading, though believing it may be a bit of a challenge for the rational. So when you peruse a Guardian account of something purportedly produced by an Al Qaeda operative, keep in mind that you must deal with at least two levels of interpretation, portrayal, and intent.
So tell us, Barry Ol’ Buddy, how’s that economic road to Utopia workin’ out these days? — Oh, you gotta scroll down to the paragraph after all of the April Labor Report from the BLS — that’s it, the paragraph that begins, “This is what a….” — What’s that? You say anybody who believes this stuff can go to hell? Gee, Barry, some folks would say they already are there, and that you had something to do with it…oh, right: Blame it on Bush. Wow. How many more years will it be before we can blame it on you and your team? Isn’t there a link in here somewhere pointing out that folks in the USA already pay more in taxes than they do for food, clothing, and shelter? Yeah, it’s up above…. And you say you want to borrow more, so the national debt goes up, and the taxpayers will have to cough up more to pay that off. Isn’t there some little flaw in there somewhere, Barry?
How many times have critics of the major news media tried to demonstrate, prove, analyze, explain, clarify and publicize bias? And how many “progressives” pay attention? You would think no one would keep attempting this Sisyphean task.
As this Number of NTG is getting its final proofreading and checks, the news media are boiling over with excitement about Romney, Lugar, and the campaign that has not yet begun. Because you are one of the two people who actually read this newsletter, you know the excitement and hullabaloo are as bogus as Obama’s library. We have a long, long road ahead, and the media are terrified that the voters might toss their beloved Organizer out, so they are staging a spectacle. That is their way of trying to convince you they are authoritative, forthcoming, objective and trustworthy. Ignore the bastards, and relax. This newsletter recommends Guinness, not too cold, and drunk, not sipped.
I’ve been searching in sectors both private and dark
With the eye of a witness — silent and stark
Seen everything that goes on in the night
Things that are twisted and hide from the light
Things that live under the rock and the stone
Flesh like a fever on a platter of bone
Blacker than blackness and whiter than white Things that live only on the edges of sight
The masthead includes a passage from The Annals of Congress, 1794. “Mr. Madison” refers to James Madison.
The staff of The New Terrapin Gazette expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Arch Linux, Emacs, and Firefox.