Sunday, January 30, 2011

Never a Better President

I'm going to give this example of why Barack Hussein Obama is the finest President.
Look around you.
Do you see a nuclear holocaust?
Are you in a poorly-ventilated bunker, wondering how many more rads you can take the next time you go outside?
Then blame Obama. Because he wasn't trying to fight a hot proxy war with Russia through Georgia. A war which Georgia lost -- badly. A war which the US State Department encouraged them to go into.

Isn't anyone asking Why in hell are we fighting (even proxy) wars with RUSSIA??
A major nuclear power.
Why are we still trying to pick a fight with them?

The fact that we're not actively perusing a war with Russia right now -- well I guess that's how low the bar is for the Nobel Peace Price these days.

But sheesh.

Monday, January 24, 2011

So I Guess I'm Not Done

Talking about this article in Inc. 
One of the problems I've always had with Classical Marxism is that people do not always act in their best interest. That's true of Adam Smith Capitalism as well as Classical Marxism, actually. We think people act in their best interest. But. They. Don't.
Which is why business owners tend to be against universal health-care and the like. You can prove empirically that they companies they run would be vastly better off if we simply socialized medicine. It took GM something on the order of 50 years to realize that. 
Here, Inc analyzes the costs between hiring an engineer for $100,000 in New York versus hiring one in Oslo. As I've suggested in a previous post, most of these costs put a downward pressure on salaries in New York. And that might very well be a problem if you have a service or industry which simply requires a set number of workers. So maybe I rescind the idea in my previous post that these costs are just the price of doing business rather than a "tax" in the classic sense. Because if you're in competition with an overseas company, they clearly have the edge. 


Saturday, January 22, 2011

On Taxes

Now, here's an article in Inc about Norway, socialism, and entrepreneurship which is generally positive about Norway's socialism and its friendliness to business.
And, of course, it irks me. I'm irked in the same way as I was irked by the whole "Joe the Plumber" ingralabooroo during the Presidential election.
And it's all because of a misunderstanding about taxing businesses.

As a Norwegian, he pays nearly 50 percent of his income to the federal government, along with a substantial additional tax that works out to roughly 1 percent of his total net worth. And that's just what he pays directly. Payroll taxes in Norway are double those in the U.S. Sales taxes, at 25 percent, are roughly triple.

OK, that's all cool and everything but you really can't consider payroll taxes as taxes on your business. They're an indirect tax on the employee certainly. And they're a pain-in-the-ass for the employer to collect. But if Norway's taxation system works in any way like America's, you're really looking at an increase in the cost of employment, which isn't the same thing as an added tax on business.

In the US you can effectively calculate the "cost" of employing someone as an additional 22% of their salary/pay. So although it might discourage you from employing more people (because they cost 1.22 times their salary), and it keeps salaries lower (because the employer's cost is more than what they pay the employee) the employer's part of payroll taxes is not exactly a tax on the business, even though the business collects it (and pays the business share of it.)

And truthfully I'd love to see the "cost of employment" to go down. I'd love to see the burden of collecting taxes (in the way of payroll taxes) taken off of businesses. But the Government won't do that because having businesses collect the taxes and pay them quarterly is a cheap and easy way to fill the coffers.

Shifting the tax burden entirely to the employee (and given a 21 or so percent raise) would certainly make payroll taxes more transparent. And it would be cheaper for businesses (I generally count the cost to business as one or two percent, which is what I pay a payroll service when I use one, plus the time and aggravation of dealing with all the paperwork.)

So am I saying that the Inc article isn't dead-on in its reporting? No. I think they're right that the anti-tax religion is not beneficial for business. I'm just saying we should be clear about payroll taxes and the role of business in collecting those taxes. And, I'm saying I got up too early on a Saturday morning.

Anti-Semitism and the Culture of Victimhood

OK, so, say you're a neo-Nazi... or heck, no, say you're an actual Nazi -- a member of the German Nazi party since 1938. A real, live, Nazi. And you believe that the Aryan's are the Master Race or whatever.

Well 1945 came and went and you got your asses kicked by Roosevelt's "Jew" army.

So who's the master race now?

Does this even occur to you? Is there a "Wait, we lost the war, maybe we were wrong about our racist assumptions?" moment?

I guess not.

So, OK, Whites are somehow the "Master Race" but they're oppressed somehow. They're the downtrodden -- even though they SHOULD be the ones in charge.

Um. Wassup with that?

Well I'm sure there's lots of hand-wringing at your local White Citizens Council meetings but the fact is that's where the whole racist debacle breaks down using the racists' own data. I suppose they could focus some blame on the race traitors to the White People (who mix their blood with the whomever is the enemy du jure) for a while but inevitably doesn't somebody just end up saying "Aren't the Jews the Master Race?" I mean, they're the ones who won, right?

And this might be analogous to the way many American Christians depict themselves as being victims of the Atheists and the Liberals and (less now out in the open) the Jews. You know -- Islam is assaulting our shores and poisoning minds with their homosexual agenda, or some such thing.

It's almost like it's a lot more "fun" to be the oppressed ones. Christians (in a majority Christian culture) are somehow magically "oppressed" by tiny tiny minorities like Muslims.

I don't really know where this is all going but it just seems... weird... to me. Roosevelt won, obviously Aryans aren't the Master Race. Get over it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Intolerance of Zero Tolerance

The Economist has taken a real turn to the left in the last 20 years. But it's always had the advantage of being analytical, rather than just reactionary (or Chicagoist), in its opinions.
I don't have an MLK post, but I do have this beautiful MLK picture. I'm envious of any mustache, even a pencil one.
This pro-harm reduction article has one of the most obnoxiously funny final paragraphs, castigating the American Right, who are usually so adamantly opposed to harm-reduction over non-working "zero tolerance" positions:

Drug abuse is driven to a significant extent by fashion. If there's one thing government has going for it, it's the ability to make anything unfashionable. This insight into government's jujitsu-like capability to render the cool uncool should be more obvious to conservatives than to liberals. And yet, in America, the very people who are most distrustful of government's ability to do anything right are the ones who are steadfastly opposed to letting the government use its secret power of deadly uncoolness to fight drug abuse. It seems like a huge wasted opportunity.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

State and Terror

If we're serious about terrorism we have to actually be serious about terrorism. Luis Posada has to go. I don't care if we're sworn enemies of the state he committed terror acts against (even committing those acts in other countries.)
We can't be hypocrites about it. If you're going to be against terrorists then you have to be against your own terrorists too. Get over it. Cowboy up and extradite him or put him in jail. Don't pussy-fut around.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Plan to Blame Unicorns for Everything

This Gawker post, on how the Republicans plan to blame the unions for everything, is pretty well thought out.

The conclusion is the best part:

Hmm. So: municipalities and states that entered into pension and benefit agreements with their employees, and then, through horrifically poor financial planning combined with the overall collapse of the global economy due to Wall Street's insatiable appetite for handing out subprime loans, found themselves unable to honor those agreements. This means that public sector unions themselves—not the elected officials who fucked up the states' finances—are bad. Therefore, private sector union workers who are natural allies of public sector unions should turn against them, until they are destroyed. This will benefit you, common working man. We promise!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Today's Two Things

Josh James is dead on when he points out that the violent political rhetoric does not come from "both sides".

There are many Democratic-leaning voters who really hope that Sarah Palin becomes the next Republican candidate for the President because of how likely she would be to lose. Still, even the theoretical possibility she could become President is frightening.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Class War

I did a post over at Pleasure for the Empire on stagehand pay. I know it's about politics but it's about theater too, so I elected to put it there.