Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Arguing with the Left: We Are Doing It Wrong!

This strikes me as the right answer.

If you have ever tried arguing with a liberal, leftist or progressive, at some point you have inevitably come away frustrated by your apparent inability to “win” an argument, despite proving conclusively the other side is objectively wrong.  The subject doesn’t matter, it could be the failure of Obama’s foreign policy, the IRS targeting scandal, tax policy, (lack of) Global Warming, or “helping” the poor.  There in fact is a literal parade of liberal/leftist social policies and issues that have been unequivocal, abject failures, yet no matter how many facts and figures you can marshal, your argument falls flat, and your opponent remains completely un-swayed.  Have you ever wondered why this is?

“It’s not that we on the right don’t have a plan, it’s that we don’t have a narrative.”

Read the whole thing.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Invert This.

Corporate "inversions" have been in the news a lot lately. An inversion takes place when a US corporation merges with a foreign corporation and re-incorporates outside the US in a jurisdiction with lower effective tax rates than in the US. The latest inversion making waves is the pending merger of Miami-based Burger King with Canadian donut purveyor Tim Horton's which will have the effect of re-domiciling Burger King to Canada and dropping its effective tax rate by at least 15%.

At 40%*, the United States has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world (UAE is #1 at 55%). it is also one of only two nations that I’m aware of (the other is Eritrea) that applies that rate extra-territorially. In other words, the US government applies that tax rate to all of a company's (or individual's) income no matter where it is earned, not just to that which is earned within the borders of the United States.

The first duty of a company's management is the fiduciary duty to maximize the return to its owners. It has no duty, patriotic or otherwise to pay more taxes than it is required to. The case law says so. In an opinion written by Second Circuit judge Learned Hand in the case Helvering v. Gregory in 1934 he wrote:

"Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes."

If the US government wants to stop the wave of inversions that has been taking place it needs to make the US tax system more competitive with the rest of the world. Lowering the corporate tax rate would be a good start. Ending universal taxation as well would be even better. Trying to prevent companies from leaving will be futile.
*The corporate income tax rate is approximately 40%. The marginal federal corporate income tax rate on the highest income bracket of corporations (currently above USD 18,333,333) is 35%. State and local governments may also impose income taxes ranging from 0% to 12%, the top marginal rates averaging approximately 7.5%. A corporation may deduct its state and local income tax expense when computing its federal taxable income, generally resulting in a net effective rate of approximately 40%. The effective rate may vary significantly depending on the locality in which a corporation conducts business. The United States also has a parallel alternative minimum tax (AMT) system, which is generally characterized by a lower tax rate (20%) but a broader tax base.

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Friday, July 04, 2014

Reason Magazine: A Slippery Slope In the Right Direction?

Reason has an excellent article up about not only why the Hobby Lobby ruling was correct, but also why it didn’t go far enough. This part perfectly encapsulates the Libertarian argument:

A group of politicians cannot legitimately have the power to compel one group of people—employers, taxpayers, or insurers—to pay for things that another group wants. That's immoral, and it violates inalienable rights. Moreover, when government has the power to issue such commands—always backed by force, let us never forget—it sets off a mad interest-group scramble for control of the government machinery—because control is a license to steal. Is it any wonder that people are willing to spend billions of dollars to influence who makes government policy? If people face the alternative of controlling the government or being controlled by it, those who have resources will buy power and influence, even if only in self-defense.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) say the court decision permits the favored employers to make health-care decisions for women. No it doesn't. It only prohibits women, unfortunately in only a narrow set of cases, from being able to use government to force their employers to pay for those decisions. When did we start equating the right to buy contraceptives—which hardly anyone disputes—with the power to compel others to pay? It is demagogic to insist that prohibiting the latter violates the former.

Read the whole thing.

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Monday, June 02, 2014

Turmoil In Thailand–Corruption As Catalyst

In February I put up a post about what was happening in Thailand from my perspective back at the beginning of February. I left it off with a sort of “here’s how we are, now how did things get here? To be continued” ending. Well, I’ve found someone who can lay it out far better than I could hope to. So, here is what you need to know about the history of the Thaksin regime: The Thaksin regime in perspective. A sample:
Thaksin was a divisive figure. To his opponents, he was a devil who greedily exploited his office and the trust of the people for personal gain, abused human rights mercilessly, and was rapidly becoming a dictator. To his admirers, he was an angel, a champion of the poor laid low by the forces of darkness and backwardness from which he had been trying to save his country. A more balanced perspective is needed.
Thaksin was a Thai variant of a type recognisable in the history of other countries – the tycoon capitalist emerging during the transformation of a pre-industrial world of small business into today’s world of large corporations and conglomerates. He took the obsessive, aggressive and ruthless attitudes of the business tycoon into politics. His outlook differed from that of the old robber barons principally in that it found expression through his ideas of “new management.” This ideology was centralist and authoritarian, and fundamentally incompatible with democratic governance. Hence the damage Thaksin did to the limits on executive power created by the 1997 reforms, and hence his aggressive attitude towards people who did not fit his vision. It was this attitude, which more than anything else, underpinned his mishandling of the crisis in the deep south.
Thaksin learned how to push the buttons of the Thai people, how to manipulate popular sentiment by telling people what they wanted to hear and making them believe it. All he needed for the stamp of legitimacy, or so he thought, was to win an election. He “won” his first election with only about 40% of the vote and bought off some of the lesser parties to form a government. He has never been able to honestly command a true majority of the Thai People.
Read the whole thing.
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Sunday, May 18, 2014

You Aren't Going Crazy. You Are Being Gas-Lighted

Bill Whittle explains in his latest Firewall video.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Disarming the Warriors - Bill Whittle

Another great Afterburner video from a very pissed-off ( and rightfully so) Bill Whittle. Watch.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thai Turmoil: Some Observations and Thoughts from Michael Yon

Michael Yon has been on the ground and talking to the protesters, including the leadership, and doing research since December. He’s been posting brief thoughts and updates to Facebook all along. He has just completed his first of what will probably be 10 major dispatches at his website.  It’s worth the time to read the whole thing. Nobody else from the Western media (if they’re even paying attention still) is doing this.

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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Turmoil in Thailand–My View of the Situation.

I have been following the political crisis in Thailand very closely. My interest in the situation is due to the fact that I am married to a Thai and have both family and friends in the country. They are on both sides of the issue, some support the government, others the protesters. I can speak a little of the language. Let's call my fluency level; enough to make the in-laws careful about what they say around me because they aren't entirely sure what I do or don't understand, and I tend to surprise them once in a while.

I have been alarmed (but not really surprised) to see the Western press and punditocracy trotting out the very simple and simplistic narrative that what is happening is that a bunch of anti-government mobs (a very loaded word) are trying to overthrow a democratically elected government and that it's the Bangkok "elites" versus the rural poor. It's an easy narrative and also a very lazy one. Reality is, as usual, a lot more complicated than that. Very few of the people, if any, in the Western media opining on the situation are actually on the ground in Thailand and talking to the parties and that being the case they are getting the story entirely wrong.

One person who is on the ground and talking to the protesters and their leadership is writer and war correspondent Michael Yon. He is posting throughout the day at his Facebook page and if you want to know what is really happening, in near real-time, that is the place to go.

The main body of the protesters are represented by the People's Democratic Reform Council or PDRC. The Western press has been portraying the protesters as "violent mobs," most likely because they are being fed that line by the government and are too lazy to question that narrative. In reality the protest sites have more of the atmosphere of a series of block parties, complete with food stalls, live music and speeches, than a bunch of unruly mobs. These are the kind of people the Thai government claims are terrorists. Quite a bit different than the press accounts would lead us to believe, no?

There has been some violence. So far 9 protesters have died and a little more than another 600 have been wounded, 3 just this evening in an M79 grendade atttack ( as I write this on my Satrurday morning, 14 hours behind the events) at the Chaeng Watthana protest venue. All of these attacks have been by "Red Shirts" who are on the side of the government, or "Black Shirts," also on the side of the government (and widely thought to be former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatara's private enforcers), on the protesters who are armed with nothing more than whistles. So violence all goes almost all one way. The Red/Black Shirts have been employing hit-and-run tactics, firing guns and grenades into crowds of unarmed people, exactly like tonight's grenade attack. PDRC is allied with another group, Kor Por Tor or KPT (People and Student Network for the Reform of Thailand) who have been serving as guards at the protest sites. They will fight, but only if provoked, and they have taken casualties. The PDRC protesters have done nothing violent to bring violence upon themselves.

One Red Shirt leader, quoted in this Daily Telegraph article, is Ko Tee:
"If anyone doubted the abyss into which Thailand could be heading, Ko Tee - who has been accused of orchestrating grenade attacks on anti-government marches in the Thai capital - is the living proof.
"I want there to be lots of violence to put an end to all this," he said. "I'm bored by speeches. It's time to clean the country, to get rid of the elite, all of them."

To me Ko Tee sounds like he wants to be the second coming of Pol Pot (and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he has more than one Che Guevara T-shirt in his drawer). He is a very dangerous man.
So, how did things come to this pass in Thailand? In a word, corruption. There will have to be a part two to this post but I wanted to paint the scene as I see it now.
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In the Interests of Public Safety, Ban Everything!

 Do it for The Children TM

Truly weapons-grade satire here.

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Saturday, February 01, 2014

Bill Whittle - Boiling Frogs

I have been so busy with other things I didn't realize I haven't posted anything in nearly two months. I'll try to do better. Here's a new Bill Whittle Afterburner video to start with.

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