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Posts Tagged ‘Liberals’

Why don’t honest journalists take on the NYTimes?

March 12, 2010 10 comments

Howell Raines asks, “Why don’t honest journalists take on Fox News?”

So asks the man who revived “advocacy journalism” a euphemism for “lets try to editorialize within a news piece”. Howell Raines should feel, in part, responsible for the emergence of Fox News. When readers constantly read pieces that bite at their own political leanings, they are inevitably going to try to find a new source for their daily news. Enter Fox News, an organization that I certainly won’t pretend is “fair and balanced.” Why listen to advocacy in one direction that tells you everything you believe in is stupid, when you can get “advocacy journalism” that supports your President? People who hate Fox should understand their emergence, as well as those of blogs have arisen due to the constant polarization of topics by both the Associated Press and NYTimes. We could sit back and talk about how “dumb” Fox watchers are, how”stupid” Sarah Palin is and pretend Fox is some criminally corrupt organization. Or maybe we could understand basic economics and see Fox’s success has to do with the NYTimes inability and unwillingness to meet the demand of millions of Americans. Attacking Fox is easier than, lets say, arguing the merits of their political positions. OK folks,  “advocacy journalism” is not disappearing anytime soon, especially if you are only going to attack the “other news organization” for doing it. When you support “advocacy journalism” in one direction, don’t be pissed it starts emerging from the other side.

I am probably wrong, especially since none of us could possibly have a friend who would dare to watch Fox……Or as Pauline Kael said, “I don’t know how Nixon won, I don’t know anyone who voted for him.”

I love open-mindedness, as long as you agree with me.

Categories: Politics Tags: , ,

Apparent hypocrisy by Sarah Palin?

March 10, 2010 2 comments

Thanks Pete for this link, well sort of, I am not sure why he showed this to me…..

So apparently, Palin is a hypocrite for crossing the border for health care. Except that this is totally unremarkable. Sarah Palin decided to go from Bumblehickville, Alaska to the nearest city which happened to be Whitehorse, Yukon. Wow. Health care in a sparsely populated area of a modern nation is usually worse than that of a more densely populated area of another modern nation.

While I usually find all HufPo writers disagreeable, I think this attempt to beat down a straw man, in Sarah Palin is stupid. If anything the net flow is definitely skewed towards the US. The wiki verdict is that though some of these pro-American claims are exaggerated, some of their political leaders have come down her for major surgeries, quotas have created space problems in their hospitals and their hospitals have difficulty handling rarer cases. Meanwhile, Americans go up for cheaper drugs (since Canadians don’t invent any, they can just mooch) and marijuana (probably those libertarians)…..

The real arguments against this health care bill don’t find their merits in the premise, “all Canadian health care just sucks and can never be used.”  There are plenty of solid arguments, some I have mentioned previously, against this bill. Its not cost-neutral, it reduces choice, it depresses innovation, etc. Oh yea, and most people don’t want it. While I am not a fan of status quo either, I think Mankiw’s analogy is a good one.

The railing on Palin is something else though. While I find her immensely irritating, I find people who make sport to find everything she does as stupid, even more irritating. She was elected governor of a state, something most douchey college students would have no shot at doing. I am not surprised liberals are making it a sport to try to criticize everything she does. Welcome to the big leagues Obama-philes, beating the crap out of Palin might boost your self-esteem a little bit, but that’s not gonna get anyone of the 53% to be convinced this health care plan is any good.

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Tax season – Anyone actually a fan of big government now?

March 8, 2010 3 comments

OK folks, so its tax season. I smile a little because my high school/college friends who suddenly were so gleeful about Politician X’s new proposal to expand coverage to Y program, need to now put their money where their mouth is and actually pay taxes. Except that well, they’ve found ways not to pay them…..

You see, I definitely have my share of left-leaning friends who have discussed the latest tricks/gimmicks in finding the biggest refunds on their tax returns. I find it a little bit inconsistent that somebody who generally supports increased government programs also are trying to find ways to prevent (at the individual level) such funds from reaching these programs. Look, I have no problems with finding tax refunds in themselves regardless of political belief.  In no way should Uncle Sam ride off these as my friend Peter calls em, “interest-free loans”,  especially if you weren’t supposed to pay taxes on it. I do have a slight issue when one extols the benefits of expanding education funding, works for a bulge bracket finance firm (as NKS once said, “they are working for the Machine they once raged against”) and then chooses to write off the 5 Brooks Bros. suits as a “uniform expense”.

Simplify the tax code…
But here’s the thing. For one, just practically speaking, if all of these taxes are being written off, why not just simplify the tax code to more flat taxes or consumption-based taxes. (The merits of the argument can be found here and here, so I won’t go into it too much).

Have the rich pay taxes means you should too
As for the solution of making the rich pay taxes. If you are making 70k  a year (not unreasonable for a guy working a couple years out of a top-tier school including bonuses etc.)  you are already at the top 30% of annual income meaning, comparatively speaking, you are rich. But another thing I think progressives need to consider the regressive nature of a befuddling tax code. A Gordon Gekko type with his accountants is probably gonna have an easier time maximizing his deductions over a working single-mother type and her recent-grad accountant at H&R Block. Friends, at least realize this, if you are finding a bunch of things you can write off, know that “the rich” are probably doing just the same. The mechanics can often be legal but quite sketchy, but regardless this is perhaps not the best way to raise revenue……

Also, ever play Sim City 2000? People don’t stick around if you raise taxes on them, your city begins to make Detroit seem like paradise and you lose tons of revenue. Soon you take out a bond from the dude who probably either worked for the Mob or Goldman (take advantage of low rates, float a bond!), you fall into major debt and then you realize realize the only solution is to press all the disaster buttons to turn your city into Sim Gomorrah 2000 and start all over. (But I digress…)

Annoying libertarians aren’t hypocritical (but they still are annoying)
At least libertarians don’t pretend they have some noble motives. Their candidness in their political beliefs wanting their own money, because its their own money, is certainly refreshing.  So I wonder if you are looking for all these deductions why not just jump to the libertarian ship and try to reduce the unnecessary taxes. If you are that concerned about social welfare, use those funds for charitable purposes. Efficiency-wise I’d pat you on the back and you could find the optimal rate to make sure roads and such are still paved.

“Trickeration” like uniform expenses and the like (which should be considered tax evasion) are most infuriating and inexcusable. Even if you are the staunchest libertarian completely paranoid of the IRS, I would still find your justification shallow. When you have a big Obama bumper sticker telling me how important health care is, I find it even more distasteful. Its really a simple game, where the taxpayer knows his chances of getting audited are slim to none.

My challenge to Libs
I could go on and on about how left-leaning politicians hypocritically store their income away in tax shelters (here’s one of many) But I don’t want to straw man a political philosophy, because the worst people in the world, politicians, act like well, politicians. I know there are plenty of liberals who aren’t like that as well.  Thus I offer a small challenge for my friends of the more-government-programs persuasion. Obviously, your tax code is between you and God, I mean, Government (sorry two different faith-based systems).  If you are trying to search for all these refunds, I am not calling you a bad guy if its legal, but why not vote for those who simplify the taxes to flat/consumption taxes. If you are gaming the system, I would implore you to consider your how this is totally antithetical to your political beliefs. If you feel you can use that money for better charitable purposes, see solution above. As for the libertarians, I just think you guys want a government that lets you smoke pot.

Mark 12:17

Grow a tree! Print more paper!

January 21, 2010 3 comments

A recent feel-good trend has bothered the cynic in me. A few churches I’ve been to, including Redeemer in NYC have decided to go “green”, by offering the option of paperless mail to its more “progressive” congregants. I just hope this is a cost-saving move cuz its a rather terrible “green” one.

A lot of corporate e-mails including those of my former employer include a line like this:

“Save a tree. Simplify your life. Get your statements online instead of in the mail.” or

“Please consider the environment before printing out this e-mail” or even….

“Every time you use the printer, you mercilessly club a baby seal in front of its mother” I kid….

Of course, this makes me furious. You ask, “But why are you such a soulless human?” Its because….get this…wait for it:

Using more paper = More trees!

This is not my own profound insight, economists like Steven Landsburg and Edward Glaeser as well as writer John Tierney have all written about this. But its maddening to see bs like this propagated:

Every day we use paper — to communicate, to create, to clean. Paper use has a direct connection with global warming because paper comes from trees, and most paper in the United States today comes directly from wood, rather than recycled sources. Every tree that goes into paper is one less tree capturing carbon and providing habitat for wildlife. (Source: National Wildlife Federation)

Nope. Every time you decide to strain your eyes a bit more to read a document instead of printing it out, you are indirectly causing a tree to not be planted. It’s simple economics really.

  1. Plant Trees
  2. Cut trees
  3. Make paper from trees
  4. Sell paper
  5. Anticipate future paper demand from sales
  6. Plant Trees according to new demand  (Step 1)

The key is, when we use paper, the trees we get them from are specifically grown for the purpose of paper. Besides perhaps a bad Steven Seagal flick or Al Gore documentary, no paper company in their right mind would go into a national park to just cut down trees. Those of you who think I am insane, should look at the populations of chickens and cows in the United States. It is precisely because we eat so many chicken parms and juicy steaks that farmers have an incentive to increase the population of these animals. Check out the business model here.

Before you rant at me for being a corporate sell-out (in my boxers and unshaven scrubbiness) I would note its precisely the corporations that are falling for this farce. I would think this idea would be embraced by those who consider themselves more environmentally-inclined. Instead I often get a visceral display of illogical anger; the kind of reaction you’d get from Pat Robertson if you told him there are also Christians in Haiti. Luckily, my environmentalism is of the irreligious variety. “Oh you recycle? Way to NOT plant a future  tree”

Next time you see your buddy eschew printing a document or recycle his pitchbook you should

  1. Chuckle wholeheartedly
  2. Pat him on the back
  3. Smugly say, “I’m a little bit more progressive, I print paper to help offset my carbon footprint.”
  4. Close your eyes and beam your best S#!t-eating grin
Categories: Economics Tags: ,
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