Saturday, August 07, 2010

Just a little question on taxes...

In the great debate on whether or not lower income tax rates create increased tax revenue, the answer to one question seems to be missing.  To wit: where do US tax rates fall on the Laffer curve?  The GOP believes any tax cut increases revenue, and the Democrats believe tax rate increases (on the "rich", of course) can raise enough revenue to fix our fiscal problems.  How the hell do they know?  They don't know where we are on the curve!

Let's assume for the sake of argument the idea behind the Laffer curve is correct.  If, like the GOP, one is using it as a justification for cutting taxes they ought to be able to prove tax cuts to be the correct course instead of just asserting it.  In other words, they should be able to make a case that our tax burden is such that we are on the part of the curve where tax cuts generate enough increased activity to generate more tax revenue than a higher rate.   But I haven't seen any conservatives attempt to make a quantitative case that this is true. 

(Note to conservatives - if capital represents the money used to create/expand business (and jobs), explain why capital gains taxes are too high at 10 (or 15) percent.  If a dollar that comes into my pocket from the sale of the business is used to buy stuff and pay bills just like my wages, why shouldn't the capital gains from the sale be taxed as regular income unless the money is invested?  After all, I pay higher rates on my paycheck than Warren Buffet does on his billions.  Why should capital be taxed less than labor?)

Now the Democrats are even worse, because they don't seem to have any sort of argument for raising taxes except a need for funds for programs they favor and the idea the rich are too wealthy and shouldn't have all that money.   There isn't even enough there to properly criticize.... .

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Random Jottings

Just few impressions on a few stories that caught my attention over the last two weeks:

Unemployment insurance extension:   I have a question for the GOP:  In what universe does cutting unemployment insurance create jobs?  I mean, not extending unemployment may give people more incentive to find work, but all the incentive in the world doesn't help one find a job if there are no jobs to be had.  Not to mention that 30 billion dollars is small potatoes compared to TARP and 2 wars.   This is one of those few things the Dems may be right about.   Of course the Dems could have easily used some of the stimulus money or TARP money already borrowed to cover this instead of new borrowing, but I guess bailing out Wall Street , the banks, and funneling money to Democratic interest groups is more important than helping ordinary folks to weather the current economic storm.   More proof that our political class is arrogant and out of touch, regardless of party.

JournoList:  I think conservative commentators are overreacting somewhat to it.  I don't think the emails released by the DailyCaller tell us much that is new.  It showed us that the Journolisters in those emails seem to be a spiteful, mean, petty bunch.  We also learned the posters in the leaked emails hate conservatives, as if anybody who had ever read any of Eric Alterman's garbage couldn't figure that one out.  A bunch of libs, trashing conservatives when they thought they wouldn't be seen doing it. Seems like the kind of slimy, petty behavior found in a junior high school clique. 

The one thing I found interesting is the discussions on how to discredit Sarah Palin before these clowns knew anything about her. The exchanges just screamed the "how dare this outsider aspire to this!, she's not one of of us! " meme.  Given the immediate trashing she got in the media after John McCain selected her for his VP candidate, it sure would be nice to know how many of the JournoList members were involved.  I suspect not all that many, since the Caller didn't name a lot of names, nor were the people mentioned all that prominent other than as left wing hacks.  The way she was trashed was so immediate and widespread that it does make you wonder.  One hopes that Tucker Carlson will release a list of the JouroList membership so we can get an idea.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

New Look for the Blog

Got tired of the old one, so I think I'll try this one for awhile.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Random Thoughts on Health Care

Having spent some time watching the circus called the health care reform debate, just a few random thoughts.

It seems to me that both parties have missed the point some when it comes to reforming our health care system.

First, the GOP and conservatives need to recognize that as a society Americans have decided that although health care may not be a right, we do not want people dying in the street because they could not get medical treatment. With that being the case, someone needs to coordinate how this happens, and relying strictly on charity has its limitations (Who to contact, what is paid for, who gets treated, etc. ). So far, I haven't seen a suggestion for anyone to coordinate care for the poor that would work better than government. I'm not saying it's impossible and I can't say that I like to idea of expanded government, but I'd sure like to see some specific ideas that would be better. Relying on emergency rooms to care for the indigent (which some conservatives point to in order to say that no one is denied care in the US) is expensive and inefficient.

I also question the idea that people overuse the health care system (also a common conservative meme). I don't know anyone who enjoys doctor, hospital, or emergency room visits. Generally, these are experiences people tend to avoid if they can. One doesn't go to the doctor because they're feeling great. Moreover, when a doctor suggests a test or a treatment, I'm unlikely to argue. Why? Because I don't have a medical degree or much experience in treating disease. What my insurance buys is the doctor's medical expertise. How do I know if the doc is right or wrong? Am I actually qualified to make those decisions?

What do people who have pre-existing, severe problems do? In our current private system, these people are uninsurable unless they are covered by an employer's insurance. If we move to a system that does not use employer-supplied health insurance, what do these people do?

One last thing, covering the uninsured is not going to be free. If additional taxation is not the answer, tell me how this is to be paid for. Assume there are not enough inefficiencies in the current system that the money could be found as savings due to higher efficiency. History hasn't demonstrated those theoretical savings can be found in reality, so assuming great savings from streamlining doesn't seem valid.

For the Dems, what in the bill you are trying to pass is going to make things more efficient? So far, it looks like an incoherent mess that isn't understood by anyone. It's a bill so bad that the leadership basically had to buy off senators who had problems with the bill. What's worse, it doesn't even solve the problem of the uninsured. So, what good is it?

Face facts, libs. You are not going to get single-payer health care. If somehow you did, the new system would face the same financial/demographic problems faced by similar systems in Europe.

So. Perhaps it's time to pay some attention to ideas from the other side of the aisle (yes, those despised Republicans). Why not start with tort reform? If docs are practicing defensive medicine just to cover themselves against lawsuits, isn't that inefficient and expensive? Wouldn't the wealth spent on this be better not spent, thus resulting in (hopefully) lower prices and thus, lower premiums?

In addition, why shouldn't it be possible to buy insurance from firms in other states? Wouldn't competition result in lower prices? Also, how about some recognition of the free ride that foreign governments get from drug research funded in the US via our higher drug prices. How would you solve that problem while keeping the level of innovation high?

Lastly, how do these problems get solved without taxing us to death? As a people, Americans are not exactly undertaxed. By the time I get done paying taxes to the Feds, the state, and my local goverments, close to 40% of my modest income goes to taxes. Do you really think people like me can afford massive tax increases?