Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dayton’s Tax on Savings and Jobs

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is trying to make the case that it would be in the interest of “fairness” to raise the top income bracket because “The newest study shows that low- and middle-income Minnesotans continue to pay a much larger share of their earnings in state and local taxes than our state's wealthiest citizens.”

First of all, notice the phrase “…continue to pay.” In other words, this has always been the case; it’s in the nature of our state’s tax mix. And it’s important to understand why.

Taxes are levied on either consumption (sales and property taxes) or income. Since the study he cites shows on page 30 that the income tax is indeed very progressive, that can’t be the source of the ‘inequity.’

That leaves consumption taxes, and the tables indeed show that the lower the income, the higher percentage of that income is paid in sales taxes. But we’ve always known this; ‘regressivity’ is the main argument against a sales tax. Quite simply, consumption does not rise equally with income. A family of four with a household income of $180,000 doesn’t necessarily spend three times as much on taxable food, clothing appliances, etc. as the family earning $60,000. The sales tax table on page 27 bears this out; as income goes up by about 115% (from the 5th to 8th decile), sales taxes rise by only 66%, a ratio of almost 2-to-1. Likewise, a family earning $800,000 doesn’t necessarily buy a house ten times the value of one purchased by the family making $80,000.

So…what happens with that increased income that avoids 'taxation through consumption?' It goes towards savings (emergency nest egg, college funds for the kids, etc.) or investments (IRA, 401-K, entrepreneurship, etc.). This is a good thing. ‘Savings’ results in thrift and reduced dependence on government programs. ‘Investments’ yield jobs. Yet because Minnesotans’ increased savings results in lower “effective tax rates” on consumption, the chimerical ‘effective rate inequity’ results. Governor Dayton thinks this is bad, so he wants to increase taxes on saved and invested income because those dollars are not taxed by being spent.

So there you have it. Mark Dayton wants to increase taxes on thrift and jobs. Not a very Minnesotan thing to do, is it?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Good night, Jim.

It takes a lot to get me on front of the keyboard this year. It happened today when six Republicans voted with the DFL to give a one-vote override of Pawlenty’s veto of the Transportation pork barrel bill.

Time to loose the hounds, so to speak. I’ve already left a message with my own feckless Representative, Jim (en)Abeler. I’ve written the entire GOP House leadership asking not only that Mr. Abeler be disciplined, but that any Republican who voted with the DFL be removed from any leadership position that they might hold. If my research is correct, that would include the otherwise Gentlemanly Neil Peterson.

I suggest you do the same. You can find the e-mail list here.

The GOP is already adrift, so any argument that such action will cost us at the polls is silly; it’s useless to complain about getting a wet stateroom when the Titanic has sunk. Like it or not, the GOP is in a re-building year. Going wobbly on basic principles will not shore up the foundations we need for future victories. The base, and the electorate at large, will once again understand that voting GOP means something, and now is a golden opportunity.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Stinging the CGW-E Bee

The Sacramento Bee is a disciple in the Church of Global Warming – Evangelical. Joel Schwartz over at the indispensable Planet Gore dissects a Bee editorial’s use of falsehood and half-truths often thrown about in the on-going debate, and presented one-sided style in the media.

Let’s star with a key paragraph in the editorial:

"How high will these oceans rise? Some computer models show that, without a significant reduction in greenhouse gases, the Greenland ice sheet could melt sometime after 2100. Such a steady melt-off would lead to a 7-meter (23-foot) increase in sea levels, according to the IPCC report. That would submerge most of San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Tidal action would swamp most of Sacramento."

Bzzzt! Wrong….and misleading…on many counts, as pointed out by Mr. Schwartz. To summarize:

1 - the computer models that predict melting of the Greenland ice sheet were run with the assumption that the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere starts out and stays at four times the pre-industrial level and nearly three times the current level.

2 - Even with atmospheric CO2 at three times current level, the models say it would take 270 years for Greenland to lose even 20% of its ice, and more than 1,700 years to lose 80% of its ice.

3 - Greenland was warmer than it is now for several long periods during the last few thousand years.

4 - The top of IPCC's range for 21st Century sea-level rise is 23 inches.

5 - Sea level has been flat for the last three decades or so, after rising steadily from the 1920s through the 1970s.

The IPCC wasn’t scary enough so the Bee had to embellish. However, had the Bee done some real reporting and fact checking into the IPCC report itself, they would have found that the IPCC report has a few flaws to start with:

"...the IPCC's estimate includes melting of land-bound ice and thermal expansion of the oceans, but excludes dynamical changes in ice flow—meaning it excludes the possibility of, for example, the Antarctic ice sheets sliding into the sea."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fashionably, conveniently, late.

Today the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has many good things to say about recently resigned St. Paul U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose. The story contains forceful praise for her work from various local law enforcement communities.

Two things strike me about this story. The first is, why are all these things being printed now and not reported during the midst of the controversy? Did Strib reporters only this week have the time to contact the people who knew best about her work and put their thoughts in the paper? To be fair, I have not read many of the stories the Strib may have published on Paulose, but can't imagine the STRIB would repeat themselves in such a fashion. So I asked someone who turns each page of the thing daily. While she could not be assured of having read each story that may have been published, she did read those of the past week and the article today. She does not recall any Strib story, or portion thereof, containing the sort of positive comments seen today.

Second, I’ve always been leery of the “turmoil that her management practices ignited” charges that have appeared in the press without a given basis or substantiation. Today’s story may yield a clue:

"Miller [executive director of Civil Society, a nonprofit agency that helps trafficking victims] said Paulose worked with her organization for nearly two years, helped it secure funds and made sure that someone from her office was available around the clock, seven days a week...

"Lt. Andrew Smith, head of the Minneapolis Police Department's Violent Offender Task Force, has praise for Paulose and her staff…'We've gotten very good service from her office. Attorneys have been available to us on weekends, holidays and at night.'"

Color me suspicious, but it sounds like Paulose required her staff to be ‘on call’ 24-7 in ways that they weren’t before. Let’s also throw in her (rightful) emphasis on D.C. Attorney General priorities instead of letting office goals be set by local prosecutors. That can certainly result in leaked-to-the-press charges of ‘bad management practices. Is that the case here? With the sorry state of local reporting on this issue from the ‘dead tree/boob tube’ media we’re not like to get any solid search for answers.

Powerline has more, including this observation:

"Rachel Paulose gets reassigned under a cloud for the way she ran her office while Amy Klobuchar, who had many, many more intra-office management issues, is in the Senate."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

CGW-E: "Witches! More witches!! BUUUUURRRN ‘EM!!!!"

Canada’s Financial Post from last Saturday (11/17) spotlights a British victim of the Church of Global Warming-Evangelical. Like their intellectual mob brethren from the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie (watch the scene here), they are far more eager in rolling heads than engaging in academic debate. Scientifically based evidence of contrary conclusions be damned. Such deniers are, by definition, heretics.

Quite literally.

Professor David Bellamy, a botanist, is Special Professor of Geography at the University of Nottingham and Honorary Professor of the University of Central Queensland, with 45 books, 80 published papers, and 400 eco-television programs. On July 9, 2004, he gravely transgressed by publishing a full-page article in the London Daily Mail titled "What a load of poppycock!" The article said the following:

"Whatever the experts say about the howling gales, thunder and lightning we've had over the past two days, of one thing we can be certain. Someone, somewhere -- and there is every chance it will be a politician or an environmentalist -- will blame the weather on global warming…But they will be 100% wrong. Global warming -- at least the modern nightmare version -- is a myth."

Since committing this unpardonable sin of contrary expression, the Inquisition has stripped him of many positions and speaking invitations.

Is Dr. Bellamy some ‘throw-back’ to a fanatical right-wing Thatcherite faction? Hardly. He’s a life-long environment advocate and committed socialist who can’t stand to see money being wasted when it could go for progressive programs. He knows that the global warming movement consumes a great deal of government funds while producing nothing.

Read the whole story here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Prosecuting while Republican? Guilty!!

He just keeps digging deeper...

Minnesota Republicans’ own wind-tossed strand of boiled linguini, U.S. Senator Norm Coleman, abandoned Rachel Paulose, his successful nominee for the U.S. attorney’s office in St. Paul. Bowing to unsubstantiated, even false media speculation, Coleman pulled his support, which I'm guessing is what likely led to the end of her local tenure. How successful was her short time in office? Listen to St. Paul Chief of Police (and Dartmouth alum) John Harrington:

“Rachel Paulose has been the most aggressive U.S. Attorney that I have ever worked with and the most successful. Working with her has made the city of St. Paul a safer place. If you have any doubts, just ask the Latin Kings gang that terrorized an entire neighborhood with guns and drugs and murder. They are easy to find, since they are all doing time in federal custody. Or ask the kids at McDonough Recreational Center, where Rachel taught about Internet safety. Or better yet, ask the predators whom she put in prison, keeping them from being able to hurt children ever again."

And let’s not forget her highly successful breaking of a human trafficking ring (which, ironically, was one reason for her lack of support among Justice Department careerists in D.C.).

So what was she guilty of? Charges boil down to mishandling of classified information, mismanagement of the office, following D.C. directions on caseloads rather than local subordinates, and an anonymous charge of making a racist comment. Scott Johnson of Powerline deals the body blow to all the charges here.

But the local media wanted their own ‘lynch the GOP Federal Attorney’ trophy and they got it. KSTP 5 makes a hash of the issue. Its lead story on the 6pm news tonight can be seen here. Watch it after reading Scott Johnson’s article linked above and you’ll see how empty and self-serving the story is: it presents no case against Paulose, only unsupported charges. They claim she never responded. Wrong.

All of which had the principle-free Coleman scampering away with his tail between his legs.

So why is she gone? Scott Johnson sums up all the reasons left standing…

Let's see. She's a Republican. (The position of United States Attorney is a political appointmet.) She was appointed to the position by the Bush administration. (No one other than the president and the Attorney General had the legal authority to make the appointment.) She knew Monica Goodling. (Liberals used to oppose guilty by association.) And former United States Attorney Tom Heffelfinger might have been fired if he had not resigned when he did. I understand completely.

Paulose seems to understand as well:

"The McCarthyite hysteria that permits the anonymous smearing of any public servant who is now, or ever may have been, a member of the Federalist Society; a person of faith; and/or a conservative (especially a young, conservative woman of color) is truly a disservice to our country."

More here, here, here, and here.

No Waco, no Ruby Ridge, no Elian Gonzales. Yup. I understand, too.

Thanks again, Norm. You’re a peach…

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cub trumps Target – The Red Kettle Wars

I have a tradition…never pass a Salvation Army kettle without making some kind of donation. Maybe it’s only some change, usually a bill or two. But for that reason I’ve been peeved at Target for their removal of said charity collection at their doors.

Cub, however, has not taken the same Scrooge-type route. In fact, they’re going two better. Not only are S.A. kettles at their stores, but Cub employees have volunteered to start the collections early by ringing the bells starting today. Plus, Cub will match the day’s donations.

I know this news may be late for most of you, but even if you can’t get there in time for the Cub matching day, let them know you appreciate their policy of allowing the Red Kettles to remain during the Christmas season.

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