Thursday, October 30, 2008
Whenever I drive back into New York from another state, I always think that instead of signs saying "Welcome to New York" they should say, "You are now leaving the American sector," like the signs in Berlin during the Cold War.
It's because in the area of public policy, there are 49 states that do things within a reasonable range of options ... and then there's New York. Always the outlier. Always at the top of lists of bad things, like the highest taxes, most government employees, biggest population loss, most jobs lost. Always lowest on the lists of good things, like the inverse of all of the above.
New York got this way by becoming a living museum of the policies of the Democratic Party: high taxes, hostile business climate, expensive mandates, powerful unions. With all the predictable consequences of those policies, most notably a dead economy and and a mass exodus of population.
All of those run-down small towns across the vast expanse of upstate New York, that look like nothing new has been built in 50 years, are our equivalent to those '55 Chevys still on the road in Havana. Where socialism lives, progress dies.
And now New York, whose chapter in a Book of the States would be titled, "Don't Let This Happen To You," is about to become the template for the rest of the country, under the regime poised to take over next Tuesday.
The one good thing New Yorkers had going for us was an escape route, to other states, when we finally had enough. Our children had a future, even if it was someplace else. That disappears if the rest of the country now goes the route of The Vampire State.
It looks like the next thing leaving the American sector will be . . . the rest of America.
Posted by Lucy at 1:28 PM
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In 1999, The New York Times reported that "under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration," Fannie Mae will encourage banks "to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify them for conventional loans."
According to the Times's reporter,
"In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, . . . the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980's."
The story quoted a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute: "[T]his is another thrift industry growing up around us. If they fail, the government will have to step up and bail them out the way it stepped up and bailed out the thrift industry.''
Posted by Philbrick at 9:51 AM
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
A majority of Monroe County residents say they want to be punched in the nose!
Well, not really. But we bet an overwhelming majority would say so, if asked, "Would you rather be punched in the nose or decapitated?"
Last week the Democrat and Chronicle published results of its recent "Voice of the Voter" survey. The survey found "Voters Say No to Tax Shifts," in the words of the headline. This implies that voters are rejecting proposals floated for tax relief, most notably the call for a property tax cap.
Yet the wording seemed curious. Who cares about a tax shift?
Getting government to pick one pocket instead of the other accomplishes nothing. Most taxpayers want the government substantially out of both pockets altogether. This curosity was explained once we read the question that Voice of the Voter asked:
Would you support or oppose a plan to eliminate property taxes and fund suburban schools through an increase in state income taxes?Really.
Did they even need to ask the question to know the result? That's the stifled voice of the voter, not the actual voice. Stifled by a question carefully crafted to shape the result.
Here's what Voice of the Voter should have asked instead:
Would you support or oppose a plan to reduce property taxes by cutting school district spending across the board and eliminating state mandates on school districts?Ask them that, Voice of the Voter.
If you dare.
Posted by Philbrick at 3:57 PM
Monday, October 20, 2008
A correspondent submits the following:
In the first presidential debate, Barack Obama said, "...here's what I can tell the American people: 95 percent of you will get a tax cut..." Yet it's mathematically impossible to cut the income tax of 95% of Americans when only 60% of Americans pay income tax.
To understand the United States tax system, let's turn to beer. More specifically, to the Beer Explanation of the Tax System.
The Tax System - Explained With Beer
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
So, that's what they decided to do.
The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20." Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
"I only got a dollar out of the 20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,"but he got $10!"
'Yeah, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"
"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money, among all of them, to pay even half the bill.
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.
Posted by Philbrick at 11:14 PM
A resident of Pittsford's Golf Avenue watched as a none-too-bright Obama supporter pulled up and stole her McCain sign. In broad daylight.
The McCain supporter called the Sheriff's department, reporting the theft and the thief's auto license plate number.
When the police caught up with the sign-stealer, the householder declined to bring charges, provided that the perpetrator buy her a new McCain sign.
Thus is justice rendered, out in Pittsford!
Posted by Philbrick at 1:16 AM