Getting Permission to Work

May 19, 2012

The Institute for Justice has this fairly thorough video demonstrating the preponderance of dubious occupational license requirements in many jurisdictions:

Back in 2006, I looked at the prevalence of occupational licensing in Hillsborough County, Florida – starting with the example of requiring auctioneers to be licensed. I thought it kind of funny that a person who wanted to be an auctioneer requires a government license, while a 16-year-old who wanted to operate a large roller coaster, like at the theme park where I used to work, did not. (Subsequently, that theme park quit hiring anyone under 18 years of age – not connected to my original column I’m sure.)

At the time, Hillsborough County issued two different auctioneer licenses: one for selling your own property and one for selling someone else’s. (I contemplated interviewing an actual auctioneer, but I realized that he or she might be difficult to understand.)

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Facts Behind Tax ‘Fairness’

May 1, 2012

To all who decry the “1 percent” and the perceived unfairness of a tax system supposedly tilted in favor of the wealthy, ponder the following table from the National Taxpayers Union that breaks out who pays federal income taxes:

Tax Year 2009

Percentiles  Ranked by AGI

AGI  Threshold on Percentiles

Percentage  of Federal Personal Income Tax Paid

Top  1%

$343,927

36.73

Top  5%

$154,643

58.66

Top  10%

$112,124

70.47

Top  25%

$66,193

87.30

Top  50%

$32,396

97.75

Bottom  50%

<$32,396

2.25

Note: AGI is Adjusted Gross Income   Source: Internal Revenue Service

Obama: Supreme Court Shouldn’t Overturn Passed Legislation

April 3, 2012

At what point do you just stop taking anything any Washington politician says seriously? In a place where incoherent and meaningless rhetoric abounds, it becomes hard to avoid.

One of the latest examples being this recent blurb from President Obama on why the Supreme Court overturning the Affordable Care Act would be hard to imagine:

Ultimately I am confident that the Supreme  Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a  democratically elected Congress.

And I just remind conservative commentators  that for years what we have heard is that the biggest problem on the bench was  judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint; that an unelected group of  people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well,  this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this court will  recognize that and not take that step.

And with that he quite possibly places a lot doubt on his supposed expertise as a former constitutional law professor. What could he possibly even mean by these statements? It may be helpful to pick them apart.

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Some Perspective on the Debt

February 17, 2012

A parody that might bring the enormity of the national debt a little closer to home:


More Than a Day Off

September 5, 2011

Perhaps some perspective.


Downgrade

August 5, 2011

It’s official. Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has downgraded their long-term credit rating for the U.S., noting in their report the following reasons:

… we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process. We also believe that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration agreed to this week falls short of the amount that we believe is necessary to stabilize the general government debt burden by the middle of the decade.

Hard to argue with.  Even the party dubbed as deficit hawks, Republicans, have voiced skittishness over the possibility of defense spending cuts should the plan potentially emanating from the so-called “super” committee not pass.

The sad reality is that very few politicians are willing to make the cuts that are necessary to correct our ever-increasing path toward staggering debt (not that we aren’t already there). And if they’re not willing to make those cuts, the only other option is to “increase revenues,” which is code for raising taxes – something that is even less politically palatable. Yet even raising taxes on the “rich” isn’t enough to put the government in the black.

It’s easy to point the finger at our politicians. But they are just doing what they think will get them reelected, which means in most cases avoiding making tough decisions that might offend their constituents. Truth be told, it’s the electorate that is to blame for our mounting debt and near refusal to seriously deal with it (note: part of the S&P reasoning was that the amounts agreed on in the recent debt-ceiling deal are not anywhere near enough to tackle our long-term debt problems). As long as we the voters are unwilling to give up our particular piece(s) of the pie the government spending-machine cooks up, we will continue to face mounting debt and further credit worries.

“But what about cutting waste, fraud and abuse?” you might ask. One man’s “waste” is another man’s “investment.” One man’s “fraud” is another man’s “tax credit.” And one man’s “abuse” is another man’s “grant” or “entitlement” or whatever other euphemism he may choose at any given moment to justify his looting of other people’s money.

We are all part of the problem. The sooner we realize that the better.


Planned Parenthood and Grown-up Budgeting

April 9, 2011

Much debate took place around government funding to Planned Parenthood leading up to the prevented government “shutdown.” Many pro-lifers argued funding was going directly to fund abortions. Pro-choicers argued the federal money was separated from the money going to abortions. And budget hawks and libertarians argued government shouldn’t be subsidizing any of their services, regardless of the abortion issue.

Here are a few facts on the issue straight from Planned Parenthood itself:

  • Percent of Planned Parenthood revenue from government funding (FY 2008/2009) = 33% [source]
  • Abortion as percentage of all Planned Parenthood services (FY 2008/2009) = 3% [source]
  • Number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood every hour (2009) = 38 [source]

In short, some of the figures thrown around have been exaggerated while others not raised should be a little disturbing. However, two points should be raised.

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