January 2012

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JUNK FOOD AND THE POOR IN FLORIDA

“Politics makes strange bedfellows” – this time it advocates for the poor and the processed food industry. Conservative law makers in Florida are pushing for greater restrictions on what poor Floridians can buy with SNAP funds (aka food stamps). They believe that food stamps should not be used for sodas, snacks and other junk foods.

Buy it if you must, just not on the tax payer's dime

The reason for the snack food and soda manufactures’ interest in this is obvious. Food stamps are revenue for them. Advocates for the poor believe they should have the same choices as everyone else. But they do their constituency no favors. Obesity and its concomitant diseases, are more of  a problem for the poor t. Better diets would lead t o better outcomes.

Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for people to eat crap and then shell out medicaid for the resulting diseases. Restrictions exist against tobacco, alcohol and “hot foods”,  non-nutritious food should be added. Drawing the line might be hard, but here’s one suggestion – anything in a plastic bottle, foil bag or cardboard box should be off-limits.

You do have to wonder if the conservatives pushing for this legislation really have the welfare of the poor at heart. After all when New York tried to achieve the same health benefit with a tax on soda, the right beat it back as an unfair imposition on the less well off.

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ILLEGAL DRUGS AND THE POOR IN FLORIDA

On July 1st 2011 welfare recipients in Florida were subject to a drug test to receive their benefits. Predictably, advocates for the poor claimed the law was discriminatory and/or unconstitutional. But I fail to see why welfare recipients shouldn’t be tested for drugs when job applicants at Home Depot are.

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WHY JOURNALISTS ARE RARELY MATH MAJORS

Math homework of a Boston Herald journalist.

The Boston Herald trotted out the frequently used and always untrue claim that the rich are actually paying 45% or 50% tax rate. Either by adding the corporate and capital gains tax together or the income and capital gains tax.

But lets look at the ‘double taxation’ claim. Say you earn a $1 million a year you would pay $350,000 in taxes and net $650,000. Now take the $650,000 invest it and net a profit of $250,000. You would pay $37,500 in tax and net $212,500 (there is no tax on your original $650,000).

In total you have earned $1,250,000 and paid $387,500 in taxes; an effective rate of  31%. Now imagine your investments make another $250,000, your effective rate would be 28%. As time passes your effective rate would keep declining.

As for corporate tax, equity investors make money off the change in value of an equity, they don’t pay corporate tax.

Entrepreneurs never pay more than 35%. They could take all the profit out of their company as salary and never pay anything more than income tax. Any money the company makes that is invested back into the company isn’t subject to any tax.

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CONGRESSIONAL INSIDER TRADING

The Senate voted on Monday, 93 – 2, to pass STOCK (Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge) Act. This will clarify that it is a crime for elected officials to profit from insider legislative knowledge. The House is deliberating on a similar measure. Deliberating? Can’t they wait until they leave office to trade in on their position?

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ENDANGERED SPECIES – NOT SO ENDANGERED ANY MORE.

The news magazine “60 Minutes” ran a story about hunting in Texas. What made it unusual is that the animals hunted were endangered African species; some of which do not even exist in Africa any more.

Scimitar horned onyx - still around because people want to hunt it.

As you might expect animal rights activists are horrified. Featured was Priscilla Feral (good name for an animal activist) who said of hunting exotic animals: “I think that’s ludicrous. I think it’s immoral. And I don’t think anybody’s entitled to do that”. She is waging a legal campaign to have it banned.

But hunters pay to shoot and that money goes to preserving the species. Americans can move mountains when there is money to be made; there is no percentage in killing the golden goose. If Feral succeeds there will be no incentive to keep these animals alive.

Feral’s fantasy is that these animals would only exist in their natural habitat in Africa. But that hasn’t worked out so well as some are considered extinct in the wild.

Compare the life and death of a scimitar horned onyx on a shooting ranch in Texas with that of a beef cow. The onyx lives free with a 10% chance of being shot in any given year. The beef cow, on the other hand, lives a miserable unnatural life and at 18 months has a 100% chance of being killed.

Of all the animals killed in the US each year, exotic species cannot account for more than a fraction of a fraction of a percent. Feral should focus her energies on the big picture and address the treatment of our food animals.

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A Military That Big Government Conservatives Can Love.

January 30, 2012

Republicans want big-government job-creation programs. They don’t think they do and will campaign against it but it is what they are lobbying for. The American Enterprise Institute published an article, “Defending Defense”, that is typical of this big government promotion. The author accuses the President’s 2013 budget of: “giving the pink slip to 100,000 active-duty men and women […]

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Really? 1/29/12 – Who gives to charity? Shariah law; Does Gingrich know who he is? Let all children be well.

January 29, 2012

***** CHARITY, TAXES AND RELIGION Much as been made of Romney’s large income ($21.6m in 2010) and small (13.9%) tax rate. Newt Gingrich earned less (a still healthy $3.1m) and paid a higher (32.2%) tax rate. Romney gave a relatively generous 13.8% of his income to charity. Gingrich gave a far more modest 2.8%. The President […]

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Really? 1/28/12 – Snakes in the Middle East; What makes you fat? Playing hide and seek with the sugar; Cheap real estate; Good looking nut-crackers

January 28, 2012

****** ISRAELIS, PALESTINIANS AND SNAKES An Israeli mother found her 13 month old, Imad Aleeyan chewing, with his six teeth, on the head of a foot-long snake. A relative ripped the badly chewed snake away Luckily, due to the cold weather the snake was “not really active” and Imad was unharmed, though a little ticked […]

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Really? 1/27/12 Gingrich falls; Greenspan misses the obvious; Buffet doesn’t; neither does Gates; are Birthers racists?; the Heritage Institute is shocked

January 27, 2012

***** LIVE BY THE SWORD DIE BY THE SWORD Newt Gingrich is like chocolate cake, a little is fun, a lot makes you nauseous. He prides himself on being a bomb thrower, but in the last debate the bully got his comeuppance when Mitt Romney fought back (it was no coincidence he had hired Michele Bachmann’s debate coach). Gingrich […]

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Really? 1/26/12 – Gingrich and Reagan; Gingrich in space; Catholics and contraception; US Constitution – written in Israel? The State of our Union is ?

January 26, 2012

***** GINGRICH’S ALTERNATE REALITY In Newt Gingrich’s telling, he and Ronald Reagan were joined at the hip as they wrenched America into the gilded age of conservative economics and slew the Soviet dragon. But the record is different. Reagan’s own diaries mention Gingrich once and not flatteringly. The National Review, no less, has dragged up old Gingrich […]

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Election 2012 (1/24/12) – Romney does well (financially at least); Romney throws off the gloves; Gingrich whines; It’s the Sikhs time in the sun.

January 24, 2012

***** ROMNEY’S TAX RETURNS Romney finally released his tax returns. In 2010/11 he earned $42.5 million with taxes of $6.2 million; a tax rate of c.15%. He contributed $7 million to charity, most of it to the Mormon Church. There isn’t much that was unexpected. He’s rich, he pays a lower tax rate than many working […]

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Really? 1/23/12 – Justice Scalia’s solution; Hate is not a Christian virtue; What makes a good President; Thinking about the brain; Illegals aim high.

January 23, 2012

***** JUSTICE SCALIA CHANNELS HIS INNER MARIE-ANTOINETTE In a discussion before the South Carolina bar Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer addressed the political landscape created by “Citizens United vs the FEC” which gutted the restrictions on corporate money in the politics. Scalia said that if someone didn’t like negative ads they should turn off […]

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Democracy’s Weakness

January 22, 2012

We do not vote for the CEO of GE; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Chief of Cardiology at the Mayo Clinic. Neither do we expect to. But we do expect that the best people for the job will run the military, medicine and industry. We expect those leaders to have […]

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