Friday, September 30, 2011

The Dark and Dangerous Road of Modern Politics (American Thinker)

September 30, 2011


By Robert Eugene Simmons Jr.

Imagine sitting down for dinner with the news on in the background.  Everyone is enjoying dinner while half-listening to the latest political intrigue going on in Washington and in the media.  Suddenly one of your guests starts calling 14- and 17-year-old girls who just happen to be a child of a notable politician "whores" and "tramps."  How, as father of a young girl yourself, could you nod or laugh?  I have often wondered what kind of state of mind it would take to find such a thing acceptable or even funny.

Unfortunately such conversations are going on all over the political spectrum these days.  The nastiest of allegations and accusations are coming from the statists, directed towards the Tea Party and like-minded politicians.  The statists and especially the far left seem to have willingly and consciously abandoned all morality, taste, and ethics for the purpose of winning a political battle.  They seem willing to put the lives of young men and women at risk to win an election, and the trend is disturbing.

Take for example a young woman named Bristol Palin.  Her mother entered the national political scene when she was 17.  Bristol herself had not violated laws or abused anyone, or even held political office; she simply had a mother who was a politician, and Bristol had made an unfortunate decision that resulted in her becoming pregnant at a young age.  The vultures of the left swarmed in on the young woman with the vilest accusations imaginable and they continue to do so today.  They alleged she was promiscuous and that she was "white trash," and national shows like Saturday Night Live implied that her own father was the father of her baby.

While watching the media and blogosphere treatment of Bristol, I was reminded of the tale of Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old teenager who was bullied online and eventually took her own life in her despair.  As a father, I felt a stab of horror and sadness when I heard about the poor young lady.  Yet Bristol Palin has endured what Phoebe did on an international level and at levels of magnitude more intensity.  Frankly, it is a miracle that she was able to live through those times.  The attacks were, in fact, calculated to destroy her personally.

After reading Bristol's book, I was taken aback by the misery that Bristol's life had become and the steel spine she must have had to make it through.  I admired her resolve and resilience and was saddened by her ordeal.  As a father, I sat back and tried, but failed, to imagine the mind of a man who could bully a young teenage girl, risking causing a suicide, and then face his family calmly.  I often wonder if they have trouble facing their young daughters after writing a particularly nasty comment on a blog somewhere.

However, Bristol isn't the only person who has had to endure such vitriolic attacks.  Her mother, of course, has received more such attacks than any other politician in history.  Apparently threatening to kill Sarah Palin is something of a sport to some leftists.  They have even proudly published a video game that allows the players to indulge their murder fantasy.  I wonder how a player of such a game explains the game to his or her 10-year-old when the kid looks over Mom's or Dad's shoulder.  Long before the game there were posters, drawings, and altered photographs that indulged in a sick fantasy of murdering Mrs. Palin.  However, the Palin family isn't alone in being the recipient of such hostility.

The Tea Party has been under increasingly vitriolic and nasty attacks trying to bully the membership into retreating from public life.  Throughout their short existence, they have been accused of being racists and white supremacist Nazis -- ironic, since their views have little in common with the National Socialist German Worker's Party.  The accusers aren't limited to a few oddballs in the blogosphere and political commentators.  Even the vice president of the United States implied that the Tea Party were terrorists, saying that Republican leaders had "guns to their heads" when trying to negotiate a bill.  From the second-highest office in the executive branch, that is just irresponsible and dangerous.

What I can't understand is how the leftists manage to make such attacks without having a crisis of conscience.  How does the black man who endured racism under Democrat George Wallace in Alabama allow leftists to trivialize the fear and oppression they went through by tossing "racism" around like a ping-pong ball?  How does a feminist who suffered against the glass ceiling allow others to refer to a female politician as a "slut" or "whore" just because she is in the opposite party?  How does a father allow such horrible things to be said of children just because their mother is a politician?  I know if I heard such things about Sasha and Malia Obama at my dinner table, despite my deep disagreements with their father, I would throw the guest out of my house, and feel I had to shampoo the carpets where he or she walked.

It is as if the left have tossed out the window any sense of morality, ethics, tolerance, and diversity of opinion that they professed to believe in for a hundred years.  The rise of the Tea Party didn't surprise me, given the vast overreach of statists in both parties, but that an entire group in politics was willing to throw out their humanity for the sake of political gain does surprise me.  I suppose I had naively thought that Americans were unable to go down the roads traveled in so many dark times in human history.  I suppose I cannot understand such a mindset.

The question is, will that mindset be the new politics in America?  Have we traded in the debate halls and questions of Constitution and the freedom of speech for vicious allegations and attempts to destroy others' lives because we disagree with them?  Will we laugh when a 47-year-old man verbally attacks a 20-year-old woman in public with words like "slut" and "whore"?  Each one of us, no matter what the political persuasion, has that power in our blogs, comments online, and interactions to change the tone of the conversation.  The only requirement is the courage to not remain silent.

Page Printed from: at September 30, 2011 - 07:31:48 AM CDT

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Coddling Misinformation About Taxation (American Thinker)

September 29, 2011


By Chris Banescu

Warren Buffett and President Obama claim that the rich do not pay enough taxes.  They both accuse the American tax code of being unfair and coddling the rich.  Both have been pushing the same class warfare narrative for years, using current U.S. capital gains and dividends taxation rates as evidence for their big-government progressive agenda.  Both are spreading misinformation about all the taxes corporations and individuals actually pay.

As far back in 2007, Mr. Buffett, the third-richest man in the world, began criticizing the U.S. tax code for its low tax rates on dividends and capital gains from long-term investments.  One of his most infamous statements, one often repeated by the left to support its punish-the-rich schemes, was made in a speech at a $4,600-a-seat fundraiser for Senator Hillary Clinton in New York:

The 400 of us [here] pay a lower part of our income in taxes than our receptionists do, or our cleaning ladies, for that matter. If you're in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.

In that same speech, Buffett also said that he was taxed at 17.7% on the $46 million he made the previous year, "without trying to avoid paying higher taxes," while his own secretary, who earned $60,000 per year, was taxed at 30%.

A similar comment was made by Mr. Buffett in his "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich" article published on August 14, 2011 in The New York Times.

Last year my federal tax bill -- the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf -- was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income -- and that's actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

Perpetuating the same "the rich are not being taxed enough" storyline, President Obama picked up Buffett's talking points and included then in his own address to Congress.  In his September 8, 2011 "jobs" speech, Mr. Obama said:

Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary -- an outrage he has asked us to fix.  We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake, and everybody pays their fair share. And I believe the vast majority of wealthy Americans and CEOs are willing to do just that, if it helps the economy grow and gets our fiscal house in order.

Yet things are not as they appear to be.  In fact, the full level of taxation of U.S. corporations and taxpayers is much higher than these men keep saying it is.

Dividends Taxation -- Double-Taxation

While it is true that the federal income tax on dividends from investments held for one year or more (and capital gains from sales of stock held for at least one year) is only 15%, this is not the whole story.  Mr. Buffett and President Obama completely ignore the double-taxation aspect of corporate earnings, a key aspect of our income tax system.  They purposely fail to mention that dividend income streams reach the taxpayers and the rich only after they have been already taxed once (35% to 41.6%) at the corporate level (with some exceptions with regards to REITs and certain trusts, etc.) before being distributed to their shareholders.  Then the same income streams get taxed a second time (15%) when individuals actually receive the money from the corporations they own.  The true and full federal tax rate on those earnings is not 15%, but anywhere from 50% to 56.6%.

Fair or Unfair?

Is it really "unfair" that shareholders are taxed only 15% the second time around, after the companies they own have already been taxed once at 35% to 41.6% on average?

Stocks grant investors part-ownership of companies.  The money invested buying those stocks is 100% at risk.  Share purchasers are the actual owners of those businesses, and the earnings they produce are lawfully and ethically theirs.  Once those corporations pay their federal and state income taxes -- averaging from the lowest (35%) in Nevada, Wyoming, and South Dakota to the highest (41.6%) in Pennsylvania and Iowa, as reported by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation -- the remaining earnings belong to the shareholders.  That income is now their income.

However, once companies have made a profit and paid their taxes, the owners -- the investors who risked their money on purchasing these stocks -- have not yet seen a dime from the earnings of their corporations.  In order for money to actually reach the shareholders, a company must pay out dividends.  When those dividends are paid out, then the IRS taxes them at rate of 15% (for long-term investments held for one year or more; the regular federal rates are applied for stocks held for less than one year) for each individual who receives them.  By the time stockholders get to keep any money from the earnings of the corporations they own, the government has taxed it twice and confiscated at least half of it (50% to 56.6% approximate rates).  That's not enough of a "fair share" to pay?

Top 10% of Taxpayers Pay 70% of All Taxes

The latest research on U.S. income taxes data (conducted by several nonpartisan and independent organizations) shows that, on average, the top 10% of taxpayers pay approximately 70% of all federal taxes in America.  Does "fair" mean they should be paying 80%, 90%, or 100% of all taxes instead?  Is that the definition of "fair share" that both Obama and Buffett would be more comfortable and happy with?  I think Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would definitely have approved.

Chris Banescu is an attorney, entrepreneur, and university professor.  He regularly blogs at and

Page Printed from: at September 29, 2011 - 09:00:42 AM CDT

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Moral High Ground: The Left’s “morally superior” policies kill millions and impoverish billions (National Review)

The Moral High Ground: The Left’s “morally superior” policies kill millions and impoverish billions
National Review ^ | 09/08/2011 | Jim Lacey

Posted on Thursday, September 08, 2011 10:05:46 AM by SeekAndFind

Soon after I published an article questioning the global-warming orthodoxy, the world’s foremost hypocrite, Al Gore, informed anyone who still listens to him that my position is akin to racism. The wise course of action would be to ignore the rants of a man who desperately needs the world to remain fearful of carbon, the element on which all life on earth is based. If that fear were to vanish, how would he continue to rake in the millions needed for the purchase of his next beach house?

But enough is enough. Why should I sit quietly and let myself be branded a racist? In fact, will someone please explain how the Left is always assumed to have the moral high ground in these kinds of debates? I am particularly curious about this, as leftist policies continue to destroy the lives of tens of millions in this country and billions worldwide.

Let’s go through just a small part of the evidence.

The Left has fought the spread of genetically modified (GM) foods with every weapon in its arsenal. Leftists did this in the name of combatting a long list of “potential risks” that never materialized. They have been permitted to overlook the fact that their assaults on GM food were not cost free. For instance, they have greatly delayed and in some places stopped cold the use of rice modified to increase vitamin A content. For the Left this is cause for celebration. In fact, widespread use of this “golden rice” would have prevented a half-million cases of child blindness a year. So the next time someone talks to you about the evils of genetically modified foods, remind him of the millions of poor children this crusade has condemned to a lifetime of blindness. How do folks prepared to allow millions to needlessly go blind still command the respect of any truly moral person?

However, even looking the other way as children go blind pales in comparison to the needless starving of millions that has occurred because anti-GM-food groups have frightened and bullied the people and governments of Africa into forbidding the use of GM seeds. Such seeds, modified to resist the effects of drought and disease, would make Africa self-sufficient in foodstuffs. But for most African farmers they remain unavailable because of the successful efforts of American and European anti-GM-food groups. Even though every American consumes GM foods on an almost daily basis, with no ill effects, they remain off limits to those most in need.

There is no reason the Somali child pictured below needs to be hungry except for the fact that some groups are working overtime to prevent his country from growing the food needed to feed him. What do you call people who are willing to let millions starve to death rather than let them grow food that scientists long ago proved safe?Why the anti-GM groups are not condemned for crimes against humanity escapes me. For that matter, as these groups have made it their life mission to starve poor Africans, Asians, and other peoples of color, how come they have never been branded as racists?

And malnutrition is not the only problem afflicting Africa and other poor regions of the world. Among the greatest scourges is malaria, which infects 250 million and kills 1 million every year. In fact, in Africa, one in every five childhood deaths is a result of malaria. If you are a reader of average speed, then consider that ten to twelve children will have died from malaria between the time you started this article and the time you finish it. None of this is necessary. Malaria was vanquished in the United States and Europe through the copious use of DDT. But this blessing has been denied poor African nations because Rachel Carson in her 1962 book Silent Spring blamed DDT for killing eagles and other birds.

Fifty years later Carson’s discredited work remains a rallying cry for environmentalists who tirelessly work to ensure that poor nations do not have access to DDT, favoring instead a cocktail of methods that have been proven ineffective. Interestingly, I was once accosted by an environmental zealot over that last statement. He wanted to know what proof I had that other methods were ineffective. I pointed out the continuing deaths of a million people and asked how long he had been involved in the environmental movement. When he told me he had been doing this for a dozen years I casually mentioned that during his activist years he had worked for a movement responsible for killing two times as many persons as perished in the Holocaust, and that was just from malaria-related deaths alone. Yet he thought, and probably still thinks, that he occupies the moral high ground.

In truth, almost all the harmful effects attributed to DDT have been proven not to exist. Moreover, the benefits of DDT use can be achieved using a fraction of the quantity used to eradicate malaria in the United States. Just what do leftists have against blacks, particularly blacks in Africa, that causes them to push policies that sicken and kill them by the tens of millions? And why do they get to claim they sing with the angels as they preside over this slaughter of innocents?

Let’s move on a bit. That most stupendous of hypocrites, Al Gore again, uses more electricity in a week than 28 million poor Ugandans use in a year. Still he gets to brand me a racist for doubting his unsupported claims about global warming. The simple fact of the matter is that alternative sources of energy are inefficient, unreliable, and very expensive. If poor countries are forced to adopt alternative energy sources over cheap carbon-based energy, then there is no feasible scenario in which developing nations will be able to afford even a fraction of the energy required to escape poverty. As the Ugandan Fiona Kobusingye points out in a recent article:

Not having electricity means millions of Africans don’t have refrigerators to preserve food and medicine. Outside of wealthy parts of our big cities, people don’t have lights, computers, modern hospitals and schools, air conditioning — or offices, factories, and shops to make things and create good jobs. Not having electricity also means disease and death. It means millions die from lung infections, because they have to cook and heat with open fires; from intestinal diseases caused by spoiled food and unsafe drinking water; from malaria, TB, cholera, measles, and other diseases that we could prevent or treat if we had proper medical facilities.

She goes on to say, “Telling Africans they can’t have electricity and economic development — except what can be produced with some wind turbines or little solar panels — is immoral. It is a crime against humanity.” And she concludes, “We need to stop listening to global-warming witch doctors, who get rich telling us to keep living ‘indigenous,’ impoverished lives.”

Yet I am the one Al Gore brands as a racist.

But the damage the warmists are doing or hope to do does not end there. To save a planet that stopped warming in 1998, they want the United States and other industrial countries to reduce carbon output by 80 percent by 2050 (many are shooting for 2020), relative to a 1990 baseline. Let’s assume we multiply our wasteful spending on solar and wind power tenfold. If we do, then on particularly sunny and windy days we may eventually get 25 percent of our energy from those sources. That leaves us short about half the energy we need to support current GDP levels. As studies demonstrate that every 1 percent reduction in power causes a 0.7 percent reduction in GDP, I wonder how the warmists plan to employ the additional 25 million Americans thrown out of work.

Moreover, in the world’s emerging economies each 1 percent loss of GDP causes almost 2,500 premature deaths per 100,000 population. So, if the warmists get their way, they would kill off about 50 million persons a year on their way to a 2050 nirvana. One could plausibly claim that as soon as the pain became apparent, politicians would immediately reverse course before more damage was done. Such a belief would be comforting if we were not witnessing the destruction of huge amounts of food in order to turn it into inefficient and costly energy. One would think that global food riots and millions of starving people would cause a rethinking of our priorities. But this year, American farmers will grow more corn for ethanol than for food. After all, why should the empty bellies of countless children get in the way of saving the planet from warmist fantasies? Look again at that picture of a starving black child and tell me whose policies are racist.

How about something closer to home? Data released last week show that America’s jobless rate among black teenagers was 46.5 percent, and the overall rate of black joblessness is double that of the white population. Why? One needs to look no further than liberal policies implemented in our major cities, which have destroyed the black family unit, discouraged business investment, and subsidized the worst education system in the developed world. In fact, if a foreign power tried to force our education system on inner cities, we would send in the Marines to stop it.

Instead, we let leftist-dominated teachers’ unions run an education system that ensures half of the students trapped in it will be unemployable upon graduation. When these unions are called to account, they attack the critics as wanting to hurt the children. For how much longer will unions be allowed to claim they are “all about the children,” while in fact they are wrecking those children’s futures and condemning many of them to spend the rest of their lives in poverty? And why am I called a child-hating racist for daring to point out the truth?

There is so much more. What, for instance, can one say about the morality of economic policies that place a $70,000 debt on every American child? Is it really moral to take all the money the better-off earn and thereby deprive them of funds they could have invested to create the millions of jobs the unemployed need? What is moral about expanding the multicultural dogma, when the one thing it definitely creates is an unassimilated mass of youths with limited future prospects? What is moral about diversity programs that more often than not create isolated warring tribes within America’s most important institutions? Finally, is it really moral to force Americans to purchase medical insurance coverage they don’t want? And if you think it is, then where does government power over private lives end? What of freedom?

The day has long since passed when the Right needs to concede the moral high ground to the Left on any issue. Yes, we may be able to win most of the great debates on the merits of our ideas; but as a wise man once explained to me: “What I believe rationally is open to debate and change. What I believe emotionally cannot be changed by reason. An emotional belief can only be changed by an emotional argument.” The Left has known this for decades. That is why the those on the left never misses a chance to brand those on the right with the most contemptible slurs they can think of. We need not descend into the gutter and trade personal insults, but we should never miss a chance to point out the vile results of the policies the Left is pushing.

In every sphere of public debate, the moral high ground belongs to the Right. Claim it!

— Jim Lacey is the author of The First Clash and Keep from All Thoughtful Men.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Democrats' Invincible Ignorance (American Thinker)

September 6, 2011

By Paul Kengor

I've only recently come to realize the nature of the hurdle this country faces in trying to turn around a stalled economy and horrendous deficit.  Here it is: liberal Democrat politicians have completely convinced huge numbers of their followers that our economic/fiscal mess is the result of two principal demons: 1) "the rich," and 2) the Tea Party.  The former, of course, has been a longtime liberal scapegoat; the latter is a new one.

Note that I use the word "followers."  That's because I'm hearing from a disturbingly high number of people who apparently buy the Democratic Party line with no question whatsoever.  They exhibit a remarkable, frightful willingness to act against their own interests in blind service to partisanship and ideology.  It's like a mass self-flagellation.

I've realized this painfully only in the last few weeks as a result of several commentaries I've done (USA Today, FoxNews, among others), viewed by a large portion of Americans from across the political spectrum.  In these commentaries, I tried to stick to statistics and facts.  I naïvely thought my approach would be convincing.  It was not.

Or, perhaps I should say, it was thoroughly unconvincing to followers of the Democratic Party line.  My emailing with them has been a total waste of my time.  I've found myself repeating numbers over and over, with no effect whatsoever.

To keep it simple here today, I'll stick to the one factoid that I thought was irrefutable, and (my main point) which I'm finding is irrelevant to countless liberals:

I wrote an article titled, "It's spending, stupid."  There I noted that the federal government, from 1965 to 2009, never cut spending one single year.  That's right, not one time -- nope, nada, nothing.  To repeat: from 1965 to 2009, the federal government never decreased annual spending.  To see the figures on a chart is eye-opening.  The annual rise in spending has been a steady, nonstop, unbroken, upward climb for over 40 years.  To the contrary, revenues to the federal government have gone up and down, the result not of tax rates on "the rich," but of the status of the economy from year to year, especially during recessions.  It's both amazing and depressing to see that the federal government, unlike you and your family and your household and your business and your anything and everything else, is apparently incapable of adjusting (i.e., decreasing) its spending based on available revenues.  It used to do so, but that changed in 1965, when the federal government, starting with the Great Society, began an outright spending addiction.

As I noted in the article, seeing this for yourself is as easy as Googling "historical tables deficit," where one can view two sources: CBO historical tables (Congressional Budget Office) and OMB historical tables (Office of Management and Budget).  These are the official sources for data on federal budgets.  In the OMB link, look at Table 1.1, titled, "Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits: 1789-2016."

In my commentaries and emails, I even included hyperlinks (as I have here) to these tables, imploring people to look for themselves rather than accept my word.  I arrogantly and mistakenly thought I was providing a service to people who otherwise didn't know these things.  Once they saw the data for themselves, I figured, they would reconsider their view.  How naïve I was.

I can't begin to try to recount the angry emails I got from liberals insisting that the reasons for our deficits/debt problem is not over-spending by the federal government, but greed by wealthy people who don't pay "their fair share" of income taxes and by dastardly "racist" "terrorists" in the Tea Party.  And, yes, I actually got emails (many of them) from people insisting that Tea Party members are "terrorists."  It is astonishing to see, but it's absolutely true that when Democratic Party officials mouth charges like this, they are immediately accepted and repeated by their followers.  It's very dispiriting.  And to observe an American public, only 10 years removed from September 11, somehow equating Tea Party members with "terrorists" leaves me almost speechless and hopeless.

I won't bother here responding to that particular smear, but I would like to address the charge that the rich are not paying "their fair share."  Again, I will stick to data, and I again fear that it will make no difference among the liberal faithful.

If you Google the words "Who pays income tax?" you will find a chart (click here) from the National Taxpayers Union.  It includes these telling statistics:

The top 1% of income earners pay 38% of all federal tax revenue.  The top 5% pay 59%.  The top 10% pay 70%.  The top 25% pay 86%.  The top 50% pay 97.3%.  Conversely, the bottom 50% pay merely 2.7% of all federal tax revenue.

As the data shows, the rich are certainly paying their fair share.  In fact, they pay the vast share.  The poorest Americans, conversely, pay literally nothing in income taxes.

If anything, the system is disproportionately titled against the wealthy.  Our "rich" are paying for the reckless behavior of politicians addicted to spending; they are subsidizing spending addicts.  And to watch those addicts blame the mess on the rich for not paying enough?  It's obscene.

But the folks who have emailed me have the complete opposite opinion -- and it is that: an opinion.  It is an incorrect opinion.  And lately, it has been aided and abetted not merely by the usual class-warfare demagogues in the Democratic Party, but by the likes of Warren Buffet and even some liberal Republican writers, who are dupes for this line of propaganda.  Warren Buffet is the Democrats' dupe.

Let me repeat: America's deficit/debt problem is a spending problem.  It is not the fault of rich people who pay too little income tax or Tea Party members guilty of "terrorism."  Don't take my word for it.  Look at the data.

My fear, however, is that the data just doesn't matter to a huge number of blind followers.  And that's a very serious problem for this country, a giant propaganda hurdle that may be insurmountable.

Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College.  His books include The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism and Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.

Page Printed from: at September 06, 2011 - 07:19:31 AM CDT