-- editor and columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and contributor to Reason magazine.
Also: Recipient of the 1987 Nobel Prize for Medicine, reigning UFC lightweight champion, and two-time winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off.
Among his many other awards, Hinkle has received the 1942 Academy Award (the Oscar) for costume design in "How Green Was My Valley"; the Wooten-Murray Fellowship in Gas Dynamics from the University of Edinburgh; designation as "Sexiest Man Alive" from People Magazine (in 2004 and 2009, and he has a good shot at it again next year since he started working out again); the Robert H. Gibbs Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Systematic Ichthyology from the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists; and a variety of military service decorations, including a Silver Star for nighttime air combat missions over the Solomon Islands in WWII and a Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry at Montbrehain, France, in 1918.
Obama’s abortion record and views are far outside the American mainstream.
In the Illinois state senate, Obama repeatedly opposed efforts to require hospitals to care for babies who survived abortions. The bill explicitly and repeatedly stated that it in no way pertained to babies still in utero. These assurances, in an identical bill in the U.S. Senate in 2001, were enough to win the vote of every pro-choice senator.
But what was good enough for California liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer was not good enough for Sen. Barack Obama. He steadfastly opposed the born-alive protection measure…
In his 2004 U.S. Senate race, Obama also showed his cards. His campaign sent out a fundraising email in Michelle Obama’s name. The issue it used to rally his supporters: partial-birth abortion. The email railed against a federal law that repeatedly passed the U.S. Senate with more than 60 votes, which banned what Michelle called “a legitimate medical procedure.” …
Obama is an abortion absolutist. He opposes all restriction on abortion. The only red line he had in the 2010 government shutdown debate was federal funding for the nation’s leading abortion provider Planned Parenthood. Tax cuts for the rich, domestic spending cuts — all those things he could accept. Reduced subsidies to the abortion lobby — that, he could not abide…
All of this puts Obama firmly outside the mainstream. In the latest Gallup polls, 71 percent favor laws requiring parental consent before a child gets an abortion. Obama opposes even parental notification. Only 26 percent of Americans think abortion should be legal under all circumstances. Obama thinks it should be legal and subsidized under all circumstances.
Obama’s abortion absolutism doesn’t come from a deep respect for individual liberty: He’s a war-on-drugs stalwart who forces people to buy private health insurance and undergo intrusive scans or pat-downs at the airport. There’s something else going on here.
Political partisans are so desperately eager to believe anything that might confirm their darkest suspicions about the Other Side — no matter how ridiculous the story is. See, e.g., the Obama Birther conspiracists.
Charles Blow’s defense of PBS, “Don’t Mess With Big Bird,” should be taught in schools as a perfect example of lousy argumentation. You can read the whole thing if you want, but it boils down to this: Federal funding for PBS is very important because PBS was very important to a young Charles Blow. “I honestly don’t know where I would be in the world without PBS,” he writes.
This is touching. But it suffers from a couple of serious flaws. For starters, Blow never examines the question as to whether Big Bird and PBS could get by without government funding. Could they? Whenever right-wingers criticize public funding of public TV and radio, the stations shoot back that government money makes up only a very small portion of their overall budgets. Okay, then they should be able to get by without it, right? (Disclaimer: I give money to public radio, wish my taxes didn’t, and resent the 90 percent of listeners who don’t chip in, the freeloading slackers. Grrr!)
The bigger flaw in Blow’s piece is his implication that if X is good or does good, then X should get government money. And maybe Blow does think that! I wouldn’t be a bit surprised. But since the set of “things that do good in the world” is pretty near infinite, that puts government on the hook to subsidize just about everything.
Example: Thousands — millions? — of men and women could say their lives were immeasurably improved by the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. After all, the Scouts expose children to dozens of different career choices, teach them character, and set them on a proper life path. So: Should the federal government subsidize Scouting?
What about newspapers? The vast bulk of original reporting in this country is done by newspapers, and America would be in a world of hurt if the press went belly-up. PBS defenders sometimes argue that PBS offers content you can’t get anywhere else. That’s debatable, but it could also be said of newspapers too. How about federal subsidies for newspapers? (Yes, I work for one — and no, I don’t really think this would be a good idea.)
How about — oh, the Appalachian Mountain Club, which preserves trails, shelters, campsites, and so on in the Northeast? It’s a private group that does a lot of good. Should it get government money? What about Altrusa, a venerable charitable organization that, among other things, hands out scholarships to deserving young people? Should we have a federal agency in charge of supporting Altrusa?
Well, you get the point. Just because something is nice or does good is not a sufficient reason for spending government money on it. Yet when it comes to PBS, that seems to be about all supporters of the subsidy can come up with.
You walk into a shoe store. The salesman runs up to you. “Great news!” he beams. “We’ve just slashed our prices 20 percent!”
"Yikes!" you say. "I can’t afford a price cut like that! I’m outta here."
"No, no — maybe you didn’t hear me," the clerk says. "We’re cutting our prices 20 percent. Cutting, not raising."
"I heard you just fine," you say. "I’m not paying an outrageous increase like that!" And you storm out the door.
The preceding scenario makes no sense — except in the bizarro world of government finance. For that is precisely how many people speak, when they speak of taxes.
Take The Washington Post, which tore into Paul Ryan the other day for dancing around a question about tax cuts.
"Paul Ryan wants to tell you about the wonders of the 20 percent cut in tax rates that he and running mate Mitt Romney propose," the paper intoned. "He doesn’t want to tell you how much it will cost." The paper went on to praise Chris Wallace of Fox News for repeatedly asking Ryan "this basic question" and "citing projections of a 10-year cost of $5 trillion." …
But, funny thing. A few days ago The Tax Policy Center released a study looking at what would happen if the U.S. goes over the “fiscal cliff,” the point at which automatic spending cuts occur and the Bush (and other) tax cuts expire. And look how it was covered:
"Expiration of Tax Cuts Would Be Costly to Taxpayers," wrote The Boston Globe. "The Fiscal Cliff Will Cost a Median-Income Family $2,000," said The Atlantic. "What will falling off the ‘fiscal cliff’ cost your household?" asked CNBC.
And The Huffington Post, which in August ran this headline — “Bush-Era Tax Cuts Will Cost U.S. Nearly $1 Trillion Over Next Decade” — last week said the expiration of those tax cuts would “Cost (a) Typical Middle-Class Family $2,000.” …
You might think of a tax break as allowing you to keep more of your own money. That’s not how Beltway types see it. When they talk of “tax expenditures,” they are operating on the assumption that all wealth belongs to the government first. When the president says the country is “spending” money on tax breaks, he speaks as if the dollar in your pocket got there not through your hard work – but through his generosity… .
Hey, remember when conservatives were screaming about how all the polls were juiced, loaded, biased, and so on because they showed Obama ahead? Gosh, it seems like only a few days ago. Oh yeah — it WAS only a few days ago.
But after Wednesday night’s debate, a widely cited poll showed Romney the runaway winner. And as a friend points out, conservatives are citing it gleefully.
Funny how the gripes about bias dry up as soon as the numbers shift….
According to House Speaker John Boehner, “America is a nation built on freedom.” Majority Whip Eric Cantor agrees: “America was built on a culture of opportunity,” he told an audience at Harvard. Rep. Randy Forbes thinks likewise: “Our nation was built on the premise that we are the ‘land of the free,’ and that includes economic freedom.”
From statements such as those, you might conclude Republicans have a pretty good idea what America was built on. Well. To quote Abby Bartlett in “The West Wing,” you can just “stand there in your wrongness and be wrong.” Back in April, President Obama told an Ohio audience Republicans “don’t seem to remember how America was built.”
But the President sure does! “America,” he says, “was built on the idea of broad-based prosperity.” And “the promise of equality and full participation for all.” Also, “America was built on innovation,” and on “the hard work and ingenuity of our people and our businesses.” Not to mention “a belief that the best progress comes from ordinary citizens.”…
The most obvious way that Republicans have robbed from the middle to give to the rich has been the changes they wrought in the tax code — reducing income taxes for the wealthy in the Reagan and George W. Bush tax cuts, and cutting the tax rate on capital gainsto less than half the rate on the top income of upper-middle-class employees.
Eh? The only sense in which lowering your taxes “robs” me of anything is by reducing the amount of money the government takes from you in the first place. But this is not redistributing money to you; it is letting you keep more of the money you earned in the first place.
If a tax cut qualifies as “giving money” to someone, that must mean all wealth belongs to the state first. This suggests nobody has a right to his own paycheck, since you can’t give somebody something they already own.
On the other hand, to say that lowering taxes from A “robs” B is to imply that B has a right to A’s earnings, because after all a robbery consists in taking without consent that which someone else has a right to keep.
In Myerson’s view, then, it seems people have no right to their own paychecks but an absolute right to other people’s.
Liberal econ 101.
P.S. -Changes to the tax code do “redistribute” the tax burden, ceteris paribus, in the sense that there is a Distribution X at one point in time and a different Distribution Y at a later point. So in a very crude sense you could make a case that lowering someone’s tax rate redistributes money to him. But then by this highly elastic definition, if I steal Julie’s purse and you return it to her, then you have “redistributed” the purse from me to her. I would submit this is not a very helpful way to use the word…