December 5, 2011

Star Parker Nails It: ‘The Payroll Tax Cut Is Just Another Welfare State Scam’

Filed under: Economy,Soc. Sec. & Retirement,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:57 pm

Read the whole thing.

Here are some key paragraphs:

If the point was helping get our economy back on the road to growth and prosperity, the payroll tax holiday has been a failure.

But if the point of the payroll tax holiday is not to reduce government interference in our lives but to keep it, grow it, and strengthen the decided movement of the last three years to turn our nation into a welfare state plantation, it’s a great idea.

And that is really what is going on here and why President Obama and his Democrat colleagues on Capitol Hill love the idea.

Unlike our income taxes that government takes for general revenue and unspecified spending, the payroll tax is earmarked and specified. It pays for Social Security.

A cut in income taxes, even if not accompanied with an equivalent cut in government spending, puts the pressure for such cuts in place and carries with it the prospect of reduction of government interference in our lives.

But there is no such possibility with the payroll tax. When the tax was reduced “temporarily” last year from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, were working Americans asked to agree to an equivalent cut in their Social Security benefits that that payroll tax pays for?

Of course not.

… Cutting payroll taxes earmarked for a Social Security system that is already bankrupt is no way to run a country and no way for people that are allegedly free and responsible citizens to live.

And using a payroll tax holiday as a back door plan to turn Social Security into a middle class welfare program does not bode well for our nation’s future.

If the point is to fix Social Security, let working Americans keep their payroll tax and use it to fund their own private retirement account – an idea that three of four Americans under fifty favor.

The “progressive” goal is to totally de-link retirement contributions from retirement benefits and lifetime income. There’s been more than enough of that already.

Of Course Kevin DeWine Should Resign (But He Probably Won’t)

Filed under: Activism,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 3:23 pm

Geez, I can come up with six reasons Kevin DeWine should resign from ORPINO (The Ohio Republican Party In Name Only) without breaking a sweat (more links may be added later) — plus a seventh which should go without saying, but must be said anyway.

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1. Letting Jon “AWOL” Husted skate.

DeWine defended Jon Husted instead of denouncing him when Husted was a State Rep and then a State Senator not living in his district, and was therefore not really representing his constituents. This made a total mockery of Kevin’s short-lived 2006-2007 “Leading Ohio” ethics pledges. The fact that everyone was blindsided by NCR’s departure from Ohio is in large part Jon “AWOL” Husted’s fault — and I don’t care that the courts said that Husted’s residency gambit was okay. If you don’t really live in your district, you shouldn’t represent it.

2. Promoting Husted as the guy who should be Ohio’s next Secretary of State.

A full year in advance of the 2010 primary, DeWine and the ORPINO strongly encouraged party regulars to promote the integrity-compromised Husted in speeches and conversations as the best choice for Attorney General, thereby making it clear to anyone else among party regulars who might have considered running that their task would be an uphill one. Too bad; anyone but Husted would at least entered office with some semblance of integrity.

3. The Voter-ID Betrayal Silence.

DeWine to my knowledge has never said a word in opposition to Husted’s decision as Secretary of State to turn his back on voter-identification requirements at the polls, which:

  • Kevin sponsored when he was still a state legislator;
  • Husted specifically supported when he was a legislator;
  • Husted claimed he supported in the GOP primary when he ran for Secretary of State in 2010 — “somehow” changing his mind only a year later.

Don’t you stand for anything, Kevin?

4. The Anti-Tea Party Shuffle

Upon John Kasich’s choice of Mary Taylor to be his Lieutenant Governor, DeWine “convinced” Dave Yost (not a CPA), who would have been a far better candidate for Attorney General than Kevin’s cousin Mike, to instead run for Auditor, thereby elbowing out Seth Morgan (who is a CPA), who declared his candidacy shortly after the Taylor move and would have been a tremendous choice.

5. 2010 Primary Interference

Having engineered the coup described in #4, and in the interest of defending favored Central Committee candidates over Tea Party insurgents, DeWine and ORPINO spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on highly customized campaign literature falsely and deceptively portraying the statewide slate and its Central Committee candidates as having “Tea Party Values.”

Kevin and ORPINO clearly feel that 2010′s general election results vindicated their strategy. Horse manure; the wipeout would have been far greater across the board with Morgan as Auditor and Yost as AG. Mike DeWine won the AG race by less than 50,000 votes.

6. The items raised in Joe Hallett’s Columbus Dispatch report (HT Matt at WoMD):

(House Speaker Bill) Batchelder sent a memo to House GOP members accusing DeWine of undermining the incumbents among them during the 2010 election campaign. Batchelder said DeWine attempted to persuade donors not to give money to the members’ campaigns. Batchelder also said in the memo that DeWine, in a speech to central-committee members on Friday, accused Kasich of trying to push him out as chairman “for personal profit, ego and power.”

… “It is especially distressing me to know that while we are working every day to improve our state, the leader of our political party is undermining the accomplishments we have made.”

… A source close to Kasich said that DeWine, a month before the 2010 elections, asked donors not to give to Kasich, and instead to give to the candidacies of Republicans Jon Husted and Dave Yost, who were running for secretary of state and auditor, respectively.

… DeWine added: “I refuse to let this party be overtaken by lobbyists.”

(… Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor from laughing my a** off at the final excerpted statement …)

Kevin DeWine ended up doing the things of which he is accused, and of which I believe he is guilty, because he compromised the party’s finances in the course of carrying out Item #5. Besides heading off Tea Party-sympathetic challengers in statewide races, the May 2010 primary splurge’s main purpose was to ensure that Kevin would continue to have a Central Committee which would do his bidding, not one that would look out for the best interests of the party (the Ohio Republican Party, not ORPINO) and the state.

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I’ll also add (this is probably the worst-kept secret in the Buckeye State; Update: Oops, I forgot Urban Meyer’s hiring as football coach at OSU) that Kevin and many others at ORPINO who should know better would not have minded one bit if John Kasich had lost to Ted Strickland in 2010, because it would have set up their guy Jon “AWOL” Husted for a 2014 gubernatorial run.

Reason #7 really trumps the six mentioned above — Substantial personal animosities aside, a state’s governor has every reason to expect that his party’s state chairman will at the very least not work against him.

If the state chairman isn’t comfortable working with the governor, he should recognize that the situation is inhibiting progress, do the honorable thing, and get out of the way, regardless of how much his nearly hand-picked Central Committee supposedly supports him. But expecting Kevin DeWine to do the honorable thing appears to be hoping for way too much, as is expecting the ORPINO establishment to advise Kevin to do the right thing.

ISM Services: Oops (Still Expanding, But Down 0.9 Points to 52.0)

Filed under: Economy — Tom @ 1:09 pm

I don’t think this was what was expected, which I’m not looking at until I relay the basic news (bolds are mine):

Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in November for the 24th consecutive month, say the nation’s purchasing and supply executives in the latest Non-Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.

“The NMI registered 52 percent in November, 0.9 percentage point lower than the 52.9 percent registered in October, and indicating continued growth at a slightly slower rate in the non-manufacturing sector. This is the lowest reading since January 2010, when the index registered 50.7 percent. The Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index increased 2.4 percentage points to 56.2 percent, reflecting growth for the 28th consecutive month. The New Orders Index increased by 0.6 percentage point to 53 percent. The Employment Index decreased 4.4 percentage points to 48.9 percent, indicating contraction in employment after one month of growth. The Prices Index increased 5.4 percentage points to 62.5 percent, indicating prices increased at a faster rate in November when compared to October. According to the NMI, 12 non-manufacturing industries reported growth in November. Respondents’ comments for the most part project continued slow, incremental growth. There still remains a strong concern about lagging employment.”

… WHAT RESPONDENTS ARE SAYING… (comments numbered  by me — Ed.)

  1. “Business activity continues to swing back and forth. Customer traffic remains lower than expected, but discretionary spending is fluctuating, making it difficult to find the pulse of the consumer.” (Arts, Entertainment & Recreation)
  2. “Lending is getting a little better. Competition for good deals is fierce because there remains a very limited number of high-quality borrowers.” (Finance & Insurance)
  3. “Raw materials prices appear to be stabilizing, and in some cases are dropping. Diesel fuels remain elevated and have not dropped.” (Mining)
  4. “We currently see no signs of a turnaround. Customers are nervous about the future of their jobs and incomes. Due to this fact, our sales are down and our need to hire more employees is, too.” (Accommodation & Food Services)
  5. “Business is slowly improving. Outlook for the next few months is good.” (Retail Trade)
  6. “In the face of an extremely tight business climate, prices continue to be sticky. We are not seeing significant price moderation.” (Management of Companies & Support Services)

Comments 4 and 5 are almost polar opposites.

On balance the drop in NMI, which accounts for about 80%-85% of the non-government economy, more than offsets the 1.9-point pickup in Manufacturing reported on Thursday.

Now to expectations:

  • Bloomberg expected 53.8% — i.e., they thought it would go up by the amount it went down.
  • Business Insider’s email expected 53.9%.

Now to reax:

  • At AP (the Administration’s Press), Christopher Rugaber found someone who said that the report, combined with a separate report indicating a drop in new factory orders for the second straight month, “is not too much to worry about.” Sure.
  • At Zero Hedge, Expectations for ISM Services (services as in the sector that accounts for 70% of US GDP) were for expansion to keep the decoupling (from Europe’s woes — Ed.) dream alive. Unfortunately, those dreams are dashed for now …”

Overall: mediocre at best, and heading the wrong way.

Wenstrup v. Schmidt in OH-02 GOP Primary: Why?

Filed under: Life-Based News,OH-02 US House — Tom @ 10:12 am

This (issues page at Brad Wenstrup’s site) doesn’t explain it.

If Jean Schmidt isn’t sufficiently conservative for Mr. Wenstrup, he needs to say how and why he would be different and better. He hasn’t. At least Mike Kilburn articulated a couple of genuine beefs in 2010 and had a decent political track record.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wenstrup has a “funny” way of demonstrating that he is “prolife” — except that those who believe in the sanctity of life aren’t laughing.

Mark at Weapons of Mass Discussion has been all over this:

  • Nov. 29 — Supposed Pro Life Conservative Brad Wenstrup Approves of Giving Kids Birth Control Without Parental Consent
  • Nov. 28 — Wenstrup Doesn’t Get His Pro Abort Excuse Timeline Right….
  • Nov. 23 — Greater Cincinnati Right to Life Doesn’t Agree with Dr. Wenstrup
  • Nov. 23 — While Wenstrup Gives Grants to Child Rape Cover Up Artists at Planned Parenthood, Jean Schmidt is recognized as actually being pro life
  • Nov. 23 — Supposed “Strong Conservative” Wenstrup Uses Soros Attack Dogs to Smear Jean Schmidt. That would be CREW, which pretends to be bipartisan but “somehow” goes after conservatives far more often than libs for ethical lapses.
  • Nov. 21 — COAST Chooses Vendetta over Its Own Principles…
  • Nov. 14 — Dr. Wenstrup Has a Funny Way of Being “Pro”-Life
  • Nov. 17 (my sum-up, quoting Mark) “This ‘doctor’ who claims to be pro life and is running against incumbent Jean Schmidt, who actually is pro life, by the way, voted to give money to an organization that openly violated the law.”

That organization would be Planned Parenthood, which routinely flouts the law when it comes to killing preborn babies carried by minors as a result of adult-child sex (aka “statutory rape”) by failing to report it to authorities as required, and which therefore — even proaborts should agree with this (but they don’t in practice, because killing preborn babies trumps all other considerations with them) — should be getting no public money of any kind for any reason, “targeted” or not.

Look, I get it if you think Jean Schmidt, despite her strong conservative ratings from the likes of Club for Growth (100% in 2010) and others, has made some mistakes, and that perhaps someone else could do better.

But if you do — yeah, I’m talking to you, COAST, and you, Anderson Township Republicans — you need to come up with that “someone” who has demonstrated that he or she could and would do better. Brad Wenstrup isn’t that guy.

In the meantime, could you please stop acting as if Jean Schmidt is evil incarnate, and that anybody with a pulse would be preferable? That six-year routine in the face of Schmidt’s consistent voting record as a solid conservative has moved from embarrassing to disgraceful. Please — Let the anciently-based, long since proven baseless bitterness go.

Monday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (120511)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 7:00 am

Rules are here. Possible comment fodder follows. Other topics are also fair game.

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Going Galt is NOT a figment of the libertarian right.

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Michelle Malkin wants to know why Donald Trump has Eason Jordan producing his GOP presidential debate. So do I. This from 2003 is the main (but far from the only) reason he shouldn’t be anywhere near it:

CNN’s chief news executive Eason Jordan has admitted that for the past decade the network has systematically covered up stories of Iraqi atrocities. Reports of murder, torture, and planned assassinations were suppressed in order to maintain CNN’s Baghdad bureau.

Unforgivable.

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Tim Tebow is 6-1 as the Denver Broncos starting quarterback. I can’t explain it, but I’m lovin’ it. So is Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin:

“When I hear all those ESPN commentators say, ‘He can’t do this,’ I laugh. After the game, I whispered in his ear, ‘Let ‘em keep hating. Keep ‘em hating on you.’”

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Newt Gingrich is a recently converted Catholic (uh-huh). So of course he of the endless unforced errors said that life begins … at implantationbefore backtracking. Zheesh.

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Andrew Malcolm: Ron Paul may win Iowa. Well, Iowans don’t like Mitt Romney (who HAS been campaigning to win the caucuses during the past couple of months, despite what Malcolm claims), and Newt Gingrich is off to a bit of a late start according to the conventional wisdom.

If Paul wins, it will be because his followers have hung in there through thick and thin. I don’t agree with the guy on several important matters, but you can’t help but grudgingly admire his often-annoying acolytes’ persistence. And I can generally say that I would trust Ron Paul to actually do what he say he will do (again, for better or worse). Sadly, based on their track records, I absolutely cannot say that about Romney, and I have serious doubts about Newt.

Positivity: How a shiny and shakable souvenir went snowglobal

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From TheDaily.com:

Before airport shops began selling miniature versions of every site in the world — extraordinary or otherwise — encased in plastic and sprinkled with glittering dust, snowglobes were the singular souvenir of a singular event, the 1889 Paris World’s Fair.

The World’s Fair dome was not the first object to put something precious under glass. Treasured family objects — figurines, clocks, medals, heirlooms — had long sat on shelves in display cases. Ivory, wood and bone dioramas had been preserved under glass across Europe for decades. France had manufactured glass paperweights — that least useful of supposedly useful objects — for nearly a century. Even in America, little domes appeared in the 1870s (these now sit in a museum in Neenah, Wis.). Glass, though it was easy enough to make by the late 19th century, still carried a veneer of luxury. To put something under glass indicated an object’s worth.

The fair had its share of wonders, but many patrons were particularly taken with the exhibits of decorated glass, particularly the paperweights of hollow balls filled with water and white specks in an imitation of a snowstorm.

Among the fair’s globes was one made by an aspiring merchant: In his version, as on the fairgrounds themselves, the new Eiffel Tower darkly pierced a pale sky. The domed version, of course, could sit in an outstretched palm, fit to carry home. The souvenir’s success came less from its beauty than from its tie to a moment of global significance: the building of the tower, the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, the dawn of a new century. Unlike family heirlooms or ivory dioramas, the snowglobe wasn’t intrinsically valuable — it only announced itself as such, and so it was.

After the Paris fair, snowglobes proliferated across Europe and America, with several inventors claiming the object as their own. Around the turn of the century, Erwin Perzy, a Viennese medical instrument maker, was trying to make a brighter operating room bulb by filling a globe with water and white grit and shining light through it. It didn’t work, except to remind Perzy of snow. At the request of a souvenir-maker friend, he put the Basilica of the Birth of the Virgin Mary below a glass globe, which, when shaken, resembled a snowstorm. Perzy patented the “Glass Globe with Snow Effect” in 1900, launched a business and, by 1908, won an award from the Austrian emperor, Franz Josef I. His company still churns out domes today.

By the 1920s, German firms were exporting snowglobes to the U.S. and Canada. In 1927, a Pittsburgh man, Joseph Garaja, filed a patent for a snowglobe of “artistic attractiveness and novel ornamentation.” A popular mail-order catalog advertised the item in 1929; within a year, Japanese firms copied Garaja’s design, taking the globes fully, er, global.

After that, snowglobes were everywhere. They were called snowshakers, waterdomes, snowstorms, water balls and blizzard-weights. They were round or square or oval, tall or short, and sat on bases of wood, stone, metal, marble, ceramic or glazed pottery. Inside were figurines of wood, stone or wax, and snow made of china pieces, minerals, sand, sawdust, ground rice, even chips of animal bone. Manufacturers ferociously guarded their recipes for snow, later adding chemicals to keep the water from freezing and to make the snow float rather than just fall.

In the middle of the 20th century, mass production helped the snowglobe industry thrive even more. …

Go here for the rest of the story.