Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Walter Williams: Empathy vs Law (on Justice in Court and in Football)

Walter Williams' editorial on delivering justice on the football field and in the Supreme Court is right on point, and may clarify the situation for those who still don't understand why Obama's choice is outrageous. Williams says:
President Obama's articulated criteria for his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court is: "We need somebody who's got the heart to recognize -- the empathy to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowl titles, seven AFC championships and hosted 10 conference games. No other AFC or NFC team can match this record. By contrast, the Arizona Cardinals' last championship victory was in 1947 when they were based in Chicago. In anyone's book, this is a gross disparity. Should the referees have the empathy to understand what it's like to be a perennial loser and what would you think of a referee whose decisions were guided by his empathy? Suppose a referee, in the name of compensatory justice, stringently applied pass interference or roughing the passer violations against the Steelers and less stringently against the Cardinals. Or, would you support a referee who refused to make offensive pass interference calls because he thought it was a silly rule? You'd probably remind him that the league makes the rules, not referees.

I'm betting that most people would agree that football justice requires that referees apply the rules blindly and independent of the records or any other characteristic of the two teams. Moreover, I believe that most people would agree that referees should evenly apply the rules of the games even if they personally disagreed with some of the rules.

The relationship between Supreme Court justices and the U.S. Constitution should be identical to that of referees and football rules. The status of a person appearing before the court should have absolutely nothing to do with the rendering of decisions. That's why Lady Justice, often appearing on court buildings, is shown wearing a blindfold. It is to indicate that justice should be meted out impartially, regardless of identity, power or weakness.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Arthur Laffer: Tax the Rich and They'll Leave

Good piece in the Wall Street Journal today by Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore: Soak the Rick, Lose the Rich. It's a simple explanation of why taxing the rich in one state will only make them relocate to another state. And since the rich are also the business owners, when they leave they take their jobs with them. Here are a few excerpts from this article:
Here's the problem for states that want to pry more money out of the wallets of rich people. It never works because people, investment capital and businesses are mobile: They can leave tax-unfriendly states and move to tax-friendly states.

Updating some research from Richard Vedder of Ohio University, we found that from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas. We also found that over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.

Did the greater prosperity in low-tax states happen by chance? Is it coincidence that the two highest tax-rate states in the nation, California and New York, have the biggest fiscal holes to repair? No. Dozens of academic studies -- old and new -- have found clear and irrefutable statistical evidence that high state and local taxes repel jobs and businesses.

We believe there are three unintended consequences from states raising tax rates on the rich. First, some rich residents sell their homes and leave the state; second, those who stay in the state report less taxable income on their tax returns; and third, some rich people choose not to locate in a high-tax state. Since many rich people also tend to be successful business owners, jobs leave with them or they never arrive in the first place. This is why high income-tax states have such a tough time creating net new jobs for low-income residents and college graduates.

Or consider the fiasco of New Jersey. In the early 1960s, the state had no state income tax and no state sales tax. It was a rapidly growing state attracting people from everywhere and running budget surpluses. Today its income and sales taxes are among the highest in the nation yet it suffers from perpetual deficits and its schools rank among the worst in the nation -- much worse than those in New Hampshire. Most of the massive infusion of tax dollars over the past 40 years has simply enriched the public-employee unions in the Garden State. People are fleeing the state in droves.
To illustrate, on Friday Rochester businessman and Sabres owner Thomas Golisano announced he's leaving the State of New York, to move to Florida. This followed a more than 2% hike in taxes for people making over $500,000. Instead of making 2% in confiscatory taxes from this succesful businessman, David Paterson's state will lose all his paid taxes, together with several hundred jobs, with all their income taxes, payroll taxes, gasoline taxes due to commuting, sales taxes on what Galisano and his employees would buy, and so on.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Christie vs. Lonegan

As some of you probably know, in the NJ gubernatorial race I've been a Chris Christie supporter. I've been more and more convinced that Steve Lonegan is the candidate who's closer to my views, however I seriously doubt his chances in the general elections, against Jon Corzine. I don't think he can win in a heavily democratic state like New Jersey, and I'm afraid that he won't get the full support of the GOP.

Today it was the second debate between Christie and Lonegan, and I watched hoping for some good news from Christie, but unfortunately there weren't more than 2-3 answers that were better than Lonegan's for me... I think the part of Lonegan's platform that I like the most is his support for the flat tax, for which I argued a few days ago. Lonegan wants to renounce the highly redistributive progressive tax that we have in New Jersey, and Christie's response was one of economic illiteracy, and every thing his campaign says makes him look even worse.

Among other things I liked about Steve Lonegan today:
- Ridiculizing the windmills. That’s part of the environmentalist craze, and no Republican should advocate for windmills
- Opposing development of mass transit. If there would be demand, the huge transportation industry would build that. But there’s no demand. Mass transit is just another liberal fantasy that Americans don’t like
- Not supporting open space purchases. Government is not in the land ownership business. It’s enough that it owns a third of America. Government owns over 80% of the land west of the Rockies and we don’t need that in the East. Only communist regimes own the country’s land, it shouldn’t happen in a democracy
- For the umpteenth time, Christie tried the joke about how he didn't like math in school. OK, it was funny in the beginning, but it's getting old, and I'm starting to think he's actually proud that he was bad at math. But today, his joke that "I got into law because I'm just not good with math," turned against him when Lonegan answered that "based on your economic plan, we know you're not good at math!"

As for the Gitmo detainees issue, the Obama administration can send anyone to any federal prison in NJ without having to ask the Governor.

Now if Lonegan can convince me he can rally the NJ republicans and beat Corzine, he's got my primary vote.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Government's Business Strategy: Nobody's Buying Our Products, so Let's Raise the Prices!

You gotta love the Fed's business thinking. Just take the latest example. Post Office raised stamps prices because apparently they're losing business as people use postal services less and less. Which took those masterminds in Washington to this brilliant solution:


This is genius!! An always-winning business model. Wonder why there aren't more business following it! Just wait until they get to other industries, like the cars, or healthcare...