February 13, 2007
Your income tax refund redefined
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 9:19 PM
Sure, you should smile when you get that refund check. You should also consider the following:
Of course, your refund is Uncle Sam returning an interest-free loan you graciously made him by overpaying during the year—but it sure feels better to get a check than to write one.
If you like the description, thank Newsweek's Allan Sloan.
Newsweek likes Edwards
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 9:14 PM
The latest blogging news makes the story outdated, but this feature from the print version of Newsweek offers little criticism of the presidential contender.
So Long, Jim
Posted by Hal Young at 8:46 PM
WRAL is reporting the Jim Black will resign and plead guilty to a federal corruption charge.
Blogger No. 2 quits Edwards campaign
Posted by Jon Ham at 8:25 PM
First Amanda Marcotte, now Melissa McEwan. Boy, old Silky Pony really knows how to pick his personnel. His two foul-mouthed bloggers have both resigned now, perhaps after being fired and then unfired. We'll never know until the memoirs are written. This can't be good for a guy who looks 16 years old and is trying for gravitas.
Has Mookie fled to Iran?
Posted by Jon Ham at 8:13 PM
That's what ABC is reporting. That surge thing couldn't have anything to do with it, could it?
Re: Hot air argument settled
Posted by Jon Sanders at 4:59 PMKaren, these comments by Sowell are right in line with the parody I made (see the picture) of that particular method of "argument":
The political Left’s favorite argument is that there is no argument. Their current crusade is to turn “global warming” into one of those things that supposedly no honest and decent person can disagree about, as they have already done with “diversity” and “open space.” ...
In short, there has been a full court press to convince the public that “everybody knows” that a catastrophic global warming looms over us, that human beings are the cause of it, and that the only solution is to turn more money and power over to the government to stop us from our dangerous ways of living.
Just like impact fees
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 4:30 PM
James Taranto points us to this idea from Wisconsin.
Gov. Jim Doyle will unveil a tax on oil companies on Tuesday but will bar the firms from passing it on to consumers.
Charlotte's Bank of America in the immigration debate
Posted by Chad Adams at 3:46 PM
Banks love good press coverage, but they're more than gun shy when it comes to bad press. I just have to wonder how Bank of America thinks their latest credit card program might be received.
From the Observer: The program largely caters to undocumented immigrants, most of whom are
Hispanics, the paper reported. The new card is open to customers
without a Social Security number or a credit history
Banks traditional rely upon customer's credit history to make such lending decisions, but BofA is now using "judgmental lending" in which employees evaluate credit requests, instead of relying on standardized scores.
Interesting that we've spent the better part of 140 years to get away from "judgmental" practices and now it's all the rage.
More NAEP Econ
Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 3:38 PM
George, the late Jude Wanniski was one of the few people to actually try to figure out what the marginal tax rates were in places like the poorest countries in Africa.
What he found was staggering:
That’s right. A marginal tax rate on agricultural profits of 89% at $4,235. The tax system in Ethiopia is designed specifically to bring about the starvation of the entire population of 67 million. Can you believe a “corporate farm” that has a profit of $4,235 in annual income must pay the government 89% of any dollar of profits over and above that amount? How can this happen?
Wanniski also noted other brutal aspects of the Ethiopian tax code, such as no personal allowances, which makes gross income equal taxable income, and monthly tax rates, meaning that one big cyclical payout is not averaged across the entire year, but taxed at rates starting at 20 percent. Plus a 15 percent VAT was in place. Capital gains were double taxed at 15 and 30 percent rates.
Zimbabwe had a 45 percent marginal tax rate that kicked in at $500 of income, then a 30 surcharge on the tax you owed! Plus a 20 percent VAT.
Wanniski deduced that these anti-wealth, anti-development tax codes were the result of years of high inflation combining with non-indexed, highly progressive income tax systems. Not suprisingly, they also did not collect much revenue as there was virutally no incentive to produce anything.
In 2003, Wanniski estimated that 67 million Ethiopians paid all of $1 billion in tax.
Clearly the government should take that revenue and pour it all into education and training so that people can find out about America and get the hell out of there.
Middlebury College adopts my position toward Wikipedia
Posted by Jon Sanders at 3:25 PMMiddlebury:
The history department there recently adopted a policy declaring, in part, that "Wikipedia is not an acceptable citation, even though it may lead one to a citable source."
The policy was the brainchild of Neil Waters, professor of history, whose opinion of Wikipedia is rather nuanced. "In fact, I use it myself," he said of Wikipedia in an e-mail. "But it is a useful beginning point that can point to better-vetted sources, or suggest possible research topics. .... It cannot serve as the end of the research process, and it cannot stand as an authoritative citation."
[Wikipedia's] design invites socialist revision — not to mention contributions from kooks, cranks and pranksters of all stripes (that is to say, it suffers from the same design flaw as taxpayer-supported "free" news sites open to "citizen journalists" to get around a presumptive "corporate bias"). Of course, someone may come along afterward and challenge or edit the kooks' contributions, but in the interim readers not well-versed in the subject (presumably those include most of the readers; otherwise, why consult an encyclopedia?) would be misled. ...
I would therefore be exceedingly cautious about using Wikipedia as a source for anything; at best it could be used as a starting point for investigation into a topic.
More Locker Room discussion of Wikipedia is viewable here.
Re: NAEP economics test
Posted by George Leef at 2:20 PM
That second question is most irksome. The "right" answer is the conventional wisdom that what holds poor nations back is the shortage of formal education. In his most insightful book The Power of Productivity, however, William Lewis, who spent a lot of time in poor countries, argued that more education was not what they need. Rather, those countries would benefit most if government would reduce its drag on the economy -- taxing poor people so that politicians and bureaucrats can live well -- and establish secure property rights. With those changes, people will make whatever human capital investments are best for them without much help from the state.
Re: Hot air
Posted by George Leef at 2:17 PM
Investors Business Daily has this excellent editorial on the subject of the Kyoto Treaty.
Hot air argument settled
Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 1:40 PM
Here's a nice piece by Thomas Sowell on the global warming non-debate.
My latest: Dixie Chicks, dissent, and "whacked" paranoia
Posted by Jon Sanders at 1:33 PMPosted at TownHall.com. A teaser:
But it's all vanity. Hart's comments, the "musical martyrs," the paranoia — it's just self-congratulatory hooey. Musicians aren't getting "whacked" by the Bush administration for "speaking out." But it's fun to believe it, because only then could the very mundane act of speaking out in this, the Land of the First Amendment, appear dangerous and brave instead of merely mercenary. ...
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago provides countless examples of a government "whacking" an artist for speaking out. Compare these few lines, for example, to the worst of Dixie Chicks "whacking" anecdotes:
Tanya Khodkevich wrote:
You can pray freely
But just so God alone can hear.
(She received a ten-year sentence for these verses.)
Notes from the Education briefing for legislators
Posted by Becki Gray at 12:36 AM
NC is 6th in US for proportion of state funding that is dedicated to public schools. 90 percent goes to personnel. 100 to 150 million dollars additional funding is needed each year to pay for increased enrollment with no changes in programs. The two main factors driving cost are number of kids and teacher pay.
Issues to look for this session:
Competitive pay, differentiated pay, and working conditions for teachers. Efforts to improve the graduation rate by changing instruction delivery and high school reforms at the point they typically drop out.
Community college's funding is based on the prior year's enrollment numbers, unlike universities and public schools that project enrollment on based on current estimates. 2001 and 2003 had big increases in enrollment, due to unemployed workers using them to re-train. This trend repeats itself every ten years. This would indicate to me that community colleges are meeting their mission. Community college in-state tuition covers 25 percent of the cost. The state picks up the rest.
6.4 billion dollar budget – general fund is 2.45 billion, 36 percent is in-state funds. High school graduates will increase, so demand will be heavier for universities. That assumes, of course, that most high-school graduates need to go to an NC university. 59.1 percent graduate in 6 years. Despite chuckles, efforts to get kids to graduate in 4 years have been proposed in the past. We may see it again. 18 percent is covered by in-state tuition, with the state picking up the remainder. We have the 12th lowest tuition in the US. Cap of 6.5 percent in in-state tuition has been proposed, no cap on out-of-state tuition.
Washington Post is for Vouchers?
Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 12:33 AM
I cannot believe it. Is the Washington Post actually recommending $25,000 vouchers for each DC student? Let's take them up on the deal.
$25,000 per student and no books, heat, or learning?
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:55 AM
It's got to be D.C. public schools! Read this for some perspective on education funding.
Re: Christopher Cross
Posted by Paul Chesser at 10:04 AM
Records that Christopher Cross's self-titled debut album defeated for Grammy's "Album of the Year" in 1981:
Joel - Glass Houses
Floyd - The Wall
Sinatra - Trilogy: Past, Present,
Streisand - Guilty
So tell me again why anyone takes the Grammys seriously?
Grade School Rules for Government
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:22 AM
Remember how you handled things in fourth grade when somebody clearly broke an unspoken rule of the game? Another person would quickly say, "From now on..."
Try this rule for government-related land deals. "From now on, if government money is involved in a deal through direct purchase or indirect assistance, the negotiated purchase price goes to the previous owner."
What do you think, Daren?
More Trolley Fancy
Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 08:58 AM
Need to add one more stop to Conductor Hood's survey of trolley whoppers.
The Charlotte trolley was supposed to cost $9 million, wound up costing $40 million. It is now in moth balls as we finish our $500 million light rail line. In the meantime, the local trolley booster outfit continues to collect $50,000 a year in Arts & Sciences Council money. Why, I have no idea.
On the economic development front, the trolley/light rail line was credited with spurring growth that included the $143 million Westin hotel. That would be the same $143 million Westin the city directly subsidized with $16 million upfront and provided a 20-year, $2.5 million a year kickback on hotel-motel taxes to.
The good news, of course, is that the push to repeal the half-cent sales tax for transit is rolling along.
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