Damian Kulash, lead singer of the band OK Go explains how the music industry has changed. The members of OK Go make money through sponsorships instead of record sales or concerts. Other bands and artists are selling their music as an experience, auctioning off dinner or miniature golf experiences, concert memorabilia, or offering personal concerts for $10,000. The Maccabeats, an a capella group at Yeshiva University, became an internet sensation with their Hanukkah song "Candlelight" and no record label. A sidebar looks at other ways bands make money with music, including mobile apps.
The John Locke Foundation has a long history of finding new ways to communicate our ideas and make government more open, including all the forms of Carolina Journal, this blog, our regional blogs, the North Carolina History Project, Twitter, Facebook, and TweetNCGA. We travel the state to speak to groups and host events. Despite all the musical talent on staff, we have not yet written the great American musical for liberty, but its just a matter of time. We might look at FourSquare for Shaftesbury Society lunches, or a constitutional checklist for elected officials. Tweet your ideas for the next great Freedom App or CJTV video to @JohnLockeNC.
Or you can just end the year on a tax-deductible note and make a donation to help pay for our great ideas.
Why? Because the GOP's strength in this past election wasn't its recent track record on spending, it was foremost its circumstance of being the only way left for citizens to stop the Obama agenda, given that Obama and the Democrats had proven that they would deliberately and haughtily force-feed their agenda down the throats of the citizens they are supposed to represent, in full knowledge of their betrayal of the principles of representative government in so doing. The GOP also promised to stop the spending and reverse the course of Obamacare and out-of-control government, promises that Republicans would be wise to fulfill and Tea Party patriots would be wise to suspect.
Senate Republicans' stunning defeat last night of the Democrats' omnibus spending bill was anything but boring.
What our great nation just watched was the Democratic Party preview its political strategy for the next two years. It also watched a united Senate GOP defeat that approach, though not before a handful of Republicans considered walking straight into the Democratic trap. The whole episode was an early peek at the GOP's biggest challenge going forward.
That challenge is, as it always is, spending. Republicans lost in 2006 primarily because of their profligacy, and they won this year primarily because they swore off that profligacy. It's that simple--and don't think Democrats don't know it. President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi understand that the surest, quickest and most delicious way to undermine their opponents is to tempt them into renouncing their own promises of fiscal responsibility. ...
This week Democrats unveiled a $1.2 trillion omnibus, legislation as pure an insult to the electorate as it gets. ... Yet to this legislative Frankenstein Democrats carefully attached the spenders' equivalent of crack cocaine. To wit, omnibus author and Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye dug up earmark requests that Senate Republicans had made in the past year (prior to their self-imposed ban) and, unasked, included them in the bill. ...
Read on. A battle was won, but final victory still hangs in the balance.
In another letter to editor (The NYT in this case), Don Boudreaux comments on the trouble a writer has with the meaning of the word "price." Taxes are not prices. Would this lady say that it was just part of the price of shopping if her purse were stolen?
Editor, The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
To the Editor:
Reproaching people who complain about taxes, Liane Norman insists that "taxes are really just prices" (Letters, Dec. 17).
No ma'am. Prices are terms of exchanges voluntarily agreed to by willing buyers and willing sellers. Because prices result from people spending - or not spending! - their own money, they reflect genuine consumer desires and resource scarcities.
In stark contrast, taxes are forced extractions. Even when spent with the
intent of benefitting taxpayers, taxes - unlike prices - are never the result of
bargains between buyers and sellers. Taxes, instead, are the result of commands issued by rulers to subjects.
Buyers who refuse to pay sellers' asking prices go without the goods. Subjects who refuse to pay the sovereign's demanded tax go to jail.
Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
The Mackinac Center has just released an excellent video on the unintended consequences of state interference with commerce, specifically imposing high cigarette taxes. Among the unintended consequences: violent crime, counterfeiting, and added security costs for firms. Furthermore, it's doubtful that the high taxes even generate much additional revenue for the state, due to smuggling. But they definitely generate additional costs for businesses.
Joe, I'm glad you didn't bother with law school, a prodigiously expensive barrier to entry for the legal profession. Anyway, this is enlightening. Judge Vinson was looking for a principled response to his question on the limits on federal power and all the lawyer did was to point out the obvious fact that health insurance is not the same as broccoli, shoes, or other goods. True, but an irrelevant dodge that gave no reason why the government can compel people to purchase insurance but not other goods and services.
It should be plain as day that the drafters of the Constitution did not intend to give Congress the power to dictate to people what goods they must purchase. If they had, they would have clearly inserted such a provision in Article I, Section 8. The effort by statist authoritarians to defend their every incursion into production and trade by calling it a "regulation of interstate commerce" is just appalling. If they don't like the ruling against the constitutionality of the insurance mandate, what they should do is draft an amendment that adds to Article I, Section 8 language like this: "Congress shall have the power to compel people to purchase, and punish those who fail to purchase, any item of commerce deemed by Congress to be essential to the welfare of the nation." Let them take that amendment to the people and see how it fares.
Over at The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez points to a disgraceful $10-million hike in taxpayer funds for family planning groups, such as Planned Parenthood, included in the Omnibus spending bill:
$327 million is allocated for the Title X Family Planning Program which provides funding to groups like Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation. This is a $10 million increase over last year (FY10 level was $317 million) and a $44 million increase over the last four years (FY07 level was $283 million).
Oh, that's right. Pumping more federal dollars into family planning groups stimulates the economy, because everyone knows children are a net drain on prosperity. Forget the old saw that human beings are our best economic resource.
Federal Judge C. Roger Vinson's questions and commentary during oral arguments in the Florida-led multi-state lawsuit against Obamacare are so entertaining, they give me a new appreciation for the legal system. Although it would also mean having to suffer through lawyers like Ian Gershengorn
"If they decide that everyone needs to eat broccoli," then the commerce clause could allow Congress to require everyone to buy a certain quantity of broccoli, the judge said.
"It is not shoes, it is not cars, it is not broccoli," he [Gershengorn] said.
Judge Vinson took issue with the suggestion that the uninsured don't pay for their care. He said he was uninsured in law school when his son was born, and joked that the delivery bill came to about $100 per pound. "I paid it," he told the court.
Megan McArdle wonders whether the government is now arguing that insurance premiums are taxes, and if so whether that would be constitutional.
In today's Pope Center piece, Professor Murray Sperber, author of one of the best critiques of the wasteland that contemporary American higher education has become (Beer and Circus), writes about a recent entry in that field, Craig Brandon's The Five Year Party. Sperber finds that the book raises a lot of good points, but says it would have been much better if the author had been more attentive to details, such as his sources.
Nevertheless, Brandon's book is another indication that the higher education establishment's fat years of drawing in more and more students, consuming more and more wealth, and graduating kids who have learned little or nothing are coming to an end.
The News & Observer's editorial page reminds us this morning why the word "temporary" affixed to "taxes" is such a misnomer.
The Old Reliableís editors argue that Republican legislators and Gov. Bev Perdue should extend $1.3 billion in "temporary" sales tax hikes and surcharges on income taxes:
The conditions that led to these additional taxes haven't much changed. If anything, they've grown worse. Perdue's budget should retain the taxes - yes, temporarily - and let her Republican friends figure out which further spending items they would cut if they want to let the taxes expire.
The magic number: $1.3 billion. And if the GOP agrees after all that the wise course is to keep the taxes, or part of them, in place, maybe the governor could promise not to rub it in.
Yeah, let's see how that works out.
In addressing the practical ramifications of renewing the tax hikes, there is one key difference: The N&O's editorial page writers won't be on the ballot in 2012 (at least that I know of). The Republican-controlled legislature and Perdue will.
Iíve spent some time with politicians. I like politicians. Iím friends with politicians from both sides of the aisle. Politicians are fine until they stick their noses into things they donít understand, such as most things. Then politicians turn into ratchet-jawed purveyors pf monkey doodle and baked wind. They are piddlers upon merit, beggars at the doors of accomplishment, thieves of livelihood, envy-coddling tax lice applauding themselves for giving away other peopleís money. They are lapdogs of demagoguery returning to the vomit of collectivism. They are pig herders tending that sow who eats her young, the welfare state. They are muck-dwelling bottom feeders growing fat on the worries and disappointments of the electorate. They are the ditch carp in the great river of democracy. And thatís what one of their friends says.
Charlotte-area supporters of the John Locke Foundation might remember OíRourkeís 2007 Headliner presentation, which included another example of politiciansí handiwork, the federal farm bill:
While pundits and partisans continue to debate the pros and cons of the tax deal President Obama reached with congressional Republicans, Joseph Coletti offers an assessment from a budget analystís perspective during the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio.
Roy Cordato will recap North Carolinaís 2010 ozone season, and youíll hear Revenue Secretary David Hoyle explain why his department needs a new state law to send refunds to more than 7,000 North Carolina taxpayers. Sen. Dan Clodfelter, D-Mecklenburg, reacts to Hoyleís news.
John Hood contends past actions from Democratic legislatures will limit Gov. Beverly Perdueís efforts to block proposals from the new Republican-led General Assembly. And former Republican congressman and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr outlines threats to Americansí Second Amendment gun rights.