October 25, 2011

QotD: Tax policy

Filed under: Economics, Government, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:00

One of the reasons I despise tax policy is that it so rarely turns on the utilitarian aspects of taxes and instead focuses on political and social issues (a tax “rewards” one group or “punishes” another). Liberals fret about how “progressive” a tax regime is because their main concern is that the wealthy pay more than the poor; conservatives fret about “punishing success” by taxing the creators and makers higher than the cheats and deadbeats. The problem is that the word “fair” is interpreted differently depending on where you stand in the ideological spectrum: to me, “fair” means that I pay the same tax rate for my place in this Republic as any other citizen; to a liberal, I suspect that “fair” involves overtones of social justice and victim-hood and so on. But regardless of where you come down on taxation, I think it is important that every person pay at least some amount of taxes, just to provide a reminder that government isn’t free — and that the more government you have, the more it costs.

“Monty”, “DOOM: I’m tore down, I’m almost level with the ground”, Ace of Spades HQ, 2011-10-25

“For strong personalities, the hyper-egalitarian mantras of anarchism act as a smokescreen for authoritarianism”

Filed under: Government, Liberty, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:42

Jonathan Kay discusses the contradictions of Julian Assange and his dictatorial control of WikiLeaks and uses the Occupy Wall Street “anarchists” to explain why anarchy usually turns into dictatorship:

In a fascinating report filed last Thursday, New York Magazine’s Alex Klein found that the protesters had splintered on the question of music. Many of the Occupiers, apparently, have been passing their time with daily 10-hour drum sessions. The tom toms help keep up morale, apparently. But they also anger those protesters who are trying to sleep, and have disrupted classes at a local high school.

So, the leaders of the Occupy Wall Street “general assembly” — a sort of self-appointed protester executive body — decreed that drumming shall be limited to two hours a day. The general assembly has also imposed a 50% tax on the donations that drummers earn from passersby.

“They’re imposing a structure on the natural flow of music,” complained one drumming protester. “We’re like, ‘What’s going on here?’ They’re like the banks we’re protesting,” said another.

And that’s not all. The general assembly is also ordering protesters to clean up their camp sites in advance of a local community board inspection. In some cases, they’re taking down tents and sending people away, so that new protesters can set up shop. Fist-fights have ensued. But Lauren Digion, a leader of Occupy Wall Street’s “sanitation working group” isn’t phased. “Someone needs to give orders” she told Klein, after barking commands about who could use the communal sleeping bags and who couldn’t. “There’s no sense of order in this f–king place.”

And that’s anarchism in a nutshell for you. It’s all drum circles and “natural flow” and “consensus” — until the time comes to actually get something done; at which point the self-appointed dictators start emerging naturally from amidst the protesters, like mushrooms after a week of rainstorms. For strong personalities, the hyper-egalitarian mantras of anarchism act as a smokescreen for authoritarianism.

Gangs not to blame for London’s August riots

Filed under: Britain, Government, Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:15

Brendan O’Neill debunks the widespread story that the August riots were either gang-led or pre-planned by gangsters:

In the aftermath of the riots, police, politicians and penmen all arrived at the same conclusion: gangs have taken over parts of England. Organised cliques of mask-wearing, territory-protecting youth, who divide themselves into ‘elders’, ‘soldiers’ and ‘youngers’, are turning bits of London and other English cities into something akin to south-central LA. These gangs orchestrated the violence, we’re told, as a way of staking their claim over local patches of land and warning off the ‘Feds’ (police). It is now apparently time, says David Cameron, for a war against ‘gang culture’.

There’s only one problem with these claims: they are complete and utter bunkum. No doubt gangs exist in some parts of urban England, and no doubt some of them are criminal. But there is no ‘gang culture’ and gangs were not responsible for the recent rioting in London and elsewhere. ‘Gang culture’ is almost entirely the imaginary creation of a political elite which prefers to fantasise that urban implosion is a product of gang conspiracies, rather than face up to the harsh reality that the riots were triggered by the twin crises of community solidarity and state authority.

[. . .]

Perusing the press, it was hard to tell if you were reading genuine reports about English cities or drafts for a movie about the life and times of 50 Cent. ‘Inside the deadly world of gangs’, screamed newspaper headlines, inviting readers to peer at these violent groups where new recruits as young as nine are referred to as ‘Tinies’ or ‘Babies’, while teenage members are known as ‘Soldiers’ and the overlords have the title ‘General’. Apparently there are 171 such gangs in London alone. Journalists write about being ‘embedded’ with the police, as if they’re in Iraq rather than England, and observing an ‘inner-city underworld’. This underworld exploded into the overworld two weeks ago, we’re told, when these military-style gangs ‘orchestrated’ looting through social media or by ‘laying on minibuses to ferry yobs into and around towns’.

[. . .]

Often, the hotheaded claims about Britain being overrun with hundreds of gangs simply do not stand up to scrutiny. So the Metropolitan Police claims there are 171 gangs in London, while the Home Office says there are 356 gang members in London. As one study pointed out, this would mean ‘around two people per gang’

US Air Force grounds the F-22 fleet (again)

Filed under: Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:42

Strategy Page has the details:

For the second time this year, the U.S. Air Force has grounded all its F-22 fighters. Same reason, problems with the pilot’s oxygen supply. This time, a pilot experienced loss of oxygen during flight. He was able to land safely, but this reoccurrence of the oxygen led to the prompt grounding of all 170 F-22s until the problem could be fixed. At the moment, F-22s comprise the most powerful component of the air force’s air combat capability.

It was only on September 21st that the air force allowed its F-22 fighters to fly again. The aircraft had been grounded for 140 days because of problems with the oxygen system. The air force is not giving out many details on exactly what the problems is, although they say a report on the F-22 oxygen system will be out by the end of the year. It has been mentioned that there appeared to be a problem with two much nitrogen getting into the pilot’s air, and that an additional filter was added to the oxygen system to help keep potential contaminants out.

NFL week 7 results

Filed under: Football — Tags: — Nicholas @ 08:35

You’d have had a good week if you’d just inverted my predictions. I’ve now dropped down to a 5-way tie for 13th spot in the AoSHQ pool.

    @Cleveland 6 Seattle 3
    @Detroit 16 Atlanta 23
    @Tennessee 7 Houston 41
    @Miami 15 Denver 18
    San Diego 21 @New York (NYJ) 27
    Chicago 24 @Tampa Bay 18
    @Carolina 33 Washington 20
    @Oakland 0 Kansas City 28
    Pittsburgh 32 @Arizona 20
    @Dallas 34 St. Louis 7
    Green Bay 33 @Minnesota 27
    @New Orleans 62 Indianapolis 7
    Baltimore 7 @Jacksonville 12

This week 5-8 (5-8 against the spread)
Season to date 64-39

Another example of a manual transmission being a good anti-theft device

Filed under: Cancon, Law — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 00:04

This is one of those crime stories that tends to provoke laughter:

RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass said Monday that Morgan allegedly jumped into the idling Corvette just as the owner was putting away a charger used to revive the sports car’s dead battery.

The owner watched in disbelief as the suspect rolled up the power windows, locked the power doors and promptly stalled the vehicle.

“Unfortunately for the (suspect), he was not good with a standard transmission and stalled the Corvette when he attempted to reverse out of the driveway,” Douglass said.

[. . .]

As police arrived, Morgan was attempting to exit the vehicle after allegedly smashing the driver side window with his screw driver — apparently for no good reason.

“As it turns out, all the suspect would have had to do was manually slide the door lock to the side and the door would have opened,” Douglass said.

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