Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thinking out Loud

If we increase taxes somewhat on the wealthy they will cease working hard, produce less and the tax revenues will decline. This assumes that the wealthy, the successful, will change into low achievers and stop trying if they earn less.

That's as simple minded as the assumption that bestowing benefits on the poor will change them into entrepreneurs and high achievers.

We can't change the nature of people simply with money incentives alone.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"

Just read an interesting piece in the NYT about the Goldman Sachs debacle. In it the author says: "Many more people now know that synthetic C.D.O.’s are a simple wager." Well, duh.

I'm reminded of the famous line in the Casablanca when Claude Rains feigns shock that there is gambling going on.

Capitalism has become so enmeshed and dependent on Wall Street that it risks transformation from a model of providing quality goods and honest services to a model based on simple (or not so simple) gambling. And sometimes the dice are even loaded.

Maybe it's just me.

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's a Choice

Theodore Gatchell's article in the Providence Journal on health care reform made several legitimate points that highlight the choices between the conservative right and the liberal left.

"Over time, however, rules become a way of shielding bureaucrats from having to use judgment. For every problem that arises, the answer is a new regulation."

Indeed. Who can deny the truth of this statement? The income tax code is a perfect example of government's infinite ability to complicate our lives. Of course it isn't only conservatives who pass these laws although one could get that impression from the article.

"More rules inevitably require more bureaucrats to interpret them with an attendant higher cost. If you think health care is complicated now, wait until the bureaucrats begin to crank out the reams of regulations that are certain to come."

Again, there is much truth in this statement which also serves as a mantra for those who resist and object to all governmental involvement not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Tea Baggers?

It appears that the conservative right believes best arbiter of what's right and wrong is the free market and when bureaucrats interfere there results inevitably inefficiency, waste, corruption and a disregard for the Constitution.

Again, much is true.

When we consider which beer, which movie, which sneaker shall succeed in the market place, the free market is probably best left alone. The public should be allowed to make free choices in a free market to determine winners and losers in such contests.

If all decisions were only so trivial, so superficial. But they're not. In the process of free market competition the corporate bottom line dominates the decisions made by business executives and without government intrusion, important data may be hidden as people choose among things much more important than which oven cleaner, which detergent, which hairspray shall win out.

Was it the free market that publicized the link between lead based paints and brain damage? the link between tobacco smoke and lung cancer? the link between saturated fats and heart disease? Would corporations competing in free markets print this information on its products unless required by government?

Or is it more likely that millions of people would have to become ill or die before people could make informed choices in an unregulated free market?

The struggle between the right and the left seems to boil down to this:

Is it worth the cost in human sacrifice to respect the sanctity of privacy and let people, unfettered by intrusive and inefficient government rules and regulations, use their free market choices to provide the best ultimate decisions for themselves?

Or should we accept the inefficient, intrusive and expensive government bureaucracy to protect the public from harm that could otherwise result from a private sector where the fundamental obligation is to its executives and stockholders?

It seems that the right favors the first and the left favors the second.

Maybe it just me.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Property Tax POLL

I'd like to poll the sentiment of property owners and others regarding property values and fair tax bills. Perhaps ask some friends to read this too.
  1. Assume your town has managed to freeze the tax levy indefinitely.
  2. Assume your tax assessment is accurate.
The next year, after revaluation, your tax bill increased by 62%.

Question: Do you feel your higher tax bill is proper and fair? yes no

You can email your answer or just post a comment.