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An Easter Conversation

Hillbuzz asked for suggestions about how to discuss politics at the table, this Easter holiday. Here's my suggestion:
You: "Wow, everything seems like such a mess. What are we going to do to fix things?"

Other Person: "I dunno. Make the rich pay their fair share."

You: "Well, yeah, you're right, everybody should pull their own weight. But that brings up the next question--what's fair? According to information released by the IRS (and compiled by the Tax Foundation), the top 1% of American taxpayers earn 20% of the money but pay nearly 40% of the taxes. The top 5% earn 35% of all earned income, but pay 58% of all income taxes. The top 50% of all earners earn 87% of the income, and pay 97% of the taxes, which means the bottom 50% earns 13% of the income but only pay 3% of the taxes.

"The three biggest government programs other than national defense--Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, mostly benefit the poorer people, because the richer people don't usually need them. So, poor people pay the least and get the most, and rich people pay the most and get the least. So, you know, we get back to the question--what's fair?"

Other Person: "Well, all that's well and good, but the rich are getting richer!"

You: "Actually, no, they're not, according to the latest statistics from the Treasury Bureau, they took a hit just like everybody else in the country--since 1996, the median household income of the very top earners went down, not up. But even it it were true that the rich were getting richer, is that really a bad thing? It's not like Monopoly--the rich getting richer doesn't mean that everybody else is getting poorer. It's not a zero-sum game. What do you suppose the rich do with their money? They want to earn more money, usually, which for almost all rich people means that they invest it in for-profit companies--companies that make things, companies that give people jobs, companies that will make more money for the rich people. When you take money away from rich people, you make it harder for them to invest and harder for them to give people jobs. That doesn't sound very compassionate to me, and I know you're a pretty nice person, so you wouldn't want to make it harder to make jobs, would you?"

Other Person: *sputters, probably goes negative/emotional on you* -or, if somewhat rational, comes back with- "Well, then, what do YOU think we should do?"

You: Well, it would be nice if we could start giving incentives to people to invest in companies, to go to work, to really improve themselves, rather than paying off political cronies and politically-correct companies, and bailing out failing companies--let them fail!--and start working on getting our government programs working on preparing people to find something they're good at and getting them doing that, earning their own way, being productive. There will always be those who we'll have to help, but we need to be realistic about it. People have to pull their own weight--rich people and everybody else."

(From here on out, you're on your own)
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So it's FRUCTOSE that's really evil . . .

So says UC San Francisco's Robert Lustig:

If you're fighting a weight problem, this would be an hour and a half very well spent, I think.

It's pretty much convinced me to avoid anything at all with high fructose corn syrup in it. Yuck. I already was convinced that sugar was evil. Now I know why.

Via Gary Taubes at the New York Times.
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Lindsay Graham is a Republican. And a jackass.

Via Pajamas Media comes this de-pantsing of Senator Lindsay Graham by American Citizen Ann Barnhardt, followed by yet another delightful Koran-burning session:



Oh, and all of the above does not mean that Pastor Terry Jones--or Ann Barnhardt, for that matter--is not also a jackass. Burning books pretty much automatically makes you a jackass. But again, that's pretty much the point of the First Amendment, isn't it? Even jackasses have freedom of speech--otherwise freedom of speech is a meaningless phrase.

So I guess I'm saying you have the freedom to say pretty much anything you want, except for saying that people can't say what they want.

(The use of bacon as a Koran bookmark is especially insulting, isn't it? Completely protected not only as free speech but freedom of religion. Sorry, Lindsay . . . )

(And note, I personally make no judgments one way or another about the Koran or Islam here. I don't have to. I'm an American. That's a big part of what being an American means. And that's why a lot of radical Muslims hate America, by the way. Personally, I wouldn't burn a Koran, as I have known many Muslims who have been and are worthy of my respect. But I've known Hindus and Buddhists, too. Doesn't mean I have to convert to their religions, either. Not in this country, anyway.)

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Their Fair Share

Via Carpe Diem comes this nugget of info from the Tax Foundation, reporting income distribution and taxation figures collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD):

The share of total market income of the richest 10% of Americans: 33.9%

The share of total taxes paid by the richest 10% of Americans: 45.1%

Exit question: If paying 11.2% more than would be "fair" (i.e. if everyone paid the same percent of their income in taxes) isn't enough for the rich to pay, how much more would be enough?

Look at the numbers again:

Income: 33.9%;

Taxes: 45.1%.

If these numbers were talking about the poorest 10% . . . or the poorest 50%, most people would be outraged. "The rich should pay their fair share!!!"

So, when you hear that the rich should pay their fair share, the first question to your lips should be "OK, then, what's fair?"
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Why They Fought

It's funny 'cause it's true:
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The ponderous ship of science begins to turn . . .

. . . away from the increasingly dubious extreme claims of "anthropogenic climate change" and towards honestly looking at the available data--that's all of the available data--as is required to do good science:

From Anthony Watts' Watts Up With That blog:
The British government’s chief scientific adviser, John Beddington, has called for more openness in the global warming debate. He said climate scientists should be less hostile to sceptics who questioned man-made global warming. He condemned scientists who refused to publish the data underpinning their reports. He also said public confidence in climate science would be improved if there were more openness about its uncertainties, even if that meant admitting that sceptics had been right on some hotly disputed issues.

This being part of a call for interested scientists to participate in increased online peer review of not only the findings of climate scientists but also a peer review of all of the data underlying those findings. As we are increasingly finding out, those data, when considered in total, do not in fact support the findings that some scientists have asserted that they do.

Needless to say, this isn't how science is supposed to be done.

More science, less politics, please.
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Yeah, this does seem to be kinda true . . .

Jim Treacher: Rule of thumb: Liberals want conservatives to shut up, and conservatives want liberals to keep talking.

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Spending!

No, the edit probably isn't completely fair. Oh, well. Neither is life.
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For St. Patrick's Day

This video. I think it may be real, but I can't quite bring myself to be sure . . .



Of course, we don't really know if leprechauns are real, either . . . do we?
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Well, **I** was too optimistic . . .

Remember this from my post of yesterday?
In less than fifteen years, these "entitlement" programs will consume all of the Federal Government's revenue. All of it. No more national defense, no more national parks, no more federal research grants, no more federal highway funds, no more air traffic control system, no more education grants, no more federally guaranteed loans or bank accounts, no more NPR, no more PBS. It will all be going to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.


Turns out that "less than fifteen years" was actually RIGHT THE HELL NOW.

Well, Federal Fiscal year 2012 . . . which starts in October, 2011. If Obama has his way, that is.
Here’s a stat for you: In President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget, the White House Office of Management and Budget estimates (in Table S-4) that mandatory spending this year (2011) will be $2.194 trillion, while total federal receipts will be $2.174 trillion.

Raise taxes? Oh, sure, that's a wonderful way of strangling an economy that's already struggling under the weight of excessive government intervention, high unemployment, skyrocketing energy prices, and an increasing tolerance of both governmental and private-sector corruption.

Entitlements will be cut. You might as well get your mind around that idea right now, because it's going to happen. And it can happen the easy way, or it can happen the hard way.

The easy way is the Tea Party way. The hard way is the Democratic Party way.

That's the bottom line. And there is no more avoiding the bottom line.

Choose.

Now.

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