April 2008

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Run Hillary Run 

I don't like Hillary Clinton very much. But, I'm happy that she won the Pennsylvania primary by a large enough margin to keep her in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and to attract more donations (she raised $10M in 24-hours after the primary was called for her).

There's a lot that I don't like about John McCain, as well. His militarism is worrying. He shares the Democrats' romantic vision of government. He's all too willing to trample on individual liberty when he thinks it will enhance respect for public institutions, or would just be for our own good.

But, it seems that we'll be better off with him in the White House than either Obama or Clinton. He's much better on limiting spending and burdensome regulations, and supporting free trade. He's likely to nominate better judges (including possibly two to the Supreme Court).

But, most of all, with the near certainty of Democratic control of congress, I'm hopeful that having an opposing-party president will give us the gridlock we need to prevent either branch from imposing too much damage on us.

So, I'm glad to see Clinton stay in the race, draining resources that might otherwise be used to win the general election, exposing weaknesses of both Obama and Clinton, and sowing the seeds of resentment when one of them loses the nomination.

There's no great, feasible, result in this election. But, the longer the Democrats are fighting each other, prospects improve for the feasible result that's least bad.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama's Tax Fairness 

I didn't watch the Democratic debate the other night, but Daniel J. Mitchell had a post about one exchange about raising the capital-gains tax rate on the cato-at-liberty blog that I found really disturbing.

MR. GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased. The government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?
SENATOR OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.
The Senator then proceeded to bash evil rich (sorry for the redundancy) people, so the moderator asked the question again:
MR. GIBSON: But history shows that when you drop the capital gains tax, the revenues go up.
SENATOR OBAMA: Well, that might happen or it might not. It depends on what’s happening on Wall Street and how business is going.

I'm not making any claims about the factual matter of which side of the Laffer curve we're on with respect to capital-gains taxes (although, I am in favor of lowering taxes on general principle).

But, Obama didn't even dispute the possibility that raising the tax rate could lower revenue. He wants to raise the rate even if it does lower revenue. He doesn't just see taxation as a necessary evil to finance the programs he likes. He also sees taxation as a stick that he can use to punish the economically successful.

He calls it fairness.

I call it being an asshole.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm Not Bitter 

Among the many reasons that I'll never be a successful politician, is that I could easily see myself getting into big trouble for what I thought was a reasonable remark, and having it blown completely out of proportion.

But, I think it was pretty clever of the Clinton campaign to distribute "I'm Not Bitter" stickers after Obama's recent "gaffe."

It seems to me, though, that anybody who would parade around wearing one of those stickers, or who would deface his property with one, would be making it pretty obvious that he is bitter.

Perhaps not exactly in the way Obama was describing, but the self-contradiction is still pretty amusing to me.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Global Warming: Don't Panic 

I'm not a climate scientist, so I can't speak directly to the technical arguments behind the global warming debate.

But, when I see claims of catastrophe, and moral imperative, and religious zeal about an issue, leading to calls for changes in behavior that most of the advocates would have supported even without the current "crisis", I'm naturally skeptical about the wisdom of following their advice.

So, I thought that this post was quite interesting. Check it out (and the links and video) yourself if you're interested. The bottom-line claim is that the predictions of major damage are not founded on the relatively strong science behind the warming effects of CO2, but rather on the much weaker science of a positive feedback estimate that can multiply these effects. And, the estimates of the CO2 effects have been falling, while the feedback estimates have been rising to maintain the frightening predictions.

There are many good reasons for us to be interested in progress with other energy sources and efficient technologies. But, it seems that Don't Panic (about the global warming crisis) is still good advice for now.