Archive for November, 2012

A lot of people misunderstand the way our tax system works.

If the tax rate for income over $250,000 increases, that rate only applies to income over $250,000. The rate on the first $250,000 is unchanged. If you make $250,001 and the high end rate increases, you only pay the increased rate on $1.

If you ever hear someone saying that they want to turn down a raise (or turn away customers, or whatever) in order to keep their income in a lower tax bracket because their increased tax bill would be larger than their raise, please refer them to me. I have some things I’d like to sell them.

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Can corporate profit growth recover? USA Today would like to know.

If that sounds like a ridiculous question to ask, that’s because it is. Take a look at the data. They’re doing fine. Yes, I get that we’re discussing rates, and not levels, but it’s just hard to justify those headlines.



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White Guys Have Opinions

Ever since the election, we’ve had waves of articles wherein conservatives say that they won “on the issues”, and only lost because of higher than expected “urban turnout”. Here’s Paul Ryan, saying precisely that:

“I don’t think we lost it on those budget issues, especially on Medicare, we clearly didn’t lose it on those issues,” Ryan to local station WISC-TV. “I think the surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout especially in urban areas, which gave President Obama the big margin to win this race.”

Well, OK, I guess that’s a natural response to a loss, chalk it up as a loss in name only. But do you pick up on the implication? The GOP won “on the issues” but only lost because black people voted. For the “win on the issues” bit to be true, then, it must also be true that the decisive votes of black people were not based on issues! (Otherwise, they would have lost on issues, too) 

This sentiment is really very common, and its disgusting. If black people vote for a black guy, its because he’s black. If women vote for a woman, its because she’s a woman. If white guys vote for the white guy, its because they agree with him about the need to reduce the deficit by reducing medicare payments and block granting it to state governments. 

You see, only white men are capable of making electoral choices based on issues. For everyone else, purely identity politics.

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Probably Not A Good Idea

I think the worst part of this whole Petraeus incident is not his un-approved sexytime, but the fact that the FBI gets to go through your personal email without any probable cause.

Also, that the CIA director thought gmail was a secure method of communication concerns me.

But mostly the FBI thing.

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Four More Years


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Four questions on the ballot in Philly today. 

The first asks whether the city should institute a committee to set water and sewer rates. On this, my vote is yes. It’s less than ideal, but the current method for rate setting is that the water department sets the rate. Thus the rate is set by a single person, the head of the water department. A committee seems like a much better plan than a single person on this.

The second question asks if the Mayor should be required to subit additional information to city council with his budget, “including, but not limited to, information about the cost of performing specific functions, the effectiveness of such functions, and the costs versus benefits of proposed expenditures, and to require the Finance Director to provide such information?” On this, I vote no. While I think that such information is important, in practice it is already compiled when addressing the budget needs of projects. My fear is that this requirement would be used as a de-facto veto to kill projects. See a project you want to block? Just tie it up in red tape with endless requests for reports about the cost / benefit trade-off of every little thing, and you can stall a project indefinitely. This will serve to raise the cost of projects, and will ultimately lead to more wasteful spending, not less. Writing reports isn’t free.

The third question asks whether the city should be allowed to give hiring preference to the grandchildren of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty. This would be an extension of the city’s current policy of providing preference to the children of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty. On this question, an emphatic no. Granting preference to grandchildren is simply taking things too far. Will we extend preference to great grandchildren in 2016? The city should hire the most qualified applicants for positions. 

The final question seeks approval for the city to borrow $123.7 million for capital improvements in areas such as streets, transit, sanitation, etc. An emphatic yes on this. Philly is in dire need of capital improvement. Our infrastructure is crumbling to pieces. We need to do something about that. 

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There’s a Philly polling place located in a school. The school happens to have an Obama mural on the wall of the room used for the polls, which clearly violates the no campaign material in the polling place rule. The PA GOP is outraged:

As news of the mural spread Tuesday morning, Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason released a statement accusing the Obama campaign of trying to suppress Republican votes. 
“It is clear the Obama campaign has taken their campaign in the gutter to manipulate this election however they can,” the statement said. “Based on the Obama campaign’s behavior today, it certainly raises the question: what are Democrats doing in the polls that they are working so hard to shield folks from monitoring this election?”

Um, yea, I don’t think the Obama campaign chooses polling places, nor do I think that they ordered their brown-shirted rendition squads to stealthily paint a mural in the middle of the night. 

Rather, some local elections official didn’t even think twice about the decor of the room he chose as a polling place, and that turned out to be a mistake. He should have chosen a different spot, or covered it up. The GOP is right to cry foul over the mural, because it is obviously a violation. So toss a sheet over it and move on, that’s all. 
For the PA GOP, especially after their attempt to disenfranchise a not insignificant portion of Philadelphia, to scream voter suppression over a mural makes me laugh. 

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