tower of rules

Tax practitioners are so serious and dry. Why are their blogs scary?

Not a single news organization reported this data, this basic information, when it was released October 15.

The story the numbers tell is one of a strengthening economic base with income growing fastest at the bottom until, in 1981, we made an abrupt change in tax and economic policy.

The Founders were concerned first and foremost with preventing tyranny, oppression and policies that retard the human spirit. Economies have rules and those rules have a huge influence on the distribution of benefits. Specific rules raise or lower incomes, for example.

There are hundreds of thousands of pages of these rules.

These rules distort economic outcomes. Hardly anyone but the people who get rich off them through what economists call ‘rent seeking’ has ever read them, much less explain how they distort the economy.

When those rules allow huge interest-free loans to some, or limit how much the vast majority can save on a tax-favored basis but lets those at the top save unlimited amounts, when some workers can defer paying their taxes for years or decades and then at rates lower than that of the median income worker the outcomes are heavily influenced by those rules.

The current federal income and payroll tax burden on a single worker who made the median wage of $26,000 in 2007 was 21.6%, but by the same measure for the 400 highest income taxpayers, who made almost a million dollars a day, this tax burden was just 16.6%.

Only the wealthy pay low taxes.

Why do you think corporations spend all that money in Washington? They did not always run huge lobbying shops. They do it to win favors that shape, influence and in some cases rig markets, and that in turn alters how the benefits of the economy and the burdens of government are distributed.

We are a terrible thing to waste:

1) The data show that the tectonic shifts have taken place since the Reagan administration began, with its ‘new theory’ about wealth creation, jobs and taxes.

2) The data show that these policies have not worked out well for the vast majority, but they have helped a relative few really prosper.

Oops. Bloomberg cites the data October 25; thanks Zo. Tax returns were made secret in the 1920s, yet last year’s pay at the very top is up more than 500%.


There’s something to gain understanding where our money goes went.

Who dares believe Republicans are defending this nation? It’s plundering and pillaging and marauding since the neoconservative launch; since Reagan’s Budget Director David Stockman, never an economist nor taxation analyst, but a one-time Representative of a 95% white rural Michigan district plucked as Sarah Palin is plucked, a political operative and willing trumpet.

Renting Congress.
Now that’s rent seeking!

sick industry

And there’s the rub, put into a practical series, for our own good.

If we’re going to spend way more than any other country on health care, then we should absolutely, positively have the best health care system in the world.  We don’t.

  1. Introduction –I can’t blame you.
  2. Population Statistics –This may seem like a small thing, but.
  3. Available Technology –Well, we’re not the worst.
  4. Disease Care –Here’s where we shine. Not.
  5. Infrastructure –I won’t lie to you.
  6. Health Care Utilization –Nowhere near the top.
  7. Physician and Practice –They are, after all, essential.
  8. Patients –They should have some say.
  9. Executives –Let’s move on to something new.
  10. Conclusion –I expected more arguments.

some say sanity

“It’s astonishing to see how Americans have been conditioned to think that political action and engagement is futile.” —Yves Smith


Small comfort that a large crowd attended Jon Stewart’s Rally for Sanity: 250,000.

It was certainly the largest gathering I’ve seen at a DC rally since the anti-Vietnam protests of the late sixties and early seventies.

And contrary to the predictions of some, it was not dominated by the young — seniors were well-represented and stories abounded…Michael Winship

That’s roughly three times wingnut rallies, tho’ not three times the noise. The Park Service contracts AirPhoto for accuracy, posted here. Many sister rallies in many cities, including Wasilla of course.

say wot

From the diligent scourings of Humorzo, here’s an entirely new shake on byte my feed, but please, let’s tend to this story now.

An only child, a lonely boy, over-assertive, absolutely sure that he had big things coming.

On a raw December ­afternoon…

On the table lay…

The midwife wiped the poor girl’s brow…

Macrophallus is the medical term, and Frank was proud of his ­extraordinary endowment.

In his mind he was a ­personage !

entertainment for freedom

Roger Ebert:

So now I move on to a larger view of Hugh Hefner.

Hefner and Playboy have been around so long that not everyone remembers what America used to be like.

The fact is that sex made money for Hefner, and he used it to produce one of the best magazines in America.

He also spent money to free a man who faced a 50-year prison term for…fellatio.

Hefner’s Playboy Foundation fought for civil liberties in general. The cost for these activities came out of his profits, and that didn’t give him a moment’s pause.


geo-happiness

In “Happiness the World Over” [abstract], countries enjoy individual and economic freedom, higher life expectancy, lower rates of infant mortality and greater wealth.

There were no significant happiness based on marriage rates, divorce rates, fertility rates, literacy rates, suicide rates and penal incarceration rates.

The 20 happiest nations are:

1. Denmark
2. Switzerland
3. Austria
4. Iceland
5. The Bahamas
6. Finland
7. Sweden
8. Bhutan
9. Brunei
10. Canada
11. Ireland
12. Luxembourg
13. Costa Rica
14. Malta
15. The Netherlands
16. Antigua and Barbuda
17. Malaysia
18. New Zealand
19. Norway
20. The Seychelles

23. USA

Summary of recent happiness research, BUT he observed that the amount of data and experimentation regarding happiness research is in its infancy…

science of drought

Stuart Staniford:

Terrifying Drought Projections

On the projections of the Palmer Drought Severity Index: I was pretty freaked out by the paper.  This post covers PDSI at a very basic level, and discusses the projections.

Recent History of Drought vs Models

This post looked at the somewhat imperfect fit between climate models and drought data for recent history.

Extracting Signal From Drought Noise

This post extracted the global warming signal and the El-Nino signal from the drought data.

wealth’s wacky allies

Interesting that much of our population in hardship & worry shrinks charitable & political contributions yet this midterm election is reaching a record $4.2 billion.

Oligarch spending dominates, and I’m not surprised the best these bullies have done is to dredge myth-kickers and sociopaths to help them. There’s the intriguing two sides of this election, the wealthy and their wacky.

All they ask for is an unfair advantage‘ is Michael Winship’s one-man assay of political spending, i.e. the temblor & tilt from the US Chamber of Commerce: 300,000 members, but half of its $140 million in contributions from just 45 donors.

Open any newspaper, magazine or political website and the coverage of corporate campaign largess, much of it anonymous, bedazzles the mind.

When all is said and done… outside interest groups could spend $400 million or more by Election Day. House and Senate candidates have already shattered fundraising record for a midterm election… the equivalent of about $4 million for every congressional seat.

Industry leaders with conservative provocateurs recruiting flamers & fruitcakes to help them fight for the status quo are vigorously opposed to legislation that would require identifying the money behind sponsors and campaign ads.

A recent conservative strategy & tactics session called “Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Free Enterprise and Prosperity” was not attended by media flamers, coffee shop pundits or Tea Party candidates. None of their carny shills raised up for this election were in attendance.

Claiming to be ‘dedicated to defending our free society’ but merely funding Republicans for the simpler purposes of stalling financial and  consumer regulations, derivatives reform and equitable taxes et et et.

The GOP is opposed to all this: “They have already signaled to Wall Street that, starting the morning of November 3rd, 2010, the GOP will be the party that fights sensible Wall Street reform and returns us to the world of 2009, the world most favorable to Wall Street.”

For that, they’ve plucked silly candidates from their serfdom and raised a foolish electorate. “An energized minority trumps a tepid majority every time.”

These wealthy reveal an embarrassing incompetence. The bandit viciousness that pilfered our nation has launched nothing better than a political frenzy. Shame. Stunning not merely for its dominance & distortion, but for its poverty of reason & solution.



belief is a tiny realm

The brain is not a butler to serve our whim. Mark Morford’s column in San Francisco’s Chronicle newspaper is pointing out we just don’t know much and that’s most true when we shrink the world to our beliefs.

You’ll enjoy this massive, humbling truth:

What we do not know still far outweighs what we do. Better yet, it always will.

seabed windfall

Everyone in green could use a little gilt.

The Royal Family have secured a lucrative deal that will earn them a 15% royalty from Britain’s massive offshore windpower.

“The purpose of a Civil List was to bring the Monarchy under Parliamentary control. As long as the Monarch depends financially on Parliament, they can be brought to heel if they try to interfere, unconstitutionally, in political debate. A large and inflation-proofed stream of revenue from the Crown Estate removes that constraint.

“By 2020, 6,400 turbines – each one rising 500ft above the sea – are expec­ted to be in operation around the UK coastline. Household energy bills will have to rise to pay for the £75 bil­lion [$118B] expansion, which has been described as one of the biggest engineering projects in recent history.

“Charles seemed enthused….”

our act of debacle

It ain’t just email. I came to learn, to grow, and found the whole world forwarding crap. HA!  I’m stunned that’s true, proud to know it, but utterly squandered while we lie.

There’s enough witless rage to light a match under the fat lady. And there’s a new job for me to find wiser folks no longer quiet. John Mauldin I do not trust but that’s because I’ve lost the trust put in my birthing.

He’s no Paul Revere. He should have told our risks before he runs up the road with ‘the redcoats are here’. So many profit near pirates. But I think there are more John Mauldin-s appearing, sick of politely shutting up. Economics blogs copy his newsletters.

He argues against our mistakes, much better than business sheets throwing up a few facts, yet he generally hides names, perhaps until he’s paid, or his children are grown, but you knew that. http://www.frontlinethoughts.com/gateway.asp

passionately average

“When a government fears its people you have justice. When a people fears its government you have tyranny. When a car means nothing at all you can have ice cream.”

Suburu introduces, finally, a car like every other car.

The 2011 Mediocrity
in Medium Crumb exterior with Brown Gravel interior. Black wheels, shift knob and emergency brake. Front grille, four doors, rear bumper, door handles and side-view mirrors also in Medium Crumb. Glove box and air vents.

Most Mainstream in its class.
If you’ve seen this mid-size sedan, you’ve pretty much seen them all.

If you’ve got nothing exciting to say, we’d love to hear it.

Well. : koff : Thanks for the shift knob.

grand warrior

…you could see that there’s a buffalo painted on his chest and on his face. And he sits there in complete comfort with this…

And I remember looking at Buffalo Bull, a Grand Pawnee warrior named La-dóo-ke-a. I tried to imagine the distance, the connection, the bridges. And I was standing in front of this man, this painting, as Catlin did.

“I was about that far away and I could look at this painting, and I could see the texture of this man’s likeness. I could see the swirl of the brush.

“I could see the power, the power invested in this image. And I can imagine that Catlin would turn his head and look at this man, then turn back to where I was standing and transfer that image—that essence—from this man to this canvas.

It’s a powerful image. You can see an Indian man here at his finest—during our finest times.

“And he had spiritual power and physical power—you could tell by his muscular body.

“In this particular one, you could see that there’s a buffalo painted on his chest and on his face. And he sits there in complete comfort with this, and he is presenting it.

“He says, “This is me. This is what I am.” And he’s proud of it.

“He gets power and strength from these images and this belief, and there’s no fear in his eye. There’s no threat in his eye, just confidence and strength. And that was good to see.

“Most of these paintings have similar traits—just this incredible strength and power. And it’s a good representation of our people at that time.”

deliberately misleading

Tax cuts don’t pay for themselves !

If the press won’t call Republicans on this obvious falsehood, how can we trust them on anything? The press ought to ask something like:

“Are you this ignorant about economics, in which case why should anyone vote for you, or are you deliberately misleading people? I’ll assume you aren’t ignorant, so here’s the question:

“If you are willing to make false claims about the revenue generated from tax cuts in order to promote them for the wealthy, what other falsehoods will you be willing to promote in order to serve political ends?

“If voters can’t trust you to tell the truth about tax cuts, how can they trust you on anything?”

Oh, They Know What They Are Selling. “It’s hard to know where to start. There is just so much here.”

e pluribus habitus

Agents are absorbed in their affairs and act in ways which are inscribed in the game itself.

We can only interact with each other locally and that local interaction always reflects population-wide generalizations and idealizations most of which we are not conscious of.

Habitus is a complex concept, but in its simplest usage could be understood as a structure of the mind characterized by a set of acquired schemata, sensibilities, dispositions and taste… [wiki]. Please pause to notice ‘acquired…’

Now please pause to ponder:

  1. Of all in your mind, what is intentionally put there by others?
  2. And of that, what has your permission?

A New Scientist post reveals emerging technology which may give humanity a new opportunity to protect our mental boundary.

Since the 80s I’ve called it Information Sovereignty and I look forward to its adoption, a critical extension of rights at least as important as charters protecting body and property.

There are attempts to describe habitus:

We acquire our interest in social games living in the society we are born.

Our minds are structured by social experience imprinted in our bodies as feel for the game…

Agents are caught up in social games and the stakes at play. They are invested in the stakes and act what some call habitus, the ways of thinking into which they are born.

People acquire social games living in the society they are born. Their minds are structured by experience imprinted in their bodies as feel for the game.

Yes, he said imprinted IN our bodies. We would not live in a home without doors.

as ads predict

As in previous years, politicians are bottom of the rankings and their approval rating continues to fall.

To have the welfare and the lives of millions placed at our disposal, is a sort of warrant, a challenge to squander them without mercy. —William Hazlitt, 1823

let the rabble run mad

‘T has ever been the top of my desires,
The utmost height to which my wish aspires,
That Heaven would bless me with a small estate,
Where I might find a close obscure retreat;
There, free from noise and all ambitious ends,
Enjoy a few choice books, and fewer friends,
Lord of myself, accountable to none,
But to my conscience, and my God alone:
There live unthought of, and unheard of die,
And grudge mankind my very memory.
But since the blessing is, I find, too great
For me to wish for, or expect of fate;
Yet, maugre all the spite of destiny,
My thoughts and actions are, and shall be, free.

John Oldham (1653-1683)
“Lord of myself, accountable to none, but to my conscience, and my God alone.”

via laudator temporis acti – “praiser of time past”


proof to indict

“He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes. On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess.” —Anita Hill

In late 1998, when the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to impeach President Bill Clinton for lying under oath about a sexual affair, many on the Right insisted that the issue wasn’t the sex but the perjury.

They are now confronted with a parallel case in which U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas quite clearly perjured himself to get his seat on the bench.

Beyond the seemingly obvious point that Thomas committed perjury to gain his seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, there is also the ugliness of how the Republicans and the Right sought to victimize the women who already had been victims of Thomas’s predatory behavior.

How is it possible, you ask, that the very rightwing party whose policies helped create the current mess may very well take control of the House of Representatives and conceivably the Senate as well, in the upcoming November elections?

referring to your body

This is in fact a national crisis, as urgent as any that we face.

We just can’t allow this to happen to us.

The nation cannot possibly afford to take care of 100 million people with these awful diseases, none of us wants to be there or see people we care about living with stroke, dementia, heart disease, blindness, immobility . . .

But what do you think are the chances of the kind of major national mobilization that would be required to save our lard butts?