Friday, January 27, 2012

Wish Them Luck? Seriously?

While making our daily trip to to see what ridiculous stories they consider “front page” news (today was MRI orgasms - we wish we were kidding), up popped the following advertisement: 

Seriously?!?! Wish them luck?

Was this a joke ad by some Republican Super PAC?

Nope, “Paid for by Obama for America.”

Millions unemployed, millions more underemployed, deficits as far as the eye can see, millions with underwater mortgages, crushing debt loads, and increasing costs on everything from gas to health care to groceries, and President Obama, with his $1 Billion campaign war chest, wants US to wish HIM luck?

“Sign the card” to “wish them luck in 2012” and, oh by the way,
give them your email address so they can send you daily propaganda and pleads for more cold hard cash!

We could not think of a clearer example of how out of touch President Obama is with the state of our union. We know all presidents need to have some level of narcissism, but this takes it to unprecedented heights.

The most powerful person on the planet needs you to wish him luck.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Testing the Logic of "Fairness" in Taxes

Let’s test President Obama’s logic on tax “fairness” with a simple example.    
·         Person A makes $50,000,000 a year and pays $7,500,000 a year in taxes
·         Person B makes $100,000 a year and pays $30,000 a year in taxes
For the sake of discussion, let’s assume both individuals take advantage of government services in roughly the same way - both will draw the same social security benefits and Medicare eligibility at retirement, use roads, rely on police, fire departments and our military to feel safe at home.  In fact, you could make the case that Person A takes advantage of less government services as they might send their children to private schools instead of public, they won’t require a publically subsidized mortgage through Fannie, Freddie or FHA, etc. 
So the question is whether it’s fair for Person A to pay $7,500,000 for those services, and Person B to pay $30,000 or 0.4% of what Person A pays for those same services. 
According to the wisdom of President Obama, Occupy Wall Street and the Democratic Party, fairness is determined in relation to the percentage of income paid in taxes, rather than absolute dollar amounts.  Therefore they argue that this situation is completely and utterly unfair because Person A pays an effective rate of 15% while Person B pays an effective rate of 30%.  The fact that Person A paid $7,500,000 and Person B paid $30,000 is irrelevant, in fact, Person A should pay $15,000,000 in the name of fairness.       
Others believe this view is a vast oversimplification of a complex problem.  But they may also believe that we shouldn’t raise anyone’s taxes because our government is already too big.  We need to first cut spending to reasonable levels and then determine the best way of paying for the resulting lean and efficient government.  They may also believe that ignoring the difference between income earned through labor and income earned through investment overstates the supposed “unfairness.” 
We’ve written about fairness numerous times on these pages, and in a couple of op-ed's this week (here and here), the Wall Street Journal explains the reasons why investment income should be taxed differently than wage or labor income better than we ever could.
Ultimately, it’s a lazy populist sound bite to say the rich aren’t paying their fair share.  If one’s contribution to society is based purely as a percentage of the amount of income earned, then why don’t we just change the pricing of all goods and services to a percentage of income?  For example, to make sure that the pricing of a chicken nugget happy meal is “fair”, the current sales price of $5 would only apply to someone making the median income of roughly $30,000 a year.  Person A, who makes 3.3 times the median income, would be required to pay $17 for the Happy Meal, and Person B, who makes 1,700 times the median income, would pay $8,400 for the Happy Meal.  This also means that a huge portion of the population will get their Happy Meals for free.
Is that fair?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

And the Smuggie goes to…

Welcome to the 2012 Smug Columnist Awards show!

We've all read their smug columns, but thanks to a recent trend of including a ridiculously posed picture next to their text, we get to see their smug mugs as well. After at least eight minutes of research, we found all the smugness that’s fit to print.

Without further ado, your 2012 Smuggies:

The “I am the smuggest man alive!” award – Charles Blow – New York Times

The “I’m sorry, you’re wrong, I’m right, and you’re boring me” award – Michael Lind - CNN

The “I’m trying to be serious, but inside I’m laughing hysterically because you are so stupid – seriously, you don’t even have a Nobel Prize” award – Paul Krugman – New York Times

The “I had no idea a ludicrous quote about a ‘great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity’ could make me this famous” award - Matt Taibbi – Rolling Stone

The “We thought dot-matrix illustrations would hide our smugness - we were wrong” award – Bret Stephens & Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. – Wall Street Journal

The “I’m so smug, I’m about to cry” award – Ruben Navarrette Jr. - CNN

The “Despite making my fortune during a 15 year career on Wall Street, I’m smug enough to bloviate and write books about the evils Wall Street with a straight face” award – William Cohen - Bloomberg

And finally…

The “biggest threat to the future of including a picture of the columnist next to their column” award – Robert J. Samuelson – Washington Post

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Antithesis of Presidential Leadership

Yesterday’s “Statement by the President on the Keystone XL Pipeline” illustrates the antithesis of Presidential leadership.

What kind of leader rejects a proposal because time pressures were too great to make an informed decision? Let’s keep in mind the fact that the XL Pipeline application was submitted in 2008. Only Government could consider a review period of more than three years be deemed “rushed and arbitrary.” What would happen to a CEO who rejected a profitable business deal because he wasn’t given four years to perform due diligence? He’d be fired on the spot.

What kind of leader hides behind the recommendation of a subordinate? The President’s statement notes that he merely agrees with the Secretary of State’s recommendation. He references the State Department or the Secretary of State four times in the first paragraph alone. That’s interesting, we don’t seem to recall President Obama leading off his speech about the killing of Bin Laden by noting he was just following recommendations from the CIA or the CIA Director (only referenced once in the entire speech). In fact, he puffed out his chest and said the following, “I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.” He continued, “Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.”

What kind of leader claims that someone else “forced" their decision? The President’s statement claims that it was Congressional Republicans who “forced” him to agree with Secretary Clinton’s recommendation. First off, Congressional Republicans do not have the ability to pass legislation on their own - both Democrats and Republicans passed the legislation that required President Obama make a decision on the XL Pipeline. Second, President Obama signed this piece of legislation into law. If he didn't like the XL Pipeline timeline included in the law, he shouldn't have signed it. Third, the legislation does not “force” President Obama to reject the application, it merely requires him to stop dragging out the process and to make a decision on whether to approve or deny a permit for a “shovel ready” project that everyone agrees will create thousands of jobs almost immediately. To claim that he was strong armed into rejecting the permit is false and shows incredible weakness and strikingly poor leadership.

It will be interesting to see which ads make a bigger impact leading up to November 2012 - the Obama ads telling the story of Americans laid off 20 years ago by Bain Capital, or the Romney ads telling the story of Americans who today remain unemployed in towns that would have greatly benefited from XL Pipeline project.