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The Politics of Regional Net Taxpayers and Net Tax Receivers

October 9, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

taxpayers

The discussion over Scotland’s possible secession has often touched on the issue of regional net tax payments as a decisive issue in secession decisions. That is, if a region is a net tax-receiving region, then there is little incentive to secede, whereas, a net tax-payer region has significant incentive to secede. In the case of Venetian secession, for example, it has clearly been an issue for many decades as northern Italy (including Veneto) is well aware of its status as a the wealthier region of Italy that subsidizes the poorer south.

This also appears to be the case with Catalonia, where the region generally pays more in tax revenues than it receives.

Not all regions are aware of where they fit into the net tax-receiver puzzle however, and there’s a big blind spot on this in the United States. Many have assumed that those areas of the country most associated with supporting government welfare programs, such as the northeast, must be net tax receiver areas. The reality, however, is that the northeast is a net taxpayer region, as are other areas of the country most associated with being “pro-welfare” such as the west coast and Illinois.

On the other hand, the region of the country most associated with being for “free markets” is the American south (not including Texas) which is generally far more of a net tax receiver region than anywhere else in the country. This runs contrary to many political narratives which insist that the so-called blue states are living off the sweat of the red states. The fact remains though, that it’s the left-liberal regions of the country that are paying in the most in taxes, and much of that revenue moves south.

Many left-wing bloggers are quite fond of pointing this out, as in this graphic here:

The blogger is trying to make a political point by including the political party affiliation of each state’s US senators, although that’s of pretty dubious value. The tax numbers appear to check out pretty well, though, and this map is just one example of many that can be found online.

The breakdown here should not be surprising at all, however. The subsidized states on the map, such as Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and others, all tend to have lower income residents, which means lower income-tax rates. Thanks to a progressive income tax, rich people really do pay more income tax, even after …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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“Depenalizing” Marijuana Reduces Crime

October 9, 2014 in Economics

By Mark Thornton

A recent paper published in the prestigious Journal of Political Economy, “Crime and the Depenalization of Cannabis Possession: Evidence from a Policing Experiment,” reports on experimental policing in the city of London. In the experiment, police depenalized the possession of small quantities of cannabis in the London borough of Lambeth. Researchers found that the offense rate for total non-drug crime in Lambeth fell significantly by 9.4% The offense rate declined in all crime categories. The declines in robbery, burglary, theft and handling, fraud and forgery and criminal damage were statistical significant, but the offense rate for violence, sexual offenses and robbery was not. Researchers found that police reallocated their resources which led to more arrests and “clear ups.”

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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'That’s A $500,000 Vagina Tax!' Sarah Silverman Launches Equal Pay Campaign With Hilarious Video

October 9, 2014 in Blogs

By Alyssa Figueroa, AlterNet

'I’m taking matters into my own hands…I’m becoming a dude.'


To kick off a new campaign calling for equal pay, Sarah Silverman says she’s doing the only thing she can to ensure her wages won’t be stolen just for being a women: getting a penis.

Silverman is featured in a comical new video to help raise awareness for the gender pay gap in America. She explains that over the course of a lifetime, a woman loses about $500,000 to the wage gap. “That’s a $500,000 vagina tax!” she explains. “That’s why I’m taking matters into my own hands…I’m becoming a dude. In the grand scheme of things it’s way less expensive than the money I’ll lose for having a pussy.

The video launches the National Women’s Law Center’s Equal Payback Project campaign. Silverman says that for women who want to take less extreme measures than getting new genitalia, the campaign is aimed at crowdfunding the wage gap. And with 69 million women in the workplace, that’s sets the goal to nearly $30 trillion. The money raised, however, will actually go to the NWLC, which is fighting to end the wage gap through legislation.

What Silverman’s hilarious video does so well is point out just how absurd it is that having different genitalia costs women so much money over their lifetimes. The campaign’s website points out that skin color also plays a factor in pay. While white women make 77 cents to the white man’s dollar, for African American women and Hispanic women that’s 64 cents and 56 cents, respectively.

Watch the video below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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England’s Private Road Rakes in the Money

October 9, 2014 in Economics

By Matt McCaffrey

A couple of months ago I wrote about Mike Watts, the businessman who built a private toll road to replace a public road destroyed by a landslide. Because local government couldn’t fix the damaged road for almost a year, drivers were obliged to take an extremely inefficient detour, greatly increasing commute times and other transportation costs. In response, Watts and his wife stepped in and risked their life savings to open a toll road alongside the closed public one.

The big question when it opened was whether Watts would be able to recover his expenses, and so far the answer seems to be, yes. Watts just served his 100,000th customer, earning him £200,000 in the process. His total expenses for the project will be about £250,000, so he’s well on his way to breaking even before the public road is scheduled to reopen some time in December.

Naturally, Watts is having trouble with local government, which hates to look bad when entrepreneurial initiative accomplishes what it can’t, and at a fraction of the cost. He’s had to retroactively apply for a planning permit for the road that has already cost £25,000 in surveyor’s fees and ecological assessments. The local council has even spent an additional £660,000 to speed up repairs to the old road, which will now cost £2.66 million to get running again. This kind of desperation only goes to show how threatening it is for public officials when entrepreneurs provide services usually protected by monopoly.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Christian Right’s Huge Dilemma: How Social Conservatives Could Doom Republicans

October 9, 2014 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton, Salon

Longstanding tension between the GOP and its religious base may finally come to a head. Here's why.


I wrote a piece earlier about the GOP’s “three-legged stool” that stands for “family values, small government and strong national defense” in light of the recent resurgence of jingoistic fear-mongering in the 2014 campaign ads. The commentary on the right has been shifting perceptibly day by day as the threat of ISIS and our renewed military involvement in the Middle East tickled the martial lizard brain into action. But what of the other legs on the stool? The Christian Right is very likely to be on board with whatever military adventures the Republicans push (they usually are) but they are also likely to be agitated at the loss of prestige within the party and what they see as a defeatist attitude toward such issues a gay marriage and contraception.

The right wing firebrands’ reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision not to make a decision on marriage equality this week is instructive. The Tea Party king Ted Cruz wasted no time in condemning the Court saying, “by refusing to rule if the states can define marriage, the Supreme Court is abdicating its duty to uphold the Constitution.” (He went on to bizarrely call the Court’s failure to act “judicial activism at its worst.” Ok.)

Christian Right leader and possible presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said:

“It is shocking that many elected officials, attorneys and judges think that a court ruling is the ‘final word,’” Huckabee said. “It most certainly is not. The courts are one branch of government, and equal to the other two, but not superior to either and certainly not to both. Even if the other two branches agree with the ruling, the people’s representatives have to pass enabling legislation to authorize same sex marriage, and the President (or Governor in the case of the state) has to sign it. Otherwise, it remains the court’s opinion. It is NOT the ‘law of the land’ as is often heralded.”

(And then he stood on the courthouse steps and thundered, “In the name of the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Left and Right Agree: War Is Popular

October 9, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

toys2

Mises Daily Thursday by Andrew Syrios

The occasional eruptions of anti-war positions from conservatives and progressives are more a function of what political party controls the White House than of any principled ideological stance. Don’t expect sustained opposition to war to come from either side.

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Murray N. Rothbard: The Man and His Work

October 9, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

murrayoct2

Mises Daily Thursday:

Lew Rockwell and Tom Woods discuss Muray Rothbard, his life, writings, students, and career.

…read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Jennifer Lawrence's Outraged Response to Nude Photo Leak Marks an End to the Era of the 'Shamed Starlet'

October 9, 2014 in Blogs

By Jessica Valenti, The Guardian

Her Vanity Fair interview is a righteous, hell-yes moment for our feminist times.


When Vanity Fair released Jennifer Lawrence’s first on-the-record response to nude photos being stolen from her phone, it was hard to suppress a celebratory fist pump into the air. The actor – livid – called the violation a “sex crime”, accused those who looked at the photos of “perpetuating a sexual offense” and added:

I didn’t tell you that you could look at my naked body.

Hell. Yes.

Lawrence’s scathing reaction – angry, offended and unapologetic – is the righteous end to an evolution of celebrity nude “scandal” responses. Where once female stars were expected to hang their head in shame for having the temerity to pose nude for themselves or lovers, now they can issue a barely-shrouded “fuck you” to a public that so gleefully consumed their humiliation.

What a difference a few years makes. In 2007, when Disney’s High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens was the victim of a nude photo leak, the then-18 year-old issued an ashamed and repentant statement, and a Disney Channel spokesperson called the pictures a “lapse in judgement” and added nastily, “We hope she’s learned a valuable lesson.” (Not to work for Disney, maybe?)

Three years ago, when a hacker got into actor Scarlett Johansson’s email and leaked nude photos of her, the first resistance to the “shamed starlet” narrative appeared. Johansson didn’t say she was sorry – which some in the media found to be a bit of a scandal – but she responded to the leaks with a sort of sexy wink: “I know my best angles”, she told Vanity Fair of the pictures she had originally sent her then-husband.

With Lawrence, though, there is no equivocation. “I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for,” she explained.

I can’t even describe to anybody what it feels like to have my naked body shot across the world like a news flash against my will. It just makes me feel like a piece of meat that’s being passed around for profit.

Just as Hudgens’s response was indicative of its time …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why the Middle East Still Doesn’t Matter

October 9, 2014 in Economics

By Justin Logan

Justin Logan

The American foreign policy elite is obsessed with the Middle East. Despite President Obama’s rhetoric about a “pivot to Asia,” the United States remains bogged down in the region, now at war in Syria in addition to Iraq. What’s most perverse about all this is that the Middle East doesn’t matter. Washington would do better to leave the region alone.

Otto von Bismarck, Nicholas Spykman or any of the other great strategists of centuries past would be puzzled at the degree of interest Western elites give to the Middle East. The region is an economic dwarf. Its combined GDP—even including oil—represents roughly 6 percent of world GDP. Its population is closer to 5 percent of world population, and its military forces are similarly unimpressive. As the iconoclastic scholar Edward Luttwak has pointed out, America’s Middle East analysts frequently fall victim to the “Mussolini syndrome” when thinking about the region, attributing “real military strength to backward societies whose populations can sustain excellent insurgencies but not modern military forces.” No Middle Eastern state can project power outside the region—not Iran, which spends about $18 billion per year on defense, and not Saudi Arabia, despite its roughly $60 billion in annual military spending.

Nonetheless, three fears have turned this small, poor, weak region into the central focus of U.S. foreign policy: oil, Israel and terrorism. Each of these concerns merits attention, but nowhere near the amount they have received over the last several decades. And certainly, none of them calls for the sort of forward-deployed interventionism both Republicans and Democrats favor.

Forget about oil, Israel and terrorism—the world’s most dysfunctional region is a waste of time.”

First, take oil. While their fears are rarely spelled out explicitly, Washington policymakers worry that regional wars or instability will threaten the ability of oil producers to get their output onto world energy markets, creating volatility, hampering economic growth and producing second- and third-order effects that send the global economy into a tailspin. Perhaps this argument is never spelled out explicitly because it’s wrong.

Oil is a fungible commodity sold on world markets. When the price of oil in one country rises, it rises in all countries—even those that have achieved the Shangri-La of “energy independence.” On the supply side, when supply decreases, price goes up and producers have an incentive to produce more oil to reap the higher profits. Combine the self-interest …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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War with Islamic State Would be Obama's Folly

October 9, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

President Barack Obama is channeling George W. Bush in launching a new Mideast war. Why is Washington involved?

The Islamic State is evil, but the organization’s raison d’etre is establishing a Middle Eastern caliphate, or quasi-state, not terrorizing Americans. In fact, grabbing territory provided the U.S. with a target for retaliation in response to any attack, something lacking with al-Qaida.

The murder of Americans and Britons captured in the region was horrid but opportunistic. Morally abominable, yes. Cause for war, no.

Washington has never had much success in fixing the Middle East. The U.S. has been bombing Iraq since 1991. The Islamic State would not exist but for America’s 2003 invasion. Saddam Hussein is dead, but so are more than 200,000 Iraqi civilians.

Washington has been battling al-Qaida since 2001. While the national organization is largely kaput, the group has spawned multiple national off-shoots.

America should leave the Islamic State to its neighbors.”

The Bush administration justifiably overthrew the Afghan Taliban as punishment for hosting al-Qaida. But 13 years of nation-building has been far less successful.

Three years ago, the Obama administration declared that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad had to go, discouraging rebel forces from negotiating with him. Since then “moderates” have lost ground. The Islamic State’s capture of the city of Raqqa created a base for attacking Iraq.

Washington joined European states in ousting Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi in the name of the Arab Spring. Today the country is in collapse. Yemen, the subject of a lengthy and heavy drone campaign, appears headed in a similar direction.

Now Washington plans to rid the world of the Islamic State.

Alas, targeting the “caliphate” removes the most important deterrent to the Islamic State attempting to stage terrorist attacks in the U.S. If the militants find their conventional ambitions frustrated by Washington, the group might switch direction and cooperate with groups such as al-Qaida. In fact, the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front called on jihadists worldwide to strike at Washington and its allies in retaliation for their “war against Islam.”

The administration almost certainly will be drawn ever deeper into the conflict. Pinprick aerial bombing won’t wipe out adherents of the Islamic State.

U.S. policy in Syria, the scene of the Islamic State’s initial success, is bound to fail. Washington had no reason to join the tragic imbroglio. Assad is a thug, but poses no threat to America, in contrast to the Islamic State.

The administration intends to step up efforts to train …read more

Source: OP-EDS