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Archive for January 8th, 2012

I keep getting requests to reprint this joke. And since we’ve been mocking Illinois in recent days, I’m reprinting the joke with a slight modification.

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…..And the Lord spoke to Noah and said:

“In one year, I am going to make it rain and cover the whole earth with water until all flesh is destroyed, but I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on earth. Therefore, I am commanding you to build an Ark.”

In a flash of lightning God delivered the specifications for an Ark. In fear and trembling, Noah took the plans and agreed to build the ark.

Remember,” said the Lord: “You must complete the Ark and bring everything aboard in one year.”

Exactly one year later, fierce storm clouds covered the earth and all the seas of the earth went into a tumult. The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard weeping

“Noah,” He shouted

“Where is the Ark?”

“Lord, please forgive me,” cried Noah. “I did my best, but there were big problems: First, I had to get a permit for construction, and your plans did not meet the Chicago codes. I had to hire an engineering firm and redraw the plans.

Then I got into a fight with OSHA over whether or not the Ark needed a sprinkler system and approved floatation devices. Then, my neighbor objected, claiming I was violating zoning ordinances by building the Ark in my front yard, so I had to get a variance from the Chicago planning commission. Then, I had problems getting enough wood for the Ark because there was a ban on cutting trees to protect the Spotted Owl…and finally convinced the U. S. Forest Service that I really needed the wood to save the owls. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service won’t let me catch any owls, so, no owls.” The carpenters formed a union and went on strike. I had to negotiate a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board before anyone would pick up a saw or hammer. Now, I have 16 carpenters on the Ark, but still no owls. When I started rounding up the other animals, an animal rights group sued me. They objected to me taking only two of each kind aboard.

Just when I got the suit dismissed, the EPA notified me that I could not complete the Ark without filing an environmental impact statement on your proposed flood. They didn’t take very kindly to the idea that they had no jurisdiction over the conduct of the Creator of the Universe. Then, the Army Corps of Engineers demanded a map of the proposed new flood plain…. I sent them a globe.

Right now, I am trying to resolve a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that I am practicing discrimination by not taking godless, unbelieving people aboard. The IRS has seized my assets, claiming that I’m building the Ark in preparation to flee the country and not pay taxes. I just got a notice from the state of Illinois that I owe them some kind of user tax and failed to register the Ark as a “recreational water craft.” And finally, the ACLU got the courts to issue an injunction against further construction of the Ark, saying that since God is flooding the earth, it’s a religious event, and, therefore, UNCONSTITUTIONAL. I really don’t think I can finish the Ark for another five or six years.”

Noah waited…

The sky began to clear, the sun began to shine, and the seas began to calm. A rainbow arched across the sky. Noah looked up hopefully.

“You mean you’re not going to destroy the earth, Lord?”

“No,” He said sadly.”

“I don’t have to. The government already has.”

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By, the way, here’s a link to the other joke that gets a lot of repeat requests.

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Austan Goolsbee, the former Chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, has a column in the Wall Street Journal that argues government spending isn’t too high.

That’s obviously a silly assertion, as I explain here, here, and here, but I want to focus on what he wrote about tax revenues.

Here’s the relevant passage from his column.

The true fiscal challenge is 10, 20 and 30 years down the road. An aging population and rising health-care costs mean that spending will rise again and imply a larger size of government than we have ever had but with all the growth coming from entitlements—while projected federal revenues as a percentage of GDP after the rate cuts of the 2000s will likely remain below even historic levels of 18%.

He’s right that the main problem is in the future. As I’ve noted before, America is doomed to become Greece because of rising entitlement spending.

But he’s completely wrong when he implies that the problem is because taxes will stay below the long-run average of 18 percent of economic output. Here’s a chart I posted last year showing that tax receipts will soon rise above the long-tun average – even if the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are made permanent. And these numbers are from the left-of-center Congressional Budget Office.

It’s rather shocking that a former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers isn’t aware of this CBO data. Or, if he is aware of the data, it’s unseemly that he would deliberately mislead readers.

But let’s set aside any discussion of why Goolsbee made such a fatuous claim about revenue. What really matters is that this is a debate about fiscal policy and the size of government.

The folks on the left want to convince us that inadequate revenue is causing deficits, both in the short run and long run.

We can see that they’re wrong in the short run.

But what’s especially remarkable is that they are wildly wrong about the future.  The long-run data from the Congressional Budget Office shows that the federal tax burden over the next 70-plus years will jump to more than 30 percent of GDP.

This CBO baseline data assumes the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire, so it exaggerates the increase in the future tax burden compared to current policy. But even if you correct for this assumption and reduce tax receipts by about 2-percentage points  of GDP (and presumably even more than that in the long run), it’s clear that the tax burden will be far above the historical average of 18 percent of GDP.

It’s easy to understand why Goolsbee ignores this data. After all, why report on information that completely debunks the left-wing argument about the supposed need to increase the tax burden.

But this isn’t the first time Goolsbee’s been wrong about tax policy. Let’s dig into the 2010 archives and share this video, which takes apart his arguments for class-warfare tax policy.

So what’s the bottom line? Well, we know Goolsbee and other leftists are being deceptive about taxation.

But my main takeaway is that I wish the left would be honest and admit that taxes already are projected to increase. And I’d like them to level with the American people and admit that they want the tax burden to climb even faster because they want government to get even bigger.

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