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Archive for December, 2011

Mark Twain famously observed that, “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”

That’s a generalization, of course, but one that makes a lot of sense. Especially since I’ve written about the sleazy practice of swapping earmarks for campaign cash and also about the revolving door between Capitol Hill and the lobbying community.

Indeed, the culture of legal corruption in Washington is so pervasive that even the New York Times had to give credit to Sarah Palin for making it an issue.

Another sign of sleaze in DC is the degree to which politicians manage to get wealthier while in office.

In other words, how is it that some politicians come to Washington with modest amounts of wealth and somehow become multimillionaires? Especially when they are getting richer while the rest of the nation is treading water – even though we know they are some of the nation’s least competent people?

Here’s part of what the Washington Examiner has to say about this phenomenon.

According to an analysis by the Washington Post of congressional financial disclosure data for the period of 1984 to 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House of Representatives, excluding home equity, more than doubled. Over the same period, according to the Post, the wealth of an average American family declined slightly. The Post paints the growing wealth gap between Congress and average Americans as reflecting rising income inequality more generally. But that’s a tough sell in view of other data released yesterday. The New York Times reported that while the median net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans remained essentially flat from 2004 through 2010, the median net worth of members of Congress rose by 15 percent over that same period. …Why are members of Congress not getting rich? Hoover Institution Fellow Peter Schweizer addressed this question in his recent book, “Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison”. It’s not rising congressional pay because congressional pay has actually fallen in inflation-adjusted dollars over the last 25 years. Members of Congress are getting richer because so many of them are masterful manipulators of their perks and positions in government. For many, that means making lucrative stock deals based on insider information or participation in special Initial Public Offerings. Or it can mean securing an earmark to build a road that doubles the value of a recently purchased piece of property. In short, wealth can come from having the inside connections, specialized information and privileged access that only comes with being a senator or representative.

There are two conclusions to draw from this analysis. The obvious lesson is that big government breeds corruption and illegitimate wealth. Simply stated, politicians wouldn’t be able to accumulate so much unearned riches if government didn’t have so much power and control over the economy.

The second lesson is less obvious, but perhaps more important. As I’ve noted before, perhaps one of the reasons why politicians despise “the rich” and favor confiscatory taxes is that they generalize from their own experiences (as well as from their relationships with powerful special interests) and assume all wealth is obtained immorally.

Indeed, I’ve been mulling this over and think I need to augment Mitchell’s Law and Mitchell’s Golden Rule with something like Mitchell’s Inverse Corollary of Taxation and Illegitimate Wealth. But that’s too wordy, so I’ll have to keep thinking about it.

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I’ve written a few times about the importance of self defense.

And I’m definitely a fan of self reliance.

So kudos to Mr. Mothershead, a true American.

I especially love his quote: “If he wants money, get a job. Work, like everybody else in this world.”

In the spirit of fairness, though, we should say something nice about the crook.

Maybe Mr. Hendy is an efficient liberal who wanted to take something that didn’t belong to him, but figured there was no need to use the government as middleman.

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I’ve written before about whether California is the Greece of America, in part because of crazy policies such as overpaid bureaucrats and expensive forms of political correctness,

And we all know that California has one of the nation’s greediest governments, imposing confiscatory tax rates on a shrinking pool of productive citizens.

So it is hardly surprising that the Golden State is falling behind, losing jobs and investment to more sensible states such as Texas.

But not everybody is learning the right lessons from California’s fiscal and economic mess.

There’s a group of crazies who want to increase the top tax rate by five percentage points, an increase of about 50 percent. And they have made Kim Kardashian the poster child for their proposed ballot initiative.

I’m relatively clueless about popular culture, but even I’m aware that there is a group of people know as the Kardashian sisters. I don’t know who they are or what they do, but I gather they are famous in sort of the same way Paris Hilton was briefly famous.

And they have cashed in on their popularity, which may not reflect well on the tastes of the American people, but it’s not my job to tell other people how to spend their money.

But not everybody share this live-and-let-live attitude, which is why the pro-tax crowd in California produced this video.

I suppose I could criticize the petty dishonesty of the proponents, since they deliberately blurred of the difference between “tax rates” and “taxes paid.”

Or I could expose their economic illiteracy by pointing out that higher tax rates would accelerate the emigration of investors, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and other rich taxpayers to zero-tax states such as Nevada.

But I won’t do those things. Instead, like the Nevada Realtors Association and Arizona Business Relocation Department, I’m going to support this ballot initiative.

Not because I overdid the rum and eggnog at Christmas, but because it’s good to have negative role models, whether they are countries like Greece, cities such as Detroit, or states like California.

So here’s my challenge to the looters and moochers of the Golden State. Don’t just boost the top tax rate by five-percentage points. That’s not nearly enough. Go for a 20 percent top tax rate. Or 25 percent. After all, think of all the special interests that could use the money more than Ms. Kardashian.

And if somebody tells you that she will move to South Beach or Las Vegas, or that the other rich people will move to Texas, Wyoming, or Tennessee, just ignore them. Remember, it’s good intentions that count.

In closing, I apologize to the dwindling crowd of productive people in California. It’s rather unfortunate that you’re part of this statist experiment. But you know what they say about eggs and omelets.

By the way, here’s some humor about the Golden State, including a joke about the bloated bureaucracy and a comparison with Texas.

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Welcome Instapundit readers. If you want to know why rich liberals are not just hypocrites, but also wrong, read this post that tries to teach President Obama about the Laffer Curve.

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I’ve written before about how some leftists have a masochistic desire to pay higher taxes.

I’ve also exposed Warren Buffett’s dishonest math, which is part of his campaign for bigger government.

And I’ve even debated rich statists on TV, telling them not to make the rest of us victims of their neurotic guilt feelings.

So it was with considerable amusement that I saw this video clip from the Daily Caller, exposing the utter hypocrisy of rich leftists.

By the way, you may recognize Michelle Fields because she narrated this video on how bad government policies such as the New Deal made the Great Depression worse.

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Here’s my politically correct Christmas greeting from last year, and here’s the PC version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas that I posted this year.

But what about politically incorrect humor?

Okay, even though Christmas already has passed, you’ve twisted my arm.

We’ll start with some Christmas music from Achmed the Dead Terrorist.

And here’s Larry the Cable Guy, with some more Christmas carols.

But if you prefer to be PC rather than un-PC, here’s a great Jay Leno joke about terrorism during the Christmas holiday season.

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Chuck Asay is a superb cartoonist, and he produced one of my all-time favorites, capturing the negative impact of big government.

But this one is quite appropriate for today.

And if you like that cartoon, you may want to check out this one and these two.

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Overseas Americans are not exactly happy that federal law is making their lives so miserable, so I’m not surprised that they seem to be the ones who put together this great parody.

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U.S. Federal agents arrested Santa Claus earlier today at the North Pole.

Composite Sketch of Suspect

The United States Department of Fish and Wildlife has arrested Santa Claus, an elusive figure with many aliases (e.g., St. Nicholas).  On the morning of 24 December, 150 heavily armed Fish and Wildlife special agents raided Claus’ North Pole compound, seized several tons of exotic woods forbidden by the Lacey Act, arrested Santa Claus and a female accomplice identified only as Mrs. Claus, and liberated thousands of diminutive slave labourers known only as “Elves”.

Claus has been charged with multiple counts of money laundering, illegal exportation of currency, illegally importing into the United States toys made of contraband–rare woods, ivory and other banned substances.  He has also been charged with violations of slave labor and child labor laws, hundreds of patent and trademark violations, and illegally entering and exiting the United States.

Indeed, Fish and Wildlife agents also seized an unidentified aircraft called a “sleigh” which had numerous secret compartments holding the contraband.   Fish and Wildlife agents charged Mr. Claus with animal cruelty with regard to the caribou that he used to launch this “sleigh”.

Agent Smith

Special Agent Hugo Smith said, “We arrived just in the nick of time.  A moment later, and the caribou would have launched the sleigh and Claus would have escaped with the illegal materials.  By now, he would be in the United States, breaking into people’s houses and selling this stuff.”

The United States Department of Immigration and the Internal Revenue Service have also had their eyes on Mr. Claus.  An immigration official who also attended the raid said that they were able to obtain several dozen passports.  He said, “It seems that this Santa Claus character has a different name in every country–his EU passport says, ‘Father Christmas’ and his Canadian passport says, ‘Père Noël’.  We have, however, determined with certainty that Santa Claus is a United States citizen.”

Apparently Claus worked in Hollywood during the 1940s and 50s making autobiographical films, such as Miracle on 34th Street.  During that time he applied for and received  U.S. citizenship.

Douglas Shulman, Commissioner of the IRS, has released the following statement:

IRS Commissioner

At long last, the notorious tax cheat, Santa Claus, has been apprehended.  He has been living in a foreign country for the last 50 years and during that time he has not filed his US taxes even once.  It has become clear, however, that he has run a lucrative business at the North Pole and has never reported any of the income.  In addition to criminal tax evasion, we intend to charge Santa Claus with 190 counts of criminal failure to file Foreign Bank Account Reports (FBAR), as we found evidence in his papers that he is operating or has signing authority on bank accounts in 190 different countries.  It is our contention that the fines alone could help us bring billions in revenue into the United States government.

Pleased to Nab a Tax Cheat

According to United States law, all United States Citizens are required to pay taxes to the IRS and to report any foreign bank accounts.  Failure to obey these filing requirements may result in civil and criminal penalties including imprisonment.

The Obama administration declared that they were very pleased with the news..  ”It is about time,” Obama said from his Hawaiian retreat, “that the United States returned those who have fled the country just because they don’t feel like paying their fair share anymore.”

The Republican candidate for president, Ron Paul criticized the raid, “The United States has neither the authority nor the right to go into another country and enforce its laws.  Santa Claus is a citizen of the North Pole and it is overreach for us to go there and arrest him.”

Also running for president, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich responded to Paul, “The United States must reserve the right to arrest terrorists and to violate the rule of law in order to provide safety for the People of the United States.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada said that his government did everything that they could to help the United States, even to the point of allowing the use of Canadian air space.  ”We are cooperating with the good faith efforts of the United States to eliminate terrorists in order to maintain the safety and security of all Canadians.”

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Kudos for whoever put this together, but remember that there is a big component of truth in this satirical piece. More than anyone else, overseas Americans suffer because of bad U.S. laws.

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