Monday, April 4, 2011

The Laffer Curve

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute explains why cutting taxes increases revenue to the treasury and raising taxes actually reduces revenue. Every voter ought to be familiar with the basic idea behind this because it forms the Republican rationale for not wanting to raise taxes:
Despite this economic fact of life the Democrats had to be brought kicking and screaming to extending the Bush tax cuts last winter. They wanted to raise the rates on the "wealthiest Americans" beyond point B which would have stifled growth and produced less revenue.

Why did they want to do that? Either they don't know about the Laffer curve, or they don't believe the Laffer Curve, or Mitchell's rendering of it, is an economic "fact of life", or they so despise the rich that they want to punish them regardless of the effect it has on job growth and revenue. Whichever it is, before they try again to raise taxes they ought to explain to us which of those three alternatives applies to them.

Thanks to Big Government for the video.

How to Silence the Doubters

F. Owen Smith is an OB/GYN and thus knows whereof he writes. He offers us a satirical rendering of what the President could do to end the "Birther" issue once and for all. Unfortunately, despite it's simplicity, he doesn't think POTUS will go for it, but I don't why not (unless Dr. Smith is right).

Assuming that he's not, it's a mystery why Mr. Obama doesn't put these doubts behind him, especially if there's an easy way to do it, nor do I understand why his supporters seem so contemptuous of anyone who raises the issue. It seems to me that their anger should be directed at the President for allowing this distraction to persist and not laying it permanently to rest.

A significant number of people have serious doubts about Mr. Obama's account of his birth and the number continues to grow the longer the question remains unanswered. Perhaps he'll address it in the 2012 campaign, or perhaps the media will force him to produce dispositive evidence that the truth is as he claims it to be.

Well, okay, forget the part about the media.

Blaming the Wrong Person

The Sunday talk shows yesterday from Fox News Sunday to NBC's Meet the Press were filled with severe condemnations of the Florida pastor who burned the Koran in order to show that the book promotes violence. There seemed to be wide agreement that his act was irresponsible and that Pastor Jones bears at least some of the onus for the deaths of U.N. workers at the hands of an angry mob of Afghan Muslims.

This is nonsense. Yes, the Koran-burning was insensitive, and offensive to Muslims, but it makes no more sense to blame the pastor for the murders committed by this mob than to blame the Danish cartoonist who drew a picture of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban for the murders committed by a mob of Muslims outraged by that depiction.

What those who blame the pastor and the cartoonist are doing is allowing violent people to veto our right to speak in accents of which they disapprove. What's next? Suppose mobs of Muslims are incensed by criticism of Islam, the Koran, or the Prophet. Suppose innocents are murdered around the world every time someone in the West speaks censoriously of any of these. Would it then be irresponsible to criticize Islam and the objects of its veneration? Should we just consider anything other than praise for Islam off-limits because Muslims might kill people if someone criticizes or ridicules them? Should this immunity from criticism be extended to all religions or just those whose members might be expected to react violently?

James Joyner at Outside the Beltway sums it up like this:
Should Jones have burned the Koran? No. But not because doing so might incite some evil people halfway around the world to commit atrocities against innocents. Rather, he shouldn’t have done it [because it] was needlessly hurtful without adding any value to the debate. Indeed, aside from generating publicity for himself, he’s likely generated sympathy for Islam and disdain for churches of his ilk.

But Jones is not the slightest bit culpable for the actions of others. Yes, he was warned that violence might ensue. But we’re not responsible for the evil, illegal actions others might take in response to our freely expressing our thoughts. Even if they’re ill-informed, half baked, bigoted thoughts. If we allow the possible reaction of the most dogmatic, evil people who might hear the message to govern our expression, we don’t have freedom at all. It’s worse than a heckler’s veto; it’s a murderer’s veto.
Suppose an obscure imam in Afghanistan claimed that Jesus wasn't really divine and to show his disdain for Christianity he desecrated a copy of the Gospel of John. Can anyone imagine a mob of Christians, instigated by their pastors and priests, rampaging through Detroit killing every Arab they could find? The thought is preposterous, but suppose it happened. Would anyone in the government or military of the United States blame anyone but the mob itself and the clerics who encouraged them for the atrocities? Would the members of the mob not be treated like a bunch of savage Neanderthals worthy only of their countrymen's contempt? So why did we hear General Petraeus, and Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham on Sunday blaming Pastor Jones for the murders of the U.N. workers?

We have a prima facie obligation, in my opinion, to treat what is sacred to others with a modicum of respect. We shouldn't go out of our way to insult or offend other people, but we must not allow those who threaten violence if we don't treat their beliefs with the degree of deference they demand to take away our freedom of speech or our right to criticize. Once we do we will have lost something very precious.