Thursday, September 22, 2011

Palestinian Statehood

The Palestinians are at the U.N. petitioning that body to permit them to join, in essence declaring them a de facto state. Heretofore, all parties, even the Palestinians, were committed to achieving statehood through negotiations with Israel which has final say over the disposition of the land the Palestinians live on, but negotiations have not been productive and the Palestinians are losing patience. So what's the hang up?

The Palestinians could have peace any time they wish and probably a state, too, if they acknowledged Israel's right to exist and practiced rhetorical, religious and military co-existence. One has a right to question the motives and trustworthiness of people who claim they want peace, while sponsoring terror attacks, both in word and deed, against Israel.

One has to ask whose fault is it that the Palestinians don't have a state of their own. The Israelis offered the Palestinians their own state in 2000. They were willing to hand over to the Palestinians 97% of the land they had conquered in the 1967 war. This wasn't enough, however, to satisfy the Palestinians so they unleashed a wave of terror against Israeli citizens.

Today vast stretches of land are available throughout the Arab world, but no Arab country will give any of it to the Palestinians. Why not? Why won't Arab countries take in their Palestinian brothers just as Israel has taken in Jews (and Arabs) from all over the world?

The land in the West Bank and Gaza could become a Palestinian state, but Israel is rightly reluctant to grant such status to people who refuse to acknowledge their very right to exist.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath said Wednesday that "The UN is the only alternative to violence. Our new heroes are Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King."

If the Palestinians really want to live in peace with their neighbors, if Ghandi, Mandela, and King really are their heroes, why won't they take the simple step of acknowledging Israel's fundamental right to exist? Why should anyone not think that their intransigence on this point is because they see statehood as just another step toward the destruction of Israel as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared just the other day? Why should Israel make concessions to people who daily fire rockets at Israeli civilians?

Until the Palestinians stop their terror attacks on Israel and until they affirm Israel's right to exist no one should feel any obligation to help them achieve their aspirations.


AP has done a little fact-checking on Mr. Obama's recent speeches touting his "Jobs bill". It turns out that Mr. Obama's dictionary apparently has a very expansive definition of "truth":
President Barack Obama makes it sound as if there are millionaires all over America paying taxes at lower rates than their secretaries. "Middle-class families shouldn't pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires," Obama said Monday. "That's pretty straightforward. It's hard to argue against that."

The data tell a different story. On average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.

There may be individual millionaires who pay taxes at rates lower than middle-income workers. In 2009, 1,470 households filed tax returns with incomes above $1 million yet paid no federal income tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service. That, however, was less than 1 percent of the nearly 237,000 returns with incomes above $1 million.

This year, households making more than $1 million will pay an average of 29.1 percent of their income in federal taxes, including income taxes and payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank.

Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent of their income in federal taxes.

Lower-income households will pay less. For example, households making between $40,000 and $50,000 will pay an average of 12.5 percent of their income in federal taxes. Households making between $20,000 and $30,000 will pay 5.7 percent.

Obama's claim hinges on the fact that, for high-income families and individuals, investment income is often taxed at a lower rate than wages. The top tax rate for dividends and capital gains is 15 percent. The top marginal tax rate for wages is 35 percent, though that is reserved for taxable income above $379,150.
In other words, if the president plans to squeeze significant revenue from the rich, who derive most of their income from investments, he'd have to raise the capital gains tax, but this would be very foolish. It would punish the very entrepreneurship, business investment, and job creation that he says he wants to encourage.

Either the president doesn't know any of the foregoing, in which case he has no business being in the Oval Office, or he knows it but is trying to mislead the American people into resenting the rich for not paying "their fair share", in which case ditto.