URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]
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  • We'll get to our Amazon Product du Jour momentarily, but first this question from Jacob Sullum at Reason: Why Is the CDC Still Fostering Potentially Deadly Confusion About Vaping and Lung Disease?.

    Media outlets, following the lead of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continue to blame recent cases of severe respiratory illnesses among vapers on "vaping" and "e-cigarettes" in general, falsely implying a link to legal nicotine products. This misinformation is fostering public confusion that may lead to more disease and death, both from smoking and from the black-market products that have been implicated in the lung disease cases.

    Based on the available information, the overwhelming majority of patients with respiratory illnesses had used black-market cannabis products. While a small percentage of patients say they vaped only nicotine, they may be reluctant to admit illegal drug use, and they may not know what they actually vaped if they purchased cartridges on the black market. If nicotine products are involved in any of these cases, it is almost certainly because of additives or contaminants in counterfeit cartridges or e-fluid, since legal e-cigarettes have been in wide use for years without reports like these.

    To repeat: an official agency of Your Federal Government is sowing potentially deadly confusion. ("What, again?!")

  • At Econlog, David Henderson notes the sweet-sounding proposal from the Marianne Williamson campaign: "I believe the United States should institute a program whereby every American citizen between the age of 18 and 26 can perform one year of National Service." Good news, David says: Marianne Williamson Gets Her Way and Doesn't Realize It.

    Guess what? The United States already has such a program. It’s called freedom. Every American citizen who’s not in prison is now free to perform one year, or half a year, or two years, or ten years of “National Service.” Many are already doing so. When I went to a McDonald’s for breakfast in San Francisco this morning, someone served me. When I went with my my friend Charley Hooper for dinner in San Francisco last night, someone served us. In both cases, they did it with a smile and they were paid and, in the case of the dinner, with a nice tip on top.

    I can imagine the objection: But… but… but… that's not the same thing!

    Exactly. Funded by voluntary transactions instead of mandatory taxation; performing services that people actually want, instead of what government decides they must have; developing skills useful in the marketplace, instead of government dependence.

  • But the big news—and this is why you might want to purchase our Amazon Product du Jour—is described by Mairead McArdle at National Review: Bernie Sanders' Wealth Tax -- Senator Calls for 'National Wealth Registry' to Enforce New Tax.

    Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders on Tuesday rolled out his plan to levy an “extreme wealth tax” on millionaires and billionaires, which he plans to enforce through the creation of a “national wealth registry.”

    “Today, the United States has more income and wealth inequality than almost any major country on Earth, and it is worse now than at any time since the 1920s,” Sanders said in his proposal.

    Sanders’ annual tax on the top 0.1 percent would apply to Americans with a net worth of over $32 million, or about 180,000 households, and would raise approximately $4.35 trillion over the next decade, the Sanders campaign estimates.

    It's time for me once again to tediously point out:

Swimming in his Money Bin

    • Sanders/Warren-style socialist demagogues would like you to imagine that the rich people they target have their wealth in a Scrooge McDuck-style money bin. All you have to do is scrape x% off the top of that! (Warren probably knows better; Sanders, I'm not so sure.)
    • In reality, rich people own stuff: houses, buildings, land, stocks, bonds, companies, patents, copyrights, jewelry, artwork, planes, trains, automobiles…
    • And the only objective measure of what that stuff is worth is what you can sell it for.
    • But what you can sell it for is danged slippery; first, if all property is subject to arbitrary Bernie/Liz expropriation, it's no longer a reliable store of value. Meaning it's worth significantly less.
    • And if you have to sell stuff to meet your Bernie/Liz tax obligation, you're selling into a buyer's market; nobody especially wants your hot-potato Monet, when they'll just have to sell it next year to meet their tax obligation. Unless you offer fire-sale pricing. Another markdown of your "wealth".
    • So the first-order effect of a Sanders/Warren wealth tax would be to destroy a significant fraction of American wealth before the IRS even gets to it.

    It's a stupid, evil idea. Probably unconstitutional too.

  • At Cato, Chris Edwards analyzes Bernie's Wealth Tax more closely. Here's a detail Liz and Bernie should be asked, especially while in Iowa:

    Reporters should ask Warren and Sanders whether farmland would be taxed under their plans. Obviously, the farm lobby would never let that happen, thus blowing a hole in theoretical wealth tax revenues. If a wealth tax were imposed, there would be a massive flow of money into tax-exempt farmland, which in turn would wreak havoc on the farming industry. Rich people would jack up their borrowing to shrink their net wealth tax bases, and then proceed to purchase much of Kansas.

    Can you make that argument effectively, when it requires people to follow 80 words or so?

  • At his blog, Greg Mankiw notes another feature (and a significant difference between the Sanders and Warren proposals): The Trophy Wife Tax Credit.

    As I have pointed out, ElizabethWarren's wealth tax, as described, involves a substantial marriage penalty. Now Bernie Sanders comes along with his own wealth tax proposal. He solves the marriage penalty problem by halving the thresholds for singles.  This approach introduces the opposite problem--a marriage bonus.

    As I understand the plan, if a single man is worth $30 million, he pays $140,000 per year under the Sanders wealth tax. If he marries his assistant, who has a wealth of less than $2 million, their tax liability falls to zero.

    For a single man with higher wealth, the marriage bonus is even larger. Under the Sanders plan, for someone worth $100 million, marriage reduces the tax liability by $410,000 per year.

    Put another way, this plan can be viewed as imposing a tax on widows and widowers. A married couple worth $30 million does not pay anything. When one spouse dies, the surviving spouse then owes $140,000 per year.

    I'm imagining an episode of Duck Tales where Scrooge needs to find a suitably poor bride.

  • And finally our Google LFOD News Alert rang for the Houston Chronicle's enthusiastic plug for Thelma And The Sleaze.

    Thelma and the Sleaze is based in Nashville and their leader, LG started the band after her previous group, the Trampskirts disbanded. LG has made it her mission to create authentic, all female, queer, southern rock. She has succeeded in creating a sound and aesthetic that will chew you up and spit you out and most importantly, feels real.

    They are playing tonight at Houston's Continental Club! Unfortunately, our PG-13 policy prevents us from mentioning the title of Thelma's new album.

    But LFOD? Ah, there 'tis:

    In her true live free or die fashion she adds, “I want my story to be, here’s a girl who has worked really hard, written some good songs, stuck to her guns and never compromised.”

    It's nice to see LFOD invoked with unbridled admiration.

Last Modified 2024-01-23 3:33 PM EDT