Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Story on Alternative Minimum Tax
According to today's Houston Chronicle, one million Texans will fall prey to the Nixon-era income tax "gotcha" known as the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). First of all, that number is really staggering when one considers that the state's total population -- including children and others who will not pay taxes at all -- is about 25 million.
And then there's the following little jewel of a double standard hidden between the lines of the story:
"Taxpayers subjected to this treatment may wonder whether their government has dealt fairly with them," Nina Olson, the national taxpayer advocate at the Internal Revenue Service, said in her 2006 report to Congress. "To say the least, 'gotcha' taxation is not good for taxpayers or the tax system." [bold added]This law discriminating against the wealthy has been on the books since Nixon and we're just now becoming concerned about it? Oh yeah. That's because the unspoken assumption is that it's perfectly "fair" to soak the rich.
It's a toss-up which part of the rest of this article is more disturbing to me: (1) that the Democrats are going to try to "fix" the AMT or (2) that at least until it has been fixed, it is an excruciating process to figure out for yourself whether you might get sucked into it.
The Blasphemy Challenge
I haven't looked into this much, but it was amusing to see John Kasich of Fox News get his panties into a wad during an interview with Brian Flemming of The Blasphemy Challenge.
Flemming sounds good enough in the interview and I will say that his site treats religion with the degree of respect it deserves, based on how it is transmitted to the young. (HT: David Veksler)
And speaking of religion, there is an interesting post at the Belmont Club about a book that looks worthwhile, Nick Cohen's What's Left?, whose chief strength, according to Wretchard, "lies in its portrayal of life in the Left itself". (Wretchard also calls the Left "possibly Europe's only indigenous world religion".)
He then cites the following passage:
In the early Seventies, my mother searched the supermarkets for politically reputable citrus fruit. She couldn't buy Seville oranges without indirectly subsidising General Francisco Franco, Spain's fascist dictator. Algarve oranges were no good either, because the slightly less gruesome but equally right-wing dictatorship of Antonio Salazar ruled Portugal. She boycotted the piles of Outspan from South Africa as a protest against apartheid, and although neither America nor Israel was a dictatorship, she wouldn't have Florida or Jaffa oranges in the house because she had no time for then President Richard Nixon or the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. ...The moral strictures of Islam, to which so many leftists convert, must at once seem remarkably straightforward (coming from a book) and feel remarkably at home (considering that, being essentially arbitrary, they have no bearing on keeping oneself alive) to people who grew up like this.
Thirty years later, I picked up my mother from my sister Natalie's house. Her children were watching a Disney film; The Jungle Book, I think. 'It's funny, Mum,' I said as we drove home, 'but I don't remember seeing any Disney when I was their age.' 'You've only just noticed? We didn't let you watch rubbish from Hollywood corporations.' ...
I come from a land where you can sell out by buying a comic. I come from the left. ...
I still remember the sense of dislocation I felt at 13 when my English teacher told me he voted Conservative. As his announcement coincided with the shock of puberty, I was unlikely to forget it. I must have understood at some level that real Conservatives lived in Britain - there was a Conservative government at the time, so logic dictated that there had to be Conservative voters. But it was incredible to learn that my teacher was one of them, when he gave every appearance of being a thoughtful and kind man. [bold added]
Transcript of "Understanding Objectivism"?
I don't think I have, but if I have blogged this before, it bears blogging again. I like Software Nerd's idea of creating a transcript of the "Understanding Objectivism" course.
Alexander Marriott's New Book
Alexander Marriott is still kicking. "Contrary to reports, rumors of my blogging demise were premature. I have put together a new book of (mainly) historical essays covering a wide range of topics." He includes a Table of Contents at his blog. He is also working on a piece about reaction to Saddam Hussein's execution.
Eminent Domain Debate at The Objective Standard
Craig Biddle via email:
The audio of a remarkable debate, Eminent Domain: To Preserve or To Abolish, between Jeffrey A. Finkle and Yaron Brook, is now available at the website of TOS. The audio is free and accessible to all. Click here to listen now. [This is the permalink. --ed]-- CAV
Eminent Domain: To Preserve or To Abolish
Jeffrey A. Finkle vs. Yaron Brook
The Issues: In the wake of the controversial Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London, some legislators are moving to place limits on the government's power to seize citizens' property for use by private enterprises. Is it appropriate under certain circumstances for the government to use eminent domain for the purpose of transferring a citizen's property to a private business -- or is this practice wrong in principle? Moreover, while the government is constitutionally authorized to take citizens' property for "public use," the question remains: Is this policy moral -- and is it practical?
Does the government have a moral right to take citizens' property under certain conditions -- or do citizens have an absolute right to their personal property? Does robust economic development require the occasional use of eminent domain -- or would economic progress be greater if property rights were upheld as truly inalienable? What are the moral issues involved in eminent domain? What are the practical issues? Are the moral and the practical necessarily at odds -- or can they be reconciled? Mr. Finkle and Dr. Brook will present the facts in support of their respective positions.
The Debaters: Mr. Finkle became the president and CEO of the International Economic Development Council in August 2001, following IEDC's birth through the merger of the Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED) with the American Economic Development Council (AEDC). Prior to the merger, Finkle served for 15 years as president and CEO of CUED. During that time, he oversaw the vast expansion of that organization's membership and influence, as well as strengthening its financial footing. Dr. Brook is the president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. As a recognized expert on Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, Dr. Brook has been interviewed extensively by the print, radio and television media for the Objectivist position on current events. Among his recent interviews have been appearances on Talk Back Live (CNN), Your World with Neil Cavuto (Fox News Channel), The O'Reilly Factor (Fox News Channel) and Closing Bell and On the Money (CNBC).
1-31-2007: (1) Added hyperlink for What's Left?. (2) Added permalink to debate. (HT: Andy)