Quick Roundup 183

Monday, April 30, 2007

An Interesting Lawsuit

The Saturday edition of the Houston Chronicle ran a story from the New York Times about "sexism" in garment taxes.

Congress, it turns out, plays fashion favorites.

Take bathing suits. It slaps a 28 percent tax on men's imports, but just 12 percent on women's.

Or overalls. The government imposes a 14 percent tariff on women’s, but only 9 percent on men's.

Woven wool shirts? Men’s are hit with an 18 percent duty, more than twice as much as women's.

There is no apparent pattern to the tariffs, which penalize men in some instances, and women in others. But the fees tacked onto clothing, shoes and swimwear as they enter the country’s ports may be the last legal form of sex discrimination in the United States, approved year after year by lawmakers and passed on to consumers.

For decades, apparel companies have grudgingly tolerated the peculiar disparities, writing them off as a vestige of smoke-filled, backroom trade negotiations.
I just love how eager Michael Barbaro is to find evidence of what I am surprised he didn't call "institutionalized sexism". His whole basis for claiming that "sexism" is at work is the fact that different tariffs exist for men's and women's clothing -- despite there being "no apparent pattern" of bias.

Be that as it may, I find the lawsuit interesting because of the fact that it might backfire and what a definitive ruling either way might mean:
There is a chance, however slim, that the case could backfire if the government chooses to eliminate sex differences by raising the lower tariffs, rather than reducing the higher ones.
My first impulse was to think, "That would serve them right." After all, why quibble over a case of legalized sexual discrimination (whose existence is debatable at best) while ignoring the real problem -- that taxation is a legalized form of slavery? Why not work to make the whole economy more capitalistic rather than to eke out a reprieve from an especially irrational tax code?

But regardless of its outcome, one thing this lawsuit could conceivably do is set a precedent in favor of uniform taxation rates which, if it does, might also apply to our convoluted income tax code. The short-term effects of, say, the feds having to move to a flat tax, would probably harm our economy in the short-term, as major producers (a.k.a., "the rich") would probably lose much more of their incomes than they do now. However, this might be just the sort of thing to cause them to become more interested in reigning in the welfare state than they are now.

But that's probably too optimistic, given the level of political discourse in our culture today. As the article shows, the alleged "rights" of groups are the focus while individual rights are ignored. Furthermore, I am sure that so long as some altruistic purpose is served, there will be no shortage of rationalizations made for any form of unequal treatment under the tax codes that favors those "in need".

"Taking Back" the Weather

Mike N has a post on a global warming PR campaign that would seem too ridiculous to be true -- except for the fact that it's all about global warming and all "for the children".
On Monday April 23rd the Detroit News carried an article titled "Warning Signs" in which a mom claims she got tired of having to explain to her 4yr old why there was no snow on which to go sledding. So the mom put up 5 giant billboards around Detroit with the picture of a child and the words "If not for you, then for them. Take back the weather."
Yeah. Like we ever had the weather or could "take it back".

He has also posted a good roundup that included a couple of things I was ready to pass on here, so don't miss it.

"Taking Back" an Indecent Proposal

The above reminds me....

Apparently, Sheryl Crow was -- retroactively or not -- "joking" when she recently proposed that we regulate how much bathroom tissue people use as a measure to combat "global warming" (i.e., capitalism).

The fact that so many people -- including fellow "retroactive jokester" Rosie O'Donnell -- thought she was serious is no indication of gullibility on anyone's part. Scare tactics such as those used in Al Gore's An inconvenient Truth and such absurdity as the famous New York couple who are living for a year "without toilet paper" were more than just a big set-up for Crow's elaborate "hoax": They indicate just how much the environmentalists want to deprive us of our modern standard of living. In this context, there was no reason not to take Crow seriously, and she knows this.

The real joke here is on anyone who falls for this "retraction". We should be talking about global warming hysteria, and not for the reasons that Crow would want us to.

The problem is socialism -- not immigration.

I ran into an article this weekend about Mexican schoolchildren who cross the border in El Paso on a daily basis in order to attend the superior public schools there.

The article mentions a common complaint: that Americans are being taxed to provide educations for Mexicans. This is a fine example of a problem that would completely evaporate were Americans to demand an end to government confiscation of their money and government meddling in the education sector.

I doubt anyone would complain if these throngs of Mexican children were paying customers of American schools. Nor would we need to devote as much of our valuable law enforcement resources to the matter of enforcing school district residency requirements, which are easily circumvented anyway.

Jackson to March in New Orleans

Pursuant to my recent post on the lack of self-reliance of New Orleanians that has been evident ever since Hurricane Katrina, Doc MacDonald points to a story on the rabble-rousing Jesse Jackson's latest demand that New Orleans be rebuilt.

I found the following turn of phrase to be particularly amusing: "Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, will be 'Marching to New Orleans' this week to help demand rebuilding New Orleans homes in neglected areas." [my bold]

To help demand?!?!?! As if begging is too hard for one man to accomplish and it takes a team effort! And then there's "neglected areas".

Neglected? By whom? Hint: You won't find them anywhere near New Orleans, and they wouldn't know one end of a hammer from another.

-- CAV


Jennifer Snow said...

"However, this might be just the sort of thing to cause them to become more interested in reigning in the welfare state than they are now."

That's an interesting, perhaps even Freudian word-misuse there, Gus . . . the entrenched wealthy are certainly interested in "reigning" in the welfare state . . . but I'd be happier if they *reined* it in.

Gus Van Horn said...


I've made that mistake before, which is what really frustrates me!

Of course, given what Brad Thompson has pointed out about conservatives lately, and knowing that many successful capitalists do not really understand capitalism, it seems that I have accidentally made a very profound point!

I guess I deserve credit for not pretending that this is what I meant all along! :-)