Quick Roundup 433

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Worst of Both Worlds

As John Marshall once put it, "The power to tax is the power to destroy." (Too bad he did not apply this wisdom with any degree of consistency.) Every government tax reduction in the name of "saving" an industry or "incentivizing" economic growth is a tacit admission of this fact, as well as a desire by voters to have their cake and eat it, too. Otherwise, there would be demands for permanent tax and spending cuts across the board.

The practice of many politicians of pretending that such measures are capitalistic cedes the whole premise of property rights and muddies the vital debate over the proper role of government. This is bad enough, but at least the public remains free to debate. Enter Washington State to endanger that freedom with a tax cut:

Gov. Chris Gregoire has approved a tax break for the state's troubled newspaper industry.

The new law gives newspaper printers and publishers a 40 percent cut in the state's main business tax. The discounted rate mirrors breaks given in years past to the Boeing Co. and the timber industry.
The similarity of the tax cut to that for Boeing is a red herring, and it obscures an essential difference between the industries in question. Boeing is not in the business of publishing news or opinion.

As I noted in January when I heard the first whispers about newspaper "bailouts" coming from Frank Nicastro, a Connecticut lawmaker:
Certainly, if Nicastro thinks the papers should start making changes to how they report the news, he has them where he wants them: by the purse-strings. Nicastro is, perhaps (and at best) well-intentioned, but suffering from the "dictator fantasy", and needs help imagining just how much worse his idea is than doing nothing, and allowing the papers to fail.

Along those lines, I would first suggest that Nicastro imagine a hated political opponent succeeding him and leaning on the papers to make sure he looks good. Second, I would remind him that we already have examples of government "encouragement" of media tempting officials with having a say. For an example of this, note that Phil Berger, a counterpart of his from North Carolina, recently proposed to have the government review movie scripts before "incentivized" cameras could roll in his state.
And, on top of all of this, there is the question of what constitutes a newspaper (and therefore qualifies for the tax break. This is a losing proposition for freedom of speech as well: The government will end up (a) deciding that certain outlets aren't "real" newspapers and taxing them fully, to their relative detriment, or (b) regulating what they can and cannot say, in the name of making sure the tax breaks are properly implemented, or (c) some combination of both.

This measure not only does nothing to advance economic freedom, it is very bad news for freedom of the press in particular and freedom of speech generally.

Not surprisingly, the Feds are already considering a "Newspaper Revitalization Act."

Our Court-Jester-in-Chief Cuts up again

No sooner do I comment on Barack Obama's unspoken message of contempt for the rulers of his country does he prove me right. He has apparently taken to lecturing us on indebtedness right on the heels of "throwing trillions down a rathole," as Instapundit puts it.

Cultural Note

Regarding my use above of the phrase "cutting up:" That comes straight from my arrival at work the morning I wrote a post concerning Obama's obvious pleasure at Wanda Sykes' distasteful "jokes."

As I passed a group of people chatting, someone saying, "Boom!" at the top of his lungs caught my attention, and it was immediately obvious that this was about the White House Correspondents' Dinner. "Wanda Sykes cuttin' up wit' de President!" was the last comment I could make out as I walked by.


"Cuttin' up?", I thought. "I haven't heard or used that phrase since approximately middle school." The whole idea of five grown men having a conversation about politics while assuming a schoolyard subtext with Obama in the role of favorite teacher was momentarily jarring. People like this vote, and they are impervious to reason.

Yep. That's about the demographic Obama's aiming for. To the extent that he regards people with this mentality as his constituency, his contempt for voters has a basis in fact.

Properly, one interested in cultural change writes off such flotsam and works to persuade thinking adults. And one shrugs such incidents off, and considers why there is cause for optimism in that regard.

Tap Your Own Brilliance

My schedule is highly unfavorable for this, but Jean Moroney is offering a very interesting-looking teleclass in June:
In my class, Tap Your Own Brilliance, I teach you exactly what to do if you feel overloaded, confused, conflicted, or blank. At such times you may feel like your brain has stopped functioning and has nothing to offer, but that's not true. I guarantee there is crucial information in your mental databanks that could help right at that moment. In my course, I'll teach you what to do. We'll cover one issue in each of four sessions:
  1. Picking Someone's Brain (Yours!): Learn how to get helpful, relevant information flowing from your databanks at the first sign of problems.
  2. Lassoing Runaway Thoughts: Find how to capture the good ideas when you're feeling overloaded, confused, or overwhelmed by emotions.
  3. Resolving Hidden Conflicts: See how to easily uncover and resolve conflicts that are causing you to flounder.
  4. Triggering New Insights: Discover a reliable way to prod new, helpful ideas from your subconscious when it feels like you've run dry.
I will present a tool, explain what it is, how it works, and when to use it. Then you'll get to try out the tool, on an issue of your choice. You try the tactics on a real-life problem, in an in-class individual exercise. Each exercise is fairly short, usually only a few minutes, but they are long enough for you to see how powerfully the tactics focus your attention on top issues and help you zero in on answers. Plus, immediately after trying the technique, you'll have a chance to ask questions, hear other people's comments and questions, and get help and clarification.
The class will take place over four ninety-minute sessions and will be limited to 15 participants.

Objectivist Roundup

This week, Try Reason! is hosting. Enjoy!

-- CAV


5-16-09: Corrected a typo.

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