Friday, September 17, 2021

Sorry, AOC, The Rich Already Pay Their Fair Share

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez donned an elegant gown with the slogan "Tax the Rich" painted on the back at the Met Gala in New York, where guests selected by Vogue's Anna Wintour ponied up around $35,000 a pop for tickets. The scene was reminiscent of Tom Wolfe's "radical chic" -- though rather than being guests of the well-heeled in Park Avenue duplexes, today's revolutionaries own luxury condos and drive around in government-subsidized electric cars that most Americans could never afford.

My first question, though, is: Who doesn't want to "tax the rich"? Judging from my social-media feed, there seems to be a growing segment of people under the impression that the wealthy pay little or nothing in taxes. When you ask Americans if they support a wealth tax, a majority support the idea. One recent poll found that 80% of voters were annoyed that corporations and the wealthy don't pay their "fair share."

Polls rarely ask these people what a "fair share" looks like. Is a quarter of someone's earnings enough? A third? Because the rich have been shouldering an increasingly larger share of the cost of government. The United States already has one of the most progressive tax systems in the free world. Those who make over $207,350 now pay 35% in income tax. Those who make $518,400 or more pay a 37% income-tax rate. At some point, taxation should be considered theft.

Despite perceptions, the highest-income strata of taxpayers are the only ones who pay a larger share of taxes than their share of income. In 2018, the top 1% of income earners made nearly 21% of all income but paid 40% of all federal income taxes. The top 10% earned 48% of the income and paid 71% of all federal income taxes.

On the other hand, in 2021, Americans making less than $75,000 are projected to have, on average, no tax liability after deductions and credits. The average income-tax rate for those making between $75,000 and $100,000 is expected to be 1.8%. More than 61% of Americans -- around 107 million households -- owed zero federal income taxes for the year 2020.

You don't have to agree with me that (over)taxing the wealthy undermines job creation and growth, or that a tax system that relies so heavily on the fortunes of the few creates more cronyism in Washington and more volatility everywhere else. But the idea that the rich don't pay their "fair share" is absurd.

At this point in the conversation, progressives will set aside their calls for a "wealth tax" and start complaining about capital gains. Here, we simply have a point of disagreement: Ocasio-Cortez would see investment profits in the hands of Bernie Sanders, head of the Senate budget committee. I would rather see them in venture-capital projects and private-equity funds that churn investment dollars and boost technology and jobs. Progressives grouse about accumulation of wealth and then want policies that dissuade risk.

Those who believe what I do will be accused of being "market fundamentalists" or beholden to the wealthy. Progressives -- the kind that like to hang out at Met Galas -- believe everyone is as class-obsessed as they are. I don't give one whit about the wealthy. In fact, I hope today's entrepreneurs are tomorrow's new rich. We know they will be -- without compelled redistribution.

How many voters do you think know that nearly 70% of the Forbes 400 richest Americans are self-made? Or that the share of the self-made wealthy had risen from 40% in the 1980s to nearly 70% by the 2010s? How many people who have fallen for the scaremongering worries of "inequality" -- another leading reason for the wealth taxation -- understand, as economist Mark Perry recently pointed out, that the middle-class isn't "shrinking" because it's getting poorer, but rather because of a long-term trend in upper-middle class growth? Ocasio-Cortez's entire philosophy is a zero-sum fallacy.

No, progressive taxation isn't socialism. But the policy justifications made for tax hikes these days certainly are. Ocasio-Cortez is a fraud, of course, but it's her retrograde economic theorizing that's the real problem. And in this age of populism, increasing numbers of Americans are accepting Marxist conceptions of American life, in which the successful are parasites and everyone else is a victim of their greed.

The reality is that no politician is going to advocate raising middle-class income taxes, despite the ever-increasing cost of government. There is only the rich to tax. Consequently, it's become easier to pass massive expansions of the state. Everyone expects someone else to foot the bill -- either future generations or their wealthier neighbors. Meanwhile, taxation has gone from being a means of funding communal needs and projects to a means of technocratic wealth reallocation. This is no way to run a country.


Mark Milley Exposes the Myth of American 'Democracy'

This week's deeply unsettling revelation of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley's alleged late Trump administration-era perfidy, bordering on high treason, is but one glaring fusillade in a years-long crusade by America's decrepit ruling class to condemn and ultimately subjugate us "deplorables," "wrong-thinkers" and all others with a conservative or traditionalist worldview.

It is a shot across the bow in that roiling cold domestic conflict, and a clarion call as to the relevant stakes. It is also a brazen assault on one of the most rudimentary defining features of America's constitutional order -- an assault that exposes the lie that the ruling class and its left-wing echo chamber denizens care one whit about the very "democracy" they invariably claim to cherish.

To recap, a leak of a forthcoming book from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, "Peril," claims that two days after the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, Milley was so bothered by former President Donald Trump's demeanor and conduct that he deemed it necessary to take unilateral action outside the formal chain of command. Specifically, Milley allegedly convened a rogue meeting with senior military officials in charge of the National Military Command Center, the Pentagon's de facto war room, to tell them not to accept military orders from anyone unless he was personally involved.

In effect, Milley, haunted by hysterical cable news-induced nightmares and caving to delusions of grandeur, took impetuous action to cut out the commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces himself from the formal chain of command. He did so, we are made to believe, out of fear the lame-duck president might launch a high-scale attack or nuclear weapon strike, perhaps against China.

Although the qualifier "allegedly" is perhaps strictly necessary to describe Milley's actions, it is worth noting that Milley's office responded to the leak by issuing a nonapology "apology." Milley's "calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with (his) duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability," the response statement from spokesperson Col. Dave Butler read.

There was, in short, no denial, which all but assuredly means the allegations from "Peril" are true. And since the statement, President Joe Biden has resisted manifold calls for Milley's resignation, including one from Milley's former boss, former acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller, and even one from the notorious anti-Trump former National Security Council staffer Alexander Vindman. He has instead pledged that he has "great confidence" in Milley.

There could not possibly be a clearer example of how much the American ruling class is drunk on power and of how little it cares for any and all obstacles standing in the way of its accumulation and exercise of that power.

It also just so happens that, in this instance, those obstacles take the form of the quintessential defining feature of what usually separates a democracy or a republican form of governance from a dictatorship: ultimate civilian control of the military.

In undermining that ultimate civilian control, Milley and his apologists are playing with fire. How bitterly ironic, too, that the same left-wingers who opposed Trump on ostensibly "fascist" or "authoritarian" grounds while simultaneously preaching about the imperative to save our American "democracy" are now the ones who, seemingly without fail, have taken to defending a Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman who has taken a blowtorch to the very definition of "democracy."

Milley is, of course, the same man who has openly defended the merits of studying critical race theory in the military and, in general, seems far more preoccupied with preening for holier-than-thou wokesters than he does with ensuring the U.S. Armed Forces are adequately prepared to hunt down and kill America's enemies in the most efficient way possible. In short, as National Review's Dan McLaughlin tweeted: "To Mark Milley, the General Lee who has been dead for 151 years is a dire threat, but the General Li who commands the world's largest army on behalf of a murderous tyranny is a chum." That is damning almost beyond words.

Milley's direct attack on civilian control of the military is but the latest indication that our wokeist ruling class will take no prisoners in its systemic assault upon the very pillars of the American constitutional order. From Trump-era "deep state" malfeasance to imperious progressive judging to a woke Joint Chiefs chairman feeling justified in removing the duly elected commander in chief from the military chain of command, the ruling class has now thoroughly revealed the depths to which it is willing to sink in order to enact its agenda and force its political opposition to bend the knee. Eyes wide open, the onus is now on the deplorables to resist such an anti-constitutional -- indeed, anti-American -- trampling.


The Death of Science

In empirical fashion, scientists advised us to examine evidence and data, and then by induction come to rational hypotheses. The enemies of “science” were politics, superstition, bias and deduction.

Yet we are now returning to our version of medieval alchemy and astrology in rejecting a millennium of the scientific method.

Take the superstitions that now surround COVID-19.

We now know from data that a prior case of COVID-19 offers immunity as robust as vaccination. Why, then, are Joe Biden’s proposed vaccination mandates ignoring that scientific fact? Dr. Anthony Fauci, when asked, seemed at a loss for words.

Is this yet another of the scientific community’s Platonic “noble lies,” as when Fauci assured the public last year that there was no need for masks? He later claimed he had lied so that medical professionals would not run out of needed supplies.

Fauci also threw out mythical percentages needed for herd immunity, apparently in an attempt to convince the public that it will never be safe until every American is protected from COVID-19 by vaccination only.

And why was it that hard for the scientific community to postulate a likely origin of COVID-19? Some of the very scientists engaged in gain-of-function research oversaw an investigation with Chinese authorities. They confirmed the predetermined conclusion that the virus likely had little to do with gain-of-function engineering. And they saw little proof it was birthed in a Wuhan virology lab. Yet scientific opinion, emerging evidence and basic logic have suggested the opposite.

How can the government hector citizens that they have a moral duty — and soon a legal obligation — to be vaccinated when it does not mandate vaccinations for unvetted refugees flying in from Afghanistan?

How can the government medical community remain largely silent when an anticipated 2 million foreign nationals will cross into the United States in the current fiscal year — almost none of whom are vaccinated or tested for COVID-19?

Why do the media and government blame particular races for the delta variant outbreak on grounds that they were insufficiently vaccinated? Why wouldn’t officials simply urge the Latino and Black communities to be vaccinated as quickly as possible? Data shows that both groups have lower vaccination rates than white and Asian populations.

Are woke political agendas discrediting science and losing public health?

We saw just that in June 2020, when more than 1,200 “health care professionals” signed a petition demanding exemptions from lockdowns and quarantines for Black Lives Matter protesters marching en masse. And they concocted medical excuses such as “vital to the national public health” to insist that violating quarantines was less unhealthy than not pouring into the streets.

Why did presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, warn the American people on the eve of vaccination rollouts that an inoculation under the Trump administration could be unsafe, thereby undermining confidence in vaccines?

Why was the medical community largely silent about such dangerous sabotaging of new vaccines, but months later became vociferous in warning the public that any doubts about the safety of these Operation Warp Speed vaccinations were scientifically misplaced? Was there a medical breakthrough on Jan. 20, 2020, to alter their consensus?

From rewarding wokeness in medical school admissions to the peer reviewing of scientific papers, the anti-scientific mania has polluted scientific endeavors.

“Critical race theory” would preposterously tell us that we need racism to fight racism.

“Critical legal theory” ludicrously claims that laws have no rational basis but simply reflect power inequities.

“Modern monetary theory” defies millennia of evidence and basic logic in stating that governments can simply print money without worrying about balancing expenditures with revenues or inflating the currency to ruination.

Corporations are now asked to substitute a new woke agenda theory — “Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG)” — in lieu of market realities, rules of investment and economic data.

Science is dying; superstition disguised as morality is returning. And we’ll all soon become poorer, angrier and more divided.


Australia: Voluntary assisted dying ["euthanasia"] will become legal in Queensland following a historic and emotional victory in State Parliament

Queensland MPs voted 61-30 to legalised assisted dying on Thursday evening.

From 2023 Queenslanders suffering a terminal illness that is expected to cause death within 12 months will be able to choose when to end their life.

Clem Jones Trust chairman David Muir said there was an “overwhelming sense of relief” for terminally ill patients and their families. “Terminally ill patients are the centrepiece of this legislation and their families too, this is for their benefit,” he said.

“For many years polling in the community has shown this legislation and this issue is very popular with around 80 per cent approval.”

Deputy Opposition Leader David Janetzki attempted to amend the Bill, introducing 54 clauses including the provision to expand conscientious objection to include doctors and health practitioners.




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