Free Markets, Free People
As bad as the GOP field is, it is nice, every now and then to be reminded of what constitutes the alternative:
Six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), want to set up a "Reasonable Profits Board" to control gas profits.
The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a "windfall profit tax" as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit.
The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding "a reasonable profit."
Good lord. Remember, this guy was a presidential candidate on the other side of the political fence.
Kucinich said these tax revenues would be used to fund alternative transportation programs when oil-and-gas prices spike.
"Gas prices continue to rise, creating a hardship for the American people," he said. "At the same time, oil companies are making record profits gouging their customers. This bill would tax only the excess profits and create forward-thinking transportation alternatives."
Specifically, he said the money would be used to fund a tax credit on the purchase of fuel-efficient cars and set up a grant program for mass transit programs when oil-and-gas prices are high.
Yeah, because these guys are so good at picking winners and losers and directing markets, huh?
[T]he Integrated Oil and Gas industry made an average profit of 6.2 cents per dollar of sales, which ranks #114 out of 215 industries by profit margin, and puts oil companies right in the middle of industries by profitability.
In fact, it is apparently the periodical publishing sector that the Kucinich cabal should be after – they’re obviously gouging their customers, making a windfall profit of 51.7% for heaven sake. Down with Newsweek! Down with TIME! Down with Ladies Home Journal!
Question: if this were to, heaven forbid, pass, who would end up paying the tax?
The fact that this fool thinks this is a good idea and has managed to get 5 other crack-pots to sign on is simply another in a long line of signs of how poorly we are served by our political class.
But as one commenter to the piece said upon surveying this nonsense, perhaps there could be a silver lining:
This is great- now we need a "Reasonable Spending Board" to monitor our Congress. We need a "Reasonable Ethics Board" to punish members of Congress who use their office to enrich themselves. A "Reasonable Taxation Board" to prevent the government from taking too much of our money.
Etc. Yeah, it’s a joke, but you get the point. Supposedly all that was contained in the Constitution – but we’ve all seen how that’s worked, haven’t we?
Today’s economic statistical releases:
The Consumer Price Index was unchanged in December. The Core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, rose only 0.1%.
Housing starts slipped to a 650,000 annualized rate in December. Housing permits, though, rose to a 6798,000 rate, which is encouraging.
Initial jobless claims dropped by 50,000 to an unexpectedly low 352,000, the largest weekly drop since September 2005. The 4-week moving average dropped from 381,750 to 379,000. Continuing claims also greatly improved, falling 215,000 to 3.432 million.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index fell to -47.4 from the last reading’s -44.7.
The Philadelphia Fed’s survey shows a drop in general business conditions to 7.3 from last month’s 10.3.
All sorts of things popping within the GOP’s primary venue.
1. Gingrich’s ex-wife to unload in an interview with ABC News who, it seems or at least it is claimed, had some sort of ethical debate about when to air it. Apparently ratings won and it will air tonight when it could have a very adverse effect on a surging Gingrich’s chances there (at least according to one poll).
I don’t blame his ex for giving the interview, but ABC and ethics in the same sentence did caused me to laugh out loud.
2. Rick Santorum apparently won the Iowa Caucus. My reaction? *Yawn* He certainly didn’t come close in New Hampshire and it looks like he’s going to bomb in South Carolina and Florida. The world has moved on.
As someone ask, why again does Iowa get to go first? And what does Iowa really mean? If you can’t get the count right, maybe you should go last. Yeah, if you didn’t pick up on it, I’m not a caucus fan.
3. Rick Perry calls it a day and will quit the race. That helps clear the field a bit more. He’ll endorse Gingrich (all the non-Romneys will endorse Gingrich until Gingrich drops out). If ever there was a case of a missed opportunity, Rick Perry may define it for this election season.
4. And, after 15 or so "debates", Michael Barone concludes that the GOP candidates still aren’t ready for prime time. I had hoped this tedious series of debates would have sharpened and toughened them up, but instead, I tend to agree with Barone … still an unprepared field.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled drudgery and thank you for stopping by.
In Lybia, the expected – at least for those who paid attention and had a rudimentary understanding of modern Islam – is beginning to happen:
Throughout this country, Libyans are discovering that their hard fought battle to win freedoms is at risk. Puritanical Muslims known as Salafis are applying a rigid form of Islam in more and more communities. They have clamped down on the sale of alcohol and demolished the tombs of saints where many local people worship.
Throughout Libya, Gaddafi’s fall has emboldened Salafis, who were persecuted and imprisoned under the now deceased leader. They have increased their public presence, taken over mosques, and even hoisted the flag of al-Qaeda over the courthouse in Benghazi where the revolution began eleven months ago. In the capital of Tripoli, Salafis have destroyed more than six shrines. In one incident, dozens swarmed mausoleums belonging to two Muslim mystics and dug up their bodies so that worshippers could no longer visit their tombs. They also burned the relics around the shrines.
The Salafis are the same group that has done well in the Egyptian elections. Speaking of Egypt, Robert R. Reilly makes some important points about that country and Islam in general, taking apart a Matthew Kaminski article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Arab Democracy Is the Best Bet for a Muslim Reformation." He points out the problems associated with the “propensity to project Western conceptions and norms onto the Islamic world, where they are largely irrelevant.” It’s an interesting read.
"The appeal of political Islam… grows when religiosity is repressed." Islamism is a reaction to modernity, not to repression. It would grow regardless. With the shackles off in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, watch it grow even more. To think that it will diminish because it is not repressed is a dangerous fantasy. Thanks to the Arab Spring, it now has the opportunity to seize control, and most likely will do so. Democratic elections have simply revealed the strength of the view that "Islam is the answer."
And Reilly stomps on the notion that “democracy” will provide the necessary reformation of Islam. Instead, he points out, the Islamists are the reformation:
Kaminski calls for a Reformation in Islam, without seeming to realize that Islamism is that Reformation. Be careful of what you wish for. One reason that the Islamic world became calcified is that the "gates of ijtihad" were closed in the Middle Ages. This meant that the authority for making original interpretations of the Koran or the hadith had been withdrawn because the sharia had, by that time, covered every possible situation in human life with a specific ruling. The Islamists today have reclaimed the authority of individual interpretation in order to wipe out the Islamic jurisprudence that stands in their way, most particularly in their use of indiscriminate violence and terrorism.
As for the Muslim Brotherhood:
"Salafists… practice Osama bin Laden’s creed of Islam." No, bin Laden’s creed of Islam is not Salafist, but came directly from the Muslim Brotherhood and is infected with its ideology, which was partially obtained from Western totalitarianism. His teacher in Saudi Arabia was Mohammed al Banna, the brother of the founder of the Muslim brotherhood, Hassan al Banna. Salafism, on the other hand, is an ancient and integral part of Islam.
Reilly points out that “[w]ishful thinking can be dangerous when it distorts reality.” And that’s precisely what many in the West have done – engage in wishful thinking and project “Western conceptions and norms onto the Islamic world” where they simply don’t fit.
Engaging in an honest assessment grounded in at least an understanding of Islam and human nature should have disabused a rational person of such wishful thinking. The information was there, the history was there, and the conclusions weren’t that hard to reach if objectively put together.
Unfortunately our government apparently prefers to engage in wishful thinking along with many others in the West. The outcome in Libya and Egypt, given who was involved and how that has worked in other countries should have been obvious. But instead many in the West, such as Kaminski chose to believe in fictions like the Muslim Brotherhood’s declared “moderation” and their supposed belief in sharing power with secularists. Oh you may see that at least given lip service for a while, at least until they fully consolidate their power, but that’s not their plan.
These two “revolutions” made the Middle East a more dangerous and oppressive place. Our government chose to ignore the reality of the Muslim Brotherhood’s extremism for a more sanitized and moderate model (which it used to justify its support) and aided and abetted the Islamists in Libya – while pretending they didn’t really exist — through direct intervention in a conflict that was simply none of our business.
Now, unfortunately, we have to live with the results.
Somehow both of these will be spun into “foreign policy successes”, just watch.