Freedom and Liberty
Who is the “servant” here?
With an increase in electric and hybrid vehicles along with better fuel-efficient vehicles, changing Bay Area drivers habit are posing a serious problem for state coffers.
As motorists use less and less gas, gas tax revenues to pay for state highways, roads and bridges shrink. Meanwhile, as gas prices fall, so does the sales tax generated by fuel sales. In California, among the taxes collected on fuel is a 2.25% sales tax on gasoline and a 9.67 percent tax on diesel.
Some state lawmakers feel a mileage tax is the best solution.
Solution for what?
The serious problems posed for “state coffers”.
Hey here’s an idea … when state revenue goes down, how about cutting spending?
Note as well that no one is saying a thing about doing away with the fuel tax.
Nope … it’s all about the “state” and its needs. And all that needs to be done to deprive Californians of even more of their hard earned dollars is a vote of the legislature and a signature of the governor. Bingo, instant revenue (and likely a large new bureaucracy to “manage” it).
And the federal government is no different.
When a government is desperate for cash, it goes after the middle class, because that’s where the money is….
Though millions of Americans have been putting money into “tax free” 529 plans to save for their children’s increasingly expensive college educations, President Obama would change the law so that withdrawals from the plans to fund college would be taxed as ordinary income. So while you used to be able to get a nice tax benefit by saving for college, now you’ll be shelling out to Uncle Sam every time you withdraw to pay for Junior’s dorm fees.
This doesn’t hurt the very rich — who just pay for college out of pocket — or the poor, who get financial aid, but it’s pretty rough on the middle– and upper–middle class. In a double-whammy, those withdrawals will show up as income on parents’ income tax forms, which are used to calculate financial aid, making them look richer, and hence reducing grants.
Likewise, Obama proposes to tax the appreciation on inherited homes.
Because, you know, save the middle class … or something.
Pay up, suckers.
Not sure how you stick with one topic a day when so much is going on, thus the appeal of commenting on lots of topics.
For instance, we find out that President Obama is the reason gas prices are down … if his SOTU is to be believed (yeah, it’s not). The fact that you happened to be hanging out in Washington DC and your title is “President of the United States” doesn’t mean you did anything to make that happen. As I pointed out earlier, his EPA will soon take care of that anyway.
There were a lot of other bits of fun and fantasy as well – free community college. Because, you know, its free. And not to worry, it’s those greedy rich folks that will pay for it. Mr. Obama wants $320 billion in new taxes. Capital gains tax – up. Death tax – up. Bank tax – up. And your 529 savings plan for your kids college? Yeah, no longer tax free.
That, dear friends, is how you get “free” college. Isn’t free stuff wonderful?
On to your retirement savings:
There would be a new cap in the amount one could accumulate in the aggregate in all IRA and 401(k) type accounts of $3.4 million. After that, you can’t save any more new dollars. The idea is that this is enough to secure a $210,000 annual distribution in retirement, which the government apparently deems “enough” for a retiree.
Because, of course, nanny knows best.
Finally, if you’re an employer:
In addition, all employers with more than 10 workers and who do not have a 401(k) type plan would be mandated to set up payroll deduction Traditional IRAs for their employees. Also, part-time workers would have to be covered under retirement plans if they have been working someplace long enough. These two things are a new kind of employer mandate from Obama.
Nice plan, no? No. As usual, that means precisely what the cartoon shows. Someone has to pay for all of this and it isn’t just going to be the employer.
Of course the concept that someone must actually “pay” for these things is always left out of the discussion. It’s “free” after all.
For a completely different subject, and in case you were wondering, yes, liberals in Hollywood (almost redundant, isn’t it) are still wringing their hands about the all white Oscars. Or at least doing a good imitation of it. My favorite theory? “Racial fatigue”.
The unknowable question is whether the same voters who supported “12 Years a Slave” had racial fatigue after supporting a black film last year.
Because, you know, there’s only so much support those white Hollywood liberals can dole out a year, or something. They gave their all last year. And you black folks just need to understand that! By the way, I believe “racial fatigue” does indeed play a part. People are tired of everything being made to be about race.
Speaking of culture, I found article to be very entertaining. Is there a civil war brewing on the “progressive” left (one dearly hopes so)? Why the question? Dilemmas such as this:
Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens were once known as the “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism. For a long while, there was nothing more amusing to a young liberal than watching one of them debate against a creationist, or someone who objected to abortion or gay marriage on religious grounds. Dawkins, for a while, was the darling of the British media.
Then things started to sour. Christopher Hitchens, in his full-throated defences of the second Iraq war, was the first to lose left-wing support. Notoriously, Feminist Frequency producer Jonathan McIntosh celebrated Hitchens’ death, saying he was a “despicable, warmongering, hateful human being. Good riddance.” (To put that in perspective, McIntosh had just a few months earlier refused to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden.)
Dawkins, who recently discovered the joys of deliberately offending people on Twitter, has become an even greater figure of hate for progressives. This is probably due to his indiscriminate rationalism: he is just as willing to poke holes in theories of post-modern feminism as he is to attack religion. And when he does attack religion, he insists that Islam is probably the worst one out there. He has become persona non grata in progressive circles as a result.
2014 saw atheists and progressives embroiled in what looked like an all-out war. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a female genital mutilation survivor and one of the fiercest critics of Islam in the atheist movement, was disinvited from a planned speaking engagement at Brandeis University for her criticism of Islam, and was stripped of her honorary degree. Salon.com immediately applauded the decision.
Students at UC Berkeley attempted to do the same to Bill Maher over his alleged islamophobia, but were stopped by the college administration. Sam Harris, another of the “four horsemen”, felt compelled to engage in a three-hour debate with progressive commentator Cenk Uygur after enduring a wave of hatchet-jobs from media progressives for his own comments on Islam.
Progressives may be overwhelmingly atheist, but there is only so much heresy they can stand. One of their core beliefs is that you do not “punch down”–that is, attack vulnerable or marginalised communities. Islam, despite being the dominant religion of dozens of nation-states, is said by progressives to fall into this category.
We’ve watched this sort of cognitive dissonance have its way with the left before. That’s because they aren’t really about principles as much as they are about biases. Oh, and limiting your freedom:
A YouGov poll taken just last fall found that equal amounts of Americans support and oppose “hate speech laws,” defined as laws that would “make it a crime for people to make comments that advocate genocide or hatred against an identifiable group based on such things as their race, gender, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.” Thirty-six percent said sure and 38 percent said no way. That’s disturbing enough on its own, but here’s something even more unsettling: Fully 51 percent of self-identified Democrats supported hate-speech laws.
Somehow I’m not at all surprised, given the examples above … are you?
David Brooks opines today concerning the murders in Paris (quit calling them “executions” and giving them some sort of legal patina):
Americans may laud Charlie Hebdo for being brave enough to publish cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, but, if Ayaan Hirsi Ali is invited to campus, there are often calls to deny her a podium.
So this might be a teachable moment. As we are mortified by the slaughter of those writers and editors in Paris, it’s a good time to come up with a less hypocritical approach to our own controversial figures, provocateurs and satirists.
The first thing to say, I suppose, is that whatever you might have put on your Facebook page yesterday, it is inaccurate for most of us to claim, Je Suis Charlie Hebdo, or I Am Charlie Hebdo. Most of us don’t actually engage in the sort of deliberately offensive humor that that newspaper specializes in.
We might have started out that way. When you are 13, it seems daring and provocative to “épater la bourgeoisie,” to stick a finger in the eye of authority, to ridicule other people’s religious beliefs.
But after a while that seems puerile. Most of us move toward more complicated views of reality and more forgiving views of others. (Ridicule becomes less fun as you become more aware of your own frequent ridiculousness.) Most of us do try to show a modicum of respect for people of different creeds and faiths. We do try to open conversations with listening rather than insult.
Yet, at the same time, most of us know that provocateurs and other outlandish figures serve useful public roles. Satirists and ridiculers expose our weakness and vanity when we are feeling proud. They puncture the self-puffery of the successful. They level social inequality by bringing the mighty low. When they are effective they help us address our foibles communally, since laughter is one of the ultimate bonding experiences.
A lot of people are panning Brooks today, but on the large point, I think he’s right. What was done was, in many people’s opinion, “puerile” and “offensive”. But as he further points out, even those who are puerile and offensive in that regard do indeed serve a “useful public role.” They point to things that need pointed at and they do it in a way that is difficult to ignore. That doesn’t mean I have to like their methods or even their message, but I do want them to have the freedom to express it.
For myself, I usually avoid that sort of offense. I personally think most points can be made within reasonable bounds of propriety. But those are limits I put on myself. It’s a personal belief that I am able to sway more people with reasonable arguments and bits of sarcasm that I am from being puerile and offensive. I believe that those who engage in that sort of behavior turn off more minds than they turn on. But that’s my belief. However, for those that believe otherwise, they have the full right to engage in such behavior as long as it doesn’t violate the rights of others. And no, you have absolutely no right to not be offended.
So in that regard, Brooks is right. I’m not in the mold of Charlie Hebdo … but I defend their right to be offensive, profane, blasphemous and puerile via their speech with everything I have. That doesn’t at all mean I like it, am not offended by it or think it is right. And whatever they do, their right to free speech also opens them up to the consequences of exercising that right.
Murder is not one of them. Violence of any sort is not one of them. We hear a lot about proportionality. What is a proportional response to being offended? Off the top of my head I can think of any number of “proportional” responses – depending on what you find offensive, there are several ways to make that point – condemnation, boycott, peaceful activism, ignoring them, dismissing them, etc. But their right to say what they want is as fundamental a freedom as the consequences that come with it. And that’s how it should be.
Modern Christians, for instance, have seen many examples of profanity and what they’d consider to be blasphemy writ large – in supposed “art” for instance. However, they’ve responded proportionally to the offense.
So Brooks is right in the large sense. I’m not Charlie Hebdo – but I’ll support Charlie Hebdo’s right to do what they did to the death.
Actually, the “American voter” wasn’t as stupid, as Jonathan Gruber claimed, because, as he admits numerous times, they had to resort to outright fraud to get the ACA past those voters. Brian Faughnan summarizes:
So Gruber is previously on the record saying Obamacare subsidies are available ONLY in states that set up exchanges – not in all states. He has also said the law was sold in a deceptive way to fool stupid voters. Now we see him claim that the Affordable Care Act was actually a way to get rid of employer-provided health care, but it had to be done secretly so the American people would go along with it:
“It turns out politically it’s really hard to get rid of,” Gruber said. “And the only way we could get rid of it was first by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people when we all know it’s a tax on people who hold those insurance plans…
Gruber explains that by drafting the bill this way, they were able to pass something that would initially only impact some employer plans though it would eventually hit almost every employer plan. And by that time, those who object to the tax will be obligated to figure out how to come up with the money that repealing the tax will take from the treasury, or risk significantly adding to the national debt.
“What that means is the tax that starts out hitting only 8% of the insurance plans essentially amounts over the next 20 years essentially getting rid of the exclusion for employer sponsored plans,” Gruber said.
But to these ethically crippled jerks, it’s not fraud, it’s “clever(ness)”:
A video that surfaced this week shows Gruber telling a Rhode Island audience in 2012 how the feds will collect a tax on high-end policies without families realizing they’re actually paying the tax via insurers: “(I)t’s a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter.”
Basic “exploitation” – comforting to know that your government actually and purposely was deceitful with the aim of fooling the public into accepting something the law wasn’t. Name a fraudster anywhere who doesn’t think he’s “clever”.
Now tell me — what do we usually call such attempts?
And what do we do with those who attempt to defraud the public?
We put them in jail.
But, you know, that would be “accountability”.
We apparently don’t do “accountability” in the US. So fraudsters are free to brag about how they did what they did without worrying about facing any consequences.
And the left – well, here’s what they’re worried about:
Former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN that Gruber’s remarks in general were “very harmful politically to the president.”
Given this “deal”, Obama seems to be a used car salesman’s dream, but I’ve come to believe there is a method to this madness. And it is madness:
President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. has set a new goal to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by between 26 percent and 28 percent over the next 11 years as part of a climate change agreement with China.
The new target is a drastic increase from earlier in Obama’s presidency, when he pledged to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020. By contrast, Obama’s counterpart, Xi Jinping, did not pledge any reductions by a specific date, but rather set a target for China’s emissions to peak by 2030, or earlier if possible. Xi also pledged to increase the share of energy that China will derive from sources other than fossil fuels. China’s emissions have grown in recent years due to the building of new coal plants.
“This is a major milestone in the U.S.-China relationship,” Obama told a news conference in Beijing, with Xi at his side. “It shows what’s possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge.”
No. No it’s not anywhere near a “milestone” at all. If that’s the “deal”, he was owned by the Chinese premier. Instead it is another bad deal used to push an ideological desire. This certainly won’t be ratified as a treaty with a GOP Congress (if it is even submitted as a treaty). And anyone who thinks China won’t ignore, or unilaterally extend its 2030 peak use simply knows nothing about how China works.
So the “King” will, apparently, do further damage to the economy by using this bit of nonsense as his catalyst for umpteen executive orders because, you know he has a pen, a phone and an ideology.
Thank goodness that only lasts for 2 more years with a GOP Congress (assuming the GOP Congress has any fiscal balls when it comes to defunding the stupidity he commits to his “executive actions”). If you loved ObamaCare you’re going to rave about this bit of economic stupidity.
In the meantime, grab your wallets and bend over, here it comes again.
You’ve probably seen this quote floating around, or at least part of it. You need to read the whole thing. It’s about how those without principles, who want something passed into law, calculate how to word it and present it so the American people can be fooled into accepting it. Everything is acceptable in terms of methods. In this case the person is talking about ObamaCare, aka the ACA:
“You can’t do it political, you just literally cannot do it. Transparent financing and also transparent spending. I mean, this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes the bill dies. Okay? So it’s written to do that,” Gruber said. “In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in, you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical to get for the thing to pass. Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
So we have the CBO which is supposed to score bills and tell us how much they’ll cost, whether or not it is a tax, etc. This crew intentionally wrote it so it couldn’t be construed as a tax. That gives you a little idea of how hard the Supreme Court had to stretch to make it one, and thereby “Constitutional”. Most importantly, it was the presentation that was important and about as opaque concerning the facts as possible.
Not everyone was fooled. Many understood that someone had to pay for this, understood that it was going to be the healthy and said so. Ignored.
What did the “architects” count on? “The stupidity of the American voter” – and now they’re crowing about it. They used it. They counted on it.
Finally read the last sentence. This jerk is pleased with the outcome because he’d “rather have this law than not”. So deceit and trickery are okay. “By any means necessary”.
Is that a principle your government is supposed to represent?
By that I mean, make it a servant of the public again. I don’t know how this “serves the public”:
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -Local 10 first brought you the story of the 90-year-old man who was arrested for illegally feeding the homeless in Fort Lauderdale. Wednesday he was back to continue his cause.
“Illegally feeding the homeless.” No, seriously. It is now a crime, in Ft. Lauderdale, to use your own money, buy and prepare food, search out those in need of nourishment, and feed them.
I can’t get over that phrase – “Illegally feeding the homeless”.
Why? Well here, let this idiot explain:
Mayor Jack Seiler, who supports the ordinance, said he’s gotten massive feedback as well, though not always so positive. But he said the law is meant to help the homeless, not to keep them from eating.
“Mr. Abbott has decided that he doesn’t think these individuals should have to have any interaction with government, that they should be fed in the parks. We disagree,” Seiler said.
I’ll bet he’s gotten “massive feedback”. My guess is Mr. Seiler is probably Julia’s child. Imagine – not having “any interaction with government”. Dude, that’s a feature in my book. Who in the hell do these people think they are? So the fact that this little tin dictator disagrees, he’s happy to use the force of government to put a 90 year old feeding the homeless in jail? This is just homegrown authoritarianism.
What is this bit of totalitarianism based on? “Experts, of course:
“It’s a pubic safety issue. It’s a public health issue,” said Seiler. “The experts have all said that if you’re going to feed them to get them from breakfast to lunch to dinner, all you’re doing is enabling that cycle of homelessness. They don’t interact with anyone, they don’t receive the aid that they need.”
Blah, blah, blah … another authoritarian does a little appealing to authority.
They don’t interact with anyone? They interact with those they want to interact with, including the guy feeding them. Not good enough, say the “experts”.
As with most experts, however, their good intentions usually have crap outcomes:
“What the city is doing by cutting out feeding is very simple — they are forcing homeless people to go dumpster-diving all over again,” Abbott said. “They will steal. That’s what the mayor is forcing the homeless to do.”
Well, that’s a little overboard too, i.e. no one is “forcing” anyone to steal. The point, however, is if this is a public safety issue and if it is a public health issue then why in the world would one of the acceptable outcome of this idiotic law be to encourage dumpster diving or theft by removing the ability of the homeless to receive food from someone other than a government official? Why don’t they have a right to do that? Other than this stupid law and this idiot trying to justify it, when did feeding someone less fortunate than you become “illegal”?
Say what you will of Bill Maher (I’m not a fan), his statement about Muslims seems to have some legs:
“In his comments on his HBO show, Maher noted that too many Muslims reject the very notion of free thought and free speech, that the problem is not just ‘a few bad apples.’”
See Europe after the Mohommed cartoons and just about anywhere else concerning a little known video that Muslims found to be sacrilegious (and the US government blamed for the deaths in Benghazi). Or any of a thousand examples.
It is also something many of us believe about the left, for the most part. And good old UC Berkley has decided to prove the point. And Bill Maher is the “problem”:
In response to an announcement last week that comedian Bill Maher would speak at UC Berkeley’s fall commencement, an online petition started circulating Thursday that demanded that the campus rescind its invitation.
The Change.org petition was authored by ASUC Senator Marium Navid, who is backed by the Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian Coalition, or MEMSA, and Khwaja Ahmed, an active MEMSA member. The petition, which urges students to boycott the decision and asks the campus to stop him from speaking, has already gathered more than 1,400 signatures as of Sunday.
Maher, a stand-up comedian and host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, is best known for his often-polarizing political commentary. Recently, Maher faced some backlash after controversial remarks regarding Islam during a segment on his Oct. 6 show.
Navid claims this isn’t about free speech, it’s a matter of “campus climate”:
“The First Amendment gives him the right to speak his mind, but it doesn’t give him the right to speak at such an elevated platform as the commencement. That’s a privilege his racist and bigoted remarks don’t give him.”
For the most part, I agree that freedom of speech doesn’t give one the “right” to speak anywhere – that, in fact, this is an invitation to speak at a “commencement”, and that’s a privilege the university extends. Okay, got it.
But that’s not what this is about … it’s about shutting Bill Maher and those like him up. It’s about letting a certain group outside the administration of the university decide who will be awarded the privilege to speak and who won’t. And in that case, it becomes a matter of free speech, doesn’t it?
Perhaps the most ironic development, though, was on MSNBC (of all places) when an advocate for free speech on campus crossed swords with a spokesman for CAIR:
In a heated debate on MSNBC with free speech advocate Greg Lukianoff, CAIR’s Ibrahim Hooper defended UC Berkeley students’ efforts to uninvite comedian Bill Maher for his comments on Islam, comparing him to the Grand Dragon of the KKK.
LUKIANOFF: The fact that people so vehemently disagree with him is the more reason to hear him out. It’s an art that I feel is actually being lost on the campuses, where we should be teaching people is to at least hear people out before you to get them kicked off campus.
HOOPER: So if they invited the Grand Dragon of the KKK…
CAIR, of all organizations, comparing any other organization to the KKK … well, let’s leave it at “ironic” shall we?
The left’s the “useful idiot” in the attempt of organizations like CAIR to stifle any debate or criticism of Islam. And, Maher is the Grand Dragon?
The more I watch our current government work these days the more absurd its works become.
Here’s the story. Governors Cumo (NY) and Christie (NJ) imposed 21 day quarantines on health care workers returning from countries with ebola epidemics. That’s right, these poor souls have to spend three weeks being monitored in an area isolated from the general public so if they’re possibly infected they won’t have an opportunity to spread the infection – you know, like the doctor who passed “enhanced screening” at JFK did last week.
Now the first thing I expect to hear is, “whoa, wait – you’re a libertarian and you’re agreeing that the government should have the authority to hold someone against their will?” What I’m agreeing with is a medical protocol that has stemmed epidemics for hundreds of years – at least since we’ve discovered it was germs and viruses, not “ill humors” that brought various plagues.
And, its not like we’re talking “imprisoning” them or this taking years or even months. 3 freaking weeks. 3 weeks in some sort of center where they can be medically monitored to ensure they aren’t infectious before they’re given the okay to again join the general population.
Instead we get two reactions. One from a “health care worker”:
Hickox, the first nurse forcibly quarantined in New Jersey under the state’s new policy, said her isolation at a hospital was ‘inhumane,’ adding: ‘We have to be very careful about letting politicians make health decisions.’
Hickox is now suing and has now hired Norman Siegel, a high profile civil rights attorney, to challenge the order.
Well, of course she has. Because one of the things we see more and more of is “we have rights!” but it is rarely followed by “and we have responsibilities that go with those rights”. You know, like taking the precautions necessary to ensure you don’t infect others. By the way, she’s complaining that she tested negative for ebola. I’d remind her, so did the doctor who is now down with ebola in NYC. Nope, this is all about “her rights” – screw yours.
Now contrast that with this bit of word salad from the NIH:
‘The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health care workers, so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go,’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Fauci made the rounds on five major Sunday morning talk shows to argue that policy should be driven by science — and that science says people with the virus are not contagious until symptoms appear. And even then, infection requires direct contact with bodily fluids.
He said that close monitoring of medical workers for symptoms is sufficient, and warned that forcibly separating them from others, or quarantining them, for three weeks could cripple the fight against the outbreak in West Africa — an argument that humanitarian medical organizations have also made.
‘If we don’t have our people volunteering to go over there, then you’re going to have other countries that are not going to do it and then the epidemic will continue to roar,’ Fauci said.
A) It doesn’t have to be “very, very uncomfortable”. They’re health care professionals. It’s kinda like a deep sea diver saying he’s not going to spend the decompression time necessary to avoid the bends because it’s “uncomfortable”. Of course he is, because that is part of the freakin job! Anyone remember this: “first do no harm”. Until you are sure you are ebola free – that’s after 21 days – then you can’t be sure you’re fulfilling that part of your pledge to those you serve, can you?
B) While the best way is obviously to stop ebola in Africa, it certainly does no good to let infected members to return and reintegrate with a population that isn’t infected. That’s how freakin’ epidemics start! So certainly stop it in Africa. But also take the common sense precautions necessary to stop it before it gets here. Is that too much to ask of a “health care professional” and an agency charged with protecting us from health care threats such as ebola?
C) Because the people “volunteering” are indeed “health care professionals” they should understand the need for quarantine upon returning. It should be a part of the entire process. I simply don’t understand the resistance. I have to wonder if they keep suspected ebola patients in the same wards with regular patients. Well, no, of course not. They quarantine them, even if the chance of them infecting others is very small. Why, oh why, is it too much to ask those who’ve been exposed to the virus and may be infected (but asymptomatic) to have a little regard for others and understand the need for separation for a period of time? Oh, and by the way, if the virus mutates (and health care officials say it might, given the amount of infection seen in Africa) then what? Suddenly it’s a whole new kettle of fish, isn’t it? And what they’re asking us to let them do is close the barn door after the ebola cow has left. Stupid.
So what does the leadership in DC do? Well it talks the governors out of doing what is common sense and relying on the “wisdom” of a system that promised ebola would never reach the US.
Absurd. Stupid. Unthinking. Dumb.
Don’t know how to say it any other way.
UPDATE: in light of a statement today by dopy Donny Deutsch saying “we’re a nation of cowards” because … well because he believes there’s hysteria in the air … I want to make it clear what I say isn’t said out of “fear”. It’s said in frustration. Frustration about applied stupidity. It’s as though all the common sense precautions we’ve taken in the past are “dated”. Now we just wing it and make pronouncements about how it just can’t happen here, even though it has happened here. Talk about arrogance. And stupidity.
Christopher Snowden writes an article that uses an example that is quite handy in defining the essence of the disease called “progressivism”. He acknowledges that “liberal” has be coopted by the left but still has enough historical cache to be useful to both sides of the philosophical divide. However, “progressive”, at least in the US, is uniquely the left’s.
Fast forward to a city soda tax under consideration in the “progressive bastion” of Berkley, CA where we find none other than little Robbie Reich (former Clinton Secretary of Labor) ensconced as Professor at UC Berkley and waxing enthusiastic about this proposed soda tax:
To see what the word progressive means today, consider the city of Berkeley, California. According to Robert Reich, a professor at UC Berkeley, it is‘the most progressive city in America’. It has also been described as a ‘liberal bastion’. How liberal is it? So liberal that it is illegal to smoke a cigarette in your own flat (sorry, ‘apartment’) and, at the city’s university, it is against the rules to chew tobacco or use e-cigarettes anywhere at all, including in the open air.
Berkeley is also seriously considering a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages – aka a ‘soda tax’. A public vote will settle the matter next month, and, in the view of Robert Reich, ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’.
Well, yes, that’s correct. But Reich’s claim is also a very useful tool for a little word substitution to show the insidiousness (and true intent) of “progressivism”:
Consider that statement for a moment. If you didn’t know what the word ‘progressive’ meant – and you knew nothing about Berkeley – what could you infer from the context? If the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most oppressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would make sense. If words like ‘tax-hungry’, ‘anti-business’, ‘puritanical’ or ‘illiberal’ were substituted for ‘progressive’, it would still read correctly.
If, however, the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most tolerant city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would be incongruous. Words like ‘permissive’, ‘libertarian’, ‘easygoing’ and ‘broad-minded’ would also be confusing substitutes for ‘progressive’ in this context, and yet these are all adjectives that appear in the thesaurus under the word ‘liberal’. From this we might conclude either that soda taxes are not terribly liberal or that progressives are not terribly liberal. Or both.
At this point I’m chuckling because Snowden has made a very good point. Reich is all but giddy about oppression and feels it is “progressive” to champion it. Because, you know, the elite know best and hopefully have hammered those who should appreciate them and their ideas enough to vote “yes” and tax themselves.
Then there’s this:
In economics, unlike politics, the word ‘progressive’ has a fixed meaning. A progressive tax is one that takes a larger share of income from the rich than from the poor. The alternative is a regressive tax, one that takes a larger share of income from the poor than from the rich. Taxes on fizzy drinks are highly and indisputably regressive, not only because the rate of tax is the same for all income groups, but also because the poor tend to consume more of them in the first place. So while it is true that Berkeley is a bellwether city when it comes to eye-catching ‘public health’ initiatives, the adoption of punitive taxes on soft drinks would be a step towards it becoming America’s most regressive, not progressive, city in economic terms.
Oh my. Snowden then asks the question of the day:
This is what confuses us, America. If a ‘liberal bastion’ – your ‘most progressive city’ – is one in which the government effectively fines people for drinking the wrong type of soft drink, what on earth are your illiberal bastions like?
Berkley (and New York and … ).
Glad you ask.