Wednesday Highlights

Well, yesterday I walked in and wham! calls and stuff started piling on just as I walked in. Links?

  1. Unintended consequences of our broken patent law, that is more and more we depend on trade secrets.
  2. Making the rich “pay their fair share” … hmm. Another unintended consequence on the way. With Mr Romney as an example, apparently why his taxes are lower than what you might naively expect is because he invests in tax protected bonds and such. So … if the response is to get rid of that loophole, that will make such bonds more expense. What are those bonds? Hmm, education and public works make a large part of that market. So, the consequence of killing that loophole will make school improvement and government projects harder to fund. Is that what you really want?
  3. How to do bad science, a primer for the statistically naive.
  4. This is not unrelated, i.e., more scarcity scares examined. Oh, from that same site … that must have made an interesting (and somewhat loud) noise when it went bang.
  5. Some of us are better at learning how to do that than others.
  6. Austerity, oddly enough can work.
  7. A top 10 list.
  8. Secular penance and repentance? How does that work?
  9. The White House principal, do not interfere in family matters, i.e., which to them means allow abortion. Yet … then why have they decided to terminate farm children working on the family farm? Hmmm? Seems to me that violates their stated principal.
  10. The master is surprise, pleasantly.
  11. A tool for the next oil spill?
  12. Belongs to the 99% … in his  own (1%) mind perhaps.
  13. Seems to me that’s $100 million better spent on R&D.
  14. Value? What’s that mean. Price? Utility? Purpose? The statement “cannot tell the value of X from Y” means what?
  15. Someone apparently would prefer to whack strawmen. Mr Mankiw is a “conservative” economist. Read his blog, his book, his course material and then you can argue about what actual real-life “conservative” economists argue. Here is a link to Mr Mankiw’s blog.
  16. “Pain killing injections” a headline noted about Mr Urlacher is more than a few places. The Tribune article I read the other day had the same headline. Reading further however, we find “Teradol” doesn’t haze (reduce) pain at all, but is an anti-inflamatory agent. I guess “multiple anti-inflamatory injections” doesn’t have the same cachet … even if that is the accurate interpretation.
  17. Seems to me the first step isn’t randomly attacking the problem by fixing the “five most common problems” but get a ODB scanner on on it and read the code. Any (most?) parts stores will do that for free. Then you have a hint as to what to fix.
  18. Hosanna-Tabor and consequences for foreign policy. Hey, does anyone know of any left leaning defenses (blogs?) of the President’s position on that?

13 responses to “Wednesday Highlights

  1. With Mr Romney as an example, apparently why his taxes are lower than what you might naively expect is because he invests in tax protected bonds and such,

    Not very explanatory. Tax exempt municipal and state bonds offer a lower yield so yes Romney would reduce his tax bill by putting his money there, he would also reduce his income so its roughly a wash.

    If the exemption was repealed the effect would be something of a wash. Yes states would have to borrow at a bit higher cost but Federal borrowing costs would go down slightly as additional tax revenues would offset. In fact, during the 80’s conservatves wanted to repeal the tax exemption in order to make it harder for state and local gov’ts to borrown and spend money.

  2. 15.Someone apparently would prefer to whack strawmen. Mr Mankiw is a “conservative” economist.

    Sat on Bush’s Council of Economic Advisor, is a paid consultant for the Romney campaign, gee what’s an economist got to do to be considered conservative? Bomb an abortion clinic?

    Read his blog, his book, his course material and then you can argue about what actual real-life “conservative” economists argue

    Have you acutally done this and concluded he is not conservative? Or are you guessing that if someone bothered to do this it may turn out he isn’t conservative? If its the former then please tell us specifically why he isn’t conservative in your opinion.

    At this point I really do hope you haven’t, in your vast ignorance of economics, simply decided to equate Keynesian theory with political liberalism. That’s on a par with a person who equates Einstein’s theory of relativisty with moral relativism. Granted the right has produced such levels of stupidity so I don’t want to assume anything here.

  3. 18.Hosanna-Tabor and consequences for foreign policy. Hey, does anyone know of any left leaning defenses (blogs?) of the President’s position on that?

    I’m not seeing any real discussion of foreign policy in the article you’re linking too here. I’m not very impressed by the supposed Obama reduction of religious freedom to “mere” freedom of belief and worship. An interesting use of the word ‘mere’ indeed.

  4. Boonton,
    On Mr Mankiw, I’m not arguing he’s “liberal”, quite the opposite. I’m saying he is conservative. Mr Horowitz is not arguing against the economic suggestions of Mr Mankiw, but some caricature of what he perceives as generic “conservative economic” policy.

    On Mr Romney,

    Tax exempt municipal and state bonds offer a lower yield so yes Romney would reduce his tax bill by putting his money there, he would also reduce his income so its roughly a wash.

    Kinda depends on your bracket, no? And it’s not a wash when you are touting percent income vs tax.

    If the exemption was repealed the effect would be something of a wash.

    Tell that to your school board as they go to get a higher interest loan to pay for physical plant improvements. “It’s a wash” … the high cost you pay is offset by higher returns of federal taxes … oh, wait you don’t get higher benefits from the feds as a result. But Mr Boonton says it’s a wash.

    I’m not very impressed by the supposed Obama reduction of religious freedom to “mere” freedom of belief and worship. An interesting use of the word ‘mere’ indeed.

    Apparently you are unaware that churches have employees.

  5. Boonton,
    On #18 … from the linked article .. on “mere”

    Part of the White House’s problem stems from what appears to be a desiccated reduction of religious freedom to mere freedom of belief or freedom of worship. This is not merely an academic distinction. Religious freedom includes freedom of worship and belief, but also much more, and most fundamentally it protects the rights of religious believers to practice their faith in all of its imperatives. This means the right of the Dalai Lama to urge greater freedom for Tibetans, or Muslim reformers in Syria to call for an end of the Assad regime, or Christians in Egypt to demand greater political representation. Or American Lutheran schools to hire their own teachers, and American Catholic hospitals to determine what kind of services they will fund and provide. None of these cases are about “freedom of worship”; all are about religious freedom.

    On foreign policy:

    Why does this matter for foreign policy? Because it might help explain the Obama administration’s otherwise baffling apathy on international religious freedom.

    and

    Ironically, the Obama administration’s efforts to diminish religious freedom come just as new scholarship and strategic thinking are demonstrating the connections between religious freedom and foreign policy equities such as peace, security, and stability. For example, Knox Thames describes in a recent essay in Small Wars Journal how religious liberty can strengthen counterinsurgency efforts, and Brian Grim and Roger Finke’s new book finds a robust connection between religious freedom and reductions in political violence. My colleagues at the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center explore a number of these issues in depth, exemplified by Timothy Samuel Shah’s forthcoming book.

    Finally, there is the public diplomacy angle. At least part of the reason behind the persistently low opinions of the United States in Muslim-majority countries stem from the worry by many Muslims that America stands for a secularism that is intolerant of religious faith and values. Unfortunately the Obama administration’s recent policies will only reinforce this perception.

    Have you any inkling of a liberal defense (blog? law/blog?) of Obama’s H/T position?

  6. Boonton,
    You’re notion that “worship and belief” constitute all of religion align with JAs contention that religious belief should be completely out of the public square, i.e., held behind close doors and those beliefs never mentioned in public.

  7. Tell that to your school board as they go to get a higher interest loan to pay for physical plant improvements. “It’s a wash” … the high cost you pay is offset by higher returns of federal taxes … oh, wait you don’t get higher benefits from the feds as a result. But Mr Boonton says it’s a wash.

    And if the Fed. gov’ts borrowing cost goes down that’s a wash to taxpayers. I’m unclear why I should project myself into the role of the person planning the school board’s capital budget but I’m not supposed to the Federal role as well as the role of Federal taxpayer. Instead I’m supposed to pretend I’m only in the role of local school budget manager and local taxpayer.

    Apparently you are unaware that churches have employees.

    Perhaps I’m hanging out on First Things too much but too often religious types confuse an infringement of religious liberty with an infringement on something someone may want to do for some religious motivation. Arguing the discrimination laws should apply to non-Churches is not an infringement on religious liberty, esp. when it seems the church seeks to game the definition of minister to simply dodge secular laws.

    As for the rest, I’m at a loss. When has the administration said the Dali Lama lacks the authority to call for more freedom for Tibet? Arguing whether such freedom originates in freedom of expression or freedom of religion seems a rather dry, academic point.

    At least part of the reason behind the persistently low opinions of the United States in Muslim-majority countries stem from the worry by many Muslims that America stands for a secularism that is intolerant of religious faith and values.

    No many Muslim countries have a low opinion of the US for two main reasons:

    1. US support of Israel.
    2. US support of corrupt local dictatorships.

    A 3rd is not ‘intolerance of religious faith’ but intolerance of intolerant religious faith. Islamists seek not freedom of religion but freedom to impose religion and the US is the symbol of rejecting that model of gov’t. Even many European countries cannot claim that with their intermingling of ‘official state churches’ and such.

    You’re notion that “worship and belief” constitute all of religion align with JAs contention that religious belief should be completely out of the public square, i.e., held behind close doors and those beliefs never mentioned in public.

    Cleary you missed my comments on the SSM / quoting the bible / bullying.

  8. Boonton,

    Re Muslims …

    No many Muslim countries have a low opinion of the US for two main reasons: #1 US support of Israel.

    The majority of the world’s Muslims are not Middle East Arabs. Are you sure “support of Israel” is a top reason for Malaysian and Southern/Central African Muslims? Is it even on the list?

    I’m unclear why I should project myself into the role of the person planning the school board’s capital budget but I’m not supposed to the Federal role as well as the role of Federal taxpayer.

    Because you said “it was a wash” from the Federal point of view … as a counter to the point that there would be significant local impact as an unintended consequence of your policy program to “tax the rich” at a higher percentage by removing tax protected investments.

  9. The majority of the world’s Muslims are not Middle East Arabs. Are you sure “support of Israel” is a top reason for Malaysian and Southern/Central African Muslims? Is it even on the list?

    You are free to relocate there and enjoy the greater religious freedom such non-secular places offer. As for Israel not being a main sticking point for Muslims around the world, Iran is not made up of Middle Eastern Arabs but Persians which is a different culture, race and even language than Palestinian Arabs. Yet in nearly all their statements and rallies the regime cits US support of Israel as their main reason for hating the US in the present (granted support for the Shah’s regime is cited as a historical grievance).

  10. Because you said “it was a wash” from the Federal point of view …

    No I said it was a wash…and while we are at it you may want to explore the ‘normal’ state of affairs is to pay an interest rate set by the market. By making some types of interest tax free, the market is being subsidized by the Federal gov’t. So what you’re saying is that local school construction would be harder if the Fed. gov’t stopped subsidizing it. Errr yes that is very true and also very uninteresting as a point to make.

    Speaking of which

    Kinda depends on your bracket, no? And it’s not a wash when you are touting percent income vs tax.

    Not really. If you’re in a lower bracket it makes no sense at all to have tax free bonds as you’re just cheating yourself out of interest income (besides you can use 401K’s or Roth IRA’s to enjoy non-taxed interest at a higher rate on non-municipal bonds). When you’re beyond $379,150 in income for a single person, you’re in the top bracket. That means there’s very little difference between the optimal strategies for a Warren Buffet with billions or a mere Romny with tens of millions. Interest income is taxed at the 35% rate and the max. contributions to 401Ks or IRA’s are quickly maxed out. But investment income (capital gains) is taxed at 15% and then only when realized. So Romney’s use of municpal bonds probably does not boost his income much because the interest is so low. In theory a very rich person might enjoy 0% taxes provided they had a massive portfolio of munipal bonds and were just living off the interest. More likely Romney wasn’t using such bonds to lower his taxes or boost his income but was using as a wealth protection measure by diversifying around.

  11. Boonton,
    Ok. I misread the tax commissioner’s statements regarding tax free investments. My error. Here is a good link at this blog that seems to take a fairly impartial look at his tax returns.

    In full disclosure, I invest overseas as well, via Fidelity emerging market index funds. I’d recommend similar diversification as a general rule.

    The Fed subsidy for munies is a little more of a complex thing than you pretend. As you note, the interest rates are set by the market … the bond is just classified tax free.

  12. The tax free nature of the interest makes the bond more attractive to investors in the top bracket. As a result, the market will set the interest rate lower than non-tax free investments. That part is simple. Who actually benefits from this is where the real complexity happens.

    From what I understand, Romney had overseas accounts which is more unusual than investing overseas the way you imply. One can buy plenty of stock and security of foreign companies without the need for a Swiss account. One reason for such an account is that Swiss banks are under no obligation to report income to the IRS the way American bank accounts do. Another reason is foreign bank accounts are places where you can stash money without domestic courts being able to impound it (sort of like keeping cash buried in your backyard). You also might keep a foreign bank account if you do a lot of direct transactions in the foreign country (i.e. if you’re importing Swiss watches a Swiss bank account will let you pay suppliers quickly and help you avoid that awkward feeling of handing someone a check drawn on a bank thousands of miles from them). None of these would seem to apply to Romney so I’m not sure of his purpose.

  13. Boonton,
    What do you mean by “unusual”. The tax commissioner indicated that he felt that no measures of tax avoidance beyond the recommend/ordinary practices were to be seen in Mr Romney’s returns. That is, he was doing what anyone with about $200 million in investment capital might be wise to do.

    I’m an ordinary investor, so I don’t have offshore accounts to aid offshore investing. It might be that (a) if I was investing in quantity overseas and (b) thought I’d save money over the costs/rates charged by a service like Fidelity … that one would have one’s own offshore accounts.

    I’m unclear on what you’re implying.

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