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Short Term Vs Long Term Self Interest

At the depths of the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes had the insight that society can go badly wrong when people’s short-term interests lead them to oppose their long-term interests. He was referring to the tendency of businesses to cut workers and investments when their sales go down. Of course it makes perfect sense to do this, but if everyone does it at once you launch a spiral of unemployment that has no end....

Hillary Clinton and the Question of Corruption

If you spend any amount of time around the right-wing media you will invariably hear throwaway phrases like, “Hillary Clinton – most corrupt politician ever”, or “Hillary Clinton’s extreme corruption”. But if you check her criminal record you will discover that she has never been indicted, much less charged or convicted, of any crime. What are we to make of this? Voices on the left will...

Taxes vs Charity

A common talking point on the right is that taxes can and should be lower because the social needs of the impoverished should ideally be met by private charity. It is worth noting that this is a very old idea, going back at least to the start of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s. The concept was vividly illustrated by Charles Dickens in “A Christmas Carol” in the person of Scrooge, where it was also...

GOP Tax Plan VI: The Estate Tax

 “Even among high-income Americans, the plan seems designed to reward those who don’t work for a living — or more precisely, the less you actually do to earn your income, the bigger your tax break. Business owners would owe less in taxes than high-earning professionals; passive investors, who just sit there and collect dividends, would owe less than those who at least run their businesses. And wealthy heirs, who did...

How Obama and Hillary Clinton destroyed the Democr...

First off, some definitions. What is the Democratic Party? The Democratic a voluntary association of people who share political priorities. Because it exists in the US constitutional system, it serves as one of the two major parties in the US. The US constitutional system has a “first past the post” voting method which inevitably results in a political system with only two parties; such has it been since about...

GOP Tax Plan V

Fully parsing the Republican tax plan is going to take some time, since they only released it yesterday (they want it fully passed in two weeks, even though a lot of the details aren’t even written out yet). But a few things are very clear. There is no doubt who overwhelmingly benefits, even if people are still trying to figure out by how much. The very rich make out like bandits, and people whose parents are...

GOP Tax Plan IV

The US corporate tax rate is currently 35% (on profits of more than $335,000). That is before deductions and loopholes. The after loophole rate is effectively about 18%. 18% is what corporations are actually paying, on average. Some pay zero, or even a negative rate (GE is famous for this). Some pay the full rate. And many very large corporations pay nothing, because they book all of their profit offshore in a jurisdiction...

Trump and the Foreign Agents Registration Act

Why is Manafort and the Trump campaign in trouble? Let’s go back to the basics. The law in question is the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1966. It bans foreign nationals from providing “anything of value… in connection with” an election. And it makes soliciting or accepting such contributions a crime. Below is the FEC page on the act. A lot of people are arguing that since we are just talking about...