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On the Inside
In This Issue
· Taxed Enough!
· Limited Government (This is the lesson that should be taught
· The Supreme Court and it’s innovations
· Save the Planet
· A rerun on an article in April 2009
LINKS to Articles and Points of Interest
TAXED ENOUGH !
ARE “THE LEFT” AND
PRESIDENT OBAMA, BLIND?
By Ivan W. Parkins
The idea that raising income tax rates will increase revenue is naïve to a point that borders on insanity. The problem is that it assumes people will act in the same way when the tax on their economic activity is increased. That has some validity for small changes in tax rates, and for persons who have little choice of behavior. For most, especially those who are most prosperous, the idea is incompatible with individual freedom.
Low income earners, especially those most burdened by limited abilities and by family needs, live pretty much hand to mouth. They spend what income they have almost immediately for food, housing, etc. Mostly, we exempt them from income taxes.
Those of average or middle incomes have wider choices. They are more “picky” about what they eat and wear. They are also the bulk of market for housing, cars, electronic devices etc. They can absorb some income tax, but increasing it significantly will cut consumption, and employment.
A significant minority of professionals and middle managers earn salaries in six figures, and enjoy wider choices. If self employed, they can take longer weekends, vacations, or earlier retirement when faced with tax rates that make greater work efforts unrewarding.
The very rich are hardest for the tax collector to catch. They can invest abroad, or assume citizenship elsewhere. They can invest in things that government subsidizes heavily. They can donate a famous piece of art to a public museum with the provision that they may keep it in their home for a while. Raw land can be a great investment for those able to wait many years to collect on it. And, plentiful money helps in subsidizing the campaigns of politicians who will help to protect one’s personal interests.
The idea that free people will, for any significant period, perform and earn the same while taxed differently is so naïve as to border on insanity. Actually, there is sound evidence, both here and abroad, the reduction of tax rates where rates are already high produces more economic activity and greater revenue. A Democrat President, Kennedy, demonstrated that half a century ago.
Of course, more severe tax collection measures can, for a while, increase the amounts collected. But very much of that negates what popular sovereignty was designed to correct.See Pat Toomey’s article on the debt ceiling
WHAT POLITICAL LESSON SHOULD WE TEACH?
By Ivan W. Parkins
Democracy, rule by “the people,” is an easy lesson to teach, and to learn. Often, throughout history “the people” of early states and nations have risen in revolt and established “people’s governments.” Many of those, however, were short-lived. They proved to be no better, and some were worse, than what prevailed before.
Gradually, the West, especially Anglo-America, developed the idea of limited government, a popular sovereignty. And, that places significant limits upon democracy. At least, it requires that “the people” pause, think, and renew their demands before making them permanent.
A popular sovereignty is a people’s government that is designed to last beyond the demands of one emotional moment, or election. Requiring scheduled new elections, and providing a high court with sufficient independence to prevent, or at least to delay, unduly radical changes are parts of popular sovereignties.
THE SUPREME COURT AND ITS INNOVATIONS
By Ivan W. Parkins
Should the Supreme Court of the United States adhere strictly to an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, or may the Court adapt constitutional language to historical trends?
If one compares closely what was probably the greatest Supreme Court decision of the twentieth century, Brown v. Board of Education, cited in some arguments for a more “liberal” approach, I believe that he will see that the Warren Court’s holding differed little from Justice Brown’s holding in1896 regarding the Constitution. Brown said that the Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment, requires “absolutely equal treatment” of the races in public facilities. The difference between the two was not on the constitutional language but on what, in fact, is equal treatment. The old decision was that separate facilities could be equal; the newer decision is that they are not equal. Even if the words of law are seen to be unchanging, the facts to which they apply may change.
The growth and mobility of our population and industry have certainly changed. John Marshall’s original holding in Gibbons v. Ogden that “commerce among the states” meant that commerce that affects more states than one seems logical enough. But, facts are certainly changing when mortgages that are issued by private banks under state laws become “toxic” and disruptive to national and world-wide finance. Actually, many of those mortgages were granted by banks under federal pressure to extend credit to previously unqualified applicants.
The Supreme Court’s great decisions on racial equality (1950s) and on equal legislative districting (a few years later) did represent some extensions of its authority. However, they were also major advances in popular sovereignty that the Congress had, for decades, failed to act upon. And they soon received the approval of most of the public. In those cases, I believe that the Court honored the most basic of our constitutional principals, popular sovereignty.
There is good historical ground for believing that major Supreme Court decisions of the period prior to World War II, when they conflicted sharply with actions of the elective branches, were soon overcome by popular politics. Apparently, that is now less true. One of the baldest evidences more recent thinking is the statement of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall that he was only doing what the people would do if they knew what he knew. I remarked to my class in Constitutional Law at the time that the reasoning was remarkably similar to some by Fuhrer Adolph Hitler.
Increasingly, we are faced with “entitlements” that alter the capacity of newly elected Congresses to make policy and with judicial references to foreign political entities as authoritative. Such things are good reasons to fear that an articulate minority of Americans, strongly entrenched in the information media and some times successful in elections, will work with the Judiciary to limit the effectiveness of our Constitution’s most fundamental principal. That principal is popular sovereignty.
The current Supreme Court nominee has expressed her admiration of the Justice for whom she clerked, Thurgood Marshall. Marshall was certainly a great advocate, and significantly responsible for our ending racial segregation, but his performance on the Supreme Court raises question of whether he made a real transition from advocate to jurist.
SAVE THE PLANET, BUT ALSO
Environmentalists now urge drilling bans
Have we not learned?
By Ivan W. Parkins
When “The Environmentalists” warn that new gas drilling techniques or additional deep water drilling endangers the planet upon which we and our progeny must live, we should consider the evidence that they present. But, we should also keep in mind that it was primarily they, not the scientists or the empirical evidence, that prompted the ban (now largely lifted) on DDT.
Fortunately for The Environmentalists, neither they nor the rest of us had to watch the increased suffering and deaths from malaria, especially of poor African children.
It was, by any standard, one of mankind’s greatest and most unnecessary slaughter of his own kind.
I am reposting this column from April 2009 issue.
ELECTION 2008: WHY I AM NOT HAPPY WITH THE OUTCOME
By Ivan W. Parkins
First: I have long thought that a President who was black could help unite the nation.
Second: I cannot be happy with President-elect Obama, because the political exposure and performance that he has demonstrated are mostly opposite to what I believe is needed.
Our economy is in trouble, and because it is so large a part of the World’s economy, the World is in economic trouble. People, I think, who are much like Obama—no, not blacks—dynamic, well schooled, ambitious, and socially conscious intellectuals are keys to that trouble.
The critical division in America, and perhaps in the Western World, is more an intellectual division than one of either race or wealth. That is not to deny that divisions of the latter types exist. But, our fundamental problem is how we regard capitalism. And, having once been mainly a critic of capitalism, I am now mainly a supporter of it.
Unfortunately, too many people on both sides of this division have permitted the issue to become one of quasi-religious orthodoxy. Some favor almost no government regulation, while others strive to apply regulation of capitalistic markets to accomplish ill-considered, but emotionally attractive, goals.
The clash has become central to our politics largely because of the huge growth and extension of our education and information systems. Whereas those were once largely subordinates to, if not supporters of, capitalism; they have now become self-consciously independent and aggressive in trying to displace the industrial/financial sector as the primary political force in American society.
That would be less of a problem if our system of government had a greater capacity for identifying and serving a majority of Americans, and were less responsive to the demands of particularly well-organized and aggressive minorities.
In short, I think that the present economic crisis is equally a political crisis. If I am wrong about President-elect Obama, and he proves capable of moving us towards solutions to both, he could rank with Washington and Lincoln as creators of America.