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Jeremiah Keenan: What Life In China Taught Me About Bernie Sanders’ Guaranteed Jobs

No government can equitably divide what it does not first control. And controlling the economy also requires controlling the rest of society.

My family was better off than that, but we still lived along the U.S. poverty line. We didn’t own a house, car, or TV. My parents rented a three-bedroom apartment in a ramshackle compound, made us kids a big bookshelf out of plywood, and taught us how to type on a used Mac with a 1995 facing-smile logo that spent a lot of time looking at me above progress bars on the screen.

That life wasn’t bad. Or, at least, most of the bad parts weren’t caused by “poverty.” You see, we lived in a socialist country where the government allowed enough free enterprise to fuel economic growth but maintained firm control to ensure economic equality. President Xi Jinping described our government’s strategy: “We want to continuously enlarge the pie, while also making sure we divide the pie correctly. Chinese society has long held the value of ‘Don’t worry about the amount, worry that all have the same amount.’”

Previous instantiations of this long-held value meant pretty much everybody (except powerful Communist Party members) did not have enough to eat. But 1980s reforms aimed at enlarging the pie had improved matters a great deal, so the common people lived better every day. Kids of my generation had soft little jaws and even chubby tummies. We did not eat the leaves off trees. We lived in apartments with electricity and, in the cities, running water.

[read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

The bad part of life was that the government maintained such a firm control of everything. This meant no freedom of speech or of religion. A couple million innocents were ground through the labor camps while I grew up, and one or two family acquaintances subjected to physical torture, but it was the only way government could firmly control everything. Without this control, they could not ensure that the pie, instead of simply growing larger, would be correctly divided. No government can equitably divide what it does not first control.

From Poverty to People’s Ideas of Poverty

From this environment, I was grafted, at the age of 18, into the American Ivy League. I became interested in U.S. politics: wrote for the newspaper, attended debates, tickled my brain with honors classes and the popular books of the American elites.

Young American elites love to talk about income inequality. Last spring, a great lecture hall was filled with them, debating a proposal to raise taxes on the wealthy to fight poverty in America. The Left side of the room gave impassioned speeches on the moral necessity of fighting poverty. Read the rest of this entry »

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The End of an Era: Economist Thomas Sowell Says ‘Farewell’ 

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‘There is no economist alive today who has done more to eloquently, articulately, and persuasively advance the principles of economic freedom, limited government, individual liberty, and a free society than Thomas Sowell.’

 writes: After writing a weekly (sometimes semi-weekly) column for the last 25 years (here’s an archive of his columns back to 1998), economist, scholar, author and national treasure Thomas Sowell made this announcement in his column today (“Farewell“):

“Even the best things come to an end. After enjoying a quarter of a century of writing this column for Creators Syndicate, I have decided to stop. Age 86 is well past the usual retirement age, so the question is not why I am quitting, but why I kept at it so long.”

Here’s a link to Thomas Sowell’s second column today (“Random Thoughts, Looking Back“), here’s some of the reaction on Twitter and the Internet to Sowell’s retirement, here’s Thomas Sowell’s webpage, and here’s his Wikipedia entry. Milton Friedman once said, “The word ‘genius’ is thrown around so much that it’s becoming meaningless, but nevertheless I think Tom Sowell is close to being one.”

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“I don’t think any living free-market economist even comes close to matching Sowell’s prolific record of writing about economics. And I don’t think there is any writer today, economist or non-economist, who can match Thomas Sowell’s “idea density” and his ability to consistently pack so much profound economic wisdom into a single sentence and a single paragraph.”

In my opinion, there is no economist alive today who has done more to eloquently, articulately, and persuasively advance the principles of economic freedom, limited government, individual liberty, and a free society than Thomas Sowell. In terms of both his quantity of work (at least 40 books and several thousand newspaper columns) and the consistently excellent and crystal-clear quality of his writing, I don’t think any living free-market economist even comes close to matching Sowell’s prolific record of writing about economics. And I don’t think there is any writer today, economist or non-economist, who can match Thomas Sowell’s “idea density” and his ability to consistently pack so much profound economic wisdom into a single sentence and a single paragraph.

Even at 86 years old, Thomas Sowell has remained intellectually active with his syndicated newspaper columns and the publication last year of his 40th book — Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective — which was, amazingly, his 13th book in the last decade! To honor Thomas Sowell’s well-deserved retirement from writing his invaluable weekly column for the last quarter century, I present below some of my favorite quotations from Dr. Thomas Sowell (most were featured on a CD post in June on Sowell’s birthday) and a bonus video of the great economist:

1. Knowledge. The cavemen had the same natural resources at their disposal as we have today, and the difference between their standard of living and ours is a difference between the knowledge they could bring to bear on those resources and the knowledge used today.

[Read the full story here, at Carpe Diem Blog » AEIdeas]

2. Obamacare. If we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs now, how can we afford to pay for doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical drugs, in addition to a new federal bureaucracy to administer a government-run medical system?

3. Economics vs. Politics I. Economics and politics confront the same fundamental problem: What everyone wants adds up to more than there is. Market economies deal with this problem by confronting individuals with the costs of producing what they want, and letting those individuals make their own trade-offs when presented with prices that convey those costs. That leads to self-rationing, in the light of each individual’s own circumstances and preferences. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Jewel-Encrusted Wealth: World’s Priciest Clothes Hits Hong Kong Runway

Dolce & Gabbana held its first fashion show outside Italy in Hong Kong to showcase some of the world’s most expensive clothing, betting that there is still demand from the ultrawealthy for jewel-encrusted tiaras and glittery dresses. Photo/Video: Eva Tam.

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Hugo Chavez’s Ambassador Daughter is Venezuela’s Richest Woman

High society: The daughter of Hugo Chavez may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela, according to evidence reportedly in the hands of Venezuelan media outlets

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president’s second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2billion.

  • Diario las Americas claims that Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, has $4.2billion in assets held in American and Andorran banks
  • Hugo Chavez famously declared ‘being rich is bad’ and during his lifetime railed against the wealthy for being lazy and gluttonous
  • Efforts to determine Chavez’s wealth have been made before, without much luck

Pete D’Amato reports: The daughter of Hugo Chavez, the former president who once declared ‘being rich is bad,’ may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela, according to evidence reportedly in the hands of Venezuelan media outlets.

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president’s second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2billion, Diario las Americas reports.

The figure would make Gabriela Chavez wealthier than media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, whom Forbes named the wealthiest Venezuelan earlier this year with $3.6billion in assets.

High society: The daughter of Hugo Chavez may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela, according to evidence reportedly in the hands of Venezuelan media outlets

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president's second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2billion, Diario las Americas reports

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president’s second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2billion, Diario las Americas reports

The Miami-based newspaper did not detail what evidence there was outlining Chavez’s assets, though there have long been rumors she held a sizable fortune.

Last year, reporter María Elvira Salazar displayed what appeared to be a receipt showing millions in a bank account belonging to Gabriela Chavez withdrawn in the United States.

The receipt displayed the name Frabz Federal Bank, a fictitious bank used in a meme of fake ATM receipts.

Maria Gabriela Chavez, 35, the late president's second-oldest daughter, holds assets in American and Andorran banks totaling almost $4.2 billion

Others close to Chavez managed to build up great personal wealth that was kept outside the petrostate. Read the rest of this entry »


Tax Rates Now & Tax Rates Under Bernie

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Donald Trump Reveals the Only Reason Anyone Can Tolerate Listening to Him

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Mosquitos vs. Capitalism

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The American Decline May Wind Up Doing What Republican Political Agitation Could Not: Arrest the Growth of the Government

Ace writes: Hey, let me start you weekend with a huge downer.

It is beginning to appear that the “New Normal” of very slow growth — almost indistinguishable from a recession — is going to be with us for a long time to come.

Previous generations of politicians could reach agreements on taxing and spending by punting their differences to the next generation — that is to say, where they could not agree, they could agree to borrow the difference, and expect the next generation to pick up the tab.

This was never moral nor responsible but it was workable so long as each generation was wealthier than the last, so that the next generation would have the money to pay for the previous one’s profligacy and irresponsibility.

What happens when that is no longer true?

Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Ranks of Super-Wealthy Decline

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Over the past year in China, the ultra-rich didn’t get richer–they got poorer and shrank in number, even as the ranks of the ultra-rich and their assets swelled in other parts of the world.

The number of China’s ultra-rich–those with a net worth of $30 million or more–slipped from 11,245 to 10,675 as the country’s economic growth slowed to its lowest pace in more than a decade, according to a new report from private-wealth consulting firm Wealth-X and UBS AG. Their total wealth also declined, falling to $1.52 trillion this year from $1.58 trillion last year. Read the rest of this entry »


New book shows U.S. top earners pay larger share of taxes than any other industrialized nation

The United States is actually more dependent on rich people to pay taxes than even many of the more socialized economies of Europe. According to the Tax Foundation, the United States gets 45 percent of its total taxes from the top 10 percent of tax filers, whereas the international average in industrialized nations is 32 percent. America’s rich carry a larger share of the tax burden than do the rich in Belgium 25 percent, Germany 31 percent, France 28 percent, and even Sweden 27 percent.”

Consider what happened each time the U.S. reduced the tax rate significantly:

  • 1920s: The top tax rate fell from 73 percent to 25 percent, yet the rich (in those days, those earning $50,000 and up) went from paying 44.2 percent of the tax burden in 1921 to paying more than 78 percent in 1928.
  • 1960s: President John F. Kennedy slashed the top tax rate from 91 percent to 70 percent. In the ensuing three years, those making more than $50,000 annually saw their tax payments rise by 57 percent, and their share of the tax burden climbed from 11.6 percent to 15.1 percent.
  • 1980s: The Reagan years saw the top rate fall from 70 percent in 1980 to 28 percent in 1988. What happened to the rich? The top 1 percent went from shouldering 17.6 percent of the income tax burden in 1981 to paying 27.5 percent of the total in 1988. The top 10 percent saw their share of the burden climb from 48 percent in 1981 to over 57 percent in 1988.

More >> via Washington Times

Who’s the Fairest of Them All?: The Truth about Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America


In Congress, Rich Get Richer

“…the wealthiest one-third of members of Congress did well during the Great Recession, although more than 20% of the members were worse off than before. Meanwhile, from 2007 to 2010, the average American’s net worth dropped 39 %, while members of Congress saw their median net worth rise 5%, and the wealthiest one-third of then gain 14%.

In 2004, the estimated wealth of Congressional Republicans was 44% higher than Democrats, but by 2010 they were at the same level. Between 2004 and 2010, 72 Congressmen looked as if that had doubled their estimated wealth…”

More >> Congress Gets Richer


Tocqueville on the 47 Percent

Noting Romney’s “inelegant” comments about the 47% who don’t pay taxes, Powerline turns to the always elegant Alexis de Tocqueville, quoting from his chapter in Book 1:

 CHARGES LEVIED BY THE STATE UNDER THE RULE OF THE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY:

Let us now suppose that the legislative authority is vested in the lowest order: there are two striking reasons which show that the tendency of the expenditures will be to increase, not to diminish.

As the great majority of those who create the laws have no taxable property, all the money that is spent for the community appears to be spent to their advantage, at no cost of their own, and those who have some little property readily find means of so regulating the taxes that they weigh upon the wealthy and profit the poor, although the rich cannot take the same advantage when they are in possession of the government.

In countries in which the poor have the exclusive power of making the laws, no great economy of public expenditure ought to be expected; that expenditure will always be considerable either because the taxes cannot weigh upon those who levy them or because they are levied in such a manner as not to reach these poorer classes. In other words, the government of the democracy is the only one under which the power that votes the taxes escapes the payment of them.

In vain will it be objected that the true interest of the people is to spare the fortunes of the rich, since they must suffer in the long run from the general impoverishment which will ensue. . .

Here we should observe that Tocqueville inclines toward supply-side economics.  To continue:

Again, it may be objected that the poor never have the sole power of making the laws; but I reply that wherever universal suffrage has been established, the majority unquestionably exercises the legislative authority; and if it be proved that the poor always constitute the majority, may it not be added with perfect truth that in the countries in which they possess the elective franchise they possess the sole power of making the laws? It is certain that in all the nations of the world the greater number has always consisted of those persons who hold no property, or of those whose property is insufficient to exempt them from the necessity of working in order to procure a comfortable subsistence. Universal suffrage, therefore, in point of fact does invest the poor with the government of society.

The disastrous influence that popular authority may sometimes exercise upon the finances of a state was clearly seen in some of the democratic republics of antiquity, in which the public treasure was exhausted in order to relieve indigent citizens or to supply games and theatrical amusements for the populace. It is true that the representative system was then almost unknown, and that at the present time the influence of popular passions is less felt in the conduct of public affairs; but it may well be believed that in the end the delegate will conform to the principles of his constituents and favor their propensities as much as their interests.

But then Tocqueville provides the remedy that is missing from Romney’s rhetoric—how opportunity and social mobility, rather than redistribution, is the better road to advancement:

The extravagance of democracy is less to be dreaded, however, in proportion as the people acquire a share of property, because, on the one hand, the contributions of the rich are then less needed, and, on the other, it is more difficult to impose taxes that will not reach the imposers.

via Tocqueville on the 47 Percent | Power Line