Archive for August, 2008

More Great Minds: Lincoln on “Conservatives”

August 30th, 2008 Comments off

From the Cooper Union speech. Emphasis mine.

“But you say you are conservative – eminently conservative – while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;” while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers. Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave trade; some for a Congressional Slave-Code for the Territories; some for Congress forbidding the Territories to prohibit Slavery within their limits; some for maintaining Slavery in the Territories through the judiciary; some for the “gur-reat pur-rinciple” that “if one man would enslave another, no third man should object,” fantastically called “Popular Sovereignty;” but never a man among you is in favor of federal prohibition of slavery in federal territories, according to the practice of “our fathers who framed the Government under which we live.” Not one of all your various plans can show a precedent or an advocate in the century within which our Government originated. Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your charge of destructiveness against us, are based on the most clear and stable foundations.”

One contemporary commenter described the speech’s “sledgehammer logic.” If you haven’t read it (lately), do.

So-called conservatives continue to dig in their heels to this day, denying the very principles upon which our country was founded, in a centuries-long effort to turn back—and turn their backs upon—those very principles.

To again quote the speech that made Honest Abe the President of the United States:

“Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government.”

Palin for President: Be Afraid

August 29th, 2008 Comments off

I guess John McCain will do anything to (try to) win an election. He’ll even saddle his country with a president who knows nothing about foreign or military affairs. While we’re fighting two wars.

I’ll just point to my previous post.

McCain: Rebel Without a Brand?

August 25th, 2008 Comments off

My 17-year-old daughter just pointed out to me something that's completely obvious, but that I hadn't realized, and that I haven't seen discussed much, at least in these terms.

Think about the words Hope. Change. Yes We Can.

Who owns 'em? I mean owns them? When you think Obama, what words come to mind? When you hear those words, who do you think of immediately?

No need to ask.

Okay now quick: What words does McCain own?

Yeah. Interesting.

Update 8/26: There is actually one word that McCain completely owns:


Do Voters Prefer Death or Taxes?

August 25th, 2008 Comments off

The Mankiw Distortion Field: This Time, Corporate Taxes

August 23rd, 2008 3 comments

I think we can assume that Greg Mankiw knows the difference between tax rates and effective tax rates–after all the deductions, exemptions, etc.

And he surely knows that effective tax rates are what actually matter when it comes to impact, income, and incentives.

But still, he posts this graph as if it was actually representative of something meaningful.

Greg is certainly familiar with the CBO analysis that Paul Krugman posted about only three days ago. (And many others like it.) I have to assume he’s seen the tables in it like the one Krugman posted–or this one for instance:


He must know that the graph he posts is a fundamental misrepresentation of reality. So I can only assume that his intention is to fool those who don’t know all the things that he knows all too well.

I’ve pointed out before how Mankiw simply abandons the data even (especially?) after he’s just explained quite cogently that the data contradicts his beliefs. Presumably because he just doesn’t want to let go of those beliefs.

Update: Mark Thoma, Linda Beale, and Dean Baker all make the same point.

Update II: And Brad DeLong, linking to all of the above.

Why Friday Night?

August 23rd, 2008 4 comments

I've searched all over but haven't found any discussion of why they announced Biden on friday night/saturday morning. The exception: some wildly worded Aha! comments on right-wing blogs saying that
the Obama team was forced into the announcement by a leak. (The leak,
presumably, being secret service arriving at Biden's place?)

It's common wisdom that friday night is the news dead zone, where everything gets announced that the announcers don't want discussed.

Not that this question matters much. It's just a curiosity about the Obama team's tactics.

I have no clue. But I'd be very interested to receive one.

Update 8/25: Via TPM, the Obama team says they were going to send the text at 8 am Saturday, but rushed it out after CNN got ahold of it. No, the 3 am text was not a jab at Hillary. That would have been just stupid, and these guys may be many things, but stupid is not among them.

Great Minds Think Alike: Obama on “Conservatives”

August 21st, 2008 2 comments

I say somewhat presumptuously, even audaciously.

Andrew Sullivan points out:

Obama in Time:

I was always suspicious of dogma, and the excesses of the left and the
right. One of my greatest criticisms of the Republican Party over the
last 20 years is that it's not particularly conservative
. I can read
conservatives from an earlier era—a George Will or a Peggy Noonan—and
recognize wisdom, because it has much more to do with respect for
tradition and the past and I think skepticism about being able to just
take apart a society and put it back together. Because I do think that
communities and nations and families aren't subject to that kind of
mechanical approach to change. But when I look at Tom DeLay or some of
the commentators on Fox these days, there's nothing particularly
conservative about them.

Emphasis mine.

McCain’s Tax Plan: You Call That “Conservative”?

August 20th, 2008 Comments off

I pointed out recently the horrific rise in the federal debt caused by the much-ballyhooed Reagan Revolution (with only a brief respite under Clinton)—a debt built on the apparent belief among so-called conservatives that we can borrow and spend our way to prosperity.

It went from 34% of GDP in 1980 to nearly 70% today.

McCain doesn’t just want to continue that decades-long decline. The man who Republicans want as president wants to hit the accelerator on the way off the cliff.

Projected Annual Federal Tax Revenues as  % of GDP 2009–2013
Tax Policy Center Figures (PDF)

Per Stump Speeches

Per Campaign Staff







For reference, federal taxes have been hovering around 18% of GDP for decades. That has not been sufficient to fund the government that we’ve chosen. (Remember: every prosperous, advanced democracy besides Japan and Korea taxes far more than we do, with economic growth equal to ours.)

Point number one: McCain is talking out of both sides of his face. (Or his staff is talking out of one side for him.) Which is he actually proposing or promising—16%, or 17.6%?

That 1.6% may not sound like much. Just a little semantic difference. But $228 billion in additional debt—every year—definitely does. $350 billion—the difference between McCain’s (stump speech) plan and Obama’sreally does.

That’s what he’s standing up there and promising—to further indebt and impoverish our children and great grandchildren.

How do these people dare to call themselves conservatives?

Hat tip to DonPedro at Economists for Obama for highlighting these stats the latest TPC report.

US Corporate Taxes: How Do They Compare?

August 20th, 2008 Comments off

Paul Krugman points us to a CBO comparative study (PDF) of corporate taxes in developed countries. Short story: ours are pretty much in the same ballpark as other prosperous countries, by various measures. Ours tend to incentivize investments funded by debt, as opposed to equity.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

One table I found of interest, which I've pulled and sorted for your viewing pleasure:

Taxes on Corporate Income in OECD
Countries in 2002 as a Percentage of
Gross Domestic Product

Germany 1
Iceland 1.1
United States 1.8
Poland 2
Turkey 2.2
Austria 2.3
Hungary 2.4
Sweden 2.4
Weighted average 2.5
Slovak Republic 2.7
Switzerland 2.7
Denmark 2.9
France 2.9
United Kingdom 2.9
Japan 3.1
Republic of Korea 3.1
Italy 3.2
Spain 3.2
Canada 3.4
Unweighted average 3.4
Belgium 3.5
Netherlands 3.5
Portugal 3.6
Ireland 3.7
Greece 3.8
New Zealand 4.2
Finland 4.3
Czech Republic 4.6
Australia 5.3
Norway 8.2
Luxembourg 8.6
Mexico Not avail.

Gore: Subsidizing Dirty Energy?

August 19th, 2008 Comments off

It's true, this idea came along as Will Wilkinson was rather frantically back- or re-pedaling from a previous everything's-going-so-WELL post of his, said pedaling being necessary because Felix Salmon pointed out that the original post made no sense at all:

Will’s argument, it seems to me, seems to rely on the peculiar idea
that we’ll run out of fossil fuels just in time to avert environmental

But still: there's an important idea amid that pedaling that I hadn't considered before, and that I haven't seen discussed. (Probably just due to my lack of reading in the field, but in any case.)

At a point in the not-distant future, there will be large-scale substitution to the alternatives in these rich countries.
The effect of this will be to ease demand for extractive energy
sources, dramatically bringing down the price of coal and oil on the
world market, making them that much more attractive to developing economies, who will then burn them in the least clean way.

And, I might add, burn more of them. I find this logic irrefutable. (Somebody please prove me wrong.)

As for the long-term macroeconomic ricochet effects, well—to quote our next president—that's beyond my pay grade.