The Brats


Posted on : 2/16/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

It appears that is at least one restaurant that rewards the parents of well behaved youngsters by taking a little off their dining bill.  It is more than a little sad to think that we have come to the point where a positive reward is required to encourage good parenting.

And of course there is the obvious problem of some lawyer waiting for an opportunity to sue the restaurant for failing to give the parents who disagree with the restaurant regarding the relative behavior of their children.


Right Around Your Neck


Posted on : 2/15/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

I have been kayaking for a couple years now.  I enjoy it a lot.

A while back, I discovered a nifty necklace.  In theory, the guy selling them (at the time) was just out of college and looking for ways to make money without getting a real job.  'Cause real jobs cut into your kayaking time.  I have no idea if he is still dodging a responsible life, but I sure hope he is.

He was selling Hei Matau pendants.  In theory, they are Maori tribal symbols that represent good luck for those that travel over water.

I just thought the kid told a good story.  I am certainly grateful for any good luck that might come my way as well.

Wanderer Imports, the young man's company, is offering free shipping to former customers and our friends.  Just put the phrase "friendofwandererimports" in the discount box.

The one I wear is the last one on this page.  But I'm thinking about buying a couple more.  Perhaps you will find one that catches your eye as well.

No, You Can't Watch


Posted on : 2/14/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

In the news recently comes a story about the latest technological revolution in the service of individual liberty.  A cryptographic dream...or nightmare...depending on your perspective.

Back in October, the startup tech firm Silent Circle ruffled governments’ feathers with a “surveillance-proof” smartphone app to allow people to make secure phone calls and send texts easily. Now, the company is pushing things even further—with a groundbreaking encrypted data transfer app that will enable people to send files securely from a smartphone or tablet at the touch of a button. (For now, it’s just being released for iPhones and iPads, though Android versions should come soon.) That means photographs, videos, spreadsheets, you name it—sent scrambled from one person to another in a matter of seconds.


If governments don’t come round, though, Silent Circle’s solution is simple: The team will close up shop and move to a jurisdiction that won’t try to force them to comply with surveillance.

“We feel that every citizen has a right to communicate,” Janke says, “the right to send data without the fear of it being grabbed out of the air and used by criminals, stored by governments, and aggregated by companies that sell it.”
 How cool is that?  Very cool!  Anything that limits the intrusion of government in our private lives should be considered a step forward for everyone.

A Great Place For A Gun Free Zone


Posted on : 2/13/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Around any politician.

If gun free zones are really such a great idea, then shouldn't we demand that every politician eschew any sort of armed security? 

Before the government subjects the rest of us to any regulation, tax, or other legal intrusion, shouldn't they all apply to our government employees first and foremost?

85% Tax Rate On The Poor?


Posted on : 2/12/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

I read an awful lot of things while putting together the recent post about Phil Mickelson and tax rates, I came across this specious bit of reasoning that attempts to argue that people making US$18,000 per year end up paying an 85% tax rate.

Yes: On net, average federal income tax rates are negative -- post-tax income exceeds pretax income -- for the two lowest income quintiles. But that's not the same as marginal tax rates, which measure the amount of money taken out of each additional dollar earned. It's the marginal rate, most importantly, that creates the disincentive to work.
So how does they come up with that astronomical value?  They include social program benefits as "income" and calculate an effective "next dollar" rate based on lost social spending benefits due to increasing incomes.

The argument is that as income earned via legitimate employment increases, social program benefits decrease.  This decrease is then be an effective "tax".

While I have long been aware of this sort of "welfare trap", I think it is fundamentally dishonest to suggest that the proper reduction of benefits to be anything like a tax.

The Straw


Posted on : 2/10/2013 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , , , ,

...that broke the camel's back.

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson has recently taken a little flak for indicating that he plans on leaving California in the wake of his announced plans to relocate to a state with lower tax rates.  Specifically, California has recently increased their income tax rates by roughly 3 percent for the next seven years.  The sales tax was also increased.  These changes were made in an attempt to close the current sizable annual budget deficit being run by the state of California.

My sympathies lie primarily with Phil.  We aren't even close to being in the same income range, but as a matter of principle, I believe that a person has a right to the income they earn that should not be cavalierly set aside.  However, there are a couple of issues that have been studiously ignored in this discussion.

The first is the matter of comparing apples to apples.

According to Mr. Mickelson, his future total tax rate will be a little north of 60% of his income.  This includes federal income taxes, federal FICA taxes, federal Medicare taxes, state income taxes, and one presumes that local income taxes are included if appropriate.  Some of his critics have compared that tax rate with the 14% income tax rate paid by Mitt Romney and his wife.  That is an incomplete comparison designed to confuse the issue.

The Romney's most certainly paid payroll and appropriate income taxes for any wages they may have received.  Of course, if they did not receive any wages, then they didn't pay payroll or income taxes at those rates.

Under the area of comparable tax rates, the double taxation of dividends is also studiously ignored in these discussions.  Dividends are paid out of after tax profits by corporations.  When a further tax is then levied on the individual receiving those dividends, then the money is effectively taxed at the cumulative rate of the corporate income tax and the individual investment tax.

It is partially due to this double taxation that we have elected to charge a lower tax rate on investment income.  Good, bad, or indifferent; I make no assertion as to whether or not this is good public policy.

The second issue is the relative need for government to consume Mr. Mickelson's wealth.  Back in 2009 when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor of California, Robb Allen of Sharp as a Marble had a partial list of agencies, commissions, boards, and other state government organizations.  At the time, the suggestion was that prisons would have to close and state police would have to be laid off to balance the budget.  The point at the time is that there were a great many other state agencies that could have been down sized or perhaps even eliminated in order to minimize cuts to critical prison and law enforcement budgets.

A similar case can be made with respect to federal government spending as well.

As a former resident of California, it truly pains me to watch the current fiscal debacle unfold.  The roots of that debacle can be found in the lack of government fiscal restraint.  Poor spending priorities can never be solved by increasing taxation.

When taxation levels are high enough to represent injustice to the people earning that money, precautions to limit exposure to confiscatory taxation are more than justified.  The camel has no obligation to stand still as the last straw is dropped in place.