“What is a mere individual to do? Live as sane and decent a life as you can, love your family and friends and understand that everybody is in this together." 

 · Ron Smith

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Friday
Sep072012

CONSERVATIVE CARTOON OF THE DAY

 

Political Cartoons by Jerry Holbert

                                             By Jerry Holbert

                   Courtesy of Jonathan Garthwaite @ Townhall.com

 

Tuesday
Sep042012

O’MALLEY'S MOMENT OF TRUTH

It finally happened: Martin told the truth. I heard him tell it Sunday morning on “Face the Nation”. When Bob Schieffer asked him if he “could honestly say people are better off today than four years ago’, O’Malley answered “No…” quickly adding “but that’s not the question” for this election.”

That is the only truthful word I’ve heard O’Malley say since he plunged into politics in 1991.

He went on to blame the Bush administration for the rise of unemployment, the deficit, etc., but spent the rest of the weekend ‘splaining and reversing his remarks.

Leaving “no” on the side of the road, O’Malley took every available media opportunity to clarify his comment and spread the word that “we need to continue to move forward”.

He’s lucky he’s not at one of the two North Carolina Burn Centers for over-exposure to the key light, fill light and kicker lighting techniques used in television productions.

Too bad Flip Flopping isn’t an Olympic Event. He’d surely bring home the Gold.

But I disgress…

O’Malley will be the opening act for keynote speaker Julian Castro, the mayor San Antonio at the Convention Tuesday night.

In his allotted five minutes, he said he’s going to “lay out some of the themes of this upcoming choice in this campaign, the importance of moving forward and not back.”

The Sun blogged that this “is arguably the most important address the governor has given in years and it will be parsed by those speculating about the possibility of O’Malley’s own presidential campaign in 2016.”

He may need an extra hit of stage makeup to cover the dilated superficial blood vessels in his red ear from what he’s heard from the powers-that-be about his weekend gaffe.

Then again, maybe not.

He’s moved forward…

June Smith founded this tribute website in honor of her late husband, Ron Smith, WBAL Talk Show Host, Emmy Award winner, and Baltimore Sun Columnist. Smith was a media titan in Maryland and beyond for almost forty years. Mrs. Smith is working diligently to raise one million dollars for the Ron Smith Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins. She blogs for Red Maryland www.RedMaryland.Blogspot.com; her email is june@friendsofronsmith.com.

 

Sunday
Sep022012

What Passes for Justice in The Land of the Free…

Friend “Dollar Bill” shared Simon Black’s SovereignMan blog submission:

Jacques Wajsfelner of Weston, Massachusetts is a criminal mastermind. Big time. Like Lex Luthor. But rest easy, ladies and gentlemen, for this nefarious villain is about to face some serious jail time thanks to the courageous work of US government agents.

You see, Mr. Wajsfelner was finally caught and convicted of a most heinous crime: failing to disclose his foreign bank account to the US government. Note-- he was not convicted of tax evasion. He was not convicted of failing to file or pay taxes. His crime was not filing the annual Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

Because of his failure to disclose his foreign bank account, Wajsfelner is now looking at FIVE YEARS behind bars in a Day-Glo orange jumpsuit.

Oh, one more thing-- Wajsfelner is 83 years old. He was born in Germany during the global depression and rise of Adolf Hitler. The Wajsfelner family soon fled the Nazi regime and made its way to the United States. It was a different world back then.

Sentencing guidelines suggest that Wajsfelner will get some combination of jail time and supervised release to the tune of several years.

Then there's Eric Higgins of Port Huron, Michigan, who was recently busted for major possession of child pornography and engaging in sexually explicit conversations with juveniles online. He was given 20 months. Oh... and Mr. Higgins was a US Customs & Border Patrol agent.

Or Melford Christmas, a US immigration officer from New York, who was given 18 months for demanding and accepting bribes to speed along US citizenship applications of foreign nationals.

Or Ricardo Cordero, another US Customs & Border Patrol officer who was given 27-months for personally smuggling 30 Mexican nationals into the United States, and assisting another smuggler to bring 15 Mexican nationals across the border. This genius even had the smuggler testify as a character witness at his divorce proceeding!

Or Jon Corzine, former CEO of Goldman Sachs and member of the political elite, who presided over one of the largest plunders in the financial system ever seen during the recent MF Global collapse. He walks the streets freely to this day.

It seems pretty clear where the US government stands: the victimless crime of failing to report a foreign bank account is far more egregious than, say, possession of child pornography, engaging with minors in online sex chat, bribery, extortion, fraud, and abuse of official power.

This is what justice means in the Land of the Free today. Have you hit your breaking point yet?

As a parting note, I just want to remind readers once again that US taxpayers with foreign financial accounts are obliged to file form TDF 90-22.1 to the Department of Treasury each year by June 30th, as well as file IRS form 8938 and 1040 schedule B with your normal tax return each year.

It should be clear by now that failing to file is not an option. If you are delinquent in filing from past years, it's much better to catch up and file late than to not file at all.

- Simon Black, SovereignMan blog

Breaking point? More like turning point. Romney-Ryan: If not now, never…

 

June Smith founded this tribute website in honor of her late husband, Ron Smith, WBAL Talk Show Host, Emmy Award winner, and Baltimore Sun Columnist. Smith was a media titan in Maryland and beyond for almost forty years. Mrs. Smith is working diligently to raise one million dollars for the Ron Smith Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund at Johns Hopkins. She blogs for Red Maryland www.RedMaryland.Blogspot.com; her email is june@friendsofronsmith.com.

Sunday
Sep022012

Spending Cuts and Tax Cuts Should Be an All-of-the-Above Option, Not an Either-Or Choice

Daniel J. Mitchell

I’m in Slovenia where I just finished indoctrinating educating a bunch of students on the importance of Mitchell’s Golden Rule as a means of restraining the burden of government spending.

And I emphasized that the fiscal problem in Europe is the size of government, not the fact that nations are having a hard time borrowing money. As explained in this video, spending is the disease and deficits are one of the symptoms.

This is also an issue in the United States, and Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal is worried that the GOP ticket is debt-obsessed and doesn’t have sufficient enthusiasm for lower tax rates and tax reform.

Stylistically, Paul Ryan’s Republican convention speech last night was a grand slam. …But was it the growth message that supply-siders wanted to hear, or debt-clock obsession? There were clearly apocalyptic claims. “Before the math and the momentum overwhelm us all, we are going to solve this nation’s economic problems,” said Mr. Ryan in reference to the federal rea ink. “I’m going to level with you; we don’t have that much time.” …In fact, he talked about turning around the economy with “tax fairness.” Ugh, that’s an Obama term. …Larry Kudlow of CNBC and a former Reagan economist tells me, “Paul’s speech just didn’t have the growth, tax-cutting message. We didn’t even get the words tax reform. I don’t know what happened, but it worries me.” It’s a question of priorities. Are Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan signaling that they will put spending cuts ahead of pro-growth tax-rate cuts?

I share Steve’s concern, but with a twist.

I’m not worried that the Republicans will put spending cuts ahead of tax cuts. I’m worried that they won’t do spending cuts at all (even using the dishonest DC definition) and therefore wind up getting seduced into some sort of tax-increase deal that facilitates bigger government.

As a general rule, it is always good to do spending cuts (however defined). And it is always good to lower tax rates. And if you can do both at the same time, even better.

But since I have low expectations, I’ll be delighted if we “merely” manage to get entitlement reform during a Romney-Ryan Administration. That would mean some progress on the spending side and presumably reduce the risk of bad things (like a VAT!) on the revenue side.

Almost All Nations Are Heading for Collapse, but Greece Is Special (in a Bad Way)

I wrote yesterday that the United Kingdom is doomed because there isn’t a political party with the vision or courage to restrain the welfare state.

At various points, I’ve also expressed pessimism about the future of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and even the United States.

Simply stated, almost all western nations suffer from the same toxic combination of dependency, demographic decline, and poorly structured entitlement programs.

But some nations are heading in the wrong direction more rapidly than others, and Greece is best example (perhaps I should say worst example?) of a country that is careening toward catastrophe.

It’s such a basket case that I’m not sure whether the politicians or the people deserve the lion’s share of the blame.

  • The politicians deserve blame because they treat public office as a tool for self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement, largely by steering taxpayer money to friends, cronies, contributors, and supporters. Sometimes they do this in a search for votes. Sometimes in a search for cash.
  • The people deserve blame because they view the state as a magical source of freebies and they see no economic or moral problem with using a coercive government to steal from fellow citizens. They realize the system is corrupt, which is why they seek to evade taxes, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to live at the expense of others.

In a best-case scenario, this type of dysfunctional system reduces prosperity. But when the number of people mooching off the state reaches a critical mass (as illustrated by these two cartoons), then you get societal meltdown.

Which is a good description of what’s happening in Greece.

And even when the government is on the verge of collapse and there’s pressure for reform, the political elite somehow figure out how to screw things up.

The latest example is the possible creation of “special economic zones.” When I first glanced at the story excerpted below, I thought this meant the Greek government was going to create something akin to “enterprise zones” featuring lower tax rates and less red tape.

Because I’m a supporter of the law applying equally to everybody, I’m not a big fan of such policies. I want to reduce the burden of government, of course, but I want that approach for entire countries, not just a handful of areas selected by politicians.

But at least the concept is good, right?

Not when Greek politicians are involved. They have taken the worst features of enterprise zones and combined them with the worst features of redistributionism. Here’s some of the story from Ekathimerini.

The government is paving the way for negotiations with the European Commission regarding the creation of special economic zones (SEZ) in Greece, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis confirmed on Tuesday in Athens. …“SEZ will give a boost to the basis of the real economy,” said Hatzidakis, reiterating that the existing labor legislation will be fully respected. ..This forms part of the 10-point priority plan Hatzidakis announced yesterday aimed at boosting growth. Changes to the investment incentives law and the fast-track regulations will be completed within the next 15 days. The bill to be prepared will include subsidies of up to 80 percent for smaller companies… Public-private partnerships will be used for bolstering regional growth.

So the zones will keep all the bad labor laws, but provide big subsidies and create “public-private partnerships” (i.e., cronyism).

I hate to sound negative all the time, but that sounds precisely like the kind of nonsense that put Greece in a ditch to begin with.

To be fair, the article does talk about targeted tax relief and accelerated procedures for dealing with red tape. But that’s not exactly good news. Targeted tax cuts are a form of discrimination and they create an environment favorable to lobbying and corruption. And while it seems like good news to approve licenses more quickly, why not just get rid of bureaucratic hurdles? After all, this is the country (this is not a joke) that requires stool samples from entrepreneurs seeking to set up online companies.

It’s very hard to have any optimism after reading this type of story. Greece surely is an example of statism run amok, but let’s return to the point I made above about almost all other western nations heading in the same direction. Greece may be closest to the fiscal cliff, but the rest of us are driving in the same direction.

And if you think this is overheated rhetoric (yes, I’m prone to hyperbole), check out these dismal numbers from the Bank for International Settlements and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

P.S. The BIS and OECD numbers show that the United States is in worse shape – in the long run – than every European welfare state. I assume this is largely based on assumptions of health care spending rising more rapidly in America. The bad news is that this is a reasonable assumption (thanks to our third-party payer problem). The good news is that we can easily solve the problem with a combination of entitlement reform (which deals with a direct cause of third-party payer) and tax reform (which deals with an indirect cause of third-party payer).

Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side policy at the CATO Institute.

Courtesy of Jonathan Garthwaite @ Townhall.com