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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Revealing

I've worked this theory for years that liberals pick and choose the taxes they support - with gusto - based upon the lifestyle they live. Specifically, they encourage taxing the hell out of activities that they don't participate in.

Do liberals smoke?

Tax 'em.

Do liberals drink beer?

Tax it.

Guns?

Yeah, baby.

Wine?

Uhhhhh ...

Ugly little electric cars?

What?

Birkenstocks?

OK. You can stop now.

I'm reminded of my theory by an editorial in this morning's New York Times, a liberal bastion if there ever was one. It doesn't involve taxation, but it relates. It''s about writers (get it? writers? New York Times?) being subjected to civil penalties because of the words they've written having been found to be false and malicious and written for the purpose of defaming someone.

In other words, it's about libel judgments.

Well, by God, we can't allow that!!!
Libel Tourism

American law, with its strong First Amendment traditions, makes it hard to sue authors for libel. To get around these protections, book subjects have been suing American authors in England, where the libel law is much less writer-friendly. Two states — New York and Illinois — have already adopted laws prohibiting “libel tourism,” and several more, including Florida and California, may soon join them.

That is a good start, but it still leaves writers with only a patchwork of protection. Congress needs to pass a law that makes clear that no American court will enforce libel judgments from countries that provide less protection for the written word. [link]
Yeah, Congress needs to drop what it's doing and defend the New York Times and its contributors.

This is the same New York Times that gleefully runs spurious stories (supplied by trial lawyers for the plaintiffs) about lawsuits being brought overseas against American oil companies, monetary judgments from which class action plaintiff's lawyers will expect America's courts to enforce.

Odd. They haven't run an editorial denouncing that practice yet .

Remember: Liberals aren't in the oil business. Or the pharmaceuticals business. Or the tobacco business. So tax the crap out of them. Sue the crap out of them. Foreign courts? Fine.

But writers?

They can't do that!!!!!

Theory tested. Theory confirmed.

Here, Let Me Help You

The theory goes something like this: Urban areas interested in economic growth can lure young, upwardly mobile, college educated, career-minded entrepreneurs and tech-savvy professionals to their environs by offering that "quality of life" that they cannot find elsewhere. That quality having to do with "open spaces" and an opportunity to recreate. To commune with nature. To afford amenities that they can't get in the burbs.

It's called the "Greenways Initiative." The pathway to riches and rewards the likes of which humankind can't even imagine.

Why they target young professionals with mountains of debt is beyond me. My guess is, it has to do with the fact that it's usually a young professional writing the proposal. Me? I'd be seeking out all those retired folks who have wads of disposable income to spend, but what do I know?

Anyway, the city of Roanoke, a while back, launched its own version of the Greenways Initiative and now curious people want to know: Is it worth the effort?
Surveying the greenway
Roanoke Times editorial

Depending on the time of day and the weather, parts of the pathway -- heavily favored by cyclists, runners, moms pushing carriages, dogs walking their owners -- can become rather congested.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out plenty of Roanokers of all sizes, shapes and ages use the river greenway. And that's a good thing because the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have invested much money in building and extending it.

Now the Corps wants to know if it's getting a return on the investment. To help figure that out, the city is conducting a survey ... [link]
A survey.

Like the editorialist, I'm a bit skeptical of the analytical value of asking residents what they think of a hiking path. But the boys at the Corps have to earn their keep too. So we get a survey. Whatever.

Might I make a suggestion, though?

Why not use empirical data?

Or, let me make it easy on you, why not use studies and analyses based on empirical data that other professionals have used?

To that end, the Milken Institute takes certain criteria and ranks America's top 200 cities and their economic prospects. Those criteria include such measurable things as short-term and longer-term job growth, short-term and longer-term wage and salary growth, GDP growth, and "high-tech" GDP.

So where does Roanoke rank out of 200 in 2008?

168.

And, with the Greenways Initiative now in high gear, how does that compare to a year ago?

In 2007, it was 138th.

Roanoke fell 30 notches.

I suppose the Corps of Engineers could do some research to find out if the 167 cities that rank higher than Roanoke have nicer greenways than does the Star City.

Or it might simply ask residents what they think of that nice, clean pathway that so many people like to use, as opposed to the sidewalk in front of their homes or the park down the street. The answer will be so much more uplifting, if no more enlightening.

Or they might study the whole notion that a greenway is, in any way, related to economic prosperity in the first place.

Or someone - besides the Corps of Engineers - might ask pertinent questions. Like: Why is Roanoke fairing so poorly in the race to economic success?

Greenways? Shoot, just having those buxom young upwardly mobile, college educated, career-minded women running in their sports bras makes it worth every penny.

So rank that ...

For Those Who Like Progressive Tax Rates ...

... and want Virginia to be more like the Northeast (where are Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran from again?), you might consider this. Those rich people whom you love to hate sometimes react in ways you don't want them to.

To wit:
Millionaires Go Missing
Wall Street Journal editorial

Here's a two-minute drill in soak-the-rich economics:

Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O'Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would "grin and bear it."

One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates.

No doubt the majority of that loss in millionaire filings results from the recession. However, this is one reason that depending on the rich to finance government is so ill-advised: Progressive tax rates create mountains of cash during good times that vanish during recessions.

The Maryland state revenue office says it's "way too early" to tell how many millionaires moved out of the state when the tax rates rose. But no one disputes that some rich filers did leave. [link]
Of course we know that Virginia is different. Rich residents would never leave here because ... well, it's Virginia.

But keep working at making it a blue state - like Maryland - and watch what happens. Florida, which has no income tax, is but a few hours away.

And the Caymans beckon ...

He Can Do What Bill Clinton Did

Nothing.

Tested Early by North Korea, Obama Has Few Options

At least few options he's willing to exercise.

Clinton decided that playing hide-the-cigar was a whole lot more fun than dealing with the growing threat of terrorism.

Obama?

Golf.

It's okay, though. The world knows there isn't any possibility, with Bush having gone into retirement, that the U.S. will involve itself in a conflict with any rogue nation.

No possibility whatsoever.

Asked the probing and hard-hitting New York Times reporter: "How's that chip shot, Mr. President?"

- - -

On a related note, what in God's name is this?

The Meaning of Michelle Obama

Good grief.

Parody? No. These "journalists" are absolutely serious.

Quick! Before They Learn The Truth!

As the data pour in showing the planet to be in a cooling trend ...

Gore calls on world business leaders to push for climate deal

My favorite line:

"We have to do it this year, not next year. Mother Nature does not do bailouts."

Because next year the planet will be even cooler. And that fact alone is eventually going to implode this house of cards.

Quote of the Day

From Glenn Reynolds:

"'Is Obama Another Jimmy Carter?' Actually, I’m beginning to think that’s a best-case situation. . . . "

Really. We may actually look on the Carter years with fondness after this is all over.

The Clock Is Ticking

While the world dithers ...

Defying world powers, N. Korea conducts nuke test

Iran's Ahmadinejad rejects Western nuclear proposal

It's just a matter of time.

Our response?

North Korean Nuclear Blast Draws Global Condemnation

For the 1,276th time.

- - -

I wonder if the editorialists at the Washington Post realize how ridiculous this reads:

"North Korea's detonation of a nuclear warhead in an underground test yesterday is, of course, cause for serious concern -- particularly as the blast appears to have been considerably larger than the regime's first test nearly three years ago. It is certainly cause for swift action by the U.N. Security Council, which issued a statement condemning Pyongyang's blatant violations of previous council resolutions, and promised to prepare yet another resolution ..."

Our strategy is to resolution them into submission.

For the love of God.

If Only Because He's a Dolt

G.O.P. Eyes Tough Task: Winning Reid’s Seat