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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Cartoon of the Day

Quote of the Day

"I respect neither party. Other than on a few issues, they are one and the same. And even on the few differing issues, matters of degree rather than substance are generally what separates them. These differences reflect nuances in marketing strategy more than they do in philosophy. That is why it doesn’t matter who holds power. The outcomes are always either bad or worse:
  • Both political parties grow government.
  • Both engage in unnecessary military adventures.
  • Both exploit citizens to feather their own nests.
  • Both pander to voters rather than adhere to principles.
  • Both routinely ignore the Constitution.
  • Both raise taxes and spend monies in excess of taxes.
  • Both expand programs."  - Monty Pelerin

A Celebrity School Purges a Conservative Teacher

Posted by Daniel Greenfield 5 Comments Tuesday, July 30, 2019 @ International Liberty

Taxes Are Unpleasant and Obamacare Is Awful, but there’s a Strong Case for the Cadillac Tax

July 18, 2019 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty

When I followed public policy in my younger days, I periodically would see stories about legislation that was approved by the House of Representatives with only one dissenting vote.

My memory isn’t perfect, I’m sure, but it seems that Ron Paul was always that lonely member. And my recollection is that he was (as usual) always on the correct side, voting for liberty and against government.  (My Take - Rand Paul has taken srong conservative positions on a host of issues, but he's also taken libertarian postions I think are lunacy.  RK)

Something similar happened yesterday, except this time six members of Congress voted against a repeal of the “Cadillac Tax” that is part of Obamacare.

It was an eclectic group, but it included Justin Amash and Chip Roy, who are two of the most committed and principled supporters of free markets and limited government in Congress.

I freely admit that this is not a slam-dunk issue. After all, it’s almost always a good idea to lower taxes and almost always a good idea to jettison provisions of Obamacare.

But since the healthcare exclusion is arguably the most damaging loophole in the tax code and a major cause of ever-rising costs (because of “third-party payer“), there’s actually a very strong case – from both sides of the ideological spectrum – for retaining the Cadillac Tax.

From the right, I recommend this analysis from Alan Viard at the American Enterprise Institute.
…employer-provided health insurance gets a big tax break. Workers pay income and payroll taxes on their cash wages, but not on their health insurance benefits. …the tax break is poorly targeted because it applies even to high-cost “Cadillac” health plans. The tax system should not artificially encourage Cadillac plans, which boost demand for medical services and drive up health care costs for everyone. Although the Cadillac tax does not directly change the tax break for high-cost employer plans, it offsets the break by imposing a separate 40 percent tax on those plans. That round-about approach is far from ideal, but it gets the job done. …the Cadillac tax has won support from economists across the ideological spectrum.
From the left, here’s some of what Bruce Bartlett wrote for the New York Times.
Although obviously a form of income to the worker, the Internal Revenue Service nevertheless ruled that it was not taxable, although businesses could still deduct the cost. This anomalous tax treatment was a fabulous tax loophole for both businesses and workers… Congress codified the I.R.S. ruling.. Various tax expenditures for health cost hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue per year, according to the Congressional Research Service. Eliminating them could finance a significant reduction in tax rates. …If the Republicans are serious about using tax reform to improve the competitiveness of American businesses, the best thing they can do is reform employer-based health insurance.
For honest folks on the left, they should be motivated by the fact that this exclusion overwhelmingly benefits upper-income taxpayers.

This chart from the Tax Policy Center has the details about this reverse form of class warfare.

I’m more concerned about the fact that the healthcare exclusion is bad policy. Along with Medicare, Medicaid, and other forms of government intervention, it has crippled free markets and contributed to a very inefficient and costly healthcare system.

Like other loopholes, it should be repealed. But not so politicians get more money.

Every single penny should be returned to taxpayers as part of pro-growth tax reform that lowers marginal tax rates and reduces the tax bias against saving and investment.

The world faces ‘pollinator collapse’? How and why the media get the science wrong time and again

| July 30, 2019

There’s a saying among lawyers that goes, “If the facts aren’t on your side, argue the law. If the law isn’t on your side, argue the facts. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, pound the table.”
Substitute the word “science” for “law” and the same would apply to many environmental advocacy groups and even some politicians campaigning to ban various pesticides on the grounds that they’re contributing to a dangerous collapse in our pollinator population.

With neither the facts nor the science on their side, they’ve been doing a lot of table pounding lately.
As I and others have detailed in the Genetic Literacy Project and as other news organizations such as the Washington Post and Slate have outlined, the pollinator-collapse narrative has been relentless and mostly wrong for more than seven years now.

It germinated with Colony Collapse Disorder that began in 2006 and lasted for a few years—a freaky die off of bees that killed almost a quarter of the US honey bee population, but its cause remains unknown. Versions of CCD have been occurring periodically for hundreds of years, according to entomologists........To Read More....

The Co-Conspirators in the American Left's Takeover of the Democratic Party

By Steve McCann July 24,2019

Is there any doubt that the American Left is on the cusp of their ultimate prize and ticket to permanent political domination -- absolute control of the Democratic Party? A clear indicator is the unanimity of all 24 candidates campaigning for their presidential nomination in espousing Marxian Socialist policy positions long promoted by the American Left. Another is the spineless acquiescence by the party’s hierarchy in not only accepting but endorsing race baiting, virulent loathing of America as founded, and anti-Semitism from the likes of Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and their cohorts.

Since the turn of the Twentieth Century the American Left has been singularly focused on expunging the foundational basis of American culture, instituting Marxian Socialism and permanently controlling the federal government. The process of achieving this goal began in earnest in the 1960’s by first infiltrating and transforming the bulk of academia into a Marxist anti-American indoctrination caucus. Then, utilizing the resultant army of brainwashed acolytes to make inroads into and eventually dominate the media and entertainment establishment in order to spread their message to the masses. All the while leftists gradually permeated the myriad cells of the Democratic Party, which was an obvious target as the Party was committed to the growth of a powerful central government since the 1930’s, but as of the 1960’s did not espouse socialism, anti-Americanism and the transformation of our unique American culture.

The tactics and objectives of the American Left were never hidden or obfuscated. So, how were they allowed virtually free rein to run amok throughout American society and stand on the cusp of achieving their primary goal?.........To Read More...

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Cartoon of the Day

Geller Report for July 29, 2019

Today's Headlines

'We will find out exactly what Comey was up to'

ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) launches investigation into fired FBI chief's campaign against Trump


Since James Comey was fired as director of the FBI, he’s repeatedly lashed out at his former boss, President Trump.

But it’s what he did before he was fired that interests the American Center for Law and Justice. The legal team, through the Freedom of Information Act, is seeking every email, memorandum, brief and electronic message regarding a “spy” Comey dispatched to the White House and apparently used against the president.

“We will find out exactly what Comey was up to and bring it to light. And we’re prepared to go right back to court against the FBI Deep State in order to expose the truth, defend the Constitution and our rule of law, and once again defeat the Deep State. We will keep you updated as this case progresses,” ACLJ said Friday.

“The American people deserve to know the truth.”........To Read More....

Trump to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence

By Thomas Lifson July 29, 2019

The appointment of a former US Attorney, who is also a master of the details of the attempted plot to oust Trump, signals that the “investigate the investigators” phase of the biggest political scandal in history is moving into high gear.

Jonathan Swan of Axios published a scoop, now confirmed by presidential tweet, that Rep. John Ratcliffe will be nominated to replace Dan Coast as the Director of National Intelligence. This almost certainly means that the “investigate the investigators” phase of the biggest political scandal in American history is going to get very serious, with the intelligence community cooperating rather than stonewalling.

Ratcliffe has deeply impressed me with his questioning of witnesses and comments on television interviews. He is right up there with Devin Nunes in terms of his mastery of the details of the plot.

Swan writes:............To Read More....

Senator Kamala Harris Lives In the Most Segregated Neighborhood in Los Angeles

Posted by Daniel Greenfield 0 Comments Monday, July 29, 2019 @ Sultan Knish Blog

Where in the Developed World Are Average Workers Most Over-Taxed?

May 28, 2019 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
I periodically explain that a European-sized welfare state can only be financed by huge taxes on lower-income and middle-class taxpayers.

Simply stated, there aren’t enough rich people to prop up big government. Moreover, at the risk of mixing my animal metaphors, those golden geese also have a tendency to fly away if they’re being treated like fatted calves.

I have some additional evidence to share on this issue, thanks to a new report from the Tax Foundation. The research specifically looks at the tax burden on the average worker in developed nations
The tax burden on labor is referred to as a “tax wedge,” which simply refers to the difference between an employer’s cost of an employee and the employee’s net disposable income. …The OECD calculates the tax burden by adding together the income tax payment, employee-side payroll tax payment, and employer-side payroll tax payment of a worker earning the average wage in a country. …Although payroll taxes are typically split between workers and their employers, economists generally agree that both sides of the payroll tax ultimately fall on workers.
The bad news for workers (and the good news for politicians) is that average workers in the advanced world loses more than one-third of their income to government.

In some cases, such as the unfortunate Spanish household I wrote about back in February, the government steals two-thirds of a worker’s income.

So which country is best for workers and which is worst?

Here’s a look at a map showing the tax burden for selected European nations.
Suffice to say, it’s not good to be dark red.

But that map doesn’t provide a complete answer.

To really determine the best and worst countries, the Tax Foundation made an important correction to the OECD data by including the burden of the value-added tax. Here’s why it matters.
The tax burden on labor is broader than personal income taxes and payroll taxes. In many countries individuals also pay a value-added tax (VAT) on their consumption. Because a VAT diminishes the purchasing power of individual earnings, a more complete picture of the tax burden should include the VAT. Although the United States does not have a VAT, state sales taxes also work to diminish the purchasing power of earnings. Accounting for VAT rates and bases in OECD countries increased the tax burden on labor by 5 percentage-points on average in 2018.
And with that important fix, we can confidently state that the worst country for ordinary workers is Belgium, followed by Germany, Austria, France, and Italy.

The best country, assuming we’re limiting the conversation to rich countries, is Switzerland, followed by New Zealand, South Korea, Israel, and the United States.

By the way, this report just looks at the tax burden on average workers. We would also need estimates of the tax burden on things such as investment, business, and entrepreneurship to judge the overall merit (or lack thereof) of various tax regimes.

Let’s close by looking at the nations that have moved the most in the right direction and wrong direction this century.

Congratulations to Hungary, Israel, and Sweden.

I’m not surprised to see Mexico galloping in the wrong direction, though I’m disappointed that South Korea and Iceland are also deteriorating.

P.S. The bottom line is that global evidence confirms that ordinary people will be the ones paying the tab if Crazy Bernie and AOC succeed in expanding the burden of government spending in America. Though they’re not honest enough to admit it.

Warren Warns Of Vampires Sucking Money

By , Special to the Sun | July 29, 2019

At the Democratic presidential debates this week and as the campaign heats up in the months ahead, listen for the word “suck.”  Senator Warren of Massachusetts has been using it frequently in connection with health care. In the first round of debates she said, “the insurance companies last year alone sucked $23 billion in profits out of the health care system.”  The senator also uses the term for those in the financial sector more broadly, beyond health insurance.
Recently, Warren issued a plan to “rein in the financial industry so it stops sucking money out of the rest of the economy.”  “The private equity firms are like vampires — bleeding the company dry and walking away enriched even as the company succumbs,” Warren said..........To Read More....

Energy & Environmental Newsletter: July 29, 2019

By -- July 29, 2019

The Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED) is an informal coalition of individuals and organizations interested in improving national, state, and local energy and environmental policies. Our premise is that technical matters like these should be addressed by using Real Science (please consult for more information).

A key element of AWED’s efforts is public education. Towards that end, every three weeks we put together a newsletter to balance what is found in the mainstream media about energy and the environment. We appreciate MasterResource for their assistance in publishing this information.
Some of the more important articles in this issue are:
Greed Energy Economics:
Turbine Health Matters:
Renewable Energy Destroying Ecosystems:
Miscellaneous Energy News:
Miscellaneous–Offshore Wind
US Energy Policy and Presidential Politics:
Manmade Global Warming Articles:
Science, Education, Politics, and Misc Related Articles:

Environment: Getting Better All the Time

By Alex Berezow — July 23, 2019   @ American Council on Science and Health 

In 1967, the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of the best albums ever made. One of its hit songs was titled "Getting Better," and part of the chorus goes like this:

I've got to admit it's getting better
A little better all the time

The song was about life in general, but it could have been dedicated to the environment. Contrary to what you see reported in the news, the environment is, bit by bit, getting better.

The Environment: Getting Better All the Time

The latest evidence for this comes from France, which is becoming heavily re-forested. According to The Economist:
Since 1990, thanks to better protection as well as to a decline in farming, France’s overall wooded or forested areas have increased by nearly 7%. And France is far from being alone. Across the EU, between 1990 and 2015, the total forested and wooded area grew by 90,000 square kilometres—an area roughly the size of Portugal. Almost every country has seen its forests grow over the period.
Believe it or not, Europe is not an outlier. The United States has more trees now than it did 100 years ago. A study in Nature concluded that there is more tree cover on Earth now than 35 years ago1.

Why? Because of technology and wealth. Technology, including agricultural technology, helps decouple the economy from natural resources. In other words, we humans are becoming less reliant on Mother Nature for our well-being. We can grow more food on less land, for instance. Soon, using hydroponics, we may be able to grow food in skyscrapers.

Wealth is the other major driver. When a poor country becomes wealthier, it usually does so at the expense of the environment. (That's why China is belching out pollution and Brazil is destroying the Amazon rain forest.) The primary concern of these countries is to escape poverty. But as countries become even richer, they decide to use some of that wealth to benefit the environment. Green spaces and parks are often seen as a luxury that only the wealthy can afford.

This concept is neither new nor a myth propagated by industry. It's known as the environmental Kuznets curve. (Source: Govinddelhi via Wikipedia.) A textbook co-authored by Paul Krugman (yes, that Paul Krugman) called International Economics: Theory and Policy said that the relevance of the environmental Kuznets curve "has been confirmed by a great deal of further research."2

None of this is meant to suggest that there are no environmental problems. Poor regions really are doing some very bad things to the planet. Asia and Africa, for example, are primarily responsible for dumping plastic into the ocean3.

As is often the case, the cure is wealth. If we want these countries to treat the planet well, we should do whatever we can to help make them richer. Incidentally, they'll also have fewer kids.

(1) Naysayers, pessimists, and Debbie Downers will note that biodiversity is lower in new forests than in old-growth forests. That's probably true but have patience. Biodiversity will return. The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea has become a haven for wildlife, including endangered species.

(2) I once had a TV debate with Prof. Corey Bradshaw of Flinders University, who erroneously claimed (at 26:26) that, "There is no evidence for the environmental Kuznets curve ever in the history of humankind." Perhaps he should read more.

(3) Before anyone says that the United States and other rich countries are ultimately responsible because we outsource our pollution, note that in regard to "pollution havens," the aforementioned textbook says, "[T]here is not much evidence that 'dirty' industries move to countries with lax environmental regulation."
 Please Help Fund Our Work If you follow our work, you know that we here at ACSH go after the fraudsters, the hucksters and the snake-oil peddlers. And when we're not debunking their misleading or dangerous junk science, we're always aiming to give you the most accurate and dependable health news. But we can only continue to do that with support from our readers and friends who value what we do. So if you can please donate. Thank you.

What Do Neutralizing Skunk Odor &Tylenol Poisoning Have in Common?

 By Josh Bloom — July 25, 2019

One of the many fascinating aspects of organic chemistry is how seemingly different reactions work in the same exact way. There can be no better example of this than phenomenon than two very different functions – saving victims of Tylenol poisoning and neutralizing the smell of skunk spray – operating by an identical mechanism - a chemical reaction called a Michael addition.
Robert H. Cichewicz and colleagues at the University of Oklahoma have been looking for natural products that could "de-skunk" people and pets and they have a candidate called pericosine A -  a metabolite that was isolated from sea hare-derived fungus Periconia byssoides............. More @ American Council on Science and Health

Please Help Fund Our Work If you follow our work, you know that we here at ACSH go after the fraudsters, the hucksters and the snake-oil peddlers. And when we're not debunking their misleading or dangerous junk science, we're always aiming to give you the most accurate and dependable health news. But we can only continue to do that with support from our readers and friends who value what we do. So if you can please donate. Thank you.

DCCC faces mass staff upheaval after uproar over diversity

By Laura Barrón-López, Heather Caygle and Jake Sherman

The top echelon of staffers at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee left their jobs Monday, a shakeup following a pair of POLITICO stories detailing deep unease with the party’s campaign apparatus over a lack of diversity.

On Monday morning, Allison Jaslow, the DCCC’s executive director and a close ally of Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) — the chair of the committee — resigned during a tense meeting at the party’s Capitol Hill headquarters. And in the next 10 hours, much of the senior staff was out: Jared Smith, the communications director and another Bustos ally; Melissa Miller, a top DCCC communications aide; Molly Ritner, the political director; Nick Pancrazio, the deputy executive director; and Van Ornelas, the DCCC’s director of diversity.
POLITICO reported last week that top lawmakers in the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus were furious with Bustos, saying she was short-changing minorities by excluding them from her senior staff and failing to live up to promises she made during her campaign for the chairmanship.........To Read More...

My Take - Well, there they go again.  The race card.  Well, the Democrats have put themselves into this situation of talking the talk and walking the talk.  Make no mistake about this. it will be the cronies of members of the Congressional Black Caucus will get first crack at those jobs, irrespective of their qualifications.  And once hired, no one will be able to fire them, even if they prove to be thoroughly incompetent with forty thousand tons of attitude.

I like it!

Trump vs. Cummings

Remember when Bernie Sanders likened Baltimore to a "Third World country" and North Korea?

Yelling 'racist' won’t clean up our cities

July 30, 2019 By Michael James

In response to President Trump’s message to Elijah Cummings, liberals pulled out all of their racist daggers in an attempt to slay Trump once again.  Even the most passive/aggressive liberal knows that screaming epithets at white people won’t produce positive change in our cities.  The fact that liberals default to this accusation implies two motives.

1) Liberals have no solutions to offer on the subject of rat and criminal infestations in our major cities.
2) Liberals like things the way they are and see no problem in chaining minority populations to third-world conditions.

That’s the long and short of it.........To

Baltimore Ambush: Trump forces Democrats to defend the indefensible, again

President Trump has done it again.

Just as he forced Democrats to defend the far-left 'Squad' in his unexpected ambush on Rep. Ilhan Omar and her pals, he's now forcing Democrats to own the urban shambles and filth that characterize one-party blue-city rule, putting all Democrats on their backfoot. That's what's behind his surprise Twitter assault that began with Rep. Elijah Cummings and his rat-infested Baltimore district, which pretty much came out of the blue.

Here's his unusually long string of street-fighting tweets, all of them calculated to hit Democrats where it hurts:..........To Read More....

2+2 = White Privilege

Math and social justice don't add up.

July 29, 2019 Mark Tapson

In the end, the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. – George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

It’s no secret that leftist educators have utterly ruined the fields of the humanities with their Marxist wokeness, postmodern deconstructionism, and openly anti-Western bias. Now The College Fix reports that educators are increasingly imposing a social justice agenda in at least one field that you might expect would be free from any sort of ideological perspective: mathematics................

There can be no topic of discussion or field of endeavor in which politics is absent or in which neutrality and objective truth reign...........The online description of one 2018 webinar hosted by the NCTM titled “Developing Social Justice Mathematics Activists in Pre-K-Grade 5” states that “when paired with issues of fairness, mathematics becomes a social justice tool that empowers students to mathematically recognize and address oppression they see in their own world.” One educator tweeted, “Teaching math for social justice – this paper shares the process of analyzing school math curriculum as an entryway to engage elementary age students’ awareness around the hidden curriculum, transphobia, and genderism.” And the NCTM website notes that math equity “requires mathematics teachers to reflect on their own identity, positions, and beliefs in regards to racist and sorting-based mechanisms.”..................What does math have to do with one’s “identity”? What a naïve question. For the left, everything revolves around identity – math too, because as educator José Vilson writing at QED declares, “math as a subject still centers whiteness as a marker for success,” whatever that means.................To Read More.....

My Take - This kind of clabber never ceases to amaze me.  Intelligent will educated people will listen to this nonsense and buy into it.  We have lost our minds.