Sunday, May 21, 2006

Tax and Spending Round-up

Willisms updates a graphic on Federal spending to reflect entitlements:

Federal Spending Posted by Picasa

A frequent complaint of the Left is that U.S. military spending is greater than the rest of the world's combined, but our GDP is also far and away the biggest. To put it in perspective:

According to the CIA World Factbook, the United States spent roughly 4% of GDP on the military, which positioned America in 26th place in the world in military spending as a percentage of its economy. Despite that relatively low level of spending (the U.S. spent in the double-digits throughout much of the 20th century), the United States still spent more than six times more than second place China in actual dollars. That's, perhaps, one reason why many left-wingers at home and abroad want to destroy America's economy with high taxes, overzealous environmental and labor regulations, and other Marxist ideology-in-action. America's enormous, booming economy allows for substantial force projection in the world, all at a relatively low cost.
The truth is "entitlements" (a politically correct term for "hand-outs") represent the majority of Federal outlays and dwarf military spending.

On the other side, Tax Prof Blog picks up on a WSJ editorial pointing out the rise in tax revenues following the capital gains cut - Tastes Great, More Filling:

Well, what do you know. The latest statistics on capital gains tax collections were recently released by the Congressional Budget Office, and receipts are not down but way up. By 45% to be exact. As part of President Bush's 2003 investment tax cut package, the capital gains tax rate was reduced to 15% from 20%. Opponents predicted, as ever, that this would reduce tax revenue.

Not even close. Here's what actually happened. This 25% reduction in the tax penalty on stock and other asset sales triggered a doubling of capital gains realizations, to $539 billion in 2005 from $269 billion in 2002. One influence was the increase in stock values over that time, thanks in part to the higher after-tax return on capital induced by the tax cuts.

But another cause for the windfall was almost certainly the "unlocking" effect from investors selling their existing asset holdings in order to realize some of their profits and pay taxes at the lower rate. They could then turn around and buy new assets, hoping for higher rates of return. This "unlocking" promotes the efficiency of capital markets by redirecting investment into new and higher value-added companies. It also yields a windfall for the Treasury. In 2002, the year before the tax cut, capital gains tax liabilities were $49 billion at the 20% rate. They rose slightly to $51 billion in 2003, then surged to $71 billion in 2004, and were estimated by CBO to have reached $80 billion last year -- all paid at the lower 15% rate. In short, the lower rate yielded more revenue.

Capital Gains Tax Revenues Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What's in Store for France?

Fjordman has some thoughts on possible scenarios at The Gates of Vienna: The Fall of France and the Multicultural World War:

"Muslim blogs are calling for violence against the Jews, the whites and the well-to-do. They say, “We must burn France, as Hamas will burn Israel.” The growth of the Islamic population is explosive. According to some, one out of three babies born in France is now a Muslim. Around 70% of French prisoners are Muslims. Hundreds of Muslim ghettos are already de facto following sharia, not French law. Some have pointed out that the French military are not always squeamish, but there are estimates that 15% of the armed forces are already made up of Muslims, and rising. How effective can the army then be in upholding the French republic? At the same time, opinion polls show that the French are now officially the most anti-capitalist nation on earth. France has chosen Socialism and Islam. It will get both, and sink into a quagmire of its own making. Some believe France will quietly become a Muslim country, others believe in civil war in the near future:"

He lists the possibilities as Eurabia, War and a Western Rebirth. I'm not too optimistic about the last one - I think the Eurabia/Pakistanization of Europe scenarios look a lot more likely.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Darfur - Another Opportunity to Bash Bush

Nina Shea on National Review Online writes about George Clooney's apparent partisan motivations for his recent Darfur activism:

"Clooney, as well as other Save Darfur leaders, also agrees that the Bush administration has done more for Darfur than any other government. (snip)

So when Clooney urges a “multi-national” peace keeping force going into Darfur, he must be envisioning a large and powerful army legitimized by the inclusion of troops from other Muslim and Arab nations and sanctioned by the United Nations’ Security Council. And Bush would then have to be blamed for failing to persuade the Arab League and China to vote against their own economic interests in order to defend the human rights of insignificant, impoverished African tribes against the oil-rich Khartoum regime. (snip)

Yet Clooney does not seem to have any intention of criticizing these countries—in his view, attribution of blame is to be reserved almost exclusively for the Bush administration. Rarely does he criticize any other government by name—not even the government of Sudan, the author of the genocide. His discussion of the facts of Darfur focuses on the victims and on the United States, not on the perpetrators in Sudan and their abettors in China, the Arab League, and the U.N.

Since seizing power in 1989, Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir has led a regime responsible for the deaths of at least two and a quarter million people, making him the bloodiest dictator alive. It is important not to forget that Darfur is Bashir's second genocidal campaign against his countrymen. He waged the first against the African traditional believers and Christians of south Sudan, resulting in two million deaths, with most occurring over the period of a decade, beginning in the early nineties. Elie Wiesel characterized this as "genocide in slow motion." Employing similar tactics to those now used in Darfur, the government, and the Bagarra tribal militias it armed, regularly bombed, burned, and looted southern villages, schools, hospitals, and food distribution centers; they enslaved and raped thousands of women and children; and they relocated entire villages into refugee camps. As in Darfur, deliberate mass starvation, accomplished in part by banning international relief, was the regime's most lethal weapon.

The death toll in the South from a conflict that ended only last year represented ten times the number dead so far in Darfur. Clooney’s voice was nowhere to be found when this was happening. But still, why doesn’t he ever talk about it now and relate its many obvious similarities to Darfur? Mentioning Bashir’s role in the southern genocide would be an important means of pressuring the regime. Could it be that, since most of those deaths occurred during the Clinton administration, and President Bush took the lead in successfully ending it, Clooney sees no political gain in bringing it up? Could it be that he is more interested in shaming Bush than Bashir?"

Read the whole thing here: Clooney Does Darfur