Fair Share

A Thomas Sowell quote is making the Internoodle rounds again. “What is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for?”

Dr. Sowell is an economist, social theorist, and philosopher. He is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Dr. Friedman, a Nobel laureate, founded the Chicago school of economics; Dr. Sowell is perhaps the leading voice of that school.

Rationing Means a 'Fair Share' for All of Us“I know the intention was to slam ‘distribution of wealth/social service program’ supporters,” my friend Nola Guay said to me, “But my real question is this: ‘What’s [ExxonMobil CEO] Rex Tillerson’s fair share of the $2.72 million salary and $4.59 million bonus he gets this year’? After all, his $600 million in federal handouts padded their gargantuan bottom line.”

Nola, dear? How much of what you’ve worked for do you want to give me?

“That’s a strawman and you know it, Dick,” she said.

Maybe so, but Mr. Tillerson is a piker. !@#$%^ Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts picked up $29.1 million in salary, bonus, and so on (down from $31.1 million in 2011) while delivering a whole lot less customer satisfaction. ExxonMobil at least puts a tiger in your tank. Heck, Walmart CEO Mike Duke’s pay jumped 14.1% to $20.7 million, mostly on a performance-based cash bonus. The average Walmart employee would have to work 785 years to earn that much.

Still, Nola, you didn’t answer the question. I really wonder how much you plan to give me out of what you worked for? I really wonder if you’ll tithe to me?

There is a belief that people who have more of something are required to give it to others who have less. Required.

“I’m looking for balanced, moral behavior on everyone’s part,” Ms. Guay said

Yeah, baby. When Rufus starts collecting Social Security this year at age 62, he’ll pull in $1,923/month or $23,076 per year because he qualifies for the maximum benefit. Ms. Guay’s 1040 showed a total income of $19,742. I guess Rufus owes Nola $1,667 this year just to keep them morally balanced. And Mr. Tillerson gets to give it to all of us. Of course, dividing his 7,310,000 pre-tax cash dollars between the 315,848,000 of us gives us each 2.3 cents.

“You’re missing the point as usual, Dick,” she said. “I’m looking for that good behavior on everyone’s part. You want to keep slashing benefits for the disadvantaged while filling the coffers of the already abusive wealthy. That’s just plain hateful and immoral.”

And that’s the smoke-and-mirrors part of Ms. Guay’s argument.

Dr. Sowell was a Marxist too, “during the decade of my 20s,” but he rejected Ms. Guay’s fair share economics (in favor of laissez faire) after he interned with the Feds in the summer of 1960. That’s when he discovered the link between the rise of mandated minimum wages for workers in the sugar industry of Puerto Rico and the rise of unemployment. Studying the patterns led Dr. Sowell to conclude that the government employees who administered the minimum wage law cared more about their own jobs than the plight of the poor.

“I don’t want to give even more money to Big Sugar, either,” she said.


The USDA will buy 400,000 tons of sugar in a massive bailout of domestic sugar processors. That will cost taxpayers about $80 million in the sweetest deal possible for the companies that grow cane and beets. See, they borrowed millions against this year’s sugar harvest but the harvest was soooooooooo good that prices dropped so they can’t pay back all of the loan.

Say what?

The National Debt increases at an average of $3.78 billion per day which will add up to some $1,400,000,000,000 (1.4 trillion dollars) this year so that extra $80 million is just .005% of the total increase in debt. We need to find the other 99.995% of immoral government spending, preferably from handouts to Big Sugar and Big Solar and all the other political boondoggles. After all, individual taxpayers paid $1,434,100,000 (coincidentally about 1.4 trillion dollars) in federal income tax last year. If we have to pay the spending we authorized, we’ll have to double our “contribution.”

It’s a simple calculation. Cut spending or double taxes. It’s your “fair share.”

Your choice.

“I don’t understand how these clowns keep getting elected,” Ms. Guay said. “Oh, wait. I do. They make us believe that the ‘other people’ are our enemies. They run hate filled campaigns. Then these damn fool middle class buy that load of bilge and keep voting them in.”

And all I could think of was, Why is she maligning her own Demorats?

For the record, ExxonMobil paid $31.05 billion in federal income tax last year, after the huge handout of $600 million in annual federal tax breaks, on earnings before taxes of $78.73 billion; WalMart paid just $7.98 billion on $25.74 billion in earnings before taxes.
Comcast got about the same $566 million tax reduction in 2009 and avoided paying all the Pennsylvania corporate income taxes again last year.


Last Day

Everyone else is looking backwards today, but that’s simply too too easy. After all, we can sum up this year (and last year and the year before that) quite simply:

America’s national politicians-for-life, faced with a $16,352,743,884,513.53 debt and a bank that turns into a pumpkin at midnight tonight, decided to fight the War on Guns instead. (This follows the War on Drugs and we all know how well that worked out.)

Maybe they have finally realized that the Arab Spring of 2012 could become the American Spring of 2013.

~ ~ ~

I have just finished a loverly vacation. The weather was beachy. Marathon had a sand castle contest and Key Weird opened a sculpture exhibit with unicycles. We chased fleas, talked to birds, sang to sea lions, and took about 2,600 pictures, the digital equivalent of 72 rolls of film. And through it all, it did not once snow in the Florida Keys.

I don’t make New Year’s Revolutions but I would like to make a few changes in my life. For the record I am blessed with the two best friends a man could have and I don’t particularly want to add stuff. I bought the best camera I’ve ever owned last month. I have a couple of pretty good computers and plenty of pocket electronics. I don’t need an airplane.

I need time. See, this year I want to
hit a home run, even in the minors;
revisit the 40 states I’ve already photographed and visit the rest of them for the first time;
win the lottery;
hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (as long as there’s an elevator back up);
sell an invention;
sell 100 photographs;
sell a book;
and reduce my use of serial semi-colons.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve replaced or repaired most of the little things that plagued me and stole the time I needed to do all of the above:
the gas chainsaw that never ran (bought an electric);
the hydronic heating pipes that freeze in the winter (installed an antifreeze pumping system);
the satellite receiver that didn’t receive (they sent me another);
the IT client who lied to me, chewed up hours of time to repair stuff their prior service company did wrong, then refused to pay (shed same);
the pellet stove that stopped burning (I stopped trying to repair it and bought an exhaust fan);
my iPod dock (put a couple of powered speakers in service instead);
the slow leak in a couple of car tires that the fixes never seem to last and always seem flat when needed (ongoing);
and the new TV that hums in the external speakers (diagnosed but not fixed).

It’s time to stop having to fix the little stuff.

That all means 2013 will be the year Mr. Fixit puts a new roof on this house, digs up the sewer line, and has to drag the seawall out of the sea, innit. At least I shall endeavor not to take on new clients.

Happy New Year!

No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
— Mark Twain

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
–Mark Twain

There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.
— Mark Twain

Thanks to the Congress, the public debt rose $3,009,622.24 between 11:59 a.m. and noon today.


Ex-presidential candidate and Vermont’s former governor, Howard Dean told Bob Schieffer this morning that George Bush and the Tea Party caused the financial crisis.

Some other dood did it.

The SODDI defense, sometimes including “Plan B,” comes up in a criminal trial when there is no question that a murder, assault, or theft happened, but somebody else was in the room as a convenient fall guy. “Black guy, big head” actor Steve Harris liked to say in the television legal drama The Practice. The Other Dude can often remain unnamed, just a wraith who creates reasonable doubt. The real Plan B is invoked when the Other Dude gets a name.

AAA Rating

Republicans in Congress and on the street, of course, blame President Obama for all of the nation’s problems. “Hold the line,” Jim DeMint told Speaker John Boehner.Some other dood did it.

One of Rufus’ good friends, the very liberal born-again Zoroastrian musician Tom Minor, posted a Youtube video showing “How The Bush Tax Cuts Blew Up The Deficit And Debt.” It has easy to understand pictures, he wrote, “for all your friends who try and sell the BS that this debt is Obama’s fault.”

Some other dood did it.

If George Steinbrenner were still alive, how long do you think Barack Obama would last as the manager for the hated (in Vermont, at least) New York Yankees? I reckon he’d get tired of keeping power hitters Reid, McConnell, Inouye, Durbin, and Kyl, Boehner, Cantor, Pelosi, McCarthy, and Hoyer on the payroll when they couldn’t do anything but fumble.

Some other dood did it doesn’t work on the diamond.

Howard, and Jim, and Tom all missed the boat. They should have used the Shaggy Defense.

Reggae artist Shaggy’s number one hit song It Wasn’t Me portrays a man who asks his friend Shaggy what to do after his girlfriend caught him with another woman. Shaggy’s advice is to deny everything. Say “It wasn’t me,” despite all evidence to the contrary.

The Shaggy Defense described singer-songwriter, arranger, performer and record producer R. Kelly’s position when charged with child pornography after cops found a video of Mr. Kelly having sex with an underage girl. “You say that was me on camera, butt naked, face hanging out, banging on the kitchen floor? Nope. Wasn’t me.”

Worked in court.

Probably wouldn’t keep the manager or the players on the roster in the real world, though.

Citing the ongoing deficits and the unlikelihood that the current crop of politicians would ever solve them, Standard and Poor’s downgraded the United States debt from AAA to AA+ yesterday. It is the first debt downgrade in U.S. history.

I know. S&P must be the Other Dood.

The Email Lied

If any other of our presidents had doubled the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?

Dean “Dino” Russell is a roofer here in the middle Keys. Dancing about on roofs all his life has made him the most physically fit man in the Home Depot; it also gives him an overview of life. He is the third-most conservative man I know.

He also likes his role as rouser of rabble.

He sent me another ubiquitous email. You know the kind; it starts with “Did you know?” and ends with “send this to all your friends.

This one blames President Obama for doubling the national debt — that masterpiece that we as a nation, Dino avers, have spent 220 years building from the original pence that fell out of Alexander Hamilton’s pocket. As an interesting digression, Andrew Jackson had four Secretaries of the Treasury, more than any other U.S. president; Mr. Jackson also paid off the entire public debt in 1835. That was the only time in U.S. history that this country has been debt free.

The email was wrong about Mr. Obama doubling our debt. He hasn’t quite done that. Yet.

I know a lot about public debt partly because I know how to Google but partly because it isn’t rocket science. Debts are like diets. Whether you have a spending problem or an eating problem, when you consume more than you work, somebody gets fat.

Dino’s email made 23 claims about all the bad things Mr. Obama has done from doubling the debt twice to not reading Arizona’s state law on illegal immigrants. The mail says the president joined another country to sue the great state of Arizona. The email called him out for mispronouncing Marine Corps and miscounting the states and not knowing Spanish; for putting 87,000 people out of work by using a forged document and for needing a Teleprompter; for spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to go to a play, to pitch the Olympics in Denmark, and to plant a tree on Earth Day; for stealing General Motors from we stockholders and firing the CEO; and making a joke at Special Olympians. He is called cheap for the gifts he gives other heads of state, subservient for bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia, and criminal filling his cabinet with crooks. He apparently won’t help white flood victims in the Midwest and has created 32 Czars.

“Every statement and action in this email is factual and directly attributable to Barrack Hussein Obama,” Dino claims. “Every bumble is a matter of record and completely verifiable.”

Erm, well, no.

The gist of the email was correct. Mr. Obama is sinking the economy. He did nationalize industry and health care. He did steal General Motors from me. He is centralizing power even more. He is almost single-handedly turning the United States of America into the Union of Socialist American States.

But the email got too many facts wrong.

President Reagan doubled the debt Carter left. Bush 41 bumped the debt Reagan left by more than 50% but Clinton did double the debt Reagan left. Bush 43 nearly doubled the debt Clinton left. Bush 43 left a $10 trillion debt against a $15 trillion GDP. Obama admittedly bumped it to $14 trillion against about the same $15 trillion GDP but he ain’t the Lone Ranger.

The email got too many facts wrong about Presidents in general.

We know Mr. Obama didn’t read Arizona’s law. Politicians don’t read laws. Let’s tar the lot of them.

Mexico did file an amicus brief supporting the Obama Administration, not the other way around. Yawn. Let’s worry about the Feds usurping states rights.

Good that Dino didn’t have any problem with George W. Bush’s pronounsations; of course, Mr. Bush knows Spanish.

Many of the 87,000 people affected by the Gulf oil spill are back at work but my wife isn’t and neither are the 15.4 million out-of-work Americans Mr. Obama promised he would help. We should tar him for that but the email didn’t go there.

I use a Teleprompter. So does your favorite soap star but the email didn’t go there. Let’s tar everyone for that, eh?

Every president spends “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to go out of town; it’s the cost we pay to keep them alive until election day but the email didn’t go there.

And so on.

The “facts” ain’t quite what the emailer would like us to believe. That’s too bad because Mr. Obama’s factual performance is so bad for the country that we don’t have to make things up.

“The email tells a story about how atrocious it is in Obamaland,” Dino said. “‘Tis better to lie in a good cause than tell the truth in a bad one.”

That’s the leftist mantra he used to deride. Now both sides believe ideology trumps facts.

It doesn’t.

They Got the Gold Mine (We Got the Shaft)

The U.S. Senate skulked around in the dark again — that would be the wee hours while it rained on my roof last night. They voted 60:39 to pass another landmark, TRILLION DOLLAR, ObamaCare insurance bailout guaranteed to make less health care available to more people, increase premiums, and raise taxes. (The $500 billion Medicare cuts drive Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill would cut the U.S. national deficit by $132 billion over 10 years.) Giving up $500 billion to get $132 billion. Wow. Obamathematics strikes again.

The Senate also voted to raise the National debt ceiling.

Coincidence? I think not.