Archive for the ‘regulation’ Category

Adele Shrugs

When my daughter started talking about maybe going to see Adele when she appears in Austin TX, I had to admit I did not know who Adele is. So I researched a bit, Google of course, and found out Adele was shocked at her tax rate. This was due to her multi-platinum selling recording “19”. What’s worse, her next, “21” is out selling the first.

Adele recently told Q magazine, “I’m mortified to have to pay 50 percent!,”  she said.”[While] I use the NHS, I can’t use the public transport anymore. Trains are always late, most state schools are s–t, and I’ve gotta give you, like, four million quid. Are you having a laugh?”

Sounds like she needs to learn a new tune, and the Kinks “Sunny Afternoon” may be just the one for her.

“Save me! Save me! Save me from this squeeeeeeze!”

Sorry Adele, follow the Stones lead and go record in other countries.


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Michelle Malkin celebrates the defeat of proposed rule changes to Scrabble. Allegedly, proper names were going to be allowable. As a conservative I applaud this as well. Liberalism has infiltrated too many areas of our daily life.

… we were initially horrified to hear the rumors started by Time Magazine that Scrabble was succumbing to the lowest common denominator and changing its rules to allow proper nouns and other standard-lowering nonsense. I’m happy to report, however, that the rumors have been greatly exaggerated …

Heck, even the Simpsons played Scrabble.

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Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has linked to a video that has to be seen. Its a nice reflection on the iPad and healthcare legistlation.  Here is the video as well …

A great commentary, and I hesitate to improve on it, just let it sink in. (Especially the fake O-Pad display in black and white. Har har har.)

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That’s what Bart Simpson told his family in “Homer v. the Eighteenth Amendment.” “I’ll go with you!” said Homer. Marge put a stop to it, and that was that—except, of course, that Bart’s drinking started a temperance campaign that led to prohibition. As the episode illustrates, things get complicated when the government gets involved.

That’s perhaps the moral of this story of a University of Michigan professor who takes his son to a Tigers game and buys him a lemonade—which, unknown to him, was hard lemonade. After a trip to the hospital, a couple of days in foster care, and a week during which dad was banned from his own house, things are back to normal.

That led me to wonder what the law is in my state about parents giving their own minor children alcohol. Here it is. Most states are not so lenient.

106.04 – Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor
(a–b) A minor commits an offense if they consume alcohol unless they are in the visible presence of, and have the consent of their adult parent, legal guardian, or spouse.
§ 106.05 Possession of Alcohol by a Minor
(a) A minor commits an offense if they posses an alcoholic beverage.

(b) A minor may possess an alcoholic beverage:
• while in the course and scope of the minor’s employment if the minor is an employee of a licensee or permitted and the employment is not prohibited by this code
• if the minor is in the visible presence of his adult parent, guardian, or spouse, or other adult to whom the minor has been committed by a court
• if the minor is under the immediate supervision of a commissioned peace officer engaged in enforcing the provisions of this code.

(Notice, by the way, the failure of anaphoric agreement and the gender confusion in the above: “a minor… they” as well as “a minor… his.” Thank you, gender-neutral language police.)

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Arnold Kling reflects on the fact that the Clintons made $109 million over the past seven years. (Maybe John Edwards is on to something with that “Two Americas” thing.) What’s remarkable is not the amount of private wealth, however, but the amount of wealth and power that government officials control:

Montgomery County, Maryland, has an annual budget of $3.8 billion. This sum is under the control of a County Council with nine members. On an average per-politician basis, each County Council member controls just over $400 million a year in spending.

To put an annual spending figure of $400 million in perspective, consider this: if you had $8 billion in assets and earned 5 percent per year on those assets, that would give you $400 million in annual income. And few Americans have that much. The world’s wealthiest person is Warren Buffett, with $62 billion (admittedly he has often been able to earn more than 5 percent per year from investments). Bill Gates has $58 billion. Fewer than 40 Americans have more than $8 billion in assets, and their names are largely familiar to us–the Waltons of Wal-Mart, Sergie Brin and Larry Page of Google, and so on.

Can you name the members of the County Council in Montgomery County, Maryland? I can’t name very many of them, and I live there. Still, getting elected to the County Council in Montogmery County, which is pretty far down the ladder in terms of political power in the United States, enables you to control more annual spending than the wealth of Donald Trump or Steven Jobs.

At the Federal level, the Budget is $3 trillion. If you divide that by 535 (the number of of Senators and Congressmen), then on average each legislator controls over $5 billion in spending per year. That is more than even the world’s richest person could spend annually.

Money, moreover, represents virtually all of a private individual’s power, but only a small fraction of the power of public officials, who can not only spend but also regulate, control, command, and punish. It’s good to remember that, no matter how rich or powerful someone is, there are many government officials who control far more financial resources and exercise far greater power.

Perhaps there are three Americas: the rich, the non-rich, and the bureaucrats, who tell those in the first two groups what to do.

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Pigs Fly!

And George McGovern has discovered the value of liberty and the limitations of government.

Since leaving office I’ve written about public policy from a new perspective: outside looking in. I’ve come to realize that protecting freedom of choice in our everyday lives is essential to maintaining a healthy civil society.

Why do we think we are helping adult consumers by taking away their options? We don’t take away cars because we don’t like some people speeding. We allow state lotteries despite knowing some people are betting their grocery money. Everyone is exposed to economic risks of some kind. But we don’t operate mindlessly in trying to smooth out every theoretical wrinkle in life.

The nature of freedom of choice is that some people will misuse their responsibility and hurt themselves in the process. We should do our best to educate them, but without diminishing choice for everyone else.

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Mark Tapscott (HT: Instapundit):

I don’t see how McCain could avoid being a vigorous supporter of proposals to expand the regulatory reach and severity of campaign finance law. Otherwise, it will take the Democrats about 10 seconds to accuse McCain of flip-flopping, or worse, if he doesn’t aggressively support their certain efforts to expand the FEC’s budget, staff and regulatory authority.

The inevitable result will be the expansion of congressional and bureaucratic regulation of political speech in America, likely beginning with bloggers. Absent an iron-clad promise to vigorously oppose any expansion of congressional or FEC regulatory authority in this area, it’s hard to see how John McCain’s ascension to the White House could be anything short of a disaster for freedom of political speech in this country.

That’s a real worry, but there’s every reason to believe that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would be just as interested in expanding the regulation of political speech. In short, it’s hard to see how 2009 and following “could be anything short of a disaster for freedom of political speech in this country” no matter which of the three is elected President.

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Many have noticed that the Social Security system is essentially a Ponzi scheme, a pyramid that depends on the entry of increasing numbers of people. People who entered the system early profited immensely. People entering it when I did are fated to receive poor returns, assuming the system survives. People entering it now—that means YOU, graduates!—are going to lose big.

John Hinderaker notes that the same is true of government health care in general, and health insurance mandates in particular. I once attended a workshop at a San Diego hotel which was also the site of a conference on health care. I rode to the airport with a speaker from that conference. He focused on the problem of affordability. I pointed out exactly what Hinderaker says:

…many millions of Americans have no good reason to buy health insurance. This is especially true of single young people, above all single men. They rarely become seriously ill, and they know that if they are unlucky enough to be in an accident or contract a serious illness, they will be treated anyway. So, quite properly, they see no reason to pay for health insurance or–the same thing–place a high value on health insurance as an employment benefit.

Our driver, who was about twenty-five, nodded. That was exactly his situation. It wasn’t that he couldn’t afford health insurance; it was that he didn’t want to spend his money on insurance he didn’t need.

Hinderaker concludes:

There is an analogy between the compulsory aspects of the candidates’ health care proposals and Social Security. A young man or woman would be crazy to participate in the Social Security system if he or she had any choice. If anyone saved 12.4% of his earnings over a lifetime, he would not only have far more money in retirement than Social Security can provide, it would, equally important, be his money, to invest and dispose of as he sees fit. But the government needs young people’s money to support their grandparents’ retirements, so Social Security is forced upon them. The same thing, in essence, will happen with health care if any comprehensive “reform” plan is adopted.

Young people ought to be more concerned than they are that health insurance mandates and government health insurance in general are ways of shifting the cost of health care from the old to the young. Since older people tend to earn more, and have much more wealth, than younger people, this is not only bad for the young but bound to increase inequality. Social Security and health care mandates are inverse Robin Hood schemes; they take from the (relatively) poor to give to the (relatively) rich.

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Various pundits and Democratic candidates for President have been arguing about ways of bringing health insurance to those who currently lack it. One idea is health insurance mandates—require people to buy health insurance, and subsidize the cost for those who have trouble affording it.

Greg Mankiw today says what I’ve been thinking about this: “a mandate is only as effective as the penalty backing it up.” Auto insurance mandates have not solved the problem of uninsured motorists, and there are penalties for driving without auto insurance and checkpoints for auto insurance coverage (e.g., state motor vehicle inspections) that have no obvious analogy with health insurance.

Imposing penalties for lack of coverage, moreover, would have perverse effects. People who are likely to be fined for seeking medical care without insurance will either try to apply for insurance coverage after they get sick and realize they need medical care or try to avoid seeking care altogether. Now, uninsured people seek care in emergency rooms of public hospitals—an inefficient way of providing them care, to be sure—but, in a system with significant mandates and penalties, they are likely to avoid seeking care altogether. Moreover, if they can’t afford insurance, they probably can’t afford penalties. What then?

There are, no doubt, many people who could afford health insurance but do not have it simply because they are young, healthy, and willing to take the risk that they will not face significant health care costs in the near future. Mandates would incline some of them to buy insurance. But it’s not clear that this effect would be strong enough to outweigh the negatives.

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