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Betsy's Page

Updated: 2017-12-18T08:03:20.309-05:00


Cruising the Web


Yeah, I don't think this is a successful message for the Democrats in criticizing the GOP tax plan.

Well, I'm not quite this much of a podfaster, but I do listen to 2 - 3 podcasts a day and will listen on nothing slower than 1.5 speed. And I still have dozens and dozens queued up. Maybe I'll have to take another car trip somewhere so I can knock off some more.

Cruising the Web


I'm just getting ready to teach the federalism unit and one of the main concepts for students to learn is how federalism allows for the states to become "laboratories of democracy," where we can see the results of different policy choices. I usually show students differences among the states on issues such as taxes, spending on education, and capital punishment. One of the maps I was looking at to show them is this one from the Tax Foundation on the different corporate tax rates in the 50 states.The differences among the states will play a role in how businesses make decisions about where to locate. Add in this map of the top income tax rates by state.It turns out that people respond to the disincentives of living in certain high-tax states.As the Wall Street Journal has this report on the results of such tax differences among the states.The liberal tax model is to fleece the rich to finance spending on entitlements and government programs that invariably grow faster than the economy and revenues. IRS data on tax migration show this model is now breaking down in progressive states as the affluent run for cover and the middle class is left paying the bills.Between 2012 and 2015 (the most recent data), a net $8.5 billion in adjusted gross income left New Jersey while $6.2 billion poured out of Connecticut—4% of the latter state’s total income. Illinois lost $13.6 billion. During that period, Florida with no income tax gained $39.3 billion in AGI. (See the nearby table.)Not surprisingly, income flows down the tax gradient. In 2015 New York (where the combined state and local top rate is 12.7%) lost a net $850 million in AGI to New Jersey (8.97%) and Connecticut (6.99%). At the same time, the Garden State gave up $335 million to Pennsylvania (3.07%), and $60 million left Connecticut for the state formerly known as Taxachusetts (5.1%). Taxpayers from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut escaped to Florida with $3.2 billion in income. Florida Gov. Rick Scott ought to pay these states a commission.The affluent account for a disproportionate share of the income migration. For instance, individuals reporting more than $200,000 in AGI in 2015 made up 57% of the income outflow from Connecticut (compared to 48% of total state AGI) and 57% of the inflow to Florida.Snowbird flight isn’t new, but migration has accelerated as taxes have increased. Income outflow from Connecticut averaged $500 million between 2003 and 2007. Then in 2009 GOP Gov. Jodi Rell raised the top tax rate to 6.5% from 5%, which her Democratic successor Dannel Malloy lifted a few years later to 6.7% and again two years ago to 6.99%. AGI outflow between 2012 and 2015 averaged $1.6 billion.In 2004 Democrats raised New Jersey’s top rate on individuals earning more than $500,000 to 8.97% from 6.37%. Between 2012 and 2015, annual income outflow from New Jersey averaged $2.1 billion—twice as much as between 2000 and 2003 after adjusting for inflation.The problem for these high tax states is that people, especially wealthy people, have choices and staying around to see more of their wealth or corporate income taxed is not going to fly with a lot of those people. And when they leave, the state loses those revenues that the states have been relying on to fund the promises they've made to public employees' unions.This millionaires’ diaspora has harmed income and economic growth. Real GDP between 2011 and 2016 grew annually at a paltry 0.2% in Connecticut, 1% in Illinois and 1.2% in New Jersey, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. These states were the slowest growing in their respective geographic regions, though other high tax states in the Northeast didn’t fare much better.As a result, revenues have repeatedly fallen short of projections in New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut while budget deficits have ballooned. Democratic lawmakers have cut public services and funds to local governments, which have responded by raising property taxes.The Tax Foundation says New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, New York and Illinois hav[...]

Cruising the Web


Well, I spent the last week thinking about centennerary of the Bolshevik Revolution and the tens of millions of deaths that came about as a result of that as I was in D.C. for the Centennial Commemoration by the Victims of Communism Foundation. It was just such a solemn moment. Even as we can celebrate the end of the Cold War, but there are still millions suffering in places like North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela so we can't forget what the end results of a communist system will inevitably be.And then to look at the current news and see that Republicans are arguing with each other about whether a man in his thirties making advances on teenage girls should be supported for the Senate. Gosh, what have we come to? I realize that we don't know the facts in the story about Roy Moore, but if you were willing to believe accusations against Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey or Bill Clinton because there were several people making the accusations who had told people contemporaneously about those events, then, as Jim Geraghty argues, Occam's Razor would fall against Moore.If you believe Moore’s denials, you have to believe that four of these women, with no evidence that they know each other or ever met each other, all decided to lie when the Washington Post showed up at their door, that they all spontaneously made up a story that they were able to recount in detail in multiple retellings to reporters over a period of weeks, and they all chose to make up similar stories about Moore’s sexual pursuit....A variation of Occam’s Razor declares that the simplest explanation is the most likely one. You can either believe that Moore behaved in the way the women describe – accounting for any faults of memory in the forty or so years since then – or you can believe that they all chose, spontaneously, to partake in an elaborate conspiracy to destroy his reputation, an effort that they no doubt understood would lead to making enemies. But then there are some Alabama Republicans who are trying to argue that a man in his 30s pursuing a relationship with high school girls as young as 14 is no big deal. I'm sorry. I've been teaching middle and high school for over 35 years and, in my mind, there is no defense. It was wrong in the 1970s and it is wrong now.Most, but not all, people across the political spectrum recognize that an adult pursuing a sexAual relationship with a teenager is wrong today, and it was wrong in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We can argue what the age of consent ought to be, and we can have a separate discussion about whether our society has a glaring double standard, sometimes laughing off tales of adult women teachers having sexual relationships with male students, while prosecuting adult men having sexual relationships with teenage girls. But society has the good sense to realize that teenagers are often not the best decision-makers when it comes to sex. Hormones and desire can easily outpace their judgment. Fully-grown adults need to be barred from exploiting teenagers’ naiveté and inexperience in human relationships.The man was an assistant district attorney at the time. He would have known that the age of consent was at the time. And it's totally believable to me that a young girl at the time wouldn't want to make an accusation against a prominent man in the community.As all these accusations against prominent men and their predatory behavior have been in the news, I've been thinking about a distant event that I hadn't thought about for years. When I was 15, I had volunteered to tutor at the local middle school. I was assigned to a sixth grade classroom and was enjoying working with the kids. Even then I liked teaching. But then the teacher started making suggestive comments to me, asking if I was a virgin and telling me he'd never slept with a Jewish girl and wouldn't I like to sleep with him. I was so uncomfortable, but it didn't occur to me to tell anyone. I was afraid that, if I told my mother, she wouldn't allow me to tutor anymore an[...]