The Reparations Gambit

I have been waiting for this ball to drop for a long time.  I thought maybe that 2014 would be the year that the Democrats would pull the electoral ripcord on the reparations issue, but they seemed to drop the ball on it and suffered in the elections accordingly.  Then in 2016 I thought Hillary would pull reparations out of her purse (it was right beside the hot sauce) and close the enthusiasm gap among black voters.  But she was so confident that she couldn’t lose that she decided it could stay in her purse.  Like Trump was really going to beat her?  After all, once you pull the reparations card, it’s out for good.  You can’t change your mind and stick in back in your oversized purse.

But now the issue is out, and it looks like 2020 will be the first Presidential election year (and forever more) that reparations become a real political issue. According to The New York Times, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Julián Castro have all come out in support of some type of reparations.  They are rather vague on the details and price tag, but eh, it’s still early, and besides, those sorts of details are not very important or at least no more important than details and price tag for a “Green Deal.”

By the time we get to the nomination, some form of reparations will be part of the candidate’s agenda and part of the Democratic Party platform.  And it can join the other trillion dollar promises, like Medicare for all, Green Dreams, Universal Basic Income (UBI), Universal Daycare, Free College, and the hundreds of other spending fantasies.  However unlike the other high dollar promises, reparations promise to be eternally racially divisive.

Just what this country needs.

To be fair, slavery reparations do have the tug of moral authority to them.  In a perfect world, I would support them myself. A great evil was done and there should be some sort of compensation for it. However it’s 150 years later. There is no one alive that was a slave, and the practicalities of coming up with a fair and just system to compensate their descendants seem pretty daunting.  I’ve thought long and hard on this subject myself and have yet to figure out a way, or have read of any such plan, that would be workable and just.

Never has the devil been more in the details of a policy than in reparations.  If Abraham Lincoln’s Freedman’s Bureau had been allowed to continue its work, and the newly freed slaves had gotten their 40 acres and a mule, this issue would have been one and done.  But now, who do you compensate?  If, for example, you have theoretical reparations of a $50,000 credit, to be applied to either college or home down payment (the two gateways to the middle class), do you give it to the man, his, son, or his son (assuming all living)?  Should it be given to the oldest living relative in a family, or the youngest?  Or do you just give it to every descendant of slaves from now on?

Of course, that means Barrack Obama, Colin Powell, or Kamala Harris would be entitled to zero reparations since none of them are descendants of American slaves. What about Malia Obama, the President’s daughter?  Would she get half of reparations? And how would you determine eligibility?  There are probably a lot of African Americans who would have a great deal of difficulty laying their hands on all of the documentation necessary to prove ancestry from the slaves freed in 1865.  So would you just go by skin color? Self Identification? DNA?  Imagine, Rachel Dolezal being eligible for reparations. Or imagine the millions of white people with sub-Saharan ancestry thanks to DNA testing, who want their piece of the reparations pie.  If the one drop rule is good for the goose…

But in a way, the very difficulty in figuring out the right policy is a feature, not a bug.  It’s more useful as an issue than an actual policy. And with the added benefit of being racially divisive, it’s the perfect issue for Democrats to run on in 2020.

And every election thereafter.

 

Standing Down as a GOP Tax Policy

It looks to me as if the Democrats have taken their takeover of the House as a permission slip to go crazy.  Ever more crazy policies seem to bubble up from the Democratic political class lately (and I’m not even counting Governor Northram’s call for infanticide in blackface); specifically their tax policies.

The Democrat’s new socialist it girl, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Commie-NY), suggested on 60 Minutes a top tax rate of 70% on the “tippy-tops,” which in English apparently means incomes north of 10 million dollars a year.  Not to be outdone, competing freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Somalia) recommended a 90% income tax rate.  Advocating a 90% tax rate is probably the most normal sounding policy Omar has recommended.  After marrying her brother in an immigration fraud scheme and advocating for leniency for convicted terrorists, a 90% tax rate seems almost quaint.

These of course are joke policies.  Their purpose is to look compassionate, and stoke envy, without accomplishing much of anything.  As an example, National Review took a look at Ocasio-Cortez’s 70% income tax results:

“Representative Ocasio-Cortez floated the idea of limiting the 70 percent tax bracket to incomes over $10 million. My analysis of IRS data shows this would raise only 0.25 percent of GDP — about $50 billion annually — in part because nearly half of the income earned by these 18,000 filers comes in the form of capital gains that would be left outside a 70 percent tax on salary income.

Even $50 billion is surely too high of an estimate, because the kind of people with incomes over $10 million also have teams of accountants and tax lawyers finding every conceivable tax loophole and overseas income shift. “

“…Super-wealthy families often keep their wealth in the form of investments and other assets that can be converted into taxable income on their own schedule. Jeff Bezos may be worth $160 billion, but in 2017 he reportedly paid himself an annual salary of just $81,840, with total compensation (including deductible expenses) of $1.6 million. Taxing 70 percent of all salary and wages above $10 million (or even $1 million) would not even touch the Amazon founder. “

So it’s not even a drop in the bucket to pay for her Medicare for All, Green New Deal, and all the other free goodies AOC ran on.

But then came Elizabeth Warren…

Warren, who announced her candidacy for President yesterday, has beaten them both with a wealth tax. Warren’s wealth tax would apply 2% to individuals with assets over 50 million dollars and 3% for those with assets over 1 billion.  Warren’s wealth tax should raise “$2.75 trillion over a 10-year period from about 75,000 families, or less than 0.1 percent of U.S. households…” 

Now we’re talking about real money.

Of course there is a reason that wealth taxes like this are not common in the industrialized world.  The most obvious of course is that the most powerful people in a country don’t want them. In fact, there are only a handful of countries that do have some sort of version of the wealth tax. Given how donors control the agendas of both parties, it’s hard to imagine how an Elizabeth Warren candidacy goes anywhere, and if it does, how this policy is implemented.  Of course, I’ve been surprised before, not the least by the rapid dip into insanity the Democratic Party has dived into. It’s very possible that by the time we get to the Democratic convention, the wealth tax will be part of the platform.

One can hope…

But what strategy should the GOP use to fight back at tax policies that we know are both crazy and destructive?  I’ve given some thought to this and I’m not sure that the GOP establishment would ever go along with it, but that’s par for the course for a party leadership that’s turned defeat into a talking point.

Consider this:  It’s the near future, and a Democrat controlled House has on the floor Warren’s wealth tax increase.  The vote whips think the votes will be close.  Now if you are the Democratic leadership, you want the vote to fail because the donors don’t want any of this but the Democratic leadership does want the issue to run on.  They’ve assured the donors that they think the Republicans will kill it so not to worry; it’s a great issue for 2020.  The House roll call begins…and the Republicans do not vote.  They vote “present” or whatever it takes to not register a vote against the bill.  So what happens?  The bill passes.

Of course, with the Senate still firmly in GOP hands, this won’t matter, but it sends two wonderful messages to two different groups of political donors:

To the Democrat donors:  You’ve had your cake and eaten it to for too long. You’ve virtue signaled with the Democrats, counting on the party leadership and the Republicans to do your dirty work for you, mainly, killing bills that really threaten your interests. Now the GOP has decided to stop protecting you

To the Republican donors:  We’re either going to be in the majority, or we’re not going to waste our time trying to save you from yourselves.  If you don’t see the threat of real unfettered Democratic control, we’ll show you.  You can help stop it or pay the piper.  PS, it’s cheaper to help stop it.

To be clear, I don’t see any chance of the GOP leadership actually trying this.  They are just too stupid to even consider not only any out of the box thinking, but challenging their donors.  But for the Republicans, the donors are a real problem, and their control over the party is leading it to Paul Ryan-esque doom. Unless another rogue billionaire who doesn’t need donors comes along, the post Trump era may snap back to its former donor driven agenda; a party with plenty of donors, but few voters.

For Us, Who Didn’t Build That

I wasn’t planning to comment on Obama’s idiotic “you didn’t build that speech.”  I mean, after all, it’s idiotic.  So I ignored some of the push back and response from the conservative blogosphere.  It was minor anyway compared to MSNBC’s “All Bain, All the Time” news coverage that has been inflicting the network for weeks?  Months?  But it must have been stuck in my brain somewhere, even if covered by Romney’s tax returns and financial disclosure statements.  Sometimes I’m sure that my brain is processing things even when I’m not aware of it.  Or at least that’s what I tell myself to justify hours of mindless television; my brain is busy processing something.

So sometime this morning, between deep sleep and my second cup of coffee, I realized a few exceptions to Obama’s idea that government makes all things possible.  One of them was my grandpa’s road.   Decades ago my grandfather built and maintained a road coming off of a county road in order to get to his property.  It was all on property he owned and over the years he sold parcels all along the road he had made.  Eventually there was quite a cluster of homes coming from this private road, and when my grandfather died, in his will he left the road to the county.  So there was a clear case of infrastructure being built by private hands and the government picking it up after all of the hard work had already been done.

Of course in the United States that had been the norm.  Settlements popped up long before there were local governments to build roads and other infrastructure.  By the time government showed up, the town and infrastructure were already there.  That still goes on today.  New communities and subdivisions built by private interests pay for and build their own infrastructure; which local governments end up inheriting.

But there was something else, about the speech, something familiar, and no, it wasn’t that it was basically cribbed from Elizabeth Warren’s rant against’ producers.  It took me a bit to place it but then it came to me why I was familiar with the philosophy of that speech.

Science Fiction.

Cover of "For Us, The Living: A Comedy of...

Cover of For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs

One of the earliest works by Science Fiction author Robert Heinlein was a book called, For Us, The Living.  Although it was written in 1938 it was an incomplete work and never finished or published until after Heinlein’s death, when it was found and finished up by another SF writer, Spider Robinson.  As a Heinlein fan I was anxious to read it when it was first published in 2003, but this isn’t the libertarian Robert Heinlein I was familiar with from such novels as, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, or Time Enough for Love.  This was the Robert Heinlein in the midst of the Great Depression, who worked on the 1934 California Governor’s race for Socialist Upton Sinclair.

So it was a very different Robert Heinlein who wrote this book.  A socialist one to be sure, and a writer more influenced by the works of the turn of the century than what passed for science fiction in the 1930’s.  In fact, For Us, The Living, is less a novel and more an exposition of what was then a popular socialist idea, Social Credit.  Heinlein’s hero is a 1930’s engineer who after having a traffic accident, somehow ends up in the late 21st Century.  How he got there is never really explained, and although a gaping hole in the plotline that big is enough to kill interest in a plot, there isn’t really that much plot.  The car crash is just a device to get Heinlein’s hero to the future where he can listen to endless lectures on how great the socialist future is.

So as an entertaining romp, it blows.  It’s more like Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward.  This is the socialist future; let me explain how great it is and why your time stank, the end.  But if anyone is interested in an archaic socialist theory from the 1930’s, this is the book to read.  Social Credit seems to have fallen out of favor as far as wacky socialist theories go, but its implementation sounds attractive.  A nations’ cultural inheritance, is considered a factor of production under this theory.  So it’s not just the infrastructure like roads that’s a factor that government provided, it’s the accumulated knowledge that lead to knowing how to build the roads, and the fact that we have a network of roads crisscrossing the country.  Since each generation doesn’t have to build the nation up from scratch, there is a “surplus.”  The long and short, and if you know socialism you could guess this already, is that the “surplus” is distributed in payments to citizens.  Nobody has to work if they don’t want to, since they can live off the “surplus.”

So you can see why Heinlein never had this published in his lifetime.  Shame.  But I can forgive him for his socialist past; that was quite common in the 30’s, when the only competing philosophies were some version of Socialism and Fascism, or as a distant third way, Keynesian Social Welfare Democracy.  There was no William F. Buckley standing athwart history yelling stop in the 1930’s.

And in fact it’s not uncommon for people to experiment with communism or some variation of socialism in their youth, particularly in college.  Just listen to the rantings of the few remaining Occupy protestors.  Blather right out of Mao’s little red book.  Probably most of your major big time Democrats were some type of socialist in college, and quite a few Republicans for that matter.

But people grow up and in time, put aside childish things.  Well not Elizabeth Warren, but she’s an academic who never really left college.  And apparently not Barack Obama. I’ve never really joined in the chorus of those calling the President “Socialist” since, when I use the word, I mean it to be descriptive, not a pejorative, but in this situation, the case Obama is making in this speech is Social Credit Socialism.

So Obama never outgrew his youthful socialist past.  After all, what grown man would want to be friends with an actual for-realsies terrorist like William Ayers?  Of course, every time he goes off script he drops hints, going all the way back to his run in with Joe the Plumber.  But America has had almost 4 years to get used to the idea, and apparently it’s not a deal breaker.  Who would have ever thought that?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Blood Will Tell

Columnist Mark Steyn has had a lot of fun with the latest Elizabeth Warren mini-scandal, dubbing her Fauxcahontas.”  So with that, most of the good lines have already been taken on the story about Warren identifying herself as Native American for affirmative action purposes on supposed 1/32nd Native ancestry based on “family lore.”  So I can’t top Fauxcahontas, but I can relate how this is a deeply personal story for me.  Like Elizabeth Warren, I too am Native American.  In fact, based on my family’s lore, I’m twice the Indian Elizabeth Warren is, since I supposedly have 1/16th Indian ancestry.

And before anyone says anything about my use of the word Indian, remember that’s our word.  I’m taking it back.  You palefaces can continue to refer to us based on the previously approved PC list.

Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressiona...

Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel; Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and Cherokee Indian Princess (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to my family’s lore, my great-great grandmother on my mother’s side was a Cherokee Indian Princess.  I’ve been astonished with the amount of royalty the various Indian tribes got away with in those days.  Practically everyone I’ve met who has claimed Native ancestry has claimed it through an “Indian Princess.”  Three fourths of the Native population east of the Mississippi prior to the Trail of Tears must have been an Indian Princess. With so much of the population as female royalty, no wonder my people were pushed out of the East.  Too few warriors and too many princesses.  And those Indian Princesses must have really had a thing for Scot-Irish mountain hillbilly types.  I guess they were the bad boys of the 1800’s.

However, unlike Elizabeth Warren, I’ve never tried to exploit the suffering of my people to procure employment, as Warren apparently did as she professor shopped from one diversity starved University to another.  In fact, this story neatly ties in to the Derrick Bell story of two months ago.  Not that it was a new story, only the knowledge of the depth of President Obama’s previous relationship with Bell was new.  But as the Harvard Crimson related in 1998:

Harvard Law School currently has only one tenured minority woman, Gottlieb Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren, who is Native American. The racial makeup of the HLS Faculty has been an issue before as well: in 1989, Harvard dismissed Weld Professor of Law Derrick A. Bell after 18 years of teaching because the noted expert on race and law refused to end his leave in protest of the absence of minority women on HLS faculty.

So Professor Bell did get his wish, more minority women on staff.  Or at least woman. That woman was Native American Elizabeth Warren.

But unlike Warren, I’ve never tried to exploit my people and culture to get a job that wouldn’t have otherwise has been offered.  Instead, I’ve played the Peter Principle to navigate the job market.  But Warren, or as she is known by her Indian name, She-who-fakes-bankruptcy-studies, has tried to have it both ways.  Indian when moving up the academic ladder, then white when she reached the top of her field.

What’s astounding to me is that Harvard doesn’t seem to be the least bit embarrassed about its blond affirmative action hire.   What a world we live in.  Elizabeth Warren is  Indian enough to get jobs because of 1/32nd blood ties, but George Zimmerman, who is 1/8th black, is a White Neo Nazi killing machine.

Unfortunately, these race differences really matter to our society.  If George Zimmerman had looked like the son Obama never had, we most likely would never had heard of him.  And Elizabeth Warren, who looked as much (or as little) Indian as I do, parleys herself a minority hire.  As the old Jim Crow one drop rule comes back into vogue, in a new, weird way, “content of our character” seems to becoming less and less a goal and more of a distraction from counting tiny droplets of blood.  Maybe someday we’ll all need to have our DNA encoded on our ID cards, not for health reasons, but to make sure we qualify for every discount and set aside we’re eligible for.

Enhanced by Zemanta