Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Monday, August 16, 2004

What you must believe to be a right-winger, Part I 

  1. Belief: The Second Amendment keeps power in the hands of the people.

    Reality: It didn't keep power in the hands of David Koresh at Waco, TX.

  2. Belief: If it wasn't for liberals, flag burning would be illegal.

    Reality: If is wasn't for conservatives, flag burning would be illegal.

    • The Flag Protection Act of 1989 was passed by a Congress controlled by Democrats and a Republican president refused to sign or veto it in the required time - thus it became law without his signature.

    • Anton Scalia, widely lauded as a model Supreme Court justice by conservatives, cast a decisive vote in the 5-4 ruling which overturned the law on First Amendment grounds.

    • Bonus: Here's another "conservative" who seems to think desecrating the flag is acceptable.

  3. Belief: Katherine Harris didn't try to illegally disenfranchise ex-felons, she was just following the law. Inaccuracies were the fault of the private company the Florida retained to maintain the list.

    Reality: The Florida Division of Elections contravened state law by instructing their contractor to include ex-felons from states which had already restored the felon's civil rights.

    • "The list maintenance contract originally stated that only Florida felony convictions would be used to create an exceptions list ... Following the instructions DBT Online received from the Division of Elections [in 2000], felons convicted in the following states, which have automatic restoration of civil rights, must apply for clemency through the Florida Executive Board of Clemency: Texas, Connecticut, South Carolina, Illinois, and Wisconsin." - US Commission on Civil Rights report to Congress, Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election, June, 2001

    • "Once another state restores the civil rights of one of its citizens whose rights had been lost because of a conviction in that state, they are restored and the State of Florida has no authority to suspend or restore them at that point." - Schlenther v. Florida Department of State, June, 1998

  4. Belief: Everybody from Clinton onward thought they knew Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Even Hans Blix and France.

    Reality: No they didn't.

    • "I expect Saddam Hussein to let inspectors back into the country. We want to know whether he's developing weapons of mass destruction." - President George W. Bush, January 16, 2002

    • "We believe, as Mr. ElBaradei said yesterday, that the inspections are a way for us to be sure of having the best chance of ascertaining whether Iraq has weapons or not ." - France Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Press Statement, January 14, 2003

    • "How much, if any, is left of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programmes? To take an example, document, which Iraq provided, suggested to us that some 1,000 tonnes of chemical agent were "unaccounted for". One must not jump to the conclusion that they exist. However, that possibility is also not excluded." - Hans Blix, Security Council Briefing, February 14, 2003

    • "What surprises me, what amazes me, is that it seems the military people were expecting to stumble on large quantities of gas, chemical weapons and biological weapons. I don't see how they could have come to such an attitude if they had, at any time, studied the reports ... Is the United Nations on a different planet? Are reports from here totally unread south of the Hudson?" Hans Blix, June 18, 2002 (original NYT subscription article found here).

  5. Belief: The United States has the best healthcare in the world.

    Reality: Twenty-eight nations enjoy longer average life expectancies and lower infant mortality rates than the US.

    • Andorra, Macau, San Marino, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Hong Kong, Canada, Iceland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Spain, France, Norway, Greece, Aruba, Netherlands, Malta, New Zealand, Belgium, Austria, United Kingdom, Germany, Finland and Luxembourg. CIA World Factbook

  6. Belief: Wealthy people create jobs, particularly when they get a tax break.

    Reality: Demand for labor creates jobs, particularly when people with modest or low income people get tax breaks.

    • If a wealthy person decides to buy 500,000 bicycles with money they would otherwise pay in taxes, yes they would perhaps create some jobs. But most people who would chose to do such a thing already have the ability to do it, and indeed, many of the super-rich are always generous with their money. The types of things a very wealthy person might buy as the result of an income tax reduction are along the lines of a second or third yacht or fourth or fifth mansion. The notion that we should try to improve the economy by building luxury items costing as much as the yearly operating expenses of many school districts is absurd. Particularly when done at a time when many school districts are experiencing budget crises.

      Wealthy people put their money into investments that serve the aim of achieving growth. That only includes creating jobs when they see a demand for labor which will result in increasing their wealth. And that demand is driven by the people who consume the most products and services: moderate and low income people. And moreover, wealthy people expand and build businesses on credit - banks will always loan money to any person who already has a lot of capital.

      It works the same way on every level - let's look at an easy to understand example. Say you have a successful restaurant employing 25 people. You see a market for a new restaurant - maybe a new complex of condominiums has been developed and people are starting to move in. Nearby, there's a couple smokey bars that serve deep-fried food, but nowhere you can go to order a soup and salad or deli sandwich. So you write up a business plan and go to the bank. The loan officer runs a credit check, looks at your assets and debts, and sees that you're already running a successful restaurant. The bank decides you're good for the loan and that they will make money by issuing you credit.

      You get a $250K loan, open up the restaurant and you've created 20 more jobs. But you didn't do it because you paid less taxes this year than you did the last - you did it because you saw a gap in a market and decided you could make money from working that market to your advantage.

      If you paid $2K less in taxes this year than last, you might take out a $248K loan instead of a $250K loan, but you're not going to hire 21 people for your new restaurant instead of the 20 you needed to meet the demand for labor you saw.

      It's no different in concept for the super rich who may have paid $500K less in taxes this year than the last. It's not going to cause anyone to create jobs for 2100 people instead of the 2000 they figure are needed to make their investment work. It just means $500K less comes from a bank and $500K more goes against the government's balance sheet. And someone might decide to buy another yacht and yes, you might spend your tax savings on a down payment for a better car, but your school district is still in a budget crisis and your daughter is still going to spend 4th grade in a classroom with 29 other kids instead of 19.

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