Taxation = Theft

The Most Influential Woman of the Last and Next Century

From the Sydney Morning Herald. Also, her most influential book is coming to the big screen. Part one of the trilogy hits theaters April 15. See the trailer below. (Best review of the movie so far? “Both Rand lovers and haters will enjoy this.”)

Woman of real influence who wanted to be judged only on her merits

Ross Cameron

March 10, 2011

Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is the best-selling novel of the 20th century never to appear on film. That changes on April 15 with the release of the first of an Atlas Shrugged trilogy – the YouTube trailers are closing in on a million hits. This calls for an overview of the life of one of the most loved and loathed thinkers of the modern era.

If the 20th century could be reduced to a single sentence it might read: “a struggle between free markets and communism in which free markets prevailed”.

Many thinkers contributed to the final victory with economists such as Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek arguing persuasively that capitalism is superior because it works. Ayn Rand went for the jugular, arguing that capitalism is morally good.

Rand was born into a secular Jewish family of pharmacists in St Petersburg. She was one of the first women admitted to Petrograd University as the horror of the Bolshevik Revolution was unleashed. An anti-communist student council was elected, and immediately crushed, and several of her activist colleagues disappeared.Rand procured some early Hollywood film reels and was utterly transfixed. When her mother mentioned relatives in Chicago, Rand pleaded, ”Write to them, mother. Write and tell them. I have to go to America. Ask them to help. Do it today. Do it now.” In 1926 she escaped near starvation in the USSR recalling ”tears of splendour” as her ship approached the Manhattan skyline.

She went to Hollywood as a prospective screenwriter, marching into Paramount Pictures to explain: “I want to write movies.” Quickly brushed aside she headed for the gates when Cecil B. DeMille drove by and stopped his car to ask, ”Why are you staring at me?” In her thick accent she replied, ”I’ve just arrived from Russia and I am very happy to meet you.” ”Get in,” DeMille replied, and proceeded to arrange jobs, first as an extra in King of Kings then as a script reviewer. Rand now had the modest income she needed to write.

Her tone from the outset was purist, rationalist, atheist and anti-communist. In 1944, after 12 rejections, she found a publisher for The Fountainhead. Without powerful advocates or a marketing budget, the book sold slowly but it kept selling, in a classic slow burn, by word of mouth…

Read the full story here.

Here’s the trailer.

For more about the movie and where to see it, go here.

My Only Goal Is To Make Money

Hits theaters April 15. Appropriately enough.

Texas Budget Has Problems; Krugman Has Pants on Fire

From Dave Cavannaugh at Reason:

In his column Nobel from Los Tiempos de Neuva York, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, the doctor, makes some legitimate criticisms of Perry’s vague budgeting habits before engaging in his newspaper’s long and honored tradition of making up facts:

But reality has now intruded, in the form of a deficit expected to run as high as $25 billion over the next two years.

And that reality has implications for the nation as a whole. For Texas is where the modern conservative theory of budgeting — the belief that you should never raise taxes under any circumstances, that you can always balance the budget by cutting wasteful spending — has been implemented most completely. If the theory can’t make it there, it can’t make it anywhere.

How bad is the Texas deficit? Comparing budget crises among states is tricky, for technical reasons. Still, data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggest that the Texas budget gap is worse than New York’s, about as bad as California’s, but not quite up to New Jersey levels.

“About as bad as California’s”? Not quite. California’s projected deficit over the next two years is a whopping 29 percent of revenues. The worst-case interpretation of Combs’ figures has Texas with a 17 percent deficit, and the actual current deficit is a mere 5 percent. As Combs points out, the Lone Star State would still be ahead even under the worst circumstances because, unlike California, Texas has a real “rainy day fund” and has kept it funded. If Krugman’s $25-billion guesstimate (which is not to be found anywhere in Combs’ review) were to come true, Austin would still be able to reduce it by $9 billion by drawing on emergency funds.

The contrast is even more striking if you believe there is more to the health of a region than the government’s fiscal condition. The worst part of Texas’ job loss appears to be in the past, and unemployment is gradually decreasing. In California it is still increasing. The state’s business community and population continue to grow. They continue to shrivel in the heavy tax states. The problem for the Empire, Golden and Garden States isn’t just that they face present deficits but that their tax bases are not growing. Every year they have fewer and smaller pockets to pick.

That you’ll get different outcomes with different tax policies is an idea Krugman would have understood when he was still doing economics rather than demagoguery. It’s true Texans’ overall tax burden is more than 2 percent lower than Californians’ but the most important differences are in how revenues get collected. In Texas, where property taxes are higher and zoning is looser than in California, land values didn’t zoom as much during the boom, and they haven’t tanked as badly during the bust. By the same token, lack of an income tax makes job and business creation easier. That’s not fiscal-con cant; it’s basic economics. Rick Perry deserves criticism for concealing Texas’ fiscal troubles, but it won’t be time to gloat until people stop voting, with their feet, in favor of his state.

Alt Header: 1 in 4 ‘Murkans Should Wear A Helmet at All Times

GetTestedGood news is the long-term trend. Bad news is too many people get caught up in trendy waves when charismatic political messiahs (from left and right) arrive on the scene.

Turns out I’ll give old Butcher Abe credit for one thing he got right: You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of them all of the time. But in the long run they’re going to see through your BS. (I paraphrase, of course.)

Posted: September 14th, 2010 05:04 PM ET

Washington (CNN) – A new poll indicates that only one in four Americans say they trust the government to do what is right always or most of the time, one explanation for the anti-incumbent sentiment in the country today.

According to CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national survey released Tuesday, 25 percent of the public indicates that they trust the government in Washington to do what’s is right most or all of the time, with 66 percent saying they trust the government to do what’s right only some of the time and eight percent saying they never trust the government.

Full results [pdf]

“That lack of trust in government is not a recent phenomenon – except for a brief spike fueled by patriotism immediately after 9/11, a majority have not trusted the government since the early 1970s,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

But the recession appears to have made matters worse.

“Ten years ago, roughly four in ten said they trusted the government always or most of the time; that number dropped to the mid-to-low 30′s in the middle part of the decade, but then dropped to the 20s in 2008, where it has stayed ever since. The all-time low in CNN polls was in the summer of 1994 – just before Newt Gingrich led the GOP to take control on Capitol Hill – when only 17 percent said they trusted the government most or all of the time,” adds Holland.

Robin Hood: Not a Socialist, You Know

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I never understood why anyone thought Robin Hood was some kind of socialist. He robbed from the tax collectors and gave the money back to the people who earned it. But Cathy Young goes even further, saying the Ridley Scott libertarian Robin Hood is the closest thing to the original legend we’ve seen.

The Ridley Scott film Robin Hood has drawn some critics’ political ire. In The Village Voice, Karina Longworth laments that “instead of robbing from the rich to give to the poor, this Robin Hood preaches about ‘liberty’ and the rights of the individual” and battles against “government greed.” New York Times critic A.O. Scott strikes a similar note, mocking the movie as a “medieval tea party” and declaring: “You may have heard that Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor, but that was just liberal media propaganda. This Robin is…a manly libertarian rebel striking out against high taxes and a big government scheme to trample the ancient liberties of property owners and provincial nobles.”

Whatever you may think of Scott’s newest incarnation of the Robin Hood legend, it is more than a little troubling to see alleged liberals speaking of liberty and individual rights in a tone of sarcastic dismissal. This is especially ironic since the Robin Hood of myth and folklore probably has much more in common with the “libertarian rebel” played by Russell Crowe than the medieval socialist of the “rob from the rich, give to the poor” cliché. At heart, the noble-outlaw legend that has captured the human imagination for centuries is about freedom, not redistribution, a fact that is reflected in many previous screen versions of the Robin Hood story.

The earliest Robin Hood ballads, which date back to the 13th or 14th century, contain no mention of robbing the rich to give to the poor. The one person Robin assists financially is a knight who is about to lose his lands to the machinations of greedy and unscrupulous monks at an abbey. (Corrupt clerics using the political power of the Church are among Robin Hood’s frequent targets in the ballads.) The Sheriff of Nottingham is Robin’s chief opponent; at the time, it was the sheriffs’ role as tax collectors in particular that made them objects of popular loathing. Robin Hood is also frequently shown helping men who face barbaric punishments for hunting in the royal forests, a pursuit that was permitted to English nobles but strictly forbidden to the lower classes. In other words, he opposes privilege bestowed by political power rather than earned wealth.

Read the rest here.

Concluded: The Stimulus is an Epic Fail

It’s been proven time and again that FDR’s New Deal actually worsened the Great Depression. Keynesian economics just don’t work, not matter what trollish hacks like Paul Krugman preach.

Now a study from Harvard Business School shocks its very authors, who are surprised to find that increased government spending results in increased unemployment.

Recent eesearch at Harvard Business School began with the premise that as a state’s congressional delegation grew in stature and power in Washington, D.C., local businesses would benefit from the increased federal spending sure to come their way.

It turned out quite the opposite. In fact, professors Lauren Cohen, Joshua Coval, and Christopher Malloy discovered to their surprise that companies experienced lower sales and retrenched by cutting payroll, R&D, and other expenses. Indeed, in the years that followed a congressman’s ascendancy to the chairmanship of a powerful committee, the average firm in his state cut back capital expenditures by roughly 15 percent, according to their working paper, “Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?

“It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairman’s state did not benefit at all from the unanticipated increase in spending,” Coval reports.

So, you wonder why unemployment is so high and this recession has lasted twice as long as normal recessions?

Here’s why.

Did I do that?

Did I do that?

Poll: Majority Think Government a Threat to Freedom

Washington (CNN) – A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government’s become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

Heh.

In Post Obama America, Part 2

In case you think I’m being too harsh, there’s this and this. That’s AP, Gallup and ABC, not Fox News talking.ObamaHype

Nearly half of all Americans say Obama is not delivering on his major campaign promises, and a narrow majority have just some or no confidence that he will make the right decisions for the country’s future.

Also, as for how libertarian ideas fair in opinion polls:

By 58 percent to 38 percent, Americans said they prefer smaller government and fewer services to larger government with more services. Since he won the Democratic nomination in June 2008, the margin between those favoring smaller over larger government has moved in Post-ABC polls from five points to 20 points.

Craig Newmark of Craigslist for President?

plm-bottom-upA friend and fellow traveler hillbilly points us to this interview with Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, one who deserves the Capitalist Superhero tag.

Per that dirty-fingered nerf-herder’s post:

The latest issue of Wired has a great piece on the success of craigslist, and it’s supposed deficiencies, despite being the leading job search site, and the leading real estate site, among others. The author can’t seem to fathom such a free wheeling attitude, as Craig Newmark takes a largely hands off approach to regulating his invention. The belief that “people are generally good” seems to rub supposed enlightened souls the wrong way.

I can’t add much Vines&Cattle didn’t, but I love this part from Newmark. It’s something most control freaks and authoritarians of both stripes just can’t get their head around, but it’s the basis of why libertarianism isn’t some pipe dream, why free markets are self-organizing, and why centralization and regulation destroys innovation:

“People are good and trustworthy and generally just concerned with getting through the day,” Newmark says. If most people are good and their needs are simple, all you have to do to serve them well is build a minimal infrastructure allowing them to get together and work things out for themselves. Any additional features are almost certainly superfluous and could even be damaging.