Ted Cruz is right: it's time to abolish the IRS and institute a simple Flat Tax. Get rid of the corruption by simplifying the system.
"I think we ought to abolish the IRS and instead move to a simple flat tax where the average American can fill out taxes on postcard," he explained in a Fox News interview over the weekend. "Put down how much you earn, put down a deduction for charitable contributions, home mortgage and how much you owe. It ought to be a simple one-page postcard, and take the agents, the bureaucracy out of Washington and limit the power of government."
Cruz proposed a flat tax during the 2012 election, but he said he would keep a standard deduction for lower-income earners, as well as deductions for mortgage interest and charitable donations.
Married couples in Japan are required to have the same surname, but the law may be changing soon. I'm in favor of people being able to name themselves whatever they want, but I think it's a mistake to mock the arguments being made in Japan for the status quo.
But some lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party voiced opposition to the proposal, arguing the new system would cause the collapse of the family and undermine the sense of unity among family members.
"Collapse" might be a little strong, but there's no doubt in my mind that having different names can undermine family unity. You may believe that the effect is minor or that the matter shouldn't be of concern to the government, but I don't believe that the argument for family unity is worthy of mockery. People should have the freedom to change their names, but children in families with multiple last names will certainly be affected to some non-zero degree.
Surnames are an important part of identity, which is why people should be free to change them but is also why a person should weigh any decision about his name very carefully. Children especially build a sense of themselves and their family from the name they share, and a child with a different name will certainly feel like an outsider rather than an integrated part of a greater whole.
(HT: Paul Hsieh.)
Leftists are quick to brush the IRS scandal aside as "bad customer service" while conservatives call for a special prosecutor to indict the obvious criminals, but what if they're both wrong? The actions of the IRS may not have broken any laws, and perhaps no one in the White House knew anything about anything. If so, that's even worse, and it won't be solved by a special prosecutor.
This column is generally on Kudlow's side here, which is to say that we share his outrage about the IRS abuses. But we're uncomfortable with his framing. What if congressional investigators, or a hypothetical special prosecutor, fail to find evidence of crime, conspiracy or direct White House involvement? Then guys like Crook and Scheiber will crow that they were right all along.
But they aren't. This may turn out to be one of those cases in which the real scandal involves what is legal, not illegal. Obama's endless demonization of his political adversaries and lack of respect for the gravity of his own office certainly aren't illegal. The media smear campaign against the Tea Party was protected by the First Amendment. And the IRS could have violated the constitutional rights of countless Americans without running afoul of any criminal statutes in the process.
The scandal here is that an agency of the federal government used its fearsome authority to benefit the party in power. If it did so unthinkingly, that is even more disturbing than a criminal conspiracy.
Uh oh, another problem with Obamacare. Apparently it contains provisions that encourage employers to offer "skinny" plans that cover routine medical care but not surgery, hospital stays, or having a baby. Obamacare is exactly the opposite of insurance! Too bad no one read this monstrosity before it became law. Good job, America.
People buy insurance to pay for low-probability, high-cost and undesirable events. It doesn't make sense to hold onto enough cash to replace your house if it burns when you can buy an insurance policy that will cover that unlikely disaster.
But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has a different idea of what insurance is. In response to an American Society of Actuaries report that health premiums would rise 32 percent under ObamaCare, she said, "Some of these folks have very high catastrophic plans that don't pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus." ...
But as the Daily Beast's Megan McArdle commented, "Coverage of routine, predictable services is not insurance at all; it's a spectacularly inefficient prepayment plan." ...
People stuck with these policies will have insurance that pays for the equivalent of oil changes (up to six a year!) but not for the equivalent of wrecked car. Just the opposite of real insurance.
Leftists claim that austerity and sequestration are to blame for our ongoing economic rut, but that claim ignores that fact that there is no austerity.
Every government, everywhere, is spending more money than it was in 2008. There is no true austerity. Even the attempts to slow the rate of growth have been modest at best.
The official figures show that PIIGS governments embarked on massive spending sprees between 2000 and 2008. During this period, their combined general government expenditures rose from 775 billion Euros to 1.3 trillion - a 75 percent increase. Ireland had the largest percentage increase (130 percent), and Italy the smallest (40 percent). These spending binges gave public sector workers generous salaries and benefits, paid for bridges to nowhere, and financed a gold-plated transfer state. What the state gave has proven hard to take away as the riots in Southern Europe show. ...
Which leads us to the austerity that is supposedly underway in the United States. (Remember that radical sequester that was supposed to ruin the economy?) Our figures tell exactly the same story as the PIIGS - a binge of public spending that has not been reversed. Between 2000 and 2008, both federal and state and local spending increased by almost two thirds. Despite budget cliff hangers, sequestration, and Republican intransience (so claim the Democrats), the federal government today is spending 16 percent more than at the peak of its binge spending in 2008. State and local governments, which cannot borrow as freely as the Feds, are spending a modest 11 percent more.
Here is a heartbreaking story about four-week-old Dana McCaffery who died from whooping cough (pertussis) after being exposed at the hospital. Dana was too young to be vaccinated and was infected because other parents are foolishly choosing not to vaccinate their children. We live in an age of miracles, where infant mortality is lower than anywhere else, ever, and a huge amount of that success is due to vaccination.
Vaccinate your children.
ON March 9, 2009, four-week-old Dana McCaffery's heart stopped after whooping cough left her tiny lungs unable to breathe.
Her mother Toni could not watch as medical staff unhooked her daughter from the hopelessly inadequate life support system, but her husband Dave did, and crumpled with grief.
"Dave was screaming," says Toni.
"I told him to be quiet. I just wanted to soothe my child."
As Toni held her tiny baby, she couldn't comprehend the loss, or how they would survive the sorrow.
Little did they know then that Dana's death from whooping cough, and the media coverage that followed, came to represent a very inconvenient truth to the anti-vaccination lobby - and thus began an extraordinary campaign against this grieving family.
Follow the link to read more about the persecution Dana's parents faced from anti-vaccination extremists.
Elected politicians can be maddening enough, but even worse are the legions of unaccountable bureaucratic overlords that really run America. We need to drastically cut the number of non-military federal employees and reduce the rule-making authority of the uncountable agencies. Congress should stop delegating it's responsibility to unelected bureaucrats.
There were times this past week when it seemed like the 19th-century Know-Nothing Party had returned to Washington. President Obama insisted he knew nothing about major decisions in the State Department, or the Justice Department, or the Internal Revenue Service. The heads of those agencies, in turn, insisted they knew nothing about major decisions by their subordinates. It was as if the government functioned by some hidden hand.
Clearly, there was a degree of willful blindness in these claims. However, the suggestion that someone, even the president, is in control of today's government may be an illusion.
The growing dominance of the federal government over the states has obscured more fundamental changes within the federal government itself: It is not just bigger, it is dangerously off kilter. Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency. ...
The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress's lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of "laws" governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations. ...
The judiciary, too, has seen its authority diminished by the rise of the fourth branch. Under Article III of the Constitution, citizens facing charges and fines are entitled to due process in our court system. As the number of federal regulations increased, however, Congress decided to relieve the judiciary of most regulatory cases and create administrative courts tied to individual agencies. The result is that a citizen is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency than by an actual court. In a given year, federal judges conduct roughly 95,000 adjudicatory proceedings, including trials, while federal agencies complete more than 939,000.
I love to run, and I try to run almost every day. Among runners it is common to be pushed to run faster, farther, and harder. However, new research is showing that too much running can be bad for your health. This shouldn't be a surprise; moderation is the key to success in most of life.
Endurance athletes have long enjoyed a made-of-iron image. But amid mounting evidence that extraordinary doses of exercise may diminish the benefits of modest amounts, that image is being smudged. That extra six years of longevity running has been shown to confer? That benefit may disappear beyond 30 miles of running a week, suggest recent research. ...
Other recent studies suggest the significant mortality benefits of running may diminish or disappear at mileage exceeding 30 miles a week and other, very small studies have shown elevated levels of coronary plaque in serial marathoners--a problem that rigorous exercise theoretically could cause.
"Heart disease comes from inflammation and if you're constantly, chronically inflaming yourself, never letting your body heal, why wouldn't there be a relationship between over exercise and heart disease?" said John Mandrola, a cardiac electrophysiologist and columnist for TheHeart.org.
Thank you to all the soldiers, airmen, marines, sailors, and many other who have given their lives for our country. My family wouldn't be here without you.
Dr. Anthony Levatino is an OB/GYN who has performed more than 1,200 abortions but is now pro-life. He was recently invited to testified to Congress about abortion and why it should be banned. His description of a dilation and evacuation (D&E) procedure is chilling.
Imagine if you can that you are a pro-choice obstetrician/gynecologist like I once was. Your patient today is 24 weeks pregnant. At twenty-four weeks from last menstrual period, her uterus is two finger-breadths above the umbilicus.
If you could see her baby, which is quite easy on an ultrasound, she would be as long as your hand plus a half from the top of her head to the bottom of her rump not counting the legs. Your patient has been feeling her baby kick for the last 2 months or more but now she is asleep on an operating room table and you are there to help her with her problem pregnancy.
The first task is remove the laminaria that had earlier been placed in the cervix to dilate it sufficiently to allow the procedure you are about to perform. With that accomplished, direct your attention to the surgical instruments arranged on a small table to your right. The first instrument you reach for is a 14-French suction catheter. It is clear plastic and about nine inches long. It has a bore through the center approximately ¾ of an inch in diameter.Picture yourself introducing this catheter through the cervix and instructing the circulating nurse to turn on the suction machine which is connected through clear plastic tubing to the catheter. What you will see is a pale yellow fluid that looks a lot like urine coming through the catheter into a glass bottle on the suction machine. This is the amniotic fluid that surrounded the baby to protect her.
With suction complete, look for your Sopher clamp. This instrument is about thirteen inches long and made of stainless steel. At the end are located jaws about 2 ½ inches long and about ¾ of an inch wide with rows of sharp ridges or teeth. This instrument is for grasping and crushing tissue. When it gets hold of something, it does not let go. A second trimester D&E abortion is a blind procedure. The baby can be in any orientation or position inside the uterus. Picture yourself reaching in with the Sopher clamp and grasping anything you can.
At twenty-four weeks gestation, the uterus is thin and soft so be careful not to perforate or puncture the walls. Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard-really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about six inches long. Reach in again and grasp whatever you can. Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length. Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.
The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby's head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. You can be pretty sure you have hold of it if the Sopher clamp is spread about as far as your fingers will allow. You will know you have it right when you crush d own on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby's brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you.
Congratulations! You have just successfully performed a second trimester Suction D&E abortion. You just affirmed her right to choose.
He goes on to explain why delivery by Cesarean section is safer and faster than abortion in cases where the mother's life is in jeopardy.
Three of America's largest health insurance companies have decided not to participate in California's Obamacare exchange. Why? Because "no comment". The companies that are participating are already bigger players in California's insurance market, so they pretty much had to play ball or go out of business.
Some prominent health insurers, including industry giant UnitedHealth Group Inc., are not participating in California's new state-run health insurance market, possibly limiting the number of choices for millions of consumers.
UnitedHealth, the nation's largest private insurer, Aetna Inc. and Cigna Corp. are sitting out the first year of Covered California, the state's insurance exchange and a key testing ground nationally for a massive coverage expansion under the federal healthcare law.
Meanwhile, the biggest insurers in the state -- Kaiser Permanente, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California -- are all expected to participate in the state-run market for individual health coverage.
What it means: everyone who had a choice decided to opt-out. Is this a trend?
[Glenn Melnick, a health policy professor at USC,] said UnitedHealth, Aetna and Cigna may be making a mistake by sitting on the sidelines given California's size and importance in the healthcare overhaul nationwide. "California is going to be a trendsetter," he said.
Melnick is probably right that California is setting a trend, but it may not be in the direction he's implying.
Here's some of the history behind the Nigerian Prince email scam. Of course, there's nothing new under the sun.
CONAN: So you would not be surprised if evidence turned up of some ancient letter, back to the Roman days: We escaped with some Gaulish treasure before Caesar crush us, and we just need a little help.
BRUNTON: Yes, absolutely. I mean, honestly, at this point I would not be surprised to find like cave paintings.
BRUNTON: You know, like, we have a lot of extra obsidian, but we had to leave it in a cave and...
Don't forget about the Nigerian scammer who was scammed in return and tricked into writing out by hand 293 pages of Harry Potter as part of a "research project".
Andrew McCarthy lays out a compelling case that the IRS scandal should be resolved politically rather than through the legal process. A special prosecutor/special counsel would focus on bringing lawbreakers to trial rather than fixing a horribly broken bureaucracy. If anyone broke the law they can be prosecuted for years to come, but an investigation now would likely end any hope of significant
reform of the underlying tax system.
Let's put law and atmospherics aside and try to be completely practical. The imperative in the IRS scandal is not criminal prosecution. It is political accountability: to lay bare what corrupt officials have done, for the purpose of swiftly determining whether they are unfit to hold offices of public trust and whether the system in which they operate tends to corruption. The appointment of a special counsel would undermine that goal.
The moment a prosecutor -- special or otherwise -- takes over, the public flow of information stops. All witnesses will claim that the pendency of a criminal investigation means they cannot discuss the matter "on advice of counsel." They will cease cooperating with congressional investigators. The prosecutor will claim that grand-jury secrecy rules bar comment about the expansive investigation (a claim the government routinely makes, even though the rules actually bar comment only by the prosecutor, investigative agents, and grand jurors -- not the witnesses).
Public disclosure should be the goal here. It is the one thing that has driven the IRS story to this point. Public disclosure of the shockingly intrusive harassment of the president's political opponents, the prohibitive legal and regulatory expenses imposed on ordinary people for merely exercising their right to participate in the political process, is what has broken through the administration's Obamedia fortress. Yet public disclosure is precisely what would be lost if Congress were to punt its oversight responsibilities to a special counsel.
The federal government refuses to categorize the 2009 Ft. Hood massacre as a "terrorist attack", because obviously President Obama solved our terrorism problems and we don't have "terrorist attacks" anymore. What's in a name?
The Department of Defense confirms to NBC 5 Investigates that accused Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan has now been paid more than $278,000 since the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting that left 13 dead 32 injured. The Army said under the Military Code of Justice, Hasan's salary cannot be suspended unless he is proven guilty. ...
The Army has not classified the wounds of the Ft. Hood victims as "combat related" and declines to label the shooting a "terrorist attack",
The "combat related" designation is an important one, for without it Burnett and other shooting victims are not given combat-related pay, they are not eligible for Purple Heart retirement or medical benefits given to other soldiers wounded either at war or during the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.
As a result, Burnett, his wife Torey, and the families of other Fort Hood victims miss out on thousands of dollars of potential benefits and pay every year.
President Obama's political fortunes are clearly more important than the truth, and who really cares about the follow-on injustices that only affect little people? Hasan is "assumed innocent" of this alleged "workplace violence", so why shouldn't he keep getting paid? His victims weren't killed or injured in a "combat zone", so why should they get any special benefits?
So the IRS admits that it has been targeting conservative groups for years. Duh? I was hit way back in 2009.
Instead of griping about the past or hallucinating about impeaching President Obama, let's consider the best possible resolution for our country. The power of the IRS wasn't abused because any of the actors in this scandal are particularly evil; they're just normal people doing what they think is "best". Don't get me wrong -- no one behaved nobly, but their failings were well within the normal range of human behavior.
Unfortunately, and inevitably, vast power wielded for good intentions leads to bad results. The people aren't the problem, not even the President. They're no worse than average. The problem is that the tax system is hopelessly twisted. There's no way for a bureaucracy made of normal human beings to administer our tax system in a fair and just manner. The system has too much complexity, too many purposes, too many rent-seekers, too much discretion, too many rules, too many holes, and too much history for anyone to expect it to function.
The solution is to execute the IRS. Dissolve the entire organization, repeal all the tax laws, and start over with a blank slate. A Flat Tax would be my preference, but it almost doesn't matter. Any new system would be better than what we've got right now.
The current scandal may have enough punch to penetrate the consciousness of the general public, which already has a low opinion of the IRS. President Obama is popular and protected by the media, but more importantly he's impotent and he's leaving office in a few years anyway. However much you dislike President Obama, don't worry, he won't be around much longer. But the tax system will never die on it's own. It will have to be killed. Take this opportunity to strike at the heart of the Beast.
(And yes, this post makes me nervous. If I attract the Beast's attention it could easily crush me.)
This morning I read that the government contract covering the Apollo moon missions was only one page long. I haven't yet been able to confirm or deny this claim. Can anyone find any facts on this matter?
Via John Avlon who uses the neologism to describe the collection of scandals enveloping Barack Obama: scandalabra.
The latest non-Watergate to be labelled its second coming is actually a combination of three separate scandals afflicting the Barack Obama administration.
The collective weight of this scandalabra threatens to derail the president's ambitious legislative agenda, dragging him to premature lame duck status. But it doesn't represent outright criminality emanating from the Oval Office or promise to provoke a constitutional crisis, however fervently Obama's critics might wish it.
The Missouri legislature has tried and failed to pass a right-to-work law for a while, but now they're sending a "paycheck protection" bill to Governor Nixon which would have a similar effect, though more limited. Nixon is likely to veto the bill, and the Republican legislators don't appear to have enough votes to override a veto.
But the legislation, which earned final approval at the Capitol on Monday, would require public employee unions to get consent every year from members before deducting fees from their paychecks. Additionally, the bill also would require such unions to get annual written permission from members before using those fees for political purposes. ...
The measure passed the Republican-controlled House in an 85-69 vote -- well below the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.
As a St. Louis area resident this was a surprise to me: Dice.com has ranked St. Louis as the nation's fastest-growing tech hub!
St. Louis - The Golden Arch - The number of St. Louis-based technology jobs posted on Dice jumped 25 percent year/year. And those new tech jobs are coming at a higher price tag too: average tech salaries are up 13 percent year/year to $81,245. Popular jobs? Developers, programmers and consultants. St. Louis is becoming a start-up town, with support from the St. Louis Information Technology Entrepreneur Network.
Great news, since I plan to stay here for a while.