Miscellany

Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution

For all of these creative artists, most laboring in obscurity, being well-enough known to be pirated would be a crowning achievement. Piracy is a kind of progressive taxation, which may shave a few percentage points off the sales of well-known artists (and I say “may” because even that point is not proven), in exchange for massive benefits to the far greater number for whom exposure may lead to increased revenues.

Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution

Miscellany

Experts warn that heavy debt threatens American economy

More than two centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin warned: “He that goes aborrowing, goes asorrowing.” Now, a laugh-til-you-cry commercial portrays a man with a beautiful home and car declaring: “I’m in debt up to my eyeballs. I can barely pay my finance charges. Somebody help me.”

The epidemic of American indebtedness runs from home to government to global marketplace. To examine it, let’s start at home.

Americans used to save, but no longer. Back in the 1950s, a generation of Americans who had survived the Depression and Second World War saved roughly 8% of their income. The savings rate rose and fell slightly over the decades — it went as high as 11% and as low as 7% during the “greed is good” 1980s — but now those days are only a memory.

In the charge-everything start of the new millennium, savings have plummeted: to just 1.8% last year, below 1% since January and at zero in the latest estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Experts warn that heavy debt threatens American economy

Miscellany

A distinction our state doesn’t need

It’s not news the local convention bureau will likely start bragging about.

But a national online magazine has decided to bestow on our state a pretty significant distinction.

In July, The Black Commentator ranked Wisconsin No. 1 among “The Ten Worst Places to Be Black” in America.

“Wisconsin leads the nation in the percentage of its black inhabitants under lock and key. Just over four percent of black Wisconsin, including the very old and the very young of both sexes, are behind bars,” according to The Black Commentator.
D’oh!

A distinction our state doesn’t need

Miscellany

Former First Lady Moved to New Location Away From Cameras, Microphones

Just days after former First Lady Barbara Bush made widely publicized remarks about people made homeless by Hurricane Katrina, the White House said today that Mrs. Bush had been moved to “a new location away from television cameras and microphones.”

Mrs. Bush, who in talking about Katrina refugees said that “This is working very well for them” and that many of them “were underprivileged anyway,” was transported to a facility where she will have plenty of food and water but no more media appearances, the White House confirmed.

Former First Lady Moved to New Location Away From Cameras, Microphones

Miscellany

Bush’s tax cuts undermined by basic principles

His [George W. Bush’s] policy thus rests implicitly on the premise that if business owners could afford to hire additional workers, they would. But whether owners can afford to hire is not the issue. What matters is whether hiring will increase their profits.

The basic hiring criterion, found in every introductory textbook – including those written by the president’s own economic advisers – is straightforward: If the output of additional workers can be sold for at least enough to cover their salaries, they should be hired; otherwise not. The after-tax personal incomes of business owners are irrelevant for hiring decisions….

Had the dollars required to finance the president’s tax cuts been used in other ways, they would have made a real difference. Larger tax cuts for middle- and low-income families, for example, would have stimulated immediate new spending because the savings rates for most of these families are low. Their additional spending would have been largely for products made by domestic businesses, and that, in turn, would have led to increased employment.

Economists from both sides of the political aisle argued from the beginning that tax cuts for the wealthy made no sense as a policy for stimulating new jobs. Experience has proved them right.

Bush’s tax cuts undermined by basic principles