Monday, April 25, 2011


The other day a friend of mine asked me whether I thought humans had evolved to anthropomorphize so that we didnt simply trample over everything else in the world.

I admit it seems like an appealing notion that somehow our empathy serves a purpose. Unfortunately it seems like we're doing a fine job of trampling over everything else in the world in spite of that, though admittedly, thats likely more a function of how, in large human groups, other forces trump quaint, more personal notions like empathy.

For some reason, this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes (Thomas Hardy):
"In common with most rural mechanics, he had too much individuality to be a typical 'working-man'--a resultant of that beach-pebble attrition with his kind only to be experienced in large towns, which metamorphoses the unit Self into a fraction of the unit Class."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The D Word

Could it be anything other than 'deficit'?

Recently, Orrin Hatch issued a press release that made a few statements that were bothersome. The first is the claim that spending is out of control:
"...we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. Federal spending is up to 25 percent of our nation’s economic output – up from the 20.6 percent post World War II average."
While this in itself may be true, our deficit is nowhere near the levels of post World War times if any of the numbers are to be believed. And that in spite of the fact we are leading 3 (depending on who you talk to) wars, have put the burden for a humungous bailout on our books, and are continuing to reduce tax revenue, both through policy and through the impact of the recession. It may be true that spending is out of control, but you wont make that point very well by comparing the deficit with historical values. We've been in worse positions.

The other thing that troubled me was the statement:
“Well, the day before what is typically tax filing day, I feel obligated to inform Mr. Plouffe, the President, and all of those rich liberal Democrats who are eager to pay higher taxes, that they can do just that.

They can write a check to the IRS and make an extra payment on their tax returns to pay down the federal debt. There’s still time before the filing deadline for them to give Uncle Sam some more money."
Are you kidding me? Is this guy the best representative Utah could find? Maybe we should just make all taxes voluntary, since he apparently doesn't believe taxes serve any useful purpose (ironically implying that his role as a Senator is also of no value). To be fair, the Senator went on to point out that he may have, in fact, been joking. But this is from an official press release, so he wasn't really joking, of course. Note, this is the ranking minority member of the Senate Finance Committee, which includes subcommittees on Taxation, International Trade and Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Growth.