“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Sometimes You Just Need a White Sandy Beach


  1. ...gonna hit that beach again yet, tho.

    Before "it" kills me.

    (everything but the beach)

  2. There are some beautiful creatures on this planet.

  3. Highly recommended -

    From BC Commenter:

    Dr. Rich's Outstanding Website

    Amazing resource, enough to make Rufie's head explode.

  4. DOUG. You've Lost Weight.

  5. Was never a big fan of obvious beauty. That was always too easy. I much preferred to find it where others missed.

  6. I should spend my declining days with an extra long, stabilized telephoto lens on a high quality camera.

    Although the cops might take an interest after a few months.

    Maybe make a place for me on the Perv Registry?

  7. Ah, perfect timing. First "whiskey" of the Season.

  8. Just keep it pointed toward the "Beach," Dougie Boy, and you'll be alright.

  9. I figure I'm in trouble regardless of where it's pointing if it's outside my trunks.

    My Trunk, that is.

  10. My aunt would have loved that picture. She had a statue of a :)thin:) Hawaiian lady on a small bike, seen from behind, the behinds overlapping the bike just a little. :)

  11. Weather Out West

    I've fished in weather like that a lot. Really stirs 'em up.

  12. Dr. Corboy, famous eye surgeon here, tells story of aged Chinese woman who ran off the road when the tape holding up her eyelid came off.

    Surgery to correct that rather common for the few that are that bad.

    See, we are superior in some ways.

  13. Wife's Oncologist just moved here from Montana.
    Gave her almost two hours of her time.
    Now comes a barrage of tests.

    Question a lot of docs would not ask:

    "Did it bother you that they waited so long."

    No shit:
    If I had it to do over again, I sure as Hell would not have let that happen.

  14. The rather begnign liver spots come from somewhere else:

    They didn't find it when they looked, so they punted, thanks, guys.

    This gal will. (find it)

    Two specialties:

    Hematology and Oncology, so she ordered a bunch more blood tests and will likely know what to make of them.

  15. I have just one question:

    How many think that we can fix a Trillion Dollar Deficit without raising taxes?

  16. To Rufus' point

    While many developed countries are in a muddle of budget deficits and stagnant or even negative growth of revenue, the Chinese government’s income growth is accelerating.

    The Chinese government’s gross fiscal revenue is projected to reach eight trillion yuan (approx. 1.18 trillion US dollars) by 2010. By then, China will become the second largest economy in terms of government revenue, second only to the United States.

    The figure was first released by the Economic Observer (《经济观察报》) on June 28, 2010, which also revealed that the nation’s revenue in the first five months of 2010 reached 3.55 trillion – an increase of 836.2 billion yuan, or 30.8 percent, compared to the same period during the previous year.

    Furthermore, this figure does not include income from government funds (e.g. funds for key construction projects in the energy industry or transportation), revenues of state-owned enterprises and land-transfer fees, the latter having become a considerable source of income for government since 2009.

    Noticeably, the growth rate of government revenue has surpassed that of GDP [gross domestic product] in China for several years. According to the official data, the gross government revenue totaled 51,321.78 billion yuan in 2007, with an annual increase of 32.4%, while the GDP grew by 13%. In 2008, the government revenue totaled 61,330.35 billion, with an annual increase of 19.5%, while the GDP grew by 9.6%. In 2009, the government revenue totaled 68,476.88 billion, with an annual increase of 11.7%, while the GDP grew by 8.7%. This year, the government revenue is projected to exceed 16%, still much higher than the forecast of GDP growth – 8% (statistics compiled by Southern Weekend 《南方周末》).

  17. What does that mean? There is a theory that human beings work less the higher they are taxed.

    Intuitively, this has an inherent contradiction in that people that are extremely wealthy are also people very driven to acquire great wealth. If they lose money on a venture they tend to double down and make it back on the next one.

    What happens to them if they lose it to government taxes?

    There very may well be a case where they will work harder and invest more to get back to where they were before part of their wealth was taxed away.

    Fiscal conservatives argue that lower taxes increase money in government coffers. Obviously that is ridiculous and it would imply that no taxes would put government in a surplus with no collection of taxes.

    It comes down to Goldilocks and a sweet spot where things are balanced and just right.

    How government uses taxes is another matter, but there is no case that can explain away the contradictions in the simplistic argument that the less taxes the better.

  18. The theory holds with those in lower wage jobs. They are not as interested in taxes as much as they are in their take-home pay.

    When give the chance they negotiate for take-home pay, not gross.

    That may very well apply to the greatest of capitalists. The work to maximize their net, avoid taxes when they can and take their lumps when they can't.

  19. My gut says, "Bush went just a touch too far." 37% on the top rate might be about right.

    "Dividend, and Cap Gains Rates" need to be a bit higher. When Warren Buffet pays a lower percentage of his income in federal taxes than does his secretary something's out of whack.

    And, our Corporate Tax on "Offshore" Profits is a Complete Debacle.

    We have to cut spending, for sure; but there's no way in hell we can get anywhere near balanced w/o raising taxes on the Top Earners.

  20. Jeeze,

    Ruf the Socialist just will never get it:
    You could tax 100 percent at the rate govt expenses are growing and have a deficit:
    Government cuts either happen, or no one will have a (meaningful) paycheck.

    Rich people avoid, going offshore if necessary, which Rufus the Socialist has refered to.

    Ash's country is kicking ass with a conservative banking system, and increasingly better compared to us, Govt policies.

  21. You're just typing nonsense, Doug.

    I referred to "Corporate Profits" as regards "offshoring" - not indiviuals.

  22. You might like the idea of paying a higher percentage of your income in taxes than Warren Buffet, but I don't.

    And, I'll tell you one more time: The top tax rate has absolutely nothing to do with "job creation." In fact, if I was forced to bet, I'd take "the other side" of the proposition.

  23. On the same day that Senate Republicans filibustered a vote for renewable energy in the USA, by contrast – China has just published an astoundingly ambitious and exciting renewable energy plan for the next ten years.

    China’s plan is to get a total of 500 Gigawatts of renewable energy on the grid by 2020. It explodes wind power from a mere 25 GW on the grid now, to a staggering 150 GW, a six-fold increase on the previous already ambitious plan.

    Liquid fuels would get a boost. The plan would grow ethanol production from 2 million tons to 10 million tons, to expand biodiesel from 0.05 million tons to 2 million tons, biomass pellets for heating, from under a million tons to 50 million tons, and biogas and biomass gasification from 8 billion cubic meters to 44 billion cubic meters.

    Must Read - short article - 500 Gigawatts is a Bunch.

  24. Anyone who causes an increase in energy prices (through taxes) is dead on arrival at election time.

    DOA. You can count on that.

  25. I heard that the Obama administration was using resuming drilling in the gulf as a ploy to get votes for Cap and Trade. When it became apparent that Cap and Trade was dead, Obama dropped the charade on being pro drilling.

  26. .

    Anyone who causes an increase in energy prices (through taxes) is dead on arrival at election time.

    DOA. You can count on that.

    May be true, but short sighted. In 'real' terms gas is cheaper today than it was 30 years ago.

    When measured as a percentage of income, it is probably 5 times cheaper than it was 60 years ago (the earliest I have seen numbers on it).


  27. .

    The Laffer Curve is a laugher and only nitwits like Laffer, Larry Kudlow, and Doug buy into it.

    The GOP doesn't really believe it; they merely use it as a talking point to force their agenda which is to help their constituency; Wall Street, the Banks, and the well-off.

    Those 'working and middle class' supporters of the GOP agenda are merely useful tools that promote the silliness.

    Laffer has made a living off of the 'Laffer Curve' a simple construct supposedly pulled together over lunch and represented by the bell shaped 'normal curve'. The GOP has endowed godlike status on the dumb smuck because his musings provide simple 'proof' for their standard meme.

    The GOP, small government conservatives, and business shills like Kudlow, look at a normal curve, one of the foundations of statistics, and write into it the ultimate truth, "as tax rates go up revenues go down'.

    What bushwa.

    As Deuce pointed out, taken to the extreme it becomes a reducio ad absurdum since a zero tax rate results in zero taxes. What the curve does do is illustrate the typical human inclination to be less incentivicised to work in a particular direction as the reward for that work decreases. What the curve doesn't do is identify or provide any guidance as to that point on the curve where a significant shift in behavior takes place.

    The curve recognizes opportunity costs and the fact that an individual can shift assets either into other asset classes or away from the taxing authority. What it fails to take into account is that individuals and corporations will typically continue to try to maximize profits up to the point where marginal rates turn negative.

    The theory that people with money will at some point just stop 'working' because taxes are too high is silly. At a certain point they may shift assets but they will still try to maximize profits until there marginal profits turn negative.

    The Laffer Curve also fails to address the issue of risk thus reducing its value to that of a cute “doodle” that someone might have dreamed up over lunch perhaps after a few stiff ones. Oh, that’s right. That’s what happened.

    Supporter of the ‘Laffer Curve” argue that as tax rates were cut under Bush government revenues increased; and more to the point, that they increased more than they would have if the cuts had not been there. It is impossible to prove a negative but comparing the rate of growth in jobs and the economy under Bush when compared to other periods with higher tax rates it is hard to give any credence to their argument.

    They also argue that under higher taxes, business and high wealth individuals will move their assets to other countries or other lower taxed asset classes. This is merely an assertion. There is no way of proving it. I say the nominal as opposed to effective tax rates are a minor factor in those decisions. An indication of this is in 2006, at the height of the business cycle and before things started going south, a full 25% on the country’s largest companies paid no taxes at all.

    Globalization has been going on for over 40 years and has been accelerating as marginal tax rates have been dropping but companies still try to maximize profits.

    The GOP argues that the only reason we are not currently creating jobs is because small business is uncertain about tax rates. Ridiculous. Only 2% of small businesses would be affected allowing the Bush tax cuts for the rich to expire. Larger companies will continue to do what large companies do, work the tax loopholes.


  28. .

    There is no hiring right now because there is no demand. Businesses are not investing for the same reason. And why should banks and private capital take risks when the government is willing to give them money for free and they can make huge profits risk free.

    The rich didn’t get rich by being stupid. If they can make good money with no risk, why take the risk? Granting the rich extended tax breaks will result in an acceleration rate on the money of less than one. Granting a tax reduction in payroll taxes or even an extension of unemployment benefits will result in an acceleration rate that is positive. Dems are saying that acceleration would be about 2 to 1. The CBO and others put the rate at 1.4 to 1.6. If we want tax decreases this is the more reasonable way to go.


  29. .

    "What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." - Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892.


    My last couple of posts reminded me of an article I'd seen.

    You are a 'numbers' guy.

    You may find the following link interesting or even useful.

    Measuring Worth


  30. Nobody wants higher taxes or a smaller portion of pie for that matter, but we are getting our collective asses kicked on a global basis.

    It is incredulous to me that housing prices are higher in Costa Rica than in Florida or that the dollar is going down versus the colones, but it is.

    Costa Rica pays a lot more for gasoline and they import every drop. Fifteen years ago the US was buying oil from China.

    There will be higher gasoline taxes. Our choices are simple, we can pay the taxes to foreign governments as we are doing as oil prices increase, or we can jump ahead of the curve, tax it higher ourselves and use the extra revenue to decrease employment taxes.

    We get a long term benefit by taxing it ourselves because only at higher prices is there an incentive to replace imported oil with domestic product.

    Are we such children or dopes that we cannot see that? It is not hard to understand. When one supplier, China Inc., can undercut the price of Supplier USA, US factories go out of business.

    When they are gone the Chinese will raise their prices making Americans poorer. That is true will all products including oil. There is not enough US alternatives to beat down the price of imported oil.

    I just shake my head in amazement at the collective stupidity, economic ignorance and the cynical bastards that prey upon it.

  31. Think how different our conversations with Saudi Arabia would be if we were in the process of converting to electric cars powered by nuclear, wind, domestic natural gas and solar power? We could tell them that if we detect one more dollar of Saudi money going to the Taliban then they can protect themselves from Iran.

    Think how different our conversations with China would be if we had had a different savings rate the past 30 years and China was not holding $900 billion in U.S. Treasury securities — but was still dependent on the U.S. economy and technology. We would not be begging them to revalue their currency, and maybe our request that China prevent North Korea from shipping ballistic missile parts to Iran via Beijing airport (also in the cables) wouldn’t be rebuffed so brusquely.

    And think how much more leverage our sanctions would have on Iran if oil were $20 a barrel and not $80 — and Iran’s mullah-dictators were bankrupt?

    Fifty years ago, the world was shaped in a certain way, to promote certain values, because America had the leverage to shape it that way. We have been steadily losing that leverage because of our twin addictions to Middle East oil and Chinese credit — and the WikiLeaks show just what crow we have to eat because of that. I know, some problems — like how we deal with a failing state like Pakistan that also has nukes — are innately hard, and ending our oil and credit addictions alone will not solve them. But it sure would give us more leverage to do so — and more insulation from the sheer madness of the Middle East if we can’t.

    - Tom Friedman, NY Times, This morning.

  32. 10% unemployment, get smart or get used to it.

  33. No Democrats, No Republicans, we need Industrial Nationalism.

  34. RV industry on rebound, led by smaller trailers

    By Bruce Schreiner

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — American families are ready to hitch up their trailers and tow the RV industry out of its worst stretch in nearly two decades.

    The industry was driv en into the ditch last year by the Great Recession. Sales plunged, plants closed and thousands of jobs were cut as orders for recreational vehicles dropped to their worse level since 1991.

    Now, RV makers such as Winnebago are start ing to turn profits and have begun to hire. And dealers are ordering more RVs for their showrooms. This year, shipments of RVs ranging from entry level pop-ups to spacious motor homes are expect ed to hit their highest level since 2007, when the economic downturn began.

    The upswing is a sign that somewhat looser credit, stable fuel prices and improved consumer confidence are inspiring Americans to buy more RVs.

    “Things are starting to look up,” says Tim O’Brien, president of an RV dealership in Lapeer, Mich., where sales are up 55 percent from a year ago. “People are ready to get out from underneath the frugality of the last couple of years and go out and have some fun and recreation,” he says.

  35. Thanks for the neat article, Q.

    An Academic could spend a lifetime (some have) studying those numbers, and trying to ascertain the meaning of same.

    I guess it goes back to what the man said: "If everything is so damned bad, why is life so good?"