Friday, December 2, 2011

A Run-Down of the Ridiculous

Here's a brief run-down of some of my top ridiculous recent stories.

First, we see that Republicans are continuing their war on the right-to-vote. But this time, they've actually just given away the game. You see, the problem is, those people who they want to be disenfranchised just don't vote Republican, at least according to New Hampshire House Speaker William O'Brien. Now, beyond the fact that his statements are either a) untrue, or b) at the very least short-sighted, conservatives for years have been trumping up this fear of voter fraud as a means to an end to disenfranchise demographics that don't typically vote strongly for Republicans. This, despite the fact that fear for widespread fraud is patently unfounded, with even law schools writing policy briefs about it.

Second, we have Steve King (R-Iowa), totally forgetting about the 14th Amendment, you know, the one that talks about citizenship. Now, I know, Republicans would love to do away with the 14th Amendment, and probably declare all sorts of new policies about how you have to prove ancestry back to 4 generations or some such nonsense (unless you're a white male, of course), but sorry, the Amendment still currently stands. Is that characterization unfair? Only partially. Supporters of eliminating or changing the Amendment are specifically against birthright citizenship, which essentially states that any person born in the country, no matter the circumstances, is a citizen of the country. They want to enforce proof of legality for both parents (at least in Steve King's mind, having one U.S. citizen parent doesn't cut it). They say that the 14th Amendment was never meant to grant citizenship to the children of people who were not legal citizens. Problem is, the framers of the Amendment did discuss those issues. Perhaps even more importantly, the Supreme Court in 1898 ruled in favor of Wong Kim Ark, arguing that this man, who was born to non-citizens in the United States (in fact, Chinese immigrants who were outlawed from becoming naturalized citizens), was a citizen under the 14th Amendment. So, sorry guys.

Third in our ridiculous round-up is Grover Norquist. What mash-up of ridiculous stories would be complete without Grover "Anti-Tax" Norquist? Well, now he's changed his stance a bit. You see, raising taxes on middle-income families isn't really raising taxes at all. Again, this is really just giving away the game.
"Should we raise taxes just a little, tiny bit on those making the most money in the entire country?"

-"NO! Of course not, that's ridiculous and will kill the economy!"

"Well, since you're against taxes, obviously we shouldn't raise taxes by not extending the payroll tax cuts, right? I mean, even though they'd just go back to previous levels, when we wanted to let the Bush tax cuts expire (and let them return to their previous levels), you said that would be raising taxes...right?"

-"That's ridiculous. Of course we should let the payroll tax cuts expire, that's not raising taxes at all. At lot of people don't pay taxes at at! [ed. note: this separates into two categories - people who don't make enough money to be taxed at all, or people who make such low wages that they get a refund on their federal/state tax. Everyone still pays sales tax, food tax, etc. Those are also the taxes that disproportionately affect the poor.] The only sector of the economy that matters is the extremely wealthy. They're job creators! [ed. note: no, they're not.] And they give good donations, after all."

Finally, for a bit of good news, and definitely not ridiculous, Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist who helped start Amazon, has written an excellent op-ed, describing how backwards our tax policy has been for the past 30 years. This is the fundamental problem with supply-side economics, which I also described earlier. There is no way that the additional expenditure of a very small group of people, who are already having their needs and wants fully satisfied, will make up for the wasted potential economic activity of the majority of people who are just getting by.

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