On travel. Back soon.
Local Chicago ABC news reported last week about a riot at the Ford City Mall on 95th Street. The ABC story said that 19 teenagers were arrested and two people hurt when mayhem broke out after a boy band concert at Ford City. Truly scary to think that one moment you can be peacefully shopping and the next you have to run for your life because 19 teen angels are rioting. Police said that even after they closed the Mall, violence continued outside for some time. Streets were closed and CTA buses rerouted to avoid the disturbance.
What is more remarkable than the fact that 19 bored teenagers got their weekend jollies by wrecking havoc at Ford City, is the fact that ABC news did not tell us anything about the teenagers. The story never tells us who the teenagers are. The story never describes the teenagers. The only description that ABC news provided about the 19 teens was that they were “mostly juveniles.” Teenagers are usually “mostly juvenile.” There was no news there.
Here is the quote from the Chicago Police that ABC news used to describe the riot:
How does this help the public? How do we know what to look for to avoid danger at the mall or to prevent more mayhem? Were these kids rabbinical students? Were these Catholic school girls? Were these Boy Scouts? Were these member of a Little League team from Alsip? Were the teens white? Asian? Hispanic? African-American? Were they boys? Girls? Transgendered? Did they have spiked pink hair? Were they members of gangs? If so, which gangs? Were they tall? Short? Fat? Were they from another town? Calumet City? Burnham? Lansing? Were they in school anywhere?
Journalism 101 teaches that every news story should tell the reader the who, what, where, when, and why of the event. Some fancy people might add how to that list.
This ABC news story earns an F in Journalism 101. The story fails to tell us “who” rioted at the Ford City Mall. The story does not include any facts about the rioting teens. Don’t they have editors at ABC news anymore? This type of reporting is garbage.
Guns.com reports that over 100 arms manufacturers will not sell weapons to state and local government agencies who have “prohibitive” gun control policies. That sure makes a statement. Perhaps this blog should add its name to that list: “What Does Harry Think” will not sell guns to any state or local government with a prohibitive gun control policy.
I bet that hurt. Right now I bet mid-level bureaucrats responsible for procuring weapons for local law enforcement are quivering like a bowl full of jello. “What Does Harry Think” won’t sell them guns. Ouch.
Guns.com mentions that “LaRue Tactical, Spike’s Tactical, Barrett, Bravo Company USA, Primary Weapon Systems, Midway USA, CMMG, [and] Volquartsen Custom,” are among those gun manufacturers leading the protest against prohibitive gun control policy. With that list of companies sitting out on gun sales to local law enforcement I have no idea where police departments will find their guns. I would imagine those big name companies sold thousands of guns to public agencies last year.
The dirty little secret about this blog is that this blog has no guns to sell. This blog does not have a Federal license to be a gun dealer. This blog does not manufacture guns. This blog does not have a warehouse full of guns. Nothing. We did not sell any guns last year, the year before, or the year before that. We have never sold a gun to anyone, certainly not to law enforcement, and had no plans to enter that business. But in the spirit of protest–it is always fun to join a protest–this blog is joining with the Guns.com crowd. We protest. We won’t sell any of you guns. Take that you evil people.
To be even-handed about it, we will not sell guns to criminals either. The best way to fight “prohibitive” gun control policies is to stop selling guns to state and local governments who pass the bad policies and to those voters who elected them. No guns for any of those crooks. I am sure that folks will sleep better tonight knowing that this blog has joined arms with the weapons trade to stand up for the Second Amendment.
Today is the day that Republicans begin to pay the nation’s debt on the backs of the poor by sequestering a portion of planned Federal Spending. Recall how this works, if you keep taxes constant and cut spending the Federal Government sells fewer bonds to rich people. Rich people hold on to more of their money with the sequester. Meanwhile Federal spending cuts take money from the poor and middle class. Republican spending cuts transfer wealth directly from the poor and middle class to the rich. That is the Republican plan to pay for the nation’s debt.
Of course a better plan to solve the debt would be to tax directly those individuals who today purchase government bonds. That would mean the share of the economy controlled by the Government would remain constant. That would mean the amount of cash held by rich folks would remain constant. The name would change on the mechanism used to transfer cash from rich folks to the Government. And the vital money that today the Federal Government spends to help the poor and middle class would remain constant.
But we get to enjoy the Republican sequester instead.
So here is my question, instead of the “sequester” as everyone calls it, why not just cut Federal salaries across the board by 10%? Then in a second step, cut Federal employment by 10%. You can make those cuts in the first instance by not replacing workers who quit or retire. In the second instance, you can us the old GE method and eliminate the bottom 10% of workers based on job reviews. Then in a final step, require every Cabinet Secretary and department head to cut 10% more from his budget, but maintain all programs at present levels. In other words, they would have to cut all of the fluff in their budget. Call this the 10/10/10 alternative to the sequester.
It is obvious that the whole point of the sequester is a ploy by politicians of both parties to build public support for taxing the poor and middle class. Folks want to make spending cuts appear painful. There are good alternatives, like my 10/10/10 plan above. That plan will not be up for discussion.
Basic fact that you never read in the news and that Republican politicians never admit, on a cash basis the Federal budget is balanced. The Government’s cash inflows balance the Government’s spending.
Where is the “deficit” that all of the politicians discuss? The “deficit” is in tax policy. The Government funds spending with three things: (1) sales of Government assets; (2) taxes and fees; and (3) bonds or t-bills, or what I like to call “promises to tax.” Today Government tax collections and asset sales cover only a portion of spending, the rest of spending is covered by “promises to tax.” The gap between taxes and “promises” is the deficit.
The analytical point about “deficits” that Republicans in particular elide is that a bond, or “promise to tax,” ultimately is the same as a tax. When the Government sells a bond it is making a promise to tax someone in the future so that the Government can repay the bond. That someone who will be taxed could very well be the person who bought the bond. Thus, the economic effect of the Government selling a bond is the same as the economic effect of the Government collecting a tax in the first instance. The Government controls the same share of the economy whether it collects cash in taxes, or in “promises to tax.” The only difference between a Government bond and a tax is that with a bond, we have not yet made a decision about who ultimately will bear the tax burden. The fight over the “deficit” is a fight about how the Government will make good on its promises. The fight is about tax incidence.
We can only “solve” the problem of the “deficit” and the accumulated “debt” by collecting more taxes. If today you cut Government spending to zero you still would need to collect tax money from someone to repay all of the outstanding bonds, or “promises to tax.” Outstanding Government bonds can be repaid only by collecting taxes, not by making spending cuts. Once you have sold a bond, or made a “promise to tax,” you must actually collect cash from someone via a tax so that you have cash to pay the bond.
In point of fact the people who can best bear the burden of increased government taxes to pay off the bonds are the people who hold the Government’s bonds. Why is that? That is true for two reasons: (1) they already gave the Government the required cash, they did that when they bought the bond; (2) they have demonstrated they do not need the cash for something else, otherwise they would not have given their cash to the Government in the first instance.
The best way to solve the “deficit” problem is to levy taxes that fall on those people who today buy Government bonds. They have the most free cash.
The worst way to cut the “deficit” is by cutting current spending. When you cut spending you take cash from people who have made their economic plans based on the expectation of continued dealings with the Federal Government. Worse still, when you then turn around and tax poor and middle class people to repay outstanding Government bonds, you take from the poor and give to the rich. The whole “deficit” game is about taking from the poor and giving to the rich.
Ironically when you tax people who hold Government bonds you have made no change that affects expectations, you have merely transformed a “promise to tax” into an actual tax. The cash ends up in the Government’s hands whether you call the transaction a tax or whether you call it “promise to tax” or bond. If you tax bondholders to repay their bonds the cash never moves. You simply zero out both sides of the “T” account.
Why won’t politicians be honest about this? They want to eliminate the “deficit” on the backs of the poor and middle class. It is all about protecting the wealthy. Why does the Government use “promises to tax” in the first place? Governments rely on bonds, or promises to tax, in the first instance because they lack the political will to make the rich pay their fair share.