Thoughts on Events the Week of October 30

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on November 19, 2017

“Tax Reform”: Contrary to the claims of a graduated system, the tax code has become more and more favorable to the already rich over time. The reason our tax laws favor the wealthy, and why they are almost impossible to reform, is that politicians want them to be.

We use taxes to raise the money to run our government. We also use taxes to influence public policy, such as tax breaks for companies to convert to clean energy. Politicians, on the other hand, use taxes as the quid pro quo for the money donors invest in their election campaigns. If the tax code was simple and straight, politicians couldn’t indulge in such shenanigans.

In addition to growing inequality, another effect of tax law degradation, has been less and less revenue raised compared to our actual expenditures. In 2016, our revenues covered only 85% of our spending and we borrowed the other 15%. Try spending 15% more each year than you earn and see how fast you get into significant financial doo doo.

It wasn’t always this bad. Except in extraordinary circumstances, such as the Great Depression and World War II, for instance, we used to try much harder to keep revenues and expenditures in balance, and we used to pay more in taxes than we do now to do so.

Most people were comfortable with paying more taxes because the system seemed fair and most people’s incomes were rising, so though they were paying more taxes, they still had more money.

Then, in 1980, President Ronald Reagan told us that greed is good, and since then, high earners and corporations have been grabbing all the money they can, and scheming to pay less and less in taxes, at the expense of salaried employees and lower income workers.

The results of this trend are easy to see. Incomes are obscenely unequal, and politicians have no incentive to correct them; on the contrary. Wages have stagnated and workers are losing buying power, so they don’t want to raise taxes and are resentful for having to pay what they do.

Given this history, it is ludicrous to think that meaningful tax reform will come out of this Congress. It is equally ludicrous to think that if a tax bill is passed, it will be any fairer than today’s code. Most ludicrous of all is to think that this president, the ultimate grabber in every meaning of the term, is going to do anything but lower his own taxes and nothing that would increase them.

The new tax code draft is already less popular than Congress’ Repeal and Replace bill, and apparently the scoring predicts that there will be a tax increase for about a third of Americans, all middle and lower class workers, of course. The rich will make out like bandits, which, come to think of it, they are.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the tax bill. My guess is that the Republican controlled Congress will pass some kind of tax cut bill, regardless of logic, because many Republican donors have threatened not to donate any more unless they do. (For all I know, Democratic donors may have done the same. Both parties suckle on fat cats’ teats.)

But I also think that the bill could be a tipping point for populist allegiances. You would that that eventually, people are going to figure out that they are being screwed like a tied goat (though it hasn’t happened to Kansans yet).

Football: The Oklahoma Sooners beat Texas Tech 49 to 27, covering the spread of 20 ½ points, but it didn’t feel like that kind of an easy win. Early on, it felt more like a competitive tennis match, with each side holding serve. Tech scored first, then OU, then Tech, then OU and so on. The first six possessions resulted in six straight back and forth touchdowns, painful, frustrating evidence of OU’s defensive deficiencies. At the end of the first quarter, Tech was up 20-14. (Tech missed its first PAT and went chasing that point all night.)

OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops’ initial plan was to rush only three down linemen, but it wasn’t working, so he switched back to mainly a four down lineman set. Gravity returned and OU outscored the Red Raiders 35-7 over the second and third quarters. OU could have scored another touchdown in the scoreless fourth quarter, but Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was raised right, and he had the team take a knee instead.

Running back Abdul Adams was back on the field after missing three games to injury. He looks to be the best of a good stable to me, but Rodney Anderson was the featured back against Tech and he performed very well.

I’m very disappointed how our defense is playing, and I dread the thought of shootouts with Big XII opponents such as TCU and the Oklahoma Aggies, both of whom have more powerful passing offenses than Tech. Fortunately, we have a better one, and a ground game to go with it. But such games are always risky.

The Dallas Cowboys also won this weekend, beating the Redskins (don’t change your name, Washington) by two touchdowns in a miserable, heavy rain, 33 to 19. Two takeaways from this game are worth a comment.

First, Dallas showed a pass rush, which has been sorely lacking for years. If it continues, it will help the suspect defensive backfield a lot.

Second, when you are playing in miserable conditions, it is an advantage to have a reliable back you can feed the ball and get first downs without turnovers. The Cowboys have such a back and they used him correctly Sunday. Zeke Elliot carried the ball 33 times and 150 yards, which is a 4.5 yard average for those not doing the math. You can eat up a lot of clock picking up 4.5 yards per down.

Dallas Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman was calling the game and said Elliot’s work reminded him of Emmitt Smith’s in such games. I was thinking exactly the same thing, remembering Aikman feeding Smith the ball and occasionally throwing a lethal pass when the defense cheated up to try to stop Smith. Those were the days.

Status of the States: Alabama gets the cup this week, partly on spec. I’ve given Alabama the cup previously just because it gave us Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, perhaps the least fit of Ponzi Don’s cabinet appointments, which is really saying something. It wouldn’t be fair to give it to Alabama for the same reason again. However, I’m giving it to Alabama this time because Sessions was caught up in some lies about his contacts with Russia (which had been obvious to anyone paying attention, but are now corroborated by sworn testimony). My guess is Session’s behavior will make Alabama even more deserving of the cup again soon.

Sudden thought: I’ve been to Russia. Does that qualify me to be in Trump’s cabinet?

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