Wednesday, 5/14/14

    1. Pat Buchanan in a time warp
    2. 2008 Election Retrospective
    3. Red Letter folly

1

Patrick J. Buchanan, in a piece that I would have enthusiastically endorsed a few decades ago, calls for abolition of the 35% corporate income tax.

How would America benefit? Every U.S. company, liberated from its corporate tax burden, would see its profits soar and have more cash on hand for cutting prices, raising wages and salaries, and new investment and hires. And every company that relocated here would create new U.S. jobs. This would be a stimulus package to end all stimulus packages.

(Emphasis added)

That emphasized portion just isn’t true.  I have, or have had, partial ownership in a number of small business entities. Not one of them paid a corporate tax. All were either Subchapter-S corporations or Limited Liability Companies, and the income is taxed to the owners, not the entity. Some years that meant I paid tax on “income” that the company kept for growing, but I survived.

What kind of economic growth do we want tax policy to promote if true neutrality isn’t possible (as I suspect it isn’t)? The American Conservative where Buchanan writes is generally localist in its orientation and suspicious of concentrated governmental or corporate power. Are the types of corporations that pay the income tax (until they expatriate) really the kinds of businesses we want preferentially to promote? Aren’t they exactly the ones that most nationalize and then distort our political lives (i.e., send lobbyists to DC to (a) pull political decision-making to a central location from the 50 states and (b) lobby to make sure the political decisions suit them)? Do we want a tax policy that encourages the emergence of those corporations, even if their expatriating stings?

Not rhetorical questions despite the tone. I’m just pointing out that tax policies have consequences beyond general economic growth promotion. Again, what kind of growth do we want?

Maybe someone is really having that localist small business versus megacorp discussion of tax policy somewhere, but I found no hint of it in Buchanan’s column.  He’s living in the 50s in his conception of what corporations are like.

2

As I’ve confessed before, I voted for McCain instead of a protest candidate in 2008 because it was clear that Obama might win Indiana and, on balance, I preferred McCain’s crankily excessive militarism to Obama’s ne plus ultra of liberalism Senate voting record. I now officially am no longer sorry that McCain lost:

Because he hasn’t already done enough to become a parody of himself, John McCain favors U.S. military action against Boko Haram:

The United States should send in special forces to rescue the hundreds of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram—whether the Nigerian government gives permission or not [bold mine-DL], according to Sen. John McCain.

This would be a questionable thing to do even if Nigeria’s government requested direct U.S. involvement in a rescue attempt, but to be willing to send U.S. forces into another country without permission from a mostly cooperative government is unduly reckless even by McCain’s low standards ….

(Daniel Larison) But this sort of voice for America, handed her megaphone by Obama (though her tenure at the government teat goes back to Dubya, apparently), sure prevents me being happy that McCain lost:

The American on the U.N. Committee Against Torture, Felice Gaer, told the Holy See that the Church’s position on abortion was a “concern” and that “women should have a right to choose.” Prohibitions on abortion are a form of torture according to Gaer—who ironically spent a decade on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

(Emphasis added)

3

Responding to a facile argument she made in an interview, unworthy of a serious Christian, Wesley Hill pretty well nails it:

I revere Marilynne Robinson — if there’s a midnight release party at my local bookstore for her novel Lila this fall, I’ll be there — but her answer here represents so much of what I find distressing about the quality of our debates over these matters at present.

In the first place, if there is a thoughtful “traditionalist” who bases her views of the morality of same-sex sexual partnerships on Leviticus, I’m not aware of such a person. That’s just not how Christians read the Bible, and even the most rigorous social conservatives wouldn’t say that an Old Testament text, taken literally and by itself, can serve as the immediate basis for a contemporary Christian ethic.

Contrary to the “red-letter Christians” experiment, it is simply not a classic Christian practice—among Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants—to pit the words (or silence) of Jesus over against other portions of Scripture.

Based on many recommendations, I have some Marilynne Robinson queued up for reading, but I’ll be taking her theology with a pillar of salt.

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.