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Tragic Implications (Thomas Sowell)
Townhall.com ^ | August 14, 2007 | Thomas Sowell

Posted on 08/13/2007 9:08:39 PM PDT by jazusamo

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Two recent tragedies -- in Minnesota and in Utah -- have held the nation's attention. The implications of these tragedies also deserve attention.

Those politicians who are always itching to raise tax rates have seized upon the neglected infrastructure of the country as another reason to do what they are always trying to do.

Those who live by talking points now have a great one: "How can we fight an expensive war and repair our neglected infrastructure without raising taxes?"

Plausible as this might sound, tax rates are not tax revenues. The two things have moved in opposite directions too many times, over too many years, for us to take these clever talking points at face value.

This administration is not the first one in which a reduction in tax rates has been followed by an increase in tax revenues. The same thing happened during the Reagan administration, the Kennedy administration and the Coolidge administration.

Tax rates and tax revenues have moved in opposite directions many times, not only at the federal level, but also at state and local levels, as well as in foreign countries.

How many times does it have to happen before people stop equating tax rates with tax revenues? Do the tax-and-spend politicians and their media supporters not know any better -- or are they counting on the rest of us not knowing any better?

Even if we were to assume that higher tax rates will automatically result in significantly higher tax revenues, the case for throwing more money at infrastructure would still be weak.

Some of the money already appropriated for maintaining and repairing infrastructure is being diverted into other pet projects of politicians.

Money supposedly set aside for repairing potholes and maintaining bridges is diverted to the building of bicycle paths or subsidizing ferries or buses. These other things have more of a political pay-off.

Not only are there well-publicized ribbon-cutting ceremonies for building something new, many of these new things can be named for the politicians who had them built. Thus there are all sorts of government structures named for Senator Ted Stevens in Alaska and for Senator Robert Byrd in West Virginia.

But nobody names pothole repairs for anybody or puts any politician's name on the rivets used to repair an existing bridge.

Moreover, nobody blames a politician when a bridge collapses years after he put his name on some government building with money that could have been used to make bridges safer longer.

If the collapse occurs on somebody else's watch, it will be somebody else's political problem.

More tax revenue would just allow these same political games to be played with more money. More might be accomplished by forbidding any government facility from being named for anyone who is not already dead.

Maybe then we might get more potholes filled and more rusty rivets replaced on bridges.

The other recent tragedy that has held the nation's painful attention -- the mine cave-in in Utah -- also has implications that few seem to notice.

We could have far fewer men going down into those mines in the first place if we could use other readily available and economically viable substitutes for coal, such as nuclear power or more of our own oil.

Here too, politics is the problem. The only "alternative energy sources" that are on the political agenda are those few very expensive options that environmentalist zealots approve.

Nuclear power is not on the green zealots' approved list, even though nuclear power is widely used in other countries.

Some say nuclear power is not safe. But nothing is categorically "safe." The only serious question is how its safety compares to that of alternative ways of generating energy.

Ask the families of the trapped miners if they think mining is safe. Ask them if they would rather face the grim reality of a death in their family or the hypothetical possibility of inconveniencing some caribou in Alaska.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Government; US: Minnesota; US: Utah
KEYWORDS: bridgecollapse; economy; energypolicy; infrastructure; sowell; taxes; taxrates; taxrevenues; thomassowell

1 posted on 08/13/2007 9:08:41 PM PDT by jazusamo
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To: AbeKrieger; Alia; Amalie; American Quilter; arthurus; awelliott; Bahbah; bamahead; bboop; ...
*PING*
Thomas Sowell

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Recent columns
Housing Crash: Give Politicians Most Of Blame
A Bridge Too Far Gone
Defeatism Defeated?

Please FReepmail me if you would like to be added to, or removed from, the Thomas Sowell ping list…

2 posted on 08/13/2007 9:10:39 PM PDT by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: jazusamo

“Ask the families of the trapped miners if they think mining is safe. Ask them if they would rather face the grim reality of a death in their family or the hypothetical possibility of inconveniencing some caribou in Alaska.”

Sowell B U M P


3 posted on 08/13/2007 9:13:17 PM PDT by stephenjohnbanker ( Hunter/Thompson/Thompson/Hunter in 08! "Read my lips....No new RINO's" !!)
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To: jazusamo

the last thing I heard, or read, about the MN bridge collapse was that it may have been caused by a design flaw, not wear and tear; so, if you were going to blame a president it would have to be LBJ, but at least you could still get away with blaming a war, Viet Nam.


4 posted on 08/13/2007 9:16:20 PM PDT by gusopol3
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To: jazusamo
Thanks for the ping.

Plausible as this might sound, tax rates are not tax revenues. The two things have moved in opposite directions too many times, over too many years, for us to take these clever talking points at face value.

5 posted on 08/13/2007 9:17:33 PM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: jazusamo

BTTT


6 posted on 08/13/2007 9:25:19 PM PDT by Paperdoll ( Vote for Duncan Hunter in the Primaries for America's sake!)
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To: george76
Plausible as this might sound, tax rates are not tax revenues.

Worth repeating!

7 posted on 08/13/2007 9:25:29 PM PDT by razorback-bert (Posted by Time's Man of the Year)
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To: razorback-bert

Rates and revenues often move in opposite directions.

Not just taxes .


8 posted on 08/13/2007 9:33:07 PM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: jazusamo
We’ve been reading Mr. Sowell’s books since 1982 (slow readers). Got our first couple from the Conservative Book Club. He is a brilliant man and a thoughtful writer. He must be thinking always about us common folk when he writes, and we appreciate it, recommending his books to all.

I am wondering if any presidential candidate has ever tried to tap Mr. Sowell for a cabinet post or for an advisory position. I sure would if I were running.

9 posted on 08/13/2007 9:36:25 PM PDT by John Leland 1789
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To: John Leland 1789

He is definitely a great thinker and writer and he writes so the average person understands him.

There have been many FReepers make comments on these threads about him being asked about a cabinet post or an advisory position, he would be a plus for our country.


10 posted on 08/13/2007 9:51:25 PM PDT by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: jazusamo

bttt


11 posted on 08/13/2007 9:58:06 PM PDT by higgmeister (In the Shadow of The Big Chicken)
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To: jazusamo

This is my favorite ping list. Thanks again.


12 posted on 08/13/2007 10:45:40 PM PDT by GATOR NAVY (Hey! Must be a devil between us)
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To: jazusamo
Rush asked the question today about why we are making such a huge fuss about infrastructure when we have had relatively few deaths? It is obvious. The DemonRATs have no intention of putting a dime into infrastructure. We are seeing DemonRATs use the emotion of disaster to pry into our back pockets. This is all they do. Just look at them now. The DemonRATs are letting the highways fill up with cars by not building more lanes. It is part of their strategy. They would rather pocket the money they are getting that is supposed to go for highways and do whatever it takes to push motorist out of their cars and into mass transit. It is easier buy votes by giving out free bus tickets than it is to give a motorist a mile of freeway.
13 posted on 08/13/2007 10:49:59 PM PDT by jonrick46
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To: jazusamo
"....Some of the money already appropriated for maintaining and repairing infrastructure is being diverted into other pet projects of politicians...."

The problem in a nutshell. Think, "levees in New Orleans."

Gee, according to BOR, we FReepers hate blacks. So why does everyone here seem to love Mr. Sowell? Hmmm....could it be his mind?
14 posted on 08/13/2007 10:57:27 PM PDT by Islander7 ("Show me an honest politician and I will show you a case of mistaken identity.")
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To: John Leland 1789

Brains or popularity ... pick one.


15 posted on 08/13/2007 11:26:24 PM PDT by ROTB (Our Constitution...only for a [Christian] people...it is wholly inadequate for any other.-J.Q.Adams)
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To: John Leland 1789
"Sowell"

If Tom Sowell was as wellknown as Michael Moron, this country would be in pretty good shape.

16 posted on 08/14/2007 3:18:22 AM PDT by driftless2
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To: GATOR NAVY; kstewskis; Molly Pitcher; lysie; M Kehoe; Jemian; LBKQ
Ask the families of the trapped miners if they think mining is safe. Ask them if they would rather face the grim reality of a death in their family or the hypothetical possibility of inconveniencing some caribou in Alaska.

Bingo!

17 posted on 08/14/2007 5:56:54 AM PDT by Northern Yankee (Freedom Needs A Soldier)
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To: jazusamo
>"If the collapse occurs on somebody else's watch, it will be somebody else's political problem."

What problem? They'll use it as an excuse to rob the working population.

18 posted on 08/14/2007 6:11:43 AM PDT by rawcatslyentist (“Seize them and put them to death wherever you find them.” (Sura 4:89) Our New strategy in the WOT)
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To: jazusamo

Bump for read-through tonight as I have to work (away from home) today. Thanks as always for the PING! :)


19 posted on 08/14/2007 6:34:17 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: george76; razorback-bert
tax rates are not tax revenues.

. . . a reduction in tax rates has been followed by an increase in tax revenues . . . during the Reagan administration, the Kennedy administration . . . the Coolidge administration

. . . [and] not only at the federal level, but also at state and local levels [and] in foreign countries.

Tax rates are not tax revenues. Malignant NarcissistsTM know that, and don't care. It is irrelevant, at best, to their motivation.

The Malignant Narcissist doesn't care about the size of the pie for the country or for his/her fellows - or even for himself. The only thing that matters to the Malignant Narcissist is being able to peck weaker chickens. They are bullies, and care about nothing else.


20 posted on 08/14/2007 6:44:43 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
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To: Islander7
Some of the money already appropriated for maintaining and repairing infrastructure is being diverted into other pet projects of politicians

The problem in a nutshell. Think, "levees in New Orleans."

Exactly.

21 posted on 08/14/2007 6:49:26 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The idea around which liberalism coheres is that NOTHING actually matters except PR.)
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To: Islander7
Gee, according to BOR, we FReepers hate blacks. So why does everyone here seem to love Mr. Sowell? Hmmm....could it be his mind?

Clarence Thomas is my favourite justice, followed by Janice Rogers Brown. And let's not forget Walter Williams, Herman Cain, J.C. Watts, Alan Keyes, Jesse Peterson of BOND, Larry Elders, Kevin Martin (aka Freeper TrueBlackMan) and a plethora or others.

Yeah, I'm white.

22 posted on 08/14/2007 6:52:19 AM PDT by 4CJ (Annoy a liberal, honour Christians and our gallant Confederate dead)
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To: Islander7

Excellent post, Islander7 and so very true.


23 posted on 08/14/2007 7:02:20 AM PDT by jazusamo (DefendOurMarines.com)
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To: gusopol3
the last thing I heard, or read, about the MN bridge collapse was that it may have been caused by a design flaw, not wear and tear; so, if you were going to blame a president it would have to be LBJ, but at least you could still get away with blaming a war, Viet Nam.

No design is perfect, and some flaws in this design must have been known back then, as the standards for bridges changed shortly after it was built. The fact that they don't make them like this anymore should have told the MNDOT that this bridge needed a more vigorous inspection regime than newer bridges. If the know flaws of this design included total collapse due to unpredictable single part failure, then replacement should have been scheduled.

It's not like the bridge got a 100% rating at the last review. Then you could blame somebody in the LBJ era.

24 posted on 08/14/2007 7:47:38 AM PDT by slowhandluke (It's hard work to be cynical enough in this age)
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To: slowhandluke

thanks for revising and extending as well as educating. I think a subtle difference in the press coverage may have come about that time (i.e. the thought that excessive wear and tear was the only factor to be considered, failure to invest in infrastructure under Bush, etc.) because up until that time, it seemed to me that they were going to try to make this into another Katrina, that is blame the faults and foibles of man against nature into an indictment of Bush.


25 posted on 08/14/2007 8:07:43 AM PDT by gusopol3
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To: MplsSteve

Ping


26 posted on 08/14/2007 8:49:11 AM PDT by Caleb1411 ("These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G. K. C)
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To: jazusamo; John Leland 1789

Karl Rove’s job is open.


27 posted on 08/15/2007 3:27:47 PM PDT by Kellis91789 (Liberals aren't atheists. They worship government -- including human sacrifices.)
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To: Kellis91789
I think Karl’s was a broader application that might tend to scatter Mr. Sowell’s attentions and waste his best efforts. Although he is quite diverse in his studies and writings, I think he would be best served and would best serve, if more focused on economics. I almost said ‘and/or education,’ but I believe that the Feds should stop talking about education altogether and leave that entirely in the purview of the several states. I do believe Mr. Sowell can do VERY well in other areas as well.
28 posted on 08/15/2007 6:59:11 PM PDT by John Leland 1789
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