The Onion, "America's greatest news source," once asked: "War-torn Beirut: Is bombing the answer?"
That seems to be the so-called "progressive" answer to economic downturns. Is business off, money tight, employment down? Levy more taxes!
Lions are laying down with lambs when George W. Bush and Nancy Pelosi can make common cause, as they have in promoting their bipartisan, $150 billion economic stimulus package to avert or ameliorate the recession.
You already know the broad outlines: $600 for a single filer; $1,200 for a couple. But even low-income wage earners would get something -- probably not before May. It's a rebate, another word for a tax cut, albeit one-time. For his part, Governor Doyle is promising to tighten his belt to accommodate the expected downturn in tax revenues.
So what, with economic hard times looming, is the afternoon Progressive Dane newspaper's prescription to restore our economy? Higher taxes!
"In a recession, smart, nuanced approaches to taxation and spending are required."
Run hard and run far when you hear a liberal use the word "nuanced." Come to think, that is a word only liberals use. Like "economic justice," which is another word for redistribution. You made it, we'll take it and give it to this other guy who, we have decided, needs it more than you.
But that is always this very strange newspaper's mantra: In good times and bad times, please raise our taxes. Got a tax increase or spending referendum? You're among friends at the PD newspaper.
Please sir, may I have another?
The PD newspaper's tax plan, of course, is modeled after the populist demagogue Huey Long, who said "Don't tax me and don't tax thee but tax that man behind the tree."
This time, the afternoon savants would tax "businesses that pay low wages and fail to provide adequate benefits ... especially ... predatory chain retailers such as Wal-Mart."
Now, Wal-Mart just announced that 93 percent of its employees have health insurance. That aside, exactly how does one write a tax code, complicated enough already, that determines a) what is a "low wage" and b) what are "adequate" benefits?
The newspaper could actually write: "the free market is failing." Actually, it is doing what it is supposed to do -- it is bleeding out the excess of money that went chasing after and bidding up the price of housing. It is the command and control economies so idolized by "progressives" that have failed.
The economic illiteracy of the Left is further underscored by the PD paper's Saturday columnist, that aging hippie, Joel McNally. Some people are rich, he states, because "... it was the government that generously awarded them those enormous financial windfalls."
That's right, government produces wealth! The Kennedys, Clintons, Corzines, Kohls, Soroses, and other multi-millionaires are just lucky that Uncle Sam let them keep some of it.
That we are to get tax rebates, apparently, is due primarily to two factors:
1. It's an election year
When Republicans are increasingly searching for the bedrock of Ronald Reagan, we ought to be asking "What would Reagan do?" We don't have to look far. Reagan inherited the double-digit inflation of the Jimmy Carter years. Of course there was a recession. The broadcast TV networks had a field day with "the Reagan Recession." Overlooking the turbulent seas, the Gipper remained calm from the bridge. His command? "Stay the course."
Too much money was chasing home prices into unsustainable levels. That has to be allowed to bleed itself out. Already, mortgage rates are the lowest since 2004 and housing prices nationwide fell for the first time in 40 years. Can anyone say, "affordable housing?"
Speaking of Wal-Mart, where else but in the Democrat(ic) Party could serving on the retailer's board of directors be considered attack-worthy? That's what happened at Monday's (January 21) Democratic debate in South Carolina, where Barack Obama put the wood to Hillary Clinton with this bombshell:
"While I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart."
Ouch, that hurts! Hey, y'know what? Go on out to the nearest Wal-Mart parking lot. It's full -- of low-income voters. Ah, but the Democrat(ic) candidates are, at heart, Williams-Sonoma people. Whole milk or skim in your latté?
Hillary, the gift that keeps on giving
On to the Republican debate last Thursday in Florida. I think there was collusion among the candidates involved to avoid the Democrats' elbow-throwing and present themselves as more mature. In fact, the affair was downright collegial, with candidates refusing to attack each other. McCain, for one, gallantly came to Giuliani's defense for his stewardship in New York after the N.Y. Times editorially eviscerated its former mayor (wear it like a badge of honor, Rudy) and endorsed McCain. The Republicans saved their salvos for Hillary, the presumed front-runner.
I've trashed Mitt Romney on this site but he got off the best zinger of the campaign so far. In fact, I'm surprised it did not have more "legs."
"The idea of Bill Clinton back in the White House with nothing to do is something I can't imagine."
Then three of the Republicans went after Hillary, quite correctly, for what Mitt called her "audacious and arrogant" statement that Iraq is making progress because the Democrats won Congress in 2006, as this MSNBC clip reminds. Mitt's broadside got raucous applause from an audience that was enjoined from demonstrative behavior.
If Mitt was suffering from not being sufficiently "Republican," attacking the Clintons is like eating your spinach.
Count every vote!
Why all the attention on the Republicans in Tuesday's Florida primary? The Democrats have one, too, don't they? Yes, but their votes won't count. In Florida, of all places! The chads can hang unaborted because the national party is penalizing Florida for holding its primary before Feb. 5.
Saving farmland is what farmers do
Kathleen Falk is always nattering about "saving farmland," as if she was pulling Mary Pickford off the railroad tracks. She is trying to buy as much of it as she can, but the cheap way is just to zone it out of development. That is what lies at the heart of the new county planning commission's proposed land use plan. The irony is that the cities are opposed to it, as well. Madison's Mayor Dave notes, correctly, that it would drive up the price of housing.
Those evil developers! Building housing no one wants. Stereotypical mustache-twirling, villainous scenery-eaters, played by Daniel Day Lewis, swindling some salt-of-the-earth Tom Joad out of his patrimony. The late, great Lyman Anderson, my colleague for so many years on the Dane County Board, knew better. Farmers -- he was one -- are odd ducks. They actually like to farm and will do so until the money runs out.
Now look what's happening: farmers are getting near record prices for their corn and for their milk. Grain prices are expected to increase 44 percent this year after a similar increase last year. The economy, oddly enough, will save more farmland than Kathleen Falk ever will. When farming pays, farmers farm.
(Even Madison's Mayor Dave opposes the proposed new land use regs. This makes for dense reading, but here is the City of Verona's objection.)
Where is the outrage?
Here is another example of the kind of politically incorrect jokes that I have spent a lifetime trying to suppress:
I was depressed last night so I called Lifeline. Got a call center in Pakistan. I told them I was suicidal.They got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck.