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The Old Gray Lady Admits Stance

By Tim Butler | Posted at 7:22 PM

Reflections on the Rally

By Tim Butler | Posted at 9:30 PM

The Bush Rally Photos

By Tim Butler | Posted at 9:33 PM

Wow.

By Tim Butler | Posted at 8:12 PM

Politics by the Numbers

By Tim Butler | Posted at 8:45 PM

The political compass divides views into a four way map with coordinates rather than just a two way spectrum in the following manner.

My “score” is:
Economic Left/Right: 1.88
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -0.97

That makes me just slightly below the middle on the up/down social scale between Libertarian and Authoritarian views and just a bit more skewed from center to the right on the economic scale. I guess that makes me a “compassionate conservative.”

Okay, one more way to look at this, courtesy of Christopher:

32 percent liberal, 68 percent conservative - compared to 73 percent liberal, 27 percent conservative” You can click the link to view my full results and take the quiz for yourself. (The comparison part is based on the poll's ability to compare your views with someone else's. I chose to enter my father's views, as best I understand them, as the second person.)

Interesting. So I took three polls. The first puts me far the right, the second puts me just right of center and the third puts me somewhat in the middle of the right (half way between ultra-conservative and centrist). The latter two are closer together and I think they my corroborate what I generally held to be true: I'm a conservative, but not an ultra-conservative. Furthermore, I generally am slightly more liberal economically than socially (mostly due to less conviction about the issues there, I suspect), although I lean to the right on both.

Finally, the last quiz also includes a personality segment:
There has been much research on how people describe others, and five major dimensions of human personality have been found. They are often referred to as the OCEAN model of personality, because of the acronym from the names of the five dimensions. Your specific personality indicates that the following attributes will most likely describe you well:
You enjoy having novel experiences and seeing things in new ways.
You are neither organized or disorganized.
You tend to shy away from social situations.
You tend to consider the feelings of others.
You are generally relaxed.

President Comes to Town

By Tim Butler | Posted at 8:33 PM

Kerry Makes a Firm Indecision

By Tim Butler | Posted at 10:05 AM

Thoughts on Bush's Economic Track Record

By Tim Butler | Posted at 5:29 PM

The problem: Putting a price ceiling on a market doesn't work. Additionally, by limiting revenues that drug companies can make,  it will encourage less innovation and thus medical research could stagnate.

Tax Cuts
Before Bush was even became president, there was talk that the Bush tax cut would only benefit the wealthy. But it just isn't true. Everyone who pays taxes got a tax cut, some just got larger tax cuts. But, isn't a $200 tax cut still good? That's like half a week's pay for a lower middle class worker — not shabby by any means.

It all comes down to percentages. If you pay more taxes, there are more taxes that you may not have to pay any longer. There's no way someone can give me a million dollar tax cut, because I don't pay a million dollars. Does that mean I should say no one should get a million dollar tax cut? No.  Why should someone not get a tax cut simply because they make more than I do?

Imagine if the Bush tax cut said "everyone gets half a weeks wages/salary off their normal taxes owed." While the person I mentioned above might only get $200, a CEO might get $50,000. There is no way the former could ever get that much off because that is more than they make all year and certainly more than they pay in taxes. Yet, giving $1,000 or $2,000 off to the CEO wouldn't really be meaningful. So, tax cuts are almost always bound to be cases where the rich get a larger reduction, but that's only because taxes are based on what you make.

Personally I still advocate a flat tax system where everyone would pay the same rate across the board (except maybe the very lowest income tax payers). The thing is, not only do the rich pay more taxes if they were taxed at the same percentage rate, they actually are taxes at a higher rate making the tax burden higher than it should be.

Kerry, as David points out, talks about giving "average American" tax cuts and raising taxes on the richer Americans. The best system is to cut everyone's taxes, which is what the president has done. The economy is a big circle (getting bigger with globalization) — if you  allow those on top to keep more cash, they will invest in new businesses. If you  allow those on the bottom to keep more cash, they will buy more and also start businesses. The key is not to penalize anyone. If you penalize those who earn a lot for earning a lot, you lower the motivation to work hard and create the new businesses that provide for more jobs.

Price Inflation and Consumer Buying Power
Most of the universities in my area are charging little or nothing more than what they were in 2000. Some tuition fees are bound to rise as inflation occurs, but this is unavoidable. Here's the key idea, however: It is not the President's job, nor should it be the President's job, to regulate prices.

Why not prevent prices from going up? Because of what I mentioned earlier, a price ceiling doesn't work. It didn't work with oil in the 70's, it won't work with tuition now. If costs are going up (which they almost always will, again due to normal inflation), tuition must go up. Tuition might have gone up, but so have earnings. I know professor who teaches at the very same university he went to thirty years ago. At the time, his book cost just $10 for the class, but he was also only able to earn $1 an hour working. Today the book costs over $100 for his course, but college students can also get a job earning $10 or more an hour. For the most part, inflation moves everything up at a very similar rate (thus why a minimum wage will never accomplish much — when you raise that everything else goes up, thus never really increasing buying power, but that's another story…).

What we really should ask is how much buying power do we have now compared to four years ago before President Bush. The cost of living, according to reliable statistics, has been fairly stable for quite awhile. Sure, a pair of shoes that cost $19.99 in 1990 might go for $29.99 now — but you are also making more than you did in 1990.

Overall, our economy is very healthy and unemployment is at around 5.5%, the last I heard. This is a very good number to be at — you will never reach 0% unless you hire people to do nothing (like the Soviets did). There will always be unemployment as people look for new jobs, take of for a sabbatical or to spend time with family, etc. Maybe the economy isn't as good as it was in the 1990's, but I would point out that the recent decline started before President Bush gave up the title "Governor." Let me note that again, the recent decline started before President Bush gave up the title "Governor." The economic downturn occurred in 2000, while President Clinton was still in office.

What we have hear is a reverse of the effect of the 1990's. Presidents Reagen and Bush (the father) pursued various policies to strengthen the economy. In 1990 and 1991, there were some economic problems, but the economy was starting to improve by the time Bush lost. Thus we have a case that one Bush doesn't get credit for the economic improvements he did make and the other Bush gets blamed for economic problems he didn't make. But, I'm using the word "make" very loosely anyway, because the economic power of the president by himself is very dubious indeed.

Not So Victorious

By Tim Butler | Posted at 7:28 PM

Really Late Political Punditry

By Tim Butler | Posted at 6:38 PM

1. Lieberman: As I told Pressed, this is a guy I could almost vote for. I liked him in 2000 when he was running for veep, and I like him now. He has reasonable policies and presents them in a likable way. Concerning Iraq, I don't mind people who didn't support it, however, I do find Edwards and Kerry annoying for dropping support once we started — that isn't good. Lieberman supports the sanctity of marriage and the ousting of the USA PATRIOT ACT too. Unfortunately, the fact that he's pro-choice tarnishes an otherwise good choice.

2. Dean: I think he came out good tonight. He kept himself under control, presented the case that he'd “been there, done that” to all the things that the others talked about doing in the future, etc. His temper definitely would make him a dangerous president though, I'd guess. The “Think with my heart, not my head” quote looks bad, although I think I do understand what he was trying to say.

3. Edwards: Edwards seems energetic, excited, and optimistic. He's very electable, unfortunately, he's a standard liberal. Edwards did really bad with the Sanctity of Marriage act. I mean, this guy talked about what it “would do” as if it wasn't passed (and demonstrated zero knowledge of what it would do or is doing anyway).

4. Clark: Clark has a lot going for him – good credentials, good at talking and appearing on TV (good experience from CNN), etc. But, he doesn't seem to really be very good policy wise. He comes across as someone who just is a bit unprepared. He also appears confused on his opinion concerning the war – why did he write good things about it in the Telegraph if he was against it?

5. Sharpton: He may not know what he wants to do with Greenspan, but at least he added some humor to the debate. I enjoyed his comment to Dean, which in effect said he understood Dean's performance in Iowa. “If I had spent as much money as you did and came in third place, I'd still be hooting and hollering,” he told Dean. Sharpton appeared to be in another world, for the most part, not really usefully, at least, participating in the debate. Sharpton's other major problem was morality and family values. He suggested that the Democrats were actually the “moral” party and that the Republicans had stolen that item. The part that was hard to swallow was when Sharpton tried to suggest his pro-choice views were a strong component of this morality.

6. Kerry: He appears very arrogant every time I see him, including this time. He appears very wishy washy about his voting record on Iraq. He just doesn't have much to offer and I honestly am puzzled as to why people like him.

7. Kucinich: No offense to Rep. Kucinich, but he too appears to be somewhere else – maybe with Sharpton. His plans don't sound very reasonable, and his timetable for withdraw from Iraq is irresponsible to say the least. Let's just say I understand why this fellow isn't doing better than he is.

So that was my take on the Dems performance last Thursday. Lieberman is only slightly more problematic than Mr. Bush, whereas the others have significant issues.

Although, perhaps Howard “the Doctor” Dean/Jesse “the Body” Ventura ticket could be highly entertaining. Hey, rather than going to an undisclosed secure location, Jesse could actually go fight the terrorists for us. What do you think? Dean-Ventura '04, anyone?

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