Assorted links


4. When did Yogi Berra start writing blog posts for Sumner? "If the tax reform proposal of Rubio and Lee were to pass it would easily be the best thing the Federal government has done since the civil rights laws of the 1960s. And yet we see the usual suspects like Jonathan Chait trashing the bill. Instead Chait should have said that with one tweak the bill would be awesome, and Dems like Elizabeth Warren should be racing to support the general idea. " And what's that "one tweak"? Adding a 50% top marginal tax bracket because as proposed Rubio and Lee would create deficits as far as the eye can see. Well, Sumner does identify another problem ("The other potential flaw in Rubio and Lee is business/self-employed income, and especially preventing tax avoidance."), but he doesn't offer a tweak so it's true he only proposed "one tweak". So what is that "other potential flaw"? I'd say that exempting the Koch brothers (and many other very wealthy people) from the income tax is definitely a "potential flaw". My favorite, though, is this gratuitous slap at "liberals": "Liberal arguments on the progressivity of various tax changes are basically worthless." And how does Sumner "prove" they are worthless? By giving an example where someone has significantly higher income in one year (from selling her house is the example given by Sumner) which subjects her to a much higher tax rate even though it's a one-off. I suppose Sumner is too young to remember income averaging. When and why was income averaging dropped? In 1986 as part of the Reagan tax reform lowering the top marginal rate to 28%; with such a low top rate it was believed income averaging was no longer necessary. Bring back income averaging! I know, that's "basically worthless", but it does prove a "potential flaw" in Sumner's slap at liberals.

Whenever the term "Koch brothers" appears in a political/governmental statement it can be taken for granted that no serious consideration need be given to it.

Yep, because powerful billionaires with an agenda and a demonstrated willingness to aggressively pursue that agenda have virtually no influence this day and age.


And another one.

Tom Steyer has shown that.

Yep, what's US$889M anyway?

paragraphing lesson needed . . .

Considering how much surgery is required, how do we know that transgendered people aren't just suffering from a form of Munchausen Syndrome?

I suspect future generations will discover that these people are mentally ill and the current practices will be regarded as barbaric.

But whatever floats their boat and gives them some joy until that time comes.

i suspect future generations will treat gender presentation and sexuality the way we today treat blood type, eye color, or handedness - somewhere between charmingly banal first-date talk and totally inconsequential.

Uh huh. It actually helps if you create future generations.

I suspect that the future generations that will be making these judgments will mostly be from different cultures that will look back at 21st century Western culture with a mixture of bewilderment and contempt.

I suspect with coming genetic technology, where true reproductive gender transformation will actually be possible, future generations will think of current sex change procedures as barbaric and horrific parodies, the way we view pre 20th century reconstructive surgery.

I say this even while strongly feeling that it is essentially as weird and sick as people who want to be turned into animals or amputation fetishists. The only difference is ideology and the related societal acceptance.

I suspect that the future generations that will be making these judgments, will classify most MR commenters as mentally ill and their world view as racist, transgenderophobic, barbaric and stupid.

Legitimate discussion of liberal sacred cows is not allowed. See: Moreno Klaus, thought police.

@Moreno Klaus - I believe it is possible for both things to be true at the same time: Many MR commenters generally trend conservative and are on the wrong side of history with regard to LGBT issues. Even so, many LGBTQ activists are overly noisy about perceived "microaggressions" and whatnot.

To Judah's point, I see *everyone's* lack of ability to just follow the damned Golden Rule here, and return our focus to more pressing matters (read: ISIS, economic stagnation, and what Tyler is having for lunch) as the real issue.

For all our sakes, I hope we at least take a stab at figuring out cancer, neuro-degenerative diseases and spinal trauma before we devote finite research dollars to more efficacious ways for a tiny handful of narcissistic old men to "become" women.

I suspect that the future generations that will be making these judgments ...

... won't be secular, universalist Christians and Pride Parade organizers.

Edward Pierce March 8, 2015 at 3:50 pm

I don't believe it is possible to support both sides of this argument. The Trans lobby will pick off their targets one by one. You can join in the vilification of the Christians, but they will get around to you in the end. The choice is 100% conformity or social death - if not actual legal consequences.

However, for the more substantive point, how does the Golden Rule apply here? If I sincerely believe someone is suffering from a mental illness, wouldn't I want to be cured if I was in their place? Wouldn't I be right to do so?

Take the case of Dennis Avner:

People who like to think of themselves as compassionate, ignored a cry for help and enabled a man to mutilate himself because of some deep seated psychological problem. Which ended badly for him. What was in Avner's best interests? Should we all have been forced to play along and insisted that his DNA was irrelevant and that he was in fact a tiger? Seriously? If you were in a position where you were under the delusion that you were not a human being but a gerbil, you would want everyone to agree with you and reinforce the delusion, not the appropriate level of medical help?

If someone is under the more mundane delusion that they are a great artist who is persecuted by the petty minded, I don't think it is helping them if we all agree to pretend they are a great artist. If they want help, they have to first accept they are who they are and not who they want to be.

Bravo Edward Pierce!

ibaien March 8, 2015 at 11:49 am

i suspect future generations will treat gender presentation and sexuality the way we today treat blood type, eye color, or handedness – somewhere between charmingly banal first-date talk and totally inconsequential.

It is ironic that the people who are most concerned that we will live in a future where gender and sexuality are irrelevant, are also the people who are usually obsessed with gender and sexuality to the point it colors everything they do or say. Academia for instance, commonly endorses this whimsical view of the future, but at the same time, it is an utter obsession in their daily lives. It is a bit Orwellian actually. Like the way that pretty much the same group of people insist that the only way to have free speech is to minutely regulate everything people say or do to make sure that they are not committing a Thought Crime - and again to the point of absurdity where even facial expressions are now a matter of regulation and discipline. Face Crime indeed.

I doubt that ibaien is ever going to treat sexuality and gender as totally inconsequential.

1984 was meant to be a warning, not a handbook.

I kind of doubt you do oppose Speech Codes. Actually. I certainly do not know if you do. But that is irrelevant. As is the claim you have won. Your side certain holds the Commanding Heights of the Culture and so it is hard to argue you haven't.

But at what price? It has long been pointed out that affirmative action policies for Untouchables in India may make life slightly better for a few Dalits, but actually they have entrenched Untouchability in the center of Indian political life. Everybody needs Dalits to go on being Dalits. Even, or especially, Dalits.

Your side has won, but only by making gender and sexuality the centerpiece of your world. The Left has abandoned the working class to re-group around Gays and the like. You need them. You can sit around laughing with your LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM mates, but actually your whole world view depends on the endless search for offense and outrage so you can present yourself as an oppressed minority. No matter how much or many times you have won. This is why the LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM world is splintering. It is important that the Qs can accuse the Bs of disrespecting them so they can get more attention. We see this a little with the Trans vs. Lesbian Feminist war that is going on now.

You may have won, but the world you have created is one of perpetual outrage and struggle among groups with trivial differences. It means sexuality and gender will *never* be irrelevant in the world you have created. That world is one of a Manolo Blahnik javkboot stamping on someone's face forever.

"discover that these people are mentally ill "

We "discovered" that 50+ years ago but un-discovered it for "social justice" reasons.

A surgeon who removes a healthy limb just because the patient demands it, knowing the limb is healthy, might well be accused of malpractice or be subject to discipline from regulatory agencies.

UNLESS the "limb" is a sex organ, apparently. Because you're problem is obviously mental if you want an arm or a leg removed, but not if you want a sex organ removed?

4. The first entry under "Why The Tax Code Needs To Be Fixed" in the Rubio-Lee tax reform proposal ( is:

"Requires Americans to spend 6.1 billion hours per year preparing their tax return."

Really? If that's such a major justification for a comprehensive tax reform proposal that it should be first, why expend the political capital and risk the unintended consequences of such a reform? Just give everyone a free copy of TurboTax.

I understand that academic economists want to debate the minutia of consumption taxes vs. income taxes, but, really, after all the political negotiation this reform would require would the result be significantly different than what we have now?

Turbotax would not help much

"Just give everyone a free copy of TurboTax."

But won't the poor need a free computer to run it? ;)

Giving away TurboTax free would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of [potential Democrat voters] who just don't have access to a computer.

Let me guess. You don't own a business and are not self-employed.

When I was just making wages, I used a $100 tax service.

Then when I had a business, my nice tax lady told me I had "graduated" and had to use someone else: $895 tax service.

This is where all those hours are going.

Not to Joe Sixpack who makes $50k a year at his job.

No doubt that's where many hours are going. But how does Rubio-Lee fix that?

The fact is that you do have to do the accounting for your business, and figure out the profits for tax purposes. And that would not change under Rubio-Lee, though there woiuld be the extra wrinkle of deciding what portion of small-business income is salary and what protion is return on capital. In other words, it gets more complex, not less.

Knausgaard IV is also out in the US on the kindle. Just got mine.

It's hard to think of anything better for the country than the creation of a hereditary class of tax-exempt plutocrats.

That seems to be the point of the Rubio-Lee plan that Sumner so admires.

Because we don't have any hereditary plutocrats under the current system.

So that's a reason to have more?

Is there a difference between seeing an occasional cockroach in your house and letting it be overrun?

You know, the experience of actually living among transgender people demonstrates to anyone who's done so that doesn't have to be an issue at all. Is it really so hard to take people's opinions about their own gender at face value, and be done with it? If you don't like what's between their legs, then TAKE YOUR HANDS OUT OF THEIR PANTS.

The comments here are a fine example of taking something that is not a problem and making it into a problem. I don't understand why people feel the need to do this.

Because we should have a reality orientated bias. That someone believes that they feel like the opposite sex does not mean that all of their chromosomes have miraculously changed.

Furthermore there is evidence of narcissistic personality disorder in many of them (this goes to homosexuals too, but of course one isn't supposed to mention that: )

Pleas for tolerance from the pro-Trans crowd are interesting and in theory should be supported. People who are not hurting anyone else are not hurting anyone else.

But the problem is, that "live and let live" attitude is not reciprocated. The economist formerly known as Donald McCloskey tried to get J. Michael Bailey fired and jailed for a book he wrote. Bailey said some things that McCloskey did not like.

So yes, this is a problem and it is not going away. Either you believe in the freedom for academics to do their research or you think that people should be jailed if they come to conclusions you do not like.

Because freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4

Should the state have any say in whether a person should be able to do with their body? Absolutely not. But its ironic that so many that loudly trumpet the right of women to inject testosterone to become men, won't even lift a finger to defend the right of men who inject testosterone to become more manly. When issues like trans-rights are framed as identity politics instead of general libertarian principles, and you these kinds of crazy conclusions.

Either legalize steroids for everyone, or legalize them for no one. Anything in between and you're being hypocritical.

Where I live there are transexuals, including places I do business. It ruins the gamut; barristas serving americanos in an artsy coffee shop, an obvious and sad gender dysphoria where a young man in an indeterminate stage of transition holding his distended belly like a pregnant woman, a father in midlife changed genders and being displayed by his enlightened employer like the retarded brother for show and tell.

Like most of these moral crusades, a few strong individuals who have the wherewithal to succeed in almost anything they put their hand to are put forward as role models, but the reality is a bunch of profoundly dysfunctional people who present with a series of mental illnesses and the suggested treatment is surgery. Psychiatrists are mostly a pretty useless bunch, and are incapable in many cases of diagnosing and treating underlying mental illnesses, and find it easier to pass them on to a surgeon especially if word got out that their treatments healed the gender confusion.

Trial -- not trail! -- for those who know what it means to get a gett.

And don’t tell me they “deserve” the 500 yachts earned through legal barriers to entry like intellectual property laws, there is no such thing as “deserve” in a cold heartless universe composed of nothing but subatomic particles,

There's no such thing as particles. Sumner is obviously an inumerate fool.

Raising the wage income top rate to 50% while ending taxation on capital is like applying a bandaid to your thumb while shooting yourself in the face. The top 0.1% in this country earn a negligible portion of their income via wages. The net impact is a huge increase in inequality. Furthermore, the economy is awash in excess liquidity while labor is underutilized - cutting taxes on capital and raising them on wages is very, very, very counterproductive. Scott Sumner's proposal is, from a liberal perspective- even a technocratic liberal who reads MR not just out of hate - either a laughable nonstarter or a symbol of malicious stupidity. Maybe both.


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