Monday, June 30, 2008

Taxing the rich

A few days back, CNN posted an interesting analysis of Obama's tax plan, and how it will impact wealthy Americans . I consider myself a fiscal conservative, but I should say that I'm not particularly opposed to raising the top marginal income rates back to their pre-2001 levels. (I do, however, think it's a bit deceptive for Obama to say he's "rolling back the Bush tax cuts," since Bush was basically rolling back Clinton-era tax hikes).

I am concerned about Obama's plan to lift the cap on income subject payroll taxes. Will employers have to pay an additional 6.2% on every dollar over 250,000? If so, isn't Obama concerned about wage deflation? Or unemployment? Or economic stagnation? Would he consider an exemption for small businesses?

Obama is surprisingly vague on the details. At a time when we're cycling out of a pretty severe contraction, should we really be focusing on this kind of income redistribution?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Christianism comes to town

A few days back, my uncle sent my mother this op-ed. It infuriated me so much I had to write a response.

Anyway, I've reproduced it in full for your entertainment. Let me know if you agree or disagree:

The biggest problem with this article is that pretends to know exactly what “liberals” – as a monolithic political group – believe, and why they believe it. If I argued that all “Christians” espouse Roman Catholic orthodoxy (with the same reverence for saints, the same notions of papal infallibility, and the same liturgy), wouldn’t that seem terribly ignorant? Wouldn’t it be an incredible misunderstanding of Christian thought and tradition? And wouldn’t you say that it’s unfair to lump all “Christians” into a single, homogeneous group?

But what if I went further and suggested that all of the zealots on the lunatic fringe – abortion clinic bombers, for example – represent mainstream Christian ideology?

That’s exactly what this article does. It distorts and diminishes liberal thought, denying its diversity and complexity – and rendering it almost unrecognizable.

But let’s pretend for the sake of argument that there is no diversity of thought on the Left, and there’s a single, unified liberal “perspective” on every major issue. The arguments in this article are still absurd.

1) At what point have liberals tried to “shut down” Fox News or other conservative media outlets? That's an outrageous claim.

2) Since when do all Arabs oppose women’s rights and intellectual freedom? I have Arab friends – some of them Christian – who are not only extremely tolerant, but also happen to support Israel’s right to exist.

3) How can gay marriages be compared to incestuous or polygamous marriages? They're simply not the same thing. But, again, even if they were, on what basis do the majority of conservatives seek to deny marital rights to consenting adults? Is it simply Biblical teaching? Should we also stone adulterers because the Bible suggests that this is an acceptable penalty? [Deuteronomy 22:22-24] The real question is: How can the Bible be the foundation of public policy in such a religiously and ethnically diverse nation?

4) On the issue of the First Amendment, the Supreme Court extended the Establishment Clause to encompass states and local communities only after the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment (which, through the Due Process Clause, dramatically widened the scope of the Bill of Rights). This was a pretty thorny constitutional question that was decided by a fairly mixed group of justices. (Quoting from the Establishment Clause without mentioning the Fourteenth Amendment is like discussing the Eighteenth Amendment’s prohibition on alcohol without acknowledging that it was repealed.)

These are just a few examples of how this article is filled with oversimplifications and outright distortions. But, mostly, it’s filled with ignorant assumptions about the nature of liberalism.

Just some things to think about.