This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Family Income

Dalton Conley of NYU writes in Sunday's Washington Post about family income inequality. In reaction to the Lilly Ledbetter Act, he notes how women working, professionals marrying professionals and the lack of a "family wage" have put some families at the top of the economic ladder while others struggle for decent shelter. He argues that we must do something. He is correct - although not specific.

As I have said in this space previously, as long as professional women expect their professional husbands to keep working, they are at a disadvantage - as men have testosterone which causes them to strive to be top dog at work. If women want those jobs, they need to allow their husbands to become full time child rearers and happily pay greens fees when the kids are in school. With less male competition, women are more likely to get that promotion.

The idea of a family wage needs to come back - and it needs to extend to everyone, regardless of their "base wage" or productivity - which means it must be subsidized by the tax code. The responsibility of filing most taxes should rest with the employer (who actually writes the check anyway - they pay taxes and workers get a rebate each year). Corporate Income Tax can be expanded to Business Income Taxes - covering all forms of ownership. Wages can also be made taxable for the Business Income Tax, with a much higher floor for personal income taxes, which should in essence become a high income surtax of 3% (for the current 28% bracket) to 15% (for the restored 39.6% bracket). All the usual credits (child care, EITC, college savings, Child Tax Credit, the mortgage deduction, health care and insurance) would be against the BIT and be paid either to the employee or to the employer if they are providing the relevant service (like comprehensive health insurance or a no-interest mortgage). Non-retirement payroll taxes would also be merged into the B.I.T., with optional credits for offering superior retiree health coverage, severance and disability rather than having the government do it.

This tool could greatly increase equality, given the political will to raise the dependent credit to living wage levels (like $500 per month per dependent - including dependent spouses). It would in essence be a hidden Value Added Tax and may be used with a visible VAT to give the illusion that everyone shares in the duty to pay taxes. With a VAT, the BIT could be set to a rate where it mostly distributes tax and social insurance benefits, although some firms with fewer dependents or retirees may pay some net tax, while others would keep a portion of the VAT proceeds if they have more social obligations.

Watching Daytona

Sunday, I watched the Daytona 500. In the old days, the race would come on around noon and be over in time for dinner, if not before. Now, the engines are revved at 3:30. Given Florida's weather, there was rain in the late afternoon - so the race was called early - just in time for the Fox evening line-up. The race ticker went to fast and scrolled at the top of the screen, while the eye naturally goes to the bottom, since that is where the cars are.

I was also watching 3 little girls (my daughter and her two best friends), who were in the living room watching Dora the Explorer videos and generally spreading dolls all over the house.

In prior years, the race was a sporting event. Now, with all the hype and interviews, it more resembles reality TV.

How about more racing, earlier racing, and less personality. Will I watch next year? Probably. Will I enjoy it, probably not.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Blogging Today's Post

So much to talk about this weekend.

In the Early Sunday edition, Dan Egggen talks about how Bush White House Staffers, particularly Dick Cheney, are speaking out about the President's policies. While it is understandable that Bush's GOPeons would want to hit back after Obama's inaugral address, they should remember that some of them are at risk for prosecution for war crimes relating to the torture of detainees and in general ignoring the Geneva Convention.

Tom Donnelly and Gary Schmitt of AEI weigh in favoring an expansion of the F-22 program, which may be shut down this year, as part of the stimulus package (a bit late of them if you ask me, since they are currently voting on final passage). These suggestions would make sense if the F-22 was at all vulnerable. Recent experience has shown that the F-15 has not yet been ecliplsed, raising the question of whether the F-35 will be needed at all.
It would be better if the stimulus of the aerospace industry were directed not to the purchase of unneeded weapons, but toward an expansion of the civilian space program.

Closer to home, Bill Press writes about the closing of his radio outlet, OBAMA 1260 AM, alledging some right wing conspiracy to shut down liberal talk radio. As one who would like to break into progressive talk radio, I would favor a return of the equal time rule. However, I marvel how he fails to mention at all the existence of a thriving African American progressive talk radio community. A blind spot perhaps?

Finally, Rakesh Khurana and Andy Zelleke write about executive pay. The authors analyze the problem correctly, but offer no new solutions. Here is one - move toward not only employee-ownership but also employee control and workplace democracy (with pay one of those things put up to a vote). I gaurantee that if we go down that road, the culture of the CEO will collapse and business will once gain serve the shareholders, the customers, the employees and the public.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

NFL Championship Rankings

Here are the top ten rankings for this year in the NFL, both for appearances and wins.

Congratulations Pittsburgh!

By Appearance (Contenders):Rank Team Appearances (wins)
1 Dallas 24 (13)
2 NY Giants 22 (10)
3 Pittsburgh 21 (13) (Passing Green Bay)
4 Green Bay 19 (13)
5 Oakland 19 (8)
6 San Francisco, Washington 17 (10) tie
8 St. Louis 17 (6)
9 Chicago 15 (9)
10 New England 14 (9)

Baltimore, who lost the AFC championship, moves to 26th with 3 appearances - although if you reject the fiction that they are not the former Cleveland Browns their real number of appearances is 17 with 6 championship wins (ranking them 8th in a tie with St. Louis). Arizona is tied for 22nd (or 23rd if Baltimore gets its history back from Cleveland) with 4 appearances and two wins. Philadelphia moves to 16th with 12 appearances and 5 wins (or 17th if Baltimore is counted correctly).

If you count championship trophies as your first criteria, with championship record as your tie breaker, Sunday night's win moves Pittsburgh to #2. Phili stayed at 15 with its NFC championship loss. Baltimore stays at 21st with its AFC loss and Arizona moves up to a 4 way tie for 22nd with the other 2-2 teams with its NFC win and Super Bowl loss.

By Victories (Champions):
Rank Team(s) Win-Loss
1 Green Bay 13-6
2 Pittsburgh 13-8
3 Dallas 13-11
4 San Francisco, Washington (tie) 10-7
6 New York 10-12
7 New England 9-5
8 Chicago 9-6
9 Denver 8-6
10 Oakland 8-11

If Pittsburgh repeats next year, they will be the undisputed greatest of all time, leading not only in Super Bowl victories, but in total League, Conference and Super Bowl wins. Of course, in the League's history a pre-Super Bowl championship is equivalent to a Super Bowl and a Conference Championship is a lesser prize. By that reckoning, Green Bay is still hard to beat with 9 total League championships. I disagree, since they still give trophies for Conference victories. The original Super Bowl was AFL v. NFL. Because these merged to form a new NFL, the conferences can be called succeeding organizations with equivalent championships to the old leagues.That's a discussion for later years. For this year - Hooray for Pittsburgh!