Saturday, January 7, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - January 7, 2011

Apologies for the late Top 10 post this week.  I must have fallen asleep behind the wheel.  It's the only possible explanation.  - Dan

Pull the Plug on Electric Car Subsidies - Editors [Washington Post]
THERE MAY NOT have been a party in Times Square to celebrate, but two of the most wasteful subsidies ever to clutter the Internal Revenue Code went out with the old year. Congress declined to renew either the 45-cent-per-gallon tax credit for corn-based ethanol or the 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, so both expired Dec. 31.
Taxpayers will no longer have shell out roughly $6 billion per year for a program that badly distorted the global grain market, artificially raised the cost of agricultural land and did almost nothing to curb greenhouse gas emissions. A federal law requiring the use of 36 billion gallons of ethanol for fuel by 2022 still props up the industry, but the tax credit’s expiration is a victory for common sense just the same.
Meanwhile, a lesser-known but equally dubious energy tax break also expired when the year ended Saturday: the credit that gave electric-car owners up to $1,000 to defray the cost of installing a 220-volt charging device in their homes — or up to $30,000 to install one in a commercial location. As a means of reducing carbon emissions, electric cars and plug-in hybrid electrics are no more cost-effective than ethanol. What’s more, only upper-income consumers can afford to buy an electric vehicle (EV); so the charger subsidy is a giveaway to the well-to-do... Read the Rest

After America - Zbigniew Brzezinski [Foreign Policy]
Not so long ago, a high-ranking Chinese official, who obviously had concluded that America's decline and China's rise were both inevitable, noted in a burst of candor to a senior U.S. official: "But, please, let America not decline too quickly." Although the inevitability of the Chinese leader's expectation is still far from certain, he was right to be cautious when looking forward to America's demise. 
For if America falters, the world is unlikely to be dominated by a single preeminent successor -- not even China. International uncertainty, increased tension among global competitors, and even outright chaos would be far more likely outcomes... Read the Rest
 Debunking Elizabeth Warren (D-Occupy) - James Pethokoukis [Enterprise Blog]
Recall what Elizabeth Warren — consumer advocate, Harvard law professor, and now Democrat U.S. Senate candidate in Massachusetts — said last October when the Occupy movement was cresting:

Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren claims much of the credit for the Occupy Wall Street protests sweeping the nation. “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do,” the Harvard Law School professor and former Obama administration consumer advocate told Samuel P. Jacobs of The Daily Beast. “I support what they do.”
And what was that intellectual foundation? In 2003′s “The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke,” Warren made the case that income stagnation — caused by failed pro-market policies — is killing the middle class, forcing them to take on ever greater amounts of debt to afford a traditional middle-class lifestyle. Indeed, this theory is also the economic foundation of liberal Democratic politics the past decade, including President Obama’s 2008 and current presidential campaigns.
Except none of it seems to be true. First of all, income has not been stagnant — certainly not when Warren’s book was first written — as this new chart from Jim Glassman of JPMorgan shows... Read the Rest 
Our Bereavement Is Our Own - Jessica Heslam [Boston Herald]
At first blush, the way Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum handled the death of his newborn son almost 16 years ago may seem a little bizarre to some.
But it’s not. I know because I’ve gone through it, too... Read the Rest
The Rise of Consumption Equality - Andy Kessler [Wall Street Journal]
It used to be so cool to be wealthy—an elite education, exclusive mobile communications, a private screening room, a table at Annabel's on London's Berkeley Square. Now it's hard to swing a cat without hitting yet another diatribe against income inequality. People sleep in tents to protest that others are too damn wealthy.
Yes, some people have more than others. Yet as far as millionaires and billionaires are concerned, they're experiencing a horrifying revolution: consumption equality. For the most part, the wealthy bust their tail, work 60-80 hour weeks building some game-changing product for the mass market, but at the end of the day they can't enjoy much that the middle class doesn't also enjoy. Where's the fairness? What does Google founder Larry Page have that you don't have?... Read the Rest

Prez Offers Us More of the Shame - Michael Goodwin [New York Post]
In A commercial that helped elect him mayor of New York in 1977, Ed Koch looked at the TV camera and noted that incumbent Abe Beame wanted “four more years to finish the job. Finish the job?” Koch deadpanned. “Hasn’t he done enough?”
The spot has always been a personal favorite because it used the challenger’s sense of humor to make a plain-and-simple case against a failed incumbent. Complicated explanations and exotic promises aren’t needed when gloom is everywhere and chaos is obvious... Read the Rest

How to make Leviathan's growth understandable - Tom Elia [Washington Examiner]
It is hard to fathom the enormity of the federal government.
With an annual budget of almost $4 trillion, annual deficits of well over $1 trillion, outstanding debt of over $15 trillion, and unfunded future liabilities of well over $50 trillion, Washington has become by far the largest, most expensive organization in the history of human civilization.
The federal government has become so enormous that its growth alone in the last five years measured in the number of employees and the amount of spending dwarfs entire urban populations and other, massive organizations... Read the Rest
Popular Culture and the Baby Boomers - P.J. O'Rourke [Weekly Standard]
Did the baby boom wreck popular culture? “D’oh,” to borrow from the subject in question. On the other hand, consider the source. A generation ago was there anything with as much brains, sly cunning, human comedy, and broad public appeal as The Simpsons?
There was Nixon, with his landslide reelection and hilarious one-liners. But that’s politics. Politics is easier to measure qualitatively than popular culture. Failures of quality control are more evident in politics. The president of the United States surprised by Pearl Harbor versus your mother surprised by the Village People... Read the Rest
 Obama's Indefensible Cuts - Editors [National Review]
In outlining his new defense strategy yesterday, President Obama became the first commander-in-chief to speak from the Pentagon’s pressroom. Unfortunately, he used the occasion to introduce nearly $500 billion in cuts that are likely to weaken the national security of the United States.
The president’s remarks, as well those of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, contained much vague talk of a “smarter,” more “agile” military that would “evolve” to find new ways to meet its existing commitments in Europe and the Middle East, along with a reaffirmation — all but offered as consolation — that we will be enlarging our footprint in Asia. But behind the euphemistic vocabulary and the strategic veneer is a simple truth: This is a retreat.... Read the Rest
Government: The Redistributionist Behemoth - George Will [Washington Post]
Liberals have a rendezvous with regret. Their largest achievement is today’s redistributionist government. But such government is inherently regressive: It tends to distribute power and money to the strong, including itself.
Government becomes big by having big ambitions for supplanting markets as society’s primary allocator of wealth and opportunity. Therefore it becomes a magnet for factions muscular enough, in money or numbers or both, to bend government to their advantage... Read the Rest
The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week

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