Friday, August 03, 2018

Today's Bad Poem

Here it is:

The stifling heat
it has me beat
I wish I weren't
made out of meat

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Who is Q? Or The Latest Right-Wing Fringe Conspiracy Revisited.

Remember Pizzagate?  That was just a prelude in the genre of truly nutty right-wing conspiracy theories.  Now meet the Storm*, the perfect storm, the conspiracy theory to rule over all right-wing conspiracy theories!

It explains the whole world!  The Las Vegas massacre was an inside job.  The Mueller investigation is just a cover for an actual investigation of Hillary Clinton and other similar vampire bitches and godless commies, and will end with most of the liberal-left in American politics in prisons.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy is alive, leading the conspiracy (and probably cohabiting with Elvis), and any day now Trump will institute a coup which ends the power of the deep state in American politics.  He is protected by the military, because the FBI and the CIA are part of the deep state, and it's the military which will launch the coup on his behalf and on the behalf of all those who believe in the Storm.

MS-13 murdered Seth Rich.  The people ruling the world through deep state in the US  might be the Rothschilds or the Illuminati, depending on the specific nuttiness and bigotry among the hoax creators.  And don't worry, pedophilia, as speculated in the Pizzagate is still part of this vast intertwined explanation and it is still run by the political left and the Hollywood left.

We hear about this wonderfully inane conspiracy theory now, because several people in the audiences of Trump's election campaign rallies (they never end as his need for adulation is a bottomless well) wore t-shirts with a large Q in the front or held up signs saying "We Are Q."

To understand both the roots of this conspiracy theory and to see why it's rubbish, to begin with, we need to understand what Q is And for that we need to go back to last October:

And Yet More Tax Relief For The Very Rich?

It still shocks me (though it shouldn't) how blatantly the Republican Party caters for the very wealthiest among us.  The Trump Reich has already lowered taxes for the super-wealthy (and thereby further increased the income inequality in this country).  Now the administration is trying to relieve that terrible tax burden* of the very rich even more:

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) this week introduced legislation that would reduce the amount people pay in capital gains taxes, as conservatives press the Treasury Department to take action on the topic.
The bill from Nunes, a senior member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, would index capital gains to inflation. He argues that the measure would build off the tax-cut law President Trump signed last year and incentivize investment.
“This bill will continue the tax-cutting trend that began with the tax relief bill last year,” Nunes said in a statement Friday. “This is a common-sense reform that will remove an unjust tax, contribute to economic growth, and help both large and small investors keep more of their own money.”

The bolds are mine.

Note the word "relief" and "tax-cutting" and that silly reference to "small investors."  The truth is that capital gains almost completely accrue to the wealthy:

By dollars, more than 75% of capital gains tax are paid by taxpayers reporting income over $1,000,000. Just over 1% of capital gains taxes are paid by taxpayers reporting income of $100,000 or less. “Therefore,” writes Burman, “the most well-off would reap the largest benefits from a policy change to index the basis of capital assets.”

So what is the "common sense" Nunes sees in this reform?  Probably the idea that people shouldn't be taxed on that part of their capital gains which are due to nothing but inflation.  His bill would index capital gains to inflation.

That's common sense, right.  So how about doing the same when taxing interest income, dividends, earned income and so on?  All those, after all, can also be affected by inflation.

Likewise, if we want coherent government policies about taking inflation into account, why don't we index-link the countable assets thresholds** for those seeking Supplementary Security Income (SSI)?  This was suggested in a letter to the editor in the New York Times

And, indeed, my own check of the letter-writer's information showed that the countable asset thresholds were the same in 1989 as they are in 2018 ($2000 for an individual and $3000 for a couple).  Clearly, those thresholds should be index-linked, too, if capital gains are.

What about the contribution to economic growth Nunes sees in his proposal to index-link capital gains?  Well, at least one study suggests that the effects would be at most minor.

Sigh. All this is happening behind the curtain while on the stage capers the clown prince of this country, one Donald Trump.

*  It's as if the Republican Party is a nurse doing triage at a hospital Emergency Room, and that nurse always prioritizes rich people's slight colds or zits over poorer people's strokes or heart attacks or broken bones.  Real nurses don't do that, but then they are not paid by the Koch and Mercer families for services rendered.

If you want to get why I am angry at all the tax-relief jargon, well, this is why.

** This site explains what these assets are.  For someone to qualify for SSI, that person's countable assets must not exceed the threshold value.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Sharing the Limelight? Women in the Film Industry

The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative's newest annual study is out.  That study examines diversity of various types in the film industry.  This year's study analyzed both 1,100 films from 2007 to 2017 and one hundred films from 2017 (1).

The main findings of the study are that women's share of speaking roles  has barely budged in the last ten years.  It still hovers around 30%.  But women do far worse behind the cameras than in front of them:  In 2017 only 10.1% of writers and 7.3% of directors were female.  And though women were 18.2% of producers in that year, they were less than one percent of composers.