13 April 2011: topics (no sweat and no spandex….)

I’ll blog a bit about two of my favorite non-sports and non-spandex topics: science and economics.

Here is a post about an evolutionary mechanism called Lateral Gene Transfer; this mechanism involves one species taking genes directly from another. This doesn’t significantly affect the tree of life for eukaryotes (animals whose cells have a nucleus) but it can affect such trees for, say, bacteria.

This is a fun post from Daily Kos about a recently discovered gamma ray source directed at the earth (from a LOOOONG way away)

Taxes: Republicans often whine about the “poor not paying taxes”. It is true that some fall under the limit to pay income taxes. But there is social security tax, FICA taxes and sales taxes….and these take quite a bit of a bite out of the budget. Also the wealthy’s tax burden has done down…and while they might pay a disproportionate amount of income tax, this isn’t true of other taxes. See these (and other) facts here. I’ll provide a sample:

2. The wealthiest Americans don’t carry the burden.

This is one of those oft-used canards. Sen. Rand Paul, the tea party favorite from Kentucky, told David Letterman recently that “the wealthy do pay most of the taxes in this country.”

The Internet is awash with statements that the top 1 percent pays, depending on the year, 38 percent or more than 40 percent of taxes.

It’s true that the top 1 percent of wage earners paid 38 percent of the federal income taxes in 2008 (the most recent year for which data is available). But people forget that the income tax is less than half of federal taxes and only one-fifth of taxes at all levels of government.

Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes (known as payroll taxes) are paid mostly by the bottom 90 percent of wage earners. That’s because, once you reach $106,800 of income, you pay no more for Social Security, though the much smaller Medicare tax applies to all wages. Warren Buffett pays the exact same amount of Social Security taxes as someone who earns $106,800.

Paul Krugman, Paul Krugman
Have you guessed that I am a big follower of his? 🙂
He has been hard on Paul Ryan for good reason: his plan is a sham:

I’m already hearing some people saying, “Why don’t you subject Obama to the same kind of criticism you leveled at Ryan?’

The answer is, because Obama doesn’t deserve it.

Any budget proposal will have things you don’t find convincing. I’d certainly like to know more about Obama’s proposed elimination of tax loopholes; I’d like to know how we’re going to manage with the low levels of domestic discretionary spending envisioned.

But Obama isn’t proposing to somehow make $3 trillion in tax cuts revenue neutral. He isn’t proposing to shift from Medicare paying 70 percent of bills to vouchers worth only 30 percent. He isn’t claiming that we can shrink government outside the major social insurance programs — but including defense — to Calvin Coolidge levels.

Really, those who defend Ryan’s plans (with his projections of sub 3 percent unemployment) are really similar to creationists! 🙂

Krugman also finds it interesting that, according to a recent poll, is the Democrats that are more interested in Medicare cost control than Republicans!

President Obama
Yes, on many places like Daily Kos, President Obama takes a beating from vocal liberals. But this vocal group is a minority and a small minority at that; in the Gallup Presidential Approval tracker the President has 70 percent approval from conservative Democrats, 74 from moderate Democrats and 80 percent from liberal Democrats (and these numbers have remained fairly steady over the past year).

Here is how he compares with President Clinton and President Reagan at a similar time in their administration:

And yes, there are those who understand this.

Of course there are those who think that we are being duped by President Obama; that is, that we let ourselves believe that President Obama really wants to achieve progressive goals but can’t…when in fact he has no desire to achieve them.

Actually, that misreads many of us. I never wanted a noisy “give ’em hell but end up losing honorably” personality (e. g., Senator Bernie Sanders). I always thought of President Obama as a cold eye pragmatist who wants us to find solutions that work and that can be arrived at in a reasonable amount of time. He has ALWAYS been a compromiser and he campaigned on “bringing us together” and “embracing any idea that might work”. He has never been about selling a liberal vision to America. And darn it, we are getting some good things (e. g. Health Care Reform, so what if it was Bob Dole’s plan?)

I long ago accepted that I am to the left of him.

Ok, what of his big budget speech? You can read the text here. Yes, he calls for more taxes on the rich. Paul Krugman appears to be relieved (or at least not as upset as he feared that he would be)


April 14, 2011 - Posted by | astronomy, Barack Obama, biology, cosmology, economics, economy, health care, physics, political/social, politics, politics/social, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, science, social/political, space

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