Value of Your Tax Bill

…if the money were left in your hands to put toward your own retirement.  WalletHub has looked at the differing state and local tax bites that they charge you for the privilege of living in their fair states.  Not surprisingly (to some of us) Red states take a sharply lower bite out of your money than do Blue states, as the figure below illustrates. 

Rookie Gaffe?

That’s what Paul Edelstein of IHS Global Insight thinks, according to The Wall Street Journal.  In the Fed’s post-FOMC presser last Wednesday, Fed President Janet Yellen suggested that interest-rate increases might start beginning roughly six months after the Fed’s QEx (which is in the process of being…tapered) ends or as soon as this fall.  Edelstein had this to say as the stock market reacted negatively to Yellen’s remarks:

This could have been a rookie gaffe on Yellen’s part.  This was, after all, her first press conference.

Or, it’s possible that Yellen knew what she was doing, and she said what she said with carefully chosen words.

A Progressive Contradiction

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek cites Professor Todd Henderson, a University of Chicago law professor, who makes one Progressive contradiction explicit.

[R]eading all your [Boudreaux'] posts about the minimum wage and global warming this morning, I was struck by the paradox in the proposed remedies for these two problems by politicians.  The first problem is income inequality, and the remedy is to set minimum contract terms.  The second problem is externalities from carbon protection, and the remedy is to tax output levels.

Progressives correctly surmise that if the cost of carbon output is raised (for instance, by taxing it), we’ll get less output of carbon.

The State of Our Nation’s Economy

Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, had some in his opening remarks at last Wednesday’s Committee hearing on the President Barack Obama’s FY2015 budget proposal (Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was the opening witness here).

Thank you, Secretary Lew, for appearing before us today.

In 2009, the Administration wagered America’s financial future on the idea that a record increase in government spending and debt would revive the economy.

Since then, government debt has increased 64% and is on track to double by the end of the President’s second term.  What are the results?

A Twist on Sanctions

It turns out that all Crimean fresh water, 75% of its electricity, and—wait for it—a third of its natural gas run through the Ukrainian province of Kherson, which sits just on the mainland side of the peninsula that connects Crimea with the mainland.

Last week, Kherson’s regional legislature overwhelmingly passed a motion supporting the preservation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Kherson’s leadership also said they’ll shut everything off if the referendum on joining Russia goes forward this weekend.

Hmm….

Fannie and Freddie “Restructuring”

Federal National Mortgage Association—Fannie Mae—and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation—Freddie Mac—are at the heart of the US housing industry, since they play a central role in guaranteeing a major fraction of the mortgage loans through which we Americans buy our homes.  They also lie at the heart of the housing bust that was a major cause (albeit not the only one) of the Panic of 2008.  Their role in the bust stems from their decision functionally to waive credit standards and to encourage anyone with two nickels to rub together to borrow to buy a house, whether those borrowers could afford to make the loan payments or not.  And too often Fannie and Freddie waived the two-nickel standard, too.

EU Trade Protectionism

Now the EU is looking to claim that cheeses originally made in Europe cannot be made anywhere else and marketed under those European generic names: feta and parmesan cannot be made in the US, but only in Greece and Italy, for instance.  Never mind that it’s the same cheese made here, the manufacturers have to use different terminology to market their cheeses, the EU is demanding.  The EU even is (mendaciously, say I) claiming that feta, for instance,

is so closely connected to Greece as to be identified as an inherently Greek product.

No War is Painless for Either Side

But the war Russia is waging against Ukraine, and against Western values generally (against little things like the right of the citizens of a sovereign nation to govern themselves, the right of the people of a sovereign nation to run their economy their own way, the right of the citizens of a sovereign nation to hold their own, fair votes) can only hurt Russia in any serious way, if only Western leaders can find the courage to stand with Ukraine in a more meaningful and direct fashion than merely sitting courtside cheering the Ukrainians and clucking their tongues at the Russians.