A boring economics lesson. Pay attention!

There’s a lot of talk in the political world, particularly on the right, on how we can turn the economy around by cutting capital gains taxes.

So you should ask, “What are capital gains?”

1. An increase in the value of a capital asset (investment or real estate) that gives it a higher worth than the purchase price. The gain is not realized until the asset is sold. A capital gain may be short term (one year or less) or long term (more than one year) and must be claimed on income taxes. A capital loss is incurred when there is a decrease in the capital asset value compared to an asset’s purchase price.

2. Profit that results when the price of a security held by a mutual fund rises above its purchase price and the security is sold (realized gain). If the security continues to be held, the gain is unrealized. A capital loss would occur when the opposite takes place.

OK. You’re officially bored. So why should you care?

Because Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who’s running for president and gives the impression he can’t even balance his own checkbook, says capital gains taxes should be elliminated:


And now I’ll let Paul Krugman explain what this means:

Josh Barro notes that Marco Rubio’s proposal to eliminate taxes on capital gains goes well beyond anything we’ve seen from previous Republican contenders, even highly conservative candidates. It seems worth adding some numbers on just how much this would be a giveaway to the very, very rich.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has the information, illustrated by the pie chart above. Half of taxes on dividends and long-term capital gains are paid, not by the 1 percent, but by the 0.1 percent — the richest 1/1000th of Americans. Another 29 percent are paid by the next 0.9 percent. Everyone else — the other 99 percent of the population — pays just 21 percent of the total.

So this is a tax cut not just for the rich, but for the very, very rich, with essentially nothing for the vast majority of Americans. And there is, as Barro says, absolutely no reason to believe that there would be large economic benefits from this giveaway.

Time to toss another GOP frontrunner down the tubes. And the selection doesn’t get any better from here.

Chemically speaking: the Flint water crisis

Here’s an explanation of the Flint, Mich., lead scandal from a purely scientific standpoint (via Compound Interest):

Flint-Water-CrisisYou see, science is important. And if the governor of Michigan relied on scientists who didn’t see that this was happening, he either needs to fire them all, or admit that he was part of the conspiracy to kill poor people.

Of course, neither is going to happen. But that’s what happens when people believe it’s a good idea to elect rich businessmen as their leaders.

And how do we know that the governor of Michigan was a rich businessman?

In his first gubernatorial election in 2010, [Rick] Snyder campaigned as “pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, [and] pro-family,” with a focus on the economy.[12] His campaign emphasized his experience in growing business and creating jobs in the private sector, saying that his opponents were mainly career politicians.

Now where have we heard that?

If Flint, Mich., was full of rich people

flintwater800I guess this should be funny/ironic, but this is exactly what would have happened.

Things are so bad in Flint, the people who live there would rather have someone from Virginia test their water, because they know the state is going to lie to them:

In Flint, Mich., there is a famous block of concrete that for decades has served as a community message board. Like an old-school Facebook feed, residents use it to post personal news, images, upcoming events and commentary in sprawling graffiti.

This week, several residents went to “The Block” (or “The Rock,” depending on whom you ask) with a message. In big, black capital letters they painted: “YOU WANT OUR TRUST?? WE WANT VA Tech!!!” Underneath they wrote “PSI” and circled it in red with a line through it. It stands for Professional Service Industries Inc., the independent business the city hired to test its water for contamination, and which the residents don’t trust.

They want Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech’s environmental engineering professor who once led, almost entirely on his own, a crusade against the federal government’s failure to protect residents of Washington from lead in the city’s water. And he won.

Edwards spent thousands of dollars out of his own pocket to test the water when a Flint resident asked for his help. He presented his findings of dangerous lead levels to the state, and he was ignored. Then he got the public records that showed the state knew there was a problem and did nothing about it.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s skinflint, Michigan

1-17-mcfadden-KOSSo, another Republican enacts a policy that will kill poor people. And who do his fellow Republicans blame?

With Republican Governor Rick Snyder under serious pressure over the Flint, Michigan water crisis, Fox News is trying to shift blame to the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency, local Flint officials and even the residents of Flint who are the victims of this GOP malfeasance.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

So are they blaming Obama because as president he knows that the GOP is full of amoral murderous, racist ass wipes, but he didn’t read Snyder’s mind fast enough to let people know that when you elect a Republican to anything you better get out there and start digging extra graves for all the people who are going to die?

Any other bit of Republican deviancy you need to know about today?

During a Saturday rally in Iowa, Donald Trump said he wouldn’t lose any support in the presidential race from voters even if he shot someone.

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” Trump said

No, that can’t be right. Nobody in their right mind would say anything that evil and stupid, not even a Republican. This must be one of those things liberals make up to make the GOP look bad.

Oh, for fu_____….

Nevermind. Why bother? It’s only going to get worse:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he bought a gun on Christmas Eve to protect his family from Islamic State militants.

“I have a right to protect my family,” Rubio said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” … “I have a right to protect my family if someone were to come after us. In fact, if ISIS were to visit us or our communities at any moment, the last line of defense between ISIS and my family is the ability I have to protect my family from them or from a criminal or anyone else who seeks to do us harm. Millions of Americans feel that way.”

And this is supposed to be the Republican’s anti-Trump.

Trump/Palin 2016: The clown car takes a right on the Crazytown Expressway


Oh, god. This can’t be happening. I thought Sarah Palin was gone for good. You know, eaten by a Mama Grizzly off the tip of Alaska where you could see Russia from your kitchen window.

And to top it off, as Sarah was gearing up for the big endorsement, one of the baby Palins was off in Alaska doing something uncool. Yeah, the page in the New York Daily News is real and the bottom headline on the Daily News page is about her Iraq War vet son. Knowing Palin, I’m sure there’s someone to blame that isn’t his parent (from the Washington Times):

Sarah Palin claimed Wednesday that her son, a 26-year-old Iraq veteran who was arrested this week on domestic violence charges, was “hardened” by war and blamed President Obama for failing America’s veterans.

Track Palin was arrested Monday night following a dispute with a girlfriend at the Wasilla home he shares with his parents. He was arraigned on Tuesday, the same day the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee endorsed Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

Oh, for fuck’s sake. (I’m sorry, I’m now at the point where I find myself saying this every day.) Of course, I could stop turning into a nihilist and look at this in another way:

But I mean, really, Just when you think we’ve hit every possible level of cosmic absurdity, we end up with Palin and Trump. Together. On stage. Live. I put myself through the torture of watching that non sequitur spectacular. I won’t impost that on you. But Stephen Colbert captures what happened perfectly:

Let’s just throw in all the chips here. The GOP should nominate Donald for president. And he should pick Sarah for vice president. Because in this Dadaist nightmare we call the primary season, that’s the only way this can end.

Our long national nightmare may be just beginning

Just a thought on this 2016 presidential race. Sometimes you have to look back to see the future.

Back in January 2001, as Bill Clinton’s presidency was ending, The Onion, ran this:

Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’

WASHINGTON, DC–Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that “our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over.”


President-elect Bush vows that “together, we can put the triumphs of the recent past behind us.”


“My fellow Americans,” Bush said, “at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us.”

Bush swore to do “everything in [his] power” to undo the damage wrought by Clinton’s two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

“You better believe we’re going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration,” said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. “Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?”

On the economic side, Bush vowed to bring back economic stagnation by implementing substantial tax cuts, which would lead to a recession, which would necessitate a tax hike, which would lead to a drop in consumer spending, which would lead to layoffs, which would deepen the recession even further.

Now, I’m sure a lot of us saw this and we laughed our asses off, because at the time, it was really absurd, and hilarious.

And then reality picked up a baseball bat, and smashed us in the face.

Because all of this happened. And it wasn’t funny. We were terrified.

But we looked at Bush (the Dumber) in 2000 and thought he was a harmless clown. And a lot of people didn’t vote for Al Gore because he wasn’t the kind of guy they could have a beer with.

It’s 2016 now. And we have this:

TMW2016-12-16colorSo we laugh our asses off, because, c’mon, these are just a bunch of clowns.

Now, go back and read that Onion article from 2001, written before the Bush inauguration. Click this for the full article.

It’s not so funny, right. Don’t write these guys off as a bunch of cranks. Because every one of them will make George W. Bush look like the statesman of his generation.

(Thanks to Brad Delong for recently posting the Onion article. Lest we forget.)