Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We thought his name was Captain Fishsticks?

Spot had decided, grasshopper, that he’s really Captain Ahab. Here’s a man with a whale of an obsession. An obsession that has destroyed his humanity, his reasoning, and his coherence. He’s a man like your crazy uncle: the one your Mom told you not to say certain words in front of at Thanksgiving dinner: government, taxes, and well, you know the list. Words that, if uttered, would set off an unhinged spittle-flecked rant that would ruin dinner. Really, it would ruin dinner: nobody would want to eat the stuff with your uncle’s spittle on it.

Captain Ahab believes, deeply believes, that a dollar paid in taxes is just thrown away; it’s down a rat hole; Raptured to Liberal Heaven. Here’s just a little part of Ahab’s catechism, as quoted by Charlie:

The benefits to government workers of collecting a salary is what is seen. The benefits to the economy that result from their spending is also what is seen. Mr. Mindeman cannot be accused of ignoring the obvious. But the great burden weighing on the taxpayer like a sodden cotton coat is what is not seen. The salary the government worker spends on himself is money the taxpayer does not have to spend on himself; the money the government worker spends in support of those who supply him is money not spent by the taxpayer with people who supply him.

For the boys and girls who have been paying attention, “Mr. Minderman” will come as a key phrase in the passage; Dave Minderman is you uttering the wrong words at Thanksgiving, and Captain Ahab is, well, we all know who. Dave has been shameless in provoking Ahab into an choking, apoplectic fit. Ahab even had a post entitled Mindeman: The Final Word, or something like that, but of course it wasn’t.

Here’s where Charlie comes in. In his post at the link, Charlie pulls on his So’wester, heads into the gale, and does a little math on the Captain:

To illustrate his point, he then lurches through an hilarious parable about a well-to-do family foregoing a $10,000 addition to their home because their taxes were about to spike by a similar amount.

Do the math. A family, let us postulate that they are well-to-do, is sitting at the kitchen table about to sign a contract with a home remodeler to build an addition on its home for $10,000. But just before they sign a newspaper article catches their eyes. It relates how the state of Minnesota will raise taxes in their bracket by $10,000 a year. This sobering news makes the prudent family reconsider, and it does not hire the remodeler to build the addition on its home.

Sobering news, indeed. But to swallow such a concoction, the family must read his newspaper columns to the exclusion of all else. Clearly, Westover must have learned the economics of the remodeling trade from his boss, who operates from a similarly theoretical grasp of taxes and small businesses.

Do the math, says Westover. Oh, I want to, but it is so hard with the tears running down my cheeks!

Nevertheless, here it is, based on the 2008 Minnesota tax tables.

The family in Mindeman's post with an adjusted taxable income of $200,000 might normally pay $14,145 in state income tax. To render a $10,000 increase for this family, Caesar would have to increase the rate for the current top marginal tax bracket from 7.85% to 32.88%!

You really do have to wonder if Captain Ahab does his own taxes.

Please be sure to read Charlie’s entire post: Doing the Math on Westover’s Parables. Charlie even brings out Ahab and fellow bagpipe King Banaian in the comments.

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