Yapping Yak

THINKING ALOUD

Tag Archives: Criticism

YK:

Intellectuals are doing too little of what they should be doing, and act too much like advocates.
My suspicion is that people are so easily to be carried away by the natural animal instinct, the surviving instinct perhaps. The end goal of being the stronger side and avoiding being eaten is so strong and so hard wired into our brain, so without conscious effort to suppress it, we will stick to our stand and push it, being it right or wrong.

Originally posted on Modeled Behavior:

Kevin Drum replies

So sure, it’s kabuki. All of us who write about politics for a living understand that 90% (at least) of what we do is just shadow boxing. Controversies are invented, then debunked, then invented all over again, and debunked. Sometimes the inventors know perfectly well what they’re doing, while other times they’ve talked themselves into actually believing their own nonsense. In either case, these things are mostly just proxies for the issues that really matter.

But so what? The Reichstag fire was wholly invented too, and look what happened after that. As demeaning as it is, fighting back against bullshit is every bit as important as fighting back against the real stuff.

This is an important point but we should define a line between where the contributions of professional intellectuals end and where the contributions of professional advocates takeover.

If there is genuine misunderstanding then there is…

View original 73 more words

Should One-Percenters Be Hated So Much

One of the reasons, which I bet is shared by many, that I hate politics: the deviation from the pressing agenda, scoring points from the mass by swaying their emotion, the loudest duck wins. It disgusts me. The argument that this is the means to the end, and hopefully we get someone decent elected and do something good, is just, not enough. The direction all the “discussion” lead the public discourse into, the momentum it created that pushes the societal focus into a frenzy state, and the impact on everyone’s mind, makes me hate God a bit (more). Sorry dude. And by politics I don’t mean stuff politicians do; I mean all the things that captures mass’ attention, becomes a campaign, and confined itself to represent a small group of interest. I don’t understand how occupiers are that much different from t-baggers.

Except that they are cuter maybe.

Anyways. When Mitt Romney’s tax returns were to be released and everyone was so excited to see how this one-percenter can defend his ridiculously low tax rate, my reaction was like when I find out (surprisingly) how many people are religious. Simply said, I don’t understand what the hype is all about.

People who believe one-percenters should be taxed at a higher rate thinks it is “fair”.  So where do we base this notion of “fairness”? This will be some kind of tax policy question, which I do not know enough about and wonder whether the ultimate battle on this ground will be somewhat ideological (which I both admire and despise).

But since the one-percenters derive most of their income from non-wage income, basically investment income, it is very interesting to see how this part of income is taxed, overall.

Capital income is money made out of money, not (directly) from anyone sweat and blood. Basically (I think) a premium the users pay to the owner of money to utilize this capital. It seems like rent (I am just making things up here, based on my understanding). Should this kind of profits be subject to a higher rate of taxation than money made in sweatshops?

Occupiers may say, hell yah! They make the money by sitting on their ass, enjoying so much privilege from the society, and should contribute back to the society/country by paying more taxes. It is because all the work of 99% that 1% can make all that money. Et cetera, et cetera.

I am a supporter of progressivity in income taxation, as a complicated modern world, it seems to be the best way to spread the costs of having the society running. Without doing empirical and quantitative study on how much each dollar costs the “society”, and what manner of profits generating is most “taxing” for the society, we can only hope for the best, right? So I rest my case on this. But I will be ecstatic if I ever encounter some insightful explanation on this point (dig out some tax policy articles maybe, note to self)

So let’s establish the baseline here: progressivity in the income taxation. Then another question comes: should different types of income tax at different rate?

It is easy to lose sight when we look at individual taxation. Capital income, unlike other income such as wage, cascades down from some sort of business entity, first appears in the form of business profits, and then later in the form of individual capital income. Taxation happens, at least theoretically, at each appearance.

Should capital income be taxed so many rounds? I mean, why is it so hated? From an utility perspective, is hard-earned money really more solid than money from money? Should we tax based on how easy it is earned, how much it costs to be earned, or…?

But in the risk of oversimplying, Mitt Romney’s low tax rate is not necessarily unfair. I mean, it can be unfair if all the capital income is taxed on corporate level and then again at 15% or whatever his individual rate it, then this part of income can even be categorized as overtaxed. There is the problem of negative tax rate in many corporation, so if the corporate level tax is somewhat escaped, Romney is getting a god-damned one-percenter windfall. But presently, we don’t know. I hope some media can dig out some real data and then we can analyze the effective rate, rather than nominal rate, on his income stream.

WAIT, why do I care? It is so obviously politics. But maybe some one-percenter should throw in some money to hire someone do this research. It may give them some tool to fight back.

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Some final notes on today’s R&R and FinProd class.

For someone like Prof.P who believes that income should be taxed once (he doesn’t believe corporate tax is the price to pay for the privilege of access to public equity market – for him, it is either too steep a price, or basically a highway robbery that is counterproductive), corporate integration, which essentially eliminates doublet taxation on the corporate level, is the way to go. Practically, I think it makes perfect sense for reasons including, but not limited to, promoting capital deployment and re-deployment, increase financial efficiency, preventing lock-in effect, putting debt and equity on equal footing (so business are not so leveraged that the whole world is on the verge of bankruptcy). Overall, reduce the distortion effect from taxation on business/finance decisions.

When we talk about corporate integration, we are talking about converging two separate set of tax regimes into on, namely integrating corporate level taxation and individual shareholder level taxation. If there is only one level of taxation,  which set should be eliminated? Should the corporation be taxed as a juristic person, and just consider taxation another business expense which are diffused by business as they wish? The concept of “incident of taxation” is repeatedly mentioned, but the question is, why do we care? This issue wasn’t addressed much at today’s class, but maybe disincentivizing people from conducting business in corporate form is one of it? Apparently evidence shows that people are being creative in shifting away from corporate form (Sub Chapter C) to avoid the tax pressure.

So we care about how taxation can influence corporate behavior and negatively impact economic efficiency. The taxation should be at a proper rate level and paid by the proper person. I think it is Avi-Yonah, who points out that it is not shareholders who make the corporate finance decision, but the officers (well, there is some corporate governance issues here, but at face it is a passable argument). So the real decision makers need to be properly incentivized; deduction, which gives them a better number to brag out, may work out better in this regard.

Something in the Fin Prod class may actually back up the argument that the one-percenters are creating enormous value/utility: they facilitate the financial products markets, which is basically the scaffolding of global economy and enables complex business transactions happening on a regular basis.

This thought needs to be dug further. But I have a dentist appointment at 830 tmr.

Ciao.

The wasted good intentions

Say, human beings as a whole are equally bad and good. Re-phrase:  50% of human beings are good, and 50% human beings are bad. Everyone chips in for the good-intentions fund. Unless you are ultra-bad or super sleazy.

Good people works hard with strong ethics, have integrity, and values self-sufficiency.

Bad people just wanna get by.

Shit happens, to good and bad people, for different reasons probably. We give them money from the good-intentions fund when shit happens.

We don’t know whether shit really happened or not, for good or bad reasons.

We don’t know who are good or who are bad. We can’t tell. We are in no position to tell.

Question: should we sacrifice the welfare of good people who got unlucky by cutting off the good intentions fund, or waste some good intentions fund money wasted on bad people by preserving the fund. Which is more valuable, the life-saving moneys in bad times or accumulated supposedly large sum of money over the good times?

And are we obligated to keep this fund? Where is there such a fund to start with? Is the world so warped and unnatural that we can’t fend for ourselves naturally anymore?  Should people be allowed to be… selfish?

Are there more good people than bad people? Vice versa?

Let’s start to make more good people?  Nice final solution.

[and the solution to not posting is posting something for the sake of posting something]

Let’s start with the taboo. Not.

[An old post from mid-Oct. last year (Oct. 19). Too much have happened since then. Alas. Let's dig out and brush up the debris, and try to, ah-hem, move on.]

The Intro-:

When I try to think up a tagline for this blog, a word that I saw on some “family friend”‘s facebook profile popped out in my mind: the world is “warped”.

I bet you would agree. Everyone loves a negative comment these days.

Don’t get me wrong. As much as I roll my eyes on a regular basis, I love this world, partly because I feel unjustified not to love it after it has caused so much bitterness and resentment inside  me. And it is just easier to be an optimist.

The Body:

Anyways. So I am currently reading “Out of Mao’s Shadow” by Phillip Pan, a Washington Post correspondent who used to station in Beijing for 8 yrs and is now in Moscow, and it is a rather heavy book, not only because it is hardcover with 350 pages (yes this is heavy for me thankyouverymuch), but also its subject matter.

The Inconvenient truth:

As a China-born Chinese person, the ways I stick to my heritage include, not not limited to: mimicking the proper Chinese version of English as you may have heard from our beloved Russell Peters, keeping pennies in a tinfoil wrapped roll, and being humble. So despite all the blood, sweat and tears I put in my past three years of law school, I still feel that I am not, um, educated enough [insert jokes on re-education here].

Why? Well if I were you I would imagine someone like me would know in and outs about the enaction of AZ immigration laws; nope, and not until today that I find it fascinating and decide that I would later post something on it; and I imagine that I should know more about Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen, um, Incident (?), and SARS; nope, nada, well I mean I know it is BAD, but how? Aren’t we suppose to know how and why through education rather than blindly listening to others, so we can make an “educated” decision?

If you are Chinese or a foreign lawyer who knows a whole lot about either of the above or know a substantial number of people who know quite a bit about either of the two, please let me know and I will take down this stupid post.

My goal today is not to write a long winding piece to criticize the law school education or the Chinese education system. Who am I to talk here. But one line from the Phillip Pan book I would like to quote here, which basically inspired me to do this post:

“The unspoken rule is that loyal Chinese should never say anything to an outsider that would make the motherland look bad”.

Oh my, well put, Pan. I bet Ms. Wang at Duke can’t agree more. As the young people in China become more liberal minded, often times I am baffled about how strong the reaction can be in certain touchy issues, such as Rangzen. Chill people. Chill.

And interesting that I recently talked to a friend about my experiences during SARS. It was my senior year in high school, when everyone in my class was fervently preparing for the formidable college entrance exam

But again, don’t laugh too early yet, American folks, over your Arizona sweet tea. [I don't quite understand this last line. What about the Arizona tea? Me wanna some Arizona tea right now. YK is weird]

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