WIDE-EYED OPTIMIST – II

Jeff Fine: ‘We had someone like Amram Mitzna not that long ago. His name was Ehud Barak (remember?) and he offered to return 96% of the West Bank territories. Arrafat said no. Could it be any clearer?’

☞ The optimist in me likes to think that many Palestinians now think Arafat’s saying no was not such a good idea. In any event, if the news profile on Mitzna I saw was a fair portrayal, I doubt anyone need fear he is soft on Israel’s security.

Jim Reed: ‘Was this quote from your website? ‘I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.’ – Winston Churchill.

☞ No, but it is now.

YOU KNEW ‘IDE’ WAS NOT A WORD – BUT DID YOU KNOW THIS?

Michael: ‘Yikes! If your ‘ides of January’ reference yesterday was meant to refer to the 15th of January, please note that the ides occurs on the 15th only during March, May, July, and October.’

☞ Live and learn.

TAX-FREE DIVIDENDS

Burton Malkiel’s Wall Street Journal piece on the Bush dividend proposal last week makes the case for freeing dividends from tax – not the macroeconomic case as relates to the budget deficit, but the case as it relates to corporate behavior. A lot of us who oppose the Bush proposal agree with Malkiel’s case, at least in fair measure. As I argued last week, if tax-free dividends had been Bush’s one great gift to the wealthy in 2001, well, that might not have been such a bad idea. But wanting now to make permanent and even to accelerate last year’s gargantuan cut for the top 1%, adding this to it is just ridiculous. Shocking. Depressing. And – because of the massive deficits we’re headed for – irresponsible.

So the best solution, actually, might be this unlikely compromise: accept tax-free dividends, but, as part of the bargain, repeal rather than accelerate any further reduction of the top tax bracket (and reform rather than eliminate the estate tax – e.g., by lifting the exemption to $5 million, indexed for inflation, and cutting the top bracket from 55% to 45%).

THAT IDIOTIC THING ABOUT THE 10 MEN GOING TO A $100 DINNER

Jim Hickel: ‘I really hope you debunk the ‘idiotic thing about the 10 men going to the $100 dinner’ soon, because I love that story and have been passing it around to everyone I know. I have yet to see a thoughtful liberal refutation, so you are in a position to stop me before I kill again.’

☞ Yes! I am grabbing for my flak jacket and stun gun and will be round to your place with the handcuffs and evidence kit just as fast as I can.

 

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