April 21, 2012 marks the fifth annual Record Store Day, a nation-wide project to promote struggling brick-and-mortar music shops. Across the country, independent stores offer exclusive, one-of-a-kind recordings as a way to bring customers through the door.
“It is the busiest day of the year,” says Mike Moffat, co-owner of Washington, D.C.’s Smash Records, a shop that sells new and used CDs and vinyl LPs, along with clothing, posters, t-shirts, vintage clothing, and more.
But now the powers that be in the nation’s capital have decided that record stores must get second-hand dealer business licenses, which cost a lot of money and have onerous reporting requirements. Store owners such as Moffat would have to report every new piece they put up for sale to the police, allow the cops to verify it’s not stolen, and get information about all customers who buy used goods. Failure to comply would mean incurring massive fines of thousands of dollars a days.
“Basically,” says Moffat, “they want us to get a pawn shop license.”
Local business groups such as the Adams Morgan Partnership are pushing back but the future of stores such as Smash Records is far from clear. “It just seems so heavy-handed, it could easily destroy businesses like mine,” says Moffat.
I am so tired of listing to liberals lecture the rest of us about how we must pay higher taxes and how those making over $250k (most small businesses) have to pay their fair share (whatever that means) when they fail to pay high rates themselves…
Add Elizabeth Warren and Warren Buffet to the list of “Elitist Hypocrites”
From Boston Globe:
Elizabeth Warren acknowledged this morning that she does not pay a voluntary higher tax rate on her state income taxes, a question her campaign had previously refused to answer.
“I paid my taxes and I did not make a charitable contribution to the state,” she told reporters during a campaign event at her Somerville headquarters, according to the Associated Press. The Globe first posed the question on Monday.
Massachusetts allows filers to pay a higher rate if they choose. Warren, a Democrat running for US Senate, has criticized incumbent Scott Brown, a Republican, this week for voting against the Buffett Rule, a tax on millionaires named for billionaire financier Warren Buffett, who supports the measure.
The measure, which raises the effective tax rate on those earning at least $1 million a year, failed in the Senate Monday night on a procedural vote, which Brown has called an election year stunt.
Brown’s campaign and state Republicans have criticized Warren, who has earned a six-figure salary and owns assets worth millions, for her previous refusal to answer whether she pays a voluntary higher rate, calling her an “elitist hypocrite” who “lectures others about their responsibility to pay higher taxes.”
From Las Vegas Review-Journal:
WASHINGTON – A meeting Friday morning between Sen. Dean Heller and Clark County judge Elissa Cadish failed to break an impasse over her nomination to the federal court in Nevada.
The two met for half an hour in Heller’s office in Las Vegas, a Heller spokesman said.
Afterward, the Republican senator said he remained firm against Cadish. Heller said he remained troubled about a statement she made in 2008 that called into question her views on gun rights.
“I respect Judge Cadish and believe she has had many great accomplishments in her career,” Heller said in a statement. “However, I cannot support her nomination as a federal judge.
“I believe an individual citizen has the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and cannot in good conscience support a nominee whose commitment to the Constitution’s Second Amendment is in doubt.”
Cadish requested the meeting after Heller declined to sign off for the Senate Judiciary Committee to schedule a hearing on her nomination to become a U.S. district judge.
How is our tax code influenced by special interests?
Randall Holcombe, Professor of Economics explains how cronyism in the tax code can benefit special interest groups, and he discusses how we can address this cronyism by reducing the spending power of the government.
“If you really want to understand the nature of our tax code, don’t ask yourself, ‘Why aren’t these provisions in the public interest?’ That’s not how taxes are passed. Ask yourself, ‘Who benefits from these taxes, and how much political power do they have?’” — Professor Randall Holcombe
Check out http://www.economicfreedom.org/videos to see the rest of our videos!
National Journal: Manchin on the Fence About Obama Vote. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has done more than any other Democrat up for reelection this year to distance himself from President Obama, said he does not know if he will vote for Obama or presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney in November. “I’ll look at the options,” Manchin said this week. The last three years “have made it pretty rough” for his state, he said.
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“‘After This Election, Congress Will Be In The Democratic Column. The U.S. Senate Will Be In The Democratic Column. Give Us Barack Obama And Joe Biden At The Top,’ Manchin Said.” (Paul J. Nyden, “‘Tour For Change,’” The Charleston [WV] Gazette, 10/19/08)
Manchin: “We Are All Totally Committed To Senator Barack Obama Being The Next President Of The United States. I Can Assure You That.” (Governor Joe Manchin, Remarks At DNC Press Conference, 6/10/08)
“‘It’s About The Economy,’ The Governor Continued. ‘West Virginia Has Done Very Well, But We Can Come Down With This National Economy As It’s Sinking Right Now. I Think [Obama] Would Be A Tremendous Partner. I’ve Never Seen A Presidential Candidate Or Heard Of One Reaching Out To The Governors State-By-State To See How They Can Work And Make Things Better.’” (Jake Stump, “Obama Says W.Va. Still In Play,” The Charleston [WV] Daily Mail, 10/30/08)
And don’t miss this piece in the New York Times reporting that President Obama finds himself increasingly boxed in on the Keystone Pipeline. With the House vote, Mr. Obama finds himself, for the first time in his presidency, threatening a veto on a significant piece of legislation that enjoys the support of an increasing number of Democrats, as well as the vast majority of Republicans in Congress. With gas prices sticking near $4 a gallon, unemployment high in many states and demonstrable support for the project in numerous polls, many Democrats — especially those from states where pipelines are commonplace — are beginning to sound almost indistinguishable from Speaker John A. Boehner, who called Mr. Obama “increasingly isolated” in his opposition to expanding the project.
For the past several years, it’s not been an uncommon sight in Anytown, USA, to drive down the street and see home after home for sale after going through foreclosure. They are the still-lingering hangover from the housing crash that began in 2007. Though the true cause of what burst America’s housing bubble is still debated, two of the culprits — housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are still going strong even though both essentially failed in 2008 and are under government control. Economists and politicians alike are now pondering whether we need Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at all and what would happen if they were eliminated altogether.
For several years prior to 2007, home prices went through the roof, but then they crashed through the basement. Since then, more than 2.3 million homeowners have faced foreclosure — an 81 percent increase over 2007. This all, of course, contributed to the Great Recession we’re still rebuilding from today. “Easy credit” is pointed to as the corrosive acid that ate away at the housing market’s foundation, and federal government-sponsored mortgage finance giants — the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) — were there to supply it and help other lenders to do so.
Consistent with policies dating back to the Carter and Clinton Administrations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made it easier for low and moderate income Americans to obtain mortgages and purchase homes. In a new paper from The Heritage Foundation, A Housing Market Without Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Effect on Home Prices, Nahid Anaraki reports that this “fueled an excessive expansion of credit in the housing sector, shifted the demand for real estate to the right, and caused home prices to overshoot their underlying market equilibriums.” In other words, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s intervention in the housing market helped to fuel the boom-to-bust housing bubble by subsidizing interest rates and enabling reduced down payment requirements on single-family homes, thus unnaturally boosting demand and causing prices to go up.
The trouble with all this, Heritage reports, is that though Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made it easier for a family to buy a home, in the long run their actions have a detrimental effect on the economy, as America has witnessed.
So what would happen if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were phased out? Would the absence of their ability to offer lower interest loans and smaller down payments impact the cost of homes in America? Anaraki’s analysis shows that it would not. In fact, interest rates and changes in down payment requirements have little influence on housing prices. Instead, fundamentals–such as household assets, personal income, the S&P Index, and the effective tax rate–play substantial roles in shaping home prices. As such, she advises, it’s time for Washington to get out of the business altogether:
The federal government should avoid offering any subsidy in the form of lower interest rates or lower down payments because it adversely affects both the housing market and the economy over the long term. Although such a policy may boost the demand side in the short term, it risks inflating another housing bubble in the medium or long term.
Eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in fact, will help more Americans afford homeownership. Since these institutions increase demand — thereby increasing home prices — it becomes increasingly difficult for lower-income Americans to afford to purchase homes without subsidized interest rates. If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are eliminated, interest rates may slightly go up initially, but Anaraki finds that “higher interest rates will lead to lower median home prices, which in turn will increase the ability of low-income groups to purchase a house.” What’s more, competition among housing lenders would increase, leading to lower interest rates in the medium to long term.
Owning your own home is the American Dream, but suffering a foreclosure and winding up on the streets is the American Nightmare. In pursuit of encouraging the former, the federal government helped produce the latter. Government intervention by way of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may have given more Americans the keys to their own homes, but they bought homes they could not afford and in a marketplace that could not be sustained. As Heritage showed in an earlier paper, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can be phased out without disrupting the housing recovery. A better way forward is to phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and let the home market find a healthy and sustainable equilibrium.
From the Las Vegas Sun:
Did you ever doubt that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could utter enough bon mots in a 15-minute interview to fill an entire column?
I didn’t, so here’s your Say It Ain’t So, Harry Friday Flash:
• Don’t worry, be happy with Shelley: During an appearance this week on “Nevada Newsmakers,” hosted by businessman Sam Shad and the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Ray Hagar, Reid had to confront tough questions right away about his favored Senate candidate, Rep. Shelley Berkley.
When Hagar asked Reid if Berkley could survive a probe into her alleged advocacy for her husband’s interests by the House Ethics Committee, he replied, “Of course she can … People understand the different quality of the candidates.”
Hear that, Sen. Dean Heller, you of the lesser quality?
When Shad jumped in and wondered about the ethics issue raised in the late ’90s when she worked for Gondolier Numero Uno Sheldon Adelson, Reid gave his trademark chuckle and said, “The situation with (Adelson) is a personal spat they had. It had nothing to do with ethics. They simply couldn’t get along anymore.”
There was no follow-up.
So while it is true that Adelson and Berkley had a falling out, Reid will never be mistaken for esteemed biographer Robert Caro when it comes to history, as Reid left out how serious the issue was.
Reid may be right that Berkley can surmount the issues — although if the ethics panel proceeds, it will be potentially fatal and Heller will use it all anyhow.
When you go outside, do the birdssound happy or angry when they see you? New research has found that at least one group of birds, ravens, remembers prior interactions with people and varies calls based on those earlier experiences.
So it’s not too far fetched to think that if you bothered a bird some time ago, the bird might unleash the avian version of swearing the next time you approach.
The research, published in Current Biology, adds to the growing body of evidence that birds remember the appearance and voices of individuals, along with their prior encounters with them. Last year we told you how crows don’t forget faces, for example.
We take such skills for granted in humans. In daily life, it’s a given that we remember the faces and voices of multiple known individuals. Other studies show that different mammals can do the same thing.
If you want a lifelong buddy, you might consider getting a horse since they remember their human friends and act accordingly. We humans can be pretty nasty and complicated with each other at times, but give a horse a carrot and a head pat for a while and you’ll receive near-guaranteed kindness in return. More
Consumer tastes are changing at a greater rate than ever before. Not surprisingly, the purchasing habits of the youngest generation present the most dramatic shifts — a reflection of what they find important. 24/7 Wall St. has identified eight popular products that the “Facebook generation” is not buying.
Generation Y, generally defined as those born between 1980 and 1999, have lost interest in many of the services and products their parents found important. For example, younger Americans are less interested in cars. In 1998, 64.4% of potential drivers 19-years old and younger had drivers licenses. By 2008, that rate had dropped to 46.3%, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
What young adults care about has shifted. A recent study by Gartner research revealed that, if forced to choose, 46% of all 18-to-24-year-old drivers in the United States would choose access to the Internet over access to a car.
However, many products that have declined in popularity among the youth are more a result of the changing tastes across all ages than a generational shift. Examples include lower sales in traditional cell phones, maps and CDs. In 2002, compact discs had a more than 95% market share of music sales. In 2010, they had less than half. Various reports suggest this decline is the result of all age groups moving away from CD sales toward digital sales. More