January 1st, 2016
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Irving Berlin on taxes: The New York Times reports on how some of the US’s richest men are dodging taxes. Compare this to the response of Irving Berlin when his lawyer offered him a tax shelter:
I want to pay taxes. I love this country.
He even wrote a song expressing this sentiment. He said: “I owe all my success to my adopted country.” …
He embodied — knowingly so — a point made by Herbert Simon, that we westerners owe our fortunes not so much to our own efforts but to the good luck of living in societies which enable us to prosper – which have peace, the rule of law and material and intellectual resources …
Now, songwriting is pretty much as individualistic an activity as one can find; But even songwriters require a conducive environment such as musical traditions on which to draw and a marketplace for their work. Berlin knew this: 1930s Siberia had no equivalent of Tin Pan Alley or Hollywood.
There have been … reports lately about Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas gambling magnate. Mr. Adelson has been involved in … court proceedings … around claims of misconduct in his operations in Macau, including links to organized crime and prostitution. … What was surprising was his behavior in court, … he refused to answer routine questions and argued with the judge, Elizabeth Gonzales. That, as she rightly pointed out, isn’t something witnesses get to do.
Then Mr. Adelson bought Nevada’s largest newspaper…, reporters … were told to drop everything and start monitoring … Ms. Gonzales. And while the paper never published any results…, an attack on Judge Gonzales, with what looks like a fictitious byline, did appear in a small Connecticut newspaper owned by one of Mr. Adelson’s associates.
O.K., but why do we care? Because Mr. Adelson’s political spending has made him a huge player in Republican politics…
Are there other cases? Yes indeed…
Just to be clear, the biggest reason to oppose the power of money in politics is the way it lets the wealthy rig the system and distort policy priorities. … The fact that some of those buying influence are also horrible people is secondary.