Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Meek and Mild Mannered" Woman Stabs Boyfriend

A Wellesley woman turned violent after breaking up with her boyfriend:

A 20-year-old female student at Wellesley College was charged today with breaking into a dormitory at MIT and stabbing her former boyfriend seven times as he slept, according to police and prosecutors.

Anna Tang was ordered held without bail after her arraignment this afternoon in Cambridge District Court on charges of armed assault with intent to murder and home invasion.

Suzanne Kontz, an assistant Middlesex district attorney, said in court that the victim, a 19-year-old student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, woke up to Tang stabbing him seven times. The couple had been romantically involved for eight months but broke up three weeks ago and the relationship took a violent turn, Kontz said.

Kontz said that Tang sent the victim threatening e-mails and then broke into his dorm room today at about 6:30 a.m. Tang was arrested by Cambridge police inside the dormitory on Memorial Drive. The name and condition of the victim were not released.

John Valerio, an attorney who represented Tang, described his client as a “meek and mild mannered” young woman who had been taking classes at MIT. Valerio said he will investigate the accusations.

I wonder if this woman will see any real jail time or whether she will just get the Mary Winkler treatment?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Shy Millionaires

In response to my last post on taxation, there are a few of you who feel that "rich" people, those making over $500,000 a year, should be hit with extremely high taxes. One commenter mentioned that many of the people he knows inherited money or found a "rich trophy wife " (Huh, where are these rich trophy wives?). Another commenter at Megan McArdle's blog referred to those with over $500,000 in income as "fat cats," who don't work:

I'm not ideologically opposed to taxing wealth, mainly because I know a lot of fat cats that aren't working. But it seems to me that there's no pragmatic way (or at least, not one we've discovered yet) to penalize them without also hitting a lot of people who are working.

In his book, Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes pollster Mark Penn describes the trend of the "shy millionaire" as Americans who live below their means. He states that we have a bit of a skewed perception about American wealth:

According to recent surveys, most Americans think there are far more millionaires in America than there really are--by about 4-fold. A survey done in the late 1990's--when only about 4 percent of households had net assets over $1 million--showed that the public believed that 15 percent of households were that rich. (Today there are 9 million people in America worth $1 million or more, exclusive of their homes.)

...According to the authors of the best-selling book, The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy,the average millionaire in America went to public school, drives an American made car (and not this year's model), and received zero {my italics} inheritance.

...he isn't interested in telling you how much money he has. Most millionaires would not be caught dead in a limo. It is the antithesis of what they believe in...

Penn describes six different types of millionaires (I won't go into all the types here) with the most prevalent group being the most quiet--the Satisfied Savers--these people are made up of welding contractors, pharmacists, pest controllers, etc. The Satisfied Savers are those millionaires who have worked hard, saved much, and lived below their means.

Penn makes a very good point about why "class warfare" polemics rarely win in American politics:

Promising to give the rich their comeuppance on behalf of the "little guy" has its shortcomings when many Americans believe that they, too, can be millionaires. Class warfare language directed at people who have worked hard to get where they are is a very unpredictable way to talk to American voters. It is quite different in Britain, where privilege is presumed to be behind success, but in America, equal opportunity is one of our most cherished values.

So rather than a bunch of "fat cats," most millionaires are just the opposite: people who worked, lived below their means and saved a lot of money. Or as one politician put it, people who "worked hard and played by the rules." All of us could learn from them. Jealous that they have not achieved this level of wealth, now many controlling types of people are scheming to take money from others through high tax rates that penalize the "shy millionaire" as much as the real "fat cats," whatever that means. Instead of scheming like a bunch of thugs, perhaps the government and those that approve of their thuggery should learn to be more like the shy millionaires by spending below their means, saving, and showing some class.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Time for Another Boston Tea Party?

It seems that Robert Reich, the former Labor Secretary in the Clinton Administration has proposed a redistributionist tax strategy for "the rich:"

What’s fair? I’d say a 50 percent marginal tax rate on the very rich (earning over $500,000 a year). Plus an annual wealth tax of one half of one percent on net worth of people holding more than $5 million in total assets....If the Democrats stand for anything, it’s a fair allocation of the responsibility for paying the costs of maintaining this nation.

Reich calls it a fair allocation, I call it highway robbery--taking 50% of someone's money at gunpoint (and face it, that's what the government does, don't believe it? Try making a lot of money and then not pay tax on it and see what happens) is basically theft. It's not fair allocation, it's not "redistributionist" strategy, it is theft, plain and simple and it should be illegal. Sure, I'll go along with citizens having some obligation to pay a modest share of taxes (what about the fair tax to accomplish this?) to pay for roads, national security and other government necessities but the idea that one can be taxed at such a high rate deserves a swift and severe response from those in this country who believe in economic freedom; luckily there are some people out there who realize this type of tax is more than about money, it is about the freedom to practice one's profession without penalty for success. A commenter at Megan McArdle's blog points out:

....Let's face it. A patent attorney makes big bucks because there aren't that many folks that are very good electrical engineers or PhDs in chem/bio, plus have a law degree, but the market demand for good ones is very high. Supply is tight, demand is high. Same for other highly paid professionals.

Between the two of us (my partner and I), we make close to $500k/year. But we both came from lower middle class families (we both worked our way through school and had huge student loans...our families too poor to help), so it isn't like we're "fat cats."

You start banging us any harder in taxes, we'll quit working so hard. Might just say "f--- it" and retire. We won't be the only ones. That'll make our talents even more scarce and increase the wages of those that remain.

Moreover, what is the incentive for a young kid today to work like a dog, go into debt to learn the skills needed to provide what the economy needs so badly as shown by market wages.

And we'll sit here and wonder why China and India leap ahead of us and our economy/standard of living stagnates....

Another dissenter at McArdle's place has the right idea:

I'd sell my business and retire (at 42) if such taxes were enacted. I'd forfeit my citizenship and move to Ireland or the Cayman Islands, too.

Where is Milton Friedman when you need him? Is this a premonition of what is to come if the Democrats are in power? I sure hope not or it may be time for another Boston Tea Party of sorts by those of us who believe that economic freedom is imperative to a free society.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Dangerous Book for Dogs

Today, I received my copy of The Dangerous Book for Dogs, a parody of The Dangerous Book for Boys written by authors of the Onion. The book description (Hat tip: Instapundit) looked so funny that I had to order it:

The Dangerous Book for Dogs asks a simple question: isn't there more to being a dog than wearing a mini cashmere sweater and riding around in a $400 evening clutch? What about the simple pleasures of life -- feeling the wind in your fur, digging up the grass beneath your paws, smelling another dog's butt? Isn't that part of the great joy of being a dog?

The book is "written" by two dogs, Rex and Sparky, who (from the back cover) "wrote this parody without authorization (because they are dogs and they do what they want)." The book is written for other dogs and starts with a Preface entitled, "I Didn't Have This Book When I Was a Puppy." "Today's dog should never forget that there's a whole wide world of adventure out there."

From there, the chapters include such adventures as: "Things You Can Chase," "Begging-A Primer," "Foul Smells Every Dog Should Roll In," "How to Make Your Owner Look Like an Idiot," "Creative Pee Stains," "Training a New Human" and "How to Ruin the Perfect Dinner Party."

In the "How to Make Your Owner Look Like an Idiot" chapter, there is a section on "Aggressive Crotch Sniffing." I have always wondered why the heck dogs do this. Here is why from a dog's point of view:

A common myth held among humans is that we enjoy sticking our snouts into their crotches. False. Who on earth would think this is a pleasant experience? No, the truth is that we sniff crotches because it makes owners wildly uncomfortable. There's not a lot of technique here. Take your nose; shove it into a crotch.

The real payoff comes when the people your owner is speaking with begin to scroll through a laundry list of questions in their minds: What is wrong with this person's crotch that his dog is so attracted to it? Doesn't he wash himself? Is he keeping a sandwich in his crotch? Why would he do that? I have to stop speaking to this person immediately and report him to the authorities.

Also, consider environments and scenarios in which a sniffed crotch would be particularly embarrassing. Is your owner making out with somebody? He won't be for long if you dive-bomb his trousers....

Okay, so now you have an idea of the humor of The Dangerous Book for Dogs. Is the book worth the ten buck purchase price? Uhh, perhaps if you enjoy this type of humor, are a dog lover or owner or want a cheap Christmas gift for the dog lover in your life. Otherwise, I think The Dangerous Book for Boys or The Daring Book for Girls is a better buy.