Morning Reads for Thursday, December 22nd

“Christmas is a season for kindling the fire for hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.” – Washington Irving

Here in Georgia…
– Do excise tax hikes drive consumers to purchase cigarettes across state lines? That was a claim recently made by Grover Norquist (it’s also one I’ve made), and PolitiFact Georgia rates the statement to be “Mostly True.”
– Herman Cain reflects on his campaign.
– If you’re playing the lottery, you could have a very good Christmas.
– The unemployment rate in Metro Atlanta dropped to 9.2% (down from 9.9%).

National stories of interest…
– Here are the top 22 political quotes of 2011.
– Alex Tabarrok , an economist at George Mason University, writes that bringing more high-skilled immigrants in the US is a “no-brainer.”
– In case you haven’t seen it, here is the teaser for HBO’s Game Change.
– Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is running out of patience with President Barack Obama on the Keystone Pipeline.
– Civil libertarians are angry with Obama, and rightfully so. But what took them so long?
PolitiFact’s Life of the Year: “Republicans voted to end Medicare”

A few that I like…
– The Atlanta Braves are in a trademark dispute with Disney.
– Matt Pryor (The Get Up Kids) covers “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”
– Economics affects everything…even dating.
– The better the college football team, the worse they are in the classroom.


  1. Max Power says:

    – Do excise tax hikes drive consumers to purchase cigarettes across state lines? That was a claim recently made by Grover Norquist (it’s also one I’ve made), and PolitiFact Georgia rates the statement to be “Mostly True.”

    And once again the problem with PolitiFact’s over simplified analysis of everything is exposed. Sure on the margins higher excise (and sales) taxes may drive consumers to adjoining lower tax jurisdictions. The question is how big of a problem is this really. In support of their mostly true rating they look at Chicago, DC, and South Carolina. Chicago and DC are bad comparisons because they have their major population centers a short drive from lower tax jurisdictions. South Carolina isn’t a good comparison either because it’s population is spread more evenly throughout the state. In Georgia more than half the states population lives in metro-Atlanta and theres simply not an efficient way to access lower tax jurisdictions from the metro-area.

    • I Miss the 90s says:

      Politifact does a good enough job, but when it comes to stuff like this, matters that can be determined to be factual or not based strictly upon quantitative empirical analysis, leave it to the experts (not Grover Norquist or politifact).

      The part I find interesting is that the number of people that quit smoking cigarettes because of tax increases is so low and insignificant that the right-wing had to move toward finding a different type of behavioral change…that is, crossing state lines if one is close enough.

      Now, before everyone gets ahead of themselves, this can make sense…but it might not. We do not know that people are crossing state lines. Not only are Chicago and DC poor cases to select, we do not know if people are crossing state lines or county lines. Secondly, I have yet to see this modeled and the hypothesis tested. I do not trust Norquist and he knows that he does not need to prove anything to anyone, he is just a politician. The right wing will mostly embrace anything he says and the left will oppose just about anything he says.

      Regardless of what is going on, it is a Norquist makes a bad argument. GA can not afford to not raise taxes, or create new ones, at some point soon. Tobacco taxes are attractive simply because they are highly targeted and there is little sympathy toward tobacco users paying more in taxes on their vice. Same applies to lottery ticket taxes.

      I will end this with one last bit. If you do not like the idea of these types of tax increases be prepared for more projects like the GA HOT lanes: User fee driven public “service.”

  2. Dave Bearse says:

    I would have figured Newt’s “Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood” would have made the list of quotes, and Cain quoting the “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” from the Constitution..

  3. Engineer says:

    Obama hasn’t given too much extra fodder for civil libertarians until recently. Most were too busy being ticked off at the Patriot Act and the TSA. Now with Obamacare in the process of cranking up and the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) being shoved thru Congress, you can’t be surprised that they are mad.
    If you aren’t familiar with NDAA or SOPA, I highly recommend you read up on it. They are both grave misuses of power, and in the case of the NDAA, it removes a rights guaranteed under the bill of rights regarding due process and trial by jury.

    In regards to the Keystone Pipeline, the US needs the jobs and oil transferred via the pipeline. The proposed path would go thru the Dakotas, allowing easier transport of oil from the new oil boom going on in N. Dakota courtesy of the Bakken formation. As it stands, they are producing more oil than they are able to ship out. Furthermore, the last thing we want to do is have our next door neighbor, Canada, selling to China instead of us.

    Southwest Georgia’s unemployment rate declined to 9.3%. Metro Albany’s unemployment rate is 9.7%.

        • benevolus says:

          Oh I see. Pay more than China. OK, that’s what I thought.
          That pipeline ain’t got nothing to do with that. In fact, the pipeline probably makes it easier to ship that oil elsewhere.

          • Hrmm, with the pipeline, they’re proposing sending the oil to Houston, right? And then from Houston it’s going to be shipped out and around through the Panama Canal and across to China? If Canada’s ultimate goal is to send it to China, why not just build a 400 mile pipeline to Vancouver and ship direct to China from there and avoid the US altogether?

            • benevolus says:

              Not sure about that, but it could be because of the Rockies being in the way, or maybe Vancouver doesn’t want any more refineries on their beautiful shoreline, or because a lot of the Keystone pipeline is already in place.

              I’m really just responding to the idea that somehow it is “our” oil. Just like all other oil owned by capitalist companies, those companies will sell it to the highest bidder. If China bids higher, they get it. I think the only way it is more “ours” than anyone else’s is if we get into an embargo situation.

            • benevolus says:

              Also, the Chinese already own a large chunk of those oil sands (and I think they own a chunk of TransCanada too). They don’t have to sell that oil to anybody.

              “China … holds a half share in the Northern Lights (oilsands) project, with French company Total Canada owning the rest.”
              {that was in 2009}

              “…China Petroleum & Chemical Corp…bought a piece of Syncrude”
              “The Chinese want strategic supplies.”

              I’m just sayin’, we can argue the pros and cons of that pipeline, but thinking that somehow running it through to Houston somehow gives us an edge in using that oil is not accurate.

  4. saltycracker says:

    Iowa…..economy doing ok, unemployment 6%, rural, corn prices/ethanol a winner, Ron Paul outrageousness is the leading Republican………what’s not so nationally representative in this picture ?

  5. saltycracker says:

    Iowa…..economy doing ok, unemployment 6%, rural, corn prices/ethanol a winner, Ron Paul outrageousness is the leading Republican………what’s not so nationally representative in this picture ?

    • Calypso says:

      You forgot that Iowa chooses their presidential candidate based on the number of times he/she rides the Tilt-A-Whirl and the quantity of corndogs eaten at their version of a political convention.

    • Engineer says:

      Iowas has a largely agriculture-based economy. Since agriculture is usually one of the last things affected in economic downturn (as people still have to eat), I can’t say I’m too surprised at the low unemployment numbers there.

      • saltycracker says:

        Food ? Property values for many in the corn belt have gone up significantly, ethanol plants are booming, subsidies are nipped here and there but are doing fine….was recently in Indiana with the happiest/richest folks I’ve been with in years thanks to being winners in legislation.

        By a vote of 85 to 14 in Oct., the Senate approved an amendment to a 2012 spending bill that ends direct payments to farmers with annual incomes exceeding $1 million. Two of the 14 nays were Saxby & Isakson.

        Through good times & bad the big boys get the subsidy bucks, so go figure when record prices are being received.

        Here’s some stats on Georgia’s $6 billion in subsidies between ’95 & 2010:

        •70 percent of farmers in Georgia did not collect subsidy payments – according to USDA.
        •Ten percent collected 82 percent of all subsidies.
        •Amounting to $4.32 billion over 16 years.
        •Top 10%: $34,246 average per year between 1995 and 2010.
        •Bottom 80%: $459 average per year between 1995 and 2010.

  6. ricstewart says:

    The Matt Pryor cover of Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) is great! Darlene Love’s original is hard to beat… she could belt it.

    Fantastic article by Tabarrok on welcoming more high-skilled immigrants. It’s just common sense. Of course, we need more low-skilled immigrants, too.

    • saltycracker says:

      The immigration article is just one of many over the years questioning the limitations on the best & brightest immigrants seeking a better life in the U.S. And these would be the least likely to come in or stay illegally as the desperately poor & uneducated would.

      The continued chant to overhaul the entire process and enforce the laws falls on deaf legislators for different reasons.

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