Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I'm afraid that I have about as much enthusiasm for Jerry Brown as Governor as I did for Barack Obama as President--better than the other, but not by much. As I noted not that long ago, Jerry Brown did distinguish himself by accusing a group I was with of "Mau Mauing" him. It was an honor, probably undeserved. Brown committed himself to an early incarnation of neoliberalism, "lowered expectations," which brought about many of the problems California has today.

One of the interesting proposals is to broaden and flatten the income tax rate, which would shift the income tax burden from rich Californians to low-and moderate-income families. That's because the income distribution here is one of the most neoliberal in the country, with a small percentage taking the vast majority of the income, while most Californians struggle to pay for the basics. It might work if the government took responsibility for its failure to provide affordable housing by, for instance, giving low-and moderate-income tenants a tax credit for excess housing costs. (This, comrades, is a bit of a joke. Were the Legislature to pass such tax relief, it would cost the state huge sums of money. Half of California's tenants pay more than 30% of their income for rent, and about a quarter pay more than 50%.)

Unfortunately we're more likely to get some version of Darrell Steinberg's "stick it to the tenants" initiative. This one would redistribute the income tax, assuming that taxpayers could recoup the losses by itemizing on the federal taxes. But tenants don't itemize, as the main deduction is for mortgage interest, so tenants would pay higher state taxes while being ineligible for any federal relief. (And yes, I am amazed that Steinberg didn't know something so basic about taxation for the vast majority.)

Ngram: F**k declines from 1800 to 1820 and doesn't appear again until 1960, and has been increasing since. S**t is almost non-existent in literature until 1960, and then rises much more quickly than f**k. Hmm. The only explanation I can think of is that because pornography was a large segment of literature in the 18th century, f**k appears much more frequently than later in the 19th century, when pornorgraphy is overtaken by other forms of literature.

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