Naked Hiking

From Time. They have opened up a trail for nude hikers near the town of Dankerode in Germany. I’m not sure if this is something I would want to participate in. It seems to me there might be some danger of loose body parts getting caught on thorns and prickles, and such. Also, judging from the picture included in the article, the people most likely to go hiking naked are the ones I would least want to see, not that I’m such a prize myself.

Indiana # 3 Yea!

Indiana is the third freest state in the union according to this report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. They rank the states in order and Indiana is number three, right behind New Hampshire and South Dakota. California, New Jersey and New York rank forty-eighth, forty-ninth, and fiftieth, which isn’t much of a surprise. Our neighbors Illinois and Ohio rank forty-one and forty-two, while Kentucky is thirty-two.

I’m not sure precisely what criteria they use. They have a report in pdf form to download and I think I will read it. It’s interesting to see how the fifty states rank relative to each other, but I think it might have been more useful if they had some sort of measure, maybe like Freedom House gives each nation a score from 1-7 on political rights and civil liberties

The Archbishop Sees the Light, Maybe

From Jihad watch. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is fairly loopy, even for a liberal protestant. In the past he has been inducted as a druid, criticized the US as the “worst” imperialists,  driven his church apart over the ordination of gay bishops, and suggested that sharia law is unavoidable in Britain. There may be some hope for him yet, however, as he has spoken out against the increasing persecution of Christians throughout the Middle East.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s The World at One, Dr Williams said he was “guardedly optimistic” that the political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa would bring greater democracy to the region.

“In the long term, of course, a real participatory democracy in the region is bound to be in the interests of minorities because good democracies look after minorities,” he said.

But in the short term, he warned, people were using the chaos it had brought to attack Christian minorities.

“There is no doubt at all that it is a very anxious time for Christian communities. There have been extremist atrocities already, especially in Egypt,” he said.

“It is a fairly consistent pattern over a number of months. Although at leadership level in the Muslim community in Egypt there is clear condemnation of this, it’s evident that there are other forces at work which of course may not be native Egyptian,” he added.

He suggested outside elements had entered Egypt from “more traditional sites of extremism”, such as Saudi Arabia and northern Sudan, and did not rule out activity by al-Qaeda.

Dr Williams said violent extremism had made life unsustainable for Christians in northern Iraq, in a way that amounted to ethnic cleansing.

“The level of violence has been extreme,” he said.

“More and more there is the talk of an ‘enclave solution’ to the problem in Iraq – that is a sort of safe territory for Christians, which Christians and their leaders don’t particularly want, but many would think is the only practical outcome now.”

He said even in Syria, where Christians and Muslims had long lived together peacefully, tensions were building to breaking point.

Even in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, Christians who had once been in the majority were now a “marginalised minority”, he added.

Of course he still uses the politically correct rhetoric, saying extremists are responsible, rather than even considering the idea that Islam’s sacred scriptures call for Christians and Jews to be persecuted, but one step at a time.

Tax the Rich?

I have been meaning to write a post on why taxing the rich will not get us out of the fiscal mess we are in. Fortunately Alan Reynolds has done the work for me in a piece in the Wall Street  Journal. The interesting thing is that no matter what the actual tax rates are, the amount of revenue that the government receives remains about the same, as you can see in this chart.

Or as Alan Reynolds writes;

All this nostalgia about the good old days of 70% tax rates makes it sound as though only the highest incomes would face higher tax rates. In reality, there were a dozen tax rates between 48% and 70% during the 1970s. Moreover—and this is what Mr. Reich and his friends always fail to mention—the individual income tax actually brought in less revenue when the highest tax rate was 70% to 91% than it did when the highest tax rate was 28%.

There is more worth reading. If I get the time, I should see if I can find the actual government revenue over the years, in dollars adjusted for inflation and compare it to tax rates.

In any event, it should be obvious, but somehow it isn’t, that the problem is not that we are not taxed enough, it is that the government spends too much.