Thursday, September 20, 2012

Romney Is Digging His Own Grave

Looks like Mitt "the Twit" Romney has put his foot in his mouth yet again, this time by insulting nearly half of America, and even has the audacity to defend his remarks rather than apologize.  His secretly recorded comments basically say out loud what most Republicans only think in their heads:

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
This may very well be the quote that sinks Romney in the election this November (hopefully), and Obama is now ahead by 5 points in the polls.   But is what he said actually true?  It is technically true that 46.4% of Americans pay no federal income taxes in 2011.  But this does NOT mean that they pay no taxes at all, and it does NOT mean that they are freeloaders.  Just think state and local income taxes, FICA, sales taxes, excise taxes, property taxes, and the numerous hidden taxes built into the price of virtually everything they buy.  And it's not like most of them are particularly well-off financially; 4 out of 5 of these folks earn less than $30,000 per year.  The rest of his obnoxiously insulting quote is mere opinion rather than fact.  And he conveniently ignores the fact that 2/3 of large corporations paid zero or even negative income taxes, and quite a few millionaires and billionaires also paid zero income taxes.  Also, a disproportionate share of the 47% of Americans that pay no federal income taxes live in red (Republican) states, not blue (Democratic) states.  Romney is clearly entitled to his own opinions, but he is NOT entitled to his own facts.

Romney is clearly digging his own grave.  Time for the voters to push him in there on Election Day.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Billy Joel Was Right

Looks like Billy Joel was right all along.  Working too hard actually can give you a heart attack.

A recent study found that too much work-related stress, especially when workers have little to no control over their stress levels (like retail workers), can raise the risk of a heart attack by 23%.  This risk persisted even after other variables such as lifestyle were controlled for.  While it does not completely prove causation, this study is quite reliable since it combines the results of 13 prospective cohort studies and adjusts for several confounders.  Another recent study found that working more than eight hours a day may raise the risk of heart disease by as much as 40-80%.  Thus, it's really not all that surprising that New York City and its surrounding suburbs have some of the highest death rates from heart disease in the nation, and also that the USA tends to be worse than other developed nations in this regard.

Of course, it's mainly the bottom 99% of Americans that are likely to be affected, but that does not make the top 1% completely immune.  And next time someone claims that raising marginal tax rates or some other policy will cause at least some workers not to work as hard as they otherwise would, remind them of these studies.  The life you save may be your own.