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Smart Things From the Web

     * "Blogging is a pie eating contest in which the prize is: more pie." (Via Scott Greenfield.)  Years ago Norm Pattis and I were in the zone, and had incredible readership at Crime & Federalism.  Modesty aside, the blog was hot.  Got too hot, and that's actually what burned us both out.  People wanted a piece of you.  They wanted links.  People would get angry when they'd post a comment that we wouldn't reply to.  (Comments are for you, not me, and thus I generally don't respond to them.  My turf is the post, and yours is the comments.)  

People who had never done anything for you - and never would - would send you repeated e-mails asking why you haven't linked to their site.  It really made me hate people more than I already did.  If you think a link from me is so valuable, why not offer me a bottle of wine or something as thanks?  Or add me to your site, and throw some traffic my way?  Entitlement is not simply an issue of younger lawyers, as older - Boomer-age - lawyers were the worst offenders.  

Some people got off on that kind of attention.  I hated it, and even today don't blog using my last name.  Indeed, Norm and I were talking about Glenn Beck.  When I said, "He might be the only man I am jealous of.  I could do that, and thus should making that money!"  His question stopped me, "Then what's stopping you?"  Truth is, I would not want to be the next Glenn Beck.  The neediness of an audience his size would suck out my soul - which no amount of money can replace. 

As with most talks with Norm, it was a valuable reminder of philosophical first truths.  When we speak of envy, we look only at what the person has - and never at what the person gives up.  A circumspect understanding of envy demands that we look at what the person gave up to make their money.  The closer I get to people with money, the less regret I have for choosing to not seek money over all other things. 

     * Mickey Sherman is financially ruined.  We had a particularly smug classmate who failed the bar exam.  Pupils dilated when, upon hearing the news, I said, "Good.  He's a fucking prick and I hope his life is miserable."  People who thought I was some sort of sadist, replied, "I wouldn't wish failing the bar exam on anyone."  Why not?

Do you want people going around hurting others?  Why?  You say that only "God" can judge, but when you yourself refuse to abide someone, have you not made a judgement about the person?  

When bad things happen to bad people, that's pleasing to me.  I'm so sick of pretending that every bad thing that happens to a person is some sort of tragedy.  Michael Skakkel is in prison for the rest of his life because Sherman was too busy being a celebrity to defend his client.  Sherman took millions from the Kennedy family to defend a case.  Then he passed the leg work off to a couple of 20-something lawyers.  Instead of lawyering, Sherman was riding in limousines to TV interviews.  

Tonight, some kid is getting raped in a foster home.  Some kid who never did anything to anyone.  That's the kid's life.  When bad things happen to the good - which is just another way of saying, innocent - then we should respond with feeling.  When bad things happen to the guilty, why care?  

I honestly hope that Sherman's convictions for tax evasion cost him a chance at taking over Larry King Live.  When you take millions from someone to do a job, and then refuse to do the job, why should we pretend that there is no karmic debt on the ledger?

When bad things happen to good people, the universe if off balance.  When, however, bad things happen to bad people, we should take pleasure in the rare spiritual equilibrium.  

     * Are there "bad" books?  Norm Pattis thinks not: "There are no such things as bad books. But there are bad men."  Yes, there are bad men, but how are bad men created?

The Budda taught, "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world."  America's greatest thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson, noted: "Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day."  Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius observed: "The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it."  

Books seed thoughts.  Thought precedes action, and so negative thoughts lead to negative action.  Thus, some books are indeed bad.  

Those who disagree could perform this thought experiment: Read Meditations every night before bed.  See if you're not calmer after 30 days.  Pick up some Arthur Schopenhauer, and see if don't become something of an asshole.  Think of anyone you know who is really into Nietzsche or Any Rand.  While correlation doesn't prove causation, when 100% of people who read certain authors are mother fuckers, the duty shifts to you to provide an alternative explanation.  

Of course, this divergent view is moot.  While knowing there are bad books, I also know not to trust Connecticut prison guards to identify those books.  And thus like most things in life, it's a disagreement without a difference.

     * More on the AIG Bailouts.  Every article about these bailouts is pretty infuriating.  They all point to the same law - which is no longer a hypothesis or even theory, but the First Law of the Bailouts: The government elevated the interests of Goldman Sachs over the rest of the American public's.  I challenge anyone to point out evidence that contradicts that theory. 

Banks Launder Drug Money; Prosecutors Shrug

Months ago, a criminal defense attorney was criminally prosecuted for laundering money because he accepted legal fees from an accused drug dealer.  He was acquitted of all charges, but he lost years of his life and $500,000 in legal fees.  What would have happened to this lawyer if he had been a big bank?

In a punchline that is getting so old that it's banal, the answer is, of course: "Nothing." (Hat tip.)  The United States Department of Justice has given Wall Street a license to do business with drug dealers.  Banks may, without any meaningful consequences, launder drug money.

Here is one example: 

Just before sunset on April 10, 2006, a DC-9 jet landed at the international airport in the port city of Ciudad del Carmen, 500 miles east of Mexico City. The smugglers had bought the DC-9 with laundered funds they transferred through two of the biggest banks in the U.S.: Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp.

Hundreds of people have been murdered in Arizona drug lord wars.  Americans are dying because Mexican drug lords are able to move their money to arms dealers.  Wells Fargo is thus responsible for the death of thousands of innocent people.

What consequences follow blatant criminal conduct?

No big U.S. bank -- Wells Fargo included -- has ever been indicted for violating the Bank Secrecy Act or any other federal law. Instead, the Justice Department settles criminal charges by using deferred-prosecution agreements, in which a bank pays a fine and promises not to break the law again.

Wall Street is above the law in every way.  At this point, the social contract has been breached.  Wall Street may steal from Americans and conspire with drug dealers.  How many Arizonans have lost their lives recently from guns that Wells Fargo helped the drug cartels purchase?

Whether it is ethical to take self-help and other corrective measures on banks is no longer the stuff of undergraduate conversations over too much coffee.  The law does not apply to Wall Street, and this means that the laws need not be obeyed when dealing with Wall Street.  Of course breaking a law has legal consequences, but of course were are merely talking philosophy.  As a matter of first principles, Wall Street banks and bankers are not entitled to the protection of the social contract.

No rules of ethics applies to any banks.  It is now impossible, as a matter of logic, to "cheat" or "steal" from a bank.  You simply cannot  steal from a thief.  Self-help means taking back what is yours.  You cannot "attack "a bank, since defending one's self from those who would arm drug dealers is self-defense.

 The social contract is the basis of the American government.  A contract implies rights and obligations.  When one refuses to abide his obligations, he has breached the contract and therefore is entitled to no rights under the contract.  

Bankers are stealing from you and arming drug dealers.  They deserve whatever happens to them.  If this means people like Joe Stacks act out against banks, then no one can morally condemn him.  Yes, he can be prosecuted legally.  A jury, however, should exercise its constitutional and historical prerogative by voting not guilty in any prosecution involving "misconduct" against a bank.  

Indeed, the only interesting philosophical question is - ala the grand philosophical tradition of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Henry David Thoreau, and Marting Luther King, Jr. - what "civil disobedience" means in a post-bailout world.

Wall Street has decided that the law does not apply to it.  Wall Street should therefore get what it has asked for.  May its future be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Do Women Believes in the Illuminati?

A fantastic post at The Last Psychiatrist.  By analyzing a claim ("Women are more prone to paranormal thinking than men"), he reveals why almost all social science is a sham.  He also reveals the insidigous practice of arguing false inferences - which based on recent comments at this site, seems to be something many people don't understand.

As the the claim about women and their superstitious, yes, women do read their horoscopes.  I've never met a woman into the conspiracy theory movement, however.  Nor have I heard a woman talk about reptilian overlords who operate the World Banking System through their Illuminati intermediaries at Goldman Sachs.

The major difference between male and female paranormal thinking is that men dress their paranormal views up in pseduo-science.  Aliens could - as a matter of scientific fact - exist.  Therefore, aliens control every action on planet Earth, and it's only a matter of time before they appear to us.  

Either way, we end up with nonsense that does nothing to advance the humanity condition, or to help people find meaning in existence.  Blaming aliens or the planets for whatever problems one finds in life simply leads to frustration and futility.

Much of life is random and outside of one's control.  That is an unsatisfactory answer.  And so men and women are equally motivated to find an explanation.  In both cases, the answers are wrong.

Freedom is Just Another Word For...

Washington's Blog (where the below post originally appeared) wonders whether the people are "waking up."  Yes, and no.

For years, people have realized that a power elite controlled society.  People were always awake.  However, most Americans were able to live a middle class lifestyle, and thus had no incentive to storm Wall Street.  People had too much to lose.

I've been talking to more people who have lost - or are teetering on losing - everything.  Unlike in Russia where the oligarchs were able to pillage an unarmed population of peasants, Americans have guns. 

What are tens-of-millions of armed Americans who have no jobs and no hope going to do once Wall Street starts paying our billions in bonuses again?  Hopefully Americans do the right thing.  

The Powers-That-Be Are Terrified of the Mass Awakening Taking Place Worldwide

Our situation is admittedly dire.

Oligarchs are seizing more overt control in most countries in the world, the worldwide economy is on course for another - even bigger - train wreck, countries are cracking down on freedom and becoming more tyrannical, we are in apermanent state of war (and see this), and companies like BP are destroying our natural resources without any checks and balances.

But as Andrew Gavin Marshall points out, the elites are actually terrified of the mass political awakening which is occurring worldwide.

Marshall collects quotes from flexian Zbigniew Brzezinski - Obama's former foreign affairs adviser, National Security Adviser to President Carter, creator of America's strategy to lure Russia into Afghanistan, and creator of America's plans for Eurasiain general - to make his point.

Listen to Brzezinski's own words (consolidated from various writings and speeches, and edited as if they were a single passage):

For the first time in history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.

For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. There are only a few pockets of humanity left in the remotest corners of the world that are not politically alert and engaged with the political turmoil and stirrings that are so widespread today around the world. The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination.

America needs to face squarely a centrally important new global reality: that the world's population is experiencing a political awakening unprecedented in scope and intensity, with the result that the politics of populism are transforming the politics of power. The need to respond to that massive phenomenon poses to the uniquely sovereign America an historic dilemma: What should be the central definition of America's global role?

[T]he central challenge of our time is posed not by global terrorism, but rather by the intensifying turbulence caused by the phenomenon of global political awakening. That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing.

It is no overstatement to assert that now in the 21st century the population of much of the developing world is politically stirring and in many places seething with unrest. It is a population acutely conscious of social injustice to an unprecedented degree, and often resentful of its perceived lack of political dignity. The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches.

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well. With the exception of Europe, Japan and America, the rapidly expanding demographic bulge in the 25-year-old-and-under age bracket is creating a huge mass of impatient young people. Their minds have been stirred by sounds and images that emanate from afar and which intensify their disaffection with what is at hand. Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious "tertiary level" educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million "college" students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred.

Politically awakened mankind craves political dignity, which democracy can enhance, but political dignity also encompasses ethnic or national self-determination, religious self-definition, and human and social rights, all in a world now acutely aware of economic, racial and ethnic inequities. The quest for political dignity, especially through national self-determination and social transformation, is part of the pulse of self-assertion by the world's underprivileged

The misdiagnosis [of foreign policy] pertains to a relatively vague, excessively abstract, highly emotional, semi-theological definition of the chief menace that we face today in the world, and the consequent slighting of what I view as the unprecedented global challenge arising out of the unique phenomenon of a truly massive global political awakening of mankind. We live in an age in which mankind writ large is becoming politically conscious and politically activated to an unprecedented degree, and it is this condition which is producing a great deal of international turmoil.

That turmoil is the product of the political awakening, the fact that today vast masses of the world are not politically neutered, as they have been throughout history. They have political consciousness. It may be undefined, it may point in different directions, it may be primitive, it may be intolerant, it may be hateful, but it is a form of political activism.

The other major change in international affairs is that for the first time, in all of human history, mankind has been politically awakened. That is a total new reality – total new reality. It has not been so for most of human history until the last one hundred years. And in the course of the last one hundred years, the whole world has become politically awakened. And no matter where you go, politics is a matter of social engagement, and most people know what is generally going on –generally going on – in the world, and are consciously aware of global inequities, inequalities, lack of respect, exploitation. Mankind is now politically awakened and stirring. The combination of the two: the diversified global leadership, politically awakened masses, makes a much more difficult context for any major power including, currently, the leading world power: the United States.
The people of the world are waking up to the reality of what is happening. If we wake up fast enough, we can reclaim our power and dignity, and shake off those who would steal everything we have, including our money, opportunity and freedom.

To see the context of Brzezinski 's quotes - and for a great analysis of the ways in which the powers-that-be are trying to counter the mass awakening, readMarshall's essay.

Is the United States a Police State?

As we slaves all learned during our compulsory education (skipping school is an arrestable offense), there are three branches of government - the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  You all voted for Obama.  How did that work out?

Wall Street bought Congress.  The "reform" of Wall Street is anything but.  Bank stocks sky-rocketed today after news of the final "reform" bill.  Nothing will change.  Wall Street will continue raping the public.  In November, when Republicans take office, nothing will change.  Indeed, it was Republicans who fought back a measure that would have required hedge fund managers to pay the same income tax rate as every other small-business owner.

What about the courts?  For that, ask lawyers who work in the trenches.  Lawyers regularly advise clients to plead guilty to crimes they are innocent of, and to not sue government officials who violate their rights.  It is not that lawyers are afraid of a fight, or do not understand the injustices individual Americans face.  Rather, the lawyers understand the system all too well.  The system is stacked against regular Americans.

If you're Goldman Sachs, the government will not indict you for manipulating the stock market.  If you're a guy who allegedly stole a few pieces of software code from Goldman Sachs, you'll be arrested within 48 hours of the theft.  Where as you and I would be told to civilly sue an employee who stole trade secrets, the United States Department of Justice has given Goldman Sachs a direct line. 

Thus, the legal system is not available to most Americans:  

What’s key to the definition of a police-state is the lack of redress: If there is no justice system which can compel the state to cede to the citizenry, then there is a police-state. If there exists apro forma justice system, but which in practice is unavailable to the ordinary citizen because of systemic obstacles (for instance, cost or bureaucratic hindrance), or which against all logic or reason consistently finds in favor of the state—even in the most egregious and obviously contradictory cases—then that pro forma judiciary system is nothing but a sham: A tool of the state’s repression against its citizens. Consider the Soviet court system the classic example.

Those of you who think you have rights should call some Section 1983/civil rights lawyers for a lecture on qualified immunity.  Yes, we have a legal system.  Yes, we can sue in court for the violation of our constitutional rights.  Just as in the Soviet Union, we will almost always lose these cases.

There is thus no question that we live in a fascist regime.  You are "free" today, not because the legal system protects you.  You are "free" because of luck and inattention from the powers that be.

If a cop Tasered you, or tossed some drugs in your car, you'd learn right-quick-like that you have no rights. You have no power.  You are free only because you haven't yet been slaughtered.  

Some might say, "But Mike, you are able to write such posts at these.  Clearly, then, you have rights!"  I have not been slaughtered not because I am free, but because I am not a threat.  Were I able to lead lynch mobs to the headquarters of Goldman Sachs, my freedom's illusoriness would be revealed to you, too.

I have no delusions.  I am a slave.  The only question is how much longer I'll be a good slave.

Dave Weigel: Another Fraud Out of a Job

The greatest advantage to unplugging from the media's Cult of Personality is vantage: You see what others do not see.  If your television, computer, or other entertainment device does not tell you someone is noble, you may conclude conduct that the person is ignoble.  And so two weeks ago I first learned about the fraudulent Dave Weigel.

Apparently Weigel was someone important.  Who knew?  Certainly not me.  All I did know was this: On June 14, 2010 a video of Congressman Bob Etheridge assaulting a college student surfaced.  Regardless of political leanings, everyone in the legal blogosphere recognized the video as a criminal assault.  (The video follows this post, in case you haven't seen it.)

Someone named Dave Weigel, commenting on the Washington Post's website, wrote about the assault.  From the headline, we saw this amazing spin: "Who TMZ'd Rep. Bob Etheridge?"  

TMZ is apparently some pop-culture company that ambushes celebrities who forget to cross their legs when going commando.  What relevance TMZ had to two college students asking an elected representative a question escaped me.  

The post's title forshawowed this characterization:

"Who are you?" asked Etheridge, grabbing one of the cameras and pointing it down -- a move more typically seen from Hollywood bodyguards than congressmen. The second camera rolled as Etheridge, irritated, held the wrist of the first cameraman, then pulled the student to his side and grabbed him in a hug.

A hug?  None of my many dear, liberal friends viewed the assault as a "hug."  We disagree about many things - guns, welfare, illegal immigration.  When someone lays hands on you after you've told them, "Stop," it's not a hug.

Weigel then moved on to a classic and classic blame-the-victim narrative:  

So who are the students? I don't know. The National Republican Congressional Committee tells me they didn't send them, and "DCCameraGuy" has yet to respond to my e-mail. But without any name or organizational support, just by riling up a member of Congress, the students have created the first conservative meme of the week. 

Worst case, the college students were evil operatives for the Republican National Convention.  Even so: By what right does a Congressman lay hands on them?  By what right does a Congressman refuse to stop when he's been told to stop?  Of what relevance is the students' identities?   

Now I really wanted to know who this guy was.  Why did someone so moronic have a column at the Washington Post?  What I learned shocked me.

Dave Weigel was hired to bring ideological balance to the Washington Post.  His job was to write conservative-friendly copy.  Dave Weigel received his job by claiming to be a conservative.

Today he was fired.  Unlike me, people decided to look beyond Weigel's pro-assault spin piece.  Their research revealed:

  • He was a member of a liberal-only journalist's list-serve.  (Conservatives were specifically excluded from the list-serve.)
  • He supported Barack Obama's healthcare reform.
  • He voted for Barack Obama for President.
  • He referred to supporters of Congressman Ron Paul as "Paultards."
  • He claimed that most all conservatives were racist, and those who weren't racist nevertheless were blinded by their white privilege.

I've met conservatives, and Dave Weigel is no conservative.

Hedge Fund Managers to Keep 15% Income Tax Rate

As most Americans do not know - because if Americans did not know, there would be lynch mobs - hedge fund managers pay only 15% in income taxes.  For once, Democrats wanted to buck Wall Street by requiring hedge fund managers to pay the same income tax rate that other Americans pay.  Republicans fought boldly for Wall Street: 

Senate Democratic leaders gave up trying to push through a spending bill that would have taxed much of the carried interest earned by VCs and other investors as ordinary income instead of capital gains. After failing for a third time to secure the required 60 votes to shut down a Republican-led filibuster, Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would move on to other business.

Would my wonderful Republican friends please explain to me why November should be so exciting for America?

Can a Matriarchy Be a World Superpower?

It is now beyond debate that the culture has shifted.  It is - or will soon be - a woman's world.  Women earn 3 college degrees for every 2 that men earn.  Women are overrepresented in managerial capacities.  Women have taken over.  

It's also the case that maleness has totally declined.  Seventy-five percent of Americans are not qualified to enlist in the United States Armed Forces.  Men are either too fat or too stupid to become battle worthy.  Men are now gelatinous, androgynous blobs.  Poke your finger into a Twinkie, and therein is the average American male - in mind, body, and spirit.

This is all fascinating to watch, and I am enjoying the show.  I don't think the outcome is going to be what "feminists" hope it will be.  There has never been a matriarchal superpower.  Indeed, the super power that it the United States was built by patriarchy.  Rome itself fell because men were no longer men.

 As someone who is bothered by human suffering, the decline and fall of men is troubling.  Without men guiding children, criminality increases.  A child born to a single mother has a 25% chance of going to prison.  Fewer involved men means more rapists, burglars, and murderers.  More criminals means more victims - which means everybody hurts.

Given that women are, on average, physically weaker than men: It's hard to see how they're going to win wars without troops, and survive walking the streets without alpha males willing to protect them.  Among alpha males, chivalry is dead.  If beta males are chivalrous, so what?  Even if beta males had the courage to pull a rapist off of his victim, would he have the fortitude?  Considering that the beta male wouldn't even be physically fit enough to join the U.S. Army, it's hard to imagine his stopping a wolf pack.

Society needs men willing to die for the greater good.  Most men look around, and see nothing good about the greater.  And so they ask: Why die for this?  I for one have no interest in dying for this country.  Do you?

As someone who can survive equally well as a librarian or warlord, the new America could be fun.  If society completely decays, I'll be driven around in an armored Jeep with my machete, assault rifle, and attack dogs.  I'd prefer living in a civilized world, but anarchy has its own appeal.

The most-likely future, it seems, will be totalitarianism.  By biological reality, women cannot protect themselves from  men.  Someone is going to have to protect women.  This means a much larger government.  

Indeed, look at the criminal code.  As women grow in power, so does the criminal code grow in size.  Show me a law enacted after mass hysteria, and I'll show you a group of women.  Soon enough, everything will be a crime.

Of course, that government will need jack-booted thugs to enforce its laws - which means, men.  And so women will not be in charge for long.  Why serve in the female queendom when you can become king?  Eventually the male thugs will rise to power, overthrow their female overlords, and oppress men and women alike.

All of this could have been prevented.  A rational view on the genders should yield one to see cooperation rather than competition.  Men and women have different - but equally necessary - skills.  Society needs both genders.

Women swelled with power but not magnanimity.  They've created a society oppressive to men.  Soon enough, we will see the end - or all-too-frighteningly likely - The End.

Hedge Fund Managers Pay Only A 15% Income Tax

If you're a lawyer, doctor, or small businessperson who had a really good year, you'll pay a 35% income tax on your income.  If you manage a hedge fun, you'll pay 15% on your income.  That's not a typo.  How can this be?

Hedge fund managers are paid on the 2-and-20 principle: They get 2% of the value of the hedge fund as compensation, no matter what.  They also get 20% of any profits the hedge fund makes.  For example:

  1. Hedge Fund A is valued at $10 billion in Dec. 2009.
  2. Hedge Fund Manager receives $200 million just for showing up to work.
  3. Hedge Fund A is valued at $12 billion in Dec. 2010.
  4. Hedge Fund Manager receives $400 million as a management fee.

The hedge fund manager will pay a 15% tax on his fees because a tax loophole holds that hedge fund compensation is treated as long-term capital gains.  This makes no sense, since hedge fund managers are being paid a fee for their work.  They are not investing their own money into the hedge fund.  Instead, they are being paid a fee to manage the fund.

This tax loophole is so outrageous and illogical that I've stopped bringing it up at dinner parties.  People don't believe me.  Yet power is not concerned with what is logical.  Power is concerned with what can be done.  "Do what thou wilt," is the first principle of Satanism.  And so hedge fund managers pay a 15% income tax rate.

There is no logical reason to treat hedge fund management fees different from other professional services fees.  Yet the loophole persists, and anyone who argues that Wall Street doesn't Congress should spend a few minutes explaining why hedge fund managers pay a lower income tax rate than other professionals.

Democrats want to reform the tax code, but Republicans are opposing it.  Senator Orrin Hatch claimed “Some others aren’t doing as well as they should and others are doing well. And one reason they can survive is if we don’t raise taxes."  

Hedge funds made record profits last year.  There is a reason - taxpayers.  Had Wall Street not been bailed out, nearly every hedge fund would have gone out of business.  

Unless you have a net worth of $1.5 million, you can't even invest in a hedge fund.  If you have a 401(k), you invest in mutual funds.  A mutual fund is not a hedge fund.

Hedge funds profit by exploiting mutual funds.  The rich get richer by sniping your less-connected and less-sophisticated fund managers.  If the guys managing your money at Vanguard could get a job in a Connecticut hedge fund, they wouldn't be at Vanguard.  To get a job in Connecticut, though, you need to have connections and a lack of morals.  You must be able to obtain insider information - and have no moral scruples against violating the law by trading on it.  Do as thou wilt.

Thus, most Americans would be better off if hedge funds failed.  Hedge funds manipulate the stock markets, trade on insider information, and rob 99% Americans.  They should should be prosecuted out of business.  

Whatever the merits of hedge funds (there are none), hedge fund managers are earning money only because of the bailouts.  How can those who have taken so much give back so little.

People complain about taxes, but paying 35% in income taxes is a nice problem to have.  I'd rather pay 35% of 100,000 than 10% of 50,000.  Wouldn't you?  

When 100% of your income resulted from government hand-outs, keeping giving back just over one-third seems like the right thing to do.

Nevertheless, it's unlikely that the tax loophole will be closed.  Republicans, the party of Jesus Christ, have rewritten the Gospels: Little will be required from everyone to whom much has been given.