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Miscellany

READ MY LIP SERVICEIn both nominal and inflation-adjusted dollars, taxes are at the highest level in U.S. history. Had nominal tax revenues simply kept pace with inflation, tax collections this year would total only about $802 billion rather than $1.0735 trillion. In other words, actual tax collections outstripped the amount needed to keep pace with …

READ MY LIP SERVICE

In both nominal and inflation-adjusted dollars, taxes are at the highest level in U.S. history. Had nominal tax revenues simply kept pace with inflation, tax collections this year would total only about $802 billion rather than $1.0735 trillion. In other words, actual tax collections outstripped the amount needed to keep pace with inflation by more than $250 billion.

Other measures confirm that the tax burden is at a record high. The Tax Foundation, a Washington-based research organization, each year computes “Tax Freedom Day,” the time of the year that citizens stop working to pay taxes and start earning money to support their families. Tax Freedom Day this year was May 5, the latest it has ever occurred. Put in other terms, the average American works two hours and forty-five minutes out of every eight hour day just to pay taxes. The American people clearly are not undertaxed.

-Daniel J. Mitchell, The Heritage Foundation’s Backgrounder

AT LEAST SHE’S NOT ON A PEDESTAL

Playboy Enterprises Inc. wants men with an eye for women to buy its magazines, not necessarily its shares. The company said last week that the nude form of Willy Rey, the February 1971 Playmate, will no longer appear on its stock certificates. Of Playboy’s 28,000 stockholders, 14,000 had bought just one share. “We were spending about $100,000 annually servicing those shareholders,” said Terri Tomcisin, the manager of corporate communications. The company plans to cash all the single-share owners out. In a recapitalization plan, other investors will be issued new certificates with a female figure-clothed-that looks more statue-like than statuesque.

-The New York Times

COLLECTOR’S ITEMS

Walter Kerr on Hook and Ladder : “It is the sort of play that gives failure a bad name.”

Robert Benchley on Perfectly Scandalous: “It is one of those plays in which all the actors unfortunately enunciated very clearly.”

George S. Kaufman reviewing a comedy: “There was scattered laughter in the rear of the theater, leading to the belief that somebody was telling jokes back there.”

Robert Garland, after seeing Clash by Night, a flop by Clifford Odets, asked in his review about this once powerful playwright: “Odets, where is thy sting?”

Kenneth Tynan on a musical: “It contains a number of those tunes one goes into the theatre humming.”

-Peter Hay, Theatrical Anecdotes

WRETCHED REFUSE U.

Events occurring outside the United States-epitomized by the Statue of Liberty erected by the Chinese students in Tiananmen Square-demonstrate the urgency of our task. The example of the United States is what has most impressed the people who still live or recently have lived under Communist tyrannies and long for liberty.

Our example, though, requires explanations, the kind the Founders gave to the world. And this is where we are failing: the dominant schools in American universities can tell the Chinese students only that they should avoid Eurocentrism, that rationalism has failed, that they should study non-Western cultures, and that bourgeois liberalism is the most despicable of regimes. However, this is not what the Chinese need. They have Deng Xiaoping to deconstruct their Statue of Liberty. We owe them something much better.

-Allan Bloom, Commentary

DON’T BEAM ME ABOARD, SCOTTY

Man is a tribal creature, not a global angel that takes in whole continents at a single glance. Environmental globalism would require a whole new political ethic to guide us in our local and national deliberations.

One model, commonly referred to, is that of Spaceship Earth. Since we are all on this ship together, we have to begin thinking not just of ourselves but of the welfare of the ship, crew, and passengers without whom survival is impossible. But Spaceship Earth is an image, not an ethic. A liberal philosopher once asked me, as we were walking back from a banquet, if I did not believe we were all together on Spaceship Earth. I stepped onto the hotel elevator and explained, “Yes, but my spaceship has compartments and classes made up of families, nations, and interest groups, while on your ship they all fly steerage.”

-Thomas Fleming, Chronicles

HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT CEAUSESCU IS SHOT BUT OLIVER STONE GETS AN ACADEMY AWARD?

Of the impressions I brought back after traveling to Romania as an election observer, the strongest was that the revolution begun there last December was not yet over; nor would it be, until the crowds in Timisoara and in Bucharest‘s University Square said it was over.

“Here,” said a young election official, pointing to a copy of the U.S. Constitution translated into Romanian. “This is our guide.” Then, in one of those goosebump-producing lines that Oliver Stone would swear had been programmed by the CIA (or written on cue cards for Ronald Reagan), he added: “America is the beacon of freedom for the world.”

-Victor Gold, The American Spectator

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