If I get a raise, taxes will mean I'll take less home.
Here's a really common one you hear this time of year, often in the form of a comment like this: "I hope my new raise didn't bump me up in the next tax bracket, as the government will just be taking more of my money."
The gist of this one is a very persistent belief that once you go up a tax bracket, your entire income is taxed at that higher rate. No, it isn't. With our graduated tax system, only the income over each step in the bracket is taxed at that rate. Income wise, it is always, always, always, better to make more income, no matter what tax bracket you jump up into. It is never the case that the government will take more of your actual gross because your net increased.
People like this idea so much they just cannot be convinced otherwise, but the truth of the matter is that only the dollars in each income tax bracket are taxed at that rate. Everyone, absolutely everyone, who pays taxes pays starting off at the lowest rate. Everybody. And only the dollars that jump up into the next bracket are taxed at that next higher rate.
The First Amendment Protects All Speech
Another one is that when a private journal of any kind, say a newspaper, radio, etc., chooses not to broadcast or publish something, it's interfering with "your right to free speech." There's no absolute right to say anything you want. Rather, the government can't stop your from saying what you want. Regular people don't have to put up with whatever you're saying, and if they choose to shut you up, that's their right.
What the First Amendment actually states is:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.That's a pretty simple text. Congress can't pass a law abridging the freedom of speech. By extension, the states can't either. But the newspaper isn't the government, and it can sure choose to ignore you.
I recently ran into this in the context of a private organization in which one vocal dissenter felt that that his failure to get his way from the organizations board violated his freedom of speech. Nope. A private board is perfectly free to completely ignore you.
The Canadians have never fought a war.
Here's a really weird, but very common, one. There's a sense in the United States that Canada has never been in a war. A few years back a junior high middle school teacher actually lectured a class my son was in to that effect.
Well, guess again. Canada fought in the War of 1812, and in its view, probably correctly, it beat the stuffing out of the US in it. Canadian militia pretty much wiped up on American troops in the War of 1812, to be followed by the British landing in the US itself and beating the tar out of us, which relates to another myth below.
Canada also fought some Indian campaigns, just not as many as we did. And it also occasionally had to repel Irish rebels who somehow thought that launching an invasion from the US into Canada would achieve something.
And Canada fought in the Boer War. And Canadians bleed in vast numbers in World War One and World War Two. And Canada fought in the Korean War as well.
What Canada did not do is fight in the Vietnam War. Because the Canadian government at the time was sympathetic, for some reason, with American draft evaders in that period they myth seems to have been created that Canada is a pacifist nation. It isn't. Indeed, Canada has been fighting with us in Afghanistan.
"Surrender" is a French word.
This rumor is even nastier than the idea that Canada is a pacifist nation. It's common in the US to accuse the French of being cowardly.
This rumor seems to have come out of the French defeat at the start of World War Two, but it oddly hasn't attached to any of the other nations that Germany ran over at the start of the war. And it shouldn't even apply to France. The French were defeated on the battlefield in 1940 and the government did surrender, but it was being overrun and simply being realistic. Even at that, however, French troops kept fighting where engaged in order to allow the British to evacuate the continent, a valiant act. A sizable number of French troops never surrendered and effectively disobeyed a legitimate order of their country to keep on fighting. When the opportunity came in 1943, the French armed forces were pretty quick to get back into the war against the Germans even though it was technically an act of rebellion.
At any rate, accusing the French of cowardice ignores the fact that the French nation bled itself white in the Napoleonic Wars. I don't admire Napoleon, but like him or hate him, the French troops of that period, which made up in some ways one of the first modern armies, sure weren't cowards. They died in such numbers that nearly entire army died in Napoleon's service.
And the French fought hard, if to defeat, in the Franco-Prussian War. They fought extremely hard in World War One. After World War Two they put up a real fight in Indo China and Algeria, and they've fought with us in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. They fought with the British and Israelis in the Suez incident. And they've been involved in third world fights, mostly in their former colonies, to an extent we can hardly appreciate. The French have conducted over 200 combat air jumps since World War Two. We've conducted less than twenty.
The United States has never lost a war.
This may be a matter of perception, but I'll occasionally here that the Untied States has never lost a war.
Arguably, we lost the War of 1812. We may pretend otherwise, but basically the Canadian militia wiped up with us in Canada, and the British pasted us everywhere else. The war basically ended when the British defeated the French in Europe, and then dictated to us what the peace would be. We were allowed to enter into the peace or suffer the consequences. We did.
The US also lost Red Cloud's War. This may be a minor matter in the overall scheme of things, but still, we lost. Red Cloud's Sioux won.
We also lost the Vietnam War and there's no reason to pretend otherwise. This isn't a simple story, in my view, and it is true that militarily we won. We were not defeated on the battlefield, but the American populace grew tired of the war and in 1975 when the North invaded for the second time in the 1970s, we threw South under the bus.
If viewed as a campaign in the Cold War, however, which is how I feel the war is more properly viewed (and I'll blog on that in future) the result is a bit different.
You have a right to act like a member of the James Gang on your own property.
One I occasionally run into is the concept that a person has the right to shoot somebody on their land, if they're there without invitation. No, there is no such right. Never.