Monday, August 30, 2010

Stuff that worries me today

Stuff worries me from time to time, and I wish those worries were unfounded.  But, unfortunately, those worries turn out to be well founded, more often than not.
For example, back when the TARP bailout was being considered I was worried not about the need for a bailout--I thought it was, indeed, necessary--but the administration of the funds and the likelihood of ever getting those funds back.  Turns out the administration was flawed (but probably the least bad way of recapitalizing the banks, a problem that probably couldn't be avoided) and we're probably not ever going to get that money back.
"But all the funds are being repaid, with a tidy profit!!!"

Yea, that's not what I was concerned about.  The concern was the resetting of the budget baseline by nearly a trillion bones rather than a temporary inflation of the budget line.  We drop $700 or $800 trillion into the banks, the funds go straight to the deficit, and when the money starts getting repaid the repayments get diverted to whatever stupid shit the Pelosi/Reid/Obama triumvirate decide is a good thing to waste our money on.  That's not to say that a republican administration and congress wouldn't do the same, but it is to say that the hard left gang that we have running things today is the gang that set the baseline.  As angry as we rightfully were at the fringe management on the right is as angry as we are at this fringe management on the left, and neither are particularly good for the country or the economy.
And if you look at the numbers, we've gone from a $3.8 trillion budget baseline to a $4.5 trillion budget baseline in just about 3 years.  And nobody--and I mean NOBODY--is talking about walking that spending back below $4 trillion.  Nobody.  Tax cuts aren't the problem, spending is.  And no amount of jacking taxes is going to get that spending under control unless actual cuts in the baseline are made.  But just as the Rs tried to starve social security to force a "reform" that allowed partial privatization of social security, the Ds are trying to inflate spending to force an increase in taxes so that they can boost government influence and control to more effectively redistribute wealth.  Bah to them both.

But what worries me today is the growing pool of ignorance.  It seems to be a bit of a backlash against the pointy headed elitists of the political class, but it also seems to have gone much, much farther.  One particular supporter of the President (and vehement opponent of his predecessor) was insisting to me that he was qualified to be President because he went to an Ivy league school, and Palin was unqualified to be Vice President because she did not.
"But...  uh...  well, he's never held any executive office, ever.  Hell, he's never even won a contested election."
"That doesn't matter.  He's certainly capable of handling the decision making."
"Ok, what about Bush, then?  He graduated Ivy league."
"Well, that's different."

Ok, fine.  You don't like Palin or Bush and you're a blind ideologue.   But she wasn't running for President (and a thousand questions STILL surround WHY she was picked as VP).

So, fine.  There's an elitist cult of personality that surrounds the left.  Education has replaced qualification on their ledger books.  But does that mean that the lack thereof should amount to qualification for the right?  Should you pin your hopes on people that insist the opponent is unrepresentative because he READS them BOOKS and has been to one of them FURRIN' COUNTRIES with all the BROWN PEOPLE in it?!?  People, puh-lease.

I'm a big fan of insisting that qualification not be replaced with credentials.  But I'm no big fan of "salt of the earth" ignorance taking the place of good, old fashioned, common sense.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Enough is enough

Ok, I've just about had it.
The quantity of intellectual dishonesty coming from Washington (from both sides of the aisle) and their stooges in the media (on both sides of the ideological spectrum) is pretty pathetic.

Increasing taxes on the last $100 million that a person makes will not damage the economy.

Tax cuts are not expenses and do not "cost" the federal government anything.

Tax cuts did not cause the $1.5 trillion budget deficit we have now.

Modest tax increases alone will not solve the budget deficit problem we have now.

First things first...
When a person gets paid, they either subconsciously or consciously go through a process of prioritizing their expenses.  Food, shelter, transportation and other basics come first, then come the "luxuries".  Sometimes people get their priorities screwed up and pay phone bills or more destructive bills (drugs or other addictions) before food, shelter, and transportation, and that's when problems start.  But that's another discussion entirely.  But for the most part, the first dollars in the door go to basics for survival, the last dollars in the door go to luxuries.  The current income tax is graduated so that the first dollars in the door are taxed the least, while the last dollars in the door are taxed the most.  Raising taxes on incomes above $100,000 or $250,000 will not raise taxes on the income used to buy diapers, milk, rent, rice, beans, bread, or gas.  Why?  Because the first $25k or so is used to buy that stuff.  The income over $100k is used for the premium gas, or the fancy bread, or the dinners out, or the nanny to change the diapers.  Does that mean the last dollars should be confiscated by the feds because it's only used for luxuries?  No.  And that's stupid.  But it brings us to the second point...

Income tax revenues are not the possession of the federal government.  Income tax revenues are monies earned by the individual citizens (and corporations) that the federal government has a constitutionally protected right to make a claim on within the limits of the law.  But UNTIL that law is passed and signed, the funds DO NOT belong to the federal government.  Therefore, cutting taxes doesn't cost the federal government anything.  The only entity that bears a cost with regards to taxes are the taxpayers.  Taxes either increase THEIR cost, or reduce THEIR cost, but reducing taxes never, ever costs the federal government anything.  To say as much is completely dishonest.
Now, granted, taxes affect the revenue level and funding of the federal government.  And cutting taxes, or refusing to raise taxes, does either reduce (in the short term) or prevents the increasing of revenues.  But that is a very, very different thing from "costing" the federal government money.  The inability to collect taxes that have been rightfully levied costs the federal government money.  The expense involved in collecting taxes costs the federal government money.  But allowing me to keep the money I rightfully earned doesn't cost the federal government anything, unless the attitude is taken that those funds BELONG to the federal government.  The fact is that the money does not belong to the feds, and therefore not increasing taxes, or cutting them entirely, does not cost the feds anything.

Much has been said about the fiscal irresponsibility of cutting taxes and how they caused the current deficit.  Well, they didn't.  The best estimates I've read are that the tax cuts way back when reduced revenues by about $300 billion.  The current deficit is $1.5 trillion, or $1,500 billion.  $300 is a long ways from $1,500.  What did cause the $1.5 trillion deficit?  The federal budget went from $2.0 trillion in expenditures for the budget submitted in 2001 to $3.1 trillion for the budget submitted in 2008.  The budget submitted in 2009?  $3.6 trillion.  That's a pretty big jump in just one year, with no expected increase in revenue.  Hey, come to think of it, I think I just found a way to trim a half trillion from our deficit.  But that won't solve the whole problem.

What will?

Well, there was the bank bailout of $700 billion on top of a deficit that was already about $400 billion (caused by unfunded wars, at least partially by refusal to cut spending in line with reduction in revenues caused by tax cuts, and mostly by a reduction in revenues from a big, honkin' recession) back in 2008 (2008-2009 fiscal year).  Then in 2009-2010 there was a stimulus of $800 billion with a $600 billion "place holder" for health care reform (remember that?) that didn't buy us anything except for a larger deficit and a permanent inflation of the budget.  Actually, I think I just balanced the budget without a tax increase.  See, it's not that hard.  But then again, I'm not a fucking moron who managed to get elected to office so that we can treat the tax payers like the idiots we apparently are for electing these fucking morons to office in the first place.

Here's an idea:  balance the budget by cutting spending, then reform the tax code to put more of the revenue burden on the people you REALLY represent--that is the lobbyists, corporations, and financiers of your campaign troughs--and stay the hell out of my life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

mockery of a sham of a travesty...

Amendment 1 to the Constitution of the United States of America:  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 is the high law of the land.  Congress shall make no law.  This has been enforced to the point where we don't have Christmas parties at the White House because to do so would suggest an endorsement of Christianity by the federal government (it doesn't, but that's another issue).  We take the right to freely express our religious beliefs seriously.

Well, at least we say we do.

And some people will even go to court to ensure that you don't foist your Christianity on them with a dastardly, vile wish of "merry Christmas".  

But if you want to build a mosque on so called "hallowed ground", well...

Well, yes, even that is protected by the first amendment.  And rightfully so.  CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW...  PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF...  It doesn't say "Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religions we deem acceptable within a given radius of some place".  That's asinine and completely ridiculous.  Besides, we don't want to give the federal government that much power.

Of course, the first amendment doesn't say anything about land use ordinances, zoning rules, or any other sort of community standard.  That said, establishing zoning rules that specifically excludes mosques is also pretty asinine and a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.  No, to do that you'll have to exclude ALL places of worship, and some could fairly argue that would include any and all shrines or monuments at the site of the so called "hallowed ground".  I'm not sure how atheistic shrines and monuments would evade that sort of ordinance, but atheists are hypocritical about their faith, anyway.

So, then, what to do.  There's no legal reason to prohibit a mosque anywhere in Manhattan.  Hell, there's no logical reason to prohibit a mosque anywhere in Manhattan.  Or anywhere else, for that matter.  We have a right to build a religious facility anywhere we want because that's a freedom that we, as Americans, have prohibited our federal government from taking from us and it is one of our core beliefs as a people.  CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW...  PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF.  Period.  Besides, even if you prevented a mosque from being built at that site because of some irrational fear that a place of worship would be some sort of triumphalist monument of jihad, there's no way to prevent someone from merely walking by the site and puffing out their jihadi chest with pride.  No, no, no...  you can legislate actions, but not attitudes.

So, I guess what it boils down to is to just get over it.  There's no legal justification for stopping the building of a mosque.  It's against our constitution and against our values.  They CAN build wherever they want.

On the other hand, the question of SHOULD they build wherever they want is another question entirely.  I CAN build a strip club at the entrance to my neighborhood because in my fair city there are no zoning laws.  The question of whether or not I SHOULD build a strip club at the entrance to my neighborhood is an entirely different question.  Would I make some crazy cash off it?  Almost certainly.  Is it an appropriate business for that area?  Almost certainly not.  Of course, I don't live in Manhattan.  I'm not a member of that community.  And I don't think people in Omaha should be weighing in on how people in Manhattan utilize their building space.  How offensive is it, really, to people half a country away, and how much should that offense be weighed against the offense, or lack thereof, that Manhattanites feel?  And if the community really doesn't want the mosque there, do the builders of the mosque really want to be there?  Really?  I don't know the answer to that question either.  That's for them to decide.

I suppose the only caveat to all this would be the assumption that there are actually no links to terror groups.  Because if it were to be found that the group building the mosque actually were linked, in some way, to a terror group their assets, one would assume, would be frozen pending a full investigation.  Because that WOULD be an appropriate reason to legally and properly prevent a group from building any sort of edifice anywhere in the country.

Monday, August 16, 2010


So, apparently Dr. Laura has pulled a Don Imus on the radio.

Well, if it was wrong to fire Shirley Sherod for admitting to ACTUALLY DOING a racist thing and actually causing distress to someone some time ago before taking the effort to make things right, will it also be wrong to fire "Dr." Luara for pointing out (accurately) that black (I'm guessing) comedians say "nigger" frequently?
Granted, she has about as much tact as a cruise missile, and I can think of several reasons she should be off the air, not the least of which is that her show is little more than garbage for the brain, and I can't say that I've heard much of an uproar from our professional offended class.  So, maybe it's much ado about nothing.  But if she gets kicked off the air, will it have been equally wrong to can her as it was to can Shirley Sherod?

It'll be interesting to see.
Well, "interesting" may be the wrong word for it.