Friday, July 18, 2008

Nobody Asked Me, But....

1) Al Gore. Who would have figured I would be ahead of HIS curve on greening? A few weeks back, I mentioned that America should commit to an Apollo-like project on renewable energy sources, and here's the Should-Be President picking up my idea and running with it!

2) In fairness, most of McCain's have to take Viagra before polling.

3) Now if he'd only speak out for the poor of Zimbabwe.

4) MEMO to Benedict XVI: we could start in the southern United States!

5) It is safe, I repeat, it is SAFE to eat tomatoes again!

6) Unless you believe the Bush administration is a bunch of political hacks who will do just enough to get by and no more.

7) Maybe if they'd have bothered catching the bastard, people would care more.

8) Compared to this, losing $2 billion in a quarter don't sound so bad!

9) Obama raised $52 million in June. That's the good news. The bad news is, by his own campaign's admission, he will need between $250 and $300 million to win the general election and that means he'll need to raise about $150 million in the six to eight weeks after Labor Day.

10) He's going to find it especially hard if he keeps dissing places like Florida.

11) Obama's probably going to have to spread himself thin this fall, or risk ending up having people introduced at rallies like "And now, here is the brother of the tailor of Barack Obama's advance strategy chief!"

12) How does a state, any state, live with itself when one-quarter to one-third of its residents are grossly overweight???? I'm sorry, that's utterly disgraceful!

13) Or udderly, for you wiseasses out there...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

No Taxation Without Presentation

Let's talk about money for a moment.

A government is reliant on money. This generally comes in the form of taxes of some sort.

So taxes are a necessity, a necessary evil.

There's a fairly comprehensive, if anecdotal, body of evidence that suggests our current income tax system is not only ineffective, but possibly illegal.

As your NotPresident, I have a simple yet elegant solution, one that will lower taxes for most of us, yet re0jigger the tax liability so that it is more equitably distributed amongst the people who most benefit from our nation's freedoms.

After all, they have more freedoms than you or I. Look at how OJ Simpson got off!

Income is easy to tax and even easier to account for: you get a check, it gets deducted ahead of time, if you earn a salary. But that's not the problem. The problem comes from all those non-wage earnings: dividends, sales proceeds, and so on.

The disincentive of an income tax is to avoid spending money until after you've settled your debt to society. Withholdings make this bit easy, but the first time you get a lump sum from, say, the sale of a stock, you are clueless as to what to do regarding your taxes.

My tax system would avoid all this. Rather than focus on income, I would focus on wealth.

You are free to earn as much money as you can, legally, illegally, I don't care. What I DO care about is how much you keep out of the economy. And there's the difference.

Simply put, I would tax any investment that, in turn, did not create more income. No more tax shelters. No more idle rich sitting on their arses, collecting dividend checks. No more squirreling away money that you earned on the backs of the working and middle classes so that your kids can go to Choate and Harvard.

It's really very simple: the incentive in this tax system is to spend money, actual cash money, and the more you can afford, the more you should spend.

Naturally, there will be some baseline "minimum wealth" figure under which no one would be taxed. It's not fair, for example, to tax someone who owns a $100,000 home for four people, struggling by on an income of $30,000. I'd have to run the numbers a bit, but my suspicion is I would exempt anyone who owns less than $500,000 in assets.

Net of a home mortgage, to boot.

Eveerything else above that is fair game, and yes, I would tax your retirement savings. But notice something: every dollar you draw down after retirement is 100% tax free.

The tax rates would be graduated. It's not fair to ask someone who owns, say, $500,001 to pay the same rate of tax as someone who owns 500,000,001. If your hogging your wealth, you're going to get hit with a penalty, a big penalty.

Admittedly, this plan would need a lot of fleshing out (actually, it's already been fleshed out, but after Senator McCain stole my idea for a cash prize for alternative energy, I'm laying just enough cards on the table to show my hand without putting my chips in completely.

You want it, Barack? John? Come buy it off me!

I even promise to spend the check!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Gamut with Amy and Naomi

SO MUCH here in this interview with Naomi Klein by Amy Goodman.
Klein's book, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" is out
in paperback and, as usual, Amy's interviews are great because she asks
the questions and then stfu so you get the most out of the person being
interviewed. Great insight into government policies being pushed through,
"Obama's Chicago Boys", her recent trip to China and the boon to military
contractors going on there, suing the government for spying on
(real) journalists like her, oil prices, climate change, housing and more.
Well worth the time. You can read, listen or watch.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our Chief Weapon Is Fear

Alike were they free from Fear that reigns with the tyrant, and envy the vice of republics. -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Evangeline. Part i. 1.

What calls itself fear of error reveals itself rather as fear of the truth. -- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit, introduction

Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt Speech, July 2, 1932.

It concerns me that this nation is a nation afraid.

Nevermind the terrorists. That's a legitimate concern, but not a fear, when you come right down to it. More people died on September 11 of heart attacks than in the terror attacks, but no one is raising the heart attack warning color to orange during barbecue season.

Nevermind the economy. That's a clear problem and that has its legitimate basis for fear; fear of losing your job, your house, your life savings.

No, I mean, when did Americans become afraid of each other and of our government? A clear motivation of a quasi-dictatorial government to divide people is to conquer them. It's clear the government has intended, at least since the seventies, to divide the American people up into parcels that can be easily labelled: red state, blue state, liberal, conservative.

In so doing, it becomes easy to paint "the other guy" as what's wrong with this country. We've swallowed this whole, to be fair, on both sides, altho it seems more prevalent among conservatives. FOX News and Rush Limbaugh lead a charge of fire-breathing blowhards whose only purpose in life appears to be stoking the flames of hatred towards their fellow man.

In Rush's case, it's pretty easy to see why: poor pathetic lonely little creature who's only hope for redemption is to tear the other people around him down, and stand on the rubble of his destruction.

In FOX's case, too, the motives are easy to see: for every "BHO" reference on their network, another FCC rule falls by the wayside.

In this respect, assuming he's sincere about it, Barack Obama and I see eye to eye, but for different reasons. Obama wants to unite us to fix what he perceives is wrong with the country.

I want to unite us to fix the entire fucking system, from top to bottom.

It's no longer enough that we tinker and Twitter each other about this program or that program. It's clear that the system itself, like a leaky, moldy house, is creaking and in danger of collapse.

And like a leaky, moldy house, it's foundation is, however, strong. Mold can be cleaned up, creaks patched, or perhaps even the entire structure cna be torn down, but if we can keep the foundation from cracking open, we can rebuild as good as new.

The problem is, fear. I am not afraid, but I am only one man. I can take fears away from others, but even that's only a handful of people.

To enact and effect the changes necessary, as the lessons of the French and American Revolutions show, will take more. Much more.

We are a complacent people. It is said the reason the French government has to capitulate to its people is that it fears those people.

That's not a bad thing, in my eyes. A government SHOULD fear its people and not the other way around! Right now, the only thing this government fears is losing the next election, and right now, those elections are so tight that there's no point in fearing the people: the other half is easily mined for votes.

Which is why John McCain is able to shift and meld so easily between moderate-left and moderate-right voters, while clinging to a conservative base that has no other choice.

But let the government learn fear of its people, as it started to during the 1960s, and watch the power of the people rise from the ground and swell up indignantly against those crimes that politicians of both parties commit regularly.

People will have a voice once more in the governance of their day to day lives. People will suddenly care about what is going on around them, rather than trust the whims of men who are unduly influenced by powers your average man in the street cannot even begin to comprehend.

"We, the People," will suddenly mean something...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vive La Révolution

On this date back in 1789, a nation of people, yearning to be free, stormed the symbol of their oppression, the Bastille.

These people were tired of being dictated to, not by a monarchy, but by an plutocracy that was headed by a monarch: told what to think, told what to eat, told what to do, told what to accept.

The people paid heavily taxes while the aristocracy and cronies thereof paid next to nothing towards the upkeep of the nation.

The nation had spent its way into bankruptcy on the backs of wars declared unilaterally by the ruling class, supporting "revolution" by people in countries that had nothing to do with their daily lives.

The people were ganged up on by the two largest economic forces of their day: the government, and the church.

The church imposed faith above science.

The people were hurt badly by climatic change that created famine, pestilence and widespread poverty.

The upper classes engaged in conspicuous consumption even as the people starved and worked harder than ever paying more in tithes and taxes than they had ever before.

The middle class resented the relative poverty in which even they lived as compared to their peers in other nations who *gasp* had national health care!

The people resented the oppression and limitation of even responsible opposing viewpoints, which were deemed anti-patriotic.

Toujours les memes choses, eh?