Friday, December 28, 2012

Why they aren't fixing the "Fiscal Cliff"

Because they don't want to.


  1. The Democrats think that if the tax cuts expire, then when Obama re-instates new ones, then everyone will believe that the Bush Tax Cuts were a failure and the new, Obama Tax Cuts, are good.  This of course ignores the budget deficit and sequestration issues.  Not to mention worrying everyone that just wants things to go back to 'normal'.
  2. The Republicans would rather vote to create new tax cuts (even if they are "Obama Tax Cuts"), than vote to 'raise taxes'.  Note, they are not afraid of losing to Democrats, they are afraid of losing primary elections to "T partiers".   In effect, they think their own people are so stupid, they can't tell that voting to extend tax cuts only for a small group is exactly the same as letting them expire and voting for new tax cuts for only that small group.
In my opinion, the GOP is mostly to blame.  Mainly because they have tried a really stupid, ease to see-through trick.

There is a basic negotiating tactic called High Ball.  You start with something ridiculous that you know they won't get.  Everyone does this.  It's normal.  But there is a higher stakes version.

It is something called Padding.  You start not at something you really want but instead something that you have zero interest in, that you call essential - something called 'padding'.  You try to convince your opponent that giving up your padding is a huge concession. Then you don't have to give up much more.
 It's the difference between saying "I will only vote to raise the debt ceiling if you cut entitlements on a one for one basis with tax hikes on the rich."  and saying "I don't want to raise the debt ceiling at all, just to get me to do that, you have to say no new taxes.  Then we can negotiate where to cut spending."

A variant of this is called 'false concession'.  That's what they did this time.  They put forth a bunch of crap and said "What do I get for this?"

Obama did not fall for that trap.  He responded with "Nothing.  You get nothing for that.  It's the base value."

I know, you guys are going to say "But they were offering something."  No, they weren't.  they offered nothing, and for nothing, you get nothing.

You see, the base start of the negotiation is not your ideal platform, because anyone can pad the ideal platform.

The base start of every budget negotiation is the last agreement you have.  The current agreement is as follows:

1)  All of Bush's tax cuts go away.
2) Debt ceiling goes up, preventing us from paying back the loans we already have.
3)  Sequestration of the budget
4)  AMT tax rates start applying at the low, un-indexed for inflation rate.

 Oh, and one more thing - Obama was re-elected and the GOP lost Congressmen which puts the DNC. The GOP had the chance to negotiate before hand.

The GOP CHOOSE to not try for a negotiation before the election.  They stupidly thought they would win the election and have a better shot.

They lost that bet.  That means they start out at a disadvantage.  That's how that works.   Obama doesn't have to get re-elected.  he doesn't have to worry about pissing off the voters.  He doesn't have to worry about anything.

It's the GOP that has to worry - and they damn well better.   

What's going to happen with the budget negotiations?  I think we will go off the fiscal cliff and then they will have a new agreement:

1)  Debt Ceiling will go up.
2)  AMT indexing will be at least temporarily extended (if not permanently - or perhaps the AMT will go away with some other simpler method put in).
3)  Sequestration will not happen (or it it does, it will be quickly ended)
4)  Taxes will go up for people making over somewhere between 250 and 500 k.  They won't go up for people making less.  Pay roll tax will probably be modified as well.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

More about Treaonous Republicans

 I have talked about treasonous Republicans before.  This is not about the same Republican, but about others that follow his general line of thinking.

First let me say that in my personal opinion, most conservatives are not treasonous.  They are ethical, honorable people I enjoy having dinner with.    But in the last 40 years or so, they have attracted quite a few traitors.

The thing is, that even 60 years ago, it were the liberals that were talking treason.   Not anymore.  Now, every time you have some blowhard talking treason, he is from the far right, not the far left.  There are no communists trying to take over the government, just fascists trying to get us to do what they want, even if most of us vote against it.

No stand offs with armed liberals holding back the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in California.    No.   It's even the conservatives that talk about 'second amendment solutions', seceding, reloading, etc.

Usually when you question them about it, they claim they were not serious.   In other words they are shocked, shocked that anyone actually believed them.   Apparently, even conservatives don't think anyone actually believes the words that come out of their mouth.

The thing is, people do.  People listen when you vilify the president, claiming he isn't legitimate.  People listen when you talk about armed insurrection - even in a veiled way.  If you like the idea of 'blood libel', they hey, you join the party that talks about it, rather than the party that condemns it.

As a result, the GOP has, over the past 40 years attracted the majority of psychotic christian nut jobs that want to overthrow the government.   [ Why just the christian nut jobs?  Because the GOP is quite clearly pro christian and anti every other religion - including Judaism  despite their fervent claims and pro-Israel stance - and that's why Jews still prefer the Democrat party.   The same goes for Muslims, and other religions.  ]

But lets talk about the latest bit of treason.

The GOP has looked at the demographics and realized that given their current stance and reputation, they will never win another US Presidency.  Never ever.  Quite a few of the smart, honorable republicans have therefore insisted on changing the vision of the Republican Party. Henry Olsen, Luigi Zingales, Robert Stein, James Caprett,   David Frum, and Ross Duthat for example.

But not every Republican is an honorable or intelligent as the esteemed men listed above. Note, I looked for a woman but it's hard to find a Republican woman that qualified, unfortunately.  Part of the problem, of course.

So some of these less honorable and less intelligent Republicans instead want to change the way we elect the President.  They can't win, so instead of trying harder, they want to change the rules so that they have an advantage.

The first suggestion is to simply have the Republican controlled state houses of the swing states, shift to proportionate electoral voting, as opposed to winner take all.  That is, have them do it like Main or Nebraska - BUT ONLY IN LIBERAL STATES.   They want the Republican states to remain winner take all.  This would be unethical, but not outright treason.  As I said, Maine and Nebraska already do it that way.

Lets assume they managed to do that in all of the following states;  Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Virginia, Ohio, Florida.   Those were all big states Obama won, that the GOP thought they had a chance of winning (they didn't).   Lets assume they go all out and round off, so the state winner doesn't always get one extra electoral vote.  If you get 51% of the state vote, you get 51% of the electoral votes, which if number is even, is the exact same number of electoral votes as the loser gets.

Given the 2012 election, that means they would have +10 votes for PA, +5 votes for WI, +9 votes for OH, and +14 votes from FL, for a total of  +38 extra electoral votes.  They actually won 206, so with +38, electoral votes, that brings them to 244.  Obama still wins.  

OK, let's try it with all the states that are not Strongly Democratic.  Add in +3 votes from Nevada, +3 from Iowa, +5 from Michigan, +8 votes from Michigan, and +2 from New Hampshire.  For a total of another 21 votes.  That brings them to 265.  Obama still wins.

Why?  Because the country as a whole prefers the Democrats.  It's not just a bunch of east coast and west coast liberals,.  And because New York and California contain so many people and are so strongly Democrat.

They would need to try and pull that crap in either most of the Democrat controlled states, or at least in California and New York to have a chance to affect this past election.    Worse, the country isn't stupid and if the GOP tried such god awful crap, it could very likely give the House to the Democrats, not to mention giving the Senate a super majority (no more filibustering).

So lets try the next bit of bullshit.  The scheme proposed by the traitor, Reid Wilson.  

And they are not alone.  The traitors Robert Godshall (Repubican State Rep) and Seth Grove (Republican State Rep) are trying to implement this evil scheme in Pennsylvania.  If it had been in place, Obama, who won 52% over 47% of the state's popular vote would have only been given Romeny would have won 13 of the 20 electoral votes and Obama get only 7.  Yes, Obama, winning the popular vote by 5% would get just over 1/2 as many electoral votes as Romney.

How do you totally destroy the very heart of democracy?   You award electoral votes by congressional district, as opposed to by state.  That is, each district vote separately and the winner wins one electoral vote.   Of course, they only want to do this in Democrat states.  Despite the fact that they control the majority of House Districts due to gerrymandering.

In fact, the gerrymandering is so bad, that if this was the case, they could quite literally lose the popular vote by a major amount - 10% or even 20% , and still 'win' the presidential election - no lets be honest here and use the word 'achieve' the Presidency.

Again, Republicans are too stupid to realize that the Second amendment protects Democrats right to take up arms and rebel against a treasonous dictator just as much as it protects the Republicans.  If they tried this crap, and it was not thrown out of court, we would have another civil war against the fascist pigs that think they can ignore the will of the people.   The entire point of Democracy is to ensure that the will of the people is done.  When you try to ignore it, we rise up and slap you down.

This is a free country.  We get to vote on who rules us.  If you try to steal the vote by rigging the ballot box or just by rigging the system, you won't like what we do to your body.

But that won't happen.  The Supreme Court would throw it out.

Because you see, gerrymandering is an incredibly vile act that states get away with mainly because it doesn't affect how powerful someone's vote is, it affects who you get to vote for.  It escapes under a technicality.  We all know how evil it is, but we haven't found a way to kill it yet because of that technicality.  The Supreme Court takes the Presidency very seriously, I assure you, if someone tried to gerrymander the Presidency, it gets tossed.

His idea is to use gerrymandering in a new way, so it not only affects who you get to vote for (congressman), but how powerful your vote becomes.  In his system, the majority of people will no longer have one person one vote.   but instead a complex system of one person, one share of one vote.  With the system designed to ensure that minorities shares are worthless.  

The traitor Reid Wilson would find his scheme, once it is used to reduce the value of minority votes, gets thrown out by the Supreme Court of the United States.   Oh, and it would also probably end Gerrymandering.  

SCOTUS would throw it out under the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which states that the right to vote may not be abridged by any state on account of race.  The court has already ruled that things like literacy tests, poll taxes etc.  qualify as abridging the right.  Abridging does not have to specifically mention race, it just needs to be done in such a way as to affect race.  I am sure the majority of the court would rule his ridiculous district plan abridges the right to vote of the minority voters as they are all concentrated in gerrymandered districts.

You see, the GOP's problem is that they are racist.  As such they have so few black republicans (less than 15%).  So all the schemes the GOP likes to dream about violate the 15th amendment.

Reid Wilson, Robert Godshall, and Seth Grove (and their traitor brothers) do not understand the laws of the United States, the idea of Democracy, or ethics.  They put party above country, above freedom, above Democracy.

But America is still a free country.  We don't let dictators like Mussolini, Stalin or Castro ignore the popular vote.

That's why their traitor's scheme will never come to pass.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Armed Guards At Schools

The NRA has finally broken their silence after the Newport School shooting.

Their proposal is to have armed guards in school.

One pro-gun speaker said "The only way to stop bad men with guns is with good men with guns."

You know what?  I agree with that pithy statement.  But should those good men try to stop the bad men at the schools - or in the gun shops?  I personally would far rather have them shoot the badmen in the gun shops that at our schools.

Lets talk about why putting armed guards in school is a bad idea.
  1. We want small government, not a bigger one.
  2.  Too expensive.    We have a budget - and are fighting over it already.
  3. Kids don't just stay in schools.  There are also playgrounds, parks, beaches, toy stores, candy stores, and many other such locations.  
  4. I don't want adults shot either.   Should we post a guard at my house, work, etc?
Arresting bad men when they buy the guns makes far more sense.  It makes for a smaller government, is cheaper, protects all the schools and other locations.  It protects adults as well.

Civilians do not need automatic rifles.  Owning one should be illegal.   People sell versions of them that are not automatic that can be converted to fully automatic.  Which means a gunsmith can take a fully automatic one and make it semi-automatic.  Pass a law making it  illegal for civilians to own them.  Give them a year to sell them or have them converted to semi.

Every single gun purchaser should be checked for criminal background.   Give purchasers a choice - either get a federal license to buy one instantly, or have the store submit the name to a state and have the state take a 10 days to check the guy out.    This lets people get a gun instantly for self protection at the cost of giving their names to the Federal government.  It also lets people buy a gun without giving their name to the Federal government. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

How to fix the Fiscal Cliff without raising taxes

First, we should raise taxes to the Clinton era.  Under Clinton, the economy not only grew, but we actually had a balanced budget - in large part due to the tax rate he used.

But given hat the Republicans staked their reputation on not doing this.   Their incredibly stupid pledge of "Don't raise taxes"- mainly at the insistence of an un-elected lobbyist Grover Norquist-  may force us to do this.

But lets talk about how to do this.

  1. Cap Tax Credits to no more than the minimum tax rate for 25%  Currently that would be $35,351.   Why the weird wording?  To make it automatically rise when the tax brackets do.  Note Tax Credits are far more valuable than tax deductions - they directly reduce your tax bill on a $1 for $1 basis. 
  2. Cap Tax Deductions to no more than the minimum tax rate for 28%.  Currently that would be $85,561. 
  3. While we are capping credits and deductions, eliminate the caps for all federal taxes.  Currently you only pay payroll taxes on the first $110,000.  So wealthy people basically pay far less a percentage of their wages than the average person for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.   Similarly unemployment taxes are currently capped at $1,000 per employee.   No longer will we let the wealthy pay less than their fair share of taxes - they have to pay tax on every dollar they make, not just the first $100,000 or so.
  4. Rule that any capital gains or dividends over $100,000 count as regular income, with an exception for the sale of any home you have lived in for more than 5 years continuously. 

These three rules basically eliminate massive unfair advantages that the wealthy have.  It won't affect the poor at all.  The middle class would have to have rather unusual tax situation to be significantly affected.  But the wealthy would lose massive tax advantages they have.  As a side note it makes Social Security solvent again and is a step towards fixing Medicare and Medicaid.

Then lets talk about cutting spending.   The military are ripe for tax cuts.   Use the original sequestration formula - For every $1 that the House Majority (GOP) take from the military, the Senate Majority (DNC) will take away $1 from non-military spending.

 Note, by Tax Deductions, I am not referring to business expenses.  Those should paid directly (or re-reimbursed) by your business, subtracting from their bottom line, so they don't pay taxes on it in the first place.  Instead I am referring to charity giving, 401K contributions, retirement account expenses, mortgage taxes, etc. 

Some will the claim this will reduce charity giving, because you can only get deductions for the first $85,561.  Trust me, if you give more than $85,561 to charity, you are not doing it for the tax deduction.   Similar arguments apply for Tax Credits.

These short, simple rules will raise substantially raise the tax on the wealthy

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Why is there evil in th world.

After the horrible tragedy in Newtown, Ct, some are asking the question WHY?  Not just why these particular 20 kids and 6 heroic teachers died, but why any evil exists in the world.  We can understand accidents and natural disasters, but true, real evil is just mind boggling.

There are two main answers to this heart rending question.

1)   It's our fault.  Yes, you, the reader.  And mine.   This answer is founded on either a benevolent God granting free will or the non-existence of a benevolent God.   In either case, mankind has control of our own world, we get to make our own decisions, and therefore we, as a collective whole, are responsible for the evil in the world.   Which brings me back to you, the reader.  Are you a cop, prosecutor, judge or at the very least, politically active?  If not, WHY NOT?  Don't you know there's evil in the world?  Why aren't you personally taking action to stop it?   Yes, not all of us are suited to work in the field of criminal justice, but this is a free democracy, and as such, at the very least you have the power to vote, lobby or run for political office.  Evil exists because not enough of us take the necessary action to stop it. Most just look the other way - or worse, put other things ahead of justice.  That's our fault.  Do something.  Run for office, vote, or just lobby.  But DO SOMETHING, FOR GOD'S SAKE, THERE IS EVIL AFOOT! *

2) Evil is not so bad. This argument is founded on the idea of Heaven.  Once you postulate a pleasant afterlife, then death just isn't so bad.   So they went to heaven, what's the big deal?   If you don't believe in the afterlife, then this argument doesn't work.   If you do believe in the afterlife, then why are you so upset?    Well, the honest answer to that is God has gone out of God's way to ensure that we don't have proof about the afterlife.   In other words, God wants us to take death seriously.  He wants us to DO SOMETHING, FOR GOD'S SAKE, THERE IS EVIL AFOOT! *

If you don't believe in God or look at God as a parental figure, then the answer is more of #1.  If however, you believe in God and think of him more as a creator/author/artist, then the answer is more of #2.  But in either case, you should become politically active.  If you are political, then you can create change.  Not just in your own community but in the country as a whole.  We can make this world a better place.  If we don't, then it's our own fault.

But honestly, neither of these answers give me much solace.  They are not about comforting the grieving, but instead about inspiring action.     In my heart, death is tragic, as opposed to not so bad.   As for accepting personal responsibility, that just makes me feel worse..  What could I have done better, what could I have done right to stop the horrible events in Newtown?  Discussed gun control more?   Fought harder for liberal causes?

But this isn't about comforting the grieving, this is about preventing future evil.  Evil is at heart wronging the innocent. These 26 people were very innocent.   They have been wronged greatly.

What it comes down:  Evil exists because there are consequences to our actions.  If we do not regulate actions, then evil has a free hand.  If we over-regulate actions, then we ourselves do evil.  The trick is to find the middle ground.    When we go too far in any one direction, evil happens.  When it comes to gun rights, the conservatives have gone way too far in their actions.  They have prevented many sensible and necessary laws out of ridiculous ideas.

* Yes, saying 'afoot'  is corny.   The word corny means excessively sentimental.  Maybe it's just me, but after Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14th, 2012, I am feeling sentimental. If you think I'm being excessive, that's your opinion.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gun Control.

My heart goes out the friends and family of the 26 people killed in Connecticut.  My heart also goes out to the 22 kids stabbed in China.  Note it goes out to the friends and family of the Americans, but directly to the Chinese children, because all of the Chinese kids survived.  The old phrase "guns don't kill people, people kill people" was fairly concisely proven wrong. 

I'm not against guns.  But our gun laws are horrible.  They need to be fixed.

There are at heart three different arguments against gun control.  Part of the problem is that all three have different consequences about which rules we should use.

  1. Legal sports use - hunting
  2. Self defense against common criminals
  3. Defense against oppressive government.

Arguments one and two are rather logical, reasonable - and would allow for logical, reasonable laws.  Argument three makes very little sense - how often do we rebel and what insane government helps it's citizens rebel?   Except for the fact that it is the entire reason why guns are legal in the first place. It's why we have the Second Amendment to the Constitution.  Without the Second amendment, argument 3 would be laughed at by most reasonable people - any government that is truly oppressive would have found a way to take your guns already.   In fact, a truly oppressive government would simply declare the second amendment illegal.

But let's go through the consequences of those arguments.

#1 Hunting usage allows for major restrictions (no automatic weapons, no hand guns, no big clips), long waiting periods, thorough background checks, and government registration of all guns.  Also, all guns should be kept locked in a safe when not in use.  Concealed carry should require a permit, which should be hard to get.   No taking the guns to a bar, schools, work, etc. 

#2 Defense is a rather different argument.  In some ways it is the exact opposite of #1.   It says that hand guns are good, big clips allowed for them, but still no automatic weapons.   No waiting periods, but thorough background checks are allowed.   Still have government registration of all guns, but you need to have at least one gun out of the gun safe.  Concealed Carry should now be allowed with an easy to acquire permit.  You can take the guns anywhere.

#3 Rebellion is very different requirements.  Here we say no limits on guns (hell, let them get a tank), waiting periods are out, as are background checks and registration.   Guns should be kept in a locked safe when not in use.  Concealed carry should require a permit which can be hard to get  (If you are rebelling, you don't care about breaking that law).  You can't take any gun out of your home (unless you are rebelling, again if you are rebelling, you are willing to break this law).

So the three different arguments for guns, which should result in three radically different rules.  Part of the problem is that the pro-gun lobby has lobbied for the least restrictive for all the various sets of rules.   That is ridiculous.

Lets talk about what a reasonable country can and should do.

A)  Only Rebellion requires automatic weaponry.  Both other arguments are against it.  But rebels can modify guns.   So outlaw all civilian automatic weapons, but allow modifiable semi-automatic guns.  That is no civilian one can buy, sell or own any fully automatic weapon (assault rifle), but they can be designed so that it is easy to take a semi-automatic weapon and turn it into an assault rifle.

B)   Long guns have a month waiting period.  They are purchased for hunting or rebellion.   No federal registration required.   You can't take them to bars, schools, work, etc.

C)  Reasonable caliber handguns should be legal but federally registered.   No waiting period.   Frankly, no rebellion would seriously arm their militia with them.  Range is too small, and they get stopped by bullet proof vests.    Without a concealed carry permit, you can't carry it into a school, work, or bar.

D)  As handguns are being federally registered, concealed carry permits should be required - and work nationally.  They should be moderately strict - no criminals, no one ever committed to a mental   No one taking certain drugs (anti-psychotics, anti-depressants), etc. etc.   With the permit, you can take it anywhere.     AFTER they are issued, a check should be done to see if the person is safe.  If they are dangerous, revoke them and this will automatically trigger a search warrant for their home, car, and work.   Any guns will be confiscated.  If you have a concealed gun on you, you are not allowed to drink (or permit is revoked, gun is confiscated, and you go to jail as per drunk driving conviction.)

E)  All guns must be kept in a locked safe unless they are in your possession.  If you own more than one gun, you are legally required to buy and own a gun safe.  We can sell gun safes that fit in pickups. 


That said, how do we get to the above laws?

I would do the following, as a start.

Note this law would be inseparable - that is if any part is cancelled, the entire bill would be cancelled.

Issue a new government gun permit.  It takes a month to get (during which they check you out).   You can buy and own a gun without it - but only at a store, not at the gun shows.   Unless you are federally licensed to buy or sell guns, it is illegal to sell a gun to anyone that does not have the gun permit.  When you purchase a gun with the federal gun permit, it gets photocopied and sent to the federal government.  There is no such requirement if the person selling is at their gun store and has a license to sell guns (continue to use the old rules).

In addition, if you have a concealed carry permit in your own state, then this new government gun permit would let you conceal carry outside your home state.  If you move out of your home state, then you have one week to initiate new rules.

Finally, if you own more than one gun, you are legally required to buy and use a gun safe.

This gives something to the NRA (federal concealed carry permits), but closes the main loopholes in buying guns.  At the same time it tries to make it a little bit harder to steal guns.

Note, this won't do everything we need.   But it's a start.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Right to Work vs Unions.

Unions are a good thing.

They did wonderful work before anti-trust laws, OSHA and minimum wage laws were created.   In fact, their instance on high safety standards and high wages are probably why those bills were created.

They are in fact the primary reason America has a middle class.

They are also in fact good, not just for America, but often for American businesses.   They force us to be innovative, rather than just the low cost provider.  It is always better to be the smart business rather than the cheap one.

Unfortunately, Unions are in trouble.   They are losing members.  Part of this is due to their own success.  We have OSHA and tons of laws now in large part because of the Unions.  But that means we have less need for them.

As a result, the Unions did something that looks strange to a lot of people.  They passed contracts that said all employees - both the Union members and the non-members must pay for the Union's work.

Their argument is that the non-members are benefiting from the deals the Union generate, even if indirectly, so they should still pay.  That, is when the Union forces a company to have healthcare and a pension/401K, then even people that are not a part of the Union participate.

But what it comes down to is that they are forcing people to pay for a service they don't want.  The solution is not to force people to join the Union, but instead to not give them the same benefits.  

The Right to Work laws basically make this illegal.  That is, the Union can't force a non-member to pay them money.  While I am liberal, I agree that those laws make sense.   The methodology the Unions has been using is no better than the monopolistic tactics big business they were formed to fight.

The real problem is that while business has evolved, the Unions have not.  They have failed to innovate, instead trying to be the a monopoly - which was exactly the first thing they broke up in big business.

So here are a few ideas for Unions:

  1. Branch out of traditional areas   This is not a new idea, the Unions have been trying for years.   Push harder for it. Grad students should definitely get a Union.  Go after Professors as well.  Waiters and waitress.   There there are criminals that are forced to work.   Go after them.   
  2. Look at fixing the problems within existing unions - or simply starting competing ones.   The Screen Actors Guild has become more about keeping new people OUT of acting jobs rather than about helping actors.  What a joke - a Union that tries to limit it's membership????   Start a new Acting Guild for new actors and compete with SAG.  Unions are there to ensure fair treatment, not to restrict who can and can not work.
  3. Clean up the Union's demands.   Get rid of things we all know are foolish - the classic requirements of Electricians to turn on/off the lights, pension plans instead of 401Ks.  
  4. Stop protecting people that the Union doesn't represent.  That is, end the entire concept of a "Union Shop".   The Union negotiates only for it's members, not other people that happen to work for the same company.  Build that into their contracts.   If they want the benefits of the Union, they have to join the Union.  A simple rule would be to require that no non-union employee has their contract expire one month before or five months after the Union contract does.   That means when the Union contract is reset, they will have to wait at least four months to get the new deal.

Yes, a smart business will during good times, give their non-union employees almost the same stuff.  But when things get tough, guess which group of employees will suffer first.

Then throw in a 5 year contract for union members.  That is, when you sign up for a union, you agree to join for at least 5 years or until you are fired.   Then build into your union contracts seniority clauses - based on years in the Union, not years at the business.

This lets people decide whether or not to join the union, but doesn't let them free ride on it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What is Civilization

Civilization is basically the art of living in a city.

When you live all alone, you can do whatever you want - burp, fart, scratch, drink, crap, pee, kill, eat, etc. anywhere without rules.

But when you have two or more people living together, you need basic rules - as all college room-mates discover rather quickly.

The more of us you put together in one location, the more rules we need.   If you live in a city, you tend to have more rules about noise and pollution, then if you live in a rural area. 

The thing is, those rules are not impartial.  They are designed to benefit some people more than others.  Rules against rape generally benefit women more than men.  Rules about money tend to benefit those that have it more than those that don't.  Rules preventing fighting benefit the weak, rules allowing certain kinds of fighting tend to benefit the strong.

Some cultures have more rules that benefit those in power, while others have more protections for the powerless.

In all cases, the rules of a culture are strongly tied to the values of that culture.   That is, if the culture respects the elderly, then the rules benefit the elderly.   Note that cause and effect go both ways here - if you want to convince the next generation to value the elderly, then you can create certain rules that will encourage that kind of behavior - but similarly if your culture already respects the elderly, then it will already have those kinds of rules.

America has a culture that values non-violent dissent.   Hence Freedom of Speech.   As a result, we have more non-violent dissent that other countries.  But we discourage violent dissent, hence lots of laws.

 Why do we do that?  Because we have found that dissent itself can not be destroyed, it can only be repressed.  If something is repressed to much, it will burst forth.  We decided better to let the dissent out peacefully rather than bottle it up till it violently escapes. That is our intent - to what extent it works, is up for debate.

You see, some rules work better than others.  And certain rules only work in certain situations.   Rules such as 'no cannibalism' work great in societies that have enough or even almost enough food.  But when food becomes scarce, it can destroy a society.

But certain rules work in all situations.  Among other things, there has to be some reason to trust the rules.  You won't live by the rules if you think other people are exempt from the rules.  Among other things, that means the judges have to abide by their own rules. 

All of this applies from the lowliest rule about which fork to use, to the most sacred rules about who you can kill and which people are absolutely not valid sex partners.

Now, sometimes cultures have differences in civilization rules.  One might value burping the other may consider it an insult.   To an ignorant member of one of those cultures, it would appear as if the entire other culture was 'uncivilized', 'barbaric', or 'savage'.   Eventually most people figured out the truth, but often this is only after stereotypes are created.

But not everyone figures out the truth.  That is why stereotypes  continue to be believed.  I am not just talking about stereotypes about foreigners and races - but also stereotypes about liberals, conservatives, northerners, southerners, mid westerners, etc.

People need to recognize that certain rules are not founded in truth, but in values - values that are not laws.  They also need to recognize that their own personal values are NOT the values of the rest of the country.

You may consider sodomy evil, but most of the country does not.  You may consider abortion to be murder, but most of the country does not.   When you say back to traditional values, you are attacking the rest of the countries current values.  That is not a good thing, nor even reasonable.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dowsize the States, Not the Federal Government

As I have said previously, it is the States that abuse their governmental powers, while the federal government generally has better things to do than intrude into our lives.  The states take your land for 'redevelopment', the federal government takes it for highways.  The states tell you you can't have a pet elephant, the Federal government says you can't sell their ivory.

Lets do a budget comparison.

The US federal budget for 2011 was $3.6 Trillion   The total of all the state and local governments for 2011 was $3.2 trillion.  (Source)

First of all, not those numbers are pretty close.  Only about 5% difference.  But wait a second.  Social Security is a big part of the first one.

The three biggest expenditures for the federal government are: Defense (0.9 trillion), Healthcare (0.9 trillion - mostly Medicare and Medicaid), and Pensions (0.8 trillion - Social Security was 0.730 trillion, the rest was federal employee pension).

Let's back out the pensions which is mostly social security payments, because seniors spend it, not the bureaucrats.   That brings us down to $2.7 trillion.

The three biggest expenditures for state and local governments are Education (0.9 trillion), Healthcare (0.6 trillion) Pensions (0.2 trillion ) and Welfare (0.2 trillion).  Back out their pensions and that brings us to $3 trillion.

The state and local governments spend more money than the federal governments  if you exclude pensions - which citizens spend, not the government.

When the states and local governments spend 11% more than the federal government does, it's not that hard to figure out which one is too big and which one is too small.  Unless of course you are so foolish as to suggest cutting social security.  Oh wait a second, the GOP is that foolish.  They just like to hide it.

Americans like Social Security.  Stop trying to get rid of the one government program that almost all Americans like.  I'm not saying we need to make the federal government bigger, but....

If you have to downsize a government, downsize the states, leave the federal government alone.

Because when you suggest moving things from the Federal government to the States, you are just making the problem WORSE, not better.

The states are less efficient than the federal government.   Their employee pool is smaller, and the worthwhile people graduate to federal government.  They have less money and less power, less ethics, lower barriers to entry, and they have only one advantage.

The advantage is the absence of career politicians.  It is also their biggest disadvantage.  While it keeps people 'grounded', it also lets incompetent and/or corrupt people try to to run things.

Now, I'm not saying all state employees are corrupt and incompetent.  Most are smart and most are loyal, honest people.  But they are the silver medal winners, while the gold medalists go to the federal level pretty quickly.

Nor am I absolutely sure we can downsize the state governments.  But I know one thing - we can't downsize the federal government - it's already smaller than the states.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Prejudice, How to Recognize it.

There are basically three main stages of Prejudice.

  1. X group should not be considered people.  They are 'subhuman', and my superior group should be able to treat them like (or worse than) animals
  2. X group are people, but my group is clearly superior.   They have some rights, but treat them like children, don't give them important jobs, and let us make the important decisions over them. 
  3. X group are people, and equal, but you can't make me like them.  My privileges over-ride their rights.    I should not be inconvenienced in any way, shape or form by them.   You should not take my resources to help them - not in the form of taxes, and not in the form of legally mandated services that I must provide to them.

It's an interesting progression.   Note that all stages deny they are prejudiced.  At stage one, they claim they are correct, and you can't be prejudiced against the sub-human group, anymore a human could be prejudiced against dogs.   At stage two, they say they are not prejudice because again, they are correct and they recognize the group is human.  At stage three, they say they aren't prejudiced because they ostentatiously admit that X group are people and equal, but that is not the issue.  Instead they claim their rights are the issue.

In America, racists first claimed blacks were sub-human, so you could enslave, kill, and rape them.  Come the 1940's, no one would dare publicly claim it was OK to enslave, kill, or rape blacks, but they still claimed they could keep blacks from voting, going to school, drinking the same water, etc.  Come the 1970's, prejudice still existed, but the defense was that they admitted equality, but insisted on the right to engage in racists business processes.

The same thing goes on with homosexuals.   The worst homophobics (stage 1) claimed they were evil incarnate and that good citizens should hunt them down and kill them - preferably before they 'infect' our innocent children with their evil.  At stage 2, a much more common one, they admit that gays are people worthy of a trial, as opposed to simple execute them.  But they don't want them teaching their kids, because clearly they are not good enough to teach our kids (they might rape the boys - because we all know that straight teachers never rape students ) .   Then there are the stage 3 people that admit gays are not sub-human, nor rape-crazed people.  But still they insist that their right to practice religion means that gays can't marry.


As I have stated previously, rights are NEVER about your right to do something.   Rights always limit what other people are allowed to do to you.   You don't really have a right to speak, the government has a limit preventing it from punishing you for speaking (but your boss can still fire you for it.).  I don't have to listen to you, I can walk away - despite your 'right to speech'.

If there is ever a question, just simplify the process and look at the core basic issues.   FORGET ABOUT THE BULLSHIT.   The complicated explanations people use to try and 'prove' themselves right?  They are just gobbledygook to hide the prejudice - it's just used to confuse the issue.   Finding a bureaucratic loophole does not let  you do evil.    Generally they are just people trying to exaggerate their rights beyond what they actually do.  My right to practice my religion does not mean I can force it on you - even if my religion has a proselytism core.

Laws are about following the rules.  But Governing is about what's fair.   When some one tells you you need to follow the rules even if they are unfair, that just means the rules should be re-written.  But usually that's not the case.  Usually what's going is not that the rules need to be re-written.  Instead, the man that says you have to follow the rules is lying about what the rules say.

The right to practice your religion never lets you put anyone else's life in danger.

The right to be alive trumps Aztec' religious rights to practice the sacred ritual removing a live heart.
Nor does it allow a government to ever put up any barriers to abortion if the mother's life is in danger. 
When you try to stop women from getting insurance coverage that includes abortion, you are interfering with their rights, not exercising your religious rights.

The right to practice your religion NEVER lets you say who is allowed to marry who.   It doesn't matter if one guy wants to marry another guy, a robot, an alien, a corporation, or even a car.   The government might say that certain people are not eligible to marry (robot, corporation, car), but if they can get married, they can marry anyone else.  The fact that they are 'redefining' the word marriage is not relevant at all (if it were true - and it isn't - see multiple examples of polygamy in the bible).

When you try to have unprotected sex without telling your partner you have aids, you are violating their rights, not exercising your own.

So when someone tries to convince you they aren't a racist, ask them to simplify their viewpoints without the explanations of "why".    Because "why" is very often a "lie".   Instead, talk about what.  That is the thing that really matters.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On raising other taxes (besides income)

Here is one article (of many, from many different sources) that talks about raising the gas tax.

Basically, it says we should follow through on the non-partisan Simpson-Bowles recommendation of raising the Gas Tax. by about 15 cents.   Why that much?  Well, the gas tax was created to fund the cost to build and repair roads, bridges, etc.  But it only raises about $32 Billion a year, while we spend about $50 billion a year.  The rest of the money gets funded by your income taxes (which basically means Chinese debt).  If we raise the gas tax by 15 cents, then the tax on gas would do what it was supposed to do.

The federal gas tax is currently  at 18.4 cents  a gallon (plus states of 10-33 cents - which totals about 17% of the price of gas).  This is very cheap compared to other countries.  India uses a tax rate of about 50%.   The Netherlands has a tax rate of over $3.50 a gallon (Wikipedia as source)

But we don't need to copy those crazy foreigners.  All we want is the gas tax to pay for the infrastructure used by cars.

An interesting article, but I think we should expand it a bit.

In general, all taxes designated to fund a program (except those designated to fund charity type programs should cover the programs costs. 

The Federal government should either reduce spending on programs or raise use taxes whenever the use taxes are not paying for their own use.   If transportation expenses cost the US government more money than the transportation based taxes we pay, then those taxes should go up, or cut out spending on transportation.

That's how capitalism works.   If you can't afford something, you stop using it, which reduces your cost.  You don't keep the low taxes and the high spending.  Simple economics: Balance the internal budgets before you try balancing the total budget.

Here are a few taxes that I found that, like the gas tax, do not entirely fund the programs they were supposed to fund:

  • Gasoline Tax
  • Aviation Taxes  (though we should cut the ridiculously expensive TSA that has never caught anyone)
  • Tobacco tax   (health care costs to Medicare and Medicaid from lung cancer, etc. exceed the money brought in)
  • Mining Taxes (costs to lean up coal and other mining activities exceed the taxes we get)

Note, this ignores a couple of charity programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, services to the poor, and of course national parks.   Those are things we want no matter what, not things we want to

I am sure there are a whole bunch of others that I am just not aware about. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Politifact and Boehner

Conservatives don't like Politifact.

Mainly because Politifact keeps saying they lie.  Worse, it shows conservatives lying more than liberals.  Some conservatives claim this means Politifact must be biased.

Which proves that those conservatives are rather foolish and easy to fool.  Obviously it is quote possible for one side to lie much more often, and if that is the case, then an unbiased fact checker would show that.

If you want to know if someone is biased, you look at the ratios between the categories.  There is something called a bell curve.  Basically it looks like a bell.  I occurs whenever you have something that is at least partially determined by three or more random values.   Intelligence and Height are two really good examples of this.

So is the truth/falsehood of dramatic statements told by politicians running for President.  Their statements are not off the cuff, they are mulled over by a team of people.  Those people pump up the drama on true statements (making them only partially true) and tone down the lies in false ones (making them partially true)

For those cases, the number of True and Pants on Fire should be smaller than the number of half true.   

If you check the people that Politifact checked, then all of the following had more half true statements than True + Pants on Fire combined (and all of them gave more True than Pants on Fire)

Barack Obama 121 Half true vs 106 True or Pants on Fire
Mitt Romney  56 Half True vs 49 True or Pants on Fire

Joe Biden  17 Half True vs 15 True or Pants on Fire

Paul Ryan   7 Half True vs 5 True or Pants on Fire *

*Note Paul Ryan did get 12 Mostly False, the step below Half True -  he might be naturally a liar or Politifact could be biased against him, I don't know (OK, I do know, but for the purposes of this article, let's pretend I don't.).  Even then, the rule still applied - True and Pants on fire were rarer than half true.

That same rule does NOT apply to Chain emails.  Instead Chain Emails are heavily weighted for falsehood.  It is almost a straight line going from few totally true (6), increase all the way to 70 Pants on Fire.  No one fact checks chain emails, there are no consequences to the original writer (but they should be forbidden from the internet.  So they keep getting exaggerated.

Now that bell curve that the presidential candidates follow?  The congressional Leadership does not follow the bell curve at all. 

Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, are all rather evenly distributed.  Nanci tends toward Half truths (Is she considering a run for presidency?), but otherwise she and the other two men are fairly even. across the board.  It looks like they simply are not as good at weeding out the lies, or making true statements more dramatic.  They just say what they think.

But not John Boehner.  John Boehner's statement distribution is just STRANGE.  He has  17 True, 3 Mostly True, 5 Half True, 11 Mostly False, 17 False and  1 Pants on Fire.

It looks to me like he has one (and only one) honest man working for him, feeding him truths.  But  he gets most of his information form outright liars, with that honest guy putting his foot down and objects to the Pants on Fire stuff.

It might be that John himself is the one honest man, but why did he hire all those liars and why is he letting them feed him all those False statements?   Does he have a split personality? Maybe it's his wife, telling him all these true statements and threatening to leave him if he says something that's clearly pant's on fire. Maybe it's not a person, but software.

I don't know.   John Boehner, you have me stumped.  I'd love to know why.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Great Conservative Article About Raising the Minimum Wage

Here is a great article by conservative writer, Ron Unz, in favor of raising the minimum wage.  It concentrates on why it would be good for the US economy to raise the minimum wage.  Note, Walmart agrees with the writer - they want poor people to be able to afford shopping at Walmart.

I suggest you read the article thoroughly, I'm just summarizing some important points, with some comments.

First note that due to inflation, the effective minimum wage has been dropping pretty consistently since 1967.  In 2011 dollars, the minimum wage in 1967 was above $10.  It broke below $6 under George Bush, but has been pushed back up to a bit over $8 under Obama (see the chart in above article).     So when he wants to push to push the minimum wage to $12, it's not that big a deal.  It's a return to traditional values.

Let's look at winners vs losers.

Well, there are four types of people involved.

  1. Consumers of cheap products.  They will face a small increase in price.  Run Unz estimated we are talking about 3% or so.  Not that much, and not a huge inflation.
  2. Low paid employees.  They will have a significant raise.  They benefit incredibly.  Note this includes both those earning minimum wage AND those in slightly better paid jobs - as to employers will have to give raises to thee minimum+ people to keep them at their jobs.  People won't do the extra/harder work if you don't pay them more than the minimum.
  3. Big businesses paying the minimum wage.  Their profit margins will drop a small percent and/or their prices will go up a small percent.  The owner's profitability will not change significantly - as long as all of their competitors have to do the same.  If people can outsource their work to areas outside the US where there is no minimum wage, well they already will have done that.  Big Business does well.  Frankly, tax changes more than make up for this slight percentage.
  4. Small business of all kinds.  Most of them will do MUCH better with a higher minimum wage. Why?  Because small business has to compete with the big ones and most small businesses can't compete on price.  They have to offer better quality.   Big chains can almost always do it cheaper than you can, because a guy who owns 30 shops can live well off of a small profit per store, while a guy that owns 1 shop would starve without the big profit per store.  If you are a small business paying minimum wage, chances are you are doing something very wrong.   There are a few exceptions.
So let's expand on the exceptional small businesses paying the minimum wage. 

Here are the three examples I could think of:
    • Rare legal business that have large economies of anti-scale.   Something has to prevent a large corporation from taking over, without making it harder to do the work.  The most common situation here is high rent prices.  That's why Manhattan has more small stores and fewer chains - the big chains have trouble finding cheap rents.  But a long term tenant can have a sweetheart deal lease, own the property, or move to a new location. Then there are businesses with almost no fixed costs (maid services for example).  Here the small business benefits as he can raise prices.  If the economies of anti-scale aren't big enough to handle the small 3% price increase, then he doesn't have a real economy of anti-scale.
    • Franchise.  Here the big company gives you many economies of scale, but you get to own your own business, and want to pay your employees as cheaply as possible.  Here it will hurt the small business franchise owner. 
    • Criminal or semi-criminal enterprises.  I am not referring to drug dealers or other people selling illegal services or products.  Instead I am talking about people using illegal methods in their business.   Something along the lines of a small business that illegally dumps stuff in a national park.  They can compete with the big boys on price - because they don't have the same fixed costs to comply with the laws.  It is quite possible for them to employ minimum wage employees.   Here it will hurt the criminal small business. 

    The biggest negative will be slightly higher prices.  But it will help the economy a lot, because low paid people pump their extra profits right back into the economy.  Considering how low inflation is, we can accept a slight rise due to higher prices.   We might lose a few small franchise owners.  I feel bad for them.   We might hurt the semi-criminals -  but I don't feel bad for them..  But in any case the benefits to the entire economy should easily make up for that.

    Yes, their will be some people that get hurt by this rule.  There will be far more that benefit from it.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Corporate Tax Simplification

    I've talked before about how the major reason taxes are considered unfair is that we tax income, not wealth.  Income is always a much more dynamic and changeable term than wealth.

    A single, 21 adult with no kids, healthy parents making $125,000/year is wealthy.

    A divorced and remarried 45 man, making $125,000/year, paying alimony and child support, with two kids from his first marriage and a set of twin newborns, who is also supporting his aging mother, while he is undergoing cancer treatment is POOR.  And worried about what's going to happen if he dies and can't support 4 kids, his mom, and current wife (let alone the ex.)

    But if they had different salaries and both have exactly one million dollars in assets, then both are probably wealthy (barring either of them having the wealth from sudden good fortune).  This is in large part because wealth tends to vanish quickly if income is not sufficient to maintain it.

    The tax code is complicated in part because of these kinds of issues.  Their are tons of rules and regulations dealing with alimony, child support payments, marriage rules, and health payments for elderly parents.

    The world is not a simple place, and no simplified tax code (for people) could be fair.   This is the main reason why individual income taxes are so complicated and  also the main reasons why trying to simplify them is not always a good idea.

    Another reason why the tax code is so complicated is that we often like to use it to encourage good behavior.  We lower your taxes if you buy a home, go green, pay for education, employ more people, etc. etc. etc.   

    We do this to keep government SMALL.   That is, instead of having the government buy solar panels, we let people do it and give them a tax deduction.  In both cases, the solar panels get bought.   In effect, we are trying to out source the administration of the government program.  As government is all about administration, this should be a huge savings.

    Except... people try to cheat on their taxes.  As such, we need to check the deductions. So we replace administering of the government program with administering the tax code. Worse, the new administrators are accountants, not specially trained in all the programs.

    As we outsourced more and more of the government's administration to taxpayers (and the IRS), it also started annoying the crap out of the taxpayers.   No one likes to be treated as cheap labor. If you are wealthy, you can pay an accountant to do that administration work, and if you earn enough money, you might make a profit (i.e. make more money from the tax deductions then you paid the accountant).  If you are poor, then chances are the payment from the government exceed your hourly wage, so it is worth it.   But there are a bunch of people in the middle that do their own taxes and who just get angry about having to fill out complicated math tests for less money than their yearly salary.

    Could we get rid of some of the individual based tax  adjustments?  Sure.   But not all of them and the big ones can't be cut without major issues (Fair warning, I live in a tax heavy state and own a nice home - I might have to sell it if some moron got rid of the mortgage tax deduction entirely). 

    But.... corporate taxes are slightly different.  Corporations don't get married or divorced.  They don't have children or elderly parents.   They don't pay alimony or child support.  They are not home makers.  More importantly, capitalism is all about letting corporations die.  No extraordinary means to keep companies alive.  If they catch the corporate equivalent of cancer, they die.  They also already have an accountant.  He get's paid the same for his tax work as anything else. 

    Most importantly, quite frankly, we don't have to be fair to corporations.  If they die, it's not as big a deal.

    There is a difference between large corporations and small corporations - how many people they hire.  I can easily see giving a slightly different, lower tax rate for small corporations.  This would have to be done in such away so as not to let a large corporation create a small US subsidiary to earn the profit, while the work is done by a larger related entity.  Big corporations tend to have extra ways they can avoid paying taxes.  Things like the "No Sale Sale", "The Double Irish", among many others. 

    But aside from this, the only reason to give corporations large deductions is to outsource government work.   But corporations LIKE THIS.  They make a profit over it.  That assumes of course that they are profitable and thus owe taxes.  If they are unprofitable they don't gain from taxes.

    In effect, we end up helping the companies that don't need the help and hurting the companies

    I say we should simplify the corporate tax codes.  Rip out all the corporate tax deductions, create  equivalent government programs for those we think are worthy, cancel the ones we don't like.

    Note doing this will in all likelihood increase  government spending somewhat, as I do not think

    But honestly, because of international shenanigans like the Double Irish, I am not sure an income tax is the right way to go at all.  I have previously discussed a wealth tax.  a Wealth Tax is a tax based on how much you own, not how much you make.  For public corporations, that is pretty easy to figure out, it's called the Market Value  (total shares times price per share).  Oh, we can talk about book value and other methods but honestly, those are side issues.    It's harder to implement for private corporations, but not impossible.  You can always do the "Value it at whatever you want, but by law if someone offers to buy it at that price, you have to sell it, or re-value it and pay back-taxes for the past 10 years" trick.

    If it were up to me, I'd probably change the tax rules.  Even if you don't want to use wealth taxes for individuals, you can easily do it for corporations.  A solid 3% of the value each six months works well.   If you want to help out small corporations, you can always put in a one year delay. That is, at the end of 2012 you pay taxes based on your value at the end of 2011.  That way new companies don't pay taxes the first year.    If the company is growing, you pay less money each year than your real value and the taxes are known ahead of time.  Put in a rule so that if you declare bankruptcy you don't pay taxes for the next two six-month periods (equivalent of starting a new corporation).

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    The GOP's real demographic problem.

    Much has been said of the GOP's demographic problem.  Everyone is talking about how the GOP has to get the Hispanic vote.

    Here are some basic numbers.

    72% of voters were white and they went 40% for Obama ,58% for Romney.

    13% of voters were Black and went 93% for Obama and 6% for Romney
    10% were Hispanic and they went 69% for Obama and 29% for Romney
    5% were Asian, 74% for Obama, 25% for Romney
    5% were 'other', 58% for Obama and 38% for Romney.

    So that means, out of 100 voters:

    30 White Obama fans    vs.   42 White Romney fans
    12 Black Obama fans     vs.   1  Black Romney fan
    7 Hispanic Obama fans  vs.    3 Hispanic Romney fans
    4 Asian Obama fans      vs     1 Asian Romney fan
    3 other Obama fans       vs.    2 other Romney fans
    56 total Obama fans     vs    49 other Romney fans

    (as always, the numbers don't add up to 100% because of rounding)

    The GOP is worried that they only got 29% of the Hispanic vote.   They have bigger problems.

    Honestly, 29% is not that bad.  Not compared to 25% for Asians.  And certainly not compared to 6% for blacks  Blacks outnumber Hispanics.  

    OK, so you can't see black people voting against a black president.  Well in 2004 Senator Kerry won 88%  of the black vote and Gore won 90% in 2000. (Source)  It's not because Obama is black, it's because he's a Democrat.

    The GOP does not have a Hispanic problem.  It has a NON-WHITE problem.  It's not just the Hispanics.  It's blacks, Asians and even 'other'.  There is NO reason they should abandon the black 13% of the electorate.  The fact that they are talking about fixing their Hispanic problem and not even talking about their black problem is itself telling.   It means they won't even consider trying to get black votes.

    It's not just an 'immigration' issue.  Treating it that way will not solve the problem.  Part of it is a   racism issue.   Until they fix that issue, they will never win the majority of a votes of any non-white electorate.

    The republicans are just a little bit racist.  Strange, because 60 years ago it was the southern Democrats that were racists.  The DNC got over that mainly because of the actions of two people - JFK and Lyndon B. Johnson.  Those two presidents, mainly Johnson, moved us forward away from racism, leaving the GOP to pick up the old racists.

    But being just a little bit racist isn't a horrible thing.  Just ask Kate Monster.   The GOP has an even bigger problem. Right now, I'm about to show just a little bit racism myself.  If you heard a black man voted for Romney - most people would assume "He's rich." Because from my experience, most poor black people don't vote Republican.  Frankly I'm always surprised when I hear about poor white people voting Republican.  As a white Democrat, I wish that poor white people were as logical about their vote as poor black people.  OK, enough of my racism.

    It's not just racism, it's class-ism.   The GOP likes to talk about "Class Warfare".  They blame the Democrats, saying when we demand taxes be 'fair', it's class warfare.  Nope.  It was class warfare when you created the unfair taxes in the first place.  The Republicans are the master of class warfare.  As proven by Romney's famous quote.

    Here it is: "All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

    He refuses to admit that any poor people might actually BE victims.   It has to be their fault.  They can't be worth saving or even worrying about them.   And that's the basic problem with the GOP.  They insist that everyone take full responsibility for every bad thing that happened to them.  I'm all for taking responsibility for things you do.  But not everything bad is caused by the victims.

    Get raped? It's your own damn fault, says the GOP.   Get sick and lose your job?   Your fault.   Get denied a job because of your skin color?  It's your fault.     Get beaten up because your gay?  Your fault.  Get hit by a hurricane?   Your fault.
    The GOP is wrong.  There is evil in this world.  It is not a karmic-ally neutral universe where God punishes you for things you did bad.   Bad things happen to good people.  The government needs to take this into account.

    Republicans needs an attitude adjustment.  You can believe in capitalism without insisting on continuing to mistreat people that did not do anything to deserve it.  That is the real problem with their philosophy.

    Yes, there are some people in the world that don't try.  Their own misfortunes are caused by their failures.  But it is just as often that their misfortunes are caused by sheer chance, their parents or by other people.

    Sometimes you come up with a brilliant idea and make a fortune.  Other times just as you are putting all your money into your brilliant idea, someone else comes up with an even better one.  There is no second place prize in capitalism. Mark Twain went bankrupt betting on a new improved typesetting machine when another, better one came out.  There was this really cool shoe lace holder system for kids that came out just before Velcro.  The guy that came up with that idea lost all his money, as velcro blew it away.  Doesn't mean he didn't work hard or come up with a brilliant idea.   Just bad luck that someone else came up with a better one too soon after he came up with his.

    The GOP needs to admit that the government has a place helping down and out people.  They need to admit that being born poor and in the wrong school district is something that does affect your chances.  No, not everyone can overcome it.

    It also needs to admit that the Democrats are not fools and traitors, that we have ideas and morals.   That we are part of this country and deserve a fair say.

    They need to be a loyal opposition once again.

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    Treason Proposed by Republicans - boycot the Electoral College

    A lot of Republicans are upset that Obama won the election.

    A few go are really upset - they feel the same the heart breaking pain the Democrats felt when Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote.

    But a select few have gone insane.  They are enough to commit treason and overthrow the lawful government of the United States of America.

    Specifically, certain Tea Partiers (by which I mean Judson Phillips of the Tea Party Nation), want to have their electors boycott the Electoral College.  They thought that the 12th amendment of the Constitution said if at least 2/3 of the electoral college did not meet, then it would let the House of Representatives determine the next president.   (Source)

    They are wrong. found that the 2/3 requirement is for within the House, after the Electoral College has already failed to select a President.  It does not apply to the Electoral College at all.

    But I am not going to talk about the legality of the theory,.  Snopes did a good job dismantling his argument.  Instead I am talking about the ethics of the theory. 

    Because something can be legal and still be treasonous - if the traitor Judson Phillips were to invent an entirely new device that when activated causes all nuclear bombs within 100 miles to detonate, then selling that device to say say Syria, would be treason.  Yes it might be legal, as there are no clear laws against it, but it would still be treason.

    First we need to dismiss his feeble attempt at justification.  He refereed to previous times state legislatures have boycotted state votes.   He fails to realize three things.

    1. The people boycotting those state votes were not elected solely to do those state votes.  They were elected to govern the entire nation and specifically told to vote their own mind, not simple perform a direct function of voting as they ran.   That is, there were no laws requiring them to vote as they had promised. 
    2. The matter in question had in fact never been mentioned in the elections that put the representatives there.   
    3. Lastly, those were lower level matters.  What's OK to do for a law on union negotiations is not OK to do for deciding who the President of the US will be.

    Next I need to remind people of the purpose of Democracy.  It isn't to get the best President.  We didn't rise up against England because we thought King George's younger brother would be a better king.  No, we rose up because we wanted a democracy - the ability to vote for who would lead us.  We rose up  against a fascist pig that ignores our desires, taking up weapons and killing the S.O.B. that tried to make us obey a government that ignored our desires.

    At heart the reason democracy works is that it makes more sense to vote for who will lead with a ballot rather than with a bullet.  In other words to stop an armed insurrection because some asshole stole power.  And that's what Judson Philips was suggesting.  He thought that he had found a 'legal' way to steal an election from America and turn us into a Dictatorship run by a bunch of fascists telling us what to do, despite having lost an election.

    That's all Judson Philips and his friends (see Tea Party Nation) are - a bunch of anti-American, anti-Democracy wanna be dictators.

    By the way, that's why the GOP lost.  They ignored the needs and desires of black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and female Americans.  We realized that the Tea Party are not in favor of democracy.  They like to wrap themselves in the Flag and the Constitution, but:
    1. Don't know what the Constitution really says (hence had to correct that wanna-be dictator about what the 12th amendment actually said)
    2. Don't care about Democracy.  Which is why they came up with the twisted attempt to get the loser of the election - which he admitted he didn't like - to be President.
    3. Doesn't care about right or wrong, he just wants to WIN.
     In the past I've talked about the advantages of Democracy.  Let me take a minute to refresh

    The six reasons why Democracy is better than other forms of government are:
    1. Ideas not people are what matter
    2. More attentive leaders
    3. Leaders with good social skills
    4. It trains multiple people
    5. We can thoroughly investigate candidates
    6. It's your own damn fault if the wrong party wins
    Well, here the Democrat Ideas won, and the traitor Judson Philips wants to ignore this..  He wants to make it about people, specifically "Mitt Romney was a terrible candidate, and he will not be a great president. But he will be infinitely better than Barack Obama."

    The traitor Judson Philips wants to ignore what the people said (yes to Obama, yes to Healthcare, yes to higher taxes on the wealthy), rather than pay attention to it.

    The traitor Judson Philips  wants to get a leader with admittedly bad social skills (see moronic "Gift Comments, by Romney - note the real "gifts" Obama gave to down trodden Americans were Respect, an ear to talk to a voice to speak for them).

    At least the traitor Judson Philips was willing to keep the ability to train multiple people and investigate candidates.

    But finally, the traitor Judson Philips was unwilling to admit IT'S HIS OWN DAMN FAULT ROMNEY LOST.  The GOP elected him as their candidate, in large part because Tea Party Traitors like Judson Philips prevented the smarter candidates like Huntsman from winning (anyone that thinks one the Tea Party's favorite candidates could have done better has been doing some pretty impressive drugs.)   Hell, their stupidity is almost certainly one of the reasons Chris Christie didn't run. (They yelled at him for 'standing too close to President Obama during the Hurricaine Sandy aftermath).

    The Traitor Judson Philips need to go back to school.  He needs to study the Constitution of the United States.  He also needs to study the Civil War - about how horrible it was (and the fact that the South lost because the North had the better weapons even though the South had better trained people and more guns).  He also needs to learn more about the difference between legal and illegal, ethical and unethical.

    But most importantly, the Traitor Judson Philips needs to know three things.
    1. It is still legal in the US for citizens to own guns.  Lots of Liberals own them.
    2. What do you think would have happened if Republicans had won the general election and the electoral electoral election, but a bunch of commie liberals had tried to do the kind of low down, treasonous coup you suggested the Republicans did?  There be gunfire in the streets and a bunch of dead liberals, that's what. 
    3. Liberals are not soft.  Those guns you think we don't have?   We will use those guns against against any traitor that tries to steal our election.   The same way you would have shot us dead if we tried to pull the illegal coup you suggested.
    Judson Philips, you are a traitor to the United States, a traitor to Democracy, a traitor to pretty much everything George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Ronald Reagan and Clinton stood for.

    Luckily for us, most conservatives (including most Republicans) are as horrified as I am at the vile evil thoughts in your head.  

    And that my friend, is the real reason why you lost the election.  Frankly, you never had a chance.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Isreal and the Gaza Strip

    Full disclosure:  I am a non-practicing Jew, living in the USA.

    The way Israel treats the Palestine people is shameful.  And yes both countries have the right to defend themselves.

    I feel real bad for the Palestinian children.  They risk death every day.

    Of course, it doesn't help that their parents either are terrorists or harbor terrorists.

    The problem is that while the Israelis are defending themselves by trying to kill combatants, the Palestinians are not.  Gaza is targeting civilians, not soldiers.  When you target civilians, that is not defending yourself, that is aggressively attacking innocent people.

    The most reliable numbers I have found say that 3 Israelis (Source)  [Note, after I wrote that, they killed another 22 Israeli civilians - (Source) by bombing a bus.]  were killed from Gaza and that  96 Palestinians were killed.  (source)  Of those 96, 50 were civilians, and 46 were militants.  I am not happy that more than half (52%) of all those killed were civilians, but those are the numbers.

    But the number of missiles fired are similar - 1350 strikes filed by Israel,848 fired by Gaza.  So that just means that Israel is better at killing while the Palestinians are incompetent when it comes to killing.

    Mainly because the Israeli anti-missile system, Iron Dome, is pretty good (80-85% efficiency).

    But that's 80-85% efficiency, not 95-100%.   Which means that 15-20% get through and they have only killed three people.  Those 25 Israelis that were killed?  They were all civilians.   As in 100% (vs the 52% I mentioned above)  It was a a rocket fired into an apartment building and a bus bombing.  (Source)  Why such a poor, incompetent showing?

    They are firing missiles blindly, and the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) doesn't let just anyone on their military vehicles.

    They don't have smart missiles, they have dumb ones.  They fire these dumb missiles blindly, aiming only at cities.  Not to mention the stupidity of bombing a bus.

    These are the actions of terrorists.  They are targeting civilians, while the IDF at least tries to kill combatants.   Terrorists aim at civilians.  If you are aiming at a city, or worse, at a public bus, you are aiming at civilians.

    Soldiers aim at combatants.  Yes, they may kill civilians, but those are incidental deaths, not intentional. That is the difference between terrorists and soldiers. 

    Gaza is a terrorist state, blindly firing missiles and placing bombs.  The next question is why?

    They want to piss off Israel enough to invade.   The last time Israel invaded, some of their soldiers took out frustration on innocent civilians.  They were accused of war crimes and Israel lost some prestige, and Gaza got some positive press.  (Source)  

    Gaza terrorists were firing missiles in the hope that Israel will invade and that will give them more support and/or convince Egypt to help them out, possibly even defending them.  When peace looked possible, they bombed a bus, derailing the chances of peace.   Which is of course why the Palestinians did it.

    Well, they also claim they want the blockage lifted.  You know the blockade Israel put in to stop people from giving missiles to Gaza.   Does anyone really think that firing missiles at Israel is going to convince Israel to lift the blockade that Israel put in to stop Gaza getting missiles?

    Israel just wants Gaza to stop trying to kill Israeli citizens.  There is no way they will lift the blockade given that missiles are being used and the blockade is designed to stop them getting missiles.  

    It's not that hard to figure out who are the bad guys, who are the good guys.  Israel is defending itself from a bunch of terrorists blindly firing missiles.

    Terrorists in Gaza are blindly firing missiles and bombing public buses.  They have an evil, despicable plot to convince Israel to invade and kill more Gaza residents, all in the vain hope that they will be able to ring some political advantage out of the deaths of their own people (and 25 innocent Israelis.)

    What should Israel do?

    Well, I would send in suicide drones.  Have the drones look for missiles, then detonate.  Of course, the Gaza people might try to kill the drones before hand.  It wouldn't be that hard for the Israelis to film everything the drone sees, then detonate if someone stupid tries to get to close to the drone or attacks it.

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    The Lie of voter Fraud

    Politifact did an interesting, though complicated piece about the lie of voter fraud.  You can read it here.

    A synapses of it goes as follows:

    • The 2010 census had 98,213 people over the age of 18 in Wood County, Ohio.
    • The 2012 Voter Registrar lists 106,258 people as of Sept 17.  (Up to 108,014 as of the Politifact published date).
    • A bunch of fools are insinuating that 106,258 people voted for Obama in Wood County in the 2012 election, being an obvious example of voter fraud.  This is an outright lie.
    • The truth is that only 80,433 people are listed as 'active voters', and of those only 62,338 voted this November 6th.  
    • Of the people that voted, only 31,596 voted for Obama.  The other 28,997 voted for Romney.

    So, the idiots implying that there was massive, voter fraud are clearly trying to deceive people with the wrong numbers.  But let's talk about the right numbers.

    Why are there 8,045 more people on the Voter Registrar list than in the census?

    There are lots of reasons this happens.

    1. Two years passed, and people aged.  Someone that was 16 in 2010 would not count in that 98,213 number. 
    2. Some people moved into the county.
    3. People that died did not get immediately removed from the list.
    4. People that moved did not re-registrar to vote, removing themselves from the list.
    5. College students may tell the Census that they 'live' with their parents, but register to vote in the the county they go to school.  (They may think that their parent's student financing need them to be claimed as a resident)
    First, which way should we be cautious about.  Should we try to eliminate everyone we can from the voter registration list- preventing fraud?  Or should we be extra careful not to violate someone's voting rights by eliminate them unless we know that they are no longer an eligible voter?  Well, as there are practically no convictions or even arrests for voter fraud, we should obviously protect their voting rights - just as we protect our rights to own a gun or practice religion.   If on the other hand you can show significant numbers of arrests and convictions for voter fraud, then I could see changing those rules

    College students are hard to measure, as are moves.  But birhts and deaths are public records easily looked at. 

    In the US, about 0.839% of  people die every year.  (Source)

    The birth rate is about 1.375% (4 million births/291 million people)

    Not counting moves, that means there is a net increase of 0.536% of the population each year (on average.

    So over two years, the actual number of people in the country probably grew from 98,213 to 99,268

    That means that the Voter Registrar has an extra 6,990 people on it.Out of 99,268 that comes to an error rate of about 7%.

    7% is fairly high number of non-people listed on a registrar.  But lets look at the number of people listed as 'active' but did not vote this election.

    That would be 62338/80433 = 77.5% of the active voters voted, leaving 22.5% of 'active voters' not actually voting in one of the most contentious elections ever.

    Given that almost 1/4 of people did not bother to vote, is it that surprising that 7% have moved away and did not re-registrar?  Or died and not been removed?

    More importantly, those people SHOULD NOT have been removed during the past 9 months.  They should be removed NOW.   After the election.  Go through the 106,258-80,433 = 25,825 inactive voters and any that did not vote this year, becoming active again, telling them they will be removed from the voter lists and will not be able to vote again until they re-register.

    That's how you do it - after the important election, not before.  That gives them two years to re-register for the congressional elections if we were mistaken, four years for the presidential one.

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Why Powerfull Women Don't Have Affairs.

    The meme of a powerful man having an affair is fairly common.  South Park did an entire episode where the unspoken theme was that the men have affairs because they CAN.  The spoken theme was that they had to stop getting caught, not stop doing it.

    A more important question is not why powerful men have affairs, but why don't powerful women?

    Well, there are three explanations for this.

    1. More men have power than women, and that means that only the top of the top women get power.  There are fewer women in politics and we get better women because of that.  
    2. The standards of attractiveness differ.   Women are judged on their beauty, men are judged by their power.  That is, if you are a powerful man, you are the equivalent of a 10.   Powerful women don't get that same boost in attractiveness.  In fact, women's standard of beauty focuses more on youth.   Which means they are at the most attractive before they become powerful, not after.  Powerful men on the other hand have become more attractive than they have ever been before.  In effect, the men are in their 'prime' attractive years, while the woman aren't.   So the men have a much easier time finding a partner to cheat with.
    3. Explanation 2?  Men know it.  That's half the reason why they get power (and part but not all of the reason why more men seek power).   Just as some men become rock stars to get women, others go into politics.  Women know that power doesn't make them more attractive, so women seeking mates don't seek power.
    Please note this is not a statement in the greater character of women.  Only that the particular women that get involved in politics are likely to have different flaws than the men that get into politics.

    What are these flaws?  Well, they'll probably be small flaws.  Why? Because the flaw in men, infidelity, is itself a small flaw - at least when it comes to politics.

    Large political flaws are things like stupidity, stubbornness, refusing to compromise, poor communication skills, and being out of touch with the electorate.

    Infidelity represents either changing ones mind or a desire for pleasure, combined with a desire to maintain a particular image.  Those are not bad things in politics.  They are bad for the marriage, but not in politics.   That doesn't mean I approve of infidelity, just that it's not such a big deal with when it comes to politics.  There are far worse.

    The press however tend to focus on it, because no one claims it's easily seen as a flaw, it's salacious, and in general makes for good press.  People like to read about sex, especially the details.  For some reason, budgetary details don't inspire the same press coverage.

    As such, it is not surprising that we don't see a lot of female flaws the way we see infidelity scandals.

    Infidelity used to be far more accepted.  We all know about the affairs John F Kennedy had and the fact that never made it into the press.  Why?  Because neither the press nor the Republicans thought it was worth mentioning. 

    Now a days we have become slightly more puritanical, but Clinton proved an affair does not kill a presidency.  It might kill a marriage, but not a presidency.

    Some politicians are corrupt.  The worst sell their votes to the highest bidder.   Up until recently they legally traded on insider information they got as a function of their job.  They avoid paying taxes.   But even excluding those crimes, most politicians do rather despicable things to ensure they get elected.  Gerrymandering is legal. Not to mention the smear tactics of attack ads.

    Having an affair is not good, but when it comes to politics, it is closer to getting caught speeding than getting caught with 100 kilos of cocaine.

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    More about how to cut the military

    I've already talked about how the US has a ridiculous number of aircraft carriers.  But I found out I was wrong.  I underestimated the issue.

    The US doesn't have 11 air craft carriers, it has 11 super carriers.   These are the huge, double runway things seen in movies and TV.  Other countries mostly have small single run way carriers (except for China, Russia and France - their single carriers are double runways, but are still smaller than the US.)  As for Italy and Spain the only other country that have more than one air craft carrier, they both have one small one and one TINY one.   (Source)

    But the navy isn't just about aircraft carriers.  The next big, expensive ship are Submarines.  Non-nuclear submarines are basically worthless.  They can't stay down very long, travel very slowly and can rather easily be identified when they surface.  Which is why the US doesn't own any military non-nuclear subs.  All of the US military submarines are nuclear powered.

    There are three main types of nuclear powered submarines:
    1. Attack submarines - designed to kill ships
    2. Nuclear bunkers - designed to hold missiles in a hidden, moving location
    3. "Information/rescue" ships - designed to get up close and spy, do research or retrieve people.

    The US owns about 74 nuclear powered submarines, of these 54 are declared to be attack nuclear powered submarines.  We don't talk about the other 20.   Russia owns 45 submarines, 40 of which are attack, England owns 13, 8 of which are attack, France and China both own 10 each and each has six attack submarines.  (Source - yes, I had to look up Russia's flag - in my head it was still the old USSR flag)

    It's hard to talk about the Bunker and Spy subs, because we don't know how many of each each country has.  But we can talk about the attack submarines.  Right now, the US has eight more attack submarines (54) than Russia (40) and China combined (6).  Not to mention the fact that we can depend on England, if not France to help us out if we go to war with both China AND Russia?   How about cutting down the attack submarines from 54 down to 49?  We give up 10% of our attack submarines, keeping the bunkers and the spy ships, and still have more than Russia and China combined, without depending on our allies.

    Lets look a the air force next.   No other country has reliable, tested stealth aircraft.  Everyone else has tried to build them but not tested them in a war.    We currently have 3 different stealth aircraft being designed/built.  No other country has more than one design and only: Russia, India, China, South Korea, and Japan have even bothered to try. (Source)  They are the F-35 Joint strike, the F-22 Raptor fighter and the B-2 Spirit bomber.  Aircraft are already incredibly expensive, stealth ones doubly so.
    But that's OK, we've already moved on to drones.  Of which once again, we have far more battle testing than they have (although recently Israel shot down an unarmed drone.)

    Our drone programs are still relatively small.  For example, as per Wikipedia, the Reaper (one of the biggest and deadliest drones we use), costs less than $40 million and we ordered less than 60 of them.  Compare that with the B-2 , which costs over 1,000 times that much - and we ordered 21 of them.

    I like drones.  They are cheap - both in dollars and in lives.  They can be launched from our yet to be launched new 'rail gun' Ford class aircraft carriers (coming 2015).  But most importantly, they work well against terrorists.  We can have them out spying where we don't dare send people.    I don't see a need to cut drones.  I do see a need to replace B-2 bombers with drones.

    Which do you think is more cost effective?  Sending one B-2 Bomber to take out a radar site, letting our fighters fly in behind them.  Or sending 500 Reapers to destroy the radar site.   Say we lose 100 of the reapers each time. 

    I see no problem in reducing our navy and air force expenditures by 10%.  The army is more problematic, but it is not impossible.  A general 10% reduction in the US military looks more and more possible.  We simply don't need to have that large a military because we are facing small insurgents, not Russia and/or China.   Drones do more than replace one grunt, they replace a highly trained, flying, hidden person.

    We could take 1/10 of that 10% budget reduction and spend it on foreign intelligence and counter-intelligence.  We need to fight the next war - terrorism, rather than the old cold war.  Save the rest to cut down the deficit.

    We spend about $900 billion a year on the military.  10% of that is $90 billion.   The sequester that everyone is talking about?  It saves 100 billion.  We only need another 10 billion to trade for it.   Raise taxes by 5 billion on the wealthy and cut 5 billion from welfare and we can cancel the sequestration.