Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
- There is no practical limit to which politicians are allowed to take us into debt.
- Politicians, donkeys and elephants both, live to look like they are doing something, because that's what gets votes. Actually doing something is ok, but only if it happens to also look like you are doing something. (In real life, it works the other way around, of course.)
Hence: Taking the country into debt is an easy way for politicians to look like they are doing something, without doing something. Paying off debt is politically pointless because it gets no headlines.
Aside: Incurring debt is not a solution, it is the absence of a solution. The larger the debt a politician (or anybody) proposes incurring, the greater his (or her) admission that he (or she) has no actual ideas.
Conclusion: As long as these two conditions exist, the national debt will continue to grow.
Changing condition 1 (ie making and sticking to a balanced national budget) is impossible because (see condition 2) that would be doing something, but it's not flashy. Changing condition 2 would mean essentially that people in general get smarter, and start seeing through politicians' flashiness and begin voting for the guy who does stuff rather than the guy who only looks busy. Here's hoping!
Meanwhile: I'm a banker (pretend with me). I have two business propositions put to me. One comes from an old man who assures me that if I buy a handful of his magical beans, and plant them in the ground, overnight they will grow into a giant beanstalk that reaches the sky. The other comes from the US government promising me that if I give them some money, someday they will pay me back. I'm going to laugh in the US Government's face, throw it out on his ear, and buy the beans. At least then I've got some beans. In the other case, Jesus will come back long before any of that money does. Elvis will be back sooner.
That's the practical limit to how large the national debt can get- till it gets so large that nobody will lend us money any more. Till the US dollar is a world wide joke.
Here's the thing: Congress has a credit card with no limit and nobody's name on the billing address. Well, the name is : We the People, but that is close enough to Everybody as to mean Nobody.
A Few Solutions:
Simplify the tax code so that even a baby can understand it. Make it a flat percentage. And then, every time a senator suggests we spend some money that we don't have, require that senator do the math in public, and then let his proposal include the dollar amount it would tack onto next year's taxes, and so that everyone can see exactly what percentage of their money that senator is wanting next year.
Every time we bail some other country out from under a dictator or a natural disaster, afterwards we hand them a bill for however much it cost us. "What, they don't have the money?" Fine. We sell them a hunk of our national debt instead. We can be more charitable when we have some money to be charitable with. Right now, and for the foreseeable future we are worse than broke- we are in the hole.
Every time a convict leaves jail, he gets a bill as he leaves: the exact cost of his trial and incarceration. Then we garnish his wages until we have the money.
Government welfare programs? Those problems are best handled locally. Make that exclusively the province of the states. If the states are smart they will make welfare almost exclusively the problem of the counties. Get it all done close to home, so that when A takes B's money to give it to C, B can see how much of the money C actually gets C gets and what C does with it.
The problem with these type of solutions is that they are all doing something, and are not glamorous or flashy. They require the support of a smart voting populous. So I wrote this, hoping to contribute, in my small way, to our collective smartness.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Wouldn't it be funny if you took your PC to a tech place to get it fixed and the guy behind the counter just whipped out a ball peen hammer and smacked it (the PC) real hard in front of your face? I'd laugh. Well, I'm laughing now anyway.
Presidential elections should be this way: (I literally dreamed this up while asleep last night, so it has to be good):
We should get rid of the electoral college and do it by a huge popular vote. BUT, there should be two winners. 1st place and second place. They don't actually get to be president yet, though. What happens next is, we have another election, only this time there are only two candidates on the ballot- the first and second place guy. And the winner of that is president.
It's actually a darn good idea. It'd give your third party type guys a real chance, and yet they wouldn't be wrecking the process by dividing the vote in a Ross Perotish way.
We should try it out on a governorship or so first, to get all the bugs worked out- maybe start even smaller- a mayorship or so- but seriously this is a Jefferson level stroke of smartness. whaddaya think?
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
really, no new stuff, no new great thoughts to clue you all in on. Just... even so- with nothing special going on... Life is goood!
No seriously. It's sweet. The basics. Food. Sleep. Work. Work out. Read. Music. A few good friends. What else do you need?
Maybe its the toasty 40 degree weather that's gotten into me, or the endorphins from running and lifting (been able to be more consistent lately) or the basic internal smoothness that seems to come from putting in some regular study time (I've been able to do that more now constistently lately too)...
But life is good.
Dumb fat and lazy. No make that brilliant, muscular and lazy.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's court. Rereading. Haven't had in years. Maybe a decade. (I'm old. There really are things that I haven't done in a decade or so now.) Anyhow, its good. I appreciate different parts now than I did when I was a kid. Still funny, but I never noticed the cutting poltical insights when I was a teenager.
Connect- icut. Why do we pronouce it the other way?
Speaking of old... Schmee- I recollect going around with my friend Chad to hand out pro-Bush stuff door to door during the first Bush election- seems like not that long ago. 9 years!! Old. Luckily, Im actually getting better looking- who thought it was even possible? And I jacked my bench weight up 10lbs today. Ran for a solid hour saturday, and part of that was up Mt. Olympus, where the rich people live... Its a heck of a view. Looking down-waaaay down-on the Hardee's sign that is like --well, really really high up, if you are standing right next to it. Didn't even pause.
Been a darn good life so far. Adventure. Good brains. Growth. Immense luck. Great friends, great clans. You know, you people who read this are mostly people I've been friends with for a long time. You're a killer bunch. Diverse, each with a unique set of talents and strengths. A very nice spread- a good hand. Good to have you all around.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I’d like to share here some of the things I have learned about counseling distraught souls.
1) Nod a lot. Stroking your chin is good. Act like you are listening. Occasionally grunt, as if in surprise.
2) If they ask you a question, don’t worry. Just go: "Weeelll…" and then wait. They usually will just start talking again.
3) If you find yourself getting bored, pass the time by thinking of everything that is funny about their problems.
4) Playing air guitar sometimes is good too. It makes them think you are using the musical side of your brain to consider their problems. Whistling, humming or going: "Brawmp Brawmp Brawmp! Brawm brawmp brawmpeer!" is the next level.
5) If you find yourself thinking stuff like: "What an idiot. This is all your fault anyway" it’s okay to say it, but it will soften the blow if you say it in a funny voice. Star Wars Characters like Yoda and Darth Vader are usually easy voices to do. "An idiot you are. All your fault this is!" Chewbacca is another good one.
6) If they start to cry at any point, just repeat back to them whatever they said last only in an even more whiney, about-to-cry type of voice than they used, to show that you understand.
7) Try to make their problems seem like not such a big deal. Remind them that probably nobody but themselves even cares about this stuff anyway, so might as well let it go.
8) Be a stickler about proper grammar. If some one says ain’t or uses a double negative, or an incomplete sentence, point it out right away. People in distress need to look at their problems objectively, and nothing helps lend the right perspective like proper grammar. I like to carry a pocket grammatical text with me so I have proof in case a disagreement arises about what proper grammar really is in this instance.
9) If you have ever had a similar situation, or even heard of someone else with a similar situation, be sure and let them know all about it. Only exaggerate so that their problem will seem less bad. "Oh that’s nothing…" -a good opening line.
10) If you feel like you get the point, only they keep talking, just yawn, clear your throat and look pointedly at your watch.
11) if you get really bored interrupt and tell them about a funny video you just saw on you-tube. It breaks the tension. For instance:
12) Be sure to bring a book along just in case.
13) Often throwing water in their face or slapping them relieves hysteria.
I welcome these confidences of course.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
He points out that if you pay attention to people talking for a bit you will notice how we all seem to be appealing to a common standard of behavior- an unwritten set of rules that everybody is assumed to understand and have in common. You will notice that when people disagree, they will usually say something like "well you ought to have announced before you left that you would want your chair back" or "things were quite different when you gave me your orange" or "I promised to do such and such only if this and that". In other words, they are in turn appealing back to the same set of shared, unwritten standards to argue their case. Lewis points out that you almost never hear someone say: "Well, to hell with your standards!"
That's mostly true- but I have found that it is an excellent way to win arguments.