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Sunday, July 22, 2012

...cold, dead fingers...

I am writing this in the aftermath of the horrible, senseless shooting at the Aurora, Colorado premier of the new Batman movie. As the news media does, it has covered every aspect of this tragedy. One of the things that always pops up after a shooting like this is the calls for gun control and gun laws.

I am always amazed that there are actually sane and rational people out there that think more gun laws and/or bans will solve things like this. We cannot "put the genie back in the bottle", as it were. Unless there was a way to eliminate all the guns on the planet (and wouldn't the armies of the world look cute with their shiny spears) and the knowledge on how to build them, gun violence will never go away*. I think even the most adamant gun control nut would agree that is not possible. For those of you still with doubts, here are some examples - after billions of dollars and millions of arrests, is marijuana still available? How about cocaine, heroin, etc? Has prostitution been done away with? How about something simple like speeding? Know anyone that goes over the speed limit? How did Prohibition work out in eliminating alcohol consumption?

Now, I am not equating speeding with gun violence. I am just pointing out that no matter what the laws say, people will break them. And, they are more likely to be broken by people with little regard to legality or even societal norms. The old adage about banning guns and only lawbreakers will have guns is unfortunately true. It is also surprising to me that there are people, even in government, that think banning individual ownership of guns is a great idea. Yet these same people, in some instances, think elimination of the illegal aliens in the country is a bad idea. Only one of these things is guaranteed as a right in the Constitution. The other is specifically spelled out as a responsibility of the federal government to handle in that same document. Guess which is which!?! The founders felt strongly enough about securing our national borders as a responsibility of the federal government that is is mentioned (among a short list) of requirements of the government in the Constitution. The right to "keep and bear arms" was felt to be important enough that is is also specifically spelled out as a right of individuals in the Bill of Rights.

There are no laws or protections available against insanity. If a sufficiently motivated individual is crazy enough to want to do harm to a person or a group of people, and does not care for his or her own well-being; there is very little to be done to stop it. Luckily, events such as this are relatively rare. Even when motivated by religion or beliefs, such as jihadists or anti-government types, we are lucky that these events are still rare here in our country. I hope they stay this way. I am just commenting that more or stricter gun laws will not stop them. In fact, there are studies that show when concealed carry laws go into effect in an area, gun violence goes down. Conversely, there are studies that show when strict gun laws go into effect, crimes committed with guns go up. Now, that is not the subject of this post - but I urge you to do some research on your own if so motivated.

*As a student of psychology and sociology, I truly feel if we could ever somehow get rid of guns, we would have crazy people attacking with slingshots and/or spears. In lieu of spears, we would use clubs and/or sticks. Unfortunately, man is a violent creature.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tax those suckers good!

I have put off posting for so long I thought I would do one this evening. As I have mentioned before, I have not had a lack of ideas, but too many. I was going to do politics (and some will consider this politics, but I am talking "pure" politics - this is political, but not politics), but I have done so much of it in the past that it would be redundant. I ask you to go read some of the from 2008 and 2010 if you wish to know more. They all still apply.

This post is about the idiotic notion that is out there about taxing the rich, and how they are not "paying their fair share". I have done posts about this subject in the past as well, but I think this is a bit of a different take on the subject.

Why "idiotic"? Here are some facts - as you should know (and again, I have posts on this prior to this) the top 5% of people based on income pay over 50% of federal income taxes. The top 1% pay over 35%. Now, they have a large percentage of the income, so maybe that is fair - maybe not. That is not the point. I just want to have the stats out there that the people with the most income DO pay a large share of the taxes. Now, how about the "ultra-wealthy". Forbes magazine and other organizations estimate the US has between 400 - 450 billionaires ("B"). How about we tax those evil S.O.B.s? In fact, how about we just TAKE ALL THEIR MONEY!! A 100% tax on ALL their assets. We take their house (or houses), cars, boats, stocks, companies, bonds, cash, and income. Everything is fine then, right? We can cut taxes on all of us. Better yet, we can pay off the debt, give free government services to all, whatever we want. Au contraire, mon ami/amie. Read on...

The TOTAL assets (remember, we are talking about cleaning them out! Taking it ALL) of the 400+ billionaires in the U.S. is a bit over $1.3 trillion. Now, that's a lot of money. But, if we apply it against the U.S. federal budget (drum roll...) it would pay for a little less than FIVE MONTHS!! That's right, if we confiscate ALL the money from all the billionaires in the U.S. it would not run the government for half a year! So, we could apply it to the deficit. Problem is, that is over $15 billion. We are adding well over $1 Trillion to the deficit every year now, so all that does it take the deficit down to 2010 levels. Plus now we have no billionaires employing people in companies they own or control. (ah, we liquidated the companies to come up with the money) We have no income tax or money from them the next year. (we wiped them out remember)

The problem is SPENDING!! The federal government is spending WAY too much money. It is not sustainable. We are spending well over $3.5 trillion (with a "T") every year. We MUST cut. The problem is every cut brought up is wailed about and cried over. We MUST cut. I would cut everything by 10% to start. I am talking about a real cut. Did you realize a cut in Washington is not a cut at all. It is a cut against increases. If you doubt me, do your research. One of the reasons the politicians get away with this is baseline budgeting. This basically builds in increases every year when the budgets are proposed. Some increases are required by law, another reason that it is almost impossible for a real cut to occur. When you hear about "cuts" that congress is making (or proposing) most of the time they are cuts against increases. It is like a person that thinks they could gain 100 lbs over the year and only gains 75. That is a 25 lb "loss" (or cut).

As I have said here before, we all will have to sacrifice. This is not a Democrat or Republican problem. It is OUR problem. We are BROKE! WE HAVE NO MONEY! Programs that do benefit people will need to be cut. Hopefully, ALL the programs that waste money will be cut or eliminated. Almost impossible, but I can dream. Remember, there is NO GOVERNMENT MONEY! It all comes from us. We must cut government spending. We must fire government employees. We must cut budgets. We must cut expenditures. There is no alternative.