Friday, February 05, 2016

What's wrong with the President's plan for a production tax on petroleum

....now for starters, I'm not entirely against excises or even a carbon tax.  Since I've noted before that all taxes end up as taxes on consumption--and on the middle class and the poor--excises are really a simpler, less costly, and more effective way of taxing.  So it's not that it's a tax on petroleum at all.


What is at issue, however, is that it's a tax on domestic oil production, but not on imported oil, and that President Obama wants to spend the revenues on "green" transportation and infrastructure. 


Regarding the first, only die hard Obama voters need a primer on why that's idiotic--it would incentivize buying foreign oil while putting American oil workers out of work.  It's a long tradition in U.S. taxation (see "income tax" with elimination of tariffs), but not one that really ought to be continued.


The second issue is more subtle, but is even more egregious.  What goes as "green" in transportation really isn't.  Building an electric car (and providing the substitute car for long trips, and the garage to house it) requires tens of thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.   In the same way, when you account for how empty most mass transit is during operation,  transit isn't very efficient, either. 


For example, typical passenger-miles per gallon of diesel for urban buses is about 25--just a little better than what you'd get with a diesel-equipped Suburban with a single driver, really.  The energy budget for rail only looks better until....you start counting the metal and concrete you put in place for the rail line.  You don't put $100 billion into a high speed rail project using 1960s technology without putting a lot of steel and concrete in place, after all. 


So the long and short of it is that Obama's proposal not only gets an F for economics, but the same for ecology. 

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Some more questions about the Hilliary email scandal

Really, all of them have to do with a very simple question; who forwarded the emails from secure locations to Hilliary's server, and who did not?  Let's start with those who had basic ethics and did not forward these emails to Hilliary.


1.  Who refused to do this? 


2.  What happened to them?  Were they punished in any way or "leaned on" to start doing this?


3.  How many times did Hilliary not get critical information because these workers honored their oaths and did not place confidential information on unsecure servers?


4.  How many people suffered or died because the Secretary of State could not get critical information in time?


Now, let's also looked at those who violated their oaths of confidentiality and forwarded 1300 emails with sensitive and confidential information onto private servers.


1.  Who were they? 


2.  Do they still have clearances, and are they still working for the government?


3.  How were they persuaded to violate their oaths and do this?


4.  Who else received their emails who didn't have a right to see them?  Are they still sending sensitive emails on private email?


5.  What other systems besides private email were used to do this?  Is this still going on?  Who were the recipients?


6.  What indications do we have that foreign governments have this information? 


7.  How many people have suffered and died, and are continuing to suffer and die, because confidentiality has been thrown to the wind?


Speaking as a quality engineer, I can assure you that Hilliary did not get this information on her private server without a system in place to (a) get the emails to her and (b) hide the fact that this was happening.  So it's not just Hilliary Clinton that ought to be a resident at 1000 University Dr. SW, Waseca MN 56093, or comparable government facilities.  There are any number of people who should have seen this and sounded the alarm, starting with the senders and recipients of those 1300 emails with confidential and classified information.


Which would include, I presume, the chief resident of another governmental facility: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 20500. 

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

well, it's come to this

Not surprisingly, the planned opening of combat roles to women has, according to an article linked by SharperIron, led top officers to testify that women also will need to register for the draft. Ignoring nature--the doubling of injury rates among women embedded among combat troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the difficulties when you put young & fit people in a place where they're lonely, bored, and scared, and the like--and you get the logical conclusion; young ladies as cannon fodder.


On the serious note, churches need to put a "women out not serve in combat" into their church constitutions--the Prophets do, after all, mock the nations about to be judged by pointing out that "your soldiers are women".    It's certainly not Biblical.


But that said, given the nonexistent respect given to people of faith who don't want to pay for loose people's contraception or bake wedding cakes for homosexuals, men of faith are probably going to need to come up with another strategy, and thankfully Arlo Guthrie is here to help us.  Remember, if you want to keep your daughters out of war, you've got to sing loud.



Thursday, January 28, 2016

Requiem, I hope, for the Donald Trump candidacy

It is heartening to see "The Donald" refusing to debate on Fox News, and more heartening yet to see that his primary opponents are mocking him for getting beat up, and handily, by a girl.   Well done, Megyn Kelly, and may this be the comeuppance that this schoolyard bully needs--or, really, it's the silencing of the schoolyard bully that the nation desperately needs. 


As Fox has noted, any President can count on being "treated unfairly" by people like Hafez Bashar Al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, and Raul Castro, and our nation will be far better off if Trump takes his beating at the hands of Ms. Kelly, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz than at the hands of one of those dictators--or even at the hands of Hilliary Clinton. 


Really, we've had a schoolyard bully in chief since 2009.  Haven't we learned our lesson? 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Say what?

Apparently the group that did the excellent films of Planned Parenthood trying to sell fetal organs for a profit has been itself indicted for "tampering with government records" and "trying to purchase human organs."  Now this is really interesting, because one would think that a private organization like the "Center for Medical Progress" would have no access to government records at all--government offices have, of course, locked doors and limited access precisely to avoid this sort of thing.  Moreover, it is interesting as well that the would-be purchaser of human organs (that clearly did not want to purchase them in reality) is being prosecuted, but the would-be seller is not.  It really brings the situation of John 8 to mind--where the adulteress was brought to justice, but her paramour was not.  Jesus rightly rebuked the Pharisees in that case, to put it mildly.


So what's going on?  I am suspecting that the prosecutor decided to pull a fast one, and that what's going on is that she is saying that since some of the videos were edited for brevity, that constitutes tampering with government records. 


By the way, here's CMP's web page that clearly indicates that full footage is available.  There was no editing that would have inhibited the government's investigation, and it should be noted that attorneys edit evidence every day for clarity and brevity--it is their opponent in court who points out they edited things.  So if CMP belongs on trial, so does Devon Anderson and every other attorney who prosecutes, defends, or litigates.


So unless Anderson comes up with evidence of a Watergate style burglary, she's got a rather tough case to prove, and one where the obvious implications of the law she's trying to use are against her. Moreover, if she's twisted the law as much as it appears she has, she should be disbarred. 


Update: first of all, it appears that Devon Anderson is a she, not a he.  My mistake.  Also, it appears that the tampering with government records is about fake California drivers' licenses.  So apparently a Texas prosecutor is either trying to enforce California law, or the Texas law against tampering with government records does not actually have to do with, you know, tampering with Texas government records. 


When it comes to trial, it would be entertaining to see the prosecutor's office's voluminous records of felony convictions for college students with fake IDs, investigative journalists, and of course Texas' large number of illegal immigrants.  Don't look too long, however, since Houston is an unofficial sanctuary city.


Which is a long way of saying that this indictment is a classic example of very, very selective prosecution, combined with some very creative interpretations of the law.  Which, again, ought to get some person, or people, disbarred.

Monday, January 25, 2016

On the light side.....

My daughters got a kick out of this case, where a girls' basketball team has been kicked out of its league because the players were too good.  They are of course already plotting to kick a wonderful young runner out of cross country and track....just kidding.  It's too much fun to watch the particular young lady run. 


It also strikes me that this obnoxious new rule by the city of Lowell, Massachusetts--requiring gun permit applicants to write an essay on why they need a weapon---is as much a teaching opportunity as it is obnoxious.  Maybe after the thousandth time reading the 2nd Amendment and the Heller and McDonald decisions, and maybe after reading about how gun ownership by the law-abiding reduces crime, the chief of police and city council might figure something out.

Another massive subsidy for Planned Parenthood

One of the things I've noticed in the aftermath of the wonderful exposes of Planned Infanticide's atrocity in selling fetal body parts was that Planned Parenthood did their best to change the conversation to how many non-abortion related things they do.  Now, as I've noted here, it really doesn't matter where the funds officially go because money is fungible.  Theoretically, you could pay them for accounting or janitorial services or even electronics assembly, and the end result would still be that you're providing the funds abortionists need to work for Planned Parenthood instead of finding respectable work in the non-abortion side of obstetrics and gynecology.


But that said, it strikes me that the contraceptive mandate is probably a huge subsidy for Planned Parenthood.  Think about it a minute; the argument is, more or less, that there is a large pool out there of women whose boyfriends can't come up with $10/month to help them pay for their contraception.   Going out on a limb here, my guess is that women who sleep with such losers men might be disproportionately likely to give out their affections rather cheaply, and might be pretty likely to be or become a Planned Parenthood customer.


One may quibble what portion of funds they'd get anyways through Medicaid and such, but overall, it seems that this is yet another multi-million dollar subsidy for them.  It's yet another reason to revoke Obama's un-Constitutional executive order and stop suing nuns to force them to buy contraception for promiscuous women. 

Another reason we homeschool

Check out this story about a young lady who, stricken with an asthma attack, was told to stay in class by her teacher, upon which a young male student disobeyed the teacher and took her to the nurse himself.  First of all, well done, Mr. Ruelas!  As someone who grew up with asthma myself, I know too well how scary it can be when your lungs get tight and you start wheezing.  There are times when you ignore procedure and do what needs to be done, and shame on the teacher for refusing to get the girl to the nurse more quickly.


Scarier yet, in my opinion, is this quote from the teacher:


As I waited for a response from the nurse, the student fell out of her chair to the floor. Anthony proceeded to go over and pick her up, saying 'f-k that, we ain't got time to wait for no email from the nurse.' He walks out of class and carries the other student to the nurse.


Now let's parse that out a bit; I can excuse a 15 year old student for using poor grammar, but look at that sentence by the teacher.  Apparently using the past tense in verbs is beyond her ability; there are bigger reasons than the asthma attack to suggest she might do well to find a different vocation.




Tuesday, January 19, 2016

It boggles the mind....

First, Juan Williams is trying to lay sole blame for political incivility at the feet of the GOP.  Yes, because it's not like we have a President who has told political opponents to go to the back of the bus, or flipped the bird repeatedly during public speeches, or anything like that. 


Honestly, Williams is entitled to his bias as I am to mine, but there is this thing called "reality" that really ought to intrude once in a while.  And if you don't admit the evidence, you're signing yourself up for the next demagogue to come along and make the situation even worse.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

In honor of the right to life.....

....a little song my kids are learning to sing, though not quite (yet) at this level.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Brought to you by Geritol....

......apparently Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are going on tour soon with Cheap Trick.  Ironically, they might do better to open for this guy.


 

Questions regarding the Iranian incident

Powerline gives a good summary of the humiliation and apology administered at the hands of Iran for our sailors; really, if we had real leadership, we'd be pointing out the numerous violations of international law by the Iranians in this. 


One thing that also strikes me is that a sailor--presumably taught by his drill instructors that the only information he owed his captors was name, rank, and serial number (and starting offensive line of the Green Bay Packers if under duress of course)--goes forward with this apology.  Now this would imply that either he was NOT taught that he wasn't required to do this sort of thing, or he was "induced" to do so by how he, or another member of the squads, was treated.


Which is, of course, another war crime, as well as a very real question of how our soldiers and sailors are being trained today.  Perhaps he did that because of how the sailor in the chador might be treated if he did not?  Maybe we ought to consider this when determining who is eligible for deployment where combat might be involved. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Soak the rich? Maybe not.

I didn't agree on much with the late Senator Paul Wellstone (park the bus, it's long past time, folks), but one thing he noted shortly before he died was that corporations really don't pay taxes--they pass them on to that business' customers if at all possible.  Well said.


Now let's extend that valid logic to the wealthy (either high income or high assets).  They, too, get their resources largely from the companies they own and often run.  So what happens when one taxes the rich heavily?  Well, that gets priced into the business plan, doesn't it?  And the end result is that the rich people don't suffer as much as the poor person who pays more for the products he needs, gets fewer job opportunities because  the company owned or run by the wealthy person isn't hiring, and finally when he does get a decent job, his path to prosperity is hindered because his income, too, is taxed at the higher rate.


I'd dare suggest this is a big reason why class mobility was higher a century ago than it is now; the barriers to employment and accumulation of wealth were not there, and those who want to "soak the rich" need to consider who is most hurt; the poor, and they get hit at least three ways that I can figure.


Moreover, we need to consider the possibility that all workers in effect price in the cost of taxation into their wages.  I do not, for example work for a specific price per year, but rather aim to achieve my financial and earthly goals--paying for a nice home, nice things for my wife and I, college educations for my children, and the like.  Just ask any contract worker if they price taxes and benefits into their fees, for example.


So what we have here, really, is a simple equation; all taxes boil down to taxes on consumption, and the question is simply whether we implement our consumption tax efficiently and sanely, or whether we impose exorbitant costs by our means of taxation.  Our current system, beyond enabling the IRS to go into all kinds of detail about our personal lives, is said to impose costs of hundreds of billions of dollars to our economy before the government gets one red cent in revenue.


Maybe it's time to go to consumption based taxes and abandon the experiment that started with the 16th Amendment.  For the poor.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Name that pose

Among the calisthenics my daughters are doing for their cross country ski team is a yoga-like pose that looks a lot like "downward dog", but has one leg up.  My sons and I were doing it last night, giving the only appropriate name possible, much to my daughters' disgust.

In honor....

.....of the recent expansion of the number of known elements to 118.




And in honor, sort of, of the city of Flint's apparent inability to do basic tests for one element, specifically lead, when changing the source of the city's water.