Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Q & A time on Civil Disobedience

Q: What costs city governments millions of dollars, and has been associated with fatal drug abuse, riots, looting, confrontation with police, socialism, communism, suicide, murder and just plain old poor sanitation?

A: The Occupy Wall Street movement.

I'm not so sure that's the message they intended to send.

Civil disobedience is a valid protest mechanism, but it works best as a last resort. That means you use it after you've tried electing officials who share your views, have tried taking issues to the courts, and have spent time writing and speaking in public to share your point of view. Unfortunately these preliminary methods all appear to be too slow for those with limited patience or intellect.

Civil disobedience also doesn't cover anarchy, looting or riots. People who do that are just thugs, ruffians and thieves.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Don't leave your brain home

At a recent presidential Q&A session, President Obama was asked the question "Would you please raise my taxes?"

Apparently, Doug Edwards (an ex-Google executive) forgot his brain when he asked that question. What he wanted was improved job training, better education and new infrastructure. What he asked for was for a horribly inefficient organization to take his money by legislation, run it through a wasteful bureaucratic process, then eventually spend it on three areas, two of which he could spend money on himself with zero overhead.

Yeah, infrastructure such as roads are government controlled and are easier to deal with through taxation. But if Doug wants better schools, donate time and money to schools. He's got enough money to sponsor chairs or scholarships at universities, or buy crayons for every elementary student in the country. If he wants better job training, then hire or train some people. He's been an executive at a big company before. He should know how those sorts of things work. Why not organize a job training program, or volunteer to help or donate to one that already exists?

It just boggles the mind how people (even very successful people who understand finance and business) assume government involvement will improve things more than large scale personal involvement will improve things. Get involved! Make a difference! Stop whining about what other people (or government) aren't doing, and make yourself useful.

We don't need more taxes. We need more people taking ownership and making a difference so the need for taxation goes down.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sin Tax

Tax what you don't want people to do and you get less of it. Stop taxing what you want people to do and you get more of it. People sometimes call those Sin Taxes. Now, I'm just confused by this plan from the deficit reduction Gang of Six.

Rather than taxing vices, they're going straight after the smart folks who have been doing all the right things to provide both for themselves and for others. Wonder of wonders, that seems to be where the money is.

The home mortgage interest deduction? Charitable giving? Retirement savings? I guess the new plan is for us to be uncharitable greed-mongers who are forced into government housing and a tiny Social Security check when we're too old to work, rather than having a home and a retirement fund. A concrete studio apartment in the projects is good enough for retirement, ain't it?

Still, the answer is not to go regressive and just tax booze, smoking, sleaze and gambling either. I figure it's going to take painfully deep cuts across just about everything (particularly entitlements) to get out of the hole Congress has dug for us, and I doubt many of our esteemed Senators and Representatives have the nerve to cut deep enough to solve the problem.

That's what you get for bickering over deficit reduction until the last minute. You get a poor job slapped together in a hurry by people more interested in posturing than production, which will need to be fixed again next year if it lasts that long.

Unfortunately, there is a tipping point waiting out there somewhere. A point of no return where we just can't recover without major international disaster. Even worse, we may not even know when we've crossed that threshold. Let's hope common sense can actually be common, just this once, so we can move on in a more sensible manner as a country.