Monday, June 27, 2011

Dying From "Death-by-Polling"

America is dying from "death-by-polling," as manifested in the latest poll showing that 67% of likely voters oppose raising America's debt ceiling. Of course, none of these people could tell you or me exactly what it means to raise the debt ceiling, not even if their life depended on it. These are the same two-thirds of the population who can't balance their own check book, and who thought that sub prime loans were a good idea. We're not talking, here, about intellectually informed financial geniuses. Nevertheless, their opinions seem to matter in this country. So here's what needs to happen, because it's universally true that people only believe what they discover for themselves.

Washington needs to let the country go into default to show the voters what a bankrupt nation actually looks like. Let voters discover economic reality for themselves. Let the geezers (this group includes me) go a few months without their Social Security check. Furlough all the air traffic controllers and TSA screeners to keep all the planes on the ground. Close the VA hospitals, and move the war casualty patients into the empty airports where they can fend for themselves like some kind of third world refugees. This seems to be the kind of America that the so-called fiscally conservative voters want. Either that, or they really and truly believe that tax money can just be cultivated to grow on trees.

Lets just hope that the grown-ups (if there are any left) in Washington don't take polling results seriously.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Representation Without Taxation

"Taxation without representation" was one of the sticking points that drove the American colonies to revolt against the British Crown in 1776, but today we have the opposite problem. We have representation without taxation. Behind all the so-called budget talks in Washington lurks the dirty little secret that almost half of all Americans pay no income tax whatsoever. The number is 48% to be specific. For these low income people, the only way that they financially support the Federal government is if they drive a car (gasoline tax) or they smoke (tobacco tax) or they drink adult beverages (alcohol tax). That might be okay, but for the fact that all these folks get the full benefit of government assistance, including Social Security (if they qualify) and Medicare and food stamps, not to mention the protection of the U.S. Military against foreign threats. They vote and take the goodies that are available, but financially they have no skin in the game, so to speak.

So what's the answer to this? We absolutely need a national consumption tax, a sort of national sales tax on everything but groceries and prescription medicines. This would give every American a stake in fixing the budget problem, something that's lacking now. Most other developed nations have this tax in place, although for the life of me I don't see how they were able to put the tax into effect, given the politics that worked against it. Politically, the very mention of a national sales tax in America would be suicidal to the first political party that suggests it, and this probably will prevent it from ever coming up in discussion. But the smart people-- the REALLY smart people (most of whom don't hold elected office) -- who truly understand money and budgets and finance, all these experts quietly say that a national sales tax is the only way out of our monetary problem.

Don't look for this monetary solution to happen. The riots in the streets of Athens over the Greek government's austerity measures are a vision into the future of the United States if we ever tried to implement the national sales tax. We in America would prefer national bankruptcy instead.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Seven Billion and Counting

The world's supply of fresh water, oil and edible fish seemed inexhaustible. The world's largest city by population was London, England, followed closely by New York City. Back then, Mexico City, Bombay, San Paulo, and Peking all contained fewer than one million people. Today, these four cities hold more than 20 million inhabitants each with their populations growing exponentially. Back then, the globe's total head count was just over two billion.

This is not the picture of some long distant planet at the start of the Industrial Revolution more than a century ago. It was the state of the world at the dawn of the atomic age at the end of World War II. The growth of mankind from two billion to seven billion has taken place in the course of a single lifetime, my lifetime to be specific, and if left unchecked the increase in human population threatens to make our world into a place where I, for one, would not choose to live.

Why bring this up now? Because the Catholic Church has recently re-stated it's position that birth control is a sin, evidently thinking that exponential population growth is NOT a sin, and can just go on forever. But it can't, and when something can't go on forever, it stops.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Taking Back America

I'll admit that I just don't seem to understand codes, particularly the codes used by political parties to say things internally that will stay under the radar of those outsiders who might take offense or dispute the messages. Case in point is the Tea Party call to take back America. I flat don't get it. Take back America from what? Or from who? And most importantly, take back America how? "Take Back America" is the kind of shorthand that looks good on a bumber sticker, but since the meaning is so ambiguous I have to assume that it's code for something deeper and perhaps more sinister. Could it be that there are patriotic Americans who want to take their country back from a colored man who got himself elected President?

"Taking back America" seems to be a favorite theme (always unaccompanied by specifics) with Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, and I confess that each time I hear it from them it reminds me of the cheerleader who sleeps with the entire football team, and then goes off to college announcing that she intends to take back her virginity.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How's That Workin' Out For You?

Well, no surprise here. The Vatican honchos at last week's gathering to discuss condom use simply decided to maintain the Church's position that condoms are sinful under any circumstances, and that anyone in a position to use a condom should practice abstinence instead. Abstinence is the Catholic strategy for everything involving sex. It should be remembered that the Church has depleted its vast wealth to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars to pay off the victims of pedophilia suffered at the hands of Catholic priests-- all of whom swore a vow to practice lifelong abstinence. So here's my question to the self-deluded idiots in Rome: "How's that abstinence thing workin' out for you?"