Saturday, October 13, 2007

Al Gore's Nobel shocks the world.

The Nobel Prize committee announced yesterday that Al Gore won the 2007 Peace Prize.

Perhaps I ruined the moment for some of his fans by making the same announcement a week ago. Gore, after all, had been nominated for running around like Chicken Little and saying "The sky is falling !"

His main competitor for the award saved the lives of 2,500 children in The Holocaust. For the committee, it was a no-brainer.

For me to announce the prize winner early was thoughtless and irresponsible. It was like revealing the end of a Yet-To-Be-Released Harry Potter book to a group of twelve year olds.

The Whited Sepulchre regrets the error.

Big Sister is Everywhere

I found a Chinese/Taiwanese blog this morning that made me stop and reflect that I'm lucky to live where I do.
In China, no matter where you go, the same voice booms through speakers in supermarkets, public squares, retail stores, and nightclubs. This person's image stares at you from storefronts even in the most remote areas. A voice from the past that haunts the nation.
No, I'm not speaking of Chairman Mao. His legacy is less influential.
Karl Marx? Nope. He's as dead as farm collectives.
Chairman Hu? No.
I'm referring to the Chinese obsession with Karen Carpenter. Check out the blog. They play these same songs and videos 24/7/365. There's an A+ Master's Thesis waiting for the sociologist who can explain this...."The Carpenters - The New Voice of Big Brother".

Blue State Tax Cutters

A mayor of New York City and a Governor of Massachusetts, of all places, put on their gloves, went to their corners, and came out swinging. The fight is over who did the most to increase growth by cutting taxes. Click here for WSJ article. The positive effects of their tax cuts can't be denied.

Thirty years ago, it would have been unthinkable.... almost like "An orthodox Rabbi and a conservative Imam put on their gloves, went to their corners, and came out swinging. The fight is over who did the most to improve public health by promoting the consumption of ham."

Friday, October 12, 2007

But that's not fair ! ! !

The wealthiest 1% of the nation pays ____ % of the taxes.
The wealthiest 5% of the nation pays ____% of the taxes.
The wealthiest 25% of the nation pays ____% of the taxes.
The wealthiest 50% of the nation pays ____% of the taxes.

The Corner on National Review Online has a story featuring the current % breaks.

Discuss amongst accordingly. You're going to hear a lot about this next November. And if you work for Uncle Sam, why not just tell the people in the brackets above that "this is the amount of tax you're going to pay. It's what you paid last year WITH all your deductions. We've done the math, and unless you really screwed up, it's what you'll pay this year WITHOUT any deductions. You don't have to give any more of your money to the Tax Shelter Priesthood, or make any last minute donations of your husband's underwear."

More Glaring Omissions

I woke up screaming this morning because of a glaring omission in the post below. I failed to mention that Hillary once took $2.00 tax deductions for giving Bill's used underwear to charity.

That would have been the perfect factoid to illustrate that people claim all possible tax deductions which are worth the hassle, regardless of their political inclinations, or love of Big Govt.

I don't know why I should expect to gain a readership for these mad ravings while making that kind of mistake.

The Whited Sepulchre regrets the error.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Rahm Emmanuel and The Flat Tax

Rahm Emmanuel, former advisor to Bill Clinton, Democratic Congressman from Illinois, and Israeli Tank-Tread polisher during Gulf War I, has almost gotten it right with his flat tax.....
Ideas Primary » Blog Archive » The Middle-Class Flat Tax

"The principle is simple and fair: no middle-class family with an income of under $100,000 should ever have to pay an effective tax rate of more than 10%. If the amount they owe after calculating their taxes is more than 10% of their income, they won’t have to pay a dime above 10%. If what they owe is less than 10%, they’ll pay the lesser amount, and the Middle-Class Flat Tax will not apply."
So far, so good. Milton Friedman, the Libertarian demigod, couldn't have said it any better. If this proposal is succesful, the entire Tax Shelter Priesthood - Accountants, Tax Lawyers, and other Experts - can all be retrained at our Nation's Community Colleges. Careers in shipping, logistics, drafting, and electronics beckon. Because we're going with a flat tax for everybody, right? No more deductions, no more loopholes. The requirements for sheltering money from the government are incredibly wasteful, and devour a huge amount of resources. Here's more from Rahmbo....

Here’s how the idea works: As we’ve already pointed out, the current tax system is stacked against the ordinary taxpayer. Tax breaks go to those who need them least, while people who play by the rules get the shaft. What makes Americans most angry about the tax code is not just that it’s complex, but that they know the complexities are there because the game is rigged. They’re right- just look again at the difference between the wealthiest Americans’ tax bracket,and the effective tax rate they actually pay. In theory, taxpayers with incomes of $10 million or more are in the 35% tax bracket. But according to the New York Times survey, their average effective rate in 2003 - thanks to an average tax cut from Bush of more than $1 million - was 22%. In other words, the brackets themselves are a kind of tax fraud: What the wealthy actually pay bears no relation to the higher rates a progressive society intended them to pay."

Yes, the United States Tax Code is basically an elaborate record of the bribes paid to the dealers by the players in a long-running Blackjack game. Amen.

Emmanuel has nailed it. Except for the last line, which is standard boilerplate about the "rates a progressive society intended them to pay." I don't think our Founding Fathers came up with the progressive tax scale. Emmanuel's trying to equivocate the "tax" definition of progressive (escalating) with the currently fashionable "democrat" definition of progressive (warm and fuzzy feeling).

No one in his right mind wants to throw any more cash than necessary into the Gaping Maw of The Government Beast. I claim every deduction possible. If you can read this blog without moving your lips, or slobbering on your computer, then you claim your deductions too. Call your self a Progressive, Social Democrat, Marxist, Statist, etc., etc., etc., it doesn't matter. In between the Clinton White House and running for Congress, Rahm Emmanuel worked with an investment banking firm, and made an estimated 18 million dollars. Does anyone doubt that he took advantage of some accounting and legal advice to hang onto just a little bit of that 18 million? Maybe at least 7o% of it?

"Give unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar" worked great for itinerant rabbis. But if our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had gotten a job, and had to fill out a W-2 form, he would have claimed all his tax deductions. Caesar could just go figure out some other way to pay for his damn aquaducts.

I wish there were more deductions for children. I also wish there were huge deductions for weiner dogs. I wish I had the political influence to make it so. The incredibly wealthy, though, have ways of getting their tax percentage down to a level that roughly equals my tax percentage. But is there anything wrong with that? Who doubts that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet will spend money more wisely and create more jobs for the rest of society than Nancy Pelosi and Trent Lott? And should Gates and Buffet be required to hire a plague of Tax Law advisors to help them do so?

In William Faulkner's final novel, The Reivers, a vile old man digs a trench across a road that runs near his property. Then he floods the trench. He then makes a living pulling travellers out of the mud. The current tax code is a trench. Flooded by the very people who are paid to pull you out of it.

Some people resent the wealthy for manipulating their tax percentages and rates. Others say good for them; help starve the beast. But here's the strange part....I'm a member of a charitable organization that feeds street people, provides clothing for them, and will soon be providing temporary shelter for them during the winter months. This organization has some wealthy members who could buy and sell me several times over. But I don't resent the wealthy members who give less than I do. In fact, when I see that they're obviously donating less, I feel guilty that I don't give more.

What's up with that? Why does the charitable organization, which has a broad sampling of political views in it's membership, not need collectors, accountants, and lawyers to regulate it's donations? Could it be a competence issue with the charity, as compared to the government? Or could it be that I don't like paying the government to blow up Mosques, produce high school graduates who can't read a tape measure, and NOT fill in the potholes on Meadowbrook?

Regardless of the reason behind it, and I suspect it's all just an anti-Republican wedge issue, I hope Rahm Emmanuel's flat tax goes through. It would mean the end of the tax shelter industry for a lot of wealthy accountants and lawyers. But I'm hiring dock workers. If they can drive a forklift, they'll earn even more. And the government will only get 10%.

The Location of Tom Tancredo's Head

Further proof here that Tom Tancredo, Republican for President, has his head up his rear end. Click on the Rocky Mountain News link....

Rocky Mountain News: Opinion

How can a Republican get this so deeply and profoundly wrong?

The only time nations trade with each other, the only time states trade with each other, and the only time individuals trade with each other is when each party in the deal has something that the other party wants more. Both sides come away from the deal thinking that they're the winner.
The only time I trade with McDonald's, Central Market, Starbucks, or the guy who drives the Highway 80 Roach Coach is when they have something that I want worse than I want money. Whether it's Big Macs, 600 varieties of cheese, Double Espressos, or Indigestion.

The only time these organizations willingly give me Big Macs, 600 varieties of cheese, Double Espressos, or Indigestion is when they want to own a varying amount of my money. They are free to lower the price if I stop buying. The are free to raise the price if I show no signs of stopping.

Do I need the government to step in and tell me how much I "should" be paying for Big Macs, 600 varieties of cheese, Double Espressos, or Indigestion, if I can find those same items cheaper at Burger King, Big Benny's World O' Cheese, Seattle's Best Coffee, or in a dumpster? Should the government be in the business of preserving the profit margins of McDonald's, Central Market, Starbucks, and Rodrigo the Roach Coach Man?

If an iPhone from China costs $200 and an iPhone manufactured in Vail, Colorado costs $2000, who should be manufacturing Iphones? Whose iPhone will sell? Whose iPhone will be a total waste of resources, assuming all other quality issues are equal? (And if you don't bring up lead paint on Chinese Toys, I won't bring up poison in Tylenol bottles....)

We all wind up with more affordable stuff as a result of allowing everyone produce the things for which they're the lowest cost producer.

Nobody is worried about The Tarrant County, Texas, vs. Sunflower County, Mississippi, trade deficit ! ! ! Nobody is worried about the Texas vs. Louisiana trade deficit ! ! ! No sober person, in my presence anyway, seems to worry about my trade deficit with Starbucks ! ! !

I mean, every morning of my life I go to the Hulen and Camp Bowie Starbucks and give them two dollars and they give me a double espresso, but they never buy a freakin' thing from me ! ! ! Where is the outrage, people? ? ? Should I start making double espressos at home if Starbucks doesn't start using my shipping and logistics services ? ? ? That will show 'em, won't it? But maybe, just maybe, my time in the morning is better spent cussing various freight carriers for not showing up on time, instead of adjusting the grind on an espresso machine.....(Diane with ABF, this is directed at you.)

We in the U.S. are collectively better off with the garment industry in China instead of along the East Coast. Not because the garment industry is bad, but because it's absence is a sign that we are too productive to have something as basic as large-scale garment manufacturing here. China will be better off when the garment industry packs up and moves to India. (They'll fight it when it starts happening.) It will mean that Chinese labor has become so productive that the garment industry can't afford to be there any longer.

Bill Clinton understood this. Bill Clinton gave us the biggest hog-stomping economic expansion in history. Hillary used to understand this. But at least in the primaries, Hillary seems to be in a race with Tancredo, Obama, and The Carolina Ambulance Chaser to see if she can fully insert her head into her fundamental aperture even faster than they. Click here for details, while you can still see her ears.

The Glockberry

For Those People Around The Office Who Are Always Multi-tasking....

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Wreck Room, R.I.P.

I guess this means The Wreck Room is dead. Why can the world support 23,000 McDonald's outlets, but this place can't hold onto it's lease? Or am I too old to be getting worked up over this?

Click here for pictures documenting the end of the Wreck Room era, recent bands, and assorted strange stuff. Compliments of Kat Shimamoto, A.K.A. Meezlady, who, if she has to do anything other than take pictures for a living, it's a shame. (But then, we live in a world that can support 23,000 McDonald's but no Wreck Room.) I found her site totally by mistake....hers was the first to start scrolling a few minutes ago on my Google dashboard page. Also shown on Kat's Wreck Room pages - a great band with a cruddy name - Addnerim - guys who seem to always hang out at Zoo Music, just down the road from our place on Camp Bowie. I really am too old to be this interested in all this.....

Here's a brief detour from a previous post about my favorite Wreck Room show.

Failure and Disappointment

I reject this poster. No matter how bad today has been. And it's been bad.

The lesson I'm determined to learn is from Teddy Roosevelt, (compliments of Brian Johnson's blog where I was able to find the exact wording) : "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena....who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Buying A Job

Here's the Wall Street Journal's link to a graph of the current fundraising totals for each Presidential candidate.
The job pays about $250K per year, but has great benefits and retirement.
All figures on the graph are expressed in millions.
Unbelieveable. And we're just getting started.
The cost of the Apollo Space Missions, which put a man on the moon - $126 billion.
The cost of giving Saddam Hussein a necktie party and a dirt nap? - $800 billion, and counting.
The cost of putting someone into The White House? The candidates have gotten their hands on about $300 million so far. I'm betting total spending will top 1 billion.

Glaring Omission

Various emailers have pointed out that I neglected to mention Al Gore's International Emmy Award, given for his contributions to Broadcasting, in the post below.

The Whited Sepulchre regrets the error.

Congratulations once more, to Al Gore, who has yet to win the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. But who will soon be able to check it off his list.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Congratulations Al Gore, Winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize

Congratulations Al Gore, Winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Mr. Gore was awarded the prize for his consciousness-raising environmental work.

Mr. Gore recently won an Academy Award for the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth".

He served as Vice-President of The United States under President Bill Clinton, winner of a Grammy award for Best Spoken Word Album for the recording of his autobiography "My Life".
(Through a remarkable coincidence, Mr. Clinton's wife, Hillary Clinton, also won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for her recording of "It Takes A Village".)

Some have complained that all major awards are becoming overly politicized, and that proper ideology is beginning to outweigh quality. Las Vegas bookmakers will no longer accept wagers in contests featuring prominent Democrats, stating that the events are now "non-competitive".

I have tried and failed to reach Jimmy Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner, for his comments on this issue.

I will be taking some vacation time during the middle of October when the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize will be formally announced to the rest of the world (i.e. - those who don't think it's a ideological, predictable farce), and wanted to get this post onto the website ahead of time.

P.S. - The 1994 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Yasser Arafat, was also unavailable for comment.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

This is a short but fascinating video (if you're a building contractor, employer, or a total geek) by Stephen Dubner - co-author of "Freakonomics", - which will be on the NYT bestseller list again this Christmas when it comes out in paperback.
If an employer can be sued by a disabled employee for not being 100% in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, does this make the employer more likely or less likely to hire Americans With Disabilities?

Video: Is the Law of Unintended Consequences the Strongest Law Around? - Freakonomics - Opinion - New York Times Blog

(I'm making an assumption here that the book will be in paperback by Christmas. If those guys are smart enough to write a book this good, they're smart enough to know when to release the paperback....)