Budgeting in the United States of Me

Taxes are a lot like salaries. If you paid someone $1 million a day (oh wait, we do) they’d scream bloody murder they should’ve gotten $1,ooo,ooo.o1. If you taxed someone 1%, they’d whine they shouldn’t have to pay more than 000.1%, with those whining the loudest being the people with the lowest tax rates and highest pay.

Perhaps the most oft-repeated charge against Obama bin Karl Marx and the Democrat Politburo is that they’re dangerous socialists. But according to a recent story from CNBC, a funny thing happened on the way to the Kremlin. If you look at their list of the 10 most socialist states, there’s a whole lotta red in Governors’ mansions. In fact, six of 10 governors sport big red Rs next to their names. BTW, the People’s Republic of California didn’t even make the list.

All the tri-cornered hats and tea bags notwithstanding, the charge that most states are tax and spend Central Bureaus is shaky too.

Despite the screeching about high taxes, Americans enjoy some of the lowest taxes in the western world. American companies pay the second highest taxes, but they don’t mention their taxes are high because American companies gorge on taxpayer-funded corporate welfare far more damaging than the most greedy, imaginary, Cadillac-driving welfare queen.

American Productivity: The Bee’s Knees
They also don’t say they’re not leaving the US so much because of high taxes, but because they can hire workers from Third World countries at pennies on the dollar relative to Americans workers. Oh yeah, American workers who are generally rated as some of the most productive in the world.

The uber-capitalist view on this is that government is inherently inefficient and can’t be trusted with a dollar and there is massive fraud out there to be picked like leaves from the Liberty Tree. However, everyone’s favorite tax and spend worker’s paradise, California, has the lowest number of employees per 10,000 residents.

And when it comes to California’s current economic pickle, it’s useful to remember that if California were a country, its economy would be the eighth largest in the world – somewhere around the size of Spain’s. Fixing California’s problems is as difficult as fixing the two national economies that’ve already gone off the edge – Iceland and Ireland. BTW, both have smaller economies than California’s. But take heart don’t tax and spender conservatives, if Ireland goes, we could overtake Spain. USA! USA! USA!

Plus, a remnant from the last misguided tax revolt is a draconian tax and spend process worse than the broke Eurotrash’s. You may have heard of it, Prop 13. Prop 13 makes it extremely difficult to raise taxes to support social programs, infrastructure projects, and most importantly, education. So, California’s educational system has dropped from best in the nation to sub-Alabama levels since its introduction, its roads look like mule trails to the Hindu Kush, and social and educational programs have taken the biggest hits in the sausage slicing process…in a state with more poor people than any other.

Rid the government of fraud you say?

That’s a dandy idea, but none of our erstwhile CEO/politicians can explain how much there is, where it is, or how to cut it. BTW, if we removed of all of it, the spending effect – like banning earmarks – would be like pissing into a hurricane.

Of course we could start cutting the continued contracts with known fraudsters like, Blackwater/XE, Halliburton, and dozens of others carbuncles on the ass of the American economy. But hey, what do I know…except that having worked in both the public and private sectors I can vouch for the fact that fraud, abuse, and waste in corporate America is roughly the same in government America after being scaled to their relative sizes.

Moossilini and the Gajillionaire
Yes, people have a right to complain when their tax money isn’t spent wisely and no one wants to pay any more than necessary (excepting gajillionaire Warren Buffet, but you know how crazy the unbelievably rich are). But there’s the rub. One man’s waste is another man’s essential. If it were easy, we wouldn’t have a problem – even if Moosilini says it is. Still, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

Yet, you can bet that when it comes to the cutting, some of the same folks who now complain righteously, albeit incorrectly, aren’t going to be happy.

Do you think that Granny holding the “Get Rid of Obamunist” sign is going to be happy when the people she voted for decide that her Social Security and Medicare are wasteful perks? How about those who are ready to send Junior off to college only to find that all that grant money went poof? And when Mom gets e-coli from some ConAgra-raised hamburger, treated with bum drugs, and it eventually kills her (without even the courtesy of a death panel) the FDA doesn’t look so wasteful anymore.

We are all Americans and part of the responsibility of every American is to chip something in for the common good of the nation – or we would be called the United States of Me.

Stop yelling about how bad you’ve got it.

You could be working 14 hours a day in an Indonesian sweatshop to make shirts you’ll buy on the cheap at Walmart.

Always low prices…Always.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

A Nation of Simpletons

When I first arrived in the United States, I remember watching the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite do a report over the enactment of a law prohibiting open containers for drivers in Texas. At that time, it was legal to drink alcohol while driving in 11 states and according to the report one could drive from New Mexico to Florida beer in one hand, steering wheel in the other. This report has stuck in my mind these now 30 plus years for the reaction of a woman when asked about the law which was then about to take effect. Beer in hand, cigarette in mouth, this tank topped graced woman offered the view that the enactment of this law marked the fact that America was becoming "a communist country." My reaction then was geez what a simpleton.

That was pretty much my reaction when I saw this little ditty composed and performed by former Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson:

Unfortunately, the above isn't satire. She's serious. By her own self-admission, even her parents think she's crazy. But millions in the Tea Party movement beg to differ.

And my reaction to reading that a poll by James Carville run Democracy Corps (pdf) finds that 55 percent of likely voters believe that the word "socialist" describes the president either "well" or "very well" was did they just poll morons or we can now safely assume that most Americans just that ignorant. I have to ask how many of these people can actually define what socialism is or means. 

Over at Salon, Steve Kornacki finds that these results are "actually not all that surprising" and that we shouldn't be "alarmed" by them.

The first thing to keep in mind is that we're talking about likely midterm voters, which means that the sample is skewed to include more Republican-friendly voters, who are more likely to turn out in November. This is what always happens in midterm elections: The out party's base is more motivated.

Of course, this only accounts for a few extra points. As the poll shows, even when the pool is broadened, the number of voters who describe their president as a socialist is quite high. But maybe this has always been the case? The right has been screaming about Obama's "socialism" since the summer of 2008 (at least) -- long before he was elected, long before he was sworn in, and long before he signed a single piece of legislation. In other words, the right reached its conclusion before there was any evidence. (This is the "thinking with my gut" mentality that Stephen Colbert likes to mock.)

I can't immediately recall or find any polling from the '08 campaign about the Obama/socialism question. But it seems entirely possible that, even during that campaign, around 40 percent of the electorate would have described him as a socialist. This isn't to say that they knew what the term meant (or even how to spell it); they just latched onto it because it meshed with the emotions that Obama and his supporters stirred in them. And now the number has jumped, with some voters from outside the hardened GOP base joining in the name-calling.

Or perhaps we just live amongst simpletons who have been failed by the educational system and who are exploited for political ends by a self-serving elite that preaches freedom couched in economic terms based on an erroneous mantra that lower taxes translate into greater wealth ever while condemning an ever larger percentage of Americans into perpetual poverty even as they enrich themselves. Frankly, I am alarmed by the stupidity which surrounds me.

What Americans Want

Americans are known, for better of for worse, for their strong support of “capitalism” and hesitancy towards “socialism.” A recent poll by Pew Research Center confirmed this notion, although perhaps not with the intensity one would expect. When asked what their first reaction to the word “socialism” was, 59% gave a negative response and only 29% responded positively. Their reaction to the word capitalism was exactly the opposite, 52% gave a positive response, and 37% responded negatively.

How does this translate into what Americans want from the government now? Another poll by Pew Research Center asked how much a certain solution, such as cutting taxes or additional government spending, would help to improve the current job situation. Additional spending on roads, bridges, and other public works projects scored the highest with 37% of respondents agreeing that it would “help a lot.” On the flip side, 29% asserted that cutting personal income taxes would “not help at all.” This seems rather contradictory to what capitalism would dictate to do in an economic recovery.

There's more...

It's Vladimir Putin Not Lenin

 

With the increase in claims of "Socialism!" by the right-wing and tea-party nuts, the concept of Soviet Russia always comes in to play.  Most people I come in contact with, sadly enough, don't realize that Russia itself is not a socialist nation anymore.  No folks, this ended with the Soviet Union's collapse nearly 20 years ago.  The undeserved rage ensues from those uneducated enough to open a world-fact book and realize that Russia is a Semi-presidential Federal Republic (or some variation of those words).

With that all being said, a quick look at the Council on Foreign Relations site (CFR.org) has brought about some unique viewpoints towards the United States relations with the Russians.

As many remember, Joe Biden claimed that the U.S. wanted to "push the reset button on US-Russian relations."  I personally liked this a lot.  Russia, although has had some trouble transitioning from a socialist state to a more democratic one, I believe is trying to distance itself from its totalitarian past.

Heres a blurb from an interview with consulting editor of CFR.org Bernard Gwertzmann

More than a year ago, Vice President Joseph Biden made a speech saying the United States wanted to "reset" relations with the Russians. Has this worked?

The atmosphere of the relationship is certainly very different. If you remember the kind of nastiness of the late Bush administration and the end of Vladimir Putin's presidency, and the anger created by the Russian-Georgian War in August 2008, the starting point was very low. The administration thought that it could get results faster than has proved to be feasible, not just in the area of arms control. They worked hard on getting Russian cooperation as a transit country for getting supplies into Afghanistan, and that eventually started to work but has taken a long time.

President of Russia (albeit in name only) Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama have had several talks in the beginning parts of Obama's administration and things seem to be going somewhat more smoothly than the previous administration.  Talks have resumed for instituting a new version of the START initiative (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) due to Bush's need to put missile interceptors in the Czech Republic and elsewhere (this angered Russia quite a bit.)

Our Russian relations have come a long way from George W. Bush's method of bludgeoning other countries over the head with a hammer resembling the American flag.

The one road block, it seems, is Mr. Vladimir Putin himself.  Due to a pretty large loophole in the Russian Constitution, a president cannot serve more than 2 consecutive terms.  This means that a person elected president could theoretically take a break for a year, then run again for 2 more terms.  This is likely the route Putin will choose to take.  Putin himself is a very mysterious, authoritative man and only time will tell what he chooses to do.

For now, The United States and Russia could use each other to combat Iranian nuclear threats.  Lets distance ourselves from referring to Russians as socialists, because it is simply not true.

до свидания

for the full interview check this link

http://www.cfr.org/publication/21663/in_moscow_talks_iran_looms.html

 

 

Dear feds: We loathe you. Please send money.

Like Gov. Sean Parnell and a number of Republican legislators down in Juneau, I'm SUPER mad about the federal government and its "war with Alaska's interests."

Memo to the feds: Get out of our lives! We don't need you and your socialist government programs! We're Alaskans! We know how to handle things on our own!

I mean, except for a few things. Or, maybe, like about $10 billion worth of things.

We want you out of our business, period. But could you, like, keep funding a third of all our jobs? You know, the Coast Guard, Army, Air Force, National Weather Service, Transportation Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Veterans Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Forest Service, Indian Health Service, U.S. Postal Service and all the other federal agencies?

http://community.adn.com/adn/node/147046

have a good laugh.

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