Life On Other Planets, Bush-era Tax Cuts, Gays In The Military, Wikileaks

December 9, 2010

- See all 39 of my articles

This will be my final article for 2010, and I’ve been pretty darn moderate my last few articles so rather than focusing on one specific issue here I’m going to give my opinions on a bunch of different issues that are making news the past few weeks.  I apologize in advance if I get a little too stream-of-consciousness.

Within the past few days it has been announced both that astronomers found an extra-solar system planet that has water vapor and a lifeform that uses arsenic instead of phosphorus for basic life processes.  This opens up the possibility of there being life in a lot more places out there (including outside of Earth) than we thought previously.  I already know the one question on every Republican’s mind:  Are these lifeforms willing to put a hold on everything just to keep an unnessessary tax cut for the richest of the rich?  (and if so let’s spin that to our advantage)

Ok, about that whole tax issue …

I’m going to break into a little comparison here.  Ok, a big comparison.  Pretend that you work for a big company that has a board of directors that chooses the CEO.  For some strange reason a new CEO gets chosen every 4 years and can only be CEO for a total of 8 years.  Anyway, your CEO announces that he’s giving an across-the-board temporary raise to everyone in the company, and he has it done in contract form so everyone knows it’s temporary.  He’s not entirely sure the company can afford it, but what the heck, it’ll raise company morale, right?  Besides that, it’s temporary and he’s set it to expire while on the next CEO’s watch, so even if it is a problem it will be somebody else’s problem.  Some years later there’s a whole lot of water-cooler gossip because those temporary raises are set to expire.  It’s a new CEO now and he’d like to continue the raise for everyone but the absolute top earners in the company, and those top earners have salaries absolutely dwarf yours (we’re talking quite a few magnitudes of order) scream to the point of holding up any plans to continue that raise and it all falls through.  Do you think it’s dishonest to call that temporary raise expiring, with all the circumstances, a pay cut? 

Welcome to the United States of Goldman Sachs.  I just don’t get how extreme right-wingers can act like Bush’s brand of capitalism is fair when everyone but the top 1% starts at a massive disadvantage.  It is a proven fact that one of the worst ways to improve the economy and create jobs is to cut taxes, and one of the best ways is to keep those without jobs on unemployment.  Why?  Virtually 100% of unemployment money is spent (the jobless don’t save, they barely survive) while the super-rich continually invest/save outside of America.

[Editor’s note: for a primer on income distribution in the US, check out this article – How many people make more than $250,000].

Every Republican and even a few Democrats have swallowed the cool-aid, though, and are calling what’s gong on here a tax raise.  Heck, what the taxes are going back up to aren’t even at Reagan tax levels and people were doing just fine, then.  Finally, why is no one pointing out that this is yet another mess Bush created and will have no hand in solving?  I sure didn’t see Republicans screaming about the debt or deficit when he was starting wars and not using correct accounting methods for their costs, and 1 of those wars was started based on information Dick Cheney knew was false.  I bet South Korea is wishing we invaded the real nuclear threat rogue state right about now.

Speaking of the military, I wonder where John McCain will move his goalposts to next.  2006 he said he’d be fine with repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell if the military was ok with it.  In 2008 he said he’d need a thorough study from the Pentagon saying it wouldn’t cause major impact and he’d be ok with it.  Now that the thorough study is out McCain is insulting the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and our Commander in Chief by saying they don’t really lead military men so this study is invalid.  I bet if by some miracle he had won the presidential election in 2008 he’d say he led troops as Commander in Chief.  Homophobia, like John McCain, is really old.  He froths at the mouth defending positions that not even 50% of Americans want, and then flip-flips on DADT when over 75% of Americans would be OK with gays serving openly.

About Wikileaks …  I’m still not quite sure what to think about Jullian Assange.  It is unclear to me if he is breaking the law or not, or even morally wrong or not.  On the one hand, I understand that government secrets are sometimes a necessary evil but on the other hand I feel like someone has to watch the watchman.  The US Justice Department is going all-out to try and charge him with something, anything – that feels like to me he might just be innocent.  We’re talking about a US espionage service that was able to infect Iranian nuclear processing centrifuges with a virus – and don’t think for a minute that the US didn’t have a hand in it, even if it was just helping Israel do the dirty deed.  If they really had some dirt on Assange, don’t you think they would have him being waterboarded at Quantico right now?

[Editor’s note: check our Squeaky’s article, What should we do about Wikileaks, for more commentary on Wikileaks and Julian Assange.]

Finally, I’d like to give a big middle finger to political correctness and say Merry Chrismas, Happy Hanukkah, and a joyful whatever else you celebrate.  Most of what we celebrate these days has Pagan roots anyway, and it’s all capitalistic.  I wish the world would stop being so greedy and just learn to love their fellow man.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kosmo
    Dec 09, 2010 @ 11:14:07

    I think I’m just overlooking it in the article, but where is there evidence that extending unemployment boosts the economy?

    I’m wondering if this is actually true – that this allows the unemployed to actually spend more money? If they weren’t receiving unemployment, would this money not be spent at all – or would the unemployed raid their savings and investment accounts and use they funds for purchasing household goods? Some of today’s unemployed had pretty decent jobs quite recently and would have some assets to draw on, if needed (not that this would be optimal for them).

    On the lower side, you’re talking about people who might be on welfare if they weren’t on unemployment, so the extension of unemployment might not be a huge additional cost for the government.

    I like your closing point. Personally, I’m not offended by either Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. If you’re taking pictures of kids with Santa, definitely say Merry Christmas. If you’re at a kosher bakery, go ahead and say Happy Hanukkah. And if you just want everyone to be happy, say Happy Holidays – or even just “have a good day”. Why should a message of goodwill cause so much controversy? To quote the great philosopher Charles Brown, “Good Grief!”

    I also wondered if the US was behind the computer virus in Iran.


  2. DragonSifu
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 07:28:33

    @Kosmo: I don’t have it at my fingertips, but I am sure the great GoogleGod can make it appear – the factoid i have seen repeatedly is that for every $1 of money the government puts into unemployment benefits $1.61 returns to the economy over the long run. The concommitant number I have seen is that no more than $0.31 returns to the economy for every $1 of tax cuts, and that is ACROSS THE BOARD average of tax cuts, not just the wealthiest 2%. The quotes I have read from economists (serious, peer-reviewed, scientific economists, not the pundits) is that practically ZERO percent of tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy comes back into the US economy.

    More importantly, it is time that the MSM loudly debunk the myth that is repeated ad nauseum by the Republicrats that the top 2% of wealth owners in this country create jobs. They do NOT. Some may have on the way up there, at least those that worked to get there rather than just taking inheritance. But once they get there, they do NOT create jobs. And while we’re at it, taxing individuals who make over a quarter million dollars a year does NOT punish small businesses. Corporations are taxed differently than individuals, and by FAR the majority of small business owners do not take home over $250k a year. And, if some individuals do, then I think it is fine for them to pay a fair share, even a progressive share. My opinion on that last part.


    • kosmo
      Dec 10, 2010 @ 08:10:38

      I wonder if the numbers will be a bit different this time around. My gut feeling is that the average unemployed person right now has more personal wealth than the average unemployed person 10 years again. Again, certainly not to downplay the impact of unemployment. Just point out that the unemployed is reaching higher into the class of jobs that employs the middle class.

      I would expect a bit of a sliding scale. Give $1 in unemployment benefits to the clerk at the grocery store, and perhaps $2 returns to the economy. Give $1 in unemployment benefits to a middle manager and maybe $1.15 returns to the economy.

      I’m hardly a trained economist, though.


  3. Tiberius Kane
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 15:59:40

    I remember liberals and conservatives complaining about the Republican congress’s deficit of $500 billion dollars. Now it’s Democrats holding the purse strings and the spending went through the roof and the deficit went into orbit. The deficit for last year was over a trillion dollars for the second year in a row. It’s expected to go even higher this year.

    Handing money over to the government isn’t an economy. The government handing money over to people who don’t do anything isn’t an economy either. When you give a dollar to an unemployed person he then spends $1.61, where did the $.61 come from? Savings? Credit card? Second mortgage? Begging on the street corner?

    Wealth is produced and an economy is grown by providing a service or product. You can’t stimulate an economy by paying people to do nothing when they could be working and producing wealth. Statistics show that the majority of people on unemployment get a job in the last month of benefits regardless of how long the benefits last. Amazing how that works. The sooner we quit paying unemployment the sooner they’ll get back to work.


  4. Zarberg
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 16:14:05

    You’ll forgive me if I’m skeptical of your claim that “Statistics show that the majority of people on unemployment get a job in the last month of benefits regardless of how long the benefits last. ” until you provide citations. I work for a state unemployment agency and have never seen any kind of figures that would prove your statement to be true from our Labor Management Information department.

    The extra money from a single dollar comes on the fact that it is immediately spent (providing income to a company or person) and taxed at that point. As that company or person spends it, it is again taxed and passed on to someone else who will do the same.


  5. kosmo
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 17:43:11

    If those statistics intend to say that the jobs are found in the last month benefits are SCHEDULED to be paid, then I, too am a bit skeptical. If it’s saying that the jobs are found in the last month the benefits are ACTUALLY paid, then I’d believe it, but not be impressed (since this just means that half the people find jobs at some point before benefits expire).

    None of the people I’ve known who were on unemployment have ever sat around until the last month to start hitting the pavement looking for work. That sounds like a pretty bad idea.

    Having said that, we obviously can’t extend unemployment benefits forever. At some point, a different solution needs to be found.


Leave a Reply