Assorted B.S. that We Are Occasionally Forced to Endure

We are too dependent on oil from the Middle East. – This is a gross misconception designed to justify our military posturing.  According to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration’s 2010 Annual Energy Review 10/2011, the US imports less oil from the Middle East than we are led to believe. Our net imports by volume including transit are from Canada (24.6%), Saudi Arabia (11.6%), Nigeria (10.6%), Venezuela (10.2%), Mexico (8.8%), Russia (6.5%), Algeria (5.5%), Iraq (4.4%), Columbia (3.6%), Kuwait (2.1%), et. al. for a total of $255.6B. We pay less for Canadian and Venezuelan oil.  Only 18.1% comes from the Middle East. Perhaps the larger issue is that we buy so much globally, keeping demand and prices higher. This provides greater profits for governments that are unfriendly to us.  Framed this way, the priority becomes to be more energy independent rather than where we buy our oil.  Only when we are energy independent can we stop fighting energy wars.

Free markets – First, we should reject the free market as a guiding principle because it is not in the Constitution. The Constitution is about people and government not economic ideals.  Second, we should reject the free market as a guiding principle because there is no such thing.  I defy you to show me a free market.  Some might claim that the stock market is an example of a free market.  I counter that it is a reflection of a market only. If it were truly a free market, then it would behave independently on its own and not be influenced by external forces.  To say it is dependent in any way implies that it is not free.  Third, we should reject the free market as a guiding principle because if it did exist no one would respect it, as is the situation today. All our markets are being assailed by forces to gain a financial advantage, i.e., to slant the playing field in a desired direction, not to have a level playing field.  If a politician says that he is driven by free markets, then challenge him to ban lobbyist, or better yet, to have them lobby to remove previously installed special interest benefits.  Therefore, being a “free marketer” implies being in favor of rolling back concessions made to special interest groups Unless they are for the benefit American citizens at large and curtailing lobbyist’s influence.  This is the type of “free marketer” I am.

We shouldn’t tax the rich because they need that money for job creation – This is a total myth. We are talking about the tax rates when one files IRS Form 1040 on “Personal Income”. How do you end up with over a million dollars in personal income on your 1040. A.) Earnings – This was what your company paid you or if you are the owner, you paid yourself. Either way this money is not earmarked for job creation.  B.) From a partnership.  You and your partners decided to compensate yourselves this way. This is your walking around money.  If you had wanted it for job creation, you would have incorporated (do-able overnight) to shelter the money.  C.) Capital gains – This is about sales of assets.  It is not directly about jobs. D.) Lottery winnings – Again, not about jobs, And so forth.  None of that personal income is about job creation.  More likely, it might be sheltered overseas (also not job creation), used to buy assets such as another business where it is just as likely you would cut staff, to make it more profitable or invest (also not job creation) or hopefully to give to charities which might prevent job loss. Where are the job opportunities here?  Show me.

“In God We Trust” – The US motto.  The Republican House brought up the question of formalizing into law “In God We Trust” as the national motto. First, it wasn’t even an issue. Two, it is a waste of time. It is issues like this that get in the way of their stated goal, creating jobs, of which they have done nothing.
Even though I am a firm believer in separation of church and state, I don’t feint when I heard the word ‘God’. This motto is a part of our culture.  It is popular with the vast majority of the people.  Why screw around with it?  And stop wasting everyone’s time on something inconsequential.

I was born just across the border in Lowell, Massachusetts.  If you want to get a bunch of media folk together, we can take a road trip down there to city hall looking for the long form of my birth certificate.  (Does anyone know why the long form is shorter than the short form?) But in the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that my grandfather worked in the city clerk’s office in the 20’s 30’s and 40’s.  He was still alive for almost 6 years after I was born. So in theory he might have had the influence to alter my country of birth before he died even though he was allegedly retired then, on the off chance I wanted to run for President some sixty odd years later. And if Governor Perry would like to join us, we can pop over to Lowell High School and Umass Lowell, pull my transcripts and compare with his.  But before we do that, he may want to consider that I did go on to get a Ph.D. in Physics.

Capital punishment – Yes and no.
  I believe that there are some crimes for which capital punishment is the only appropriate response.  I am referring to crimes that are particularly heinous and where the proof is incontrovertible.

Despite that I am opposed to capital punishment.  I believe that it morally outrageous to execute an innocent person.  Our justice system is just too flawed.  Too often key information is unavailable, withheld or mishandled.  Law enforcement officials and prosecutors can be guilty of a rush to judgment to enhance their own reputations.  Or the suspect can have basic rights violated or be provided with inadequate representation.

My comments above apply to federal jurisdiction only.  I believe that each state has the right to apply its own set of mores to this question.

School prayer
 – To adhere to the spirit of Separation of Church and State, I believe that public schools should not support school prayers specific to certain religions.  Public schools should either not allow school prayer, allow only generic humanist, non-deist sentiments, or allow meditation periods where students have a chance for private thought.  Parochial schools may allow school prayer.  Any parochial school that accepts more than one third of its operating funds from public sources such as school vouchers should be considered to be a public school.

Socialism – There are many who like to use the word socialism to strike fear into your hearts.  But there are surprisingly few Americans who know what socialism is.  According to Webster it is ”an economic and political theory advocating collective and government ownership and administration of the means of production and the distribution of goods (and services).”  Do we already have socialism in the United States?  Yes.  Examples: the US military, Veterans Administration hospitals, public schools, public libraries, police and fire departments, national parks and forests, the interstate highways, NASA and the internet, to name a few.  Not so scary, after all.  The thought that any brand of American socialism might resemble the socialism under Hitler or Mussolini is absolutely laughable.  So is President Obama a socialist?  This is pure craziness.  Even Billy Wharton, editor of the Socialist magazine wrote that President Obama is so far to the right that he wonders if the President can even be called a liberal.  My position – pragmatist.  Use it where the private sector works against the good of the people or fails or is uninterested.

Estate taxes – The fact that there is special treatment of inheritances is a gift in itself. But the assertion that this money has been taxed already is irrevalent.  Virtually all income has been taxed already.  The point of Form 1040 is individual income tax, i.e. income that is new to the individual.  It is irrelevant that my father earned the money, paid taxes on it, and put it in the bank.  I didn’t earn it.  He could have given the money to me before he died in a way that could have a more favorable tax treatment.  But he didn’t.  If it comes to me because of his death, it is new income to me.  Remember, a significant segment of the population never get an inheritance.

Trickle down economics – Trickle-down economics contend that favoring the rich with economic benefits will result in greater general prosperity since the wealthy will spend money and create jobs from which the middle and lower classes will enjoy economic benefits.  If this worked so well, then Europe would still be ruled by monarchies.   Also, since the Bush tax cuts, which were generous to the rich, have been in effect for about 10 years, then if trickle down economics worked the US should be experiencing low unemployment and a prosperous middle class.  The reality is quite a bit different.  We have high unemployment and a shrinking and struggling middle class.

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