Category Archives: Laws the GOP should pass

Law for the GOP to pass: Get the government out of the economy

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”—James Madison Federalist No. 51

Read the above.  It makes clear that people are not perfect.  That the system needs to be made so as to encourage the best and keep the worst down, because if we could expect people to always be at their best we wouldn’t need government.  So when people do bad things, yes, they are to be blamed, but when they do bad things because the government set up a system that ENCOURAGED that bad behavior then first and foremost it is the government to be blamed for making the game one where bad behavior is rewarded.

Which is why these Occupy Wall Street people are such idiots.

Besides  apparently having a large portion of anti-semites in their midst  the Occupy Wall Street people and all their fellow whiners in other cities seem to be complaining about the wrong things.  They complain that the cost of college is too high…ignoring that it was government interference with college tuition that led to high prices.  They complain about bailouts…yeah, thanks for being a couple of years late, the Tea Party already has been bitching about that one for some time now.  Of course the Tea Party realizes that it is the fault of the government for giving out the money that is primarily to blame and not the banks for taking the money (not that the banks and corporations are without blame).  But the government is the one that is primarily to blame.  When you set up a system that can choose winners and losers (which any system with loopholes, regulations that serve one industry or company over their competitors, useless laws and tariffs that keep competitions from sprouting up, give loans to people) you’re going to have the companies this affects try and work the system to their advantage.  Businesses are in the business of making money.  If a government doesn’t get involved in picking winners and losers then the only way to make money is by making a superior product with superior customer service and a great marketing campaign.  That’s hard.  Bribing politicians through campaign cash to work the rules in your favor is so much easier.   It’s not the ethical choice, it’s not the long-term thinking choice, it’s not even a good choice…but it’s the choice that most people will make.  If you set up a system that makes it easier for people to give into their worst inclinations, don’t be surprised when they do. Thus government needs to set up a system where it makes more sense to worry about product, service and marketing than on which candidates to back.

If we had the right system, one where it wasn’t in the best short term economic interests of businessmen, then they would just have to focus on their business.  (Yes I would prefer it if they acted in a long term economic way directed by ethics…but you know I’m dealing with humans, humans don’t always do what’s right, thus we need a system that encourages the best in us and does not give opportunities for the worst in us).  So how do we get that system?

No loans.

Loans to banks and corporations.  Or bailouts…a government loan by any other name would smell just a rancid.  These need to stop.  All of them.  Without question, without exception.

While Bush and Obama weren’t the first to use them, they are the most recent and most egregious examples.  Let’s look at that waste of legislation called TARP.  That worthless half brain Bush would whine “but it would have destroyed the entire financial system.”  This is one of the two reasons Bush was a moron (the other being that he had no plan for the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq).  No it wouldn’t have.  What would have happened was that one bank would have collapsed.  Immediately everything that Bank owned would have been up for sale at fire sale prices.  All of that bank’s competitors would have been buying up notes on loans for a tenth of the price of the loan from the bank that collapsed.  Let’s remember that all the banks were forced to take money not because they all needed it, but to hide which banks were unstable.  Most of the banks were stable and would have been able to buy those notes.

So what?  Well if a bank bought the note on a loan for a house that sold for $200,000, the house would probably have been worth only $120,000 after the crash, but as the new bank got the note for probably somewhere around $60,000 they can work with the homeowner and probably re-fi the cost of loan down to something more reflective of its current value and hey they still make a profit.  So suddenly the loam market is more stable and the remaining banks are probably on more solid ground.

Does this happen overnight?  Nope.  There would probably be a couple of down years, maybe even three, but by the end of the third year (about now) the recession would be clearly over.

But we didn’t do that.  We chose winners and losers and decided, like a bad elementary school teacher, everybody was going to be winner!  Everybody gets gold stars!  What does that invisible hand know anyway?  It’s not like bad businesses with bad business practices should go the way of the Dodo.  No let’s keep the bad businesses around, because despite all the time during their fall into instability they never had the good sense to change their policies and do something intelligent, well that doesn’t mean they won’t be good now that we just rewarded them for bad behavior.  No I’m sure they’ll be a much better business now.  Uh-huh.

But, sadly, next to Obama, Bush is a Rhodes Scholar.  No let’s give out even more money.  Let’s continue picking the winner we want to win, not the winners who can make things like a profit or things people want.  No.  Let’s give a shitload of money to a company that builds solar cells for $6 apiece and sells them for $3 apiece.  I’m sure that business model will work wonders.  Let’s face it, yes Bush was a moron for thinking the financial system couldn’t handle the collapse of a major bank…but Obama giving out money to his cronies thinking it will help the economy was both immoral and somewhere far beyond just stupid.

And let’s not forget that with loans comes the same problem as we saw with college loans.  It ruins the nature of prices.  Costs for the consumer go up, profits go down, quality gets screwed and everybody winds up getting the short end of the stick.

The market (the collective whole of billions of economic choices) knows far more than any government planning ever can.  All you need to do is look at how well the Soviet system worked for both Russia and the satellite nations or at China right now which has built massive city expansions that no one lives in, they provide no economic growth, and show that if we can just keep avoiding shooting ourselves in the foot China will go the way of the Soviets and we won’t have to worry about their economic superpower.  If you need more proof see Thomas Sowell’s Knowledge and Decisions.  Central planning never has and never can work.  It will always make the wrong choice; it will always screw up the system.

And as long as the government is giving out money, it will inevitably go to those who buy influence.  Is that wrong?  Of course!  But the government is the one who set up the game.  It may be unethical, but you can’t seriously expect human beings to act against their own interests when there is a way they can make money.  Human beings at both the top and bottom, and every slice in between, have people who are unethical.  That’s why we have government because we’re not all saints.  If you have a system that gives out money it will always go to those who pay for it.

So let’s stop giving money!

No tariffs

I hate taxes in general, but I hate few as much as I do tariffs.  Tariffs are put in to help American businesses when they don’t want to compete with foreign goods that are made better and cheaper.  You know, those things as a consumer you want.  So do businesses make better products themselves?  Nope.  They contribute to campaigns and get politicians to tax their competitors so they don’t have to make a better product.  If we didn’t have tariffs, Government Motors would have collapsed decades ago as it should.  (There is probably nothing more un-American than GM, a company that has used tariffs to avoid competition, given into the bully tactics of unions and taken government money rather than gracefully die.  With the exception of GE there is probably no company I can think of so opposed to capitalism).

Again this is a power of government being used to help those who can afford to buy it to the detriment of the public.  Yes, it’s done by rich people and they can all go to hell for their unethical behavior…but if government didn’t play this game, then businessmen would have no choice but to make better, cheaper products.

No subsidies and a flat tax with no loopholes.

Again, I think it was conservatives who have been beating the drum for years about how we need to do a flat tax without loopholes.  Why do we want flat taxes and to lower the tax rate…well because taxes are too high but the only people not paying them are the ones who can to pay off politicians.

I’d prefer to go to a completely sales tax model, but short of that I would take a completely flat tax, and short of that I’ll take Paul Ryan’s lower taxes (because high taxes are killing everyone) with no loopholes (so the people who aren’t paying taxes, like Obama’s cronies Warren Buffet and GE will finally actually pay something).  Any of those three systems would be better than the current system where you can buy your loophole and screw the small and medium sized businesses.

No control of anything that doesn’t cross state lines.

The federal government has better things to worry about right now than whether or not the Amish are selling unpasteurized milk.  While I would prefer a constitutional Amendment clarifying that the commerce clause only covers commerce that actually does cross state lines, for right now I will settle for that as a simple law.  States can run their own business without the interference of the Feds.  Federal oversight of commerce only helps to over-regulate, over tax, over burden and destroy business of all sizes (except you know if you can buy the right legislation in your favor).  If the federal government would get out of ALL intrastate commerce you find a sudden and massive jump in economies of 49 out of 50 states (California is beyond saving, mainly due to over taxation, over regulation and too much control of the economy).

The 17th Amendment…

…is perhaps one of the dumbest ideas in history.  Yes, let’s take Senators who are appointed by state legislators and make them publically elected.  So now they’re beholden to the whims of the mob and wants of campaign contributors.  I’m sure that will always make for better government when we stop choosing who is best and go for who is popular.  Repeal this joke of an Amendment and replace it with a hard and fast states can only appoint Senators via the collaboration of legislators and governors (no public election whatsoever).  And to keep them in check give the people the right to recall.

Sunset dates on all regulations with Congressional Oversight.

Here’s a radical idea.  Make every regulation that comes out of the executive branch, be it executive orders or just policy by the different departments open to Senate Veto.  And in addition to that make every single one of those regulations come with a 5 year sunset date.  It would not be in most corporations’ best interests to keep pushing for regulations every few years, it would just be too expensive—making better products would finally be cheaper by comparison.  Further this would get a lot of useless regulations off the books.

In short—GET THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE ECONOMY.  As long as it is in the economy, people will want to buy government power to exploit it to their own ends, and they will succeed.  If you want honest government and honest business then you need to eliminate the power of the one to so heavily influence the other.  If government can’t interfere with the economy and provide free cash, err, I mean corporate welfare, err, I mean bailouts and loans and can’t regulate your competitors out of business then there is no point in getting involved.  If you get the government out to the economy business will for the most part have no choice but to worry about business and the products and services they sell.  Businesses behave badly because the government provides an incentive to do so, take away the incentive and most of the behavior will follow.

Yes government has certain responsibilities and duties in a free market.  We crossed that line almost a hundred years ago and it’s not even visible anymore.  When you have no loan, no tariffs, a book or regulations that doesn’t take up an entire stadium and the government not looking into every legal act of commerce as if it’s a crime against humanity we can talk about where the line should be, but right now we’re so far off that it’s not even a pertinent discussion.

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Laws for the GOP to pass: Copyright and Patent Sanity

I’ll be honest, I’ve been doing this series of laws since the November election of last year. One a week. You come up with 48 individual laws on a wide range of subjects. I’m ending this at 52 laws. Just FYI.

This week we’re going to cover copyright and patent law. And this, believe it or not is a case where I will say that the government having been bought by corporations is to blame. Yes I’m actually going to attack corporations.

First a word on what copyright and patent law is. It says I created something, thus I am entitled to any profits that come from that idea. If I write a book, I have to get paid for the selling of that book. If I create a new microchip, I get to get paid for any sales of that piece of technology. I get make money on the ideas I come up with (Communists, having no respect for the human mind call this profit “surplus value” and think the creator has no right to it, but as we all know communists and socialists are stupid…and if you listen to people who have to work on Wall Street, they smell too).

Congress is empowered by the Constitution to come up with laws to govern this. Why? Because the Founders were smart enough to know that if there is no incentive to invent, no profit in it, there would be no one who invented things. However, as with all things just because one extreme (no protection) the other extreme (eternal protection) isn’t valid either. If ideas stay in under copyright or patent forever (especially for technology) stagnation begins to occur. You need incentive to make things, but you need the freedom to use what other people have done.

For instance Shakespeare, while motivated by his urge to decry the unjust treatment of Catholics in his plays, he also was heavily motivated by profit. However, if we still had to pay some distant descendent of his every time a book was published, a play was staged, a movie was made do you think Shakespeare would have the opportunity to reach as many people? Probably not.

Same with technology. How much would have been produced if we still had to pay the Watt family for every engine (as everything was derivative off the steam engine).

Now in 1976 copyright was extended to life of the creator plus 50 years (because you do have the right to leave something to your kids for a while). Creations of corporations had a 75 year shelf life under copyright. (And honestly I think 50 years was a bit much…25? 30? Sounds much nicer—50 years just sounds like it’s not just your children living off of your inventions but also your grandchildren…which I don’t know seems a bit much).

However, while this law was a major advancement (it got rid of the rather silly requirements of having to register to have copyright rights and having to renew every couple of years) it apparently wasn’t enough for some companies. Because in the late 90’s one corporation in particular started plastering both houses of Congress with money to get an even further extension to the copyright law. And they won, getting up to 120 years for corporations and life +75 years for individuals (and I’m sorry but I won’t ever really know my great grandchildren, why should people I don’t know personally benefit from my creation?) Can you guess which corporation lobbied for this rather insane law? If you said Disney, you’re right. That’s right, Steamboat Willie, the original Mickey Mouse Cartoon (the one where he whistles Turkey in the Screw). I like Disney. I even understand why they would want keep the rights to that cartoon, Mickey is a trademark (which doesn’t expire), but that still doesn’t mean they won’t lose a lot of rights the minute that cartoon enters the public domain. From a business perspective it makes sense, they probably spent less money than they would have lost if it entered into public domain. But a 120 years? Are you insane?

For better or for worse copyright law needs to go back to the 1976 levels (again I wouldn’t mind cutting it back to life +25…and I’m an author). Overly long copyright laws stifle creativity and originality. (Why is Hollywood remaking so many movies? Because they want to get as much as they can out of the copyrights they have while they still own them…don’t believe me that expiring copyright motivates companies and individuals to do strange things with their works do some research into the copyright surround Superman, it makes Finnegan’s Wake look like an easy read.)

Conversely patent law, which covers technology and invention, is often, but not always too short. The worst case is of course patents on pharmaceuticals. Remember when you pay for an expensive drug you’re not really paying for the research that went into that drug, you’re paying for all the failed research that didn’t pan out. If patents lasted longer, companies wouldn’t have to gouge you as much because they would have a steadier source of income. But, people say, they make huge profits. Yeah they do. Because so many drug companies go out of business. You have to have a huge incentive to go into a business that is almost guaranteed to fail. And you have to pay people huge salaries to justify learning something so mind blowing boring as biochemistry at a Ph.D. level. If you had lower incentives you would have far fewer new drugs.

I would go as far as to say that patents need to be put on complete par with copyright…after all why is a book or movie worth more protection than a pill or microchip. Both are the creation of the mind, both can only be done by a relatively small group of people (I’d argue more people have the potential, but few live up to that potential).   And all patents need to have the same length, none of this drugs have different rules than technology, have different rules from other fields.  An idea is an idea.  Are you really going to trust government to say that ideas in this field are better than ideas in that field?  No.

Extending patent law would help create a new environment for growth and innovation as there would be more incentives.  This in turn would spur more economic growth.

Now two other things need to happen, and this is a little more difficult. First this needs to be an international thing. A lot of countries don’t uphold copyright and patent law. China has grown rich on it. It’s just amazing what you can accomplish when you steal all the technology you use and have a massive slave labor force. If China had to pay for every patent and copyright they have stolen and grown fat on, the U.S. Debt (and that includes the debt of all 50 states) could be paid off and still have some money left over. All countries need to uphold these laws (and I realize this will be almost impossible to do, but we need to keep trying to move toward this).

The 2nd point is I think China should pay for all its violations. And until it does I don’t think we owe them anything.

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Laws the GOP Should Pass: A Requirement of Court Ruling for Punishment

So we took out Anwar al-Awlaki with a predator drone.  Good for us.  I won’t be shedding any tears over this filth….however, this does leave me feeling a little queasy in the legal department.

Now this is strangely one of the few things I will not critique Obama over.  He did the right thing and it was completely justified.

And Ron Paul is an idiot, what a shock, for calling for Obama’s impeachment over this issue.

The guy was a terrorist, had already declared war on all humanity and civilization, so the fact that he was an enemy of the U.S. was kind of a given.  And even if you have a problem with that logic there is the more common belief of Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges (In War the Laws are Silent) the idea that laws are not suicide pacts and that the safety of people, when seriously in jeopardy, it’s never a bright choice between to choose following the letter of the law over following what is right.  Okay the guy didn’t have his finger on a button to a nuke at that very moment, but he was a major figure in al-Qaeda and we’re at war with them (although I would prefer a formal declaration to come out of Congress about that).  Still we were completely justified in doing this.  Ron, there are lots of reasons to impeach Obama, this is not one of them.

But…

The scum was technically a U.S. citizen and this does set a dangerous precedent.  And as I heard on Red Eye, TV’s Andy Levy suggested that we could have easily tried him for treason in absentia and sentenced him to death.  It’s not like everything the man has said and done wasn’t the textbook definition of treason.  The whole trial wouldn’t have taken 2 days.  It’s an open and shut case, we could have easily done it without problems.  Then the predator drone wouldn’t have been carrying out the will of the executive branch but rather a court ordered punishment.

Would that have been a huge hurdle?  No.

And I don’t want to give the government a carte blanche to kill anyone.  Granted there is probably no one I trust less than Obama and he has yet to turn a predator drone against anyone I care about (that I know of) but this is still a bad precedent.

Thus I would like Congress to pass a law requiring the administration to seek treason trials against any U.S. citizen thought to be a terrorist.  Hell most of them won’t show because they’re busy plotting terrorists acts so I don’t see these triasl taking a long time, but it just would ensure that predator drones aren’t misused in the future.

It’s not a big thing, but I just don’t want to give this executive or any future executive this kind of unchecked power.

…but on the issue of non-U.S. citizens who are terrorists I can only say, I love the smell of Napalm in the morning.  Obama feel free to keep the drones flying, I have no complaints.

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Laws for Conservatives to pass: Encouraging innovation

As I have stated before I want the tax code rewritten. Ideally I would prefer going entirely to a sales tax (no corporate tax, no death tax, no income tax, no capital gains tax, no luxury tax, no tariffs, nothing but a flat sales tax). Short of that I want a flat tax rate with no loopholes (and again most of those other taxes eliminated). But if we can’t even have that, or at least a stepping stone to those other programs, we need to A.) lower the tax rates and B.) eliminate ALL loopholes. All of them, even the ones that encourage things we like, like mortgage deductions and child tax credits. ALL OF THEM.

However, I have proposed a very special kind of exemption in “Republicans and Reincarnation” that I will stand by.

That exemption was that Congress should offer a multimillion dollar prize to anyone who can create an engine that can replace the internal combustion engine that is cheaper and has fewer emissions. In addition to the prize they will be exempt from ALL taxes for the rest of their life. I do this because the kinds of people who tinker with this kind of technology in their garage don’t always think long term enough to consider the advantages of compounding royalty payments and thus they don’t see what should be the obvious incentives to spend time coming up with inventions that we need. The scatterbrained genius needs immediate incentives to work or at least to channel their energies. The only thing they would have to give up is the right to negotiate price on selling the rights for this invention. They will still be paid for every use of their invention, but I want these inventions in use yesterday and I don’t want them held up by negotiations, (and if we’re paying that kind of money for it Congress will not be able to hold it back if it knows what is good for it). (Especially since there is a mild conspiracy theorist in me that isn’t willing to fully dismiss those stories that better engines have already been invented but bought up by oil companies and kept out of the public’s view…I have no proof beyond hearsay and personal accounts. But given the short sighted nature of a lot of companies right now it wouldn’t surprise me).

Yes I fully understand the nature of capitalism, that it will always create the thing we need, when we need them. I understand that. But there are some things we could use right now even though we haven’t reached the level of absolutely need. I would prefer to get around the necessity for that kind of need and the temporary hardships it brings to an economy. For instance we all know that eventually the internal combustion engine will be replaced when the reserves of gasoline start going dry, and we know there will be a period of hardship in that change over period, so I would just like to skip the hardship if we could.

So here is a list of inventions I think congress should offer a $100 million dollar prize for, plus having to pay no taxes if you’re the first to come up with it. And I will justify why all of these would save us more money than the costs.

1. The first is obviously the replacement for the internal combustion engine that actually works. I don’t care if it’s electric, a brilliant new type of internal configuration on the internal combustion engine, hydrogen fuel cells or the static electricity engine from Atlas Shrugged—I don’t care if it’s long lived hamsters on steroids and meth with a tread wheel…all I care about is the following: It costs less than $100 to build. It can power truck or SUV with a full load for 300 miles, without being refueled, while going at 65 miles per hour or higher. It must be able to be refueled in less than 10 minutes from a completely empty and a full refill can cost no more $20. Oh and it has to have 20% less emissions than the cleanest internal combustion engine available. This is the problem with all the current alternatives electric cars have no speed or ability to pull large loads (not to mention they take too long to charge). Hydrogen fuel cells are too expensive. I want powerful, fast and cheap. If you can get those standards on a fully loaded SUV then the figures for a small sedan should be even better. The advantages to this are obvious. I don’t really care much about the emissions because I don’t believe in the BS that is global warming, but I live in Phoenix and so I do know the problem that is smog so I would like to see that lowered. Obviously if we weren’t dependent on oil (or at least as much oil) then that will hurt the bottom line of oil sales in the Middle East, which means less money going to terrorism, which means we might not have to spend so much fighting terrorism. Further with less money being spent on fuel and shipping this will of course save money in your pocket,  which will bring cost down and profits up…and you can figure out how that cycles through the economy and works better for everyone.
2. A battery that will work and survive for 7 or more years in temperatures ranging from 30 below 0 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. It also needs to hold at least 3 times the charge of a battery of comparable size can do now. This is one of the biggest problems of electric cars. Here in the South-west you can’t have an electric car because everything is so spaced out that you risk using an entire charge before reaching your destination and it gets so hot out here that car batteries need to be replaced every two to three years (expensive enough in a regular car, outrageously expensive in an electric car). On the east electric cars won’t function when it gets too cold. If you could overcome these problems with electric cars, even at their current levels of horsepower would be far more efficient and useful and thus worth the cost. The benefits then become the same as invention 1. However improved batteries that store more would have additional uses that would save us all money even if we had improved battery technology. Just for example how much power does it take to power every street light in the world every night? Right now it’s prohibitively expensive and bulky to power most of those with solar cells and batteries…but it might not with much smaller, more efficient batteries that didn’t have to be replaced. Apply that same idea to numerous other small things that could run off better batteries. That’s a lot of saved energy, which means a lot of saved money.
3. One of Obama’s BS ideas to help get more jobs was infrastructure improvement. Wow more jobs for unionized construction workers, I’m sure that will help the economy. However, this does bring up a fact that infrastructure is a large and continual part of federal, state, and local government costs. One of the reasons why is because that crappy asphalt and concrete we put on the roads keeps wearing out, develop pot holes, become road hazards and need to be replaced. And replacing them takes time (lots of time, which hurts traffic and destroys productivity, not to mention all the wasted money just sitting there letting the engine idle in traffic) and lots of money—those workers are union and government. They are about as overpriced and overpaid as work gets in this world. So here is what I want, I want someone to come up with some kind of chemical that can be added to the concrete or asphalt, or some new substance all together, that will prevent it from wearing out or at least radically slow the decay. If you could make every road last just 10 years longer than they currently do the saving in government expenditures alone would pay for that prize for inventing the stuff.
4. We haven’t come upon it yet, but more than oil we have another natural resource that is getting very, very sparse. Water. “What?” you say, “The Earth is covered in the stuff!” Yes it is, but that’s salt water. Clean, desalinized, drinkable water is becoming more and more rare (especially with continuing growth of world population). There is not nearly enough drinkable water to support 7 billion people at first world level (and it should be our goal to get everyone up to first world level) at present. We need more drinkable water. But most processes for desalination are prohibitively expensive as it currently stands. Trust me we will need a cheap and quick way to desalinize massive amounts of water within the next 50 years. Let’s make sure we have the technology to do so without having to first have millions die from not having enough to drink. Further if you could cheaply do it, then you could easily do it to supply areas suffering from drought which always causes economic problems.
5. Cars that drive themselves. We all saw Minority Report (and a few other films) and have seen cars that just take verbal commands and take you to your destination while you can spend your time reading, working, talking, doing anything other than have to pay attention to the other insane people on the road. The average American spends about 130 hours in a car. Think of what you can do with an extra 130 hours, about 5 and half days (just for comparative purposes if you’re Jack Bauer you can save the world a half dozen times and kill 143 people in that amount of time…so there is a lot you can do in that amount of time). So an average extra 5 days worth of time for all 300 million people in the US, less stress from driving the freeway. This system would have to be based on being able to avoid accidents, so lower insurance rates and less money wasted on fixing cars. And let’s not even talk about the fact that you’d never have a drunk driving a car, so the loss of life from driving goes down drastically. Yeah I think that’s worth $100 million.
6. The fruit picker. To hell with making robots walk and talk. I want someone to develop a robot that can 90% of the time recognize if a vegetable or piece of fruit is ripe and then harvest that plant without damaging it. People complain about the plight of the migrant worker…well this would eliminate the need for that kind of work. Which would in turn eliminate this country’s terrible habit of keeping a pseudo slave class in the form of illegal immigrants. The saving for this should be more than obvious.
7. Plants with over active metabolisms. Think about it. Think of how much the lumber and paper industry could benefit from trees that took half the time to grow. Or what plants which convert carbon dioxide into oxygen twice as fast could do for any future space programs…which could in turn open up space itself for exploration, mining and colonization. I know I’m stretching with this one…but it has possibilities. I’m a little worried about this being brought to the food industry, but it has possibilities as well. In the end it would pay for itself I think.
8. The transporter. All the other things on this list I think are actually possible but just have yet to be invented (okay I’m stretching with number 7, but it’s not out of the realm of theoretically possible). This one, well, what I know of quantum mechanics tells me that this is never going to happen. Still I want one. I don’t even care if you never figure out how to get it to transport organic material. Think of what you could do just in terms of shipping with a transporter. It would of course be prohibitively expensive up front, but long term I think this could pay for itself.

Why is there nothing from the medical field here? Yes I know that most of our current government expenditures are in the medical field, but this is to encourage people to start tinkering in their garages on their off time. Do you want medical experiments going in people’s garages? Hell no.

Why are there no flying cars? Because while the flying car is cool there are two big problems. First it offers no additional economic value. Second because how do you brake something that’s flying?

And yes we would all love a light saber or a time machine or a holodeck, but again those are not exactly scientifically possible and I’m not sure they would be good for society.

I might also like to see a Roomba that can clean bathrooms and kitchens, but I’m not sure that will save $100 million in the economy.

What other inventions could redefine the world?

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Filed under American Exceptionalism, Budget, Capitalism, Congress, Conservative, Economics, Environmentalism, Laws the GOP should pass, Long Term Thinking, Selfishness, Taxes

What I want to hear Obama say…but he won’t…

I’m not going to have a law of the week this week. Rather I’m going to talk about what I want to hear out of Obama’s mouth this week when he brings out his “jobs plan.”

 

He states that his new plan will create jobs. This is a fascinating concept as the government has never been able to do such a thing except for a short period of time and always at a detriment to the overall economy and not to its benefit. Always at an increase to our debt.  But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to stimulate the economy to recover…although, and I know no one wants to hear this but it’s true, that before we hit a recovery we need one last dip in the economy (the stock market, the housing market, all other commodities markets will probably take a hit and we’ll see another rise in inflation and unemployment) and we need to get through it but our only options are either bring on the next dip now and get through it as quickly as possible or to delay this last dip and every day we delay it means it will be longer, deeper, and hit more people when it comes. I’ll take the shorter pain now than the worse pain later, thank you.

 

So what I do I need to hear from Obama if he was A) intelligent enough to know how to improve the economy and B) willing to actually do it?

 

First ObamaCare has to go. It must be overturned in its  entirety. There is not a single line worth keeping. This will allay a lot of fear about hiring new employees and get businesses to start planning to grow again. Further it will keep health cost down.  With this needs to come laws that will allow insurance companies to cross state lines (and not just medical insurance, I mean every kind of insurance). This will drastically and immediately lower the costs of insurance across the board. Not only will this reduce the overhead of all major insurance companies (meaning they can charge less and still make a profit) the added competition will drive down the prices even further and all companies that offer insurance to their employees will quickly be paying less for every employee which will make expansion even easier.

 

The U.S. government needs to cut income tax, corporate taxes, and capital gains taxes by at least 5% across the board. Further the death tax and marriage penalties need to be permanently eliminated. To accompany these cuts ALL loopholes will be removed from ALL tax codes (yes that means GE will finally have to pay some taxes).  I’d really love to see a flat tax, or even better switching to all sales tax, but I’m willing to take a baby step in this area. The sudden influx of money to both personal and business bank accounts will help spur further economic growth and expansion.

 

Federal money for unemployment benefits needs to be ended for anyone who has been out of work for more than six months.   To avoid some unnecessary pain we can of course give them a 90 day notice, but this perpetual dole needs to end.

 

Everyone employed by the federal government (except the military) is taking a 10% pay cut. You’re overpaid sons of bitches deal with it.  (Elected officials can take a 100% pay cut).

 

In addition to the 2.4 trillion we have already agreed to cut as part of the debt ceiling agreement, for every dollar of tax revenue that we are no longer taking in because we lower the tax rates the federal government will cut $100 dollars of spending from its budget. Not only will that keep us solvent, it will improve our credit rating, reduce the debt, strengthen the dollar and improve the economy.

 

The law needs to be passed that within the next 10 years the Federal Reserve  will raise the prime interest rate to 6% and then never touch it without the express permission of congress and the President and only then for a limited period of time. No industry can grow with the interest rate being this low; it discourages all investment and risk taking. Yes we’ll have some inflation but it will also stimulate growth that should outpace the inflation.

 

Alaska and the Gulf Coast are open for full drilling, but any environmental damage will come with a fine equal to 10 times the cost of the clean up (that will ensure the oil companies quadruple check every safety measure), which will lower energy prices and thus offset most if not all the inflation caused by the raising of the interest rate.

 

All the insane regulations that stop the construction and running of oil refineries.  Right now it is next to impossible to build an oil refinery and all the regulation is based on horrendous my of global warming.  Yes there do need to be a lot of regulations about running oil refineries because they deal with a lot of chemical that could be very harmful to the environment if released…sadly about 10% of the regulations we have in place.  The rest is BS.  Oh, and while we’re on the subject of oil refineries, did you know that every state requires different blends of gasoline.  This is insane because it requires the refineries to refine 50 different kinds of oil.  We need to come up with one national set of requirements, it can’t be done by federal law, but it needs to be done by the states on their own because it will drop the price of gas by several cents.

 

The Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Energy, HUD, HHS, Edu, Transportation, Interior and Labor will cut their staff by at least half (although I’d prefer firing just about everyone in these useless sinkholes of red tape and tax payer money).

 

The EEOC, National Labor Board, and EPA will undergo a full review of their powers and have most of their authority stripped.

 

A Constitutional Amendment which will guarantee nationwide “open shops” for all businesses will be proposed.   Also all unions for federal employees need to be disbanded.  (Also I wouldn’t mind if the heads of the teacher’s unions were brought up on treason charges as their continual actions to destroy the U.S. education system is at best treason—crime against humanity might be more accurate.)

 

 

A Constitutional Amendment redefining the Commerce Clause as applicable only to commerce that actually moves across state lines will be proposed. Further the defined commerce clause will limit the scope of the federal government to acting in ways only to prevent impediments to the free commerce and economic activity between states, not to put up new barriers of its own.

 

All U.S. trade tariffs will be abolished. Tariffs only hurt the consumer and protect failing businesses.

 

All government regulations will be up for review (I’d say put Rand Paul and Michele Bachman in charge of this committee) with the purpose of reducing all federal red tape by at least half if not more.

 

Tort Reform Laws must be passed immediately.

 

The federal government needs to A) stop forcing banks to make subprime loans (which means the Community Reinvestment Act needs to be scrapped) and B) it needs to stop suing banks for making those loans.

 

Finally those wastes of space and volume known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need to stop being quasi government organizations. Either the federal government needs to buy up all private shares or it needs to sell its own stake in the company. Either way right after that the entire assets of Fannie and Freddie need to be liquidated at Fire Sale prices and the organizations disbanded. Yes this will cause housing prices to drop once again, but it will also provide stability to the market, make houses affordable, and encourage banks to finally loan money again. And to everyone who bought a house for more than it was worth…I don’t care, you bought a house when all the signs were there that the market would collapse, you bought a house when it was stupid to do so, you did not think, time to face the consequences of not thinking ahead.

 

Now if Obama did all of that you would have three things happen. First, the country would be back to 2% or less unemployment within 5 years. Second, the economy would grow like never before and this growth would actually permeate the entire world and even Europe’s financial problems would be nearly gone in a little over a decade. And third, I would actually vote for Obama in 2012.

 

But we know that Obama isn’t bright enough to know what will actually fix an economy.

 

Nope, I predict what we will hear is more of the same. Stimulus. ‘Cause that’s always worked before (at least in the delusion fantasy world that liberals live in).

 

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Filed under American Exceptionalism, Budget, Capitalism, Civil Liberties, Congress, Conservative, Debt, Economics, Education, Environmentalism, Evils of Liberalism, Foreign Policy, GOP, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Health Care, Individualism, Laws the GOP should pass, liberal arrogance, Michelle Bachmann, Natural Rights, Net Neutrality, People Are Stupid, politics, Taxes, Teacher's Union, Tyranny, Unjust legislation

Laws for the GOP to pass: Sane Teacher Certification

I don’t know if this could be a federal law or just have to be 50 state laws. Let’s have it be both so that we never have to deal with the BS I’m about to deal with.

So I went to go renew my teaching certificate today. It was a fairly painless process but I was reminded that I need to get more hours of “professional development” before my next renewal in six years.

Let me run down what I’ve had to do so far to get my credential in Arizona.

I had to have a credential in another state (I had two, California and Washington, they have since expired). To get the Washington Credential I had to earn a degree in English, minor in Education, pass a background check, and complete a student teaching program.

I had to have 60 hours of Structured English Immersion training. (60 hours of learning how to help students for who English is not their first language…it boils down to having some idiot tell you to treat high school students like elementary school kids with lots of games and visuals. It was 60 hours of my life that was wasted and I’ll never get back. Actually more than 60 if you count travel time.)

45 more hours of professional development. More being told to draw and act out and play with high school students. I have never used a single thing I learned in any of this because to do so would be to insult the intelligence of the slowest student I’ve ever had. I’m an English teacher, not one of these hours was dedicated to learning anything about English, grammar, writing, or literature above a 3rd grade level. Given that I primarily teach Juniors and Seniors this was all but another 45 hours of my life that was wasted.

I had to take a test on English Literature. The SAT’s were harder. And given that I have a degree in English from one of the best colleges in the nation, this too was insulting. 3 hours of my life wasted. Plus the money I had to pay to take the test.

I had to take a test on teaching skills. It was half vocab test and half what would you do in this situation questions. A trained monkey could have passed it. More money and more time wasted.

And my favorite, I had to take a test on the U.S. and Arizona state Constitutions. Because that’s relevant to my job as a teacher of English (primarily British literature if I have anything to say about it). There was actually a question about the article in the AZ state Constitution that deals with mining rights. HOW IN THE NAME OF GOD WOULD AN OBSCURE ARTICLE IN A STATE CONSTITION BE RELEVANT TO MY SKILLS TO TEACH?!!!! More time and money wasted.

Just about the only legitimate thing I had to do since leaving Washington was A) complete two years of teaching full time, and B) get my background check renewed.

Everything else was an utter waste of my time.

The tests, the hours of professional development, all worthless. Now I might respect the tests if they had been relevant to teaching, but they weren’t. Just about anyone who went to college should be able to pass those tests (of course I do live in Arizona, home of ASU)

And just to show that this isn’t just me bitching, here’s another person pointing out the system is broken. 

Teaching is an art, not a science. There is no way to test on paper whether someone is going to be a good teacher or not. Yes, there are some basic classes that everyone needs. They need classes in their subject area. They need at least one class in every subject they will not be teaching (the four subject primary and secondary education are English, History/Social Sciences, Science, and Math). They need classes in general psychology and developmental psychology. They probably need at least one class in acting because good classroom teaching involves putting on a persona that is not necessarily who you are in real life. You need a course or two in curriculum development and implementation. And maybe a course on the history and philosophy of education. There, that’s your major and minor right there.

But no, states all seem to think you need more and more and more useless “professional development” which develops nothing. You know what actually develops a teacher? Teaching! Actual teaching. It’s an art form; the only way you get better at it is by actually doing it, followed by moments of reflection and discussion with other teachers. But certainly not so-called professional development! Now I’ve been lucky and the schools I have worked for have provided this requirement for their teachers (at great cost to the company) but if you aren’t so lucky then you have to take college courses at your own expense (courses which will likely teach a teacher nothing!). So really it’s all a big scam for the colleges and states, they get to charge money for all these courses.

Do you think all this worthless education, much of it at your own expense, is going to drive out some people from the field? Probably does. Not the great teachers, no. They’ll stay because to them teaching ranks up there with breathing and water as basic needs. And it doesn’t drive out the incompetent teachers either, because they usually know they have nowhere else to go…but it drives out all of the mid-level teachers—the ones who may never inspire a student, will get the job done and teach something. You think that may have any negative repercussions…like not being able to fire the morons because you can’t replace them with anything other than another idiot.

Trust me teaching hasn’t changed much in the last few thousand years. One of the single best forms of teaching is called Socratic Discussion, it was a form of teaching used in fifth century BCE by Socrates, it hasn’t changed much since then. You don’t need to be caught up on studies or professional journals; you just need to be passionate and self-reflective.

All these piles of requirements and tests and professional development and hoops and money are a farce. States need to change their requirements to be as follows:
A) B.A. or higher in the field you’re teaching (or at least it’s tangentially related).
B) An education minor
C) A background check every few years
D) Completing a student teaching program
And for that you get a provisional certificate.

Add on three years of teaching experience and you’ve got a life time certificate because this is not something that needs to be renewed ever. If you knew it at one point you will know it until senility fully sets in.

States, get rid of all this BS….oh and make all teaching certificates for all 50 states completely reciprocal in all states.

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Filed under Arizona, Congress, Conservative, Education, GOP, Government is useless, Laws the GOP should pass, Long Term Thinking, Teaching, Unjust legislation

Laws for Conservatives to Pass: Executive Order Oversight

One of the things that makes me like Michele Bachmann is that she has said that if elected one of the first things she is going to do is go through all of Obama’s executive orders and throw out most of them. After all, Obama has been giving executive orders that not only are not popular, that put the whole nation under some loose kind of rendition  (yeah, you nearly forgot about that one didn’t you), executive orders creating more czars than a Bolshevik could possibly deal with, putting in rules specifically rejected by Congress on the deportation of illegal aliens , and of course an executive order that will allow the EPA to shut down power plants.

There's a check or balance missing somewhere here

Let’s see he can veto any law he wants, and now apparently he can write any law he wants on his own, and dare we forget he has the audacity to tell the Supreme Court that it doesn’t have the right to interpret the Constitution differently from him…what do you call it when a single person has all the powers of government invested in themselves?

Now some very, very foolish people have argued that the right of executive orders needs to be done away with. That’s insane. The executive office could never operate if it did not have the ability to issue orders on how to carry out laws. However executive orders are meant to clarify how laws will be carried out, not to write new ones, and certainly not to trump the power of the legislative branch.

Now I would prefer this to be a Constitutional Amendment, and will probably argue for that when I get around to writing a book on all the Constitutional changes that need to be made (but that is years off right now) but for right now it seems that this might only require a law (it may require a Constitutional Amendment, but I’d love to see Obama try to defend some of the shit he’s done with these orders publicly). Congress needs to pass a law that says that any executive order can be taken up by the Senate and voted down by a majority vote. This would return some of the power to the Senate, as the upper house of the legislative branch is supposed to have over the powers of the Presidency in order to check rampant insanity (like what we see with Obama), and offer just another check and balance to the system. Remember it was never supposed to be efficient or powerful.

Now as far as I can tell such a law wouldn’t require a Constitutional amendment since the power of executive orders isn’t exactly a power granted to the president in the first place. So Congress reasserting its right to be the sole legislative authority shouldn’t be a stretch constitutionally (although as I said, this might just make a good amendment anyway).

I think the Senate should have the right to look at any executive order and decide whether it is in line with the laws they have already passed. And if not the right to vote it down. If an executive order isn’t brought up within a year of it being issued it will just be assumed to have passed the bar.

Notice what you’re arguing if you don’t like this. You’re saying that a President can just issue orders of how the entirety of the federal government will act and behave and no one has the right to overrule him. That’s effectively a law, a law without any checks and balances involved in its creation. To give one branch, literally one man, that much power is beyond insane.

For generation this power has mostly been used only to fill in the grey area that comes in with enforcing most laws…but then there came Obama who decided that he should just legislate from the Oval Office whenever he felt like it. This is insane. Even if you agree with everything Obama has done, you have to know that someday a conservative will return to the White House, that’s inevitable, do you want someone you disagree with to have this much uncontrolled, unchecked, unfettered power? I don’t trust Obama, but even if you do, can you honestly say you trust every single person who will ever hold that office to not use that power like a dictator? I doubt it. There needs to be a check on this power. And since it is effectively a law, but one that the legislative branch did not pass, it should be held to a lower standard (only half of one branch has to vote it down).

Yes executive orders are a necessary part of the system. But it is a power that can easily be abused and it needs to be curtailed

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Filed under Civil Liberties, Congress, Conservative, Constitution, Declaration, Economics, Environmentalism, Evils of Liberalism, Founding, Free Will, Government is corrupt, Government is useless, Illegal Immagration, Laws the GOP should pass, Long Term Thinking, Michele Bachmann, Natural Rights, Obama, Tyranny, Unjust legislation

Laws the GOP should pass: More requirements for the dole

So last week I said that people who take Medicaid and Medicare need to follow their doctor’s orders if they want to keep that funding. This is completely just. Some may claim that this has a Big Brother aspect to it (which I will admit sounds like a credible complaint on its face) but it isn’t. Why? Because you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to under this system. You don’t want to follow the doctor’s orders you don’t have to. I just don’t have to pay for it if you don’t. My wallet is not the property of anyone who wants it. I would rather not give a goddamn cent of the money I HAVE EARNED to someone who has done nothing beyond exist, but if I am going to be forced at gunpoint (I don’t pay my taxes because I want to, I pay them because 1.) they are stolen from me before I ever see my pay check via withholdings, and 2.) even if they weren’t the government has guns and jails and would use them if I didn’t pay) then I will use what power I have to advocate for conditions for that money, and the government has the right to demand anything if you want money from them, if you don’t want to comply with what the conditions are, you don’t have to take the money. No one forced you to go on the dole (okay, you are forced to go onto Social Security and Medicare when you retire…but you don’t have to cash those blood money checks).

For this week I’m going to have another requirement.

Right now we have a lot of unemployed in this country. Why? Well it’s not because there are no jobs. We’re still importing lots of engineers, doctors, and specialists from all over the world–because there are jobs, just not enough Americans who are qualified to take them. Right now unemployment for the college educated is at a little over 4%, a little over 10% for those with a high school education, and over 14% for those with no high school diploma. (I can’t find the figures but while those with only an associates or technical degree are probably being counted in the 10% group, I would guess the numbers of this sub group are closer to the 4% than the 10%). Most Americans without jobs don’t have jobs because there are no openings, they don’t have jobs because they’re not educated enough to do the work that is available. Yes there are exceptions, lots of them, but I think that statement would apply justly to the majority of those out of work. Those with the proper education can amazingly find jobs when they need one even after being fired or laid off. I’ll admit that there are probably a lot of educated people right now who are under-employed (in a job below what they’re trained to do) but that’s better than being on the dole.

So what’s the new requirement? That anyone on welfare or unemployment has A.) 6 months to get their GED (do you know how easy it is to get a GED or high school diploma? 6 months is the generosity of a saint) or you’re off the roles until you get an education. As a part of this you need to make this fact very, very well publicized in school because a second part of this needs to be that a year after this law is passed you will not be eligible for welfare or unemployment if you don’t have GED or high school diploma. No education, no tax payer money, no exception. You do that and just watch the dropout rate in America all but disappear when there is no longer any safety net for not having a high school diploma. Dropouts may not be the brightest bulbs in the box but they can do the math on having nothing to catch them when they fall. I as a tax payer (and a teacher) refuse to pay for anyone who spat in my face when I offered them 12+ years of free education and then expects me to pay for their pathetic life because they can’t find a job because they don’t have the education to get one. If you drop out, that’s your choice, be prepared to live with the consequences.

Next requirement,  B) if you take welfare or unemployment for even a week within 6 years of that first payment you must have an Associate’s degree or higher or you will be cut off from all further funding and will have to pay back every last penny plus interest. I am not paying for you to sit on your ass. If I have to pay for your existence you will better yourself in such a way as to make yourself employable and thus give me a return on my investment. Again, 6 years for a 2 year degree is the patience of a saint. But, what about people who get a job after a month on unemployment? They should still have a desire to better themselves…and if they don’t then it’s not like they took a lot in a month, even with interest it shouldn’t be that much (I’m not against setting up a payment plan for that repayment). The only people who might have a problem paying that much back are the people who have been on the dole for years; years which they could have been putting part of that money toward education and years they could have been educating themselves (after all it wasn’t like they had a job to go to)…hey, don’t many of us remember going to college and holding down a job? All I’m asking is they do one of those so that they can better themselves. How horrible and uncaring of me.

This nation is no longer a nation of manufacturing greatness which only required workers with bare minimal educations, and agriculture doesn’t require the uneducated level of manpower it used to (it hires people who work with documentation, but I’ve dealt with that problem in other blogs), and those industries will never again be the sources of employment they once were. We can now only succeed by being a nation of innovators, scientists, idea makers, and inventors. We can only survive by being a nation of the mind. And that requires education. If you are taking my money you will be educated.

(It’s disturbing how that makes me sound like a parent talking to a willful teenager…oh wait, most teenagers are brighter than most people on the dole, never mind).

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Filed under Education, Free Will, Government is useless, Laws the GOP should pass, Welfare

Laws for the GOP to pass: If we’re paying for it, you will take advantage of it.

The two single greatest expenditures of the federal government are Medicaid and Medicare. Now I have gone over in other places about how the government has absolutely no right, no authority, no logical reason, and no Constitutional power to provide these so called services which just encourage learned helplessness, lack of responsibility, fraud, waste and lower quality health care service.

Now I also admit that these evil programs have become so entrenched in American society that you just can’t kill them in one fell swoop (as much as that idea makes me smile)—they need to be hacked to pieces with a machete and left to bleed out and die over the course of a decade or so. The first move needs to be completely overturning Obamacare, Bush’s prescription drug benefit, and an across the board 10% reduction in all payments. Increased penalties for Medicaid and Medicare fraud (maybe life without parole) couldn’t hurt either.

But the next requirement that needs to be made is as follows: If you receive government paid for medical care then you MUST follow the orders of your doctor. If your doctor tells you to give something up you must. If your doctor orders you to take something, you MUST. If your doctor orders you to exercise, meditate, relax you MUST. Failure to comply with a doctor’s orders will mean you are booted out of the system for five years.

I can already hear the whiners at the ACLU, people have the liberty to choose not accept their doctor’s instructions; you can’t mandate that they follow it, people have liberty. Yes people, more accurately, adults have liberty. But if you want to act like a child and say you are not responsible for your own bills and expenses, that someone else should foot the bill, then you’re no more mature than any teenager (although I find teenagers more reasonable). So just as your parents said before you left, as long as I the taxpayer am footing the bills, you will follow whatever rules I dictate. Don’t like it, don’t take the money.

This includes but should not be limited to the usual order:
Exercise
Don’t drink
Don’t smoke
Don’t take any drug the doctor didn’t prescribe you
Avoid red meat
Avoid sugar
Avoid caffeine
Avoid fats
Don’t eat fast food
Reduce your portion size
(Most of us get told to work less by our doctors, but I somehow feel this isn’t an issue for the welfare brats on Medicaid and Medicare).  If your doctor reports that you are not following instructions to your Medicaid or Medicare provider, you’re off the roles for five years.  I encourage all doctors to find their inner Greg House.
Don’t want to give up that stuff? Don’t take federal money. No one forced you to take it.

If I am going to be stuck paying for your lazy asses medical problems for at least another decade (probably more) then by God I will not be paying for medical problems that could have been avoided by you just living with some modicum of common sense.

Am I a hypocrite because I enjoy some of those things on that list and don’t feel I should have to give them up? Nope. The freedom to choose what to do with my life comes with actually working and providing for myself and not demanding that someone else must support me. I’ve earned my choices. If you’re on my dime, you’ve earned nothing. You still have freedom; the freedom not to go on the dole, but understand that using my money comes with conditions.

Not only should this save us billions in not treating perfectly preventable diseases that were not prevented, but it will get the people who have no desire to help themselves get off of our dime—by even a conservative estimate this will be a healthy chunk of the people who are bleeding us dry from their Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

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Laws the GOP should pass: Some Common Sense Environmentalism

Well, the obvious one would be some massive spending cuts. Or maybe a balanced budget amendment. Or maybe a flat tax that includes no loopholes, exemptions or credits. But this weekend’s cowardice and blinking tells me I’ll have to wait for January 2013 at the earliest for anything that rational.

In lieu of that, I’ll go with the kind of long term thinking that was so clearly missing in Washington throughout this whole debt debate. And for that we’re going to go back to discussing the environment. (In case you’re wondering why all the recent environment/global warming posts lately, I finally got around to reading Crichton’s State of Fear and I’m in that mindset…review of that book coming soon).

So, unlike the Chicken Little’s who believe the sky is falling when it isn’t (new NASA data shows once again heat is not getting trapped) but environmentalists would rather scream about impending danger than actually do anything of value that will actually have a legitimate and positive effect – like actually help us save money while using all these supposedly green technologies.

Now, I’ll admit that we are not at a point that we can replace oil and coal and remain a first world nation, not just yet. Even if we replaced all the coal plants with nuclear ones (which won’t happen, again because of the Chicken Littles) even if we put solar paneling on every house, even if we put wind turbine in every community and even if we switched every car to a hybrid, we’d still need oil. So talking about getting rid of oil and coal is just silly. That doesn’t mean we can’t make moves in those alternative energy sources to help bring down their cost per unit and make them at least cost efficient for the average person. Further as we all know I hate oil not for environmental reasons, but because every barrel of oil sold, whether it’s from Saudi Arabia or from Alaska helps keep up the overall price of oil, and that means funds are still streaming into the Middle East and from there into the hands of the organizations most opposed to civilization as a whole. The more we cut oil the more we cut tyranny and terrorism bank rolls (which in turn would mean we could cut our military and DHS funding).

How do I suggest doing that? Well we all know I’ve advocated for nuclear power, which would save us a huge amount of money in producing your average kilowatt hour. But there are other things that would be indicative of long term planning that would actually help to lower our use of oil.

At present the only city I have heard of that is putting up any amount of solar paneling on all its government buildings is Seattle. I can’t see them making that cost efficient with Seattle’s aversion to clear skies, but I would assume it would eventually have to break even and then start paying for itself….however, I can’t understand why the entire Southwest, where the sun always shines, hasn’t put solar panels on every state and city building. Here in Phoenix that would have to pay for itself in only a few years. And cutting government spending on electricity is a two-fold bonus, not only does it reduce the cost of everyone’s electric bill (as the demand drops) but it also means they have to fleece us for that much less in taxes.

Or, how about this. We have learned from the debacle that is the Americans with Disabilities Act what you can and cannot do in requiring building standards. Why do I bring up the ADA? Well a lot of business was killed by this act. Contractors used to be able to buy old buildings that were on the verge of falling apart cheaply, then renovate them and turn them around resulting in a good profit, business for the building industry, and new avenues for the housing and commercial markets. The problem with the ADA was that adding all the handicap accessible changes to old building became prohibitive for a building that was just sitting there and making nothing in terms of income. Thus no one had the capital to begin a lot of renovation projects, which meant that competitive pricing in apartments and commercial space disappeared—bad for the economy all around. What we’ve learned from the ADA is that requirements for new buildings work well and good for new building projects but you need to give a grace period for older buildings, giving them time to make the initial improvements that will allow them to start making income and say within five years of the start of the project make all the required changes (if this change were made to the ADA it would open up millions, perhaps billions of dollars in renovation within the next decade; that’s jobs and money and taxable income). (Hmmm, reading that paragraph you would think that government even when it has the best intentions tends to ruin everything it touches…oh wait that is exactly the case).

So before you think that last paragraph was completely off topic, let me propose that states enact laws that any new projects starting in 2014 (that should give them fair warning to build up enough capital) for any commercial buildings or large housing projects need to have solar panels on the all of the buildings (but with the addendum that renovation will have five years to put those in so as not to further kill that segment of the contracting industry). Any housing project needs to also include one wind turbine per, oh let’s say, every 25 homes (The cost of a wind turbine spaced out among 25 buyers shouldn’t be too much). Yeah they’re ugly, but not as ugly as power and telephone poles and we got used to those. Also with them spaced out like that it should cut down on how many birds they kill. Is that going to save a lot of money? Well not enough to go out and buy a new car, but it could save you a couple hundred bucks a year. Also for these large projects and commercial buildings, and this may be just an Arizona problem, but single paned glass needs to be forbidden. Every place I have lived and worked in Arizona has single pane glass, which makes no sense because if we just had double paned glass we could save hundreds (for individuals) perhaps thousands (for companies) in cooling costs (which here is Phoenix is a large portion of everyone’s electric bill).

It’s these little things that show long term thinking that should be implemented if you’re going to discuss environmental laws. Things that will cost a little more upfront but will save massive piles of money in the long run.

(Further if you put in those laws about solar panels and wind turbines then you would probably see a quick boom in the industry as everyone tries to get their building projects done before they have to meet the standards, which would also help revitalize a few sectors.)

 

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Laws for the GOP to Pass: End Financial Aid for College

So recently I’ve seen a string of articles on whether or not college is worth the money or the fact that the college tuition is a bubble about to burst. And to that I respond let it burst and let’s let the federal government help it along, because this will actually be a good thing.

For decades now the federal government has encouraged people to go to college. They do this because we need more educated people in this country if we going to survive as an economic powerhouse (that or we can continue shipping a lot of college grads in and shipping a lot of jobs out). And the method the government thought best? Why through loans and grants.

Funny thing happened though. (Not really that funny, because any high school grad who has taken even a semi-competent course in Econ could have seen this coming).

(Numbers have been simplified for ease of reading but the general principle is true). Let’s say it costs $1,000 a year to go to college. To help you out the government gave you $900 worth of grants and loans. Suddenly next year the total cost is $2000? The government not seeing any correlation between its loan and tuition costs says they’ll now cover $1500 worth of your costs. The next year all your costs for college are $2700. The government now will cover $2000 and tuition next year is $3300. I’m sure by now you have already seen where this is going; every time the government pays more the colleges raise their costs because they know the government will cover that. If you saw that pattern congratulations, you’re smarter than a chimp and most members of Congress. Further bonus points if you see how this is exactly like what happened when the government forced banks to make loans on houses and housing prices went up. Only it’s worse.

Take a look at this chart. See the housing market. See how that bubble burst. And see how it was out pacing the CPI (consumer price index, or the primary measurement of inflation). And now see how tuition makes the housing bubble look like a hiccup we can ignore. Yeah, that’s going to go well.

There have been some complaints that the federal government is not paying for technical colleges and this is discriminatory. We should be grateful they’re not paying for technical college…it’s probably why technical college is still affordable.

Should we blame the colleges for having a very human and very predictable level of greed? A little. They clearly had fancy new wings and shinny new stadiums more on their mind than the best interest of the students. But is the obese child to blame or the parent who keeps feeding them McDonalds? After all these are academics we’re talking about. These are people who make high school teachers look like worldly people with vast amounts of street smarts. Did they know any better? Doubtful, they’ve never been in the real world or the private sector where people expect results if they give you piles of money. Academia should be pitied not scolded.

But government is to blame in this too. (Not to mention the morons who keep electing them. The sad problem in democracy is that you might not always get the best government, but you always get the government you deserve.)

So what should we do about it? Why isn’t that obvious? Stop all federal loans and grants for college tuition. Everything. Every last dime. Kill it. Pay out what we’ve promised for this year, but after that destroy it all with the zeal of an arachnophobic killing a spider.

What will happen? Well suddenly 90% of all colleges will be of the range of what 99% of all students can pay. Colleges may be run by academics, but they’re not run by complete morons. They’ll look at the laws of supply and demand and realize if they’re going to keep their students they better cut their tuition costs… a lot. Which will suddenly make college more affordable for everyone.

Yes there will be some side effects.

First a lot more people are going to go to community college for their first two years since they’re going to have to pay out of their own pocket they’re going to pick the cheaper option. More people going to community college will mean that the community colleges will actually have the money to pay for more facilities, better teachers, more courses and actually be something other than a joke and fodder for NBC.

On the flip side the 4-year colleges will have to do some cutting. I’m going to guess on what a few of those cuts might be. First up T.A.’s. I imagine if they have to make cuts they will tell professors that they actually have to teach their own classes. Which is an interesting concept…because I don’t know if you know this, but professors know stuff….which if they’re in the classroom they can teach you things. As someone who went to a college that didn’t have T.A.’s I can tell you it’s amazing the things you can learn from professors. Like knowledge. It’s a radical concept for higher education, I know, but I think it’s worth a try. Because otherwise you’re just paying a huge amount of cash to have a T.A. tell you to read a textbook. At which point we’re at that great quote from Good Will Hunting “you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin’ education you coulda got for a dollar fifty in late chares at the public library.” Trust me, as it currently stands, if you take a look at the top 15 colleges in the nation, they’re all hideously overpriced and not worth the money. (Yes, I know 2 of the top 15 are free, but they’re military schools which means you would have to take orders from Obama…no amount of saving money is worth that…under any other Presidency they are among the highest value available, under this idiot, well…).

What the hell is that?

And maybe colleges can stop wasting their student’s money on really ugly art…like that…

And I will admit some money will probably be diverted that would once go to smashing really small particles together in ways that will never help anyone in science departments that are actually researching things like alternative fuel sources and ways to make things cheaper or better (in other words patents that can bring in money). That will be a real shame.

Finally, yes some colleges will have to cut their sports programs. Why? Well, as Thomas Sowell points out in Economic Facts and Fallacies most colleges lose money on their sports programs. Lots of money. In fact in Sowell’s book it speculated that maybe 10 of the 1,000 NCAA institutions are in the black. With coaches and recruiters making in excess of six figure salaries is that really a shock? Now I’m sure the first reaction will be to raise ticket prices (by maybe a 1000% that’s about what it would take when the students who want learn aren’t subsidizing the jocks). But I have a feeling that no one is so in favor of college basketball and football that they’ll be willing to pay for what it currently costs. For students this will not be a loss as the remaining jocks might actually now be held to some kind of standard (I base the fact that most professional football players can’t string a sentence together, but they sure can welcome back a guy who tortures animals). …Interestingly enough I suspect if football is no longer a way to get into college then high schools might start making some truly shocking purchases, like books or teacher’s salaries, instead of shelling out half the budget for new team uniforms (but I might be overly optimistic in this).

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Laws for the GOP to Pass: Get rid of HUD

It’s been a while since I suggested scrapping a whole cabinet level department. Yeah we got rid of Agriculture (which is a no brainer) and all but destroyed the Department of Education until its job could be done out of one single floor of offices. But now it’s time to destroy the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Why? Because it’s an utterly useless department whose functions are on shaky Constitutional grounds at the federal level and its actions are clearly more of a state’s rights issue.

Now first off I will state that I do believe that some form of low income housing and homeless shelters do need to be provided by local, county and if necessary state government. I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t believe in these institutions. I have in the past referenced the book “Scratch Beginnings” by Adam Shepard which details how he disproves the idea of the liberal BS in “Nickel and Dimed” that you actually can work your way up from nothing in this country and into the middle class with only determination, drive and a work ethic. He does just that in only a few months. But, I will admit as he started with nothing he did stay at homeless shelters for a while and probably would have had a much harder time if he had not had that safety net in place. But this should be done by local governments and not federal. So let me discuss first why the federal department needs to be scrapped and then go over what state and local governments need to put in place.

First, I find nothing in the Constitution that gives the government the right to deal with public housing. But then again most Departments of the federal government don’t have a Constitutional justification for existing. It grew out of FDR’s many unconstitutional programs that got to live only because FDR was a tyrant and bully (it’s sad there is no hell, because he does deserve to burn there) who threatened to stack the Supreme Court which was about to tell FDR 99.9% of his policies were unconstitutional. What a shock it hasn’t gained any constitutional basis sense then.
But let’s deal with the pragmatics of the department. The 2011 budget for HUD was 43 Billion Dollars. (They’ve been around for 46 years as a cabinet level department so one has to wonder how many billions, trillions they’ve wasted over that period of time).

So, what do we get for our money?

We get the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). If that sounds familiar it should. These are the people who regulate and oversee those quasi-private companies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. You know the companies who back all those sub-prime loans that helped tank the economy. Thank you FHA for being a leading factor in this depressed economy. Pink slips for everyone at FHA, Fannie and Freddie would be generous and merciful (prison sentences might be more just). So how about we scrap all of this and stop ruining the economy.

We get the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Administration. That sounds nice doesn’t it? A federal government agency to make sure that discrimination isn’t going on. Can’t quite see how this isn’t more of a state issue, but that’s not the biggest problem. These are the people who forced banks to make all those subprime loans that helped to ruin the economy. Yeah, I really want to keep these asses around.

We get the agency for Policy Development and Research…which apparently didn’t do enough research to know that what FHA and FHEOA were doing would destroy the economy and cause a major credit failure. I so want to continue paying for high quality research like that.

We get the Department of Community Planning and Development. These are the people who build low income housing. You know that program that helps to institute the feeling of helplessness and dependence on the government. Oh, and did you know that if someone who is getting low income housing will not be eligible for low income housing if they become a full time student—because we wouldn’t want to encourage people who are poor to improve themselves and, oh I don’t know, get the skills needed to get a job and no longer need low income housing. No. We need to only help those who want to stay helpless. Screw those who want to improve themselves. Not to mention that low income housing is often better on square-footage than what some of us pay in our apartments. Or the fact that those buildings, while being some of the biggest eyesores in the history of architecture need to usually be torn down every 20 years or so because the occupants treat them so poorly (why not, it’s not like they have any personal investment in it). Why do the tenants treat them so poorly, because they’ve had to do just about nothing to get them. Then you have to rebuild all the buildings, at the high cost of building laid off on taxpayers. All the while actually encouraging all the traits that keep people impoverished. I feel this could be done in a million better ways, just never by the Feds.

Public and Indian Housing Rental assistance…yes because we still need to treat the Indians as if they were children. Yeah we can scrap this.

Government National Mortgage Association Can’t pay your mortgage? Were you an idiot and took out too much in loans? Don’t worry. We’re going to take money from people who can actually keep a budget and pay their mortgage and give it to an idiot like you…our goal is so that no one will be able to pay their mortgage and everyone will be dependent on the government.

Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. Really? Is lead paint still a big issue? And are the states incapable of doing this? I doubt it.

Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing. This Clinton era creation is about as dumb as it sounds. According to their website they have “improved the development, dissemination, and use of new housing technologies.” Raise your hand if you believe government can spot good deals and coming technologies better than the private sector. Yeah didn’t think so. (You, in the back, yeah you who raised your hand…you’re an idiot.)

There is no reason to keep this federal department. None. None whatsoever.

Now I do believe cities and counties need to provide homeless shelters and low income housing, which will at most include block grants from state funding. No federal money should be involved. Federal money just means red tape, inefficiency and waste. Cities, counties and states are all you need for this.

Now, while homeless shelters and low income housing need to be provided states should correct some of the mistakes made by federal programs. The first is drug testing. If you’re poor and need this kind of housing you shouldn’t be able to afford drugs, alcohol or even nicotine. If you can afford those things, I guess you have enough money to pay your own way. So drug testing of those who are living on our, the tax payers dime. Don’t like it, leave! If we’re paying for the rent you will live under our rules…think that sounds a bit too much like a parent…well if you don’t want to be treated like a child, grow up, get a job and pay your own rent. Next I’m going to encourage the practices that lead to being constantly out of work, underemployed, or homeless. This means states need to put screening programs at their homeless shelters to identify those people who are mentally incapable of taking care of themselves and change the laws to allow for involuntary commitment of people who are not mentally stable. A good portion of the homeless suffer from schizophrenia or other debilitating mental illnesses. I’m willing to put some tax dollars to committing them to institutions, we just need to change the laws to do so. It’s better for them, in that they won’t be on the streets, and it’s better for the rest of us in the amount of crimes this group commits (though they are not to blame for those crimes, their illness and our indifference is). Next if you’re going to stay at a shelter it shouldn’t be that you’re punished for taking college courses it should be that you are required to take trade school, high school, GED, or community college courses. You’re on our dime; then you will improve yourself and put yourself in a position to not be on our dime. And again, I’m willing to put up some state or local money to those programs. Job trainings, public housing, welfare, and unemployment offices should not be three separate departments, they should be one in the same all with the specific purpose of getting people out as soon as possible. Also since there are personal requirements, people will feel they are not just being given something and thus will treat the building better, thus we won’t have to replace them as often (just think how much not having to build a new building will save us).

Further the advantage of making these more local allows for less red tape and more experimentation to find new ways to make the system more effective. Local programs adapt better. Local programs are run by people who see the effect of their choices and thus care far more about their effectiveness than some bureaucrat in D.C.

Also, if we weren’t wasting 43 Billion a year (that’s about $143 per person in the US, ignoring that we’re not all paying the same amount to the Feds…some of us are paying a lot more) then you figure that states will be a little more efficient because there is less red tape and fewer stupid federal rules and levels to deal with (so maybe it will only cost about $71 per person)…that and with more money in our pocket, Americans being very generous will give more to private charities. Some of those private charities will have their own assistance programs that will always be more effective than what government puts up. All of this will mean that there will be fewer people on the dole, which means that the economy might just go up…the long term feedback effect of this becomes obvious.

In the end HUD needs to be put on a five year plan for disbandment. The holdings sold or just given to the states to manage and the entire system sent to local governments to administer.

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Filed under Government is useless, Laws the GOP should pass, Welfare

Laws for Everybody to Pass: Caylee’s Law

I could waste your time with a full blog on this, but it’s kind of a no brainer. Yes, parent’s not reporting their children missing should be a crime. Obviously this needs to be 50 different state laws because the federal government has no authority here, but it’s still a no brainer as a state law. Any politician who opposes this should be voted out at the earliest opportunity (or they better have a damn good argument as to why the wording of the bill needs to be changed).

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Law of the week hiatus

No law this week. I took the 4th off and I don’t feel like running this week’s law late. However, given that most of the laws I suggest roll back power of the government, I would off this quote for you to ponder this week.

“The more laws, the less justice.”
–Marcus Tullius Cicero

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Laws for the GOP to pass: Primary Reform

Now I will admit up front what I’m suggesting is not a law but rather another constitutional amendment, as I am going to suggest, quite contrary to my usual stance, that affects a very specific area of state’s rights. I don’t care. And quite frankly if this was introduced I don’t think 48 of the states would complain my actually giving them more power and control than they have now. The two states that will complain are Iowa and Rhode Island.

According to Dave Barry in his grand political masterpiece “Dave Barry Hits below the Beltway” the Constitution states the following:

The President shall be elected every four years according to the following procedure:
(a) In the dead of winter, all interested candidates and their entourages, as well as members of the national press corps on expense accounts, shall go to Iowa and New Hampshire, unless somebody discovers two states that are even more wretched places to spend the dead of winter.
[…]
(c)[…]The instant that the votes are counted, the candidates, entourages, and press corps members shall vacate these two states faster than Senator Ted Kennedy vacates a submerged Oldsmobile.

Now I’m not entirely sure that Barry, a candidate for President for the last two decades, is entirely accurate in his direct quote from the Constitution, but from actually watching the news, you would have every reason to believe that this is somehow enshrined in the Constitution.

And why is this? Why is a state that that loves corn as much as New Zealand loves sheep and a frozen waste land in New England (and not the happy kind of waste land where I can shore fragments against my ruins) the states that get to choose who gets to be President? Why only these two? Now I’ll admit I don’t have as much against New Hampshire, but Iowa is a problem. This is a state where every candidate up until this election has had to swear a blood oath and offer their first born as ransoms in their support of ethanol subsidies to win. (It tells you how bad the debt really is when candidates feel they can tell Iowa where to stick their corn). Which is why I think this system must change. No two states should hold this much power over the electorate.

Thus we need a change.

We need a Constitutional Amendment stating that there will be 10 primaries held from January to May in a presidential election year. Each primary will consist of 5 states. The order of the states will be chosen the November before (because the election cycles last far too damn long these days) by picking the states randomly (computer, bingo balls, pulling them out of a hat, don’t really care how so long as its random). This will mean that no state will perpetually have the power to force its pet projects down the throat of the rest of the country (as Iowa has done for the last few decades). Also the randomness of this will prevent candidates from tailoring that week of primaries to a single state or area (as currently with Super Tuesday)…they’ll actually have to come up with policies that are more national in outlook (what a concept they’re only the President of the WHOLE country) and not just for the needs of that area in that week.

Will this change a lot? No. But a basic concept of federalism is that no state should be arbitrarily over any other—this is why every state only gets two senators. And I don’t necessarily think that this will radically change the outcome. But ask yourself do you always agree with people in Iowa and think they should ALWYAS have first say in who gets to be president?

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