Shell Game

25 09 2008

Wake up, America.

Your elected Representatives are trying to pull a fast one- literally. In great haste, with little or no debate, our Gummint is trying to cram a particularly unpalatable piece of pork down our throats.

The pork in question is the so-called “Bail-out” bill soon to appear for voting in the House and Senate. Most legislation takes weeks or months to get that far. But the Gummint is basically saying, “The big, bad, economy monster is going to destroy the country and rape your children! Boogabooga!” We are also being told that the only way to prevent this calamity is to pour hundreds of billions of dollars from the Public Treasury into the hands of one or two unelected officials, who will magically make the bad things not happen. To really cap the condescension, our Representatives and these unelected bureaucrats are saying that we can’t be trusted with the details of this gimmick. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

We, the People, are being conned.  I fail to see any compelling reason why the legislative process is being short-circuited for this alleged crisis. If the crisis is real, then our Gummint had better explain the problem in no uncertain words to us- the People. Then we, the People, will decide whether or not we believe the story.

Take the time to tell your Senators and Congresscritters how you feel about this particular boondoggle- whether or not you agree with me. I would actually prefer that those who do not agree with me contact their representatives and make their feelings known. Debate helps reveal the truth, and it is hard to debate when everyone agrees on something.

For those of you who don’t know, you can reach your Congresscritter here.  You can reach your senator here. You will need to know your zip+4. Write them, call them, or email them. Make sure your spelling and grammar are acceptable. Do not swear, insult, or threaten. All that will do is alienate the person you’re trying to convince and probably earn you a visit from the Secret Service. Calmly and politely lay out your arguments, then ask him/her to do the right thing.

Do it now. If you don’t let your elected representatives know how you feel on this issue, then you are part of the problem. Remember who votes for and against this monstrosity, and punish those people with your votes in November accordingly.

Here’s a sample, for illustrative purposes. Please do not use this as your own:

Sir,

As a constituent and a taxpayer, I urge you to vote against the so-called economic bailout bill reportedly coming to the Floor soon.

Unless there is an urgent, compelling need to do so, the Government should refrain from using Public funds to rescue private firms from the consequences of their own stupidities. Despite the recent furor in the press, no such compelling reason has yet been presented to the Public. In the absence of a clear explanation delivered to the Public, we the People are unwilling to pay hundreds of billions of dollars to prevent economic evolution from taking its toll on private companies who have mismanaged their assets.

I have heard many people say that this legislation is necessary to prevent a total collapse of the nation’s economy, yet no one has described why this is so, except those with an apparent vested interest in getting uncontrolled access to nearly a trillion dollars in Public funds. The primary questions any rational person must ask when presented with dire warnings of impending doom should be: “ Who says so?” “Why?”, and “Are the people who say so the primary beneficiaries of the proposed actions?” Instead, Congress seems to have swallowed the prophecies of economic ruin with no questions whatsoever. Furthermore, this is all happening with dizzying haste, again without benefit of cogent explanation. It is wisely said that actions taken in haste are repented at leisure. If you are privy to a good reason why it is necessary to spend the equivalent of the GDP of Pakistan twice over to bail out a few private companies, it is your duty as our Representative to carefully, clearly, and completely explain that reason to your constituents.

Until and unless the need for this extravagance is properly explained, the only sane vote regarding the legislation at issue is “ NO”. Please do what you can to convince your fellow Representatives to refrain from creating generations of debt for the American people in the interest of saving a privileged few.

Thank you for your attention,

Archvillain

Current status: Seething with rage

Current music: Midgets with Guns by Pain

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Basic Criteria

21 09 2008

I am not a democrat. Nor am I a republican, libertarian, communist, socialist, whig, hottentot, albigensian, or any other label people routinely apply to others. I am reasonably certain that most people who are described using the terms above do not fit into the label with which they’ve been identified. It is merely easier to simply lump people into general categories than to deal with the fact that everyone is both more and less than the labels we’ve been branded with.

Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort. -RAH

If we examine the various political advertisements which bombard us every hour of the day, we can find a lot of crap disguising the real intent of the ads. For example, there’s one in particular which sets my teeth to grinding and my trigger finger to twitching.

The ad in question starts by begging our leaders to help reduce pollution, global warming, dependence upon foreign power sources, get the weeds out of our gardens, make our penises larger, make us lose weight, and generally solve all of the world’s ills. The reason I hate this ad is the implied statement that it is the Gummint’s job to do any of this.

Our Government is supposed to maintain public order, defend the country from foreign and domestic enemies, and otherwise stay the Hell out of our business. Yet far too many people spend a great deal of time and energy trying to get the Gummint to get more and more involved in our lives. This specifically includes the various politicians (of every description) running for public office. All of them.

A friend of mine recently complained that his utility bills were too high, and groused that Warren Buffet (who had recently purchased said utilities) ought to reduce the rates. How about a little personal responsibility? If you don’t want to pay so much for electricity, cut down on your consumption. There are a lot of basic things anyone can do to reduce their utility bills: upgrade the windows; turn the A/C up in the summer and down in the winter; change your light bulbs for lower-wattage models; use the bulk of your electricity after dark, when the rates are lower; etc. Instead of praying to the Gods for relief, try doing something for yourself.

It all comes down to basic criteria. Are you willing to take responsibility for your own decisions, or are you willing to become a serf to the Gummint in exchange for a life of ease- with no decisions? I have no desire to be a serf. Generations of Americans have fought, bled, and died so that we could be free. Becoming a serf would be turning one’s back on the sacrifices of our ancestors. Remianing free means making some sacrifices of one’s own.

Americans used to be infamous for our go-it-alone attitudes. We were a nation of individuals, loosely organized around a set of ideals embodied in a couple of parchment documents in the nation’s capitol. Over just the course of my lifetime, I have seen more and more people begging the Gummint to relieve them of the responsibility for their own actions, to make decisions for them. This has led to a huge number of egregious stupidities to flourish in our institutions and discourse. More and more, the implied belief in far too many people is that the Gummint would be there to bail them out from the consequences of their decisions.

I refuse to be a part of this crap. If you want the Gummint to run your life, then you should have the option of turning over 90% of your income to the Gummint to pay for the privilege. Everyone else can pay their taxes normally. Those of us who are willing to run our own lives should not be forced to pay for those who are not so inclined.

Current status: disgusted

Current music: Seen All Good People by Yes





A 50-Year Snit

8 09 2008

The US Gummint has been throwing a temper tantrum for fifty years. Like most tantrums, this one is not based on any rational thought process. Basically, the Government of the United States of America has been holding its breath until it turns blue because the people of Cuba decided to run their own political destinies.

This half-century snit-fit has outlasted nine US presidents, proving once and for all that bureaucracies have institutional memories and are resistant to change. The worst part of this idiotic exercise of pique is the complete lack of logic. The US has normalized realtions with Vietnam after a shooting war which killed seventy thousand US miltary personnel, so why won’t we talk to Cuba? Vietnam is half a world away. Cuba is literally right next door. Furthermore, there are lots of practical reasons for opening normal relations with Cuba, not least of which are humanitarian concerns for the people of Cuba. Increasing trade with Cuba would enormously improve the plight of the average person there. Americans would visit the country for business and pleasure, bringing in tons of cash to the local economies. Cubans would be able to purchase better equipment to rebuild their infrastructure, which would attract yet more tourist and investment dollars. With enough economic cooperation, Cuba might start to open up the way China has. It should be a win-win scenario.

Politics trumps everything else, as usual. Florida has a disproportionate amount of influence over presidential politics. Would-be presidents will never risk losing Florida by alienating the large Cuban exile community in Florida. This community is still dominated by those who left Cuba in the wake of the Revolution and their immediate descendants. These exiles hate the current Cuban government- partly because of the loss of properties in the wake of the Revolution. As a result, we might be stuck with this insane policy for another couple of decades- until the last of the exiles dies of old age and the newest generation grows up in the US and has no personal memory of Cuba.

Here are a couple of practical reasons why it would be in our best interests to open relations.

  • Sugar. It is really difficult to grow sugar cane in the continental US. Cuba exports sugar. We could make cheaper biofuels from sugar cane than from corn, and sugar cane (unlike corn) is not a primary foodstuff. We could get rid of high fructose corn syrup in our soft drinks and go back to sugar, which tastes better.
  • Booze. This is related to the sugar issue. Cuba makes some world-class rum, which is illegal to import to the US.
  • Cuban women are hot.
  • Baseball. The best baseball players in the world come from Cuba. The quality of play in professional baseball will get better, and adding a Couple of teams in Cuba could make the so-called “World Series” have some meaning.

American investment in Cuba would (in my opinion) have a far greater political effect than the Embargo. The US would benefit in many ways from normalizing relations with Cuba, and Cuba would benefit enormously.

So why aren’t we doing this?

 

Current status: perplexed

Current music: DOA by the Foo Fighters