Archive for October, 2011

Treat:  Obama making good on his promise to have our troops out of Iraq by the end of the year.
Trick:  It is only happening because Obama was unable to come to an agreement with the Iraqi’s to extend our stay beyond the original agreement with Bush.  Still, I wasn’t too upset.  Who cares how it happened, at least it happened.  Then I read this:  When Obama said the troops were coming home, he failed to mention “home” was Kuwait and other Middle Eastern nations.  Sigh.  We are never leaving.

Treat:  Gaddafi removed as dictator of Libya.
Trick:  Atrocities carried out by Gaddafi and his loyalists have been replaced by atrocities carried out by anti-Gaddafi militias.  Yay?

Treat:  Donald Trump rises in GOP polls.  Donald Trump says stupid stuff.  Donald Trump falls in the polls.  Michelle Bachmann rises in GOP polls.  Michelle Bachmann says stupid stuff.  Michelle Bachmann falls in the polls.  Rick Perry rises in GOP polls.  Rick Perry says stupid stuff.  Rick Perry falls in the polls.
Trick:  Herman Cain rises in GOP polls.  Herman Cain says stupid stuff.  Yet, so far, his poll numbers seem to be immune.

Treat:  Occupy “Wall Street” changes the path of public discourse by providing focus on the growing disparity of wealth in this nation as well as the undue influence corporations have over our political system.  If nothing else, they provide a nice counter-balance to the “Tea Party”.
Trick:  The occupiers are finding out what happens when you go up against “the man”.  Run-ins with the police.  Daily trashing on a national “news” network. When it is people you agree with, people demonstrating are great Americans exercising their first amendment free speech rights.  When it is people you disagree with, people demonstrating are loiterers, hippies, fringe, parasites, human debris, etc.

Treat:  This Cain ad:

Trick:  I can’t get that damn song out of my head!

Treat:  A television show based on the movie Zombieland and the actual writers of the movie are on board.
Trick:  It is being produced for Fox, where awesome goes to die (Firefly, Dollhouse, FreakyLinks, Andy Richter Controls The Universe, Futurama, …).

Treat:  I finally wrote a blog post.
Trick:  This is what I wrote.

Treat:  Happy Halloween!!!

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Herman Cain's tax plan brought to you by the number 9. 9. 9 percent sales tax. Ha..ha..ha!

I must admit, Herman Cain’s so-called “999 Plan” is a hell of a gimmick.  It might not win him the nomination (keep in mind that at this time in the last election cycle, the Republican nomination looked like it was going to come down to Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, or Mitt Romney while it was a foregone conclusion that Hillary Clinton was going to win the Democratic nomination), but it has at least put Cain on the map.  If everyone is talking about your proposal, and I mean everyone, that has to be a whole heck of a lot better than getting no attention at all.

But is it an actual good plan, or just a good marketing tool?

  • It has the looks of being way too regressive.  Sales taxes by their very nature are regressive (and some states already use sales taxes pretty aggressively, in Alabama under the Cain plan, sales taxes would be a whopping 19%).  Also taxing wage income but not investment income is also a regressive component.  In fact, the director of the tax and budget policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund estimates that almost everyone making under $100,000 will see a tax hike while the richest 1% would see their taxes cut by over half!
  • It’s also important to know that Cain would use this plan as a stepping stone to what he actually wants, a national sales tax in place of all other taxes.  So ultimately we would have just a regressive tax system.
  • Did the 999 plan come from a video game?  SimCity 4 has a default tax plan of 9% for residential taxes, 9% for commercial taxes, and 9% for industrial taxes.  It’s one of those things you want to be true, but you know it’s just coincidence.
  • Why 9%?  To borrow from a movie, I want somebody to just say, “999 plan?  That’s good.  Unless, of course, somebody comes up with an ‘888 plan’.  Then you are in real trouble, huh?”  Only just so we can see if Cain becomes flustered.  “No no no!  I said 999!  Nobody’s coming up with an 888 plan!  You can’t provide service with 8!  You can’t even feed people pizzas at 8%!  9’s the number!  9 baseball players.  9 Supreme Court justices.  9, man, that’s the number!

All of that said, the man has clearly struck a chord.  I think it’s because most people believe (and correctly in my opinion) that the current tax code is WAY too complicated.  And while other politicians mention tax reform, only Cain has actually laid a plan out on the table.  So if Cain’s “999 Plan” forces tax reform to become an election issue and forces others to develop their own plans, then perhaps the “999 Plan” could be considered a success after all.

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Advocates for smaller federal government often argue that local governments should serve as “laboratories of democracy” to experiment with policy, with the best policies being adopted by everyone else.  Well a favorite tea party policy is about to become an experiment right here in my home Jefferson County.  We are going to see what happens when you eliminate a massive deficit with spending cuts alone, no revenue increases.

Jefferson County has already made a whopping $134 million cut into a budget that was $312 million last year (that’s 43%, and we are talking real cuts, not cuts off some baseline) but still needs to make $40 million more to balance the budget.  This is because a major tax the county had was ruled unconstitutional, our antiquated state constitution doesn’t allow the county to replace it, the county has ran out of revenue stop-gap measures, and it is also required by law to balance the budget.  So it has no choice but to do it all with spending cuts.

Right now, I think a lot of the public here is all for this.  But it will be interesting to see how folks feel once it is put into practice.  For instance, senior citizen services will be cut from $12 million to $4 million.  The sheriff’s department is going to cut by $7 million, forcing it to lay off a hundred deputies.  The budget for bridge maintenance is going from $2.9 million to an almost comical $345,000 (funny until the bridge you are crossing falls down!).  But I suppose old people, crime protection, and having sturdy bridges are all vastly overrated!

Actually on second thought, the county is pretty much divided between poor city folks and rich suburb folks.  The poor tends to take the brunt of it when it comes to cuts.  But the folks with the actual influence probably won’t notice much.  And these folks didn’t leave the city just to have to turn around and share their resources with the people that they just left.  Still, when all is said and done, we are talking about a 56% cut in the budget.  It’s hard to imagine that won’t be felt a little by everyone.

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