November 08, 2003

Dark Side of the Moon

This post, and the rant on taxation below, is being frequently interrupted. The distraction is that with a very slight turn and lift of my head I have an amazing view of the progress of a total eclipse of the moon. The eclipse will reach totality at 8:06 EST. I should have a stiff neck by then.

8:15 UPDATE: The eclipse is total and quite spectacular. It's a crystal clear night in the Northeast. My facsination with the lunar event however is utterly and fully eclipsed by the excitement of my 8-year-old daughter. This is her first.

8:50 UPDATE: The moon has started to emerge, which is almost as much fun as watching it eclipse.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:14 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


Taxing the Web

It seems the bill establishing a permanent ban on taxing internet transactions is having a little difficulty making it through the Senate. The problem according to some senators is how much revenue the bill will cost state and local governments. A few facts and quotes form the FOX News.com report:

San Francisco could lose $30 million in existing taxes annually, Feinstein claimed.

"That translates into 300 police and firefighters," she said.

Nationally, state and local governments collect more than $20 billion every year on telecommunications. The  Congressional Budget Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said the losses would come from several directions.

About 10 states that imposed a tax on Internet access charges before the original ban and were grandfathered from the moratorium, would lose $80 million to $120 million each year.

States that currently tax high-speed DSL services would be prohibited by the bill permitting a permanent ban. That would cost states up to $40 million each year.

This story illustrates perfectly what is philosophically wrong with taxation in this country - that the debate is framed in terms of what this bill might COST government. This structure starts from the premise that the money is the government's to begin with therefore any reduction in taxation is a cost to the government.

According to the Fox report, "The  Multistate Tax Commission estimates changes to the current tax collection avenues will cost governments at least $4 billion a year." This argument need to be turned around. The burden or cost of taxation is not born by government but by taxpayers. The people we elect to represent us should be looking at a bill like this and cheering that the people of San Francisco will save $30 billion in taxes annually, The CBO should be forecasting that taxpayers will be saving more than $20 billion a year.

It's our money damn it. And it's time our representatives started treating it that way.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:08 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Flying

Taking off on my one buisness trip a year tomorrrow. Here's hoping the TSA doen't reat this blog

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:25 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


November 07, 2003

NAACP Chairman Blasts Affirmative Action

From the FOX News.com report on the Janice Rogers Brown nomination:

"Judicial selection should be based on principle, not on pigment. The president cheapens the process when he substitutes race for rationality or color for capability," Bond said.(emphasis mine)
The FOX headline read
Senate Judiciary Committee OKs Brown Nomination
I might have re-written it to read something like:
NAACP Chairman Blasts Affirmative Action
Skipping for now that he is wrong about Brown, and ignoring the incredible insult to her, re-read the Bond quote keeping in mind the recent Michigan law school affirmative action case.

Julian Bond's statement is as clear and concise an argument against affirmative action as any that has been made since the words

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
were written into the Declaration of Independence and Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Sadly, I am reasonably sure Bond's intention was not to attack affirmative action in principle but only what he perceived to be it's application in this instance. Even sadder still I am reasonably sure that no one from ABC, NBC, CBS the New York Times, and even FOX will ask Bond, "Accepting your assertion that the Brown Nomination is an act of affirmative action, is it now the position of the NAACP that this is a bad thing?"

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:12 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


November 06, 2003

Case Closed

From Drudge

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS TO SUE WAL-MART FOR LABOR VIOLATIONS
Thu Nov 06 2003 10:51:20 ET

Nine Mexican immigrants who worked as janitors at Wal-Marts in New Jersey are ready to sue the company, accusing Wal-Mart and its cleaning contractors of failing to pay overtime, withhold taxes and make required workers' compensation contributions!

The plaintiffs, who face deportation for being illegal immigrants, also accuse Wal-Mart and its contractors of discriminating against them by giving them lower wages and fewer benefits than other workers because of their national origin. The nine Mexicans were among 250 people arrested for being illegal immigrants in an Oct. 23 federal raid on 60 Wal-Marts in 21 states.

The lawsuit, the first to be filed by immigrants arrested in the raid, said that Wal-Mart should be held accountable for its contractors' wage and hour violations.

Developing...

This pretty much puts an end to the "illegal immigrants are here doing the work that American's don't want because the pay is too low" argument. It is time this country started treating people who are in violation of imigration law appropriately. Like the criminals they chose to become when they enter the country illegally.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:03 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Batter Up

The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted in favor of sending then nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to the senate for approval. This, of course, comes as no surprise and the vote predictable followed party lines. It will also come as no surprise when Daschle and the rest of his party obstructionists prevent the senate from voting on this nomination.

What will come as a welcome will surprise will be any sort of meaningful counter attack from Bill Frist and the Republican majority. To this point the Republicans have been far too nice, and far too weak. They need to take a lesson from major league pitching. The Dems are playing hardball and so far the Republications are throwing nothing but off speed pitches. They need to start throwing fastballs high and inside. Pedro Martinez style.

For the first pitch a brush back. Frist should let Daschle know that until the filibustered nominees get an up or down vote, nothing on the Democratic agenda will even get a debate on the Senate floor let alone a vote.

Second Pitch, a little chin music. If they want to crowd the plate, make them earn it. No more of this procedural filibuster BS. If Daschle wants to filibuster make him line up his minions and tell them to be prepared to go at it 24/7.

Third Pitch. The bean ball. Amend the procedural rules of the Senate to require only a simple majority to move a nomination to a vote.

These are all things that Frist has recently said are on the table. When the time comes, let's hope he has the will to use them.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:27 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


November 05, 2003

Rust Never Sleeps

The rusty ipod has sold on Ebay for $71. After giving Ebay their cut I'll have a net profit of $40.00. With a $90 limit I think I have a fighting chance of winning the Ebay game.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:29 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment


November 04, 2003

Updates

Updates on a couple things I have been following:

Reagan CBS has canceled plans to air a distortion of history mini-series about the Reagans. Story Here CBS is claiming that outrage over released portions of the script from conservatives had nothing to do with the decision. Look for media liberals to be claiming censorship by the extreme right any day now.

iPod Progress has been made in my quest for a cheap iPod on Ebay. In an earlier update I reported on a slightly rusted unit I purchased for $25. Unable to get it going - I put it back on Ebay hoping to make my money back or even a profit. With just under a day of bidding to go, it is up to $62.17. I have officially added $30 to my spending limit. I am now in search of the $80 iPod.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:38 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


November 02, 2003

The Beauty of Dead Leaves 

Every morning for about the last month the local weather forecast has included a map showing the status of fall foliage for the entire northeast. A Google search for "Foliage Tours" yielded about 117,000 matches. Foliage tours are a big business. During peak foliage season nearly every bed and breakfast in the northeast is booked. People drive for hours to spend their vacations looking at dead and dying leaves.

Now before foliage fanatics get their leaves in a twist let me say for the record that I too like the colors of autumn. However I think of them as accidental beauty. If I come around a corner or over the crest of a hill and am presented with vista of striking color, I enjoy it as much as the next person. But I could never bring myself to go out of my way for it - much less spend my vacation looking at leaves.

I have two wonderful trees in the front of my house, and when their foliage was at its peak they were beautiful. About half of that brightly colored foliage is lying brown on my lawn now. I'm waiting for the other half to fall so I only have to rake them up once.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:29 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


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