September 28, 2006

Failure To Communicate

The digital divide is back in the news - or at least it's back in the New York Times. Here's the problem summed up nicely in the headline: Rural Areas Left in Slow Lane of High-Speed Data Highway.

Surprisingly, the Times does a decent a job of outlining the reasons why high-speed access is limited or unavailable in many rural areas.

“Vermont — like all rural states — has higher fixed costs of providing service,” said Polly Brown, president of Verizon Vermont, where the number of landlines has declined 9.1 percent since 2002. “You’re spreading those costs over fewer customers, who are located far and wide, and you’re dealing with topographical challenges such as mountains and a rock base.”
The economics of providing broadband in rural areas are discouraging, too. The cost of upgrading an existing copper line that runs from switching stations to remote homes can be as much as $5,000, according to the National Exchange Carrier Association. Such costs are prohibitive for phone companies, which typically want to make back their money within three years, said Victor Glass, the director of demand forecasting at the carrier association.
Of course economic reality doesn't seem to matter.
“We have companies that lose money because they don’t have broadband,” said Maureen Connolly, a director at the Economic Development Council of Northern Vermont. “We’re not a third world country. We shouldn’t have to beg for service.”
No, but you do have to pay for it. And if you are in a rural area like northern Vermont you should expect that you are going to pay more - perhaps a lot more. And here's a question. If you run a business that needs high speed access in order to be profitable, why are you trying to run it in an area without high speed access?

If you're running a business that needs broadband to be profitable - invest in a solution. Put a satellite dish on the roof and hook a satellite modem to your computer. Make a deal with the phone company or cable company to pay for the wiring upgrade to bring broadband to your home or business. If broadband access is a problem for you, solve it.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:54 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

September 27, 2006

The Rights Of Terrorists

A tip of the hat to my friend Wayne who sent me the link to More Liberty and this post on the Military Commissions Act currently being considered in the House of Representatives. Wayne and I share some Libertarian thinking. Some we don't. I think we are going to disagree on this article.

The U.S. House will vote today on H.R. 6166, the Military Commissions Act. If H.R. 6166 passes, America will be fundamentally changed. And the terrorists will have, once again, won. Therefore, we urge a "no" vote.
I haven't heard "the terrorists will have already won" since months after 9/11. I can't say it's a bromide that I have missed. In fact I was sort of relieved when that particular bit of foolishness seemed to stop. Or maybe I had just managed to tune it out.
H.R. 6166 would establish a completely new court system, known as military commissions, with new procedures. These new commissions are being created to prosecute "unlawful enemy combatants." This all sounds fine and dandy. But who is an unlawful enemy combatant?
This is patently false. Military commissions are nothing new. They have been around for about as long as we have had a military. But that incorrect fact is not really the problem Kent Snyder of More Liberty has with the bill.
According to Brett Murphy of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law's Jurist publication, "White House and Republican congressional negotiators decided over the weekend to move forward with a definitional change in proposed legislation on military commissions that would broaden the meaning of 'unlawful enemy combatant' and allow the detention and trial by commission of a larger spectrum of suspects, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. While the language of the previous version agreed to by GOP leaders last Thursday defined 'unlawful enemy combatant' as 'an individual engaged in hostilities against the United States,' the new definition also includes those 'who [have] purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States.' It is unclear whether the new definition will apply to US citizens, but there is no express prohibition against such designation."
So, one person, the president of the United States, whoever he or she might be, will have the power to designate an American citizen an "enemy combatant"; an enemy of the State. That person will then be tried not by the proper constitutionally created separate branch of government the Founders gave us, the judicial branch, but by the president's own military tribunal...with no congressional oversight, no right of appeal, no constitutional rights whatsoever for the accused. (emphasis mine)
I don't know who Brett Murphy is but I think his job at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law's Jurist publication might be Head Janitor. He certainly doesn't seem to know how to read a House bill.

From the Library of Congress. Enter HR 6166 in the search (a direct link doesn't work.)

Section 948a of HR6166: Definitions

`(1) UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- (A) The term `unlawful enemy combatant' means--
`(i) a person who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents who is not a lawful enemy combatant (including a person who is part of the Taliban, al Qaeda, or associated forces); or

`(ii) a person who, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, has been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal or another competent tribunal established under the authority of the President or the Secretary of Defense. (emphasis added)

`(B) CO-BELLIGERENT- In this paragraph, the term `co-belligerent', with respect to the United States, means any State or armed force joining and directly engaged with the United States in hostilities or directly supporting hostilities against a common enemy.
`(2) LAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT- The term `lawful enemy combatant' means a person who is--

`(A) a member of the regular forces of a State party engaged in hostilities against the United States;

`(B) a member of a militia, volunteer corps, or organized resistance movement belonging to a State party engaged in such hostilities, which are under responsible command, wear a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance, carry their arms openly, and abide by the law of war; or

`(C) a member of a regular armed force who professes allegiance to a government engaged in such hostilities, but not recognized by the United States.

`(3) ALIEN- The term `alien' means a person who is not a citizen of the United States.
Neither Bret nor Kent seem to have read very far down in the definitions. Or they just decided to ignore that part in paragraph two about the tribunals. Ignoring that would certainly make it easier to pretend that the bill gives the President too much power.

They also didn't read or ignored the rest of HR 6166 (all emphasis added)

`Sec. 948c. Persons subject to military commissions
`Any alien unlawful enemy combatant is subject to trial by military commission under this chapter.
I guess that puts an end to the Imperial President using tribunals on citizens fantasy. If that isn't enough this should probably cover it.
`Sec. 948d. Jurisdiction of military commissions
`(a) Jurisdiction- A military commission under this chapter shall have jurisdiction to try any offense made punishable by this chapter or the law of war when committed by an alien unlawful enemy combatant before, on, or after September 11, 2001.
Kent Snyder is either ignorant of or chose to ignore the long history of military commissions, and both he and his primary source Brent Murphy are either ignorant of or chose to ignore the content of the legislation they are urging be defeated. Wayne often sends me interesting and thought provoking links. This isn't one of them.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:36 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

GDP continues to grow.

Inflation is virtually non-existent.

Energy prices are coming down.

Consumer confidence is up.

Economists are surprised at unexpected growth in new home sales.

Economists don't know shit do they?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:55 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

The War On French Fries

The City of New York has joined the battle against French Fries, Doughnuts and other fatty foods that taste really really good but aren't all that good for you. In other words they want to intrude further into your ability to make any sort of choice for yourself.

This seems to happen all too often these days that under the guise of protecting us from ourselves government chips away our freedom. Granted the french fry war pales in comparison to something like McCain/Fiengold's rape of the First Amendment, but it is all the same.

We don't need government to protect us from ourselves - we need to be protected from the government.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:55 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

FairTax Blogburst

by TD of The Right Track

A quick and dirty search through Google News for articles, news, and editorials revealed no less than 14 pieces written in the last month regarding the FairTax. Fully 1/3 of those were editorials agreeing with the need for the FairTax.

A sampling:

From the Denver Daily News, an editorial titled "FairTax, not flat tax, needed to fix nation's taxation woes":

Dear editor,

The IRS needs to be eliminated and replaced with the FairTax, not the flat tax, as suggested by columnist Aaron Harber in Monday's Denver Daily News.

The flat tax changes absolutely nothing - the IRS, tax code, regulations, 16th Amendment, corporate taxation and payroll taxes (the way Social Security is funded) stay exactly the same under the flat tax.

At best, the flat tax is temporary, the wrong direction to move towards simplification.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "The Fairer Tax":
The Fair Tax ( will make our true tax burden -- most of which is concealed in the price of goods and services -- visible to all and is a necessary first step toward smaller and less-intrusive government.

We cannot allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good.

So first, let's replace the current complex and dishonest system of taxation with a fair and transparent system that will allow the people to choose how much government they can afford in full knowledge of how much it really costs.

The Raleigh/Durham News & Observer has an editorial headlined "Total Replacement":
Our tax code has grown steadily more complex, unwieldy, expensive and out of control ever since its overhaul in 1986. The IRS is increasingly unable to cope with the tax code, and puts much of its resources to uses unrelated to raising revenue and contrary to the wishes of the Founders.

Like Icarus flying ever closer to the sun, the tax system appears to be headed for self-destruction. It is far beyond any fix and is losing respect and credibility. The only reasonable solution is to finally and completely scrap it and replace it. I support the revenue-neutral FairTax plan. ( 1-800-FairTax).

This is just a sampling of what people are saying all across the country. Truly a grassroots effort, it takes people willing to step up and show public support for the FairTax to convince politicians that it's in their best interest to support the bills.

One way to show public support is to write an editorial to your local paper, no matter how large or small. Use the FairTax category that may appear on this participant blog, visit, or read the FairTax book by Boortz and Linder to learn more. Get your facts straight, then write your editorial and submit it. Many papers now have a way to submit online or via e-mail.

However you decide to do it, your public support for the FairTax is vital.

The FairTax Blogburst is jointly produced by Terry of The Right Track Blog and Jonathan of Publius Rendezvous. If you would like to host the weekly postings on your blog, please e-mail Terry. You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:10 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

September 25, 2006

The Clinton Legacy

Former FBI director Louis Freeh weighs in on the Clinton anti-terrorism legacy. And like most accounts of his Administration, Clinton does not come off well.

Still, many stones remain unturned. It remains to be seen whether the Khobar case and its fugitives will make it onto the list of America's demands in "talks" with the Iranians. Or will we ultimately ignore justice and buy a separate peace with our enemy?

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:08 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

Yet Another Survey

In the past it has been my habit to post my responses to the various surveys I get in the mail from various political groups. I haven't done that in a while - not because they have stopped asking for my opinion and my money - but because it's a lot of typing to enter the survey and my responses. And I hate typing.

But I got home today and found an envelope from Senator John McCain. Right away this put me on edge. I mean there is not that much left of the First Amendment so I worried what McCain might be up to. It turns out it was a survey from Citizens Against Government Waste titled "National Defense Readiness Survey." The survey asks nine yes or no questions and one multiple choice. I don't feel those will be adequate - so I will elaborate.

1. Do you agree that America must take immediate steps to stop the "hollowing out" of our nation's defenses which has occurred because the money needed to keep our forces safe and in top fighting shape is being siphoned off for some Congressman's or Senator's per pork-barrel projects after years of under funding the Armed Forces?

I have to go with no on this one. I think the question is extremely disingenuous. I am 100% in support of adequately funding the military and I a fully behind the effort to reign in pork-barrel spending. But I don't see the connection. The federal budget is far from a zero sum game. If congress wanted to adequately fund the military, they could do so. To imply that ending pork spending would somehow lead to an increased defense budget is less than honest.

2. Do you think most Americans you know are aware that in the eight years before President Bush the size of our nation's Armed Forces was cut in half?

No. I think most people are completely clueless about that. I don't think you'll see Clinton or many of his friends in the media trumpeting that face while we are at war either. I also think that to some extent - though not the extent to which Clinton took it - the defense budget had to come down in the post cold war. The previous military action in Iraq was based on a coalition which was expected to be a part of the "New World Order."

3. Were you aware that right now Air Force units on the front lines are not 100% mission capable and that they are having to canabalize working aircraft to keep others in the air?

Yes. Anyone paying attention has heard those stories before. What the question doesn't tell you is how many units aren't 100% mission capable and at what percentage those units are operating. For al you can tell from the question, it's 1% of the units and they are at 90% mission capable. I have no choice but to pick undecided since there isn't adequate information on which to base an answer.

4. Were you aware that thousands of service men and women are now on or eligible for Food Stamps because military pay is inadequate?

Yes. I heard that too. I think we pay members of the Armed Services entirely too little. I have also read that this statistic is based on the actual wage paid and does not take into account service provided food and housing. They may be on or eligible for Food Stamps, but they don't necessarily need them. (And for a survey from a self-described non-partisan organization, some of these questions sound an awful lot like talking points from the Kerry Campaign. But I did get the survey from McCain so I guess that makes sense,)

5. Do you think it is irresponsible of Congress to use $12.6 billion in Defense Budget funds for items like the Lewis & Clark Bicentenial Commemoration while our military forces are deployed in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan and the federal defecit is at a near record $371 billion?

I think it is irresponsible for Congress to $12.6 billion for items like the Lewis & Clark Bicentenial Commemoration regardless of where they take the money from and regardless of how large the deficit is. That they put this in the defense budget is not irresponsible, it's disgusting. But it does beg the question did congress pull that money out of some legitimate line of the defense budget or was it tacked on at the end? If you cancelled the Lewis & Clark celebration and all of the port in that $12.6 billion would that make a difference in actual spending on defense?

6. Do you think most Americans would be shocked to learn that the average age of naval aircraft is more than 18 years and Air Force jets is more than 25 years?

Yes. I bet they would be shocked. What they should also be is damn proud. Even with the high average age of our aircraft, there isn't an air force on the planet that can stand up to us. I also have to wonder, what is the average age of Naval and Air Force aircraft currently serving in combat, vs being used for training and other non combat operations?

7. Do you worry that Congressional pork-barrel spending, which robs dollars from vitally needed weapons systems, armor to protect our troops and benefits designed to retain the most skilled members of our military, may in the years ahead pose a threat to the safety of your children or grandchildren?

Please - For the Children? Tell me they're not pulling that. Again if Congress had the resolve to fund all of this, they would. You could eliminate every dime of of pork-barrel spending tomorrow and if Congress lacked the will to pour all that money into the defense budget it wouldn't matter in the least to the safety of my children. To imply otherwise is to be deliberately misleading. (Rememebr it said McCain on the envelope.)

8. The Clinton Administration slashed defense spending far beyond the post-Cold War minimums that were recommended during during the first Bush Administration to keep America safe. Do you believe this under-funding of our nation's defenses invites further aggression?

Yes. I said before (see question 2) that Clinton went too far in cutting the military after the cold war. No doubt this has made us more vulnerable, and made our current campaigns more difficult. Of course Congress could remedy that rather quickly if they really wanted too. And the last I checked Clinton was only President and therefore lacked the authority to determine military funding by fiat. Congress had a hand in this well. Even the Republican Congress in Clinton's second term.

9. Do you think that most American's are aware of the extent to which the Defense Budget is being loaded up with pork-barrel projects designed to win a particular Congressman or Senator favor back home?

I doubt may would be surprised. They would will probably be outraged if when they know to what extent it is being done across the entire federal budget. President Bush is signing the pork database bill tomorrow! What I don't see is any evidence beyond mere suggestion that these pork projects represent a deduction from military spending rather than fluff tacked on to the defense budget.

10. Which of the following expenditures would you remove from the Defense Budget and instead channel the money to training, manpower and weapons systems?

$27.2 million for the Alaska Wide Mobile Radio Program
Is this a military of civilian project. We have a number of important military facilities in Alaska improving their communication would be a good thing. However if this just to improve radio signals for folks driving over the Bridge to nowhere - it has to go.

$7.8 million for Distance Learning
Again I have to ask because it matters - is this a civilian or military program. If this is about providing education and training to soldiers then I'm all for it.

$4 million for Smart Truck research and development
The military does have a lot of trucks. If this is about making military vehicles better, I don't have a problem with it.

$2 million for Internet education and safety studies.
$2 million to teach people how to use the internet - I think we can do without that. the internet is pretty simple if you can't figure it out on your own, please stay off line.

$600,000 for Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commemoration support.
This sounds a little less "irresponsible" than the $12.6 billion the survey implied was being spent on this back in question 5. I don't know what is contained in this "support." Are there significant sites for commemoration that are now part of military facilities? Are we providing the use of a few very old aircraft to transport L&C Bicentennial stuff around the country? My first instinct is to say cut it but it's not a big chunk of money and I don't really know what they're spending it on.

$200,000 for the Military Civilian Education and Sexual Health Decision-Making program.
That's a lot of cash to teach a bunch of sailors how to decide when to where a condom in which ports. Didn't they used to just show some scary VD films?

This survey tries to link to very worthwhile ideas that I support completely: Funding the Military and reducing pork. unfortunately it does so in a dishonestly manipulative way. But like I said the envelop did come from John McCain.

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

September 20, 2006

Prophets for Profit

Muslims are rioting in the streets over some perceived insult.

In other news. Dog bites man. Sun Rises in the East. Film at 11:00

I care very little for Prophets. They pop up at random when and where there are people who can be lead. It might be different if different Prophets were revealing the same message from the same god, but there is no profit in that. Each prophet needs his own faith and his own followers. Prophets apparently do not like to share.

Getting into the prophet business doesn't seem like it would be all that difficult. All you need to do is convince a number of people that all of the other prophets were fake and you speak with the true voice of the All Mighty. Viola - Insta-Prophet. I suppose it would probably help if one believed in some sort of deity to start with.

So the chief representative of the followers of one prophet said some unkind things about another prophet and his followers. Protests, riots murder and church burning ensued. I guess when it comes to things like god and religion it doesn't take a lot for a little trash talking to get out of hand.

Of course when the followers of one prophet have demonstrated a real proclivity for violence it doesn't take much of a slight to set things off.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:35 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

September 16, 2006

Some Like It Hot

It's a meme about coffee. I stole it from Mark at Knockin' On The Golden Door.

1) When did you first start drinking coffee?

I started with the occasional cup when I was 14 or 15. I kept it under control until I hit college.

2) Do you have any coffee-related incidents that you regret?

Once this summer when it was really hot, I tried iced coffee. One of the single most disgusting things I have ever tasted.

3) Have you ever tried to give up coffee altogether?

Why on earth would I ever want to do that? I mean I know I can quit any time I want to. I just don't want to. Leave my coffee alone.

4) Do you have complicated taste in coffee? That is, do you make an intentional attempt to purchase and drink certain kinds of coffee for political or olfactory/gustatory reasons?

No. I am not some pretentious coffee sipping trendoid. I drink coffee. Hot. Black. In volume.

5) Do you have any coffee-related incidents that are exceptionally nice?

Yes. The first taste of the morning. Every morning.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 12:56 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

September 13, 2006

Bin Laden's Fate

When we dropped a rather large package of high explosives on Zarqawi, the left was quick to note that his death meant little in the war on terror while Bin Laden was still out there. Today House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made statements to the effect that capturing or killing Bin Laden now would have little meaning in the war on terror.

Why would the Democrats be trying to downplay the death or capture of Bin Laden who in their reality based world should be the primary, if not the sole focus of the war on terror?

I see two possibilities. First, in light of recent successful NATO actions in Afghanistan they are hedging and using a little pre-emptive spin. Just in case we get him. Clearly the Democrats hopes for congressional majority would die with Bin Laden.

Or, Congressional leadership has been briefed that we already have Ossama in the bag. (Preferably a body bag.)

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:56 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

Not Exactly World Cup

But at least there were no head butts.

How do you turn the semi-organized chaos of a dozen or so five and six year olds getting together for their first soccer practice into complete anarchy?

You hold soccer practice at the precise hour the sprinkler system begins to water the field.

Things quickly devolved from the basics of the game to repeated instruction from the coach to "stay out of the sprinklers."

Every now and then the coach sent the boys on lap around the goals. There were three distinct approaches to this task. Those who ran flat out regardless of the sprinklers, those who went out of their way to get as wet as possible, and those who ran any amount of extra distance to avoid the sprinklers at all costs.

My son was proudly in the last group. Loudly proclaiming "I didn't get sprinkled." He has no aversion to water and normally displays a healthy disregard for authority, so it doesn't make any sense.

Maybe when I stressed that the most important thing to do at practice was to listen to the coach, he was actually listening.

I may just be getting the hang of this whole parenting thing.

Before the next practice I'll have to stress the idea of actually running the lap faster than a casual jog!

The sprinklers are off. Fundamentals are over. It's time for a scrimmage. The coach divided the team according to the color of shirt. Dark shirts vs light shirts. It seems that most of the skill and luck landed on the dark side. They won the scrimmage 2 - 0. Sadly, my son appointed himself goalie for the light team.

Next practice I'll have to remember to bring a screw driver to to pry the cover off the sprinkler controls and the Powerbook to see if there's a stray wireless in the neighborhood.

And a dark shirt for my son.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:49 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

September 12, 2006

5 Years (and a day)

Since Sunday I have been struggling with writing a post on the five years since September 11. I started and abandoned more than half a dozen attempts to untie the knot of what I feel and what I wanted to say. I haven't been able to do it. It's a tangled mess of sadness, anger, frustration, hope and pride. Mixed in are all the details of post 9/11 life. The increased security. The straining edge of always being a little more vigilant. The self doubt and questioning every time you make conscious notice of a young Arab male. The anger that self doubt engenders. The politics of the War on Terror.

It seems there always has to be the politics.

I watched the President's speech on 9/11. Less than 2 minutes after he finished some blithering idiot on CBS was commenting on how Bush was attempting to frame the debate of the upcoming election. I was dumbfounded. The President went on the air on the anniversary of a horrific attack that brought America into the War on Terror. Did this empty suit expect he was going to talk about soy bean subsidies?

The speech did me give me hope. Hope that I drew from one line the president has used before when talking about the passengers of Flight 93.

Terrorism has been around for a long time. Terrorism directed at America has been around for a long time. In Iran during the Carter administration. Beirut during the Reagan presidency. Repeatedly during the Clinton years - including an attack on U.S. soil. On September 11, 2001 the passengers of one highjacked flight decided they were not going let the terrorists achieve their goal. In the president's words, "They gave us our first victory in the war on terror."

It came decades too late. But it came. And there have been more victories since. The terrorists can be beaten and will be beaten.

If we don't let the politics get in the way.

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Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 02:16 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment

September 05, 2006

FairTax Blog Burst

by Debbie of The Right Truth

A reader here at Right Truth, Ralph Ekwall, who doesn't like the Fair Tax sent me an email. He seemed to think that I would not be interested in hearing his opinions, but that could not be further from the truth. I think healthy debate is good and encourage it. Below are his arguments and our reply:

I doubt you will print this since it is in opposition to the "Fair Tax." The "Fair Tax" is really unfair because it taxes middle and low income people at a higher rate than wealthy income people. Here is an example.
Let us consider a tax rate of 30% for the so-called "Fair Tax." Let us look at how it affects two different American families: Mr. Average Joe and Mr. Rich.
Mr. Average Joe makes just $45,000 per year. At that salary he must spend everything that he makes to support his family. So, almost all of his income is taxed. His rate of taxation is between 27- and 30% He may give money to his church or to a charity and that would not be taxed.
Now consider Mr. Rich who has an income of $10,000,000 per year. He is really rich. Most of his income will be reinvested in his business and not taxed. He will put some of his money into an education trust for his children and that is not taxed. It may be possible that he will spend $1,000,000 of his income, but that is doubtful. If so then $1,000,000 of his income is taxed and he has $9,000,000 of income that is not touched by taxation. His rate of taxation is about 3%. I ask you - is that a fair tax?
We now have a progressive income tax system that imposes a higher rate of taxation for high income earners. The so-called "Fair Tax" would impose a higher rate of taxation on middle and low income earners and allow most of the money earned by wealthy people to be untaxed.
It does not seem fair to me. --by Ralph Ekwall
Our reply:
You fail to mention that Mr. Average Joe will benefit tremendously from the PREBATE included in the FairTax. Your statement that "almost all" of his income would be taxed is erroneous. I cannot off the top of my head tell you how much of a prebate Mr. Average Joe and his family would receive, but it would be substantial.
You also fail to consider that Mr. Rich who will not have to pay tax on his income or on returns from his investments will now have more money to re-invest and he will probably have more money to return to his business which in turn creates jobs for people like Mr. Average Joe. The economy prospers, Mr. Rich is rewarded rather than punished for his entrepreneurship, and Mr. Average Joe and his friends would be assured of good jobs.
Hmmmmmmmmmm, I'm doing a little math here:
If Mr. Average Joe spends all of his 45,000 dollars and is taxed at say 23 percent he would pay $10,350 in taxes most of which he would get back in the prebate.
If Mr. Rich spends a million dollars at 23 percent his tax would be $230,000 and his prebate would be insignificant to the tax that he paid.
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, sounds fair to me.
Also, don't forget that the tax is paid ONLY on NEW goods and services. If Mr. Average Joe buys that decent used minivan for his family, guess what! NO TAX! --by Thomas Hamilton

We welcome any other comments or opinions, and thanks Mr. Ekwall for this opportunity to address your questions.

The FairTax Blogburst is jointly produced by Terry of The Right Track Blog and Jonathan of Publius Rendezvous. If you would like to host the weekly postings on your blog, please e-mail Terry. You will be added to our mailing list and blogroll.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:45 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment

September 03, 2006

Electric Contradictions

I think this Wired article highlights on of the fundamental problems facing this country. A significant portion of the population is deeply opposed to the generation of electricity.

I'm quite sure that they have no problem using electricity - they would just prefer that they be able to use it without anything being done to produce it.

They oppose oil, gas, and coal because they pollute and cause "global warming." They oppose nuclear because they don't see any difference between a nuclear reactor and a nuclear bomb. The oppose building damns because they harm the environment. They oppose wind power because it spoils their view. If anyone tried to build a solar installation big enough to equal the output of an average oil plant they would oppose that because it would be so huge it would have too great an environmental impact.

If they flipped a light switch and nothing happened because there was no electricity, they would be demanding investigations and prosecutions. If the price of electricity started to rise because producing it had become so expensive, they would demand government take action.

What they want isn't real. It isn't even reality based. They want cheap readily available electricity without any one doing anything to generate it.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 01:19 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment

September 02, 2006

A Hold The Mayo Original

NOTE: Hold the Mayo was the title of the weekly column I wrote for my college paper. The clipping for this column is lacking a date but I would guess February 1985. I learned a few things as I typed this entry. One, is that it is hard not to edit along the way, and Goodwins Law was clearly in effect in the early 80s.

A Bad Movie
On Tuesday, Feb 21 at 7 p.m. I found myself sitting in the sixth row - a few seats left of center - in 101 Neville Hall to watch the latest movie in the Peace Action Film Series.

All politics aside for a moment, the film "America: From Hitler to M-X" was a bad movie. I got the impression that I could have left after the first half, and not missed anything new. The film also fell far short of its aim in drawing connections between the American military and Nazi Germany. It drew some interesting parallels to the style of rhetoric but did nothing to link American policies to those of National Socialist Germany in any way.

The film did, however, do an excellent job in pointing out the effects of early misperceptions about the nature of radioactive substances. It also did a fair job of pointing out some of the problems and and abuses within the nuclear industry.

But those were perhaps the film's only redeeming segments.

The film started with about 20 minutes of statements by labor union officials to the effect that those opposing nuclear arms are not by nature communists, and complaining about "red baiting." The purpose of this segment could only be to try to put those who disagree with them on the defensive.

After the movies own defensive period, they set out on a fervent attack on the military industrial complex.

The attack was at times well done, and the film raised some valid points (mostly in the two segments discussed above) but other than that it was labor officials screaming with indignation, and various attempts to tug at the viewers emotions.

There was one unusual and quite off the wall idea presented near the movie's conclusion. At least it was one I hadn't heard before.

One of the movie's interviewees seemed to think that the primary reason for the build-up of nuclear weapons was to put down possible internal rebellion that might result from President Reagan's economic policies.

Now, I think it is very possible that the current administration may be so distant from reality that they may consider and even use nuclear weapons in a war, but to even suggest that they would use them - or even threaten to use them - internally is a bit absurd. I wonder which cities they would decide to nuke first? Myself, I've always thought Butte, Montana is expendable.

One of the points that the movie seemed to miss is why it is unlikely that the defense budget will ever be substantially reduced. That is that there is at least one major military contractor or installation in every one of the 50 states. When the military budget comes before congress, few congressmen or congresswomen are willing to vote for a cut in defense spending that will cut money going to their constituents.

Borrowing on the one to 10 scale of most movie reviewers, "America: From Hitler to M-X" gets a 3.

What can I say. I was young, naive and all but drowning in a vast sea of crunchy granola liberalism. I think it is also painfully clear that I was not destined for a career as a movie critic.

And my apologies to the people of Butte.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 03:55 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment

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