October 27, 2011

Another 1%

Here's a thought that cold make a few heads explode down at the OWS camp on Wall Street and it's sister tent cities around the country. 


No matter what you do, there will always be a 1%.

If you taxed away the income of the current 1% to a level where they were what they were pocketing was equal to the national median income, you would have successfully made them part of your group. Part of the 99%.

But guess what. There will be a whole new crop of people who become the new 1%. They won't have as much money to steal as the old 1% but they will be there at the top of the income ladder. Ready for you to attack.

And if you succeed in taking down that 1% there will new crop ripe for the picking.

And here's the real kick in the ass. If you keep it up long enough eventually you will become the 1%. I suspect you'll be banging a different drum by then.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:43 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


October 20, 2011

A Matter of Principles

For a while now I have  been mentally preparing a series of posts on the GOP candidates for President. I've watched some of the debates, and read a lot of post debate analysis. I find it interesting to compare and contrast the evaluations of conservative and liberal commentators. What one labels as too squishy and moderate the other labels as extreme. But that is a subject for another day.


Today we turn our attention to Mitt Romney. (I'm lazy and I figure if I start at the top and work down, a few on the bottom will have dropped out and maybe I won't have to do a post on John what's his name.)

In the interest of full disclosure I need to inform you that I am not a registered Republican. I was in my youth when conservatism and the idea of limitted government meant more to the party than whatever seemed expedient to win the next election. I refer, of course, to the Reagan years when "Big Government Conservative" was  not yet part of my political lexicon. I was pretty sour on the GOP after the first Bush presidency. I became an official Independent after the nomination of Bob Dole. I didn't think the party could get much worse than Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind, but then they nominated McCain. So it is with a bit of hubris that I offer my opinion and advice to members of the Grand Old Party.

The core of  my advice and commentary is quite simple: do not nominate Mitt Romney.

The Republican success in the 2010 election was driven by the Tea Party. Specifically Tea Party opposition to ObamaCare and the massive expansion of the federal government. The Tea Party movement was largely centered around the principle of limitted government and much of what they advocated in terms of specific policy positions sprang from that idea. It is not by coincidence that one of the most prominent symbols of the Tea Party is the Gadsden flag: Don't Tread On Me. 

One of the biggest criticisms of Romney during the primary campaign is the passage of a healthcare reform law while he was governor of Massachusetts that was a forerunner to Obamacare. Both laws share a large number of common features including individual and employer mandates. 

When called out for saying ObamaCare should be repealed despite the similarities to RomneyCare, Romney's response is to make a Federalist argument. In essence saying that the states have a right to do such things and that policy experimentation by the states is a feature of the republic. 

As far as that argument goes, he is absolutely 100% correct. It is a sound argument based firmly in the country's founding principles. I not only agree with this argument I advance it myself every chance I get. It is an argument in favor of upholding the Tenth Amendment and it should be made often and loudly. Romney is absolutely right.

So what. 

Romney is not a man of principle, he is politician of expedience. I cannot conceive of any conservative principle of limited government under which RomneyCare or ObamaCare are a good thing. He supported and signed it as governor of Massachusetts, and he defends it today.

He has not said that the mandates and heavy regulation that are the hallmarks of both his bill and ObamaCare are wrong in principle.

You always hear and read a lot about the need to nominate a candidate who is seen as "electable." It is an absolute truth than whoever the GOP nominates will not win the general election without Tea Party support. Romney is a candidate with a political record that does not fit within the principle of Do Not Tread On Me. 

Romney is the Republican establishment next man in line candidate. He came in second plastic time so it's his turn. But the rank and file would do well to reject the establishment position. These are after all the same party leaders who negotiated a small reduction in the percentage increase in federal spending and called it a budget cutting triumph.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:03 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


October 16, 2011

Upgrades!

I don't know when it happened because I haven't tried in a while but either mee.nu has upgraded or it was the iOS 5 update, but I can blog from my iPod touch. A huge thanks to whomever made this work.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 06:33 PM | No Comments | Add Comment


Sign of the Times

I described briefly in the post below how I have been looking at a lot of material trying get a clearer understanding of what exactly the Occupy Wall Street and its subsidiary protests around the country are all about. One thing I didn't do was bookmark a lot of the information or make a note of where I saw what. Which is too bad because this post is all about a picture of a sign I saw in the hands of a protestor - I just don't remember where I saw it.


The sign read "Debt = Slavery." It stuck with me for it's simple overwhelming stupidity.

Slavery is involuntary servitude. It is a human being sold as property to another. It is bondage.

Debt is a freely chosen obligation. Debt is your promise to repay money that was loaned to you. Debt is a contract.

If you think debt is evil and equal to slavery, the solution is really very simple: DON'T. BORROW. MONEY.

You don't borrow. You have no debt.

I understand that being in debt isn't fun. I really really understand that. A lot. But it's not slavery. No one forced you or me into debt.

Your sign would make just as much sense - or just as little - if you substituted any other negative on the planet.

"Debt = Measles" or "Debt = Toenail Fungus."

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:28 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment


The Half-Right Protest

I've done a lot of reading and watching of YouTube videos and news reports on the Occupy Wall Street crowd and it's offshoots in other cities around the country. I've been trying to figure out exactly what it is these people want, and what they are protesting against. It's kind of hard to figure out for a couple of reasons.


First they don't really seem to have a firm grasp on it themselves. There is no real core message with fringe elements attached. It seems to be just the fringe elements gathered around a general sense that they are unhappy with the current state of something.

Second, a lot of people on the right have exploited this lack of cohesion by highlighting some of the wackier and more extreme elements. Granted it has been rather easy to make them look foolish and idiotic, but there has been it seems no real attempt to seriously boil down what this is all about.

I think I have a handle on what it's all about. In part, they are angry about the blatant corporate crony capitalism that saw big banks and corporations get bailed out and propped up with public money. And as far as that idea goes, I am in complete agreement with them.

Yes you read that right. I agree with them.

Starting with the Bush administration passed TARP legislation that was amped up to the extreme under the Obama administration "too big to fail" companies and banks were spared their natural market fates via government intervention. The current administration took it further and circumvented bankruptcy law and precedent to hand a nice payout to their union allies when they bailed out GM and Chrysler but I haven't seen any indication that the OWS crowd is too upset about that deal.

The problem is that the OWS crowd does not object to bailouts and crony capitalism on principle. They are not upset because they don't think the government should be bailing out any private enterprise. They are not upset because they don't think the government should be picking winners an losers. Their problem is simply that they think the wrong people got the money.

They are angry that Wall Street got bailed out and rich executives got bonuses and they "The 99%" got nothing. They want theirs. They don't want to eliminate the concept of too big to fail they just want to eliminate failure. They have taken the expression "failure is not an option" and distorted to the expectation that failure should not be allowable. They ignore the context of the original quote and it's meaning that the people involved would work as hard as it took to prevent failure. 

I suppose we shouldn't blame them. It's what they have been taught all of their lives. What we are seeing is an adult manifestation of self esteem education. They have gotten out into the real world and discovered that unlike their childhood soccer games, someone is keeping score and there are winners and losers. They are looking for that trophy they get just for playing.

They are right to be angry at a system in which a privileged connected few get bailed out and propped up by the their friends in Washington dispensing our money. They are wrong in their anger that the problem is not that handouts happen, but who gets the handouts.

I agree with their call for fairness - though not in the everyone gets a trophy for playing sense they seem to mean. I say get the government out the business of deciding who succeeds and who fails. No bailouts. No handouts. Win or lose. Succeed or fail. Let reality keep score. No owes you anything except what you earn.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 09:36 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


October 09, 2011

The Occupation of Wall Street

A bunch of impotent incompetent whiners with the help of some corporate money in the background have decided to hold a slumber party which they call "Occupy Wall Street." They are doing this ostensibly to protest corporations and the influence they have in government. In truth I think they are doing this to bitch about the fact that this the only "Occupation" they are qualified for.


Their years of debt funded education in gender diversity studies have left them unqualified for the minimum wage jobs they wouldn't stoop to apply for because society owes them more.

As a tax-paying productive member of society the only thing I have to say about what they think they are owed is "Kiss. My Ass."

The sad irony is, if they were actually concerned about the symbiotic relationship between corporations and government - such as the inscestuous relationship between the current administration and Wall Street icons like Goldman Sachs - I would actually be in complete agreement. If they were calling for and end to government regulations and subsidies that seek to establish who wins and who loses in the market, I'd be down their with them.

But that's not what they are all about. They are against a system they falsely label capitalism, but which in fact is really a form of socialism that is more correctly called corporatism or fascism. And what they are protesting about isn't so much that this is the economic system we have, it's that in their view the right people aren't getting the gravy.

They see the rich and powerful manipulating the corporatist system to make themselves richer and are demanding that they get their share. They don't want to tear down the current system, they are just demanding more of its benefits. "The rich have enough. We demand our fair share."

To make this happen they are essentially threatening to hold their breath and stamp their feet until they get their way. The people at the top of the corporatist ladder will either throw them a bone to shut them up, or they will just ignore them because it will be winter soon and camping out in the park wont be so much fun.

I agree we should tear down the corporatist socialism that is destroying this country. In it's place we should put a system in which individuals and corporations succeed or fail based on their ability to earn an honest dollar. But to the unwashed masses staging pretend occupations across the country "earn" is probably the most offensive word in the English language.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:15 AM | No Comments | Add Comment


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