Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How dumb are people?

So despite the title, this is more of a scientific question than a rant per-se. See, the debate this morning was about how dumb the American people really are, and how long could a politician do exactly the opposite of what he said he was doing (or promised to be doing) before the people notice and get upset about it (if ever)? On one side, there's the fundamental belief that people have some intelligence, and eventually even the densest people will figure out that something is wrong. On the other side, blind allegiance really could blind people forever.

Case in point: Obama's administration. During his campaign, he constantly promised change, a departure from politics as usual, working for bi-partisan compromise, cutting wasteful government spending... all the standard political promises made by everyone. Now that he's been elected, he's appointing Washington insiders and liberal extremists, drafting enormous wasteful spending plans, gearing up for partisan fights... again, all politics as usual. But, and here's the interesting question: will his supporters ever notice that he's doing the exact opposite of what was promised?

It's like my tax idea in the previous post. I maintain that people really are that dumb: if we're spending 2 trillion more than we take in next year already, people won't get too upset if we add another 2 trillion and suspend all taxes. In fact, they will probably be ecstatic about the tax cuts, and completely ignore the deficit problem, as they are likely to do about the first 2 trillion we're already planning to over-spend on payoffs and handouts.

It gets back to the education problem: the voting populace, on average, needs to be much more intelligent and educated to get competent leaders into office who can enact real solutions to America's problems (instead of 2 trillion dollar payout programs to fiscally doom the country). Since I don't harbor illusions about being able to raise the education level in general, the only way I can think of to accomplish this is to change the voting criteria in some way, to lesson the impact of the uneducated moronic masses on the political process. I think this is probably the best possible thing we could do for the next political system.

On a semi-related note, I had another radical idea for voting. At this point I'm not sure it would be good, but it's an interesting thought. What if your vote was weighted by the total amount you personally paid in taxes over the previous term for the office you're voting on? Food for thought...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why do we have taxes any more?

So an interesting thought occurred to me today, and only partially in jest. Our government has spent roughly 33% more last year than it's expected to take in in taxes, and committed 300% more in potential losses. By all accounts, we're going to have a "stimulus" handout bill at the start of next year totaling the same amount in the first month alone, with untold trillions borrowed and spent later that same year. We have an unfunded $55 trillion projected future obligation for social security and medicare, and no hope of ever funding it or fixing it. Yet, there seems to be no political will to curtail spending at all; in fact, by all accounts everyone wants to run the printing presses at full tilt, with no regard for the consequences.

Given that, and the current economic problems, why is the government still collecting taxes at all? The total tax income next year is projected to be well less than half of what we're already planning to borrow and spend anyway... why not just borrow the whole thing? Nobody seems to care about long-term solvency anyway, and everybody likes lower taxes. Heck, it would probably even help the economy, bringing some industries back into the US for tax savings. Plus, you could simplify the tax code immensely by eliminating it entirely, eliminating all unfair tax breaks, loopholes, incentives, and other free market manipulation.

If we're terminally ill and dying anyway, why should we have to suffer through our last days? Fire up the morphine, abolish the IRS, and lets make the most of the time we have left.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My solution to the gay marriage issue

Here's what I think California, and the country in general, should do to solve the issue of gay marriage, in a way which would be at least palatable to both sides.

The fundamental problem is that the concept a marriage is rooted in societal customs, which are themselves largely rooted in religion. America was founded as a country in which the laws would not involve religion, but it inherited some concepts which were indirectly tied to religion, and this is now causing friction. For example, most of the gay marriage opponents are fine with gay civil unions, they just consider "marriage" to be a fundamental religious institution which should be protected, and to some extent I agree. To that end, I'd propose the following solution:

All references in the state Constitution and laws to "marriage" are changed to "civil union", and the state ceases to recognize "marriage" as a legal or civil concept. All existing marriages are re-characterized as "civil unions", and all applicable laws and procedures are updated accordingly. Any provisions which are made "incorrect" after the change (such as the Prop 8 change, which would then violate equal protections and contradict other laws) are deleted. State workers are allowed to refer to civil unions as "marriages" by convention if they prefer to, but the term "marriage" would no longer have legal meaning. The law would request other jurisdictions honor the civil unions with full faith and credit, using whatever terminology is most appropriate for the other jurisdiction.

This would separate the legal concept of a civil union from the religious concept of a marriage, which would have lots of benefits. Any marriage from any church, recognized or otherwise, could also be a civil union, or you could have a civil union without a religious marriage. Each religion could maintain their marriage requirements without state interference, and all civil unions would be viewed equally under the law. Everybody wins.

As an aside, this represents a very rate political issue where there appears to be a solution which would make everyone reasonably happy... those don't come along very often. If only we had politicians with the brains and balls to implement it.

The aftermath

So it's official: the next president of the US will be the representative from the Socialist party, Barrack Obama. True to form, the spin has already begun, with Obama already saying that the promised "change" and "good times" might take longer than one administration. Way to get a head start on lowering expectations; you're gonna need it.

I like to look at the positives when I can, though, and there are some silver linings to the dark cloud of socialist reform which is about the envelope the country. Among the positives:

  • Supreme Court appointments: Chances are we won't see any right-wing religious wackos appointed by Obama, which has to be a good thing
  • No super-majority in the Senate: It doesn't look like the Democrats will get enough seats in the Senate to be able to pass bills without getting at least a tiny semblance of bipartisan support, which has to be a good thing. Of course, with the apparent ease of bribing Congressional members to pass obscenely idiotic legislation with pork payoffs (see the $810 billion payoff bill) this may not account for much, but at least it's something.
  • Backlash in 2012: In reality, the country wasn't going to get better in the near term even with an optimal government; we've had many years of excesses which need to be corrected for. Obviously the Democrats will try their best to blame the continued decline of the economy over the next few years on after-effects of the Bush administration, but the public is only so gullible. I can hope that by 2012, at least the more intelligent independent voters will be able to see that socialism doesn't make the economy better, or raise the overall quality of life in the country.

On the downside, though, I predict much higher taxation and overall economic malaise in the next four years. The taxation will be direct for higher income individuals, and indirect for everyone (eg: higher costs for businesses per-employee, which lowers the amount they can pay people, and higher overhead costs forcing businesses to collapse). Moreover, I predict a substantially higher debt after four years of uncontrolled spending; I'm guessing around $14 trillion, but we shall see.

I guess we get to live in "interesting times".