Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Again at the gym.

Back on the treadmill in the morbid air of my subterranean gym, I look up at the monitor and receive a news update about our sad little monkey president’s “peace summit”. I am sure that no one in the world suspects that this is something the monkey thought up himself. No, this is obviously the work of his legion of payrolled advisors, the Monkey-Flunkies. They want legacy and photo-ops for their monkey wearing his dazed Anna-Nicole face seated among swarthy fat men who will vigorously shake each other’s hands while baring their teeth. I can’t imagine that any Middle Eastern leader worth his Dead Seasalt would want to sit down at such a table unless of course, some of the monkey’s men have been dispatched to their embassies to make promises of financial assistance to those countries that play along, and financial retribution to those that ignore the invitation. I wonder how much this silly legacy is going to cost us. Cheaper it would be to pay for the carving of a giant granite statue of the monkey holding an olive branch.

I look to my right at the very fit lady who is power-walking on the machine next to mine, rhythmically throwing elbows with her little fists balled up. She is dressed in snug jet black Danskins, and highly reflective silver New Balance shoes (because you never know when the driver of a car might come speeding into the gym and need to see her glowing feet in the headlights in order to avoid a collision). Her hair, a buffet of bottled blonde brilliance is pulled back into a prancing ponytail yanked up and over the back strap of a wide-brimmed teal visor (because we all know how damaging to our skin the rays of light from those long fluorescent tubes can be).

I bet Miss Fit would make a better president than the monkey, despite the fact that I know nothing about her beyond her appearance and her purposeful and disciplined approach to exercise. Maybe she is an extreme right-winger. Maybe she’d fill Washington with her own army of energetic conservatives. What would we call them?

The “Stride-Rights”, of course. Too easy.

Do mothers still buy that brand of shoe for their children? Mine did, and now look at me run. Why, I could run for president with feet that grew in an American-made shoe. I dreamed I ran for president in my Maidenform bra.

I also would not be so bad as president, I think, as I watch the monkey nervously say things with the monitors on “mute”. I’d have to work fast to effect some changes before the inevitable nut-case-with-a-gun got to me. Making this list is easy:
a) Anybody can marry anybody. In fact, you could even marry an eggplant if you want. Why stop people from being stupid, if stupid is what they are and what they will be tomorrow?
b) Gay people may serve openly in the military. And while on the subject of the military, let’s put the balls back into the GI bill and guarantee that returning vets really have our gratitude.
c) More money for national defense. A lot more. That is, afterall, one of the basic reasons to have a federal government: the protection of our assembled states against common enemies. Where would we get this money? I’m getting to that.
d) Discontinue the income tax. It is loathsome, and the successful and accurate filing of one’s return is very close to impossible. Institute a national sales tax. So much easier to manage, and fair, I think. What about the black market? What about the underground economy? I’m getting to that next.
e) End the war on drugs immediately. It’s a costly and colossal failure. Let farmers who would do so grow pot and bring it to market. Let the poppy planters plow their plains plentifully. Let’s tax recreational drugs just like we do cigarettes and booze. Seeing some new revenue yet, my fellow Americans? And, at the same time, let there be strong criminal penalties and jail time for anyone who is irresponsible and antisocial in their drug usage.
f) While on the subject of jail time, all prisoners shall be expected to work an eight-hour day while incarcerated. They will work uncompensated, but their sentences may be shortened or lengthened depending on their performances as workers. If those who run the penal system in this country cannot within ten minutes come up with a list of two hundred items that prisoners could manufacture cheaper and better than do the Chinese, well, shame on them and let them be replaced with more thoughtful leaders.
g) Let there be an end to the daily wearing of garments that require dry cleaning. This is wasteful and disgusting. Fleece made of recycled soda bottles is comfortable and sensible.
h) Let there be windmill farms, and geo-thermal plants galore. Let coastal cities convert to the use of seawater in their toilets and sewage systems.
i) Let the government get its nose out of the bedroom of its citizens. Consenting adults should be free to “Do It” as they wish.
j) Let there be an end to censorship in all its nefarious forms.
k) Let the entire country be Wi-Fi accessible and let the internet be unrestricted.
l) Let there be an end to tax exemptions for organized religions.
m) Let spending for the improvement of our public libraries be increased dramatically.
n) Let vehicles powered by fossil fuels be turned away when they attempt to enter our cities. Let cities develop fleets of small efficient silent vehicles that are available for rental within their borders.
o) Let healthcare be…um…let it…uh. And what about those undocumented illegal aliens? And what about Cuba?

I look down at the display on my treadmill. I’ve run beyond my goal. No need to solve everything today.


Anonymous said...

Hop back on for another twenty minutes, you were doing so well! What is this I heard about the special little agreement our monkey just signed with the Iraqi government to perpetuate a continuous American military presence there? No Congressional approval, no consultation, just struck a deal which will serve to protect the government we installed "democratically" and insure that American businesses get first dibs on all the lucrative ventures sure to blossom. I wonder whose friends will get their money multiplied the fastest? We will still be uncovering rank corruption from the monkey crew decades from now, and that will be his legacy.

Anonymous said...

I'm with ya on the national sales tax, a/k/a the FairTax Act of 2007. And so is Mike Huckabee. Did you see him on CNN YouTube Debates tonite?! Zowie.

Increasingly, Mike Huckabee has the look of leadership. Huckabee's ardent support for the FairTax sets him apart from all other viable presidential candidates.

The FairTax Act of 2007 (HR 25/ S 1025) represents a prospective power shift of massive proportions in America. It lays out a practical ideal of voluntary payment of taxes, based on a substantial level of taxpayer choice that the plan affords. Since FairTax untaxes basic necessities (up to socially-accepted poverty-level spending), what is taxed is marginal, and/or desired or preferred, on a broader base of retail products and services. This is to say that the taxpayer may, under the FairTax, choose to purchase used products and avoid paying the tax. And, to the extent desired, the taxpayer may choose to self-perform certain services rather than pay for them. This will stimulate do-it-yourself education, improve citizens' self-reliance; indeed the FairTax represents the possibility of ushering in a new can-do, citizen psychology that would accrue to greater demands for government accountability - truly, a socio-cultural sea change, or - better - a restoration of a freeholder mindset on account that politicians could no longer directly grab dollars from paychecks, nor could they grap operating capital from businesses.

Government is the "necessary glue" that enables the social fabric to cohere. It does this by effecting "rules" that ostensibly provide members with equitable access to wealth and resources. It also must provide ostensibly equitable enforcement of those rules in order to mitigate threats to the social fabric. It is unrealistic to believe that the structures of a national government can be supported on donations, thus the need for taxes. Naysayers love to characterize anything purporting to be a "fair tax" as an oxymoron - but it is not true. The idea of fairness has to do with equitable sharing in the cost by all members who depend upon the social fabric for food, shelter, clothing and post-necessity economic enterprise. And, because of the shift of power from politicians and special interests under an enacted FairTax, the elected will find it more difficult to both enlarge government, and implement any dual system of taxation. FairTax strategist, Dennis Calabrese, discusses how the FairTax repeals the income tax, how it does away with the IRS, and how it addresses other aspects of frequent concern to skeptics.

The FairTax has a much greater opportunity for success to operate as a "self-regulating" mechanism because of increased visibility. One finds that the current system, ostensibly regulated by the Internal Revenue Code, is in fact poorly regulated because of continually increasing complexity (the effect of tax favors from politicians, through lobbyists, to favored corporations and other special interests) stemming from the desire by those holding government position to steer public behavior using tax code "carrots." We have seen how 100 years of this type of behavior has eroded the Nation's currency and the purchasing power of working family incomes. "Visionist," Tom Frey believes the current tax system will simply collapse; and economist Laurence Kotlikoff heralds - short of enactment of FairTax (or an otherwise unlikely change in spending habits) - the U.S. will shortly face an irrevocable economic breakdown. (Kotlikoff believes that passage of the FairTax can stave off the economic ruin we're facing, but would be surprised to see it happen.)

Frey and Kotlikoff may be right on both counts, and we may not be able to successfully evoke change; but shall we not try?

Mike Huckabee believes we should.

(Permission granted to republish, in whole or part. -Ian)

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding with the Huckabee bullcrap? No gay man with any self-respect would vote for a homophobic Baptist preacher for president simply because he might advocate a tax change that would benefit their own wallets.

And frankly, switching from one extreme (the current bloated confusing system) to another (an overly simplistic system that places more tax burden on the poor who spend a larger percentage of their income on purchases than the wealthy who have more investment income) is a bad idea. It'll take more than quick-fix platitudes to make this problem go away in an equitable way.

As always, the devil is in the details.

Madison, WI

Tony Adams said...

Brian, yours is the reaction I was hoping to elicit when I chose to publish Ian's comment in full. I do, however,stand by my own belief that the income tax ought to be abolished.

Anonymous said...

Brian, there are tradeoffs. Witness:

There is no reasonable equity of distribution under the current INCOME tax system. What's more, the Tax Code has become a "tinkerer's paradise" for 53% of the lobbyists who game it in Washington DC. It's a lucrative business, and the U.S. TAXPAYER pays for ALL of it in higher prices (i.e., a hidden tax which is incomprehensible to the average working person).

Prices after FairTax passage would look similar to prices before FairTax - not "30% higher" as opponents contend - competition would see to it. So, the FairTax rate (figured as an income-tax-rate-non-comparative, sales tax) on new items would be 29.85% (on the new, reduced cost of items because business isn't taxed under FairTax - thus lowering retail prices by 20% to 30%), or 23% of the "tax inclusive" price tag - this is the way INCOME TAX is figured (parts of the total dollar).

The effective tax rate percentages, that different income groups would pay under the FairTax, are calculated by crediting the monthly "prebate" (advance rebate of projected tax on necessities) against total monthly spending of citizen families (1 member and greater, Dept. of Commerce poverty-level data; a single person receiving ~$200/mo, a family of four, ~$500/mo, in addition to working earners receiving paychecks with no Federal deductions) Prof.'s Kotlikoff and Rapson (10/06) concluded,

"...the FairTax imposes much lower average taxes on working-age households than does the current system. The FairTax broadens the tax base from what is now primarily a system of labor income taxation to a system that taxes, albeit indirectly, both labor income and existing wealth. By including existing wealth in the effective tax base, much of which is owned by rich and middle-class elderly households, the FairTax is able to tax labor income at a lower effective rate and, thereby, lower the average lifetime tax rates facing working-age Americans.

"Consider, as an example, a single household age 30 earning $50,000. The household’s average tax rate under the current system is 21.1 percent. It’s 13.5 percent under the FairTax. Since the FairTax would preserve the purchasing power of Social Security benefits and also provide a tax rebate, older low-income workers who will live primarily or exclusively on Social Security would be better off. As an example, the average remaining lifetime tax rate for an age 60 married couple with $20,000 of earnings falls from its current value of 7.2 percent to -11.0 percent under the FairTax. As another example, compare the current 24.0 percent remaining lifetime average tax rate of a married age 45 couple with $100,000 in earnings to the 14.7 percent rate that arises under the FairTax."

Further, per Jokischa and Kotlikoff (circa 2006?) ...

"...once one moves to generations postdating the baby boomers there are positive welfare gains for all income groups in each cohort. Under a 23 percent FairTax policy, the poorest members of the generation born in 1990 enjoy a 13.5 percent welfare gain. Their middle-class and rich contemporaries experience 5 and 2 percent welfare gains, respectively. The welfare gains are largest for future generations. Take the cohort born in 2030. The poorest members of this cohort enjoy a huge 26 percent improvement in their well-being. For middle class members of this birth group, there's a 12 percent welfare gain. And for the richest members of the group, the gain is 5 percent."

It's well past time to scrap the tax code and pay for government the way that America's working men and women are paid - when something is sold.

(Pass it on! Permission granted to reproduce in whole or part. - Ian)

Marlan said...

Pish-posh, let others work on the details. You have the big things right.

dpaste said...

Sorry Tony, if your ideas get Huckabee supporters excited you're heading down the wrong road.

Anonymous said...

The government should end the war on drug USERS. Possession of limited quantities for personal use should not be a crime. Prison overcrowding is the real issue with the current war on drugs. But unfettered production and distribution? Cheap fried foods are already ruining us. Can you imagine the effect of really cheap pot, cocaine, and crack? Taxes don't stop people from smoking.

The people who really belong in jail should have to pay room and board. Forced labor is unethical; they're not slaves. So pay them wages and charge them rent for their use of the prison system. Why should society have to pay for them? Give repayable student loans to those that instead choose to complete an online degree program. And remove all the weight lifting equipment from the gyms. They can stay fit and expand their minds by running on a treadmill like you.