Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jobs Plan As Seen From Far Away

This Republican Jobs Plan, which they claim is the "detailed" version, has very little detail, other than a lot of bullets on things that may or may not create jobs.

If it passes.

Anyway, it's ten pages in large type, three-and-a-half pages of which are devoted to full-page graphics or photos of various significant things. One of the full page graphics is a guy in horn-rims reading a piece of paper between two stacks of paper. This, I believe, is meant to indicate a man beset by financial worries, or perhaps a man who is trying to fill out his taxes. This amuses me, since I suspect someone wearing horn-rims would probably use a computer. But maybe I'm just being stereotypical in my thinking.

Anyway, back the very lean meat of this "detailed", essentially six-and-a-half-page proposal.

Regulations are all Evil... EVIL... EEEEEEEEEEVIL

First up for the chopping block are regulations (like the EPA regulating greenhouse gases - JOB KILLING!). Even worse, this document claims the government is currently contemplating another 184 new regs, which could cost the economy as much as $100 million each. Or a large turnip. Their argument once again devolves to allowing Congress to look at every regulation and run a cost-benefit analysis to make sure the regulation is worth doing. If you're the local Rep for W R Grace, you'll think twice before allowing certain chemicals to fall under any regulatory agency in the government, or else Grace might send the campaign contributions they have earmarked for the year to someone else. Oh, sorry, we meant that the health benefits for regulating this particular arsenide is far outweighed by the economic benefits to Grace & Co... I mean, to the local community!!! Human beings are worth exactly x dollars. And so on...

Next - TAXES.

Corporations pay way too much in taxes, and they want to bring the top tax rate down to 25%. Fine by me as long as they pay their taxes. Tax revenues taken from businesses are lower than they have been in forty years. No business I know pays the full rate of 39% anywhere in the world, and if they do, they should fire their accountant. When you consider that Exxon and GE both managed to avoid paying any taxes on billions and billions of profits. The Repugnicans also want to allow profits made overseas (that have already been taxed overseas) to be brought back to the States and not be subject to taxes. As opposed to leaving them overseas where they will continue to remain untaxed.

So let me get this straight: Exxon - who paid no US income taxes on profits last year, and most specifically paid no US income taxes on profits that they made overseas - Exxon should be allowed to being that money back to the States and not pay taxes on it, either. If they bring it back to here, will they have to pay taxes on it overseas, still? The Rs refer to this as double taxation, but I dunno, if I make money as an American corporation while overseas, and the other country wants me to pay taxes to them, I think that's fair. I also think that (since I'm an American corporation) I should also pay taxes to the US Federal Government, since otherwise I pay no taxes to them at all, while enjoying the benefits of being a corporate citizen in the States. So they want Exxon to be able to take the money that it makes in Ireland, maybe not have to pay taxes in Ireland (because the profits are coming back to the States, after all), and then bring it home and not pay taxes here either.

Which is kinda funny, since it appears Exxon doesn't make any money in the States at all. I don't know how they achieve this, but they have some of the best tax accountants and tax lawyers in the world. Hell, Exxon even gets subsidy money from the Federal Government and the occasional tax refund (while making $billions per quarter). So I'm not sure, but it sounds as though the Repugnicans want to make us a new, extra-jumbo-size Cayman Islands, or something.

Free Trade Agreements, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Being a Slave in my Own Country.

Those damn Democrats are holding up trade agreements between us and S Korea, us and Colombia, and us and Panama. If any of our previous Free Trade Agreements are illustrative, I'm damn glad we're not doing this without a very careful review of these agreements by Ross Perot (is he still alive and compos mentis?). NAFTA turned Mexico into UnemploymentLand, once the Maquiladora factories closed down, and the farms of the south were undercut by ADM and other American AgriMegaBusinesses. While trade agreements are a good thing, free trade agreements generally do not do a service to the more well-off nation of the trading partners, and yet somehow still manage to totally screw the less well-off nation's economy, too. It's almost as if it was designed to funnel money to those that already had it, while driving everyone else's wages into the ground. Naaaahhhh........

Patents and Torts

We're behind in our patent approval by 700,000 applications. One of these is the Pet Rock, right? Oh, we'll never catch up to the Japanese at this point, what with our litigious society and bureaucratic nightmare of a patent system. So how do we solve this? Tort Reform, of course... And there's already been a bi-partisan patent reform bill passed through the House Judiciary Committee, which might end up on the House floor one of these days - or are they waiting til they get a President they like into office before passing something that supposedly everyone already likes? Wouldn't that be a political calculation? Of course not!

More Visas for More Foreign, Skilled Workers

Whaddya mean, make higher education less expensive in the US? What are you, a commie?

The FDA Doesn't Work Well, so Turn Off the Money

After VIOXX and other delightful drugs that do things other than advertised, and hamburgers that kill (it's not the Hamburgler, it's the Hamspreekiller), the Repugnicans are saying the FDA doesn't do it's job properly. Wow, I agree. Their solution? Make the whole process more streamlined. I thought that was the problem - things move too fast through the system and allow major issues to get missed, ignored, or covered up.

Energy Policy, or, You're Not Choking on the Fumes Yet, so Keep Drilling

Surprisingly, they mention new energy sources. Not surprisingly, they don't mention what these might be. This section is illustrated by a picture of a car with a gas nozzle sticking into it. I could get all Freudian here, but energy porn isn't my forte. I think the new energy sources are probably fracking, coal out of national parks and oil out of our own version of tar sands. I guess if you can still see your hand in front of your face, it's not polluted enough yet. Again, all the obvious points, nothing new here.

Raise Taxes? What are You, a Commie?

Of course, the final nail in the coffin of the American Dream (i.e., the Repugnican Jobs Plan), is the idea that the wealthy are taxed more than enough, and your grandmother should have planned better for her retirement and her health care. God forbid we don't buy the latest bomb from Lockheed-Martin, and God forbid we actually support our elders (well, we can give them a little bit of help) as they pass into retirement age. I'm reminded of a spoof TV show on the back of Craphound #6 called "Survival of the Fittest", which was a test of the survival skills of infants and toddlers, illustrated with a picture of a baby, crying in a plastic bag. I guess they've taken that idea and applied it to Grandma and Grandpa, since, in the Repugnican budget just recently passed, folks under fifty-five years old can look forward to receiving a "voucher" for $15,000 per year to cover all medical expenses and/or insurance premiums, instead of the less-expensive and more efficient Medicare. This will, they say, cut the budget. I'm sure it will, because a lot of those eventual senior citizens will not be able to survive with that level of medical care, and our life expectancy averages will go down fast. Meanwhile, we must lower taxes on the wealthy (since they will give jobs to all those senior citizens who can't afford to live on their lousy Social Security check or retirement savings), and we must remember to never, ever cut the budget for the military, no matter what boondoggles they come up with to take our cash in ever-increasing doses, like a heroin addict who always needs a little more each time to keep from feeling "bad." The US has a monkey on its back, and its wearing a uniform...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The End is Nigh! (well..... Nigh-ish, anyway)

So, with another Armageddon past us, and still no end in sight of Christians of various stripes making the rest of the religious and non-religious world feel kind of uncomfortable, we set our sights on October 21st, when the next Rupture is due to take place. Yeah, I said Rupture - whaddyagonnadoaboutit???

What this particular brand of Christianity hasn't noticed is that the real Rupture comes in 2012, in November. That's when we decide, yet again, to elect or re-elect someone who doesn't listen, doesn't care (while professing to care very, very much), and who frankly hasn't a clue of what to do, except play politics as usual with the same motley crew of weirdos and whackjobs that comprise our Congress and Supreme Court.

Was there ever a time when these people could be considered normal or caring or something resembling human?

Obviously, on the Dem side, we have Obama. I don't think there's much I can say about this fellow that hasn't been said by a lot of better writers. I have a theory, but I'm not willing to fully explore it yet. I will say that the killing of Osama bin Laden was the first time I felt that Obama was acting Presidential. Unfortunately, not in a good way.

On the Repugnican side, we have Mittens, T-Paw, the Godfather, Rand Paul's Hair's Dad, Newtered, and at least one other whom I can't remember. Flirting with the idea of jumping on the "I wanna be leader of the Free-market World" bandwagon are Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin. Known, respectively, as "I'm Stupid" and "I'm Married To Stupider". You'll know when they're running for office when Faux News stops paying them for criticizing Obama's every breath.

The folks who definitely aren't running this time include Huckleberry, who is apparently making too much money at Faux to want to quite just now, and Hailey "never met a Negro I didn't want to own" Barbour, who has apparently terminated his hobby of fire-eating. Mitch Daniels of Indiana (whom George Will thought would be "perfect" to run against Obama), appears to have finally realized that having your wife leave you, and then come back years later, is perhaps a little weird, a little too much inexplicable baggage to be carrying around when you're trying kiss every baby within a thousand-mile radius.

For the others, there are some simple issues-based, well, issues that they will not be able to explain away easily. Mitt Romney owns Massachusetts' health care system, which is very similar to Obama's Health Care (hah!) Reform Thing, which Mittens thinks is very, very bad. He's opposed to the thing he promoted and passed, but opposes. I've gone cross-eyed again. Tim Pawlenty is about as boring as a human being has any right to be and still breathe. Herman "Godfather's Pizza" Cain knows so little about foreign policy that he might actually get everyone killed. And I mean everyone. Ron Paul will never be nominated on a Republican ticket, so long as he keeps saying how much he really wants to shrink the military and how much he really, really wants to legalize every known controlled substance. I think if he ran for governor of California on the Legalize Dope Party ticket, he'd be a shoo-in.

But for true, heavyweight, impossible to maintain one's composure baggage, though, Newt Gingrich takes the prize. After divorcing two wives in the most bizarre circumstances (do I need to explain these to you people?), he is now married to a woman who appears to have been frozen in liquid nitrogen, her smile is so fixedly wide and toothy. I'd smile like that, too, if I had a half-million dollar revolving credit line at Tiffany's. Plus, Newt has become a Catholic. How does his new church reconcile his multiple divorces and philanderings? The worst part about reading about Newt, or thinking about Newt, or seeing Newt, is that I can't for a minute imagine what it's like for someone to have sex with Newt.

And then I can. And then I want to die.

At that point, I start wishing for the Rupture, because maybe, just maybe, Newt will be carried off this mortal coil to live out infinity with his former wives tormenting him with a constant stream of nagging.

Now that would be justice.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


So, the story goes, the United States is the richest, most prosperous country in the world, and we're doing so well because we outsource so much of our boring old hard labor work to China, India, Southeast Asia, etc. We have the money that everyone wants, because who doesn't trust the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution? Even though we went off the Gold Standard back in seventy-three.

Damn that Nixon. Again.

The debt ceiling is coming soon, and it would appear that our full faith and credit may be taxed beyond repair. Many foreign economists are saying that if we default even a little bit, the US Dollar instantly becomes a pariah in the world of money, no one will invite it over for any more birthday parties, because every gift it gives, it takes back. And if that's the way it's going to play, then no one wants to play with it. Suddenly, our money becomes less valuable. No one knows exactly how much, but since this has never happened before in our history, a lot of people are speculating in the direction of really really bad. The US Dollar will become the last thing anyone wants to invest in or with, and our country may take decades to recover. It's not like missing a payment from the Mafia and they come and break an arm or something; more like missing a payment and they come by and burn your house down, with you and your family in it.

It will be blamed on Obama (for not being flexible enough about cuts to things like Medicare, Unemployment benefits, Welfare, etc.), even though one thing that might save our collective ass could be implemented by annoying maybe 1-1/2% of the population, i.e., taxing the well-off.

"Not the JOB CREATORS!!!"

I'd like to know the last person that was really well-off who created a job because of the current tax structure. I'm not sure why anyone would believe that the wealthy want to create jobs. Donald Trump has been running a show for the last few years whose sole object is to weed out the chaff, down to one person (who will then be Trump's personal taint-licker for a year), by firing someone every week for nine months. I realize the premise is for TV drama and all, but it does illustrate one of the big issues of modern capital/labor: if we can winnow the staff down to one person and make that person work their ass to the bone, while making them feel grateful to even have a job (even better, let's call it an internship and just not pay them), that's the definition of success in the business world. Screw the thought of making the country a better place for all, or having any sense of social responsibility - what's important is that we make money for the shareholders and the CEO.

I realize that a lot of this isn't new info, but it's getting worse and worse and worse, and our current President (who is - technically - on our side) is doing nothing about it, even when he has the opportunity. I loved it when he sat Paul Ryan in the front row and essentially told him to his face what a little asshole he was being to his constituents and (by extension) the entire United States with his dumbass budget proposal. But now the President is too busy trying make peace in the middle east (noble, certainly), when we need more leadership here at home. We need someone to explain how the whole enchilada is on the verge of collapse, and we need to deal with it now, and people need to call their congresscritters and tell them to work things out, even if it means raising taxes on the majority of people.

We know that Obama is going to point to better employment numbers, but it's a shell game. Our workers have recently become more attractive to foreign employers (have you heard? the deep south is full of factories from foreign firms that like our workers better than the Chinese because we don't strike as often). Isn't that fantastic? America is building things again! And all the profits are... going....    overseas.....

Plus the workers are essentially making minimum wage, are afraid to strike, and aren't generally unionized, because they would rather have some job than no job.

What will happen when we hit the debt ceiling and the Repugnican fruit cups decide not to do anything about it? We go from America to Afterthought in a month or two. And even if we start paying our bills again, do you think anyone's going to trust us? Foreign companies will probably invest in more factories here, because our workers will be working for a pittance compared to what little they're making now. We will be making large screen HDTVs for Chinese markets. Our economy will begin to resemble some crappy third-world hellhole, and yet we will still have one of the most powerful militaries on the planet. What will we do with our military might and no money?

Obama is still operating under the misapprehension that the folks on the opposite side of the fence are rational people. They're not. And if they come to power, God help the rest of the planet, because we'll be broke, and they'll want to blame someone (not themselves, NEVER themselves), and they'll want an excuse to use our big steaming military muscles. Or we'll be having closeout sales on our nuclear weapons stockpiles.

"Never been fired! Everything (and we mean everything) must GO!"