Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Gingrich flirts with debt

Posted in Politicson Mar 27, 2012

One of the things I’ve expected to hear in the Republican primaries was the candidates desires to cut national debt and increase jobs.  When it comes to running a campaign, Newt Gingrich apparently can’t do either.  According to recent news reports, the Gingrich campaign owes slightly more money than it has.  In February, it spent more money than it raised.  And recently, one third of the campaign staff was laid off.

During the Clinton presidency, Newt Gingrich united Republicans, but his continued campaign continues to run contrary to his previous accomplishments.

Why I’m against SOPA and PIPA

Posted in Politicson Jan 17, 2012

There are bills underway in the U.S. Senate and House that have very dangerous consequences for the Internet. SOPA and PIPA are meant to protect intellectual property online, but they give far too much enforcement power to the government.

The bills allow the government to immediately shut down entire websites because they didn’t filter user content that might help someone obtain an illegal copy of something. For example, Wikipedia could be shut down immediately and without warning because someone posted an except of a book that they didn’t have permission to post. Facebook could be shut down because someone posted a link to a picture that was copied without permission.

This would be like the government shutting down and entire mall because someone walked through it with a copied CD in their pocket. According to these bills, the mall should have searched people before they entered the mall to make sure they didn’t have any illegal copies of media on them.

These bills go beyond punishing those who illegally copy intellectual property. They will also punish anyone who allows any communication about such piracy. Since the Internet was built on the ideals of allowing people to freely communicate, punishing people who allow free communication will severely hinder the Internet. These bills would mandate censorship of the Internet, punishing people who allow free speech.

On Wednesday, Wikipedia and other web sites are going dark in protest of these bills. I support their protests. While shutting off access to the sites may seem extreme, it is only an example of what could happen to those sites if these bills are allowed to pass.

The latest U.S. government debt debate was very painful, and congress should but probably won’t, learn from that pain.

The problem is that our government spends way more than it collects (from taxes).  To make up the difference, the government takes out more and more loans to pay for all that spending.  After years and years of spending like a crazy college student with their first credit card, the government has racked up tons of debt.

The latest round of some members of government begging for the ability to take out more debt, and other members of government trying to put conditions on the increased debt allowance, should teach congress that nothing is free.  Every bit of spending comes at a price.  With the latest debt debate, congress took a quick glance at the price tag of all that debt they’ve racked up, and it hurt.

So hopefully the next time congress wants to approve some amount of spending, start a new program, or join a new war, they will remember the price of spending.  The next debt debate, which is right around the corner, will be a lot more painful if congress keeps on agreeing to spend more and more.  We know that more government spending cuts are coming up, so congress needs to realize that every dollar spent now means an additional dollar cut from other programs like medicare or social security.

Why are taxes complicated?

Posted in Politicson Apr 3, 2010

I have a new theory why taxes are so complicated. They are purposefully complicated because the government wants you to use a tax return preparation service. They want someone else to do your taxes for you because they want you to be less aware of how much taxes you actually pay, and if you aren’t crunching the numbers yourself, then fewer people are going to know how much they really pay.

It follows the same reasoning why taxes are deducted before the pay check is cut, because people tend not to miss money they never knew they had.

I think people should have to send the government a check every month, in the same way they might pay a utility bill. If people inked out a large dollar amount to the government each month, I think they would be less supportive if new government programs and the politicians that sponsor them.

Deficit verses Debt

Posted in Politicson Jan 26, 2010

Some people confuse the terms  Deficit and Debt when talking about our nation’s finances.  I thought I would spend a second to describe the difference.

When we talk about the National Debt, we are talking about the amount of money that our government owes people, companies, and even foreign nations. This is comparable to a person having a home loan, several car loans, lots of credit card debt, and IOU notes written out to everyone in the neighborhood.

The National Budget Deficit is the amount of money the government spends more than the amount of money the government collects. A person having a budget deficit would likely be putting more debt onto a credit card than payments to pay it off. Every year the government works out the budget, that is, they decide how much money they are going to throw at what. When they’ve spent more money than is collected through taxes, they say, “Oh well, we’ll just take out more loans.” The National budget deficit is the amount by which our National debt increases.

When there is talk about “reducing the deficit,” they aren’t talking about reducing the national debt. They are just reducing the rate at which the government takes out new loans. “Cutting the deficit in half” is saying, “We are only going to take out half as many new loans this year.”

Trust in governement

Posted in Politicson Aug 17, 2009

Under President Obama, our government has been busy on new programs and policies, the largest of which is a new public health care program.

I recently came across this poll, which shows how much American’s trust their federal government.  Except for just after September 11, 2001, American’s in large do not trust their government, sometimes by a 2-to-1 margin.

Graph showing large distrust of government

If there is so much distrust to our government, why would we trust them now to create a huge government project like public health care?  That is not to say that something shouldn’t be done about health care, but is government the most trusted organization to fix the problem?

Even if people trust the current government, what is to say that they will trust the government in 4, 8, or 80 years?

If we can put a man on the moon

Posted in Politicson Aug 13, 2009

Way too often, I hear phrases like, “If we can put a man on the moon, then we should be able to accomplish some other great feat.”

For example, a quick Google search for this phrase in the last week resulted in 171 pages, which included the following:

Marvin Eisenstein leaving a comment on a NY Times blog:

If we can put a man on the moon I am sure we can solve the health care problem.

Kent Halla, in a letter to the Silver City Sun-News:

Why, if we can put a man on the moon can we not cure cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.?

An anonymous comment in a forum asks:

If we can put a man on the moon in less than a decade, could we not help repair the only planet we’ll ever know by showing the same dedication and bearing the same burden of common purpose?

But the problem is, we can’t put a man on the moon.  According to a Washington Post article, “NASA doesn’t have nearly enough money to meet its goal of putting astronauts back on the moon by 2020.”

Our government no longer has the ability to put a man on the moon.  Although President Obama appointed a special Human Space Flight Plans Committee, the committee found that the governement would not commit enough resources or dedication to put man on the moon anytime in the next decade.

So we are stuck with a government who can’t do what they did 40 years ago: put a man on the moon.  I don’t know why they think they can take on the governement, make cars more efficient, cure cancer, fix healthcare, etc.  We pretty much have a government that is incapable of doing much of anything other than consuming tax dollars.

Update (December, 2014), XKCD Comic: