Tax Air

Look here for an article about how Congress may force you to pay taxes on internet purchases.

I have a better idea about how states can gobble up untold millions in tax revenue. Tax air. That’s right. Charge a tax for the air that people breathe. If the government is going to be charged with keeping the air clean, then they should be able to charge a tax for it. We pay for water don’t we? We pay a tax on gas, right? We pay taxes on electricity – isn’t that true?

The taxation of air is the last remaining commodity that somehow has remained untaxed. The time for air taxation is now.

Wilson-Gate Update

Jane Galt, who writes Assymetrical Information, a quite interesting blog, wrote this about the Wilson thingy-issue-problem-doo-hickey-non-scandal-scandal:

The story may be true, or it may not. But those who are chalking it up to a vast conspiracy of liberal reporters desperate to take down the president just sound like idiots. It’s possible the WaPo reporters were lied to. It is not within the realm of faint likelihood that a bunch of journalists, including Robert Novak, got together and decided to fake up a really juicy scandal about Bush. Crush some more tinfoil in your hat, friend. The mind control waves are frying your logic circuits.

She also says:

…Reality check: the administration is *not* going down unless someone taped Bush ordering the hit. Raise your hand if you think Bush is taping incriminating conversations for posterity. Put away the Nixon fantasies and concentrate on the here and now.

Quote of the Day

“To the warrior, politics is no longer a clash of value systems, each of which is in some way valid. It’s not a competition between basically well-intentioned people who see the world differently. It’s not even a conflict of interests. Instead, it’s the Florida post-election fight over and over, a brutal struggle for office in which each side believes the other is behaving despicably. The culture wars produced some intellectually serious books because there were principles involved. The presidency wars produce mostly terrible ones because the hatreds have left the animating ideas far behind and now romp about on their own.”

David Brooks

Letter of the Day

Econ 101: Professor Explains Jobless Recovery

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Readers of Newsweek, The Christian Science Monitor, Time, or any of the major newspapers from any of our major cities cannot avoid pundits who keep writing about the mystery of the jobless recovery. Let us begin with the pundits’ story. The jobless recovery is a story about economic growth (at a slow but steady clip) since the official end of the recession in 2001. The mystery emerges when we consider this “growth” in terms of increased unemployment. The economy grows as men and women continue to lose jobs. Surely this is a mystery to the folks who want the public to believe tax cuts create jobs. But it is no mystery to me or my secretary – that is, my former secretary (but more on that later).

Economic growth as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) in today’s American economy is mostly a function of productivity gains from technological inputs. Let me put this into comprehensible English. I am currently wearing headphones, attached to a microphone. I am speaking slowly yet somewhat clearly. On the screen in front of me the words I speak are typed into my Microsoft Word document without me stumbling over my awkward fingers. I purchased the program and the headset in order to end the shame of typing my own documents when my secretary is unavailable to take dictation. This purchase is an expenditure or injection into the economy. GDP thus grew when I purchased this program. Additionally, as I sit here and “write” without actually writing, I find my own productivity increased. Or so my dean tells me. I am able to finish this letter in 10 minutes and move on to the next one. Again, GDP has grown.

Let’s review. I purchase a product (GDP up). I can “type” faster (GDP up again). And no jobs were created; in fact I actually fired my secretary because I don’t need her assistance anymore. Therein lies the mystery of the jobless recovery. The economy grew and one job was eliminated. No jobs! No kidding! No mystery! James F. Casey, Assistant Professor of Economics, Washington and Lee University. lexington.

Thank you Professor!

Ugly Little Statues

Great interview with libertarian Virginia Postrel here:

Some excerpts:

“Consider the difference between the cost to you of getting used to the fact that the person down the street from you has ugly little statues in their yard versus the pleasure that they get from being able to have them. Sometimes tolerance is the best thing.”

“So part of what I’m saying is that what’s truly authentic is change and cultural evolution. That’s how all these traditional forms got created in the first place. They weren’t revealed in a moment, they were created over time. And we should not hold up a kind of aesthetic fundamentalism as the highest form of sensory expression.”

What War?

Has anyone figured out yet that the ‘War on Terror’ is a hoax? If there was really a war, why hasn’t Congress declared a war? Yes, they authorized the White House to act against Iraq. And?

First of all, in order for there to be a war, you have to have enemies. Who are our enemies? According to Bush, anyone who is not for us is against us. That’s pretty vague. ‘For us’ in what sense?

A bunch of empty rhetoric doesn’t make a war. We’re always bombing people. We’ve always been bombing people. That doesn’t make a war either.

Who is it? Afghanistan? (who we attacked for their heroin trade) Iraq? (who we attacked to stabilize oil prices). No.

Basically, we’re at war with the idea of being at peace. The idea is convenient because it subdues the populace. That we are at war makes the prospect of an impending collapse of domestic infrastructure (i.e. electrical grids, water supplies) more palatable by the everyman. After all, we’re at war and gosh – it could’ve been terrorists. We won’t complain because we’re patriotic and we all stand together! I’m sure that there are still plenty of uninformed people on the street who still think that the Northeast power outage was somehow terrorist related. Isabel would be thought of terrorist-related if the common man understood that sophisticated weather-control technology could be out there devised and used by al-Qaeda. I mean, who would put it past that devious Osama Bin Laden?

Basically, we’re too chummy with Saudi Arabia to be at war against terror. We’re too invested in making weapons to be at peace. I mean, our U.S. movie producers just released ‘Freddie vs. Jason’, so we, in fact, are embracing terror. We enjoy it. It’s entertaining. Why else would we be rooting for Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California? The Terminator was, after all, a sophisticated horror movie.

‘Sex and horror are the new gods.’

–Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes To Hollywood), ‘Two Tribes’

Wilson-Gate?

If Richard M. Nixon’s crime was covering up a crime he did not commit and William Jefferson Clinton’s crime was lying about marital infidelity, George W. Bush’s crime could turn out to have been treason. Prediction: Wilson-Gate will unravel George W. Bush unless he solves it before Halloween. This is not just a case of – ‘Hello President Clark in 2004’ – this is a case of ‘Hello Impeachment; Goodbye GOP nomination; Hello Prison Time.’

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this and this.

His biggest mistake is pushing this off as some kind of slight error made by one of his aides. He needs to come out and clear the air – unless, of course, he’s hiding something. Sending out Condoleezza Rice to news show wolves to make generalized statements that tell us nothing is a huge mistake.

Let’s get this straight – a CIA operative had her cover blown by someone in the White House because her husband was critical of Bush’s handling of intelligence on Iraq. A CIA operative. Cover blown. By the White House. For petty political reasons. If this is true, the Bush Administration can kiss it’s ass goodbye. Whoever wants to survive should bail ship as quickly as possible.