living in the eye of the storm

An old elementary school joke familiar to all is distressingly relevant to the tragic events unfolding in New Orleans. This schoolyard classic involves a vocabulary quiz, a revolving door and what was called a “fat woman” in a less politically correct time. The punch line was something to the affect that the door nearly dis-assed-her.

Sadly, that is probably the most thought most Americans have ever given to disaster planning.

Some of us are thinking about it. Big Business has been very active in what is known as business continuation planning for several decades. As a result of legislation imposing personal liability on Directors and Executives for failure to plan adequately and insurance premium rate pressure from property insurance underwriters, business has had little choice but to get serious about the future even in spite of the quarterly earnings focus. The 9/11 attack should have woke the rest of us up to the perils of catastrophic disasters and invoked a vigorous preparedness response.

What we got instead was a new ineffective bureaucracy, the Department of Homeland Security.

The failure of this Presidential administration to achieve any kind of readiness over the past four years could not be plainer than it is in the wake of Katrina. There has, of course, been copious coverage on the slow and poor emergency response from FEMA and other organizations charged to answer national distress calls. This is certainly an important topic and deserves substantial attention. There is a lot of information to digest there and I’m sure plenty of relevant stories yet to be told both of heroism in the face of inadequate resources and the incompetence which helped produce the situation. Steadfastly focused by the media on these juicy stories, the American people will as usual miss the greater significance of what is playing out before their eyes.

Missed entirely will be the big picture: the breakdown in social order that occurred when civilization ceased to exist. While the lurid facts of rape, robbery and irrational violence have made headlines, the broader implications deserve serious consideration.

Consider if you will the misfeasance of the government in allowing four years to pass without any serious effort to educate American citizens on how to react in disaster situations. Four years of rhetorical frothing without any apparent attempt to actually plan for the aftermath of an event of this scale.

I suppose that if this administration could not foresee the social breakdown caused by its military invasion of Iraq, it should not surprise us that they could not foresee that natural disasters could have the same effect here at home.

Immediately after 9/11, I remember discussions with a lot of people concerning what would happen if we have another 9/11 scale event. The number one concern in the minds of everybody I talked to was the prospect of civil unrest. The possibility of the total collapse of society around us is very real and this above all else should be what terrifies us about Katrina. Though the problem is both obvious and real, this administration has produced much noise and little else.

I for one am not so naïve as to attribute this mess to unforseeability. While the specific scenario that has permanently changed the face of the Crescent City was perhaps hard to detail, the risk of living below sea level on the Gulf of Mexico was well understood. When The Big One finally hits California we will probably call it unforeseeable no matter what the facts might say to the contrary.

I suppose that if you are one who can not foresee the inevitable large scale disasters of varying scope and nature, then perhaps you are also inclined to give the administration the benefit of the doubt on this one. I view recent history and history generally as teaching that mankind will continue to endure a succession of large scale disasters.

In my short span on this globe, we have had the New York City blackout, the Arab Oil Embargo, Hurricane Andrew, Mississippi River flooding, the San Francisco earth quake and 9/11. What these disasters are cumulatively showing us is that our social cohesion is at an all time low. And even were it not, anyone who has seen Deliverance can tell you that bad things can happen even in America when one is sufficiently removed from civilization. Or in the case of Katrina, when civilization ceases to exist.

Armed with ordinary schoolhouse knowledge, there is simply no excuse for not being better prepared. We live in an era that is truly on the edge in a more real way than at any time since the Great Depression. Thinking about a nuclear device detonated in Houston Harbor should give you serious pause as to the viability of America in the aftermath. Just follow the pipelines and see how quickly our world of material excess could go dark.

And this is just one scary scenario out of a multitude.

Viewed soberly it is clear that there is no substantive difference between what has happened in New Orleans as a result of Katrina and what would might have happened there in the event of a dirty bomb attack. Katrina has exposed how vulnerable America remains.

Unfortunately, this is no schoolyard and the joke is on you and me.

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374 thoughts on “living in the eye of the storm”

  1. Responding to Yoshitownsend.<>The reason I bring the stuff up about the Global Warming, regardless of the occasional contradictory theory that pops up now and then, is because it is generally so well accepted, it seems a “conspiracy” to doubt it. It’s not blind faith, it makes a lot of sense to me…<>I think we can both admit that the other of us comes at this with a thinking mind. These are just little blog jabs (conspiracy, blind faith) that allow us to say “touché.”We both arrived here in a systematic and reasonable way, by various inputs. Print, radio, & TV journalism, commentaries (which I believe journalism is anyway) books and even movies.In the late 70’s and early 80’s I learned that TV news did not give you THE news. They gave you WHAT THEY THINK the news is. Its obvious that you can not include everything in your news report so you include what you think is important, obviously.During that last umpty-nine years most media has had a liberal bent. To the liberal that is not obvious because the media are merely reporting what <>they<> think is reporting, even if it is not done in a positive manner. However, vast quantities of information have not corssed your ten o’clock news that you never got to decide on. Edited out.An example of that is scientific contradictions to global warming. They just don’t exist. FOX News says “we report, you decide.” Well that’s what all news stations should do period. This media has decided before you ever heard it that it was bunk. As you said above, “it is generally so well accepted.”An example is contained in the following commentary found here: < HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23323" REL="nofollow">http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23323<>Please read particularly the long quotes of Dr. Seitz and Dick Chenney. The balance of my comments are based upon you knowing what they said in this commentary article.Yoshi, I have seen many, many articles and books that expose a point of view that is effectively banned from the media. No conspiracy, just like minded (liberal) journalist making an editorial decision before you ever get to see the information.Think about this. Is it reasonable to assume given the widely accepted vast age of our planet that it would go through temperature cycles? The scientist I read when I was younger said we had cycles of Ice-ages every 11,000 years or so. If so, we are either just exiting an ice age or approaching one. If we are exiting an ice age, is it reasonable to assume that the earth would warm slightly?The same individuals predicting that the earth could not support 4 billion people, would be no oil by the year 2,000, etc., etc., claimed we were on a cataclysmic destiny with another Ice Age. They claimed this in the late 60’s and early 70’s. In a mere ten years they shifted their gears to global warming with equal “the sky is falling” urgency and eminent doom.The problem is we are measuring over infinitesimal small time periods and extrapolating out the destiny of humanity.Speaking of Limbaugh, I have heard what he has said on the matter, though he is far from my foundation on the subject. He asks: “If we WANTED to raise the temperature of the earth how could we do it? We can’t stop rain, or start it. We can’t stop hurricanes, or start them. We can’t stop tornados, hurrendous blizzards, and drought, or start them. What arrogance have we humans to think that we can alter the direction this planet is headed.” (Paraphased by the Prof.)When I found out that the “hole” in the ozone wasn’t a hole at all, but an annual 15% depression near the pole. From the information I have seen, it has never been as “thin” as when it was first measured in the 1950’s.AND when you take the agenda’s of those individuals giving the warnings of over population, eminent ice age, eminent ozone depletion, eminent oil shortage, and eminent global warming, as stated in their books, which amounts to giving government more control, crippling business (particularly the western concept of free enterprise) and pealing back much technological advantage, one like myself tends to view <>their<> side with much caution and suspicion.The pollution that the USA emits into the air is <>relatively<> clean compared to other nations. Because of our success and advancement, we own vehicles, demand products, use electricity, etc. Therefore our way of life demands a number of chemical reactions that could be considered pollution. Poor countries also pollute. Their population can’t afford either vehicles in general (Africa), or clean ones (East Germany before unification). A two stroke East German auto pollutes more than about 8 gazillion US vehicles. Interestingly enough as Cheney pointed out in the article, Kyoto does not cover the #2 emitter China, or the #5 emitter India, two relatively un-technologically advanced nations.As a package deal, those pushing the global warming have a dubious agenda, those failing to report research contradicting “well accepted” global warming have a dubious agenda, and those crafting a response to this not really proven phenomena have exempted gross polluters, but low and behold, that evil western advanced nation that is the leader in clean factories, cars, everything, the USA, is the one most hamstrung by the deal. Maybe that smells like roses to other people, but I think it stinks and my roses could grow quite well with a sprinkling of it.Although we both claim an open mind, once we (like the scientist) take a stand, it takes more than a reasonable amount of evidence to convince us to change. It takes a preponderance of the evidence. And particularly if sources of our information claim one way or the other we tend to follow that way as well, thus your comment about me and Limbaugh, etc.Re: Business aversion to global warming fixes. Of course. Drastic measures for unproven phenomena that destroy productivity, profitability, and western advanced level of living is unnecessary. Could we save all US 50,000 traffic deaths by implementing a 5 MPH speed limit? Pretty much, but what would happen to productivity and freedom? Kyoto and other answers don’t address what happens to freedom, productivity, property rights, free enterprise, technology, and level of life style. There is no weighing advantages to disadvantages. WE MUST SAVE THE PLANET, DAMN THE HUMANS! Well, given our widely accepted umpty billion year old planet, could we take a few years, maybe 50 or 100 and track this thing out, verify, scientifically test it, before we devastate businesses and freedoms?Much reading I know. But hopefully you get a sense for why I enjoy the occasional jab at Global Warming by publishing contradictions and exposing that which is withheld from majority media.Happy New Year!P.R.

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  2. “Make no mistake: Bush has and will continue to use his endless “war on terror” as the burning match to the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights while building a police state in this country to rival Joseph Stalin.”This is where this lady lost credibility for me. I spoke to an U.S. military Arabic translator on the plane a few days ago. What a brilliant guy (he echoed most of what I already thought). He’s interrogated some really nasty people, interesting stories he had to tell me. He was brought up in Egypt, a Muslim (but he’s since converted to Christianity), so I reckon he has a pretty good understanding of what’s happening in the Middle East. Nation-building, ONE-World government? So what? It has to happen. It simply has to happen. If it takes 5 decades and 3 generations of Iraqis to get the picture, then so be it. It’s the only way to long term security. Global integration, and while we are at it, let’s make sure the little guy doesn’t get too far behind and disenfranchised (otherwise they start looking for 40 virgins in the sky!) and ways to destroy our society. Regarding my earlier post, The reason I bring the stuff up about the Global Warming, regardless of the occasional contradictory theory that pops up now and then, is because it is generally so well accepted, it seems a “conspiracy” to doubt it. It’s not blind faith, it makes a lot of sense to me (similar to how drinking alcohol kills brain cells). I’m just worried you are parroting Limbaugh or someone, who thinks everything is “a front for some ‘lib’ organization.” (Conspiracy theory). Don’t subcontract your opinions on such important matters to an entertainer like that (not that you are, but you sound eerily too much like him.) Obviously something is happening on the planet regarding temperatures and rising waters. It seems pretty plausible it’s something man-made. By the time we know EXACTLY everything about it, it could be too late. It’s just not a responsible attitude. (The German anti-American professor said smoking doesn’t cause cancer. Likewise, his comment is irresponsible, thus your comparison to him. Maybe he also thinks it’s those “libs” trying to impose their non-scientifically proven smoking rules on all of us.)“It is easy to read into your “scientific” work results that fit your agenda.”Exactly Prof. Let’s talk about agendas…. There are economic/ business reasons for wanting to ignore “global warming” and it’s probable links to pollution. That’s what makes me suspicious. It’s called: screw the long-term welfare of the planet in favor of short-term immediate gratification. And thus, the conservative “think-tank” propaganda you appear to subscribe to. Besides, what in the heck is the agenda for wanting to make all of our lives more difficult by forcing ourselves to adapt less-polluting lifestyles? No one wants to do this, but it seems eventually we will have to. What kind of reverse psychology are you pulling on us here?

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  3. Hey Common Good. Here is an commentary I bet you can find something to agree with. I agree with a lot of it too. It would be interesting to compare notes on it.< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=48122" REL="nofollow">Holding Bush accountable is our duty<>P.R.

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  4. Yoshi: “<>Anyway, it pains me to say that when Prof. Ricardo gives his little conspiracy theory about global warming.<>”No conspiracy theory given. Just pointing out Scientific opinions that contradict each other and common sense. Funny how presenting them here brought about a response from you that I thought it was a conspiracy. Interesting indeed.“<>It’s COMPLETELY logical that actions cause reactions.<>”No doubt. That is why it’s incumbent upon scientist who study such things to find out WHICH reactions are related to which causes.I think you may have forgotten that scientist are people too. People with philosophies, worldviews, religions, and agendas. It is easy to read into your “scientific” work results that fit your agenda. How come “life” was easy to define before Roe vs Wade and so nebulous afterward? It’s a scientific issue clouded by political & philosophical agendas. To ignore this would lead one to embrace Global Warming in a sort of blind faith.I would have thought you would have at least commented on the humorous contradiction of the article I just linked where a lack of “aerosol emissions” in the air might be causing global warming. Specifically the article said:<>The results, published in the current edition of Nature, imply “future atmospheric warming greater than is presently predicted, as aerosol emissions continue to decline,” suggests the team, led by Nicolas Bellouin at Britain’s Meteorological Office in Exeter.<>This is no right wing think tank. Your glossing over of <>Pollution = global warming<> vs this articles claim <>less pollution = global warming<> evidences a level of cognitive dissonance that could lead one to believe you may possess blind faith, not in a god, but in a scientific theory.I’m sorry I pain you so. However, that pain may be more the discomfort of embracing a basket of contradictions that is becoming increasingly difficult not to laugh at, if merely out of amusement.Happy New Year.P.R.

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  5. Yea, that’s right Prof. “Global Warming!” We all know it doesn’t exist. (It’s a conspiracy made up by “the Dems.” No wait, “the Libs.”) I just got back from Europe the day before yesterday. One of the things I had to endure was this…I had to listen to this washed up History Prof. from Germany tell us about all the stuff the U.S. is doing, like how we keep high-gas mileage cars off the market (yea, right), how we broadcast “Islam is evil” into the Middle East (yea, right), how the Patriot Act is the beginning of the new Holocaust (yea right, A BIG YEA F**KING RIGHT!), and how smoking doesn’t really cause lung cancer (yea right.) Truthfully, I’m not completely convinced he was really a Professor after all… I just humored him b/c I felt sorry for him. Anyway, it pains me to say that when Prof. Ricardo gives his little conspiracy theory about global warming, I start to feel like I’m back in Europe again…. flip sides of the same coin I guess…It’s COMPLETELY logical that actions cause reactions. There is no take without a give. That’s why we humans get cancer, and that’s why the planet reacts to pollution. A word of warning about the Rush Limbaugh stuff…Listening to Rush Limbaugh for… well, for anything… is sad. That’s like watching “Professional” wrestling to learn about sports. He’s just a confident idiot (or actor who plays an idiot for ratings), but the reality is, the world is more complicated than a clever sound-bite. He’s lost so much credibility with me because everytime he’s said anything that I know something about, he’s been completely misleading and wrong. Which makes me assume that’s usually the case with him on everything. Instead of Rush Limbaugh, listen to Bill Gates. By the way, did anyone read the article on him in Time Magazine, “Person of the Year?”

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  6. My, my. < HREF="http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1227/p03s01-sten.html" REL="nofollow">Downside of cleaner air: more (global) warming.<> The libs have to choose between which pet disaster they want to empower the government.But this just goes to prove my < HREF="http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/2005/09/living-in-eye-of-storm.html#113345212087585331" REL="nofollow">previous post<> where all evidence leads to global warming. Cleaner air means more global warming. Fire up that old Impala and yank a couple of plug wires off. We need to end global warming!P.R.

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  7. There are inherent risks in any position taken. An inherent risk of transferring our transportation dependency from individual fuel burning vehicles to mass transit is the current strike in NYC. P.R.

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  8. It was hideous. It was painful. But it was not unexpected no matter how unpleasant the sight. But with so many people on vacation, the desire to dress “comfortable” while on vacation is overwhelming. We are witnessing the <>slopification<> of America.Appearance is just one element in the realm of manners. Manners are defined in my 1828 dictionary as “Deportment; carriage; behavior; conduct; course of life; …Ceremonious behavior; civility; decent and respectful deportment.” Manners are how we express civility, consideration and respect for others. It is how we as society behave in order to make those around us comfortable. We eat a certain way to show our civilized nature, like not talking with food spewing out our mouths, using utensils, not belching at the table, and so forth. Obviously, for different cultures differences apply.We seem to have gotten so rude and lacking in manners these last couple of decades. People drive rudely. People talk rudely in person and on the phone. And people dress rudely. Think about it. People buying pre-damaged jeans. Retired folks wearing sweats to public places. Obese folks wearing shorts and other cellulite exposing attire. Modesty run amok. It used to be you only need beware of plumbers showing the cracks of their butt. Now, a healthy portion of the female gender exposes their crack with the adornment of a thong and/or tattoo. And speaking of tattoos. It is amazing the number of women whose God given beauty has been marred by placing the artistry of unknown, unrecognized, untalented artists on so many glorious inches of once beautiful skin. It would be a tough sell to purchase someone’s skin as canvas for the great names in art like Picasso, Rembrandt, and Di Vinci. But instead, to pay some looser in the seedy side of town to monochrome some fleeting demonic sign permanently in display – How drunk must one get? Then there is the <>gangsta<> wear, with the crotch of their britches are between the calves of their legs, constantly occupied tugging at their britches trying to keep them from coiling around their ankles. There is also Goth and general immodesty. Hair curlers, shower caps, and house shoes…also by young men! The infractions are numerous.Then there are the piercings. The sign of every uncivilized society is the gross overuse of piercing. Tongue piercing can cause nerve damage and rapid deterioration of teeth. Ear piercing in other than the lob area can cause nerve & cartilage damage. Cheek, nose, eyebrow, lip, and other areas left to the imagination, are just some of the areas being pierced to express ones individuality.With such abandonment of civility, etiquette, manners, and consideration for others as we seek to gratify our own levels of comfort and individuality, I do not believe people see the relationship between this abandonment and the many ill effects in society. When you look like trash and that you do not care about your appearance, are you surprised when people treat you commensurate with your appearance? If you dress in an odd rebellious fashion, does it surprise you that others would tend to distrust you?Unfortunately, we are unable to make value judgments on your character until after we have been in your presence, which coincidentally happens <>after<> your appearance has already spoken for you.Without money of any real amount, most folks could rocket up the social ladder many rungs (if they were so inclined to do so) merely by dressing nicely, modestly, and respectfully. Also by their speech. Were they to expand their vocabulary, not talk in vulgar common street language, but speak of important topics to the betterment of men and society rather than base language, the ridicule of others, the objectification of women and so forth. You guys know what I am talking about. Think of < HREF="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/630522577X/qid=1135093670/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/103-0502306-0509403?s=dvd&v=glance&n=130" REL="nofollow">My Fair Lady<>. It literally is true that by conducting yourself in a manner worthy of respect and honor you will be welcomed into circles of people that previously may have been considered above your station in life. Not that stuffy cocktail parties are what we should aspire to. But do you really think you have “arrived” by wearing a safety pin through your lip, with your XXXXXXXL shirt covering up the fact that your pants are around your ankles, belching beer through Cheeto stained teeth, and telling vulgar jokes? Laddies and gentlemen, we can do better.P.R.

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  9. 11 Million Adults Illiterate, Study ShowsWASHINGTON – An estimated in one in 20 U.S. adults is not literate in English, which means 11 million people lack the skills to perform everyday tasks, a federal study shows. From 1992 to 2003, the nation’s adults made no progress in their ability to read a newspaper, a book or any other prose arranged in sentences and paragraphs. They also showed no improvement in comprehending documents such as bus schedules and prescription labels…. (http://www.breitbart.com/news/2005/12/15/D8EGQEMOE.html)But hey, we are smart enough to beat the hell out of each other in line at WalMart to get our Xbox360.P.R.

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  10. <>“So, are you of the position the Dems took that Bush was attacking Iraq to get cheap oil, or the second position that Bush attacked to drive prices up for the oil companies? This was another win-win theory where if the prices went up, the Dems were right. If the prices came down, the Dems were right.”<>Ah, man I LOVE this! If you tell enough lies, the implicit motives eventually intersect.

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  11. <>A weather expert says December 2005 is on pace to become one of the 10 coldest in more than 100 years, despite claims at a global conference on climate change this week that the Earth is getting warmer. Joe Bastardi, senior meteorologist with Accuweather.com, says present weather patterns across the country show below-normal temperatures in the single digits, with still colder air forecast in the coming weeks. <>ref: http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=47887Given that global cooling is evidence of global warming, this demands immediate action by the Federal Government. All fossil fuel vehicles must be banned. This not only reduces green house emissions, but elimninates 50K+ deaths and hundreds of thousands of automotive injuries. With some of the coldest temperatures in over 100 years, we must act swiftly to prevent global warming which paradoxically is causing severe winters. This can not be ignored any longer. If global warming were to continue at the present rate, in 200 years the world will be a single block of ice.P.R.

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  12. Richard Pryor, dead at age 65.I remember Christmas of ‘75 or ‘76 one of my gifts was a Richard Pryor LP 33.3rpm. I had seen him on the Johnny Carson show and man was he funny. So after all the gifts were open, I dashed off to my room to retrieve my record player and brought it to the living room for everyone to hear. The string of expletives I heard brought the whole household to a stop. I gathered up the record player and LP and went back to my room. I had heard street trash talk before, but never anybody that important and popular. We returned the album to the store. He was a funny man. Too bad he got caught up in drugs.P.R.

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  13. < HREF="http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_120505/content/america_s_anchorman.guest.html" REL="nofollow">John Kerry Calls American Troops Terrorists<> December 5, 2005 BEGIN TRANSCRIPT RUSH: John Kerry beginning to undermine the war in a big effort now, in a big way. Let’s go the sound bite. This is Face the Nation yesterday. Bob Schieffer says, “Democrat Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, he takes a very different view, Senator Kerry. He says basically that we should stay the course, because he says real progress is being made. He says, ‘This is a war between 27 million Iraqis who want freedom and 10,000 terrorists.’ He says we’re in a watershed transformation. What about that?” JOHN KERRY: I don’t agree with that. But I think what we need to do is recognize what we all agree on, which is, you’ve got to begin to set benchmarks for accomplishment; you’ve got to begin to transfer authority to the Iraqis, and there is no reason, Bob, that young <>American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children<>, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the — of — of — of — historical customs, religious customs, whether you like it or not. Iraqis should be doing that. And after all of these two and a half years, with all — RUSH: (laughing) Iraqis ought to be terrorizing Iraqi women and children! He (interruption). Yes he did. Yes he did just say it. Cue it back up, Mike. Yes, he did. He said, “…and there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of customs, the historical customs, religious customs, whether you like it or not. Iraqis ought to be doing that.” Here, listen to it again. If you didn’t believe it the first time you heard it, listen to it again. JOHN KERRY: I don’t agree with that. But I think what we need to do is recognize what we all agree on, which is, you’ve got to begin to set benchmarks for accomplishment; you’ve got to begin to transfer authority to the Iraqis, and there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, uh-uh-uh, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the — of — of — of — historical customs, religious customs, whether you like it or not. Iraqis should be doing that. And after all of these two and a half years, with all of the talk of 210,000 people trained, there just is no excuse for not transferring more of that authority. SCHEIFFER: But you’re not saying — RUSH: There’s so much… I’m sorry I even have to play this buffoon for you, but he’s assumed the position of official Democrat Party spokesman on this. He’s putting himself out there, so we have to deal with it. There’s so much wrong with this. You’ve got to begin to transfer authority to the Iraqis? What’s been going on the last year and a half that he hasn’t noticed, number one. Number two: “After all these 2-1/2 years and all the talk of 210,000 people trained, no excuse for not transferring more of that authority”? What are we in the process of doing? All these people are trying to do is get ahead of something that is already happening so they can take credit for it. But this business that US soldiers are terrorizing Iraqi women and children, you now, if you doubted John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign, if you doubted anybody, the Swift Boat Vets, if you doubted anybody about him, you shouldn’t now. It is clear what he thinks of the US military. His view is common throughout the Democratic Party. The only Senate Democrat who sounds like FDR or Truman right now, is Joe Lieberman. You’ve got the likes of John Kerry and Dick Durbin now echoed by Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy as the voice of the modern Democratic Party, which despises the US military and feels no compunction whatsoever to characterize them as terrorists. Let’s go back to April 22, 1971 — and this is Kerry, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his tour in Vietnam. JOHN KERRY: They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in the fashion reminiscent of Jen-giss [sic] Khan, not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with a full awareness of officers at all leveled of command. RUSH: So he came back and he lied about atrocities that he never saw. He accused men of committing these atrocities. He never saw them. He lumped himself in at some point with having participated in them, but he never saw these things committed. That truth has come out. He has not seen US soldiers terrorize kids and children in the dead of night in Iraq, and yet he can’t help it because this is who he is — and who he is, is a carbon copy of today’s modern Democratic Party. This is how they view the American military man and woman; this is how they view their own country. <>We<> are the terrorists. <>We<> brutalize. <>We’re<> the barbarians. <>We<> are cowards. <>We<> are doing things like this under cover of darkness. It is shocking to have to play this stuff for you, but I feel compelled to do it because so many people still want to have their head in the sands about all this. How much longer do we have to pretend these people are patriots? ————P.R.

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  14. Common Good:“<>btw… have you seen the latest… Now it looks like the pentagon or someone has been paying Iraqi journalist/papers to publish American soldier written stories….<>Well we sure can’t have that since the American soldiers are the enemy. No wait!!!! Scratch that. We’re supposed to be on the same side. Sort of like the British coming in and freeing us from The Clintons and us having the gall to publish the British soldier written stories. You would think stories proffered by an ally would be acceptable, but alas, if the Left doesn’t control the flow of information, the information shouldn’t flow.“<>…corrupting the press isn’t a good way to go about it.<>”No, we have our own corrupt news organizations to handle it for them just in case the disciples of Bagdad Bob and al Jazeera need a little backup. Just in case we have forgotten a little recent media history….< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=33378" REL="nofollow">Marine general slams ‘Chicken Little’ newsMilitary critique of war coverage rebukes reporters for ‘errors,’ security breaches<>< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=31816" REL="nofollow"> Peter Arnett: I report the truthNew Zealand-born reporter hired by anti-war tabloid after NBC firing<>< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=14529" REL="nofollow">CNN — the comedy news network<>< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=31742" REL="nofollow">Is coverage of war favoring Saddam?Study: Americans harbor disbelief about news, BBC reporter rips own network for distortions<>< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=32065" REL="nofollow">Jordan and the real CNN story<>< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=31857" REL="nofollow"> Bunning statement on ArnettText of senator’s speech calling for arrest of ‘journalist’<>< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=31849" REL="nofollow">The Viet Cong Admiration Society retreats<>< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=32155" REL="nofollow">Whither CNN?<><>“All of this, of course, raises the question of what good is a news bureau in a totalitarian country if you can’t reveal the evil that goes on inside? “In fact, it would seem, based on Jordan’s account that the CNN bureau’s presence in Baghdad was actually an obstacle to reporting the news from Iraq. “Worse than that, CNN’s presence in Iraq provided cover for Saddam Hussein. Since CNN was not permitted to report the atrocities taking place there, the world was given the false impression that conditions in Iraq weren’t really that bad. After all, how bad could Iraq be if it permitted a CNN news bureau in its capital? “Maintaining the facade of a news bureau, when in fact that bureau was officially muzzled, was a grave journalistic disservice by CNN. If you can’t report the news honestly, don’t pretend you can.”<>< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=32105" REL="nofollow">The news tyrants<><>“CNN’s reporting from Iraq was not “biased” or even incompetent – it was a lie. CNN’s leadership knew their reporting was a lie. But they continued to do it: newscast after newscast, day after day, week after month after year. They knew the truth about Iraq’s brutal dictator, but for their own benefit they chose to report the lie to the world, rather than to tell the truth. Can there be any more damning indictment of a news organization?” <>< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=32274" REL="nofollow">See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil<><>“…Think of it. More than 12 years of CNN reporting, thousands of hours of “news” and all the while, the truth was being withheld. Simply ignored. “Eason Jordan and all CNN executives are responsible for this mockery of journalistic ethics because they could have stopped it. But every single reporter, writer, editor, technician and any other employee who was in on the scam is just as guilty. “Each was an accomplice in the cover-up. They should have quit and told the truth. It would appear truth has little value for CNN, and that’s a shame. “I know I’m not alone in feeling that I’ll never again believe anything I see on CNN, no matter which pretty face presents it. Makes you wonder what they know about Cuba that they’re ignoring. “Without morals or shame, Eason Jordan wants us to feel empathy for him, having to keep “these stories bottled up inside me.” “Poor baby. What about the millions of people tortured and killed over those 12 years because he kept the truth a secret?“‘Of course, Herr Hitler. Not a word about the camps as long as we can keep our bureau open.’“CNN betrayed the free people of the world who looked to them for the truth – for that, they earned millions and got their egos stroked.“Judas betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver. It’s the same thing.”<>—–P.R.

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  15. Prof,I believe Seymour Hersh. I think Bush thinks he speaks for god, and therefore doesn’t really think he can make a mistake. When you think you speak for god, the American public’s opinion isn’t significant. Is that a Dem talking point… doubt it. I think I live on a globe headed for funamentalist of brand A engaging in a death struggle with fundamentalist brand B. Maybe that really is a deity master plan… at least it would explain the mystery of Bush being elected for a second term. Bush is too busy being the chosen to deal with trivial matters like oil prices. However, the $ that backs him is a bit interested in oil… and any US president really has to have their approval because the rest of the Congress critters will demand it of the prez. These guys can’t buy Duke-stir yachts on their own, after all. btw… have you seen the latest. First we had this admin paying off the likes of Armstrong Williams to spread domestic propaganda. Now it looks like the pentagon or someone has been paying Iraqi journalist/papers to publish American soldier written stories. I think I even heard the Pentagon actually owns one of the papers (not sure about that one). Pat Buchanan actually defended that by saying it’s just like the propaganda we put out in WWII. Not exactly… the Iraqi citizens aren’t our enemy. We are suppose to be helping them with democracy which last time I checked, required a free press. I’m certainly no expert, but I would guess Abu Ghraib and corrupting the press isn’t a good way to go about it.You guys are funny with the Dem talking point charges. I speak for myself… my opinions and observations. If they line up with some Dem talking points, it would explain why they are right and why I’m a Dem. Go figure.Tough time to back the GOP:1) more people think Bush misled us into war than those that do not2) DeLay corrupt as they get3) Frist turns out to be just another rich GOP rule breaker4) The Abramoff/Scanlon thing is just breaking… this one is going to take down a bunch of GOP and a couple of Dems5) The Dukestir Cunningham… are you kidding me. The cheating doesn’t surprise me, but we should all be scared as hell how little effort he spent to hide it. Keep in mind, this is just one rat who didn’t hide it well. Anyone want to guess about the stuff we will never know. 6) This GOP admin gave cover for Abu Ghraib7) This GOP admin paid off the likes of Armstrong Williams8) This GOP admin is corrupting the fledgling Iraqi press9) The GOP admin backed Rummy when he beat down the experts recommendations of overwhelming military force going into Baghdad… and didn’t fire Rummy after the fact10) This prez was an absolute failure responding to one our worse national disasters in history in New Orleans… and then showed up and told Brownie he was doing a heck of a job. 11) This GOP prez used Air Force One for a domestic tour (with loyal GOP props of course) selling the idea that we invest Social Security old age insurance in the stock market. Claimed to be selling an “ownership society” when in reality he was selling a “owned society”.Facts… not just talking points. Jeeze… I hope Shrub doesn’t double that list in the next three years. I really have to wonder what this guy will have to do to lose some of you… it’s pretty amazing. Most people would really be inclined to give a president the benefit of the doubt during such tragic times, but he just makes it impossible. He decided to be a partisan president at the very same time he decided to be the chosen leading the 21st century Crusade. You would have thought given the importance of Iraq once he got us into it… he would have played it more down the middle. It’s hard to work up some sympathy for someone with this much arrogance. We better figure out how to find a president for all of us in 2008. As much as I desire for this country to move VERY LEFT (universal health coverage for a start), we really need to turn down the boil. Hillary would be a disaster… as would anyone from the RR (like George Allen). We need a 4 year break from the social civil war. Someone like Evan Bayh, for example. I would not vote for a Republican, but Chuck Hagel seems a move in the correct 🙂 direction.

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  16. So the war was about oil?Been reading the Dems talking points again?So, are you of the position the Dems took that Bush was attacking Iraq to get cheap oil, or the second position that Bush attacked to drive prices up for the oil companies? This was another win-win theory where if the prices went up, the Dems were right. If the prices came down, the Dems were right. The < HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=47660" REL="nofollow">coward Repubs<> & Libertarians need to come up with some all-data-points-are-100%-correlation theories.P.R.

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  17. If the US is going to take out immoral governments, I say Singapore should be next. Any government that executes people over drugs should be vaporized into a mushroom cloud. < HREF="http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051201/ap_on_re_as/singapore_australian" REL="nofollow">Singapore can thank their lucky ass they don’t have oil<>

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  18. Anyone remember what this original blog/rant was about? I guess we are now way into random thoughts… so let me add a few.I listened to Bush try and sell Iraq yesterday. As usual, he used the human prop trick (not to be confused with human pet tricks). This time he used the Naval Academy as the backdrop. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I would like to hear some speeches without the marketing props. It just makes me feel dirty… like our prez is trying to sell us a used car or something.The Iraq defense du jour was sticking it out until we have absolute victory. Anyone here want to define that? One thing is for sure, even the neocons aren’t defining that now as a Jeffersonian deomcracy. I was trying to remember the reasons for war… you know that stuff buried beyond Saddam is about to nuke us. The following is the list I came up with, and they all end with the same thing. “OH YEAH, THIS ENDS UP AS A SHIITE THEOCRACY”.Iraq war reasons:1) WMDOK, the theory goes that Saddam is an enemy of his neighbors and the US. He has used WMD (bio) on his neighbors… (1988 I think). Since Saddam has had this germ-warfare proclivity in the past, and hates the US, he will obviously slide a WMD or two to the Caliphate mongers. Saddam would arm these Caliphate mongers because he would get written assurances from the head choppers that they would not use these weapons against Saddam… a secularist leader in the middle east. Now that’s a hold harmless provision I would like to read. So the idea continues with replacing Saddam with democracy which by definition would offer less WMD risk to the US. Oops… Iraq democracy is going to spelled Shiite Islam fundementalism… just a rocks throw from Caliphate. And oops… once we build these guys back up… help them create a world class military… they really will have oil wealth. Oil wealth + Shiite Fundamentalist democracy + Caliphate discussions = a real WMD risk rather than the lie.“OH YEAH, THIS ENDS UP AS A SHIITE THEOCRACY”.2) the neocon middle east democracy domino theory.This is the one who had me interested and on board… 60/40% on board. The problem is I was an ignorant American regarding the makeup of the Iraq population. It seems like anyone with any knowledge about the population of Iraq would have told you immediately after hearing “we are going to create a democracy in Iraq” … that would be a Shiite democracy… do the math. I guess we are wanting to domino a religious fundamentalist democracy across the middle east. Yippie… that will mix so well with our nation’s current Falwell, Dobson and Robertson direction. Bring on the fundamentalist wars… may the one with the right god and Christmas win.“OH YEAH, THIS ENDS UP AS A SHIITE THEOCRACY”. 3) Saddam was breaking those UN sanctions, so it was time for war. I can’t speak for the rest of you, but at $ 6 billion a month, that old no fly zone looks pretty brilliant.“OH YEAH, THIS ENDS UP AS A SHIITE THEOCRACY”. 4) We really needed to hit someone in the mouth in the middle east after 911… more than just Afghanistan. This was a Thomas Friedman argument… and I think it actually had some merit. The problem is… it’s still a chess match. If you take out the right guy in prison in a brutal way… it may just help you keep your virginity. However… take out a guy that nobody feared, and you may just have more nightly visitors than you ever would have. “OH YEAH, THIS ENDS UP AS A SHIITE THEOCRACY”. I could go on… but it all seems to come out as ….“OH YEAH, THIS ENDS UP AS A SHIITE THEOCRACY”.

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  19. “<>The powerful ocean current that bathes Britain and northern Europe in warm waters from the tropics has weakened dramatically in recent years, a consequence of global warming that could trigger more severe winters and cooler summers across the region, scientists warn today.<>”Once again the evidence of global warming is cooler temperatures. From what I understand about the phenomena, rising or static temperatures are also evidence of global warming. This slowing of ocean current mentioned above is also evidence of global warming. From what I understand about that phenomena, < HREF="http://www.whoi.edu/institutes/occi/currenttopics/abruptclimate_mcmanus_pr.html" REL="nofollow">rising<> or static ocean current are also evidence of global warming. This is a scientists dream world. All data correlates to support the theory, and by definition, no data is outside of the correlation.What I want to know is: If we do anything in response to Global Warming, how will we know it worked since all possible data points in all ranges of every criteria always point to global warming?“<>The final impact of any cooling effect will depend on whether it outweighs the global warming that, paradoxically, is driving it.<>”Maybe our last Ice Age was caused by global warming. Better put longjohns on your Christmas list, global warming is coming!Prof. Ricardoref: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,3605,1654803,00.html?gusrc=rss

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  20. I just cut a check to Green Mountain Energy for this months electric bill. They say, by using them, I avoided 2,748 pounds of CO2 emissions last month alone. That gave me warm fuzzies. Then I read the AP article, < HREF="http://apnews.excite.com/article/20051128/D8E5K71O0.html" REL="nofollow">Blizzards Wreak Havoc Across Plains.<> The article says that 6 foot drifts were common and they blame 4 deaths on the weather.I want you to know that my unwitting participation in these four deaths ripped the warm fuzzies from my grasped. Had I allowed that extra thousands of pounds of CO2 emissions over these many months I have partnered with Green Mountain Energy to blanket and protect us from these record cold snaps and blizzards, these and other lives might have been saved. My apologies to my fellow man. I had no idea of the consequences of my actions. Oh what a tangled web we weave…Prof. Ricardo

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  21. Theodore Roosevelt on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN in 1907.“In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile…We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”Theodore Roosevelt 1907

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  22. Quotation: In America, it is hard to distinguish Christianity from its social and cultural setting. It blends into the scenery. Many people assume that we live in a “Christian society.” Obviously, the Christian church has no strong witness against society. In [a communist country], the situation is exactly the opposite. Christians there live under a political regime which makes a point of distinguishing itself from all religion, and which is grounded philosophically on atheism and materialism. The Church lives in a hostile social order. The result is that the weak Christians are weeded out, and the strong Christians are tremendously strengthened by adversity. … Thomas C. Oden (b.1931) in Christian AdvocateRather odd quote, that everyone saw it this way, and we have gotten so far off track on the last 40 years.

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  23. Common,“<>…but they couldn’t give a shit about abortion.<>”I agree. Like all good politicians he plays to the greatest known voters/base/etc., but under that facade he has disappointed the ProLife, ProFamily crowd.“<> They need corporation judges. Iritations like the EPA and asbestos lawsuits are the goal… not overturning Roe.<>”Although we probably don’t share all the same conspiracy theories, I agree that Bush & Bush Sr. are either Insiders, controlled by Insiders, or sympathetic to them. They are the pure money and influence behind the scenes.“<>Coulter is just making money.<>”She is the cat that plays mouse with the Dems to the enjoyment of many.“<>Prof, please don’t tell me you buy into the “Kadafi and Lybia” got religion …<>”Oh no. But Afgahnistan and Iraq just got their family jewels crushed. “Kadafi and Lybia” noticed that. Didn’t change their bent, but changed their desire to get in a game they can’t win.“<>If a country kills part of your family, you will be an enemy until you draw your last breath.<>”I don’t think Bush thinks any different.Prof. Ricardo

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  24. Prof,<>Is Bush brilliantly evil or a bafoone that can’t piece two words together in a coherent sentence?<>Bush is the puppet (monkey). He barely can deliver the pre-packaged message. Rove has control of his monkey… and the $ behind the scenes has control of Rove. Follow the Jack Abramoff (DeLay, Norquist, Jack Reed, Ney, etc). story if you doubt the $ behind the scenes doesn’t own this government. The Abramoff thing is just about to get exciting. The first rat (Michael Scanlon) just rolled over. I’m sure he sang like a Soprano. Abramoff will be singing soon, and I’ve heard about 60 Congress Critters and scared shitless. They don’t even try and hide it anymore… K Street is there for anyone to see. These Congress critters get elected and then become lobbyist. So your original question… yes Shrub is that stupid, and he puts a face on absolute evil. Shrub isn’t smart enough to control and design the evil… but he is smart enough to know what he is going along with. These guys definitely want conservative judges, but they couldn’t give a shit about abortion. They need corporation judges. Iritations like the EPA and asbestos lawsuits are the goal… not overturning Roe. It’s amazing how easy they are able to sell all of this to red state America. Coulter is just making money. She does damage to this country everytime she cashes another check. Coulter and Hannity is the devil and his sister. Prof, please don’t tell me you buy into the “Kadafi and Lybia” got religion … i.e. got the message and changed their ways. I’ve been laughing for 2 years now everytime Shrubdom holds out Lybia as proof that Iraq was a good move. Just use some common sense. If a country kills part of your family, you will be an enemy until you draw your last breath. Whatever public moves Lybia makes is just tactics… i.e. like playing possum, gaining ground economically, and showing up some day with the same hate but better equipped economically. Yeah… sure… Kadafi has now seen the light. Just like democracy is just about to domino throughout the middle east because we turned Iraq into a low burn civil war. So I hope I came clean for you. Shrub is that stupid, Rove and the $ that owns them are that brilliant and that evil.

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  25. Yoshitownsend,“<>Ann Coulter is about as real as the tooth fairy.She doesn’t mean what she says,… oppotunist, cashing in …The opening comments are misleading…. <>”Step 1, attack the messenger.“<>Secondly, the WMD’s were used with logistical support from the U.S. <>”Are you talking about N. Korea? Iraq? Niger? Or Libya?“<>I skimmed the rest. The part about M. Quadaffi …. is completely misleading. He never had an WMD program…….a rudimentary WMD program was set up…<>”A little contradictory? He didn’t have one, but the one he had was set up to tear down. First, dictators love power and in the world of big bad USA, all petty dictators want more power. After Reagon b**** slapped Gadhafi, you don’t think he forgave and forgot do you? You think he might want more power? Once again after being slapped, do you think he would want the <>appearance<> of WEAPONS of MASS DESTRUCTION without any <>substance?<> I know you didn’t get that foolishness out of The Economist.“<>And W. Bush created the P.R. smokescreen it had to do with Quadaffi’s “fear” of deposement…<>”OK, Common hasn’t come clean on the issue, maybe you can be honest at this point. Is Bush brilliantly evil or a bafoone that can’t piece two words together in a coherent sentence? I have heard the Bush haters speak of his utter stupidity, yet he was able to persuade hundreds of brilliant Democrats to vote for a war they didn’t believe in. I have heard them speak of his deception and plotting and evil, but it would be to no avail if he weren’t brilliant enough to connive a plausible scheme across nations, years, and numerous people in his administration. Which is it?So, where is your evidence? Tell me about this P.R. smokescreen. When Bush said in his 2004 state of the union address:<>Last month, the leader of Libya voluntarily pledged to disclose and dismantle all of his regime’s weapons of mass destruction programs, including a uranium enrichment project for nuclear weapons.<>there appears to be multiple WMD programs, one of which is uranium enrichment. Are YOU saying that Gadhafi didn’t have a uranium enrichment program, or that it was only “a rudimentary program set up as leverage?” If the latter, Gadhafi is far more stupid than anything you can hang on Ann Coulter or George Bush.“<>…which manipulates gullible folks back home…<>”I have major problems with many things the President has done. But frankly, the “Bush is evil incarnate” crowd of the screaming-Gore-moveon.org mentality have constructed fantasies that stretch even the most jaded fiction readers ability to suspend disbelief. I hope you are using discernment with which crowd you want to be counted a part of.Prof. RicardoP.S. _ Happy Thanksgiving!

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  26. Ann Coulter is about as real as the tooth fairy.She doesn’t mean what she says, she’s just an oppotunist, cashing in the the Rush Limbaugh market. The opening comments are misleading regarding the N. Koreans and the Uranium.Secondly, the WMD’s were used with logistical support from the U.S. That’s like the contrator complaining about the subcontractor, it makes no sense.I skimmed the rest. The part about M. Quadaffi (however you spell it), is completely misleading. He never had an WMD program. In the reputable Economist magazine, I had been reading for years that oil firms have been lobbying the U.S. government to lift sanctions against Libya. Both countries were going to benefit. So what happened was, a rudimentary WMD program was set up, as leverage in bargaining for removal of sanctions. Remove the non-existent WMD program, and oil firms can return and pay concessions to Libya. I saw this coming a year in advance, then happened to read about it in a few articles from the Economist magazine, confirming my suspicions (I can provide the article). And W. Bush created the P.R. smokescreen it had to do with Quadaffi’s “fear” of deposement, which manipulates gullible folks back home as Ann Coulter (if she really is so naive and not just cashing in), and her readers (Prof? Please tell me you aren’t so gullible!)

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  27. In Czech Republic the sales tax is about 20 percent. It’s the VAT tax, added in already. And things like CDs, video games, etc., cost more. (I’m thinking they must have different trade agreements with Japan, b/c their electronics cost more than ours, even without the tax.) The trick is, tourists don’t have to pay the tax. So people come from abroad to shop, it doesn’t hurt the tourism. Sales tax would be regressive, but personally, I don’t care. All the Christmas shopping out there, most people buying stuff for the junk piles, borrowing Chinese savings to buy cheap Chinese goods, all b/c it’s the birthday of Jesus. What the? It’s the ultimate irony. Any tax to curb this stuff is welcome.

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  28. So we have a June 1st deadline for school finance….or what? Have we not had deadlines in the past?And is the problem adequate funding or the style of funding?Re: adequate funding. Should we assume that governmental schooling is as efficient and inexpensive as it can be for the education we are getting? Could we address, not only the issue of <>how to tax<> for public education, but <>cost<> of that education? If there are 30 students, one teacher, and a dozen administrators, shouldn’t we address the issue of administrative bloat? State Representatives that I have talked to know this but the teaching lobby is stronger than you can imagine.Re: tax style. A tax takes your wealth and transfers it to the state. Does it matter if it is taken when it is earned (income tax), while it is held (property tax), or when it is spent (sales or consumption tax)? Whatever is taxed tends to decrease, whatever is subsidized tends to increase. I think of all the things that I wish to have decrease is spending. If we implement a state sales tax of say 20%, then people will not feel the need to hide income from an income tax, or battle real estate valuations from property tax. Sales tax figures are pretty much a fixed item with not much room for argument.However, in this consumer driven economy where we spend more than we make, auto loans are upside down, credit cards are maxed out, and more people have filed bankruptcy than you can shake a stick at, would businesses and consumers tolerate an impediment in their rush over the cliff of consumerism and consumption? Our products & tourism would not look very attractive with consumption taxes going through the roof.And what would be exempt? Food, autos and real estate? How about education materials (a nice bone thrown to home schoolers, private schoolers, and anyone else that is talking “vouchers”)?And if we did an income tax, would it add to current levels of other taxation, or displace some bulk of sales or property taxes? I would personally benefit from an income tax in my industry.This should be a crowd pleaser: Tax SPAM. Every tax not paid is tax evasion. Penalties, interest, taxes, jail time….we could only dream.Prof. Ricardo

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  29. Sorry guys. Common Good, Prof, the proposition 2 thing passed, so I guess the marriage of you two will never be recognized by the state. Oh well, it’s all just a state of mind anyway, and they can’t take that away.

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  30. Prof,So if all liberals/progressives hate inequality, maybe all conservatives hate poor folks catching a break. What are your comments on the following:< HREF="http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=1337463" REL="nofollow">Cheap heating for US poor from Chavez<>

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  31. Prof,If you ever needed any proof that I think you are ok… it has to be the fact that I just read Prager for you. What a waste of internet packets… jeeze. The dude pretty much paints someone like Mario Cuomo and Fidel Castro in the same broad brush stroke. Anyone who thinks the Iraq war was the wrong chess moves hates our soldiers and is in love with evil. Anyone who believes in common sense social safety-nets is a Soviet Union communist. Anyone who believes it’s immoral for a society to be filled with second homes when it still has millions of working poor kids without health insurance hate inequality more than it hates terrorists. This guy is just playing the red meat mass stupids game that Coulter plays. Absolutist can be SO BORING.You owe me. 🙂

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  32. Common,Did Dennis Prager get it right when he said “< HREF="http://www.wnd.com/news/printer-friendly.asp?ARTICLE_ID=47533" REL="nofollow">The left hates inequality, not evil<>”? I am sure there is some truth to it but I wanted to get it from your perspective as well.Prof. Ricardo

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  33. There can’t be anything wrong in the world if the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s front page today give’s 50% of its real estate to the X-Box. At least that has to be what we suppose by that headline story. Oh what a entertainment oriented society we have. Our wealth must be vast indeed if our preoccupation need not be with the essentials.And for that we ought to be thankful.Prof. Ricardo

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  34. Prof,<>Let’s talk food and shelter.<>One of the Wyoming senators put up a list of industries and their average profits to argue against only picking on the energy industry with windfall taxes. One of the industries with better profits was the food industry. 🙂

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  35. Common: “<>Select the non-discretionary purchase or purchases below:<>”E – Your CPA. 🙂Of course A & B are optional. Gasoline can be discretionary. You have to work, but you don’t have to work so far away from the office that you need to drive a car. A car is optional. It has great benefits, but it has great costs as well. A lot of great cars on the road are financed upside-down. A lot of people choose to live beyond their means or in this neighborhood or that. If you choose to work a considerable distance from work, then you have chosen to commute in some fashion and the degree of discretionary component of the operating expense of an automobile is the choice of the user. Scratch C.As for D, funny you should ask. Our furnace just died. It was 60 deg. in the bedroom this morning. Brrrrr. But not intolerable. If I wasn’t already redoing the firebox in the fireplace it wouldn’t be so bad. Of course I will be calling the repairman tomorrow. Heat is great. For 6000 years man didn’t have electricity to operate a furnace. He built a fire, wore a buffalo hide, and ripped meat off a femur for dinner. It’s only when he has lived in such a time as this that we can whine about our luxuries being non-discretionary. There are many lovely things that bring me great comfort that I choose not to do without. However, that does not define them as non-discretionary.Let’s talk food and shelter.Prof. Ricardo

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  36. Common, “<>Turns out these guys are making $20 million+ type of salaries.<>”Lemme see: Top stars of Hollywood make $20 million OR MORE each year!Top stars of sports make $20 million OR MORE each year!Top stars of capitalism NOT ENTERTAINMENT RELATED make $20 million each year? Scoundrels!!!!!!Prof. Ricardo

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  37. If one thinks the American public is generally fair (not the same as informed), then taking the pulse of how the public feels about it’s leaders (presidents, congress critters, CEOs, etc.) should represent a measurement of those leaders. If the public is fair, they would look at CEO compensation measured against their high pressured jobs… and give a thumbs up for a respected leader, or they will give a thumbs down for greed, excessive pay packages and individual self-entitlement. We just had around 4 out of 6 of the major energy company CEOs testify to congress last week that they did not participate in Cheney’s closed door energy sessions at the first of the Bush administration. Senator Stevens from Alaska (who must be off his meds by the way… what a freak show)… prevented the energy company CEOs from swearing in during the session last week. Well, turns out those guys were part of Cheney’s closed door energy policy definition for our country. Turns out these guys are making $20 million+ type of salaries. Turns out Exxon made over $10 billion in the last quarter. Turns out many will have a hard time heating their homes this winter… probably talking real deaths here. Turns out the energy companies had a Senator deep enough in their pockets to prevent swearing in front of the Senate and the public over issues central to this democracy. Turns out the energy companies walked right into OUR vice presidents office and set policy… and they didn’t have to be public about it. Prof… sorry if I worry a little more about our bought off democracy than your investments. That would be a big leader thumbs down from this fair-minded American. I’m sure opinions vary. What a great society it would be when the average citizin really felt … man, those Elected types and CEOs are awsome. Prof… make you a deal. When I can say that quote above and believe it… your Paypal will be on the way.

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  38. October 2002: “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stocks, his missile-delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members.”

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  39. Of course, I expect all of the anti-oil-company-profit complainers to peruse their mutual funds, stocks, variable life insurance, and annuities, and, like the conscientious non-hypocrites that they are, to purge those financial instruments that profit from oil company’s greed and calculate how much they have profited and refuse this “theft” money. One must stand on principle here. Aaaaaannndd since there is no current clearing house to cleanse your consciences, I have set up a PayPal account to rid you of unwholesome profits. Please email me for further details.Prof. Ricardo

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  40. Prof,First… I’m only concerned with federal tax funded common good (government)… I made no comments regarding personal screening of private charity. You obviously include the government in your accountability points, so my comments seemed to not be misguided on that front. Regarding government accountability, visibility and efficiency, I’ve told you before I couldn’t agree more … it’s a total sham that our government can’t even audit the defense budget. I don’t know how to fix that, and I’m not positive of what the real overhead costs (percentages) are. You have given percentages from time to time, and I’m reluctant to believe it’s really that high… but it’s one of those things I would really like to know the truth about (that and the magic of lowering taxes no matter the current tax rates always leading to increased tax revenue… if we just allow the rich to get richer our tax revenue expands… yeah, right). I’ve heard experts claim the overhead of medicare and medicaid almost non-existent compared to the overhead of HMOs… for example. But here is the bottom line… the inefficiency of government is something to continue to audit, finetune, improve… but it’s not even close to a reason to <>therefore do nothing through government<>. Social security needed to be a government program… there is no logical free market product that can solve that problem. The government stands behind programs like SS and takes the risk… even if that means adjustment in tax rates along the way. SS isn’t a simple profit motive widget… it’s a common good. Consider the definition of common good as federal insurance for shared risk in our society. We all share the risk of 1) reaching old age in poverty… for a variety of reason besides being a deadbeat 2) catastrophic medical bills wiping out family savings… i.e. savings for kid college education 3) long term disabilities 4) special needs kids than strain/wipe out family budgets 5) education 6) military 7) transportation infrastructure 8) environment protection 9) drug screening 10) federal emergency response 11) poverty programs … yada yada yada. It defies all intellect to make the conservative claim that <>since government is inefficient, we should do nothing other than the military through government<>. Sorry, that’s just ******* stupid. US conservatives claim it’s not government’s job to take care of these types of social needs, and I (and obviously almost every other western civilization) claim that is exactly governments (again we the people) job. The priorities of the current GOP are so embarrasing. You get these two joker senators from Alaska (particularly Stevens) funding their million dollar bridges to nowhere… and the senate passes it. That’s supposedly what’s government is for. But apparently, it’s not for a federal government old age insurance program… but in the meantime, before they get it killed off… it would be better if we allowed the geezer retirment insurance premiums to be invested in the stock market. You really can’t make this stuff up… there is just something broken in conservatives when they are so anti-government they can’t even agree to social security. If the conservatives could just turn this into a world where <>we are all in this alone<>, their work will be done. When THEY win, society and it’s potential highwater mark lose.US Conservatism is a virus… and it’s keeping it’s host very, very weak. I no longer view conservatism as a worthy counterbalancing ideology… with the exception of demanding audits and cost effectiveness of government… which is redundant because I’m a liberal and want that also.

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  41. Common Good: I said: “…there is a level of accountability and efficiency that is acceptable to the donor.”You said: “<>Accountability to the donor? Acceptable to the donor? Good grief…<>”Go back and read my sentence. I did not say accountability to the donor. I said the level of accountability (of the organization we are going through) is acceptable to the donor.I do not like the level of accountability that the United Way gives. So they don’t get any of my money. I do not like the inefficiency, but I do like the accountability of the Red Cross. I have given to them. In each case there have been real “needs” behind them. However, either inefficiency or outright fraud have swayed me to use different “vehicles” of my benevolence. My choice was not a judgment on the need, but on the delivery method. To devalue my past experience and judgement of an organizations fraud and/or misuse of funds and say that because of that I was selfish with my money and because I did not use such and such a delivery method is quite unfair. All private organizations are laid bare before the public. Their Form 990 and financials must be available for all to see. I have personally looked at Teresa Heinz family’s form 990’s for their family’s foundations. You get to see the flow of money, how much the directors, officers, & employees make. Fund-raising, marketing, administration v.s. final delivery benevolence to the end needy. Their mission statement, largest contributors, practically everything is laid bare for all to see. You can choose among those achieving the goals you desire. And you don’t have to support what you don’t want to. You like snail darters? Contribute to PETA, Seirra Club, and Green Peace. You like snail darters on a cracker, then you can support those organizations that bring you what you want. You talk about those wicked 51% that rule the roost. They spend money on wars and what have you that you disagree with, but left to your own personal funding (benevolence wise) you never support what you do not desire to.In the accounting industry we have a concept called “materiality.” If some error is immaterial, then you don’t worry about it that much. A thousand bucks may be material to my wallet/tax return, but it is not material to Ford Motor Co. He works on the federal governments books. Material in the federal government is in the billions. They can screw off more money than your widdle bitty minds can imagine and it doesn’t even register.And how does society define need? Is the 51% considered “society?” Is the more generous benevolence necessarily the better way? And given the history of the nearly total lack of accountability of these programs to the government and its donors/taxpayers (and thus the reason for their atrocious fraud and results), are you OK with giving a 15 fold increase in money to this madhouse? And if you are, do you really expect <>measurable<> results, or are you content with warm fuzzies? What % of funds misused and/or fraudulently allocated to the politicians own pocket book/friend contractors/constituents/wrong recipients are grounds for cessation of program and criminal prosecution of the politicians who implemented it? Would you extend such leniency to the private arena?Prof. Ricardo

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  42. Prof,We will always have a fundamental difference on what is <>charity<> in our society. I do not view taking care of our sick and poor as <>charity<>, but rather a society collective obligation. I do not view taxes as robbing one’s property, but rather the price of society… your property starts after taxes. A society that actually did cover these needs in a <>private voluntary only<> way, could call itself moral, because the measure that counts most is the actual lives of those in need… i.e. the delivery methods or process is very much secondary to the actual need. That said, I would say that type of society would be moral-lite, because it would represent no collective (everyone) written-in-law (Constitution) commitment to the needy… which should be a main job of government. Still… if you ever spot a society which even sniffs morality with it’s benevolent volunteer accountable private donations… let me know.<>Things like healthcare and education isn’t an all or nothing thing, which is what you (pay nothing) and Common Good (pay all) seem to represent.<>Morality dictates that everyone in a society has equal education and healthcare… <>once it can afford it<>. This moral equation obviously changes over time… i.e. we certainly had less collective common good options at our founding than we do in 2005. However, in 2005 we find ourselves the wealthiest nation on the planet. Most western countries with less money do have 100% coverage, which pretty much rules out the <>we can’t afford it<> argument. This just leaves it to <>we choose to leave some in society without… for whatever reasons we come up with<>. It’s rather silly to even entertain the <>we can’t afford it arguments<>. It’s more productive to zero in on the reasons provided as arguments against 100% healthcare coverage… i.e. longer lines for the one’s with coverage, deadbeats getting free stuff, some personal responsibility code violation for not making enough to pay for 2005 healthcare rates, supporting some voodoo satanic rant about a welfare state, etc. In 2005, given our current wealth, one can just come up with reasons against 100% coverage, but ZERO moral reasons. Try and make a moral defense for second homes in a society where 45 million have no healthcare… millions don’t have A home… or to put it in terms that mean the most to you… defend our second homes against world poverty.Look, these rants are just entertainment… we all know this planet will remain a planet of mind-blowing inequities. It’s one thing to recognize this reality and come to the conclusion that it’s beyond our control (which I don’t buy)… but it’s quite another to present lame arguments meant to be moral defenses of these inequities. They are nothing more than lame attempts to justify selfishness… we should at least be honest about it.

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  43. Prof,on a theoretical level I understand completely a lot of the priciples you have. But reality gets in the way. You want low (or no) taxes, which basically means you want foreigners to buy bonds to finance our spending instead. (I know, you want to cut spending, but I said “reality,” remember?). And counting on foreigners to finance us forever and ever just seems intrinsically wrong. Things like healthcare and education isn’t an all or nothing thing, which is what you (pay nothing) and Common Good (pay all) seem to represent. Neither attitude seems very realistic. (As the Buddha said, take the Middle Path.) It is obvious that there is self-interest involved in investing in the society (not merely the poor): a better place to live for all of us.

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  44. Prof,<>With personal benevolence, something this nation was known for since its inception, there is a level of accountability and efficiency that is acceptable to the donor.<>Accountability to the donor? Acceptable to the donor? Good grief… this isn’t about the donor… this is about those in need. If you strip the conservative argument down to it’s core, the argument is <>our society will <>decide<> if and how it will take care of it’s sick, it’s poor, it’s elderly, it’s financially distressed, etc.<> With conservatives the <>if<> is a decision that has to me made… with liberals there is no decision required, other than the <>how<>? If a society defines it’s liberty as donor acceptability comes first rather than the real needs of the have not’s, than that’s a liberty not worth defending. <>However, if recent memory serves me, each time I have brought up personal charity and benevolence, say…Tsunami relief, this unselfish act is discounted as immaterial, rare, whatever.<>Jimmy Carter (his recent quotes):US federal foreign aid amounts to 16 cents out of every $100 of GDP. If you throw in private donations (benevolence)… it gets it up to a whopping 22 cents per $100 of GDP. We are a stingy, stingy existence… and conservatives fly this reality up the US generous benevolent flag pole. Sorry… myths eventually give way to reality… although it may take a while. Survey’s have shown the average US citizen guesses that the US gives around 10% in aid. Not exactly… we currently make arguments against matching the global movement of 70 cents per $100 GDP (as Yoshi continues to point out). Prof… our entire population represents an aggregate selfishness… it’s not just conservatives. What makes conservatives different is they actually define this form of selfishness as moral and our founder inherited liberty. I don’t believe they intended for us to become the society of second homes while at the same time ignoring the working poor… I’m sure Mr. Franklin had something different in mind when he referred to <>the middling people<>. But even if one could make the case that those white protestant landed elite slave owning founders did intend for us to <>decide if we would take care of our poor<>… it’s 2005… those guys are worm dirt.

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  45. “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”— John Kenneth GalbraithThe idea of fairness or justice is one of equality and ownership. My life is mine and therefore it is wrong of you to “take” my life without provocation. Property I have purchased is owned by me and therefore it is wrong for you to acquire my property without compensating me for it. Is it selfish to work for another and expect a paycheck? Of course not. In fact, the Democrats so understand this concept that they want to guarantee a minimum wage that compensates somebody enough for their time/labor. Our representative babe of justice, lady liberty, has a blindfold and is holding a balance. The blindfold means that favoritism should not be given to anyone, regardless of race, etc, etc, etc. The balance inherently assumes and recognizes ownership. Ownership of time, labor, rights, health, body, property, anything that CAN be owned – like the minimum wage compensation.Your quote above <>appears<> to call that ownership that is the basis of freedom and justice, selfishness. However, if recent memory serves me, each time I have brought up personal charity and benevolence, say…Tsunami relief, this unselfish act is discounted as immaterial, rare, whatever. But the act of abhorrence and avoidance of the grossly inefficient benevolence that government has proven itself to be is considered selfishness. With personal benevolence, something this nation was known for since its inception, there is a level of accountability and efficiency that is acceptable to the donor. This is a good thing. It is good stewardship of money. I am certain that you would not approve of taking tax dollars and dumping them out of planes over poor neighborhoods because that is not good stewardship of the public’s money. But governmental benevolence is not unlike that dumping of dollars out over neighborhoods. In fact it is probably worse. The government takes 25-50% off the top, then cuts the checks to everyone that jumps through the hoops and appears to meet the qualifications, whether a discerning individual would actually consider that person as benefitting from that benevolence. Many people have donated to the Katrina victims. I haven’t heard any gripes about that benevolence. But the government has been griped at for whatever level of involvement it has had because it is ineffective, unresponsive, and often oblivious. It is the nature of the beast. No leader, no different structure or organization can correct the inherent characteristics of spending somebody else’s money on yet another individual. To abhore wasting money in this fashion is “selfishness.” Up is down, right is wrong, and good stewardship and true benevolence via personal benevolence is selfishness.I believe Galbraith and I have a different understanding of how things operate. Yet, freedom allows each of us to wallow in the deception of our choosing and smile at the world.Prof. Ricardo

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  46. Prof,<> I just think demanding that pampering to be paid for by other’s is selfish and arrogant. Other’s may disagree.<>Obviously we aren’t talking about pampering (never have been), and I’m one of those other’s who define <>selfishness<> on the opposite spectrum. I can’t say it any better than the following:<>“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”— John Kenneth Galbraith<>Humor (Leno): <>Did you see all of those nervous Senators when the oil company CEO’s came to town? People always get nervous when the real owners show up.<>

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  47. Common <>“- your dentist– your doctor………Just looking to fine-tune the Prof defintion of dependent.”<>I am dependent upon others to different degrees, and all by choice. I could be dependent on another to chauffeur me around town or I could be as independent as Tom Hanks in <>Castaway.<> One does what one has to or desires to. I just got through reading <>< HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0882405136/qid=1131850517/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/002-6471848-5820803?v=glance&s=books" REL="nofollow">One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey<><>. This gentleman back in the 60’s decided to live alone in the wilderness for a year, just to see if he could. Built his own cabin, fireplace, furniture, harvested food. Also had some food and supplies flown in. One might consider living in a 11′ x 15′ house with no indoor plumbing a hardship. He left all of those currently considered essentials for a simpler life. One can get addicted (dependent) upon nearly any level of pampering. I just think demanding that pampering to be paid for by other’s is selfish and arrogant. Other’s may disagree.Just got back from a two day tax seminar. Once I digest it I may share some new tax nuggets with y’all like the new energy credits for conservation, alternative energy, etc.Prof. Ricardo

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  48. Prof,There you go… satire on satire. 🙂I was wondering, would you say you are dependent on:– your dentist– your doctor– your insurance agent– your minister– your wife– retail outlets– meat inspectors– city employees (water, trash, etc)– social security– federal military– EPA– FEMA– Shrub– Congress– FDAJust looking to fine-tune the Prof defintion of <>dependent<>.

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  49. CG: <>Prof… just satire me back. 🙂<>LASBUDDY – In a small town in Texas, locals are wondering what went wrong in Washington this past week. Prof. Ricardo said: “All I wanted was to for them (federal politicians) to recognized our needs.”It all started when the drought Abner hit north Texas and for three weeks no rain fell. “It was just horrible. Our grass started to fade and wither,” said Stefunny, a data inputter for the Twinkle-Telagrahm classifieds.However, it was not just plants that were foiled by the foul weather. Drought Abner has caused foundational shifting and creaking doors.“It’s unbelievable. Two weeks ago I could unlock my door and walk in, but now, the key is hard to turn in the lock and I have to give the door a nudge. Doesn’t anybody in this administration care?” Prof. Ricardo, a frequent blogger on the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon, is not impressed with the slow response of FEMA. “In our neighborhood there is no evidence that Washington even knows we exist.”When ask why he didn’t water his own lawn, the Prof. Replied “I have never been one to disassociate myself from community, nor ignore the rightful responsibilities of the federal government in satisfying our shared needs. To have watered my own lawn would have been a bold in-your-face act of self-reliance. There’s no room for that kind of behavior from a true patriot like me.”The current administration didn’t return our call of inquiry about their drought response preparedness. For more information, see http://www.iwannanotherprogram.gov

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  50. Prof,sat·ire ( P ) Pronunciation Key (str)n. – A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit. – The branch of literature constituting such works. See Synonyms at caricature. – Irony, sarcasm, or caustic wit used to attack or expose folly, vice, or stupidity.Prof… just <>satire<> me back. 🙂Prof, that was Satire… the following is irony.< HREF="http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/11/10/religion.robertson.reut/index.html" REL="nofollow">Pat Robertson disproves Intelligent Design theory by speaking about Intelligent Design theory<>

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  51. Common Good, that was a great scenario. We ought to consider doing a cartoon out of this…. buy a Macintosh with some animation software, do kind of a subtle political cartoon. Kind of a Southpark/ King of the Hill hybrid. We could make the homophobic Bible Republicans look like those killers from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. If it caught on nationwide, we could have the whole country making fun of conservatives as being these types. Just me posting this here, the idea will get stolen and someone will get rich off of it. What do you think? Private message me and we’ll start developing it somehow…..“You forgot to mention witch trials, the Crusades..”These last two don’t fit with the kind of people C.G. just described. Those Crusaders were medieval European Catholics, and the witch trial people were yankee colonists. What Common Good described is a new form, an inbred type, isolated from the rest of the world, truly a unique sub-species among us in the year 2005. If it is a cliche, it’s because it’s true. Scary thought. (And that’s why it could work as a cartoon.) I heard S. Wilder whining about W. Bush not sanctifying marriage. I was realizing W. Bush must be up in D.C., has been traveling, getting the best tutoring in the world, and he’s realizing the world isn’t some little redneck village in Texas after all. So he’s becoming a bit of a reluctant “liberal” I would say. Sorry C.G., I mean, relative to S. Wilder and co.’s expectations, he’s too liberal.

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  52. Apparently dependence, rather than self sufficiency, turns you on. And how did you know all 500 members of my Church of the holy BBQ only have one tooth each? And daa don’t got some book learnin’ two. Tsk, tsk. How cliche’. You forgot to mention witch trials, the Crusades, Bible thumping, religious intolerance, and…oh yea, hypocrites.Prof. Ricardo

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  53. Prof,Today… Personal Reponsibility, TX .. a small Texas town was hit with a terrorist attack. The attack involved a weaponized form of Anthrax. The federal government showed up with the vaccine, but was roundly booed by the local residents… who all believed it was all just a plot to raise their taxes. Joe Bob McNugget was interview and asked “why the hostility”. Joe Bob turned all red in the face, and started hurling racial slurs past his one tooth. It wasn’t clear what had convinced him it was blacks rather than Al Qaeda that had conducted the attacks. Asked “why he was turning down the anthrax vaccine for him and his family”, Joe Bob said they didn’t need no stinkin federal government meddling around in their affairs. If an aspirin from the local discount drug store couldn’t fix it, then Maggy from the other side of town had a potion that could fix anything. Joe Bob rambled on… and seemed to say their town has always taken care of itself, even when cousin Buck had those relations with some of the sheep, and caught something on his.. well down there. The federal government and reporters tried to convince these folks to change their minds, but things eventually became too tense. They may have lacked teeth and book learnin, but they all seemed have thier own personal shotgun. On the way out of town, the federal agents could see the townsfolks gathered around the church. They all seemed to be bringing various containers of white powder, and were piling it up in the back near the barbecue pit. Joe Bob was heard yelling “don’t come back… you satanic types are not welcome here”.

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  54. In a very loose returning to the topic of the blog [readers gasp in unbelief] I include the following item I received in email today: ——– This text is from county emergency manager out in the western part of North Dakota state after the storm. Amusing… WEATHER BULLETIN Up here in the Northern Plains we just recovered from a Historic event — may I even say a “Weather Event” of “Biblical Proportions” — with a historic blizzard of up to 24″ inches of snow and winds to 50 MPH that broke trees in half, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed all roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10’s of thousands.George Bush did not come….FEMA staged nothing….No one howled for the government…No one even uttered an expletive on TV…Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards…..No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House….No news anchors moved in.We just melted snow for water, sent out caravans to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars, fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Aladdin lamps and put on an extra layer of clothes.Even though a Category “5” blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early…we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.Everybody is fine.

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  55. Prof.I don’t have any experience with alternate energy really, just what I’ve seen looking at National Geographic here and there.I’m sure you can get a gun in France, it’s probably just a little harder. I know you can in England and Czech Republic, but those people don’t really seem to carry them. Probably it’s heavily regulated. I was having a little chuckle about what’s happening in France. Next time I talk to one of my European friends, I’m going to ask them why their “complex beaucracies” didn’t work so well… they should’ve kept their over-confident mouths shut about the Katrina response.Common Good, I wrote a second response about military spending, but the thing wouldn’t post. 500 billion is a lot of money. The lady whose article you posted was right on about nuclear warheads. That is a waste of cash, we’ll never need those. To me, it looks like money laundering, corruption. People on the inside are getting lucrative contracts to make weapons we don’t need. That’s about humans wanting to make money off the taxpayer’s expense, not humans proclivity to kill each other. It’s about big business, not aggression. We aren’t going to use the nuclear bombs, and we avoid casualties as much as possible.

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  56. I had asked the question earlier… <>why would US energy company profits reach records just because the price per barrel of oil reached records.<> If a OPEC fixed price goes up.. and US margins from lift to the pump remain the same and domestic demand was fairly static… profits would remain the same. I was trying to figure out why margins may jump just because the fixed costs jump? At the time, I guessed that domestic oil production sold to those record per barrel prices could explain this. Maybe not. I just listened to part of the oil executive testimony, and Lee Raymond (Chairman of Exxon) said that their constribution to supply was 3%, and they were the biggest domestic supplier. Oops… doesn’t that just leave us with margins to explain the jump at the prices at the pump.. which could be anywhere from refining, to transportation, to margins at the pump. I would like to know where the margins jumped. It doesn’t necessarily mean a government action (i.e. price controls) would be warranted, but in a democracy we should be entitled to know how non-discretionary goods and services are priced. < HREF="http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051109/ap_on_bi_ge/congress_oil" REL="nofollow">US Energy company meets the Senate<>

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  57. Yoshi,“The military is a legitimite expense you know..”I think you blew right past my main point which was <>if humans weren’t worthless with a proclivity towards killing each other… no nation would have to spend $500 billion a year perfecting defense and killing.<>Whether or not $500 billion is about right given true human nature is above my pay grade. What about you… did you just imply $500 billion a year sounds about right to you?btw… I’m waiting for someone to make the case US human nature tends to be better than other humans on the globe… because I need a good laugh.

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  58. The military is a legitimite expense you know, and the USA bears the cost for the rest of the world. Denmark and Holland can give more to noble causes because we have the military that can protect them. And these Cold War people are still around. Again, things don’t change overnight, and money does not grow on trees. We have to find the right balance on what to spend our money on, and we just can’t “throw it” say on education, etc. Professor is right in that a little self-initiative goes a long way. Kids in the ghetto aren’t learning because there schools don’t have enough money, they aren’t learning b/c of their total environments. Giving them a bunch of state of the art computers isn’t neccessarily going to help them. So we need less money, and more great people. And there is a war going on, naturally defense spending will be higher.

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  59. Yoshi,We spend $500 billion a year on the military… more than we spend on education by a long shot. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of human nature… ours or the rest of the planet. Sorry Yoshi… just no putting lipstick on this pig.< HREF="http://www.creators.com/opinion_show.cfm?next=2&ColumnsName=miv" REL="nofollow">Perfecting killing is way ahead of perfecting educating.<>

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  60. You know, I typed up a long response yesterday, and now I see it didn’t show. The basic point was, humans aren’t so bad. The moon shot is working already, the ball is rolling. It doesn’t happen overnight. In ten years, I’ll be playing checkers on my mobile satellite phone with kids in Zambia. Technology is connecting us all, the days of the island isolationists are almost over. Massive public debts have been erased, negotiations for fair trade are being worked out, the number of African on anti-retrovirals has doubled, President W. Bush has promised to fight malaria as no president ever has. And all this while juggling ever other problem on the planet. The armchair quarterback analogy is appropriate here. I don’t see the same people that legalized slavery. Those people are long gone.As for conservatives and tax haters, if the Democrats hadn’t been so stupid and scared everyone with the homosexual marriage stuff, the Republicans would be out already. It wasn’t those “evil” rich that elected Bush, it was the fundamentalist folk-types. Literally, the polar opposite of the rich elected W. Bush. It was the elitist types that vote Kerry.

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  61. Yoshi,That would be a great moon shot, but I don’t think the US is up for that… yet. The reason is because I think you are wrong about human nature… I don’t think it evolves. I think conscience, reasoning and evolving collective agreements change a society over time, but I don’t think the underlying human nature ever changes… and I don’t think the US has evolved enough to support your moon shot. I think we are basically the same human beings that allowed slavery to happen in the first place. Tony or Prof may call that fallen… I just think humans were animals from the start with certain things pretty hard wired. Consider this thread… your comments about gluttony… Prof’s comments about taxes stealing someone’s property or narrowly defining acceptable ways to help the poor. If humans were hard wired differently, than you would hear a common phrase from those that obtain significant wealth… “My family has enough… now the focus needs to be on those that do not”. This point doesn’t require a trip through ideology debates… i.e. what’s a fair tax system in a just society. It’s a simple obvious observation of human nature (very obvious in children)… we are animals very interested in ourselves and getting stuff for ourselves. At the very core we are self-interested animals. We are capable of social interaction, collective agreements and reasoning, making provisons for others, chipping in some of our excess for others, etc., but those do not represent our core human nature. The arguments and moralizing provided to justify this self-interest, self-entitled nature (whether religion, economical, political, etc) is just that… justification for greedy natures. There is no religious, human rights or economic argument good enough to justify one (and one’s family) living in absolute luxury in the same society/globe with exrtreme poverty. If humans were hard-wired differently, it would never occur to someone of wealth that they were being violated with a progressive tax required for society common good. Instead of the pride of such economic success and the honor of giving back to society in a federal collective way when required (which would have zero effect on the wealthy’s economic class or life)… we are met with <>don’t soak the rich<> or <>we owe our economy to these brave souls for providing jobs for the rest of us<>. Think they would be so entitled and full of themselves if they couldn’t sell to <>the rest of us<>? It would never occur to them that an extra 10-20% tax burden should change their business practices or try and figure out how to dodge their societies taxes in order to “have more than enough”. I understand (but don’t buy) the conservative arguments claiming their way is better because it best leverages human nature and is the best we can hope for… but I will never understand any of the rationalizing claiming it is moral. Add immoral to your gluttony charge… maybe they are one in the same.Other than that… your moon shot could have worked. 😦

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  62. Yoshi,Good… glad you showed up. I just came back to my study to add an evolution item to my list in your honor.-> step up to the plate for real with foreign aid. You can’t really claim much evolution if you live in a global world and remain the self-centered citizen base we are now. Yoshi… I really think you have a good political movement opportunity with <>Taxme<>. The conservative movement has been effective selling to the masses <>it’s your money, you can spend it better than the government<>. This is much shorter… the public has a short attention span. Of course there is a major flaw in that campaign. In order to sell, folks would have to think past their tax rates. What percentage would do that… maybe 10%?

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  63. God’s call to care for those who are poor is not limited to individuals. God demands justice from those in power. Through the prophet Isaiah, God issues a warning to “those who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right.” (Isaiah 10:1-2) Likewise, God calls on each of us to speak up for those who are hungry and oppressed, just as Moses spoke to the powers of his day. Jesus and his disciples, too, challenged both religious and political authorities to do the right thing.Because governments are part of the problem and at least somewhat the cause of poverty (ex. propping up African despots with military power/cash for Cold War reasons, interfering in agricultural markets with subsidies and trade barriers, etc.), governments must be part of the solutions. It’s that simple.

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  64. “….However, not recognizing that men sin and men with power and authority can sin with even greater consequences, does not make those realities disappear.”-This works both ways, as everything does. Sin doens’t have to be an action from men with “authority.” It can also be “inaction” from men with “authority.” “Additionally, cuddling up to the phantom hope that man will evolve past his base nature may give you comfort, but will never materialize no matter how vivid the dream.” -Man has changed Professor, we aren’t barbarian vikings anymore. We here agree genocide is wrong. We agree racism is wrong. We are making progress. Base nature my a**, I can assure you, your base nature isn’t as bad as you’d like to think it is. If we are made in the image of God, we couldn’t POSSIBLY be as bad as you think we are. Do you think Mother Teresa evolved past her base nature? “But the historical reality of man’s depravity since…..”What about Martin Luther King? Or Ghandi? Tony Plank? Not depraved men. You just need a little more courage Professor, to live up to your potential. You quit before you try. Common Good, for my part, I don’t think Jesus would have been against a leprosy tax. He COMMANDED us to love our neighber, whether in Mississippi or Mozambique. If the scale of the problem is so big that individual charity amounts to mere lip service, Jesus would’ve been for getting real about the problem. Having Christians throw pennies in the bucket hasn’t been doing a damn thing, it’s time to get organized and channel our collective strength. As C.G., says, it’s a collective agreement as a society to addres the problem of say Hurricane Katrina. No one is forcing you to pay your share here, love it or leave it. Move to another place with no taxes. Don’t be a part of the American community if you don’t want. There isn’t a gun to your head making you give 20%. That’s the best part about America, I’d like to think. When we take a hit, it brings out the best in us. As for Jesus, the guy seems like a communist if there ever was one? Think heaven won’t be communist? Or do you think they’ll be the other side of the tracks up there?

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  65. Prof,<>I realize blogging only permits a narrow view of each of us, but surely you know I have more depth than that?<>Yep… I realize that.<>Additionally, cuddling up to the phantom hope that man will evolve past his base nature may give you comfort, but will never materialize no matter how vivid the dream.<>Read my statements again. I do not think human nature evolves over time, but socities can… that has been proven by history. We are proof of that. Our human natures… that allowed slavery to happen in the first place never changed… but our society and collective laws evolved past it. I would like to think conscience plays a role in this progression, but I think Plato had it about right… we only make compromises/law out of necessity… i.e. we make rational decisions that we are better off making the collective compromises to our human nature (going against how we would act if there weren’t any consequences to us). The <>evolving past our base human nature<> by definition has to be in the form of collective actions/agreements… i.e. society agreements. That’s what our constitution and laws really are… compromises. I view the three decade revival of conservatism as a temporary block on societal evolvement. This evolvement takes a very, very long time… just consider how long it took to free the slaves, honor the woman’s right to vote, and give the Indians casinos. 🙂 I can name our future evolvements… it’s the common good I endlessly rant about. Someday we will evolve to the collective agreement that it is indeed in our self-interest to provide safety-nets and support for the poor, sick, elderly, families with econonic crisis (like medical bills), newly unemployed do to the whims of capitalism, etc. The big leap will be the evolvement (collective agreement) that the New Deal was a good start… but now we need to get serious about it. Once we can past this hurdle, we can get down to serious business about best delivery veichles (government, private, some cooperative mix, etc.), and get serious about weeding out waste. The bridge to nowhere in Alaska is waste.. federal old age insurance is not (of course it could be managed in a wasteful way).If we make it long enough, US evolution will be something like this:Articles of Confederation -> Constitution -> quit killing indians -> quit owning slaves -> women’s right to vote -> New Deal -> child labor laws -> civil rights -> removal of special faction status (Christianity) -> equal legal rights regardless of sexual practice -> full healthcare coverage -> free public education -> New New Deal -> Capitalism+ (some would call that Socialism). Something like that… btw.. you are obviously correct that our Constitution was made with human nature and a history of government abuse in mind. That said, the Constitution had TWO major purposes 1) was the limiting of government, recognizing human rights… but there was a second major deliverable from the Constitution and that was 2) a protected liberty of the citizens to participate in their democracy… i.e. the government had to share sovereign power with the citizens. Breyer calls #1 modern liberty, and #2 ancient liberty. In the end, we were given a constitution where posterity could define their society via representative government. The Constitution doesn’t require or ban social justice/common good… believe me, I’ve looked for it. It’s up to us… what we decide.I think the <>evolvement<> is non-negotiable. The delivery mechanism… government vs private is a matter of ideology and logical decisions by us/government. I am willing to be wrong about my ideology if the evolvement happens? Can you say the same?“Do you think Jesus would be against “the leper tax fund”?”<>Yes if a tax, but not against gifts, offerings, and any other help offered.<>Interesting… I see what you are up against. You have no choice on your ideology because of that statement above. I suspect Christian opinions vary on the question I asked. This is where it get dangerous for our society… and it’s obvious the founders were well aware of the passions that come from religion. I would fight along side of you to protect your private religious practice… but I would fight you until the end to keep ANYONE’s religious belief from dictating what our collective societal decisions “could be”. I don’t much like fighting friends… but there it is. Looks like Shrub wasn’t met with rose pedals in Argentina either. Nothing like winning friends all over the globe. I wonder how the 49% of America gets out the message <>he isn’t what we signed up for either.<>

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  66. Common: “<>Prof…Sorry you continue to measure your liberty and your society by your tax rate…<>” I realize blogging only permits a narrow view of each of us, but surely you know I have more depth than that?“<>…and sorry you view government as some foreign entity rather tha “us… we the people making intelligent COLLECTIVE decisions” to evolve society past base human nature.<>”This sentence speaks volumes. May I? I see the definition of “we the people” as citizens of this nation. Of course I see myself as one of them. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” THAT “We the People” established a Constitution to LIMIT government because they had EVOLVED to a point of knowing that man’s “BASE HUMAN NATURE” is depravity, a desire to be selfish. This is a very CHRISTIAN belief of sin and the nature of man. It is not that our founders or Christians WISHED that man would not improve. But rather that they RECOGNIZED man’s failing. Our founders studied many nations and much history and decided that the best way to guarantee freedom was to hobble the oppressor, ie government. They constrained it with the chains of the Constitution. They put in checks and balances on top of checks and balances. Grid lock was a designed blessing, not an accidental curse.You cite “COLLECTIVE decisions” but you rail against majority rule [particularly from the current administration]. Are you seeking some unanimous representative body? One that does not recognize man’s propensity to shoot his neighbor for a six pack of 3-2 beer? Is this unanimity to silence dissension and stifle freedom, or is there some political model for government you are withholding from us that achieves unity, peace, charity, and equality?“<>Conservatism seems to be in love with our human nature. I’m actually not a fan, and think the only real reason for a society to continue the fight is to constantly attempt to evolve past it.<>”This is where that dreaded “world view” concept leaps into the conversation. Because you differ on the fundamental concepts of man from a large fraction of our nation, you seek societal answers that do not seek to prohibit the evils of a government with too much authority if your world view does not even recognize that as a threat. Why would you seek to organize society to protect against the Boogey Men you do not even recognize? However, not recognizing that men sin and men with power and authority can sin with even greater consequences, does not make those realities disappear. Additionally, cuddling up to the phantom hope that man will evolve past his base nature may give you comfort, but will never materialize no matter how vivid the dream. Were we all to traipse through daisies and sing as though we were in a musical. But the historical reality of man’s depravity since recorded history is verified nightly on any news channel.“<>I’m trying to imagine Jesus condemning his followers for collectively helping the lepers.<>”But you did not study the differences between what you propose and this sentence. Jesus would not condemn HIS FOLLOWERS for so doing. However, he would surely condemn them for taking money from all the local property owners for the new Leper hospital. In the story of the good Samaritan, the hated Samaritan helped the badly injured Jew WITH HIS OWN MONEY. This was the example. What you are explaining is Robin Hoodism. Steal from the rich to give to the poor, or the “needy” as defined by the Hood, or for public goals, as defined by those who aren’t contributing as much as those being taxed.<> Do you think Jesus would be against “the leper tax fund”?<>Yes if a tax, but not against gifts, offerings, and any other help offered.We the Prof. Ricardo

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  67. < HREF="http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051104/wl_nm/france_riots_dc" REL="nofollow">Think this couldn’t happen here?<>There are prices to be paid in pluralistic societies where large majorities stake out favored faction rights… based on tradition or religion. There are no doubt assimilation obligations for those immigrating to a new country, but there are also accommodation requirements from the host. If the message sent to the new arrivals are <>you will always remain second class citizens<>, then the host society would be much better off to stop these immigrants at the border. Think this type of thing couldn’t happen here? Follow the religious rights demands for Christian tradition in our courts and courthouses. Add to that an increasinly bifurcated economic demographic… and the fuel is pooling… just waiting for the match.

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  68. Prof,Sorry you continue to measure your liberty and your society by your tax rate… and sorry you view government as some foreign entity rather tha “us… we the people making intelligent COLLECTIVE decisions” to evolve society past base human nature. Conservatism seems to be in love with our human nature. I’m actually not a fan, and think the only real reason for a society to continue the fight is to constantly attempt to evolve past it. I realize religion provides a justification and logic to settle on the status quo… just riding it out until they get to the promise land. That said, it will continue to baffle me until I drop that the Gospel followers could ever invent reasons to support conservatism { I understand the abortion issue, but not conservatism }. I’m trying to imagine Jesus condemning his followers for collectively helping the lepers. Do you think Jesus would be against “the leper tax fund”? Hey… you are the expert here… I’m probably just reading too much abstract principle into the Gospels when I should have read it as a strict contructionist. { That last comment is due to the fact that I’m reading Scalia’s and Breyer’s books on Constitution interpretation. I’m having one heck-of-a offline debate with Plank the lawyer. }Tax Me….

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  69. “<>…but in the end it sounds like you are still just saying “don’t waste our money.”<>”Actually, I am saying it is hard to justify being for or against government doing something or not doing something unless you are coming from a position of principal.If you are against the stadium as I am, but you are for government helping build, subsidize, tax-break, or the eminent domain acquisition of land for the Texas Motor Speedway, then you aren’t against government restricted from the entertainment business on principal, but rather it is a matter of taste. However, if you believe government has no business and/or authority to dabble in taxing poor orphaned dying widows so that beer drinking NASCAR red necks can hoot and holler for Ernhardt or any other sport, then you may be a person of principal.When the subject of “need” and governmental benevolence is broached, the slippery slope has so many negatives, it seems to me to be a self evident truth that taking from some and giving to others is sheer lunacy. It smacks of arrogance, theft and unfairness, and a horrendously counterproductive incentive. If we accept the principal that it is moral and just to take money from some people and, not spend it on a public good, but use it to better the lives of select individuals of the government’s choosing, then in principal we have no leg to stand on in opposing “gifts” to people or corporations that we do not agree with. Don’t like Haliburton getting lucrative contracts? So. Maybe they had a need that the current administration sought to fill. Once this trash becomes permissible, it is then left up to the keepers of the public funds as to who they want to share and be benevolent with. The Republican Party likes to give the illusion of wanting less government. However, that has not borne itself out. They only want to use the government power to achieve their ends rather than then ends the Democratic Party wishes to achieve when they are in power.I would like someone to show me in history where governments given the authority to redistribute wealth, have limited their own power, not progressively encroached on the freedoms of the people, or bankrupted the country given enough time.Prof. RicardoPS__No offense meant to hootin & hollering rednecks.

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  70. You make some really good points, but in the end it sounds like you are still just saying “don’t waste our money.” As for the Revolutionary War, we had to give Congress the power to tax us to pay for the thing….. nothing is free (Freedom isn’t free, as they say, literally). It’s funny you say that about the Football Stadium. I’m COMPLETELY against it, it’s total b.s. There is a big difference between potholes and football stadiums. Do you want to hear the IRONY? At UTArlington, the College REPUBLICANS were demonstrating FOR the football stadium. The more liberal groups were against it. Even Cheerleaders came out with free pizza and autographs in exchange for votes. These good ol’ boy young Republican types ate it up, took the hook, line, and sinker. (I think their only purpose is to oppose “the libs.”) Can you believe that? It happened. So the people who are allegedly for “small government” are for forcing Arlington to pay for a massive stadium. So Republicanism has now become this weird mix of jingoism, footballism, and country music-ism. It’s pretty depressing. As for regulations, America is pretty bad in some respects. Traffic violations are taken too far here. In Europe, they are so much more lenient. I got a ticket the other day for having my front tires parked in my own yard. (That’s what I call “formalized” corruption.)

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  71. Yoshi,<>“The fact is, when Mark Twain was around, we didn’t have terrorists flying into buildings and threatening the entire global economy. In fact, they didn’t even have planes at all.”<>No, but we did have the war between the states where 600,000 men gave their lives, and from a much smaller population. And a hundred years earlier they didn’t have planes, but we had British troops marching on our soil. Technology changes, the players change, but the needs are the same.<>How is a tax any different than a 10% to a church? Are you against that too?<>“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Cor. 9:7. Notice that it is voluntary.<>“Render to Caesar what is Caesars.<>…and to God the things that are God’s.” Matt.22:21That’s my job. Making sure none of the God part get’s to Caesar. Of course Jesus wasn’t putting a rubber stamp on all that government does, but rather be obedient to the civil laws so that you can be above reproach, unless the civil laws violate God’s laws.<>Anyway, there are places you wouldn’t have to pay taxes. You could go there and live, but you are going to hate the potholes.<>The New World, America, didn’t even have roads to have potholes in, but families braved many days at sea with great inconveniences, and much expense, to land at a country, relatively free of government intervention. Relative to the rest of the world, it is still somewhat free of governmental intervention. People are still flocking here. But the gap has narrowed greatly. It is not that other countries are freer. Its that we now fix potholes in every country and regulate the potholes to death in this country. Soon, the legend of the “land of the free” will be buried in the history books.Question: Should the taxpayers of Arlington have to buy Jerry Jones a new stadium if even ONE pothole remains in Arlington?Prof. Ricardo

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  72. I agree, taxes can get out of hand, and even be counterproductive. And then again, they don’t have to be. The fact is, when Mark Twain was around, we didn’t have terrorists flying into buildings and threatening the entire global economy. In fact, they didn’t even have planes at all. It’s a different world now. How is a tax any different than a 10% to a church? Are you against that too? Render to Caesar what is Caesars. Just keep some watchdogs on him to make sure he spends it on our needs. Anyway, there are places you wouldn’t have to pay taxes. You could go there and live, but you are going to hate the potholes.

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  73. Sorry. I’m a little guided by experience and history. With experience I have seen a number of small businesses get buried in taxes. Swamped and drowning. Are these near Bill Gates level incomes? Nope. Just commoners like us. They’re making mediocre income and one year they have a banner year, maybe up 50%. Their taxes shoot from $8,000 to $20,000, because of the progressive rate of the tax system, loss of deductions/credits and stuff. They stupidly thought if they made more money and could finally pay their bills on time that they could spend some of the excess. So they buy a little bit bigger house. THEN their income goes back down. They’re strapped for cash with their new acquisitions, they didn’t realize the exponential effect of taxes on their income, and presto, tax delinquency.Should taxes be so large as to be a burden? To be the largest single expense item of a household? So much as to incite tax evasions, tax avoidance schemes, bad investments, hoop jumping, wasting time investigating ways to minimize taxes?Common Good says taxes should be determined based upon needs. What if needs are greater than 100% of what is taxed? Well then, [NEEDS – survival of gold laying goose = taxes] says he. And that number is? The definition of “needs” varies greatly indeed. I “need” oxygen, water, food, and shelter. Most people have that and in greater abundance than they are thankful for. Some people think “needs” include, a Latte and a leased Mercedes. Some people think that the very new (last hundred years out of thousands) institution of voluntary shared risk (a.k.a. Insurance) is a “need.” Some people think what 20 yrs ago in the medical field was impossible, 10 years ago cutting edge, is today a <>right<> regardless of any position or desire to pay for it.From some of my silly friends:<>Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.<>– Frederic Bastiat<>We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.<> – Winston Churchill<>A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.<>– G Gordon Liddy<>The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.<> – Mark Twain<>The share-the-wealth movement appeals most to those with the least to share.<> <>I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents….<> — James Madison<>I don’t like the income tax. Every time we talk about these taxes we get around to the idea of ‘from each according to his capacity and to each according to his needs’. That’s socialism. It’s written into the Communist Manifesto. Maybe we ought to see that every person who gets a tax return receives a copy of the Communist Manifesto with it so he can see what’s happening to him.<>. — T. Coleman Andrews, <>Commissioner of Internal Revenue,<> May 25, 1956 in U.S. News & World Report <>To lay with one hand the power of government on the property of the citizen, and with the other to bestow it on favored individuals …. is none the less robbery because it is …. called taxation.<> — US Supreme Court in Loan Association v. Topeka (1874)<>There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him <>.– Robert A. Heinlein<>Congress can raise taxes because it can persuade a sizable fraction of the populace that somebody else will pay.<> – Milton Friedman<>The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward.<> — John Maynard Keynes<>The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.<> – Will Rogers, (1879 – 1935), Illiterate Digest (1924), “Helping the Girls with their Income Taxes”<>When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.<> –Plato, The Republic<>It would be a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their income.<> – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1758<>You can talk about “social justice” all you want. But what death taxes boil down to is letting politicians take money from widows and orphans to pay for goodies that they will hand out to others, in order to buy votes to get reelected That is not social justice or any other kind of justice. <>– Thomas Sowell<>If you would not confront your neighbor and demand his money at the point of a gun to solve every new problem that may appear in your life, you should not allow the government to do it for you.<> — William E. Simon P.R.

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  74. Oops… Senator Frist must be a socialist. He just announced hearings on energy company pricing and profits. How obnoxious for a society to question the pricing of a product it requires to survive. Outrageous. I would like the see the profit broken out between production and margins at the pump. If all of our oil came from OPEC, then in effect that oil would represent a fixed cost to our domestic oil companies (i.e. they don’t have any control over it). Domestic control of pricing would be from refining/processing/transportation/margin at the pumps, etc. In my simple way of thinking, I would expect larger margins at the pump (and processing along the way) to be larger with lower fixed (oil purchase) costs. I would think a normal reaction to $60-70 oil from OPEC would be a tension/reduction of margins passed on to the consumer. In that light, what’s the explanation of oil companies making the largest profits in history NOW?One of the factors (and it’s a reason I would like to see the profits broken down) is domestic oil production…even though we just develop a percentage of our needs. Domestic oil production doesn’t cost $60+ a barrel, but it appears all oil (regardles of domestic or OPEC) is set at a global price. Said another way, it would appear our domestic oil prices are in effect… set by OPEC. Not only are we dependent on oil from foreign sources, but our domestic pricing seems to be set by them. I don’t pretend to understand the complexity of what finally ends up as prices at the pump… but I don’t think it takes a genius to recognize something stinks pretty bad when domestic energy companies obtain record profits when OPEC prices go through the roof. I would think most business profits would be under extreme pressure if a fixed cost went up 300% in a couple of years. The best that business could hope for would be to pass along most/all of that increased cost to the customer… but looking at as an opportunity to add to profits would never occur to that business owner. I don’t expect Frist’s announcement to be anything more than the usual smoke and mirrors just to appease the mass stupids… but it would be a very good thing if the public was finally educated on energy company profits and how they are broken down. Maybe then… the public may wake up and say… “you know what, I’m no longer willing to accept the public should be at the mercy of this pseudo-capitalism when it comes to our nations energy supply”. Yeah.. I’m dreaming.

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  75. “Silly? Yes, but only in degree.”Well, you admit it is silly then. That stuff about “degree” is also silly. It’s like saying because you admire Micheal Jorden you are a homosexual. To a degree, you are admiring another man. The examples could go on and on, but the world isn’t an all or nothing place. It’s called compromise solutions. If I have to pay an extra ten bucks out of my paycheck to protect my grandparents from getting the bird flu, or to fight terrorists, or whatever, that’s fine with me.The biggest problem I see with America is GLUTTONY. Surely, shaving a little off the top isn’t going to hurt anyone. A little discipline and sacrifice for the Common Good never hurt anyone. They’ll be a synergetic effect. In the net terms, we’ll all be better off. Public goods are necessary, even Adam Smith thought so. And trust me, Adam Smith was no communist. It’s not all or nothing Prof.

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  76. Bummer… yoshi gave me a good idea for a political movement… but the url is already taken. 😦< HREF="http://www.taxme.com/index_lander.php?Domain=taxme.com" REL="nofollow">TaxMe.com<>

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  77. Prof,You are arguing with folks that don’t exist. You are arguing against EQUAL lives when no one is asking for them. You equate the working poor who need health insurance for their kids with unemployed gang members and drug pushers. You equate all working poor with folks <>who just aren’t trying hard enough<>. You equate the working poor who want health insurance for their kids with people <>who just aren’t satified with what they have, and demand assistance from a nanny state<>. You equate raising taxes on the folks teeing off at Southern Hills with Socialism… and a failure to reward properly the saints of our economy… those gods that create jobs for the rest of us. You equate Lexus and second homes sales exactly the same as gas at the pump, and health insurance for the kids. You equate common sense public good and public safety-nets with EQUAL lives and Communism.I join Yoshi. Tax me.<>Societies evolve, human nature does not<>.

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  78. Let’s start the commune now. Everybody work….if you want to. Everybody lives in the same 600 sq.ft. Apartment, provided by the government. Only public transportation. Do away with marriage ‘cause we can’t agree on which organisms go with which. The government gets the rewards of our labor and we get to live in the paradise of equality. Same home, same transportation, same misery. No hope of advancement. Any appearance of wealth would be dealt with swiftly so as not to incite industrious behavior by those wanting to duplicate it, or shame by those that don’t want to.Silly? Yes, but only in degree. The concepts are alive and well here.Prof. Ricardo

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  79. So 7 billion for the “flu emergency?” Is this stuff for real? I’m wondering if there is some real problem, or if it is some kind of diversion.In any case, I think it is time to raise taxes. Hell, raise them on me, I don’t really care. If the rich are too damn cheap, I’ll step up and start paying. Raise the taxes on me. As long as the money is spent on the public good, and not wasted, I’m all for it, 100%. Someone has to care enough about this country to make a contribution other than listening to Rush Limbaugh, paying lip service to the troops, and displaying bumper stickers of cheap American flags and yellow ribbon magnets made in Korea.

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  80. Not wanting to allow a good thing to go unharvested for the king, I mean government, I mean “the people,” property owners are in an uproar that the government is < HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_tax" REL="nofollow">taxing their “view.<>” It is reminiscent of the window or glass tax of 1696 by William III. Ahhh. Theft for the sake of the people. Tis smells sweet, don’t you think?Prof. Ricardo

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  81. Wow… prof may be right. Shrub may be a closet progressive. He just announced more pay for our military. This CIA investigation thing must really be rattling the administration.I should be the last to make fun of another state’s US senator remarks. For example, my two senators have said the following:Inhoffe: <>Anyone complaining about Iraq torture is a do-gooder.<>Coburn: <>Gays are our biggest challenge in the US to civil liberties.<>But now Texas has some choice senator remarks to live down.Kay Bailey Huthinson: <>And secondly, I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.<>< HREF="http://msnbc.msn.com/id/9764239/" REL="nofollow">Oops, did Kay say that outloud?<>< HREF="http://asptrader.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/10/23/111624/57" REL="nofollow">Kay you little flip-flopper you<>

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  82. Prof,Yeah… Shrub can’t even follow the <>government shrinking<> instructions from corporate america. Actually, if you follow the money, you can figure out who really is in charge. Corporations use the Dobsons, Norquists and Kristols to sell to the masses… but last I checked, 1) abortion still legal 2) still collecting taxes and government grew even larger than under Clinton 3) we didn’t invade that middle eastern country… Oops, did that. That confuses things… who’s in charge, corporations or Kristol and the neocons. Bummer… just when you thought you had a theory. I think the nation will survive if we just get back to taxing the crap out of the rich. The two party system really gets it’s strength from the winner take all rules. We run our democracy like an NFL football game… one winner, one loser. If you are in the 49% f*** off. If you are in the 40% voting in your state, your guy will never win in your lifetime… just stay home. Your state’s 40% doesn’t even go toward the electoral college vote…unless you live in Colorado. Have one more US senator than the other party… you get to control 100% of the agenda in the Senate. Your president wins by a percent or two… every head of every domestic agency gets elected by that politician… the folks who have careers in these domestic agencies get a new partisan hack to lead them every 4 or 8 years. Get a president in that doesn’t appreciate crazy government things like FDA, EPA and FEMA… that executive get gut EPA law developed over decades with just a couple of years in office. New president from the other party in next election… put the EPA laws back in. Yep… whoever said presidential elections have consequences wasn’t kidding. Our democracy has inadequate rules. Change the rules, and you may get something better than the two party system, or maybe, the two party system quits being a bad term. There is nothing wrong in theory with two dominant parties. What wrong is we treat our democracy as a winner take all sports contest rather than something which impacts real lives.

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  83. Tony,<>In short, I have felt for some time that the radicalization is artificial.<>What bs. You have half of this country that doesn’t believe government’s job is to take care of the poor… and another half that think that’s exactly government’s job. That doesn’t sound like artificial radicalization to me. You will get no argument from me that we aren’t filling government with the best and the brightest from the 300 million… but we are an apathetic public and deserve what we get. The Democrats are particularly sad… because the progressive ideology is so vastly superior to conservatism, it literally blows the mind that the conservatives have been able to sell such snake oil. But that’s an argment of lousy Democrats elected to office… not even close to the same thing as saying the Democrat and GOP platforms are the same. Congress may be filled with critters only interested in getting elected again… and that’s a valid two party argument. Just don’t call the two platforms and ideas about what government should be equal… not even close.

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  84. Flame,Welcome to our world. I agree with the radicalization. I have touched on this topic in many different ways. I think you are correct…it is probably worth a separate discussion.In short, I have felt for some time that the radicalization is artificial. It stems from our wholesale acceptance of the two-party “system” and we are much poorer for it. It isn’t that we are all moderates either…as many try to suggest. The truth is that on any specific issue, the answer is seldom one of the two views that the big parties latch on to for the purposes of furthering their game.The sooner people quit wasting time telling others that it is a waste to vote for anybody but one of the big two parties and spend that energy trying to figure out which of the other parties that they can identify with substantively, the sooner we may get to some actual healing. The irony of course is that those carping the loudest about wasting votes on third parties are in fact engaging in the greatest waste of all.

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  85. Common,<>“shrink the government and drown it in the bathtub”<>I like to keep an open mind. So I checked Census.gov. All functions of federal government, TOTAL employment went down from year 2000 to 2004, 5.71%. Wow! But wait, that reduction was in part time employees. Full time federal workers went up from 2,425,898 to 2,445,287, a gain of 0.8%. That’s weird. Full time employment was up. Oh I see its that warring mentality. National defense must have gone up. Let’s see, in 2000 it was 695,045 total national defense employment to the 2004 figure of 687,822. Wait, that’s a decrease of 1.04%. That’s no way to fight a war. But what about FULLTIME national defense? It went from 675,225 to 663,708, or a 1.71% decrease. Hmmm. Bush’s big time government reduction came from reducing part-time other and full time military. That must have saved him a boat load of funds on the budget. Total spending in 2001 fiscal year was $1.863 Trillion, and the total in 2005 was $2.479 Trillion, a 33% increase. Now there’s a man who knows how to wack away at government spending. But what screwed it up was no doubt DEFENSE spending, which indeed went up nearly 53%. With that much increase, Non-defense must have stagnated. Let’s see, $1.558 Trillion in 2001 to $2,014 Trillion in 2005, or a 29% increase. Yep, he cut it to the bone. May not be anything left of it for Hillary. She’ll have to start from scratch. <>“shrink the government and drown it in the bathtub”<>Does that fall under the <>Common Good Humor:<> section?Prof. Ricardo

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  86. So much wisdom living in Texas… and you guys export Shrub instead of exporting Molly.<>Another big chunk of what’s wrong with the economy can be solved by fixing another major problem at the same time: health care. In case you haven’t noticed, major employers and high-wage industries are increasingly choosing to locate in Canada instead of the United States. And what have they got that we haven’t — besides more snow and never getting excited? National health insurance. Yep, that ol’ debbil “socialized medicine” against which the right wing has so long and so relentlessly inveighed is now the darling pet of huge corporations. Not only is it good for General Motors, folks, the rest of us need it desperately, too. In case you haven’t noticed, our health care system is falling apart.<> < HREF="http://www.creators.com/opinion_show.cfm?next=2&ColumnsName=miv" REL="nofollow">Molly<><>We are looking for progress, not perfection, so anyone who tells you the entire tax code should fit on a postcard is a bona fide, certified, chicken-fried moron.<>LOL! chicken-fried moron… or is that chicken-fried mass stupid.< HREF="http://www.creators.com/opinion_show.cfm?columnsName=miv" REL="nofollow">Molly<>

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  87. Flame Thrower,The <>shrink the government and drown it in the bathtub<> crowd is in charge of the domestic agencies. The american public got what the 51% voted for. If 51% continue to think it’s not the government’s job to take care of the poor, provide common sense safety-nets, healthcare for everyone, protect the public domestically (FEMA, FDA, etc) then we will continue to live like barbarians… and that 51% will actually point to that and call it American. Until the majority of American pull off the blinders and figure out <>being in this together<> isn’t at all the same as shirking personal responsibility… we will live as barbarians. You mention the polarization. I can’t stand the polarization, but what I can’t stand even more is the pathetic excuses the conservative movement (with the background music of the RR) comes up with to NOT <>be in this together<>.Katrina/New Orleans humor: Spike Lee was one of Bill’s guests this week on his show. Spike is creating a documentary about this disaster. Bill created some new potential movie names and adverstising posters for Spike. One of them was a spin off of <>Finding Nemo<>. Bill suggested Spike name the New Orleans documentary <>Finding Fema<>. LOL!

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  88. It is important to dig through the news reports that came out of New Orleans during and after Katrina to separate the facts from the hysteria. While the break down in the social order was awful, it was not as widespread as originally reported (a real disappointment in the performance of the media which should have spent more time ensuring the accuracy of the reporting and less on driving reader/viewership)and while still a sad comment, not so surprising in view of both the depth of the disaster and the inexcusable response to it by all levels of government. The lawlessness would certainly have been much attenuated had the institutions that provide the framework for civil tranquillity been in place and properly deployed immediately after the storm passed through.Why did not government work as it should have? There are two answers to that question. First the current answer: elected leaders believed and approached both disaster planning and response as a political exercise instated of as a civil and humanitarian requirement of government. That included placing political supporters in disaster relief positions as reward for political contributions instead of staffing those positions with experienced professionals. The frantic scramble to place blame elsewhere and to an extent, the marginalization of the political disenfranchised.The longer term issue is the fact that the American public has become so divided, almost radicalized, to the point that a consensus on important national issues has been impossible since the Second World War; which is a topic deserving of its own thread.Thanks for your introspection and thoughts.

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  89. Can we legislate away stupidity and illogical conclusions? That guy arrested on the coast for surfing during the initial landing of the hurricane, should he be prevented from doing something stupid like that? Can we save people from themselves? How do we eliminate stupidity from the gene pool if not through the natural consequences of our actions?Prof. Ricardo[A new sheet of blog paper to write on at your convenience please.]

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  90. “I believe anyone that wants to can make ends meet can do so. The only problem is we have contrived a mandatory standard of living that drives everyone to go into outrageous debt to achieve it.”I agree with this statement. Unless you are mentally off, you can make ends meet. You might have to give up the T-Mobile plan and the eating out several times a day, but you can do it.I have a friend here from Czech Republic, the guy said when he first got here he lived on potatoes for weeks. Can you imagine? He’s doing well now though, let me tell you. That was a temporary little sacrifice he made…I also once met a Russian, a rich one, in Prague. We were at a casino, he was blowing loads, and he just wanted me at the table for company (he gave me money to lose).I asked him how he got rich, in America, by the way, and how I could also do it. He said it was easy, but we Americans (youth, in particular) are too spoiled, and we can’t get rich in our own country. (I have to admit, I have been a little spoiled.)

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  91. Prof,<>My mother grew up in Louisiana the daughter of a lumber trucker.<>I grew up in Shreveport… the son of an accountant. 🙂 We couldn’t see the road through the floor of my dad’s cars, but he did have a pink car once that embarrased us so badly that we hid in the back seat when he drove through our neighborhood. If you have some cajun blood in you, I may have to cut you some slack… maybe. 🙂Being able to get through this world on you own… most excellent. Supporting your government help take care of those who can’t… also most excellent. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.Cheers… enjoy the weekend.

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  92. C.G.: <>Prof… why do you hate poor people?<>Maybe you could clarify. Apparently your poor worldview models see me defend capitalism, the laws of economics, “big business”, private property ownership, or whatever, and extrapolate that I hate poor people. I might view the insult of you saying that the vague emotional terms you use to describe people, “poor”, “needy”, and “the have nots,” and the fact that the people are too stupid to make it on their own without their mommy government giving them something to suckle.When I was born and I didn’t have any money, was I poor? No. I had parents who loved me, fed and housed me. When I was 14-15 and I made $15/wk when my friends were making$50-$75/wk, was I poor? No. My friends blew their money on albums, concerts, Six Flags, and whatever they wanted. I saved my money and purchased my first car with cash. When I got married and was making $5/hr living in a converted garage apartment, was I poor? No. I had a wonderful wife and was finishing up college taking as many hours as I could afford to take without debt. Now, I am no example of success and any failures I take full responsibility for, but where does government come in here? From Diapers to self employed the rules are simple: work hard and spend less than you make. Growing up our family lived in a 1200 sq ft house. In our cars you could see the road through the floor board – we thought it was cool. I did not know that my father was not the strongest or the richest man in town. My mother grew up in Louisiana the daughter of a lumber trucker. They lived in what at that time was unfortunately called nigger shacks. By any definition that you can fathom, my mother was poor. Her father was murdered when she was 9 and her mother remarried and died giving birth when my mother was 12. She was orphaned and moved from family to family to orphanage. I ask my Dad if he was wealthy growing up. He said yes, his father had a job (think depression and 25% unemployment here). His father died when he was young, so he got a job delivering newspapers for years to help his mother make it.I believe anyone that wants to can make ends meet can do so. The only problem is we have contrived a mandatory standard of living that drives everyone to go into outrageous debt to achieve it. Our “poor” is so wealthy when compared to other nations, we sound ridiculous. No, I don’t hate the “poor.” I think so well of them I don’t think its mandatory to condescend to patting there heads and forcing a government pacifier in their mouths and saying “there, there, we no you can’t make it without us.”Prof. Ricardo

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  93. Tony,Uh oh… prof-slapping in progress. 🙂I think poor people should get over their envy, and get some personal responsibility and off themselves. We need an economic term for this. We have cease-and-desist orders… maybe a cease-to-exist order?Prof… why do you hate poor people?

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  94. Prof,Well young man, let me educate you a bit on the Oil and Gas business. I looked around the net for a while and found disturbingly little that discusses the history of the industry and proration in general. It appears to be such a little known thing that even my spell checker flags the word “proration” as a misspelling.Back in the early days of the Oil and Gas business, it was a liaise-faire man’s dream in the oil business. If you haven’t seen pictures of the derricks at Glenpool or < HREF="http://library.thinkquest.org/J0112442/history.html" REL="nofollow">Spindletop<>, then you should. It was a capitalistic free-for-all such as the world has seldom seen anytime or anywhere. A free market utopia.While it lasted.You see, the wells started to run dry. They knew what they were doing too. Engineers knew well that a reservoir was most efficiently produced at a slower pace and from wells sunk at a decent spacing throughout a field.But you have to understand that an oil reservoir is like an ocean under the ground. When oil is pumped out under Prof’s land, the oil flows from his neighbor’s portion of the pond (we’ll call the neighbor CG) over to take its place. Now CG is no idiot (this is purely hypothetical you see) and immediately hires an oil man to sink a hole on his property and get to pumping. CG and Prof are sitting there pumping franticly to get as much out of the ground as they can before it runs dry. Never mind that the total production would end up being far lower if they produced more slowly and deliberately.It looked for a while like the boom was destined to die as quickly as it began, but the governments of Oklahoma and Texas stepped in with regulatory schemes known as proration. As I said, I couldn’t find much stuff on the internet, so I’ll have to recommend Daniel Yergin’s excellent book < HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0671799320/qid=1129920597/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-5856316-0353546?v=glance&s=books&n=507846" REL="nofollow">The Prize<> for a bit more detail.Bottom line is that the Oil and Gas industry owes its bottom side to the government. While it does not follow that this makes all regulation good, it is simply erroneous to assert that no regulation would be for the best.And to bring it full circle, I think that is where we are at with the broader energy market today. Just like the engineers of the boom days, we know what is happening. We know what needs to be done. There simply exists insufficient market incentives to respond to the dire needs of the situation. Ultimately all energy business will benefit from a better ordered transition to alternative energy forms.

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  95. Tony,<>Oil and Gas present the classic tragedy of the common conundrum. Left purely to free markets, the fields will be inefficiently produced and a resource that is vital to every American would be squandered. On the other hand, it is important to keep market incentives in place in order to get full production as well. <>To use a Common Good-ism, I think you went over my pay scale with that logic.<>Left purely to free markets, the fields will be inefficiently produced…<>Left purely to free markets is the only way to insure efficiency. Government with all its grandiose goals has no incentive to make any of them come to pass nor arrive at them efficiently. Since the dreaded evil margin of C.G.’s nightmares is the “g-spot” of businesses, It is businesses (ie, the market) that have incentive to gather raw materials at their lowest cost (efficiency), produced with the least cost (efficiency), and marketed with the least cost (efficiency), so that spread between cost and retail price (margin) is greatest. It is precisely because oil is <>a resource that is vital to every American<> that smart companies have figured out that it is a product, not of trend and fashion (risky), but one of inelastic demand guaranteeing many happy returns by customers. It is not the market that squanders opportunity and potential profit, because wealth resides on exploiting it. Government may direct private industry the way those in power wish it to be, but efficiency is achieved by attention to detail only those who benefit would be willing to do.Prof. Ricardo

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  96. Just because running out is years away doesn’t mean that the supply situation will be as free as it has been in the past. There could very well be supply disruption and economic disruption due to high prices getting there.Hey, I believe in free markets more than most. But to me the gravity of this situation gets to the point of being a national defense matter. We spend billions on nukes of questionable utility but what do we do for defending ourselves from this far more serious strategic threat?

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  97. Prof, I’m open minded to the idea that we’ll never run out of oil, that we could start drilling on other planets, etc. Until then, I’ll keep a “let’s wait and see when it happens attitude.” In the meantime, I’m going to take the personal responsibility mantra to heart, get out of debt, get used to riding a bike, and be prepared for that day when all those people in charge who are in denial drop the bomb on us that we are in short supply and prices will now be prohibitive, and/ or, the world is about to melt. And when I do say it’s running out, I’m still thinking 50 years from now. Odds are we won’t (I will) be around to see it, but our kids will.

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  98. Tony,<>Sadly, I think there are personal vested interests by the rich and powerful that prevent decisive action.<>Yep… that can be the only explanation. There aren’t enough Prof’s out there who think it’s all hype and made up. I also have to figure the energy companies who own Bush haven’t come to the same conclusion you have… i.e. it would be good for them if the country found alternative energy sources. It could be a timeframe with them… they could be telling Shrub… NOT YET, in a decade. I agree with Thomas Friedman… this should be our new Moon shot… an entire upcoming generation of careers and jobs devoted to the cause. There’s our science and math regeneration chance.Here is a question I will follow up with later: <>Do people create jobs/careers, or do economies create them?<>

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  99. I have over time reluctantly concluded that oil and gas can not be treated like any other widget. In fact, the notion that we have done so historically is factually erroneous.Oil and Gas present the classic tragedy of the common conundrum. Left purely to free markets, the fields will be inefficiently produced and a resource that is vital to every American would be squandered. On the other hand, it is important to keep market incentives in place in order to get full production as well. The technological developments and improvements in production techniques that have occurred over the last twenty years have been essential to maintaining American economic prosperity.I believe we need to reassess our national priorities and create a sense of national urgency on resolving the energy crunch. It is pretty clear to me that by mastering the move to alternative fuels we can become more competitive globally and unleash prospects of peace and prosperity world wide through the creation of a new energy infrastructure. Such a monumental transition will not happen quickly or cheaply so we need to start now. The good news is that the coming supply problems are in fact overstated by the alarmists and there still is time. Decisive action would allow us to convert impending disaster into strategic advantage if only the idiots in charge have the courage to act.Sadly, I think there are personal vested interests by the rich and powerful that prevent decisive action. Sadder still is the truth that the oil and gas industry would in no way be harmed by such measures. In my view, alternative fuels are essential to the long term survival of the industry. There are so many processes that require petrochemical inputs that the industry is not going away any time soon. It is a simple matter of national security, and ultimately, global security.

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  100. I never mentioned capping prices. I would think one wouldn’t cap prices, they would cap margins. We have no control over our pimp (OPEC), so until we change our addiction, the only control point is US company margins. I do not, and will not, buy the premise that we should tread non-discretionary widgets (energy, health care, etc.) in our economic system <>exactly<> the same as descretionary widgets. Cry Socialist, Communist, Marxist… whatever… but there it is, they are two classes of widgets. No harm no foul if only the top 10% of the population can buy a Lexus… but devestating harm if the free hand of the market causes a recession or leaves poor folks freezing this winter. I’m not smart enough to tell you exactly how we should tweak capitalism with products like energy… maybe treat the industry more like utilities. I’ve heard the laissez-faire worshippers the last month or so ask anyone who brings up energy company price goughing: <>where were you when oil prices were $10 a barrel.. you weren’t offering to help the oil companies<>. That actually makes my point… widgets that we all need (non-discretionary) goes beyond the simple profit motive. The government should be there on the margin restriction end, AND the covering cost end. I don’t accept this as only two options 1) bare knuckled capitalism OR 2) Communism. Prof asks us to examine our underlying belief systems which have been beat into our heads. Well, that exactly what I’m doing… I’m questioning the bs that we can only have bare knuckle capitalism for every kind of widget… no distinction between healthcare, filling up the car with fuel, or buying that Lexus or second home. Give me a break… it defies logic. Now one could make the argument we don’t yet have the wisdom to create the rules for an economic system in that intermediate level (between Capitalism and Communism) … but please don’t sell me the bs that capitalism is like some absolute truth in a perfect form that needs no improvement/tweaking. That’s the kind of zeaoltry that should be reserved for religion, and not economics. So at the end of the day, we should be treating common good widgets in a <>special<> manner. I agree the answer isn’t price caps. I don’t agree we don’t need an answer… an immediate answer for now until we get off our OPEC addiction. I will say something similar to my position with universal healthcare. I’m not married to a process/system (state or private), but rather the obvious need. We could keep energy capitalism EXACTLY like it is now… allow goughing at any level… and then just cover the poor’s energy needs via taxes. I think we could do much better than that, and I don’t in any way think US energy companies should be allowed this type of sickening greed at our society’s expense (supposedly the same society these companies operate in)… but, the real point is common good energy needs of those who get priced out by that wonderful invisible hand. Max profits will never be the same thing as max coverage/availability. Max profits work by eliminating those who can’t or won’t purchase. Energy purchases in this society are not optional, and I’m afraid Yoshi bike options will prove a bit complicated during a Houston commute to work.

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  101. Yoshi“<>And the other news is….the oil is going to run out. That…is not even really up for discussion anymore.<>”Based solely upon the <>theory<> that Dino from the Flintstones and his plant life brethren crawled several miles under the crust and became trillions of barrels of oil. What if that whole theory is wrong? Very few scientist today have watched a dinosaur die through catastrophic circumstances so enormous that normal body decomposition is absent and transformation to oil takes place. The scientist are able to replicate in the laboratory a crude (pun intended) duplication of what they think happened from decaying Dino’s, but they have also recreated abiotic creations of oil as well.Problems the pro biological theory have to over come is:1 – Oil being discovered at 30,000 feet, far below the 18,000 feet where organic matter is no longer found. 2 – Wells pumped dry later replenished. 3 – Volume of oil pumped thus far not accountable from organic material alone according to present models. 4 – <>In Situ<> production of methane under the conditions that exist in the Earth’s upper mantle.A lot of times we get on a band wagon that seems positive, towards the common good, and we champion it for all its worth. Save the snail darter, stop pollution, save the whale, save the tree, save the oil, save the planet, etc. We trust in layers of premises that our emotion has woven into a fact foundation, when in fact, they are theories or not facts. I championed a “be prepared for Y2K” based upon well respected men in the computer programing community like Edward Yourdon. Fortunately, I was skeptical enough to prevent me from making a spectacle of myself.Many well meaning people have condemned technology, combustion engines, SUV’s, fossil fuels, refrigerants, or anything the west produces based upon their good intentions preyed upon by many groups champion causes regardless of objective reality. There <>IS<> room for discussion of impending oil shortages based upon greater annual demand met by greater known reserves each year. An open mind is not acquiescence to the opposing view, but wise observation and study of all points of view.Prof. Ricardohttp://www.vialls.com/wecontrolamerica/peakoil.htmlhttp://www.freeenergynews.com/Directory/Theory/SustainableOil/

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  102. Well CG, I guess you didn’t read the paragraph I wrote about integrated companies, hmm? And I was talking about capping prices. Nothing good can come from capping prices. If you want to argue that the profits are obscene and should be taxed, I’m listening. But that will only get a listen from me in the context of a larger energy program that is calculated to actually address our long term energy infrastructure problems.

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  103. I thought this blogsite was the exception for mass stupids. 🙂<>Meanwhile, gas prices continue to go up up up – no oil company seems to be turning their profits into consumer savings. So it would seem there is a direct correlation between record prices paid by consumers and record profits enjoyed by oil companies. As Americans shell out more dollars at the pump, the profit margin by U.S. oil refiners has shot up 79% from 1999 (the year Exxon and Mobil merged) to 2004. See a breakdown of ExxonMobil’s Profits here.<>< HREF="http://www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_nuclear/articles.cfm?ID=13912" REL="nofollow">A few energy company monopolies… a competition does not make<>more humor: DeLay in court today.

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  104. My two cents on oil markets and wind-falls.At one time, I knew a fair amount about petrochemicals markets having provided IT support for a major brand supply and logistics department. I don’t pretend to understand the details of the current supply situation.But as much as it may shock some people, most domestic oil companies do not automatically make more money when the price of oil goes up. <>Producers<> and <>Royalty Owners<> benefit, but refiners, transporters and marketers do not necessarily do so. In fact, rising prices can cause a lot of trouble for refiners because it is so competitive. Margins on refining are notoriously tightNow many big brands are “integrated” and own a lot of production, so this does help them. But it is important not to lose sight that over half of the crude oil comes from outside the US. So the windfall is mostly for foreign governments and Sheiks.Now if you cap prices in a scarce supply situation – which is where we may be headed in the near term – then guess where the oil is going to go? Places willing to pay the market price. As Yoshi pointed out, it would have no affect other than creating a supply problem in the United States.So this is the United States’ dirty secret. This is why we support despots whose populations seek our demise. We have no real short term alternative. And this is why the lack of an energy policy is so pathetically irresponsible. As I wrote in < HREF="http://tonyplank.blogspot.com/2005/04/n-word.html" REL="nofollow">the ‘n’ word<>, we needed action thirty years ago. Failure to do something now goes way beyond incompetence and greed and into the realm of criminal malfeasance by our leadership.

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  105. Yoshi,<>The price is decided by the consumers, not the producers.<>Thanks for reposting the joke. 🙂Here is some more humor. I watched most of the Roberts Supreme Court nomination process, and got caught up in explanation of judicial philophies… like <>strict contructionist<>. I bought three books… Scalia’s, Breyer’s and Crier’s. I’m reading Scalia’s first. Here is the humor. How many times have we heard Shrub says he will nominate “strict contructionist” like Scalia and Thomas. Now I know Shrub isn’t the brightest bulb… but I did assume he knew what “strict contructionist” meant. I didn’t, so I thought reading Scalia’s book would be informative. Imagine my surprise when I read the following words by Scalia:<>I am not a strict constructionist, and no one ought to be…<>Maybe it’s just me… but you would think the leader of the free world could find time to invest a few hours to read 150 pages from their Supreme Court Justice template. Even worse… let’s assume he did read it. Scary… what a long, long 8 years this is turning out to be.

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  106. I posted a joke the other day about capping fuel prices, but it didn’t post and I never bothered to retell it.I do want to say, don’t even think about it. Or do so, cause I’m going to buy it cheap and sell it high on the black market when the shortage quickly arises. Putting a price cap simply means having a shortage of supply. The price is decided by the consumers, not the producers. We bid up the price of oil, just like we are bidding and buying concert tickets on E-bay. In fact, that’s why scalpers exist, because concert tickets are “underpriced.” The scalper just takes the spread between the nominal value and the real value. Start taking a bike if you don’t like it, like intelligent people in Austin do. And the other news is, and I don’t even know if anyone said this, but the oil is going to run out. That, like trying to cap prices, is not even really up for discussion anymore.I’ll be living in Europe taking trams and having my house powered by windmills in the ocean. You guys can stay here and live in MadMax-world America, teaching your children that God put all the dinosaurs and bears down with a golden hand coming out of the sky. Be sure to send me a postcard from time to time…..

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  107. I read the article. Most of it. After the first dozen paragraphs the author had enough wrong I dare not waste my time on correcting his whole account. Soaking acorns. Yup. I bet at Y2K he was sitting in his closet in the dark on top of 250#’s of rice with a slingshot made of lamb’s pelvic bone. Yup. Re: Running out of oilSee: DOE.gov<>In 2003, proved oil reserves on a global basis are continuing to increases, and there were no comparable dramatic revisions in any country’s oil reserve estimates. Global proved reserves increased by 4 percent, or by 53 billion barrels, from the 1,213 billion barrels estimated in 2002, reflecting new discoveries in locations such as Africa. This upward revision dwarfs the comparatively small downward revisions made by Shell and El Paso.While these company revisions may represent a substantial portion of the companies’ booked reserves, they account for only a small fraction of the world’s proven oil reserve base of well over 1 trillion barrels. As a result, the reserve recalculations have not made much of an impact on world oil prices. Other factors, such as OPEC actions and tight world oil inventory levels, have been much more influential in influencing world oil price levels.The downward revisions in oil reserves by some companies never questioned the amount of the petroleum present but merely reflected the timing of its development. Several billion barrels of oil equivalent were moved from the proved category to the probable category. Proved reserves refer to discovered oil or gas whose amount is known and is considered recoverable in both the technical and economic sense. Probable reserves are those which are believed to exist but are not developed for production or shown to exist through drilling. Although these revisions sent a shock to these companies’ stocks and to a lesser extent selected other energy companies’ stocks, it was only an exercise in adhering to the correct reporting conventions and not a harbinger of the world running out of oil.<>< HREF="Link" REL="nofollow"> http://www.energy.gov/engine/content.do?PUBLIC_ID=15200&BT_CODE=PR_CONGRESSTEST&TT_CODE=PRESSRELEASE <> Prof. Ricardo

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  108. Prof,Tony had sent the following to me by email. I finally got around to reading it. On page 2, there is a list of products that are oil-dependent. I had said in my previous post that our society and economic system needs to evolve. What timing by Tony to send me this link. 🙂 We have to evolve economic systems to combat that Texas human nature and virulent conservatism. 🙂< HREF="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2099-1813695,00.html" REL="nofollow">Waiting for the lights to go out<><>But there are, as he readily admits, flies in the ointment of his optimism. <>First, he makes the crucial concession that, though a society may progress, individuals don’t. Human nature does not progress at all.<> Our aggressive, tribal nature is hard-wired, unreformed and unreformable. Individually we are animals and, as animals, incapable of progress. <>The trick is to cage these animal natures in effective institutions: education, the law, government. (I will add economic systems)<> But these can go wrong. “The thing that scares me,” he says, “is that these institutions can misfire.”<>

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  109. In economics we have a concept called elasticity. Oil is a very < HREF="http://www.investopedia.com/university/economics/economics4.asp" REL="nofollow">inelastic<> demand item. Because of this oil prices can go pretty high with relatively little change in consumption, but there is change. I don’t know about you but I haven’t taken any joy rides through the country side recently.The oil industry from well to pump knows this inelastic nature. So why hasn’t the gasoline been $3/gallon for years? And, if we are now used to $3/gal., why is it now going down? Its inelastic, we’re going to buy it anyway. Pure supply and demand.Dell & Bill Gates entered the computer industry at the right time AND they performed well. Each supplied us with something we just had to have. Somebody else could have done it as well I suppose. But they didn’t. We’ve seen the stock market price charts for each of these companies and lament not jumping on board from their IPO + 10 years. Did they not earn their money? Was it a “windfall” that should be taxed out of the stockholders hands? Wasn’t the decade plus expansion and record profits they made obscene? Aren’t poor people having to choose between surfing the net and heating their prescriptions? If you ask a lot of folks, their computer is much more important than oil. They’d just as soon tele-commute or ride a bike to work and keep their ‘puter than send bucks down the fuel tank…..AND the “rape” of the American populace by the computer industry/dot coms has lasted far longer than the short jump in oil prices here recently. Comparing prices of oil today with a couple of decades or so ago, one “expert” on WBAP about 4 months ago said, given inflation, gasoline should be about $2.12/gallon for unleaded. We’re headed that way now.Chill about the non-widget populace, OR get uptight and invest in it. You and I aren’t going to change it so you, conscience willing, could profit from it. I forgot the name of the Tx candidate for governor about 20 years ago (Williams, I think) lost the race or backed out because of his insensitive joke he told that end something like: If you going to get raped, just sit back and enjoy. As inapplicable as that is in its real setting, economically, if you can buy the stock, there might be some merit to it.Prof. Ricardo

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  110. Prof,Hey, when the energy companies do their american thing of making a maximum profit, and sends us into a recession… the rest of us should do our american thing and salute them for a goughing well done. That’s just as American as apple pie and baseball… right?Theories and ideologies get tested when a majority (or a significant percentage of the population) is no longer fat and happy. It’s going to be interesting going forward as our middle class loses ground to see if they will still support eat-your-own-kill laissez-faire. Hint: they will not, and globalization will kill that unique American brand of conservatism. It’s a virus that will no longer find enough hosts. Hopefully our society and it’s economic system will evolve and recognize that energy, healthcare, old age retirement, etc. never should have been treated as equal widgets to discretionary purchases.

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  111. Question: If you correctly predicted that limited refining capabilities, war in the middle east, and hurricanes don’t mix, You transfer your 401k assets into specific energy stocks or mutual funds, and they have record profits, should the federal government get the windfall profit or the stockholders of the energy corporations?“<>Some of the talking heads are starting to raise the Recession word over the price of oil.<>”The Fed is hiking interest rates and has a planned schedule to keep doing so. Does the Fed raise rates to stifle recession or inflation? Just saw the Chevron next to my office drop unleaded to $2.49/gal. About the time we come together and destroy another industry because they made a profit, we’ll find that the time of their windfall profits was short lived, a cost/benefit of the market adjusting to conditions, and we will be punishing corporations for doing what they are supposed to be doing – providing a product or service someone is willing to purchase in exchange for profit for the owners. How sick can those money-thirsty maggots be? Why can’t they be like us employees and give away their services for free? I mean, well, you know…Prof. Ricardo

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  112. Some of the talking heads are starting to raise the Recession word over the price of oil. Oil prices effect everything from tractors to kitty litter. Predictions are many of the poor will choose between prescription drugs and heating their dwellings this winter. Energy corporations are making record profits… $billions. Question: Should a US recession be at the mercy of US energy company profit whims… or should we have a vote in it via democracy? Do we treat energy needs exactly the same as Lexus purchases… just another equal laissez-faire widget? I must have missed it, but I’ve never heard a potential US recession over Lexus price goughing.

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  113. I really love Molly… how ironic she is from red-state Texas.<>In fact, every one of us comes into this world naked and helpless, and most leave it in the same condition — and we are dependent on one another every single day in between. The “stand on your own feet and take care of yourself” attitude the right wing keeps pushing is not only cruel, but stupid, too. <>< HREF="http://www.creators.com/opinion_show.cfm?columnsName=miv" REL="nofollow">You go girl<>

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  114. Randy,The Avian scare isn’t about current numbers… it’s about the very likely human->human pandemic. Pandemics seem to come around once every 100 years or so. The Spanish flu killed 20-40 million globally in 1918-1919… and that was before airline commuting. The scientists have been very vocal over the last several months… you can ignore the politicians. If H5N1 mutated from bird->human to human->human this winter… we are toast. The vaccine would take 6-12 months.. IF we had capable production facilities. We do not have capable production facilities. Tamiflu (produced by one company, Rouche in Sweden)… could help, but the US is at the tail end of a first come first serve policy with it’s order. Our adminstration has currently around 2+ million doses of Tamiflu on hand. Other nations have significant portions of their population covered on the Tamiflu front. So is that <>over the top<>, or yet another example where folks in charge of the government with the ideology that <>government shouldn’t do much<> fullfilling that belief system and failing to adequately protecting the public? We just can’t afford to have the government haters in charge during this point in our history. The <>fighting them over there thing<> (which is a lie anyway) doesn’t do jack squat for the real domestic government needs like FEMA and national security measures and planning for things like pandemics. Our choice… we can have the government haters in charge of our domestic policy, or we can choose folks who don’t hate the actual agencies that have to be robust and effective. But hey… if we go down we can say <>by god we didn’t allow those queers to couple<>.Oh, that reminds me. More Bill Maher humor:In case anyone missed it, Shrub just had a photo op with the troops. He asked them questions, and they responded with various flavors of <>they supported the war<>. Well, it turns out the thing was staged… just like usual. Someone caught the pre-coaching on tape… and played it on the news. Nice… use the troops as props. Maher: <>It’s ironic that such an anti-gay administration has so much choreography.<> 🙂

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  115. CG,Just basing my opinion on past experience, and not what my political party tells me. When West Nile was the scare three and four years ago, and everyone was going nuts over the little mosquito, the death rate was in the ten of….oh yeah tens. Flu creams more people in a month than west nile in three years. The avian flu in three years has killed…again tens of tens. Poverty kills more in a month than this thing has gotten in three years. All I am saying is lets put some persepctive on it. Yes I agree if people are being killed, there should be some global effort to putting some type of cure/vaccine on the market to stem a possible problem, but lets be real. We have bigger fish to fry, and quite frankly saying “Why Shrub, and why these 8 years? It’s like committing group suicide”.A little over the top, even you have to see that.

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  116. Yoshi,Yep… Maher is the politically incorrect guy. VERY politically incorrect … he even makes me cringe sometimes… and that takes a lot. I think Maher and Jon Stewart highlight hypocrisy better than anyone else out there… and they make me laugh in the process.Randy P… the Avian flu isn’t a Democratic talking point. You might want to listen to the scientist before you dismiss the current risk for pandemic. Or not… it’s not anything individual’s can do much about. Just another example where personal responsibility mantra means zilch and government action or inaction means everything.

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  117. Yoshi,Nah… what’s trendy is to be a red-stater who measures their president only based on the number of times their president mentions god, denounces gays, and says “it’s your money”. It’s actually trendy to think it’s ok and normal for the president to be talking about a Supreme Court nominee’s religion. It’s trendy to think it’s ok that the Dobson’s and SukmeLaw’s actually get direct calls from Rove and company in the nomination process. Kind of a <>mass stupids trendy<>.Prof,First, let’s be honest. Attributing any thought out ideology to Shrub is like awarding a graduate degree to my Westie… of course Miers claims Bush is the smartest man she has ever met. She needs to get out more. Bush is just a tool K street selected, and put in office. The K street government haters hate government for the common good, but love government for their corporate good (padding their profits). I laugh when I hear folks claim DeLay tamed K street and turned it into a GOP campaign financing operation. DeLay is just the current tool of the day for K street… and any tool can be replaced with a new one. You won’t see K street stepping up to save DeLay… he has now become a tool that needs to be replaced. A new bought off Congress critter is a simple matter… kind of a perverse supply and demand thing. Like Bill Maher said a couple of weeks ago… the new trendy purchase of the rich is now a Congressmen.Speaking of Maher… more humor:<>New Orleans is still planning on Mardi Gras, but they are no longer planning on serving the drink called the Hurricane. They have replace that drink with one called the FEMA… it doesn’t hit you until a week later<>.

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  118. Sometimes I think people hate Bush b/c it’s the trendy thing to do. Like those people who bust out the windows at McDonald’s when there is a WTO meeting or something, it’s just about jumping on the bandwagon…Bush has done some good things. Can he get credit for it? They did just wipe out the debts of the 38 poorest countries on his watch? Maybe if we praise him for it, we’ll hit his ego spot and get even more!

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  119. Common G man,“Shrub… government hater/shrinker”Let me see. The definition in your book of a “government hater/shrinker” is someone who partners with Ted Kennedy for the largest increase in Federal Education spending, added drug coverage for Medicare (a new entitlement), spent like a drunken sailor in military, highway, AIDS to Africa and anyone else with a hand held out. He met Katrina head-on with the Federal checkbook. He never met a spending bill he wanted to veto.I know why I should dislike him, but he sounds like the picture perfect candidate for the next Democratic Primary to become President.My question is: How do you reconcile the reality of this spend-aholic President George Bush to your reference to him as the “government hater/shrinker”? Show me this Fiscal conservative I should be rejoicing over, this beacon of small goverment, those dwindling budget numbers, the unemployed masses of ex-gubment workers huddled under bridges. Ah…reality. The ultimate obstacle to incorrect models.Prof. Ricardo

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  120. < HREF="http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051013/ts_nm/birdflu_dc" REL="nofollow">H5N1 headed this way<>. But hey, no worries, we still have Shrub the government hater/shrinker standing guard for us. Jeeze, I feel secure. I can’t wait for the personal responsibility/small government lectures as the hospitals fill up. Where is TC… he could explain why this is a state and local issue. Why Shrub, and why these 8 years? It’s like committing group suicide.

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  121. Yea Common Good, I have decided not to return to that site about evolution, it’s “throwing pearls to swine.” There is no communication there.As for chasing girls, my intelligence hinders me here in N. Texas. I’m going to have to immigrate to Austin, TX/ or Europe. Last August, I actually told a beautiful Czech girl, exotic accent and all, about Professor’s idea to photograph particular girls “for proof of their existence.” It actually got my foot in a door with her. Flattery works well there. If we eventually have a child, I’m going to have to name him “Ricardo.” And yea, come December, I’m leaving the Red state of cowboy hats and Jack Daniels for the land of Central Europe and girls that SHOULD be way out of my league. It pays to be a young, idealistic American, except when you are in America itself.

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  122. Yoshi,You aren’t suppose to be like us until you are old. Just chill and chase girls for a couple of decades. If you start all of this Curmudgeon stuff at your age, what will you do for your 40s. Here is some humor for you to help you chill out. Leno: “Folks were worried about Cheney’s heart when he went in for surgery. There was really nothing to worry about… hearts aren’t vital organs on Republicans”.Maher: “Bush is what you get when you mix fundamentalism and Jack Daniels”.jeeze… some of these letters I’m suppose to type in for security aren’t clear. I just typed in a W for what obviously was suppose to be V V… jeeze.

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  123. Get a load of this last comment I made on the Evolution is for dummies board. I am a real thorn in their sides. Common Good, you should be proud:“I remember earlier on some comments about the Holocaust: Jake said: ‘If evolution was our existance,.. and survival of the fittest was our existance, then there can be no value judgement put on the holocaust, because the Nazi’s were stronger.’That’s AMAZING you should say that Jake. We cannot make a value statement about the Nazis? You do realize, or remember, that Dr. Sadler taught us the ancient Hebrews practiced GENOCIDE in the Old Testament. They did it more than a few times, killing every WOMAN and CHILD and even the animals. Even Dr. Sadler (our Christian Bible teacher) had some sad answer for that one that just didn’t fly. He basically said something along the lines as, “people have always killed each other.” Yea, uh-huh, and it’s always been wrong too. Especially killing children. Not only is it “wrong,” it’s SATANISM. Killing children is SATANIC, 100% of the time. No exemption for Hebrews. So I would say the Hebrews practiced SATANISM in the name of the Hebrew God, and put it into the Old Testament. A little rat poison in the candy, anyone? I don’t know what God you believe in, but my GOD NEVER, NEVER said, let alone commanded, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the murder of women and children. I don’t know what God that was they were talking about in the Old Testament, but it wasn’t Jesus. Thus, at least that part of the Bible is merely ancient Hebrew history. I’m not willing to admit that is “God’s inspired word.” To do so is to justify what the Nazis did. So the Old Testament says genocide is okay a few times. I’ll send you the verses if I email me for them. You criticized the Nazis, will you have a double standard now? Paul, are you out there? Jake? Can you at least admit this is a pretty damn good point?… “**** I can already predicting their little word-squirming answer. It’s the same one every time. They never directly answer you, they just try to change the question.

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  124. Yea. And maybe a membership fee, say $59.95/year to supplement the ol 401K? And of course you’ll need a qualified accountant to oversee the whole operation.Reporting for duty, Sir.Prof. RicardoPS You’re a shyst…..I mean attorney, couldn’t you follow these links out to a responsible party, come up with some mumbo-jumbo lawyerese that sounds threatening, but deep within only contains a request for their grandmother’s homemade biscuit recipe, and request that they cease & disease, or whatever, and then they will stop and send you big bucks not to sue? Contact ACLU for a how-to instructions on the technique. If they actually pay up you can throw a blog BBQ!PPS Word verification. Too Cool!

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  125. Prof,You are talking about something beyond program capabilities… like command and control over the black helicopters. 🙂Tony… I like the idea of membership only. One should have to prove a high level of Curmudgeonism… maybe written application. If one comes across as too positive… you are voted off the island. 🙂

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  126. No kidding. I’m getting tired of deleting all this junk. I may have to make this a members only comment facility. I really don’t want to do that because I like the occassional post I get from someone unexpected. I’d hate to lose that. But I’m spending more time than I want deleting all this junk.

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  127. Common Good,I don’t know if your programing capabilities are in this area, but can you build a program that puts up a blog firewall or a tracer to identify the host computer and turn it owner into cottage cheese?Prof. Ricardo

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  128. “Why not remove the teaching of evolution OR creationism/Intelligent Design from public school?”The same reason we learn about ancient Rome and the Fertile Crescent. Evolution, believe it or not, has played a big role in how I see the universe. I think it’s kind of a foundational knowledge people should at the very least be familiar with. I probably use the concept of evolution in my thinking everyday (especially if I drink the kool-aid). It’s not merely science, it’s history. It’s certainly something to ponder, it evokes the questions “how” and “why.” It can be valuable for sceince minded students as well, people who will eventually do research on everything from blood-types, DNA, nutrition/ diet, etc, will probably need an understanding of evolution. As for the world being 5000 years old, I don’t think the Bible necessarily says that. It’s is only some of the arrogant people who designated themselves the authority on the Bible that do. The Bible can be pretty vague. I read it, and then I have people coming to me saying I read it wrong. Yea, right. I think I trust my own judgement and instinct better than I trust theirs.

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  129. <>Christianity is no more disproved by evidence of evoluition than is atheism proved.<>Well, I think the <>earth is 5000 years old<> thing is disproved. Maybe one could say the <>literal interpretation of the bible has been disproved<>, but not a less literal interpretation. ??But I go back to my original question, which I expected Prof or Tony might chime in on. <>Why not remove the teaching of evolution OR creationism/Intelligent Design from public school?<> Would Tony and Prof think students would be harmed if evolution was removed from the science classes?

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  130. Yoshi,Good post. You are saying very much the same kind of thing I have been saying for a while. Christianity is no more disproved by evidence of evoluition than is atheism proved. I’ve written about this many times so I won’t repeat myself right now. Interesting that we seem to essentially agree on this though.

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  131. Common Good. There is another student webpage where some Christian guy put up an anti-evolution group, and he wants to debate. I know the guy, he’s nice, but naive, and he’s trying to antagonize people thinking he’s going to win them to Jesus. Here’s what I put below…. I thought it was too clever not to share:“Christianity is in no way “disproved” or whatever by evolution. The fact is, there are islands in the world where only birds exist. Birds that don’t fly. And how did those birds get to these islands? They flew. And then they lost their ability to fly. Why did they lose it? I don’t know why, and that doesn’t matter, but the fact is, they did. They evolved. They had the ability to fly to the islands, reproduce, thrive, and then one day they lost their ability. No predators maybe? Who really cares why, but they did somehow. On islands there are bats who don’t fly as well. And Australia, and Madagascar, etc, islands cut off from the mainland, and separate species develop. Australia is the best case in point. Those animals were cut off from the general population early on in development and developed radically different (yet similar in a parallel way. ex. Deer/ Kangaroo.) Either there is a really cheeky God playing with our heads, or there is biological evolution. I know everyone here already agrees we have cultural evolution. Just look at the cars we drive to school, do you think the Ancient Greeks were driving cars? So there is progression, or evolution if we will, in every single facet of life except possibly “biologically,” which is what this board is about. Can we agree on that? There are at least some kinds of Evolution. We don’t just statically exist. We have gone from living in caves to putting men on moons. That’s cultural evolution, and that exists, which is why we have things like the internet now. It only seems logical to think our own physical development also worked from simple to more complex. As for the biological aspect, evolution is not some completely developed theory. It explains that “somehow” we evolved. The thing is, no one still has any idea how it happened. Or how it happened so damn relatively fast. It’s a mystery, let’s not kid ourselves. Some kind of force propelled it rapidly, and not by chance. The biggest experts on these types of things will tell us that. Noam Chomsky, probably the most important linguist in history, said that he couldn’t see how language would have developed through natural selection, that it must of somehow been endowed on us (from where?) what?). Now that’s Noam Chomsky, basically an athesit. He’s just giving his unparalleled expertise on the subject. If you want to check his street credibility on google, be my guest So the point is, some “Christians” and some “Atheists” have a personal score between each other because some atheist got pushed around by a redneck or some Christian felt humilated by some cool kid in high school or whatever, and so they’ve made evolution the proxy battleground to fight out their petty internal ego wars. Neither has any objective but to antagonize the other guy and waste their each othes’s otherwise potentially productive time, and both end up looking like Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox stuck to a tar baby like a bunch of idiots. There is evolution. Let’s not bullshit ourselves. But it didn’t “just happen” out of nothing, or a “rock”. The real question we should be asking ourselves is this: How and what kind of force created all this amazing stuff around us through some kind of evolving process. Darwin didn’t have the all answers, he just came up with the general idea, scratched the surface. There are huge gaps he left for the future to fill. We still have an infinite amount to learn about the “mysterious” in this universe. We all need to be open minded and get over the personal ego b.s. problems we have. If we really want to communicate and get to the bottom of this, I’m going to bring someone in here that really knows what they are talking about, I assure everyone, they’ll will start learning about evolution on a WHOLE OTHER LEVEL…. it’s not going to be some undergrad psuedo discussion, it’s going to overwhelm everyone here….. it’ll certainly be interesting…..”

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  132. Caller ID and callnotes works pretty good on the telemarketer front. It also works great to avoid calls from family. 🙂 I had a roommate once who would take the call, and lay the phone down gently (not hang up) and go on with his evening. Pretty funny. I always thought some product that would play back various things for the telemarketers could be a big hit… like someone throwing up a spleen in a very loud and disgusting fashion. Someone hurling over and over until the telemarketer couldn’t take it anymore.Yoshi, are you going to be on Conan? I looked it up. Looks like Conan’s house band just got an upgrade. 🙂

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  133. “Can we include telemarketers in this?”I suppose technically unwanted guests and callers rob our time, however, depending on the timing, I consider telemarketers entertainment value. They have a script. It is my mission to interrupt their script and find out as much personal information that I can of the person talking. Like where they are calling from, how old they are, (depending on age) where their parents/spouse are and what they do, how long they have been doing this, etc. Obviously it has to be a slow time of no pressing matters for you to relish the moment, and it might take a few tries to hone your technique, but it could provide a new attitude to hearing the phone ring.My niece was a telemarketer and she said it was their job to sell the product and overcome the negative responses. She said if you wanted to do the best thing for both you and the telemarketer, just hang up on them. That way they can go on to the next prospect and you’re out of the picture fast. Don’t worry about being rude, just hang up.Prof. Ricardo

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  134. Can we include telemarketers in this? I get more than a few calls a day….By the way Common Good, Tivo Conan O’ Brian tonight, the whole hour. It’s a surprise, you’ll enjoy it though…. You too Tony.

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  135. Slavery is the obligation to labor for the benefit of the master, without the contract or consent of the servant. Most of what we have were gained by out labor. Debt is the creation of a new master for the satisfaction of our got-to-have-it-now greed. Theft deprives us of the fruit of our labor. Having to delete blog SPAM, email SPAM, spyware, and viruses are not just frustrating, they are theft of your time, a sort of slavery. You could, and would, have used your time differently, but they stole your time.I think we need to rethink our response to criminal law in this country, at least our response to it.We have started to criminalize stupid acts and foolish decisions that do not have criminal intent. We have also, IMHO, wasted great opportunities to rehabilitate criminals and help the victimized.When a criminal steals something, the Bible says that the criminal should make restitution <>to the harmed party<>. Currently criminals pay their debt to “society”, the state, and the victims are left hanging. The criminals don’t have the benefit of having righted their wrong through restitution, but instead feel badly because they “just got caught.” I say, work their little hinies at slave wages until their debt to the injured party is paid. No need to set up nonprofit victim help groups and such. But the state squanders everything and the labors of the criminals are spent stamping license plates and filing frivolous law suits.When the criminal stole your stuff, destroyed your stuff, hurt you or harmed your ability to pursue happiness, they enslaved you. They stole your past or future efforts. Restitution makes them pay for their gain and your loss. Restitution uses the slavery of debt, the debt they owe to the injured party, to restore what is right and fair.I’d like to catch some of these spammers and exact a little fairness and restitution myself. Let me see. Deleting refinance, Viagra, “correct your account info”, and Rolex spam 4 minutes/day. Running two spyware programs once per week, 30 minutes. That’s a little over 50 hours a year. Anti virus & internet security software $65. I don’t know about you guys, but I could put the geek/creep (probably from a Calif. firm) to work in my yard, washing my car, & shoveling chicken hooha. I think leg shackles would add the correct ambience to the scene and to complete the ensemble. When I’m done, who wants him?Prof. Ricardo

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  136. Hey What’s-Your-Doodle! Great blog. When you get a moment come see my < HREF="http://www.feargod.net/fluff.html" REL="nofollow">Belly-Button-Lint removal<> site. check it out if you get time 🙂

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  137. “These slugs creep”….So simple, yet brilliant somehow. I laughed to myself reading that line during tonight’s bout with insomnia. I bet that comment just came without any effort….

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  138. The reason it matters about teaching evolution is, like everything else, related to money.States that teach God used his magic to make all of us will not have the scientists big pharm. companies need for research. I mean, who’d want to hire someone who thinks that dinosaurs didn’t exist (or they did but it was like the Flintstones Cartoon), and that “blessed salt” or “prayer rags” can cure people? The research will be done in the states that teach evolution.

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  139. Forget Intelligent Design. Let’s talk about DeLay. I guess an old fashioned Texas shoot out is underway. Couldn’t have happened to a dirtier guy. Repeat after me… Jack Abramoff. This government is so corrupt with the money behind the scenes (they don’t really even try and hide it anymore). Follow Abramoff, Ralph Reed and the money and see where it leads. I figure Abramoff has already turned out DeLay by now. I think Earle and Travis county is probably a sideshow… although it forced a rat replacement of Blunt for DeLay. My guess is the real fun starts soon with Abramoff. Oh yes, and don’t forget… we still have the Rove saga waiting in the wings.

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  140. Yoshi,I’m not sure I want to talk to someone that doesn’t know that Wal-Mart is satan. 🙂 That said, I rate somewhere after Wal-Mart and Ketchup with my wife… she also came from small-town america, and Wal-Mart was loved. I’m pretty sure she hasn’t run through the macro and micro economic consequences. 🙂You had me going with your question for a second until I spotted the dripping sarcasm. You have to give the religious zealot crowd it’s due… they are like the Raptors in the pen in Jurassic Park… they keep looking for weak points in the defense. Sure… intelligent design is <>science<> and not religion. Anyone need any swamp land? 🙂I do have a related question, however. What would be the consequences of removing the teaching of evolution from the public schools? I certainly don’t think religious types deserve to have the teaching of evolution (science) removed from the public school, but in practical terms I’m not sure it matters much to me. I would be exactly the same messed up adult 🙂 whether I ever heard a word about evolution or not. I suppose many in the scientific community would make the case that evolution is a foundation of science, but that only matters if you are going to be a scientist. I actually think this is one of those cases where there isn’t enough net gain to teach evolution in K-12 to make it worth the constant struggle with religious zealotry. Of course, then you have to ask <>what science classes<> should be taught in K-12.

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  141. Common Good. What do you think about having a new high school class where we learn the other “theory” about the creation of the world? I say, to be fair, we must. In fact, I demand it. We need to teach not only Adam and Eve, but also the theory that ALIENS came to this planet and created us. Yes indeed, we cannot prove it didn’t happen, so………plus, if I have to hear the Adam and Eve story, I want to go all the way and hear all the other silly ones too….

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  142. Shrub used the “C” word… <>Conserve<>. It looked like he was passing a kidney stone when he said it. Conserving energy, taking care of poor people, stating that the federal government should take control of disasters… truly a tough time for the government haters.

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  143. Common Good, your Wal-Mart offense/explanation was weak too.“Wal-Mart reeks of under duress. Wal-Mart is a perfect example where max productivity and max GDP doesn’t automatically build the best society.”I love Walmart, are you crazy? In fact, I would be able to afford to go anywhere else. My money goes further there, and that’s the reality of it. Even in Europe they have them, or Tesco. Just have some good zoning laws and you can still maintain your culture. “We replaced a happy (wasn’t asking for anymore GDP or productivity… they all got enough stuff just fine, thank you) small town community with manufacturing outsourced to China and the bulk of the productivity wealth transfered from the many to a few (Wal-Mart upper echelon).”-And people like me don’t have to pay extortionate prices at Kroger or Tom Thumb anymore. There is nothing wrong with producing cheap plastic stuff in China, so what if it got “outsourced,” whatever that means. It truly is no different than someone from Fort Worth getting “outsourced” to someone in Dallas. The reason Americans are losing their jobs (assuming they are, it’s not like we are in a recession) is they are overqualified for such menial work, and the wages for producing plastic cups would never be enough for them. -Just like I won’t take a job making sandwiches for 7.00 an hour. I guess my job is getting “outsourced” to someone less educated than me.“Sure… those small towns could have stopped that with their purchasing choices. Good one.:-I used to live in a small town about 30 miles East of Austin. We had to drive to the nearest WalMart in the next town. Trust me, Walmart was like the f**king Promised Land back then. I’m sure those small town folks like it. Now, I agree, keep it out of the historical districts (don’t build one on the RiverWalk in San Antonio), but otherwise, why not?So some plastics manufacturer lost his job? Well, I’m sure some Ford Employees lose their job when I bought a Toyota. But hey, if Toyota gives me a better deal, of course I’m going to take it. Ford better get innovative if it wants to keep up, and thus, we get improvements in our material goods. The horse and buggy analogy makes sense to me. Times change. We aren’t going back to live in TeePees and Log Cabins. What small towns are you thinking about anyway? It must be an Oklahoma thing.

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  144. Prof,<>Your analogy-what-if scenario ignores entire chapters of known economic reality.<>Well, I always admit I’m more than a few chapters short on the subject of economics. That said, I have come to believe it is too complex also for the so-called experts. Sometimes you have come down off of that faith-based hill and smell a little reality. I’m convinced part of that smell is coming from treating special widgets (energy, healthcare, etc.) the same as Lexus sales. I have no concerns about Lexus price goughing and total interest in gas and healthcare price goughing. Aren’t I the little social engineer. 🙂btw… your Wal-Mart defense/explanation was weak. Wal-Mart reeks of <>under duress<>. Wal-Mart is a perfect example where max productivity and max GDP doesn’t automatically build the best society. That’s also where the horse and buggy analogy falls flat. With Wal-Mart, we didn’t replace the horse and buggy with the combustion engine. We replaced a happy (wasn’t asking for anymore GDP or productivity… they all got enough stuff just fine, thank you) small town community with manufacturing outsourced to China and the bulk of the productivity wealth transfered from the many to a few (Wal-Mart upper echelon). Sure… those small towns could have stopped that with their purchasing choices. Good one. Cheers… how’s that traffic. I was watching a report about the Houston airports. What a frickin nightmare. I think it’s all going to turn out to be a false alarm for Houston… looks like it will hit east of Houston. How would you like to have spent 15+ hours on Houston highways in 100 degree heat… and then the hurican missed you. Of course, having it hit wouldn’t exactly make anything better. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who lives in Houston in the first place has paid enough dues. This is just wrong to add to that reality.

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  145. <>Which of my comments implied fixed pie?<><>living in the eye of the storm<>“I think an economy can only support so much pie growing… and the distribution of pie size happens within that limit.”<> surgical strike: roe v. wade overturns self<>“Prof… the system is rigged and our economic winners have an unjustified sense of entitlement.”“We the people get to decide just… not an economic system filled with examples of undeserved reward.”“If we the people turn the definition of just over to our ecnomic system, then the economic winners have a perpetual leg up.”<>jacksonian democracy <>“Of course, our society should be condemned for that also by looking the other way and “getting ours”, …”“How do good people (and this guy is a good guy) get to the point where the blinders are on so tight that they can’t accept they have “enough” and it’s time to address scary wealth gap trends in this society.”“I can’t think of anything sadder in a wealthy nation than those that “have” justifying why the “have nots” should be excluded just to keep “standards up”.”<>chimerical reactions <>“I have really come to the conclusion that life on this planet is dictated by the economic winners. What we have been and what we will become is the result of decisions by the economic winners… it has always been in their hands.”—<>I don’t view the market as one pie, but rather zillions …of pies.<>The analogy of a fixed pie is one and its macro. If you are relating a world of “Haves” and “Have nots,” then that is within the society as a whole. Where one haves and one haves not. That is society.“<>…I don’t believe that at any given time, there is unlimited new pie potential.<>”The options are not fixed and unlimited, but fixed and not fixed. Not fixed means that poor do not necessarily get poorer as rich get richer.I SAID: “I have absolutely no problems with fuel retailers charging whatever the market will bear. Whenever there is a bad crop of tomatoes and the price skyrockets 4 fold, I don’t hear people call it “gouging.””“<>We can voluntarily give up tomatoes… it’s a widget I can live without. We can’t all individually give up buying gas at the pump… most of our livlihoods are dependent on it. Please tell me you see the difference. We both agree our best economic friend is free market forces, and ready capital to business startups that fuel our economy and creative destruction.<>” I obviously see the difference between items that are necessary and those that are not. However…“<>Only an insane society would turn over society required widgets 100% to the market and market price distributions. Let’s just consider gas prices. Let’s imagine the upcoming profit sweet spot… for gas companies results from $10 per gallon price.<>”In this example you completely ignore competition. Competition within the petroleum industry and competition outside of the petroleum industry. Within the industry these greedy profit oriented companies would love to steal business from one another. Additionally, we’re talking about big bucks here. If all the hundreds of billions are going to the officers and directors, the shareholders will revolt and elect new directors and officers. If the profits are going to the shareholders and not necessarily the officers, why haven’t you bought stock in the companies you dufus? Your sitting on a potential gold mine.However, Ted Kennedy wants to tax gasoline still, and Yoshi, Al Gore, and the Green Party want fuel prices to soar to speed the move to alternative fuels. Alcohol is a viable fuel, but not below petrol being $6 a gallon. I just heard this week that in the US that in Utah, Wyoming, and Alaska (and off its coast) we have more known oil reserves than the middle east. However, environmentalist concerns have crippled our production right here at home. Because of the $10/gal. fuel automobile manufacturers would react swiftly to the overwhelming demand for electric, hydrogen, alcohol, and political bs burning vehicles. Home brew, DIY electric and hybrid kits would emerge. Home brew alcohol would become common place and – all together class – taxed and regulated as people sought to create their own fuel. Given the immediate or near immediate drop in demand for oil, what do you suppose the oil companies will do? Do you think they don’t already know that now? Your analogy-what-if scenario ignores entire chapters of known economic reality.<>Do you think our government has any right to know how gas prices are set?<>I’ll tell them right now. The Market. See, that was easy. At each level, the owner of the well, the company extracting the oil and selling it, the tanker transporter, the refiner, the distributor, and the retailer ALL want to extract every last cent they can. AT EVERY LEVEL they are in competition with every one else. AT EVERY LEVEL there is a buyer and a seller wanting to buy the cheapest and sell at the greatest level possible. AT EVERY LEVEL. YOU Common Good can jump in and clean up in the market system whenever you see obscene profits. To not do so is ludicrous on your part. Uh, why haven’t you? I don’t have 100 million either, but if you see the profit and can persuade investors, your cut off the top can make you a 1%er. Think of all the people you could help then. Well??????I said: The pie is bigger by every voluntary transaction.C.G.: <>Yeah, sure. Let’s consider 10 families in rural small town USA that earned a decent living from their retail store. Wal-Mart moves in….<>And think of all the buggy whip manufactures and water hand pump distributors and….<>and the 10 stores can’t compete and go under.<>Apparently the public voted with their dollars. You know, in an election, sometimes people loose.<>A couple of questions for you. 1) how much of all of these occurences/transactions were voluntary. 2) How do you know any pies were grown, vs just taking much rural small store owner pie and wealth transferring it to Mr. Scott?<>1) – All that were not mandated by some external threat or force. What they call in the legal community “under duress.”2) – The people who chose to spend their money at Wal-Mart obviously thought the benefit for their dollar was greater at Wal-Mart. A rational person would not take their dollars to a place they knew they would get a lesser return on their voluntary exchange.Apparently this is hard for you. I’ll try to simplify further, but that will be difficult. Good luck.Prof. Ricardo

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  146. Prof,Which of my comments implied <>fixed pie<>? I’m not saying I didn’t, just that I looked back over my last couple of comments and didn’t see it. I don’t view the market as one pie, but rather zillions { a zillion is a lot } of pies. I don’t view most pie growers… like an accountant… taking accounting pie growing from someone else (I think you confusing tax revenue collection with pie growing). There was a need for for that accountant pie growing… and someone served that need. That said, I don’t believe that at any given time, there is unlimited new pie potential. There is a finite limit to the number of accountants we need… and you can extend that to any type of pie growing. I also think your <>voluntary pie exchange<> analogy meets a tragic fate in the case of <>special pies<>.<>I have absolutely no problems with fuel retailers charging whatever the market will bear. Whenever there is a bad crop of tomatoes and the price skyrockets 4 fold, I don’t hear people call it “gouging.”<>I’m convinced you will never get past this blindspot, because you have never responded to the following point. You fail to realize you are comparing apples to oranges… or in this case, gas prices to tomatoes. We can voluntarily give up tomatoes… it’s a widget I can live without. We can’t all individually give up buying gas at the pump… most of our livlihoods are dependent on it. Please tell me you see the difference. We both agree our best economic friend is free market forces, and ready capital to business startups that fuel our economy and creative destruction. However, you turn into a lovable loon when you say <>you have absolutely no problem with whatever { they } charge at the pumps<>. Only an insane society would turn over <>society required widgets<> 100% to the market and market price distributions. Let’s just consider gas prices. Let’s imagine the upcoming profit sweet spot {yeah, I’m overusing that phrase} for gas companies results from $10 per gallon price. They run the numbers, and they will lose customers on the low end who simply can’t pay that amount… but the $10 that those that stay in more than make up for those who drop out. We just conducted your voluntary exchange, and everything is as it should be, right? Well, not so fast. What if that number that dropped out of gasoline prices represented a significant portion of the economy labor force (like maybe the Red Cross and Salvation Army volunteers running around Louisiana, and about to be running around Texas… or maybe the National Guard). It seems perfectly feasible that the market could very well bear this… the gas company certainly can, it’s making record profits. It’s not it’s job to worry about society income demographics… it has a simple max profit motive. The person that couldn’t afford the $10 gas did what they were suppose to do in your simple world… they voluntarily opted out of the gas purchase and their voluntary trip to help the disaster victims. If I take another view that society (citizens through their government) has the right to put certain pies/widgets in a special common need class… and the right to explore the consequences of the free hand of the market sticking it’s finger up the a$$ of some that have volunteered to bend over… I become an unacceptable interference to that free hand. I’m just left wondering if you would like some lubricant for your free hand faith based view? I just flipped the channel and saw a Senate committee questioning an oil company executive about how gas prices are set in the United States. Questions revolved around the Merc and the consolidation of oil companies… independents vs multinationals, etc. The Senate was demanding transparency. Do you think our government has any right to know how gas prices are set?<>The pie is bigger by every voluntary transaction.<>Yeah, sure. Let’s consider 10 families in rural small town USA that earned a decent living from their retail store. Wal-Mart moves in, and the 10 stores can’t compete and go under. These 10 incomes now switch to Wal-Mart… and make $7 an hour. Wal-Mart is much more efficient and productive, and much of that productivity is collected from every small town USA across the country and deposited into < HREF="http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=WMT" REL="nofollow">Mr. H. Lee Scott Jr. $5.37 mil per year account<>. A couple of questions for you. 1) how much of all of these occurences/transactions were voluntary. 2) How do you know any pies were grown, vs just taking much rural small store owner pie and wealth transferring it to Mr. Scott?

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  147. I’m lousy with music trivia… but something about the name Rita kept nagging me. LOL!Lovely Rita meter maid, lovely Rita meter maidLovely Rita meter maid, nothing can come between uswhen it gets dark I tow your heart awayStanding by a parking meter when I caught a glimpse of RitaFilling in the ticket in her little white book.I the cap she looked much olderAnd the bag across her shoulder made her look a little like a military man.Lovely Rita meter maid, may I inquire discreetly,When you are free to take some tea with meTook her out and tried to win her,Had a laugh and over dinnerTold her I would really like to see her againGot the bill and Rita paid it,Took her home and nearly made itSitting on a sofa with a sister or two.Oh, lovely Rita meter maid, where would I be without you,Give us a wink and make me think of you.What the heck did Sitting on a sofa with a sister or two mean?

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  148. Common Good, a comment. You just made, and have made in the past, a comment about the “fixed pie” that we can split up. It is no small concept to muster. To the untrained eye 😉 it would seem that if there were a fixed sum of money and a fixed number of people, that if someone got wealthier it would be at someone else’s expense. I would like to attempt at dispelling that myth.This get’s back to the old Adam Smith deal about voluntary change. He didn’t invent it. He just recognized it and explained it. <>If an exchange is voluntary it will take place only if both parties to the exchange believe they will benefit.<> Read that again because it is profound.That statement alone destroys the notion of a “fixed pie.” In a voluntary exchange, if you did not think you would be better off, you would not exchange your money, or labor, or widgets for whatever the other person is offering. A rational person seeks to better himself, seeks survival, seeks satisfaction and comfort. So a rational person will trade money for sustenance and other items that are deemed desirable or beneficial. A voluntary exchange is not necessarily monetary and may not be considered beneficial in hindsight. A non-monetary exchange might be your time exchanged for TV watching, going to church, volunteering at the shelter, or doing Crack. In hindsight you may have wished you hadn’t wasted your time watching TV when yard work needed to be done or thrusting yourself further into your Crack addiction, but at the moment you initiated your exchange <>you believed<> you would benefit.When you pull up to the pump and fuel is $3, $4, or $5 per gallon, you have to make a choice. Is my money worth more to me than this fuel, or rather what this fuel can do for me? You may not think fuel is “worth it” but showing up for work is, so you open your wallet. The cost of not doing so is higher than doing so. You make a voluntary effort to part with your money because you believe you will benefit.Now that we have beat that dog into submission… The theory that there is a fixed pie sees one party to the exchange benefitting at the other’s expense. But since neither party to an exchange will participate if <>they think<> they will be worse off, then that case simply does not exist. Think of a transaction that exists where one party took advantage of another. I’m not talking fraud where the little old couple gives up $4,000 to have their house re-whatevered and the person does not deliver. That’s a criminal act or civil wrong that when righted or delivered, would bring about the initial satisfaction sought in the exchange.Think of the price of something you want that’s too high, say Windows XP Professional full version at $299.00. If you do not believe you will benefit, don’t buy it. If you “have to have it” then buy it, but that’s its cost. Would you pay $100,000 for it? Of course not, that’s absurd. So in a world of “I have to have it” there <>is<> a price at which it is not “worth it,” It just falls somewhere between $299 and $100K. Same thing with cars, groceries, fuel, housing, Ipods, you name it.I have absolutely no problems with fuel retailers charging whatever the market will bear. Whenever there is a bad crop of tomatoes and the price skyrockets 4 fold, I don’t hear people call it “gouging.” They know the supply and demand relationship and because tomatoes are optional and they can purchase and eat something else, it’s no big deal. That same economic law applied to fuel, because we have all become reliant on a steady stream of low cost transportation, we are much more offended when the same economic laws apply and our financially fragile lifestyle is upset. (I do not mean to imply that by understanding this that I wish to have a higher fuel bill and am unaffected by these higher prices.) But whatever the price, the retailer will exchange only if he sees a benefit and whatever the price, if you decide to exchange, it will only be because you see a benefit. You both are better off after the transaction. The pie is larger by that one transaction. Two people each had something. By trading those somethings they both are now better off. The pie is bigger by <>every<> voluntary transaction. Anytime you can take your given wealth at that instant, make an exchange where you benefit, are you not wealthier by your supposed benefit that you hoped for immediately after the exchange? Both parties wealth increased with the exchange. The pie is bigger by <>every<> voluntary transaction. Conversely, If an exchange is not voluntary, you may not be better off. Government mandated taxation, mandated expenditures for A.D.A., etc. do not expand the pie. Money is transferred from one person to another where one party does not benefit or think they benefit.It all makes sense to me, but I don’t know if I have explained or confused the subject. Anyway, when Bill Gates and Exxon/Mobil get wealthy, it is because millions of people felt they benefitted from the exchange of a small portion of their labor or wealth for a small portion of what that business has to offer. We should be thankful that these businesses have worked out all the logistics and details of bringing something we obviously desire to the market place so easy for us to take advantage of. And it is only from the desire to benefit of the suppliers, manufacturers, shippers, and retailers themselves that these items are brought to us so that we can decide if we can benefit from them by a voluntary exchange.Rich folks do not steal a portion of the pie. Their wealth is a result of making others, maybe many others, benefit from exchanging a small portion of their wealth for what the rich folks were selling. The wealthy successfully brought us what we wanted, when we wanted it, where we wanted it, and at a price we wanted it. We voted with our dollars.Ta TA!Prof. Ricardo

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  149. Prof,One more followup to the tax discussion. I think we could make major progress in many areas if we just bit the bullet and got on with means testing. The US isn’t guaranteed this type of wealth forever. A progressive wealth transfer today may very well safeguard a much uglier version in the future. Some examples where means testing could make sense:Social Security. Social Security should have been old age insurance, rather than old age guranteed funds. If you hit the economic lottery in your lifetime, you don’t collect on your old age insurance plan… just like any insurance. Fair tax policy: means testing for income tax. This would give us the ability to treat the small business startup that just had it’s first good year and made a $ million completely different than the billionaire who just collected his next $ million of capital gains. Estate taxes. Exclude estates worth less than $ x ( I’ve heard $5 million proposed).Tax incentives. Provide real economic stimulus to those where stimulus changes behavior. I doubt Buffet is holding back on any major entrepreneur impulses waiting for the exact right tax rate moment.

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  150. Some post-Roberts confirmation thoughts and opinions. I will start with comments made this morning by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Jeeze… that guy whines enough to be a liberal. 🙂Lindsey made the proclamation that the presidential election meant the Senate was obligate to confirm judges Bush campaigned on. Bush campaigned by saying he would appoint judges in the mold of Scalia and Thomas.BS. Judges are for the entire population, including the 48% that didn’t concur with the Scalia and Thomas pledge. In fact, we have no idea how many of the 515 did… because other areas like terrorism obviously was a greater factor. The presidential election gave the president the right to nominate… period. Graham’s argument was that the Senators owed deference to Bush’s selection, unless there was some obvious reason the judge was unfit. Sorry Lindsey… can’t go there with you regarding an appointment of a Supreme Court justice, not to mention the chief justice. If we are talking about ambassador to Kawait… then almost 100% deference. If we are talking Supreme Court justice… more like 50%. Supreme court justices are for life and for all citizens. If anything shouldn’t be winner take all based on a 51% presidential election win, it’s confirming a Supreme Court justice. Some other bs:<>Judges are not elected.<>They are elected by our elected. Same difference… other than the lifetime on good behavior thing. If you think about it, that’s not even that different than Senators. Both seem to stay around for life, and if anyone isn’t on good bevior, it’s senators. <>Judges shouldn’t be activist.<>I have to pull in Tony’s <>fundamental rights<> for this response. I think it is absolutely the judges job to be activist concerning fundamntal rights. If the legislator’s overstep fundamental rights, it is by definition the job of the Supreme Court to overrule that legislation. When we went through all of the civil rights rulings, I would have demanded the judges be activist regarding individual EQUAL rights. The constitution was passed without equal rights. Individual liberties and rights have been a path of expansion of rights, not a contraction. A strict contructionist view would have likely left segregation, women without the right to vote, no voters protection laws bringing minorities into our government, etc. All along the way, the expansion of rights has demanded judge activism on fundamental rights.That brings me to the proper guidelines that a senator should use to confirm a Supreme Court judge. I come to the conclusion that deference and <>being qualified<> is not enough. If it was, you really don’t need confirmation hearings. As Biden said, if that’s enough, then they should all go back to just reading transcripts and prior rulings, opinions and other writings… and then vote on that. But I don’t think that is enough. I think the public has the right to know the judges ideas about fundamental rights. This is where it really gets sticky. I have come to the conclusion that <>the right to privacy<> is a fundamental right. Tony, on the other hand, thinks that is bad law. Again, with our consitution, what’s a fundamental right is still up for debate. In fact, it would appear that the major debate over the constitution in legal and academia is over whether or not <>there is a general fundament right to privacy and an ever expanding individual liberty regarding issues like procreation and right to die<> vs the other side who view all of those rulings as activism, and seek to roll back all progress based on the right to privacy. In either case, it would seem a proper role for a senator to judge a candidate based on views of these fundamental rights. Ignoring the <>right to privacy<> debate, and crossing your fingers and hoping you don’t get another Thomas doesn’t cut it. If it did, just remove the Senate from the process and just give the president 100% control.I watched most of the confirmation process. It would have been a very difficult vote for me. In almost every way, Roberts came across as outstanding. Almost… and that’s the part that would have made it a difficult vote for me. Even though this guy doesn’t look like another Thomas or Scalia, he gave very similar answers to questions asked to those judges during their confirmation hearings. That’s the dilema… the proces really doesn’t reveal what you are getting… and what we are getting matters beyond <>I will just follow the law<>. The law is too gray for that to mean much. Scalia is following the law and Ginsburg is following the law. I would also make the observation that the raging debate about <>the right to privacy<> is again rooted in religion. If you come at it from a religious side, then there is no possible right to privacy to allow you to end a pregnancy or possibly even make decisions about the end of life. If you come at it from an individual liberty first priority, then controlling one’s pregnancy and right to die issues logically fall in the domain of the individual. Unless Roberts was just putting on a bait and switch show, he really weights heavily precedence. In his own words, he said <>just disagreeing with prior court rulings is not enough to overturn those rulings<>. That is completely opposite from Scalia and Thomas… they would both overturn Roe vs Wade tomorrow. It’s my understanding that Renquist gave more weighting to precendence than many expected… and Roberts appears to be even more in the mode of being reluctant to overturn precedence. Roberts gave himself plenty of wiggle room in his explanation of overturning previous rulings if previous tenets used to decide the case went away. Maybe he is going to use Tony’s external womb argument to knock down Roe. It should be interesting. I thought the confirmation hearing were very educational. Some called them a sham :), but I didn’t… at least this time. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback closed todays hearing by having a down syndrome kid stand behind him as a prop. I couldn’t help but wonder if he would be up for collecting federal taxes to cover all families required down syndrome medical bills that opted for birth. Probably not… probably the usual compassion that ends post birth canal.

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  151. Prof,Don’t be Ta Taing just yet… although another round of compliments are due you on this last post also. You have to know by now anyone who follows <>I will give you people food even though you are a different species<> with compliments is off his meds. Hey… skitzoid land ain’t that bad… I recommend it. OK… let me clear up a few things. You made a couple of observations that prove how easy it is to jump to wrong conclusions about those on the other side of a debate… even when we have these debates for over a year.. or is it two? First, I in no way equate my <>liberal focus like a laser on the poor position<> with insane government policy giving small business’s paperwork hell. On a related note, I’m 100% for tax simplification… but not for Forbes flat tax (upper incomes lifes aren’t effected by higher progressive rates, but lower income folks do face life consequences from paying their flat share). We will just leave the progressive tax thing at <>agree to disagree<>. I think your point about the threshold of a small business adding the first employee fits in exactly to my belief that a <>trickle up/bubble up/something up<> mentality. It sounds like we may agree that big business is only effected marginally with tax rates regarding government regulations or tax rates. The engine of this economy is small business… that has to be considered the future. So everything I have ever posted should be considered pro-small business… i.e water the saplings, and stop immediately with government favor to big business that has already made it. Now we would have to drill down into details for me to say what’s worthwhile regulation and what’s not. It’s very possible all of it is worthwhile, but the required reporting and posting and accounting rules are insane. That said, I never intended my liberal <>entitlement questioning<> to apply to the $40,000 a year small business. This is exactly the kind of misunderstandings that live on with polarized arguments. I would be very plumber, carpenter friendly… and that’s what would require the progressive collection from the upper incomes. You are almost making my point. Tax revenue has to come from somewhere. What kind of logic says make it difficult for small business which we all agree is our coure economic engine. The answer… there is no logic for that. Collecting more heavily from the upper incomes { ignoring the false hype about that killing the economic stimulus } allows a more friendly small business environment. The logic almost screams out as obvious. I hear suggestions from folks like Forbes that in his flat tax scheme, you are tax free up to $40,000… or something like that. Why not up to $100,000? Why not have the government only funded by the significant winners. Obviously I have no idea about the actual wealth demographics and numbers… i.e. whether that would even be feasible. My point is I have no moral problem with having only the wealthy { however we define that } cover the government tab. At some point, extra taxes doesn’t change their lifestyles, and the personal property arguments (although valid) don’t outweigh giving the nod to the hard working middling folks. I don’t accept the premise that America has to mean unfettered massive wealth accumulation side by side with real lives living in poverty. I can’t square that with your <>just contract<> explanation… just too many billions of examples in our economy of accumulated wealth that happened for many other reasons than <>just contracts<>.Join me… water the saplings and dump the trickle down virus. Give tax breaks to stimulate that plumber adding his first employee, but refuse tax breaks to oil companies making record profits, and refuse tax breaks to large companies just padding profits but not adding employees, or perhaps outsourcing. The GOP tax break was sold as <>all tax breaks are equal economy stimulus<> even if you are giving tax breaks to Bill Gates who really doesn’t make decisions based on tax rates. Bill’s dad wrote a book on why we should keep estate taxes… I should read that someday. Oh yeah… btw. I pretty much got that <>you have never run a business<> preaching {not you, but them) from my GOP buddies before. I confess I don’t get the logic of one’s employment status or mode of income really limiting one from developing an ideology… but that said… I have technically been a small business for 20+ years (IT Contractor). I have always done that as a lone tax id (eventually LLC) ranger… i.e. I never hired employees.

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  152. Common,Thanks for the compliments. You said: “<>I believe the disincentive concern is way over-hyped.<>”I would agree for the <>employee<> portion of society. If your wages will have the taxes deducted out and all you ever see is the net check, you’ll probably take whatever you can get and walk away happy. Given you are only going to work so many hours a week anyway, it’s probably a non issue.However, the plot thickens when, as a self-employed person, more work may be you working harder, or investing in larger equipment, or hiring more employees. And I would say that tax rate is probably not as much of an issue as regulations. A business with many employees is probably making enough to afford an extra employee to handle human resource issues, OSHA and EPA and Labor Department requirements. But take Joe Carpenter sole proprietor with no employees. To add his first employee will require paying me (or spending the time to learn and do it himself) for 4 Form 941 quarterly reports, 4 Texas Workforce Commission quarterly reports, 1 annual Form 940 FUTA return, W2/W3 statements, probably some 1099 statements at the end of the year. He might have to have Workmans Comp Ins. Audit and calculate wages on a non-calendar year basis. He’ll have to post minimum wage law, anti discrimination, and sexual harassment posters somewhere. And he has to stay on top of all the changes from year to year.Year end tax planning I often get the question “do I need to buy something (vehicles are popular) to get write-offs this year?” “Lease vs purchase?” “How much of this new equipment can I expense?” So, in a lot of cases you are right in that they go ahead and “make” the extra dough, but if it’s substantially above what they are used to making, they often spend the extra on an asset so as not to “give it to the IRS.” I would say there have been quite a few expenditures made solely as a statement to the IRS, and often contrary to prudence and good business sense.Another sad consequence is the black market, the cash & barter market. My mother used to play cards with a couple, Democrats all the way to their spinal column, loved that big government. She was a hair dresser, got tips, but didn’t report any of it on her tax return. In her words: “But that’s <>my<> money.”We all have what we feel are injustices in the world. God bless you for looking out for the less fortunate. A lot of small business folk see injustices of government intrusion and taxation. If you live a $40,000 a year life style, you make after expenses $47,000, but the government wants you to cough up $10,000 in taxes, your now $3,000 short. You think to yourself: “But I made $47,000! I should be able to make it.” So you resent government. I’ve seen it a number of times.I don’t know if you have ever been self-employed, but you may want to give it a go. Consider it an education. Sell crap on ebay, install fencing around neighborhoods, you can make decent money laying tile, sell web pages, repair computers, lay networks, whatever. Don’t do multilevel trash where you hand out tapes to you family and pets and write-off latte’s while losing your spouse’s money. I’ve seen enough of that. Make this the University of Prof. School of small business. Go through the steps of having to find out what local government’s require of you (meet code), whether you need to collect sales tax and how often to report it, keep records, pay expenses, and then try not to spend what you just made ‘cause it ain’t yours. Most of it is, the rest is Aunt Sams to spend on Bush’s war, Katrina & Rita FEMA debit card parties, and so forth.It will be most illuminating. People should diversify their income and talents anyway.Ta ta,Prof. Ricardo

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  153. Tony,<>O’Really is a moron.<>That’s awsome. That’s how I will refer to <>O’Really<> from now on. LOL. I need one for Hannity also. Right now, I just use <>turd<>.<>We have been so massively misguided by our leadership for decades that it is criminal.<>You think? You think we should have had a <>war on insane energy policy<> rather than a <>war on drugs and sexual practices outside of procreation<>. You really are a weirdo if you think that.

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  154. O’Really is a moron. You would think people would be starting to get a clue that supply has more to do with the price than any other factor. I’m not saying that there isn’t some gouging going on but there is a lot more to it than simple greed.For instance, the governments continual unwillingness to plan for the inevitable supply problems. We have been so massively misguided by our leadership for decades that it is criminal.

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  155. wow… I’ve heard stories this morning of it taking people over 6 hours to go 8 miles on the highways in Houston. Guys, they are heading your direction. So does our gas prices go up to $5 a gallon after Rita takes out 100+ oil rigs? Probably… it appears gas prices can be anything the industry wants it to be. Did anyone hear that genius O’Reilly is calling for a Sunday ban on driving to stick it to the oil companies.

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  156. TC,<>I can hear it now “Well, of course, he cares about Texas, he lives there.” Sad and tired.<>Sure Shrub just killed 20 puppies in the street with his bare hands…. but that’s ok, he is a strong leader. Sad and tired.

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  157. Prof,Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a couple of Senators from opposite sides have even 1/10th the level of tax policy debate (in public) that you just expressed. A most excellent post, but you know, I have a few observations.<>If I had the chance to earn a ten million dollars with a 90% tax rate, I would do it since it is so far above what I could do elsewhere. Whereas, if I were a highly paid actor/sports star, that extra million might not be worth the extra ten million dollars worth of effort.<>A heavily weighted component of your equation, and many conservative arguments (although not expressed nearly as well as you just did) is what you called <>disincentive<>. IMO, with absolutley no quantitive way to support it, I believe the disincentive concern is way over-hyped. The quote of Paul O’Neill was an example. Paul O’Neill, an ex-CEO with ample business knowledge, bascially expressed that business investment decisions by entrepreneurs are seldom is influenced by tax rates/policy. That would be my guess. Also, I’m not at all convinced that folks who have earned <>enough<>… stepping aside because of tax policy is a BAD thing. I got the same argument from my oil baron buddy who could buy South Tulsa. <>If the Dems tax him too much, he may just leave the country.<> Buried in that statement is the personal belief by my buddy that his leaving would hurt our economy. I don’t think I buy that. His leaving would be a very bad thing for personal reasons… relationships, keeping good people in the country, yada yada yada. That said, I don’t think I buy the <>I am not replaceable and I’m so valuable to this economy<> position. We have 280 million people. Who out there thinks that we can find one to match their individual talents and economic business running gifts to our economy. In fact, from an economic basis, I would say we could see major upside to those who have enough being replaced by those who <>need to get enough<>. The newly wealthy need to buy stuff… the been wealthy for a long time already have everything they need. I guess I also don’t buy that there is an infinite number of new pies to be grown in our economy. I think an economy can only support so much pie growing… and the distribution of pie size happens within that limit. I’m sure we often fall short of those limits, and that would be a valid argument… but I go back to an old argument I gave Tony over education: <>I don’t think graduating 300% more lawyers creates the need for more lawyers<>. At some point we have enough lawyers regardless… boy is that an understatement. 🙂I think it’s obvious that one of the fundamental obligations of any government should be a constant striving for efficiency. However, once again I question the usual <>inefficiency<> arguments that are offered. For one, consider the costs related to government inefficiency, and the costs related to disagreement over what should be included in common good. You could only squeeze so much efficiency dollars out of current requirements, but you get a windfall if you get rid of safety-nets all together… like getting rid of social security. Also consider perhaps the biggest culprit… we don’t even attempt to audit the $400 billion a year defense budget. I guess my point is I think it’s obvious that we don’t do as good a job as we should regarding government efficiencies and auditing… but I don’t find that fact a good enough reason to change the definition of what should or should not be common good. Said another way… we will incur regulation and inefficiency costs in government to one degree or another. I would say the tax G-Spot is the tail of the dog, and not the dog. Really good Prof post. Tony should archive it to the Curm Hall of Fame. 🙂

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  158. I think the word irony is overused and misunderstood. Maybe you’ll agree.This administration is in a no-win situation. The government’s response will now be better than Katrina, and it would have been even if Rita was headed towards Atlanta or Philadelphia. Either way, it will still be criticized by those planting the seeds of discontent. I can hear it now “Well, of course, he cares about Texas, he lives there.” Sad and tired.

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  159. C.G. “<>The question is… as I have asked before: what is the optimum government revenue tax rate G-Spot?<>”Good question. Let me cloud the issue for you. 🙂First, you didn’t ask what it does to business. Obviously, there is a reduction in what business/people get to keep when the first dollar of tax is taken. So overall there is an inverse relationship. If you make $100 and the government takes “X”, then by definition you are left with $100 – X. I felt in this case the obvious needed to be stated.Second, and you may not have thought of this, taxation may be either monetary or non monetary. Red tape, government reports, regulations, standards, licensing, etc. all costs business time and money. My job exists mostly because of government regulation and the burden it places on business – and I only handle a very small part of their government burden. We will revisit this point shortly.Third, there are too many factors/variables to develop a mathematical model to use, but I’ll make one up for you anyway (this is fun). (Income earned x (1-disincentive rate)) – (Income earned x tax rate) = after tax personal income. Income earned – after tax personal income – Income not earned from loss of incentive = tax revenue generated.Remember the case I gave you where the semi-retired Wal-Mart worker was taxed over 50%. That marginal tax rate might keep that person from actually working any more. Similarly, extra burdens on business for human resources, unemployment taxes, workmans comp ins., human resource issues, health insurance and benefits costs, etc, might prohibit a business from hiring another person and deriving income from that new employees work. It seems to me that it is the overall burden of external requirements from either the Federal, state, and local governments, whether tax or regulatory, that determine the level of disincentive. Therefore, it is possible that in a low or non-regulatory economy you could have a high overall rate of taxation, say 40% and receive peak revenue. But as states seek more, and regulatory burdens increase, that portion that the federal government takes must go down to keep the disincentive low and the revenues in the sweet spot. Given the high level of regulatory burden, and states and local governments struggling to tax the snot out over every breathing creature to pay for schools, county and city services, local social welfare expenditures, this leaves less room for the federal government to tax before the disincentive exists.As a person or business, you may say I’ll work an extra hour or sell an extra widget if I get to keep 50% of my efforts. But if regulation takes 10% of your efforts, and local and state governments take 8 % of your efforts, that only leaves 32% taxation or your efforts before you throw up your hands and walk away. From that 32% you subtract 15.3% for social security and medicare, and BAM, you are left with 16.7% tax rate. The individual does not care to whom the burden must be paid for disincentive. He only knows that at a certain level he will not participate any further. And for each person that point is different. And at each income level that same person may have a different idea. If I had the chance to earn a ten million dollars with a 90% tax rate, I would do it since it is so far above what I could do elsewhere. Whereas, if I were a highly paid actor/sports star, that extra million might not be worth the extra ten million dollars worth of effort.I hope this helps. Your argument might be less with the conservatives than it should be with higher taxing local and state governments and the encroaching regulations. They are the ones cutting into your sweet spot of Federal revenue. I think Forbes has it: a $25,000/$50,000 exemption for singles/married’s and a 17% flat tax rate thereafter. Add in the FICA 15.3%. I don’t know what Forbes has to say about this, but if we implement his setup, till we privatize a portion of Social Security to save the program, tax wages to $200K-$500K for SS. The overall tax rate would be 32.3% for the federal part of their burden.Prof. Ricardo

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  160. Hey, did you hear Shrub has his Mission Accomplished flight suit out and ready. The plan is for Shrub to swoop into Galveston on a Black Hawk and save a baby. That sounds risky, but not really… they have 5 babies strategically placed. Turns out the babies come from GOP donors called Ranger Elites. — The Daily Show

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  161. Tony,<>Universal Healthcare in the sense of just automagically you have unlimited access will never work.<>What does that mean? I agree I wouldn’t pay to have Yoshi’s mole frozen/cut off… unless it was really hideous. Sounds like you aren’t splitting the difference as much as you would like. Sounds like you are with your bud CG. Glad to hear it.<>And I side with CG on the notion that relying on private generosity is inefficient.<>I should probably just take whatever I can’t get around here, because god { if he exists } knows it isn’t a regular occurence. Still… I have to make a correction. I suspect much private charity is efficient… and so what… it’s inadequate. I would also make the distinction that I would not be one to call providing the working poor healthcare as <>charity<> and therefore the word <>generousity<> really doesn’t apply. A collective obligation is not charity or generousity… it’s doing what we should do as humans in a wealthy society. We certainly don’t need a pat on the backs. Oops… there goes the minimal and brief support I had.btw… I’m absolutely loving listening to all of these conservatives make the case it’s time for cutting tons of government spending and no time to reject the estate tax or roll back the tax break for the wealthy. They probably don’t realize it, but at the end of that argument they have to actually name the stuff they are going to cut. It’s easy for the GOP to claim they are the party of small government because the public is too busy to call them on it. However, Katrina and New Orleans isn’t Iraq. Even the busy public is going to be well aware of what the leaders choose this time. The conservatives are pushing themselves into actually naming the <>shrinking of government choices<> they give such lip service to…. while making the case that eliminating the estate tax will boost our economy. Man… I’m need to stock up on more popcorn.Hey Yoshi… here is an economic challenge for you. Ask your economic professor what he thinks is the answer. The question is… as I have asked before: <>what is the optimimum government revenue tax rate G-Spot?<>. The GOP tells us over and over lower tax rates mean higher tax revenue. I’m thinking there is a limit to that great wisdom… for example 0% tax rate can’t lead to the max government revenue. So somewhere between 0% and what we have now must be the actual tax G-Spot. It would seem fair ask these guys what’s the optimum tax G-Spot sense they seem informed enough to come to the conclusion lower from here is better. Well… how much lower. Why mess around… let’s just shoot to the tax G-Spot. Same with capital gains taxes and income taxes… probably two different G-Spots. Bush’s first Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was asked once about tax breaks stimulating the economy. He made one of those career limiting statements: <>I’ve never met any serious business folks that made significant business decisions based on tax rates.<> It’s make you wonder. If I’m a guy with a decent business idea, where does the tax rate change the equation where I would take a shot at it or not? 25%, 35%, 45%, 50%… ?? Probably wouldn’t change the equation much for me. But what about a loan, and the folks providing capital? Well, if it’s a company only providing capital to US/domestic projects, the game is what the game is… don’t think the capital gains tax is near the factor that the GOP professes. What about global capital providers… those who operate across countries. Well, it would seem logical money would flow (including US stock buyers) to environments that seemed/appeared to be more favorable… but I question the risk the American market could ever have funding american business startup risk taking. It would seem the bigger factors there are cycles… like the internet bubble bursting, as opposed to marginal differences in captital gains tax rates. I don’t buy much of the GOP bs… it’s just invented talking points that work on the public.

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  162. Prof,We are not of the same species. I think your species was probably best suited for survival at our country’s founding. Only the strong survived, and the threat from the weak or the poor was minimal. I would say the advent WMD changed that equation. Now a disgruntled few, regardless of being right or wrong, can effect the lives of millions… even millions with the <>exact right protect the rich principles<>. Post WMD… my species seems to have the best chance of survival. My species will focus on the poor, and figure the rich can take care of themselves… they always have. We may or may not be able to dent the numbers of the disgruntled… but it fairly obvious your species will throw gasoline on the flames out of principle. It’s time for the species that walks upright and tends to the poor and needy as a priority to keep this survival thing going. It would be much better if the wealthy did this on their own, but that has never happened in the history of man. It’s probably too late… you guys should have left the baton passed… instead, you had a conservative revival. Silly, silly species. I like you Prof… I would let you come indoors and eat people food. 🙂I wish I had graphical artist talents. I would draw one frame titled <>trickle down<>. In the picture, a fire truck hose would be watering a couple of giant trees. Surrounding the couple of giant trees would be several pathetic looking little trees, and many dead saplings. Then I would have a second frame. It would be called <>trickle up<>. The fire truck would be hosing down ALL trees. None of the trees would be as tall as the two huge trees from frame one, and none of the trees would be dead from lack of water. The average tree height would be probably around 50% of the height of the two huge trees from frame one. Maybe not that funny.. try this one. Tony has heard this before and didn’t see the humor.I rich guy in a tux is standing at the top of a hill overlooking a town of obvious poverty. The rich guy is standing next to his helicopter peeing over the side of the hill sprinkling the town huts with a constant stream. Caption: <>trickle down<>. I’ll keep working on it. Maybe it’s a could thing I can’t draw. 🙂Prof sees the following and sees immaculate economic social justice and absolute truth. Others see some shit about to hit the fan. < HREF="http://inequality.org/facts.html" REL="nofollow">Just how unequal are we, anyway<>< HREF="http://inequality.org/Summers.htm" REL="nofollow">Inequality makes the mainstream<>

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  163. Prof, Did not mean to be absent. I do like to just sit back and read at times. I think the two of you have fleshed it out well.But I view the both of you as extreme endpoints. Rest here in what TexaCon calls the creamy center. Universal Healthcare in the sense of just automagically you have unlimited access will never work. This is illustrated by the problems we have to day with the wide spread availability of first dollar coverage. OK…first dollar isn’t so common, but the deductibles and co-pays are really low for to many people.This does not however mean that I do not want to cover people for their needs. And I side with CG on the notion that relying on private generosity is inefficient. I tend more toward programs where the government pays a premium to a private insurer. I realize that makes neither extreme happy, but I don’t believe in abandoning the market any more than I believe in just letting run impeded in every respect.There…I threw the Lion a little raw meat.

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  164. Common Good,“<>I didn’t understand your <> frivolous and live for the moment.<><>”I have tried to get you to define “poor” or what a “fair” rate of taxation for a certain level of income/wealth are. The more precise the definition, the greater I can slaughter your arguments, er, I mean understand your point of view. 🙂A common characteristic of wealthy people is that they save money by spending LESS than they make. A common characteristic of poor people is that they spend more money than they make. There are actually high income individuals who have little to show for all the money they have made. They have been “frivolous and live for the moment.” I have been unable to wrestle from you whether the evil rich man consists purely of high income, purely of accumulated wealth, or some combination of both. In previous blog topics you lamented the existence of vacation homes, and other extravagances. This makes me think that wealth accumulation, ie spending less than one makes, is “bad” to you, and must be taxed. Thus, a burdensome, yet enlightening, explanation of why I used the phrase “frivolous and live for the moment.”“<>The wealthy aren’t the only one’s in the country who need to back off the current accepted norms of our sense of entitlement.<>”Outrageous! Do you think you and your wife are entitled to your own paychecks? That paycheck is the other half of a contract. You worked. They paid. Get it? Wealthy people might work harder, but their reward is generally for innovation, knowledge, and the risk to bring their product or service to the people. Their sense of entitlement is one in which a person has fulfilled his portion of a contract and is ENTITLED to having the other person fulfill their end by paying.The “entitlement mentality” whereby merely by being a certain race, gender, or economic status, other people owe you is the entitlement mentality everybody believes is so repugnant and harmful.“<>We have an economic Katrina providing mind blowing TRICKLE UP to the bank accounts of the top 2%. Good luck making the argument that that is as it should me… a moral result of a moral economic system.<>”How did that money go up stream? People just mailed ‘em checks? Did the government mandate it? Or did each person, maybe multiple times a day, trade his currency, his labor, for some good or service. And if you thought you were better off without the good or service, why did you trade? If you are better off with the trade, why the jealousy? Does it make you feel better knowing the gas station that just sold you $2.75/gal. fuel paid $2.81/gallon (his cost) and is having a loss, rather than $2.59/gal. ? What does it matter to you if he made a profit or a loss? What does it matter to you if he saved his profits (wealth accumulation) or wasted it gambling? Is “trickle up” the theory that if people purchase your goods, you actually get paid for them (unlike N.O.) Or is it where you did get paid, but rather than being “frivolous and live for the moment,” you invested your money wisely for the future and became the 2%? Is this a punishable offense?Prof. Ricardo

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  165. C.G.,“<>Obi-wan of excluding the poor from healtcare… please explain to me how the moral equation changes whether the excluded number is 40 million, 25 million, 10% or 1 poor sucker excluded. I can’t wait to hear how you arrive at a acceptable moral percentage cutoff. This should be good.<>”It’s frustrating. Not only are we not on the same field, you’re playing golf and I’m fishing. So when I mention “hook,” you think you know what I said. That’s the reason I have asked you I don’t know how many times to define poor, to define your terms.When I talk about economic laws, I am not talking about those economic conditions that I necessarily wish to exist, but those that do exist and that help to explain what has happened and predict what will happen. Case in point:Given the current topic, let us take a doctor and a Lexus up in a plane. About 13,000 feet will do. Both are useful and at any particular time we might desire one over the other. Now let’s thrust both of them out the back of the plane. What happens? Given the LAW of gravity both will begin to fall. Do we want them to fall? Regardless of what we want, both the vehicle and the person will both react to the LAW of gravity. We can not say: “We’ll let (capitalist) gravity affect the car, but the healthcare provider is needed for the common good so we don’t want the LAW of gravity to act upon it.”Economic laws can not be broken. In my business I bill according to what I think people (the market) will bear given the service provided. I do not take this lightly. I often adjust my fee (down) based upon what I assume the client can afford. If you were to walk in my office and say, “I have the full backing of the US government to cover any charges I run up,” how much adjusting down would I do? How about adjusting upwards? If what I am doing is soooo valuable that the government has taken upon itself to subsidize it, I could easily rationalize myself as being worth 2-10 times my current value. That will be the destruction of healthcare. The government’s answer to that is to control costs and make it mandatory. That has happened in other countries. That is the reason there are so many Canadian doctors in Florida in the winter. They earn what they are allowed to by government law, then they go to their winter home abandoning their medical practice because further work does not increase their wages (those greedy devils). Who do you think supplies medical care while the doctors are on vacation?“<>Newsflash #4: When one views the conservative views of our nation as a Hell hole… and perpetuator (sp??) of bigger holes… one is not defining America as a Hell hole.<>”There we go again. Not even on the same topic. I was relating, not conservative America, but America as it exists WHATEVER IT IS as apparently more desirable for people to flock to, ie illegal and legal aliens, over their more socialist (ie., we take care of the poor…) homelands.“<>Conservative is not equal with America…<>”If we go back to the point that I was making, are you saying the immigrants came here for our conservativism? 🙂I said: “A moral society is one that does not condone immoral acts.”<>C.G.: “Not really…”<>I must admit, to my own embarrassment I burst out laughing. I almost had to clean my office chair. Almost.“<>a moral society is one that takes care of it’s poor and most needy.<>”…by killing wealthy white men and selling their meat to soap factories. But wait! That sounds absurd. I guess it DOES matter how one goes about this doesn’t it? Should we commit <>immoral acts<> to attain <>moral objectives<>? Should we introduce a method of guaranteeing “healthcare” (excuse me, <>the ability for the daddy and mommy to pay for Johnny’s trip to the doctor)<> that requires us to abandon known economic laws to achieve success?I’ll address other issues momentarily.Prof. Ricardo

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  166. Yoshi,In case you missed one of my prior posts… Mitt Romney said they have started something similar to the voucher scheme. Instead of serving the non-insured public through the emergency centers, they issued all of the uninsured health insurance cards. They were still obviously not paying, but Romney claimed bringing them INTO the existing system saved them 2/3 of the costs of covering this through the emergency centers. Now… obviously Romney is a politician ramping up to run for president… but it’s a GOP candidate saying this. I think the dynamic that is going to bring this to a head is American business owners are starting to squawk about the costs of providing healthcare coverage to employees. Healthcare should have never been tied to employment… it should be tied to the individual regardless of employment and employment status. COBRA isn’t the answer either, because those rates go straight to outrageous in short order. Bottom line… if I was one of those $20 million a year HMO CEO’s… I would be getting all I can now, because even the GOP is going to turn a little socialist on this issue.

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  167. Yoshi,<>I’m not against the idea of getting stuff for free.<>I’m not for universal mole removal… but I’m for universal cancer screening of moles, and then covering the expense of removing it when it is cancerous for the voucher guy. The health insurance industry seems to have already categorized many things as “elective”, and that should provide a starting point or template. That said, it’s pretty obvious any voucher-type scheme would require definition and auditing functions from our government. Prof will be jumping in with both feet here… but I remind him we figured out how to fly to the moon. Surely we can manage a healthcare common good non-elective list… surely. So to review… heart transplant for little Johnny… COVERED. Non-cancerous mole removal of Yoshi to help with the ladies… NOT COVERED. Now… if Yoshi can make the case the mole is hideous enough to effect his employment… we can talk. 🙂

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  168. Yoshi,<>MAYBE, maybe Common Good is instead implying that the market still dictates the prices in the medicine field, and so the government still pays whatever the price is, so that doctors and drug companies still get to make their money… then we’d still have the high quality I suppose.<>It’s a pretty common practice for those arguing against universal healthcare to jump to the charges of <>not understanding profit motives or capitalism<>. I do not agree that our society should treat Lexus and healthcare products as equal widgets… i.e. I think we have vote in saying no to the $20 million a year HMO CEO… that’s just my Commie side I guess. That said… you just repeated my base position I come back to regarding universal healthcare to make my point this is simply about US deciding if we will cover the have-nots… OR NOT. The simple <>I’m to poor to pay the doctor voucher<> is exactly the point. I don’t see the <>blank check<> point as valid under such a voucher scheme. We have all of the information we need to price voucher spending per medical need. The average heart bypass procedure costs $x. If you really were concerned, you could price everything at 75% of $x… and let the voucher recipient search out a doctor that would take the 75%. I think that’s wrong… you are back into the morality of different quality of healthcare needs based on ecnomic class… but it would satisfy the Prof’s of the world to some degree. Unless I’m missing something… the healthcare market demands remain the same with the added customer base. If anything, medical research ramps up because there is a bigger customer base. I’m sure Prof will come up with some reason why this wouldn’t be so. He is consistent, if not logical. 🙂 So now we are down to a simple moral choice where we can’t invoke market demands as an excuse of excluding the poor. Now it simply becomes a moral choice of paying for required voucher needs through tax collection. Note: I’m not saying the voucher system is the best idea. That is way, way above my pay grade. It does focus the discussion, however… and leave the <>the economy sky will fall arguments<> a bit wanting. When one is divorced from the ability to use <>our healthcare system will collapse<> argument, they have to make the argument on the basis of why they still refuse to cover the poor. I wouldn’t wish that position on anyone with a conscience, because eventually, they will lose that argument with themselves.

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  169. Prof,<>Our society does not “exclude” poor from receiving healthcare.<>Some are treated in the most inefficient expensive manner possible (emergency centers), and some are excluded. You really need to get out more.<>The liberal nomenclature to evoke an emotional response demands that the word “healthcare” be used in your arguments, even though it is inaccurate in describing what you are trying to describe – the ability to pay for healthcare.<>Did you think you had a point in there some where. Whatever use of the English language works for you… <>the ability for the daddy and mommy to pay for Johnny’s trip to the doctor works for me<>.<>If ability to pay is determined based upon the presence of third party deep pockets such as government and insurance, then, although misleading, your 40,000,000 w/o healthcare is “correct.”<>Obi-wan of excluding the poor from healtcare… please explain to me how the moral equation changes whether the excluded number is 40 million, 25 million, 10% or 1 poor sucker excluded. I can’t wait to hear how you arrive at a acceptable moral percentage cutoff. This should be good.<>You have yet to corral a rational thought on the topic.<>Rational thought: Refuse to accept the blatherings of those in our society that make up excuses and defenses for refusing healthcare to those <>who can’t pay<>. Second rational thought: make fun of those who think funneling poor folks to the emergency centers is good economics. Pawaaaaa… those books are doing you much good.<>IF NOT, why then do these rational people leave the socialist utopian paradise of Mexico for the free enterprise Hell hole of America at their own peril?<>Prof, are you really stupid, or just playing one on the message board? 🙂 Jeeze… this requires another newsflash. What am I up to… I think 4. Newsflash #4: When one views the conservative views of our nation as a Hell hole… and perpetuator (sp??) of bigger holes… one is not defining America as a Hell hole. We are defining the views of the conservatives as a hell hole. Conservative is not equal with America… it just is right now, and only at around 51%. Yeah… I know, a mandate.<>A moral society is one that does not condone immoral acts.<>Not really… a moral society is one that takes care of it’s poor and most needy. That didn’t have to be through government… it just ended up needing to be government in the US in 2005 due to economic system complexity and inequities. A democracy isn’t in the business of condoning acts… other than acts that rise to the level of requiring laws. We can argue about what rises to the level of requiring laws, but I would suggest to you that the orifice of choice of your next door neighbor is none of your business. Opinions vary.<>Last I read, you are for sodomy, abortion, and punitive/confiscatory level taxation to teach those bad wealthy people to not be so greedy in accumulating wealth, but should be frivolous and live for the moment.<>Not in favor of sodomy. Also not in favor of anyone making laws about it… other than I really don’t want to see it happening at the restaurants.I don’t exactly root for abortions. That doesn’t lead me to the conclusion that a fetus has equal rights with the mother, or that anyone else on the planet other than the mother has a say in her pregnancy.I didn’t understand your <>frivilous and live for the moment<>. The wealthy aren’t the only one’s in the country who need to back off the current accepted norms of our <>sense of entitlement<>. However, in the meantime… while we continue not to see this truth… we have to tap the hockey out of that top 2% for tax revenue needs. We have an economic Katrina providing mind blowing TRICKLE UP to the bank accounts of the top 2%. Good luck making the argument that that is as it should me… a moral result of a moral economic system. Actually, you don’t need much luck. It has been indocrinated into us as children. It’s hard to decide which has been the most effective US child indocrination campaign… religious superstition or economic entitlement. Here is a question: who thinks CG is unamerican because he doesn’t believe in our current norms of <>entitlement<> and doesn’t believe religious superstition has to be shared with others in order to run our pluralistic government? Don’t hold back… I will feel very American regardless of the response.<>You are for society to be governed by the majority exclusive of any religious value judgments (your broadly defined theocracy-phobia) and mostly contrary to known widely accepted value judgements.<>Well… first, I agree totally with Tony that you first have to make the distinction between fundamental rights and others when factoring in majority wishes. Slavery, Indian slaughter, denying women the right to vote, unequal rights for gays, excluding poor from healthcare in our wealthy 2005 economy, bringing a deity to the government table when defining pluralistic government common good, unequal levels of public education for the nation’s children built around an obnoxious neighborhood property tax scheme, allowing Sean Hannity to continue access to oxygen… yada yada yada… should not be sensitive to the majority { mass stupids or not }. What new things to add to the common good list… what should be tax rates…. yada yada yada… yep, majority.<>BTW, it is profit margin that secures healthcare.<>I’m not interested as treating common good requirements in the same bucket as discretionary widgets (i.e. Lexus). I have a choice whether or not to drive a Lexus (I don’t recommend that, btw… the car’s are awsome, but every repair bill can represent a very bad experience :(. I have a choice whether or not to drive a Lexus. I have no choice when life depends on a trip to the doctor, and I have no choice about filling the car up with gasoline. To throw all widgets into the same capitalism equation further proves the waste of those economic books you have been reading. Seems like a bit of deuling gods to me… the Christian god and the Economic laissez-faire god. Prof, you know you just can’t hug capitalism… but you can hug a poor dad and say… sir, please take my spot in line at the doctor. Your kid is sick… I’m just here for Viagra to improve my alternative orifice lifestyle.<>And what does spending, or overspending, in one area of the budget have to do with the correctness in spending in the other areas.<>Lexus sales can be <>max profit motive<>. Universal Healthcare can be <>required common good profit motive<>. We need to be able to push the <>all widgets are equal crowd<> out of the way, and make the difficult choices societies have to make through their goverment concerning economic systems. We are wealthy enough to spend $400 billion a year on the military with zilch auditing and oversight. The universal healthcare argument ceases to be an argument about feasibility. The argument is simply one of whether or not the have’s are willing to sacrifice ANYTHING to bring the have-nots in. So far, the answer is <>up yours<> have-nots… either god intended you to be without, or else you are an irresponsible person and don’t deserve it. Or… economics demand that we exclude you have-nots from healthcare. Damn those economics. Keep trying guys… you will never make this smell ok.

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  170. Now, we can narrow this down though. MAYBE, maybe Common Good is instead implying that the market still dictates the prices in the medicine field, and so the government still pays whatever the price is, so that doctors and drug companies still get to make their money… then we’d still have the high quality I suppose. -that would be the only way it could work. Basically, we’d be saying everyone has a blank check to go to the doctor. Everyone. We’ll just tax ourselves more to pay for it, so the net reduction in the cost of maintainig health is exactly ZERO (actually it would increase, since we’d consume more and have to pay bureaucracies to administer it). We woudn’t pay for medical in person, but we pay it instead to the IRS, and they to the federal agency, and so-on, and maybe 50% of that would actually get to the doctors. It would make a lot more sense just to give poor people a tax credit to buy their own medical insurance with. The less you make, the bigger your credit would be). Then at least we could save money by cutting out all the self-important middle-men. And people certainly need fair premiums (fair doesn’t mean “artificially low.”)If we did go with the blank check idea though…. of course, the price of visiting a doctor will certainly rise in real terms, since the demand will shoot through the roof faster than supply can keep up. We will overconsume anything we don’t pay for. (And so national expenditure on health-care will explode.) I already know what I’m getting: a retainer for me teeth ($1500), and maybe a teeth whitening too ($600). And I do have a few moles I could have removed.)I’m not against the idea of getting stuff for free. Lord knows I will take it. The problem is though, nothing is free. Somehow, it is getting FULLY paid for by someone, or it’s not getting done the quality way it was supposed to be done.

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  171. “It is your Mercedes-Benz driving doctor that has the profit margin to render healthcare – He has the incentive.”C.G.-this is where the Lexus analogy makes sense. The government buys all the lexuses on the market. They now get to leverage the price. The price is now say, 10,000, for a lexus. Everyone gets one. Guess what? Toyota will stop making them. They’ll leave the market. The same goes for pharmacuetical companies and doctors. They don’t have easy jobs, and it is certainly not worth it if they aren’t getting paid well. They’ll leave the business (like many did in these other countries you are mentioning.) And in those countries, Research and Development doesn’t happen, instead, it happens in the United States, where the money is to be made. If we didn’t have our high drug prices here, those other countries wouldn’t have any drugs to give out cheaply. (Just like if everyone pirated movies, Hollywood would stop making them). That’s just basic common knowledge about business. People take risks, and want a return on that. Otherwise, why take the risk?

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  172. Common: “<>Newsflash #1: Any society that excludes it’s poor from healthcare will have an efficient system.<>”<>Exclude<> – <>v.t.<>, 1. To thrust out, 2. To hinder from entering or admission; to shut out, 3. To debar; to hinder from participation.Our society does not “exclude” poor from receiving healthcare. Apparently, access or “exclusivity” in your opinion is determined by the presence of medical insurance – one of the things that I attribute the “problem” of the high cost and “exclusivity” of premium healthcare.Healthcare, I would assume, is the care received for one’s health. Applying a Band-Aid is healthcare. So are heart transplants and everything in between. Are you saying that 40,000,000 people do not have access to band-aids? Or incrementally the next level? Or the next?I bet I have less “healthcare” than you do based upon your definition. But I have sufficient healthcare based upon needs. We will never have the same healthcare because we will never have exactly the same needs. But you weren’t talking about healthcare. You were talking about health insurance. The liberal nomenclature to evoke an emotional response demands that the word “healthcare” be used in your arguments, even though it is inaccurate in describing what you are trying to describe – the ability to <>pay<> for healthcare.If ability to pay is determined based upon the presence of third party deep pockets such as government and insurance, then, although misleading, your 40,000,000 w/o healthcare is “correct.” As I have argued with you in the past, and linked to a site showing that the 40 million figure is persons over a year that have been without, usually because of moving from one job to another, the actualy continuously UNINSURED populace is somewhere around 25 million, OR less than 10% of our population. However, if we define those who seek essential medical care and do not receive it, that is a much, much smaller figure. EVEN illegal aliens that are uninsured, swarm here by the millions and are treated, taught, employed, and benefitted by our “efficient system.” IF NOT, why then do these rational people leave the socialist utopian paradise of Mexico for the free enterprise Hell hole of America at their own peril? Absolutely ludicrous. But thanks for playing. Next?<>Newflash #2: A moral society measures it’s healthcare system by the number it excludes, rather than best profit margin.<>Says who? You? Bwwaaaaahaahaa! You have yet to corral a rational thought on the topic (nothing personal :). A moral society is one that does not condone immoral acts. Last I read, you are for sodomy, abortion, and punitive/confiscatory level taxation to teach those bad wealthy people to not be so greedy in accumulating wealth, but should be frivolous and live for the moment. You are for society to be governed by the majority exclusive of any religious value judgments (your broadly defined <>theocracy<>-phobia) and mostly contrary to known widely accepted value judgements. BTW, it is profit margin that secures healthcare. Johnson & Johnson wants you to use their products. Sure they wish you good health, but it is their profit margin that drives them day after day to provide you the goods. It is your Mercedes-Benz driving doctor that has the profit margin to render healthcare – He has the incentive. Your non-commissioned based bureaucrats world wide have destroyed healthcare worldwide in the name of bringing it to the poor. Regardless of the collective goals, they individually have no incentive to provide “healthcare”.<> Newsflash #3: We spend $ 400 billion a year on the military. Do you really want to make the case bringing in the uninsured will bankrupt us?<>Neither would giving me $10 billion just for grins. However, is that good stewardship over the funds and is it permitted in the governing instrument of the government? And what does spending, or overspending, in one area of the budget have to do with the correctness in spending in the other areas. <>Well Mommy, Timmy did it too!<> Good grief Charlie Brown.Prof. Ricardo

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  173. Anyone following this H5N1 Bird Flu stuff. Holy sh*t. Our government only has around 1.5 million doses of Tamiflu… the actual vaccine is a ways off. Some predict 1.5-2 million deaths in the US if it hit this winter. Supposedly London is quietly looking for extra morgue space. Yippee…. the constant stream of good news just keeps on rolling in. If the flu hits, it would be more efficient if it hit the have-nots. Two birds with one stone.. { you had to see that one coming }

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  174. Hey, 40+ million without healthcare coverage… but BY GOD it’s an efficient cost effective system. Newsflash #1: Any society that excludes it’s poor from healthcare will have an efficient system. Newflash #2: A moral society measures it’s healthcare system by the number it excludes, rather than best profit margin. Newsflash #3: We spend $ 400 billion a year on the military. Do you really want to make the case bringing in the uninsured will bankrupt us?When Yoshi tries to make his case with his MS economic document, he will be referred to Newsflash #1-#3.

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  175. Yoshi,: “<>My aunt recently had to have reconstructive surgery on her face. The doctor cut her a significant price break because her insurance from work wouldn’t cover it all.<>”Imagine that. Within the free enterprise system, price varied with ability to pay. Why do you suppose? Do you think the doctor didn’t want to loose a sale and made money anyway? I think so. Doctors can charge large sums because people don’t generally pay for medical costs. Insurance companies and governments generally do. Remove both, like in your aunt’s case, and wala! Lower medical costs. “Affordable health care.” Mandating a deep pocket (Gov. or Ins. or a concoction of both) covering every medical expense will guarantee skyrocketing medical costs and a bankrupt system. But hey, what does logic, tried and true economic laws, and your family’s personal experience got to do with anything.Prof. Ricardo

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  176. Rove in charge of New Orleans… Fran Townsend in charge of < HREF="http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/09/20/katrina.townsend/index.html" REL="nofollow">reviewing herself<>. Pawaaaaaaa!!! How efficient. We can now get rid of our local police. When we speed, we can just go fill out the ticket on the internet and send in our checks. Pawaaaaa!!!!

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  177. Yoshi,<>If your child has cancer, you might be able to get one (assuming you’ve no other way to pay).<>Here’s a wild idea. Since cancer is totally random, and not remotely tied to <>personal responsibility<>… why not a society where all cancers are automatically covered by the federal cancer fund. What a strange society we are. We actually have to argue about … old age insurance/social security, healthcare for our elderly, healthcare for our poor, family protection from bankruptcy through not fault of their own, correcting economic system shortcomings with progressive taxation, yada yada yada. People actually go as far as to bad mouth common sense <>backup plans<>. They call pooling common sense common good needs through our government as being dependent on a nanny state. That makes as much sense as being dependent on State Farm because you purchased home or car insurance. You see… Tony’s Curmudgeondom can’t touch mine. It would be easier on me in a way if the knuckledraggers could become 75% rather than 51%. It’s like a big tease right now. You hear a lot about states rights, but I don’t think that really gets at the heart of our problem. Reps and Dems are really becoming completely different people… sharing very little other than our military. Maybe we will figure out ways to segregate by political party in conducting our lives. Maybe Rep stores, and Dem stores? Maybe we can build an ala carte government where Dems can pay in extra taxes for their government backup plan, and the Reps can keep all their cash and take on cancer and national disasters on their own.

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  178. Yoshi,Sorry, but comparing health care to Lexus sales really doesn’t warrant a response. I will anyway, because I’m bored. 1) Do we all need the same access to health care and education in order to be called a meritocracy? Yes, of course.2) Can we afford it?Yes, of course. I think it just means a little more progressive taxation form our wealthy country… but even if it means no more lake homes to pull it off, it doesn’t change the morality equation. If anyone is selling the collapse of capitalism if we quit kicking some out of the health care line (which we really don’t do anyway, we send them to the emergency centers)… than they are selling bs to others and maybe themselves.3) If your answer is <>we can’t afford it<>, how do you explain the survival of other western democracies that are surviving (Canada, France, Germany)? Last I checked, max GDP doesn’t equal max morality.4) Why would US healthcare inovation stop because our progressive tax system covered poor people? That rates right up there with trickle down economics. More health care customers equals more profits for those inovating companies. One might as well sell trickle down economics as to make up bs reasons about not covering our poor in our health care system. As far as I know, we are the only western democracy which has selected the immoral path. It’s ironic that we hold out GDP and innovation as defense for kicking the poor out of line.Tony seems to concur with you when he posted: <>I tend to agree that universal healthcare is problematic.<>To begin with, healthcare of any design is problematic… i.e. it’s complicated. Also note, Universal Healthcare to me doesn’t automatically mean government healthcare. It could be exactly what we have now, with poor folk vouchers taken to the existing doctors ans systems. That said, I’m interested in hearing why moving those not covered from emergency centers to an organized approach in the same heathcare system as the rest of us is any more problematic. Heads up… I don’t consider longer lines for the rest of us problematic. It would seem to me healthcare for everyone is either the moral right choice or not… the length of lines and increased costs are things to work on but no reasons to change the morality of the choice. I actually made a rare appearance at the doctor office the other day. There were probably around a dozen folks in the waiting room. If I could have just kicked 6 or 8 of them out of the waiting room, my visit would have been cut in half. I posted < HREF="http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=1611&wit_id=4634" REL="nofollow">Robert Reich’s Roberts confirmation testimony<> above. I can’t say it any better than Reich did… so let me paste in the significant paragraph:<>A central moral choice, then, is whether America should seek to reverse this trend. Those who view our society as a group of self-seeking individuals for whom government’s major purpose is to protect their property and ensure their freedom of contract would probably say no. Those who view us as a national community of with responsibilities to promote the well-being of one another would likely say yes. Is the well-being of our society the sum of our individual goods, or is there a common good that must be addressed? The answer will shape the American economy and society of the twenty-first century.<>To me, it’s as simple as that. If we aren’t willing to use our government to counteract the inequalities our current economic system is creating… we are simply IMMORAL. Note, I make this call in the context of our given wealth. In 1787, providing this base common good for the needy would often have required taking away base common good from someone else… and that is obviously immoral. However, when one continues to provide individual iviolate private property islands no matter the realities of current inequities… there principles just server principles… and not people in need. Obviously that works for some… it will never work for me. At a very basic level, if your family has more than it needs to eat, has shelter, etc., and the family next to you does not, then you just inherited a collective obligation. We carry that inviolate individual property right clear past lake homes, private jets, family dynasty inherited wealth, yada yada yada. I’m suppose to accept the idea that individual massive wealth accumulation sharing a society with 40 million without healthcare is <>as it’s suppose to be… our definition of life driven by our constitution<>. Sorry… if that’s what it takes to be an accepted American capitalist, I would rather live life as an outcast. The truth is, however… being for universal healthcare isn’t the same as communism… no matter how many times the knuckledraggers say it. So read Reich’s testimony and consider the current plans to do away with the estate tax in the face of the poverty we just saw in New Orleans. We are great at keeping those kind of realities in our blind spot… pretending that the ugly truth doesn’t exist. If one believes passed on family wealth is more important than tending to our poor… then you and I are never, ever going to be much alike on this planet. I also extend this to Yoshi’s passion of foreign aid. If one can sleep well at night in their second home without a care in the world… about the world… we are never going to be alike. I no longer accept our traditions of our sense of entitlement. I think we have had it wrong for a very long time. I wouldn’t give you jack squat for RR right values that seem to be front and center with this Christian nation. Here’s a real value… nobody gets a second home until everyone has equal healthcare and education. Crazy … communist… Marxist… whatever… I call it morality. Fate could have worked in that direction… that could have been human nature. Yeah… I know. I have it all wrong. O’Reilly is right when he says our economy is dependent on folks like him getting massive tax breaks. What was I thinking.

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  179. I need to learn more about what Medicaid and Medicare are and aren’t. I’m going to take a wild guess though and assume it provides a basic level of services for poor people. Off the top of my head, I guess people need to start saving more for a rainy day. Get insurance in case something happens.Maybe there could be some kind of mixed-system where poor people who qualify could get treatment, doctors could work on sliding scales, etc. If you have a headache, sorry, you aren’t getting a free doctor. If your child has cancer, you might be able to get one (assuming you’ve no other way to pay). My aunt recently had to have reconstructive surgery on her face. The doctor cut her a significant price break because her insurance from work wouldn’t cover it all. My sister also had all her expenses paid for when she had a baby out-of-wedlock. So I’m not exactly convinced you’re completely on your own when you need medical help.

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  180. Yoshi,I tend to agree that universal healthcare is problematic. That said, I don’t think the direction we are headed is wholesome either. Too many hard working people can no longer afford health care. The statistics tell us that it is continuing to get worse all the time. So do you have any ideas on how to fix it? I have a few but am not totally thrilled with my thinking on this.

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  181. Well, since no one is talking….I just want to say I’ve also been thinking about this, and Common Good, I’m sorry, but the universal healthcare wouldn’t work out very well. It’s an idea with great, noble intentions, but it wouldn’t work for the same reason providing free Lexus automobiles to everyone wouldn’t work. I’d certainly be for both if I thought they could work, but the truism is, “you can’t get something for nothing.” Most of the advances in medicine come from the U.S., and it’s precisely because we don’t have universal healthcare. Those other countries can only get away with their programs cause they are piggy-backing on us to develop the drugs, medicine, treatments. Plus, we’d have doctors moving abroad, or simply not bothering with medical school. The list goes on and on.

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  182. < HREF="http://www.blockbuster.com/search/PerformKeyWordSearchAction.action" REL="nofollow"> Sometimes in April <>Common Good, you might enjoy this one from the video store. Everyone else should as well. I bet Randy with his Marine background would like it….

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  183. By the way, I feel very uncomfortable by being the “economics” authority here. It’s simply by default, I prefer to learn than try to explain.Often I get discouraged and feel I’m not learning or retaining anything, then I interact with someone else (99% of all I meet) and realize how little they know, and it reassures me that I must be picking up something.

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  184. We have been rich a “long time”…. but… A.) The world has never been as rich as it is now (aside from what the Professor thinks, that we were richer before 1971!)B.) The world has never had the technology, as advanced and as cheap as it is, until now.3.) The Cold War is over. Enter globalization.People like Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie, me, you, etc. need a little time to change the culture. With the help of Microsoft and MTV, this is happening. Rich people more than anyone have that “human need.” They got the money. Now they want to make history. Sieze the day.Governments are doing stuff, albeit maybe not fast enough. I read “generic drugs” are now being used by the Bush Administration’s AIDS plan. Money to Africa has doubled by the year 2010 (though most of it is from Europe). Bush re-asserted the USA’s support of the Millennium Challenge in NYC this weekend (though this Bolton guy used every trick in the book to undermine them). This whole weekend in NYC there was 190 countries discussing this issue… governments are at least doing something). We shouldn’t look at it as all or nothing, that if the best-case scenario isn’t happening, then it’s the worst case.This red state stuff was about abortion and homosexuals. That doesn’t these people do not care about extreme poverty. Their Christian bands are writing songs about it. Christian organizations created the ONE Campaign to begin with. These people are finding common ground with “liberals.”The eccentrics will marginalize themselves. They can still be eccentric, and the world will move on without them. America doesn’t want to be the world leader? Fine, let China or Europe do it……. but it will still get done. The trick is to make a huge network, a communication, mass emails. People are getting educated about this slowly, some quickly (like me). Then we need to form community groups, write letters to editors, fax our Reps.There have been Reps. who have completely made an about face under pressure from College Campus groups “outing” them publicly. I wouldn’t be so cynical about these people. You just got to find their weak spot and start hammering. It doesn’t work with individual phone calls to their office, that’s why we have to work collectively, as ONE.

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  185. Yoshi,<>Did you see the difference fertilizer made from the village that had from the village that didn’t?<>Yep… and the $7 mosquito nets that last for 5 years.<>We, as you know, have a human need beyond stuffing ourselves with Oreo cookies and playing video games all day.<>I’ve come to believe that’s an exception and not the norm. If it was otherwise, none of this would be tolerated in the first place. We have been a rich nation for a very long time.<>I think collectively we’re going to tackle these issues in the next few decades.<>Dude said collectively… hehehe.<>Don’t worry about those radical “conservative” eccentrics out there. They are no match for the cultural changes that are inevitable.<>Have you seen the red state eccentric map? All I can give you Yoshi is rich folks do seem to be talking about this more. I’m talking Gates rich. Jolie and Sachs are just a ripple. Gates is the lake. Governments are the oceans. If the lakes get the oceans on board, then you will be on your way. No Oceans… just chit chat.

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  186. Well, the idea is with a little injection of cash to invest in basic items like fertilizer, a village can increase it’s productivity and be on it’s way to self-suffiency. Did you see the difference fertilizer made from the village that had from the village that didn’t? I think there was a positive message there, that is, this is achievable. We, as you know, have a human need beyond stuffing ourselves with Oreo cookies and playing video games all day. I think we as a species are bored, we want some meaning. I think collectively we’re going to tackle these issues in the next few decades.Don’t worry about those radical “conservative” eccentrics out there. They are no match for the cultural changes that are inevitable.

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  187. Yoshi,OK… did my MTV assignment. Thanks Yoshi for making me more depressed. The inequities on this planet is total insanity. I guess they would give anything for a society where they could argue that their tax rates were unfair.

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  188. “Krugurands”- S.A. gold coins? I don’t get it.“We went from gold…to “federal notes,” which have no inherent value, other than they are currently acceptable by other people”-The same as gold or silver. Gold is just good for filling teeth really. We can’t eat it. Why don’t we just go to a “steel” standard?“Governments have been inflating monies for dozens of centuries.” (You can inflate, or deflate, with gold too (hence, centuries). Produce too much, like printing too much, causes price increases.“Precious metals have value anywhere.” (Only because you give it value. It’s all psychological). “It has a certain weight, a certain purity or proof. When governments and societies move to paper money, the money is so easily devalued by the printing press” -nominally devalued, a few more zeros are added to the nominal price, but the real price stays they same. And inflation could be with gold as well. The Spanish had the gold standard and suffered hyper-inflation when they brought all that gold from those Indians they slaughtered (and converted). “This creates a shaky financial foundation for businesses to thrive on.” But tying the currency to gold, it restricts government from devaluing the currency. Consider it a “security net” if you will.-I was talking to one of Professors about yesterday. (Don’t worry, I didn’t tell them you were an adult ;o) Too bad I couldn’t quite understand him well enough to explain it now perfectly. It was something to do with “pegging” currency, for example, the dollar to gold, or the Peso to the dollar. It interferes with the market process. I’ll get a better explanation why on Tuesday and post it. “but my interest lies at a level of demanding accountability” -does that translate to “the government should run a balanced budget?”< HREF="http://www.uta.edu/faculty/papanyan/chap4.ppt" REL="nofollow"> powerpoint slides on money/inflation. Might find it useful <>It is important to pursue this because if either one of us has a misconception that we can get to the bottom of, it’ll add to our collective knowledge, help us explain it to our peers (the best way to learn is to explain it to someone else), and basically keep from looking like fools when we bump into someone who REALLY does know what they are talking about. For example, I thought high oil prices lead to inflation. I was wrong, and glad I caught myself before it became part of my “knowledge”. Inflation only comes from an increase in the money supply (which can happen with gold too). It was important I got to the bottom of that simple misconception I had.

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  189. C.G.: “<>what’s the 60 hrs?<>”Work. I left work at 10:15 M, Th, and after midnight T, Wed. I was as worthless today as a Democrat at an economic summit.Yoshi,<>I was thinking of the value of formal university education. For example, your obsession with the Gold Standard and “real wages” is way off course.<>Its not an obsession. You can barely see the Krugurands from any room in the house? 😀 But seriously, what is money? It is a medium of exchange that has value and has widespread acceptability and/or use. We (US) went from gold & silver coins to gold & silver certificates to “federal notes,” which have no inherent value, other than they are currently acceptable by other people. Governments have been inflating monies for dozens of centuries. The ridges on your “silver” coins is to prevent “clipping,” a process where by people shaved the edges off coins, devaluing the coin. Precious metals have value anywhere. It has a certain weight, a certain purity or proof. When governments and societies move to paper money, the money is so easily devalued by the printing press. This creates a shaky financial foundation for businesses to thrive on. We don’t necessarily have to return to exchanging gold coins. But tying the currency to gold, it restricts government from devaluing the currency. Consider it a “security net” if you will. We can get deeper into this if you wish, but my interest lies at a level of demanding accountability from my government rather than sitting on top of a pile of Krugerands with an M16 and a box of Krispy Kremes defending the homeland from black helicopters. Prof. Ricardo

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  190. I have a correction on my DeMint comment. His comment was restricted to <>God<> and not Christianity. I think it’s pretty obvious he makes no distinction, but hey… <>If we expel God from our public life, and if we lose humility that comes with the belief in a creator, our children and grandchildren will inherit an arrogant nation that has little hope for the future.<>Pretty cool you can look up Senators speeches and comments on the floor. I have been looking for a way to do that.< HREF="http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?r109:1:./temp/~r109ddgjJN::" REL="nofollow">DeMint speech<>

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  191. Also… Robert Reich was his usual most excellent self in making one think.<>Is the well-being of our society the sum of our individual goods, or is there a common good that must be addressed? The answer will shape the American economy and society of the twenty-first century. Over the next decades, the Supreme Court will play important role in helping us make this choice. Under the guise of many doctrines and rationales – interpretations of the takings and due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Commerce Clause, the doctrine of federal preemption, the doctrine involving improper delegations of legislative or judicial powers to regulatory agencies, and so on – the Court will favor either property or community, depending on the economic values of a majority of the Justices.<>For Tony,<>Do our poor and working-class children have the right, under the Equal Protection Clause, to as good an education as the children of our wealthier citizens? A future Court that says yes presumably would deem unconstitutional much of our present system of primary and secondary education, in which spending per child largely is based largely on local property taxes that vary enormously depending on whether the locale is rich or poor.<>< HREF="http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=1611&wit_id=4634" REL="nofollow">Robert Reich Testimony – don’t kid yourself, values do come into play also<>

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  192. Yoshi,Yep… very, very depressing. I was so much happier before I caught on. Ignorance is bliss… and I want to go back. { No comments from the peanut gallery on CG ignorance please }TC,I missed your sarcasm also. As Yoshi said, please break it down for us.The pastor I <>paraphrased<> was Susan Thistlewaite, president of the Chicago Theological Seminary. I know nothing about her other than listening to her testimony, and her bitch-slapping of Sessions. I googled for the actual Sessions-Thistlewaite transcript (day four) because I don’t trust my memory 100% on the dialogue. Unfortuantely, it doesn’t look like the day four transcript is out yet. However, her testimony was available. I would hope you would read it, and maybe we could discuss areas you disagree with. Same for everyone else. I was very impressed with her testimony. <>It might seem contradictory that while as a nation we are more religiously pluralistic than ever before, we see contemporary efforts by some to establish the doctrines of only one religion, Christianity, and indeed only of part of Christianity, as social policy.<>< HREF="http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=1611&wit_id=4636" REL="nofollow">Testimony of Susan Thistlewaite<>I have some questions for you guys, but I will wait until after your feedback on Susan’s testimony.

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  193. Common Good, you are depressing the hell out of me. If some Senators really behaved that way, especially the comment about America “losing it’s humility.” That takes the cake. How do these people get in charge to begin with? I didn’t get TexCon’s sarcasm… could someone break it down for me?

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  194. Ha, ha, good post about the “pastor”. Thanks for posting that. I think the punch line was the “separation of church and state laws.” Ah, man, I almost choked on my Coca-Cola Classic. As if that was in the Constitution or something, right?! Whew, that was good. The idea that we have “separation of church and state laws.” Oh, man, I’m <>LMAO<> over here.Thanks, CG.

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  195. I have to share a priceless moment that happened at the end of the Roberts hearings. I watched most of the hearing… yeah, I know, I need to get a life.Overall, most of the Senators were on good behavior and asked good questions. Only a couple turned the questioning into a grandstanding for themselves and for their ideology. One of the worse was Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. One of the last witnesses was a pastor that was not in favor of judge Roberts. Session got all puffed up {which is his usual state if you have ever watched him } and asked what this pastor thought of the recent <>pledge under god<> ruling by the judge. Her response was priceless. She calmly asked Mr. Pompous a couple of questions. <>Senator, what’s your reason for arguing so strongly that “under god” has to remain in the pledge? If your basis is “tradition”, the “under god” phrase was put into the pledge in the 50’s as a protest against Communism. It was not a tradition from our founders. If you are batting for God, he doesn’t need your help. If you view the “under god” phrase as a form of declaration of the existence of god, then it’s the same as prayer and a violation of the seperation of chruch and state laws of our country.<> I never heard such mumbling out of the Puffed up one. He tried to hide the whistling sound of the wind exiting his puffed up condition… but failed miserably. On a related note, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint declared on the Senate floor… paraphrasing: <>If the US ever stops declaring ourselves a Christian nation, then we will become a less humble nation because we will lose the humility that Christianity brings.<> I almost spewed my diet coke right through my nose. I have to ask the question: <>is telling everyone that if you don’t accept his Christian god you lose humility… humble?<> That sounds like the opposite of humility to me. I think I will have to refer to this guy as Senator DeMented from now on. I get is Sessions and DeMented… <>we the people<> was an oversight. It was always meant to say <>we the Christian people<>. For after all, if our rights are a gift from a Christian god, then why would god want any rights for those who are not Christians.I get it… that 1.5% is shining through.

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  196. I read the song. Speaking of, I saw Donald Trump last night on Jay Leno’s show complaining about gas prices. He was saying that the Saudi’s were “ripping us off,” and that Washington could send the right businessmen there to get us a better price.Generally I take the position that rich men are ususally always right (that’s how they get rich!), but I think he’s full of shit of this one. I don’t think OPEC controls the price like he imagines. Russia is a huge producer, the North Sea is, Mexico is, and Canada is. OPEC doesn’t have the market share it used to, it can’t have too much control on the price anymore.

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  197. Yoshi,Jolie is now on the TIVO to do list. It must be a short lesson… only 30 minutes. I have to figure cell phone and poverty awareness is way up these days with males… considering Jolie and Catherine Zeta Jones. I’m lucky I don’t have about 50 cell phones. 🙂Prof,Yep… Shrub sounded like a decent human being last night… i.e. a Democrat. 🙂 I would not get to carried away giving him credit, however. He couldn’t exactly go in front of the American public and give him the Prof <>you are on your own lecture<>. Also, remember Cheney already did reconnaissance for Haliburtion in the area. Did you hear someone in the crowd… I think in Mississippi yelled for Cheney to go F*** himself. Prof, you live in a vacuum called Texas. You need to get out more. You should… you would be a big hit. Baby parts… jeeze. Let me offer some humor to counteract that negativity (where is that optimistic cus TC when you need him). Prof… what’s the 60 hrs? Katrina help?Humor: <>Turns out our DNA is 98.5% identical to that of chimpanzes. That 1.5% is what gives us our inclanation for greed and killing each other<>.– The Daily Show btw… anyone listen to the gas song I linked above. I loved the part at the end where the guy says <>those hybrid cars don’t seem so gay anymore<>. 🙂

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  198. The quintessential liberal President George Bush who never met a government program he wanted to veto and never met a need he didn’t want to spend <>your<> money on to fix, once again bought more votes (Hey, I thought this was his last term?) by promising the world to N.O. this week, thus providing EVEN MORE EVIDENCE that our good friend Common Good talks a good talk about George and his rich buddies and their all out war on the poor, without any real evidence to support it (Remember C.G., politicians lie, politicians lie, politicians lie, they talk conservative, they spend like liberals, politicians lie).So far FEMA money has been spent for $700 purses in Atlanta and at < HREF="http://wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46361" REL="nofollow">Strip Clubs in Houston<>. How such a Diva of the Welfare world can be such a hated member of the left is beyond me. Oh, now I remember. He doesn’t favor filling dumpsters with dead baby parts. How silly of me. To be a real Democrat, A <>real<> woman has got to have some <>real<> rights. And if you ain’t got the right to killin’ chillen – You just ain’t got rights.Prof. RicardoM-Th.=60hrs

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  199. by the way, Common Good, the new Ali G season 2 is out. Ali G goes to a Pro-life” rally in D.C.Bruno goes to a Arkansas Minister “Gay Converter.” Borat goes with a Republican candidate for the House door-to-door to solicit votes. Borat also goes to a country-western bar, but I’m not giving away what happens… And of course, much, much more…It’s pretty damn funny, make a few cocktails for your wife and you and pop it in the DVD player…

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  200. < HREF="http://www.mtv.com/thinkmtv/features/global/diary/angelina_jolie/" REL="nofollow"> The Diary of Angelina Jolie and Dr. Jeffrey Sachs in Africa airs on MTV Friday, September 16 at 8 PM ET/PT, coinciding with the United Nations World Summit on Poverty. <>“In this special think MTV episode of Diary, actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie journeys to Kenya with the world’s leading expert on poverty, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. On their journey, they witness how the challenges of hunger, disease and isolation in Africa are being overcome in this small village beset by hunger, AIDS, and malaria.”(7 pm Central, that’s us in Texas!).Common Good, Tony, Randy, try to watch it if you’ve access to cable. Prof, if you want to learn more about Economics and what works with foreign aid, you should watch as well. Especially Prof, he needs some tutoring in that department. Actually Prof, you should make it part of your homeschool curriculum.(If you want, I’ll edit out the commericials with the pretty girls and mail you the DVD I make from it.)

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  201. I might just have to put David Brooks back on the reading list. Pretty funny stuff…Jeff Sessions: <>This may be a good moment to remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that in this country unelected judges don’t write the laws. We have unelected lobbyists to do that. Under our system, judges merely interpret the law and decide presidential elections.<>< HREF="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/15/opinion/15brooks.html" REL="nofollow">Brooks on the Roberts confirmation process<>Coburn is one of my two fearless Senators. He really did almost start wailing after he made the statement <>he longed for a less partisan time<>. Jon Stewart picked up on that one. He put up a couple of quotes from Coburn’s 2004 Oklahoma campaign.<>I am for the death sentence for abortion doctors<>.<>Gays represent the biggest threat to our civil liberties than anything else<>.Yep… it’s obvious only those other elected types are divisive. Pawaaaaa!!!!

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  202. Yoshi,<>Having only churches tend to the poor makes as much sense as having only churches tending to the highways and running the police and FBI.<><> that too many people would take a “free ride” on fighting poverty, that we’d all be willing to chip in to help the poor, but only if we could be sure everyone else was too.<>Yep and Yep. Humans have proved 1) we are pack animals 2) unless it’s in writing, it doesn’t mean jack. The Articles of Confederation proved this… we don’t catch on very fast. I was trying to think of an analogy to pinpoint the core differences between conservatives and liberals. The differences are too broad for that in reality, but maybe the following isn’t bad.Hypothetical: Imagine there are two adults in need (food, housing, etc.) Imagine everyone agrees that one of the individuals deserves the help/charity, and everyone agree one does not (a real deadbeat). Also imagine the rule is we can either help BOTH or NEITHER.The liberal will be so disgusted with the idea of not helping the deserving one, they will hold their nose and help both.The conservative will be so disgusted at the prospect of someone undeserving getting help, they will sacrifice the deserving individual out of principle.

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  203. Prof. -I was thinking of the value of formal university education. For example, your obsession with the Gold Standard and “real wages” is way off course. That’s a result of educating yourself without proper feedback. I’m taking a wild guess here, but that must come from some of that right-wing conspiracy theory stuff you’re reading (or those infomercials that are trying to sell you their gold). Formal education can filter that radical stuff out.

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  204. TexaCon,You asked, <>” How would we ever elect a president then? There have to be institutions that lend themselves to a system of having the public speak for what should be.”<>Well, you are taking me a bit out of context as I was speaking about fundamental rights. To say it plainly, I think that majority rule has no place whatsoever in determining what one’s human rights protections should be. This is the real genius of our system of laws.It doesn’t matter that the majority wishes to impose its religious views on Christians though its legal mandate of a secular education. It doesn’t matter that the majority wishes to prevent homosexuals from getting married in their own church. It doesn’t matter that the Southern Baptists wish to deprive me of my pint of stout.But even in the context of legislation within the governments enumerated powers, there are many mechanisms that attempt to dilute the rush of the majority. The founders were worried about mob rule probably as much as any other single factor.

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  205. “There is just no way that the church network and volunteerism can deal with the scope and complexity of those falling through the cracks in our 2005 US economy.”-Not only that, but why is it primarily the churches’ responsibility while everyone else gets off? Milton Friedman even talks about this idea, that too many people would take a “free ride” on fighting poverty, that we’d all be willing to chip in to help the poor, but only if we could be sure everyone else was too.Having only churches tend to the poor makes as much sense as having only churches tending to the highways and running the police and FBI.

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  206. TC,You may be right. You may serve a purpose here by bringing optimism. You didn’t think I was listening, did you? Did you ever remember if I went condescending on you before or after the CommieG label? I really couldn’t remember. 🙂<>There have to be institutions that lend themselves to a system of having the public speak for what should be. Not everyone will agree and the minorities will lose out. Should the minority view succeed so that we avoid majoritarian principles?<>Well, I have to agree with you a second time in the same post… with a big BUT. Tony is talking specifically about majority opinion meaning sqat about constitutional rights. For example, it never mattered a majority supported slavery… it was always a violation of liberty against another human being. But then, here is a question for Tony. The slave thing was in the Constitution… so was it really unconstitutional? Is there a difference at any given time between what is constitutional (and majority accepted) and the true nature of human rights? For example… a majority may support civil union rights being banned from gays, but a true definition of human rights may be that gays are just as entitled to human rights as the next guy. Very confusing when majority should rule and when it means squat.<>Wait a minute, wait a minute. I can’t let you get away with quoting a Malaysian newspaper as having some authority on the American definition of what a conservative is.<>Man Conservatives really don’t care what other countries think… it’s almost pathological. Can’t you just measure the opinion on it’s own regardless of the source? Besides, I take the source to really be Thomas Friedman… he is repeating it as an example of his shared views (at least that’s how I took it). The US is pretty frickin good considering… but our sh*t stinks just like all other animals. Chill… listen to others and reject if the ideas are all wet… but don’t just reject because they aren’t American.<>How has this administration turned it’s back on the poor? How have conservatives turned their back on the poor?<>I accept that conservatives like you and Prof are sincere in this belief. You do share a party with mega-business that doesn’t give a rat about the poor, but forget them for now. I’ve never doubted for a second folks like you and Prof care about the poor. I just can’t give your good intentions a pass because I don’t think they amount to much in the US in 2005. There is just no way that the church network and volunteerism can deal with the scope and complexity of those falling through the cracks in our 2005 US economy. Good intentions with ideology don’t mean jack when we are talking about real lives of folks living in poverty (and we can just stick with the working poor that don’t need the personal responsibility speeches because they are working). I’m sure there are many consistencies in my (and other progressive) arguments that you can point out… feel free. But here is one for you and the Prof… and almost every single one of my GOP friends. You can never even start a conversation about the complexity of poverty in America and challenges to the have’s sense of entitlement… BECAUSE… in the first 10 seconds you guys whip out the personal responsibility mantra. In the first 10 seconds at the wave of a loyal GOP hand, working poor and the scum of the earth food stamp recipient all fall under the umbrella of needing a stern talking too about personal responsibility. I know we have Puritan roots and all… but seriously, do you ever make the distinction of the working poor. Do you guys believe it’s possible that a tremendously hard working family man will always live in poverty do to all kinds of reasons (IQ, poverty trap, location, dependent elderly parents, sickness and disease, the fact that a large percentage of our so called full employment is poverty wage jobs, yada yada yada). I will give you that maybe I’m the dumb one who just doesn’t get it… but I woke up one day and heard my wealthy friends saying they have been asked to give too much for too long (taxes) and Bush finally was setting it straight. Keep in mind some of these guys can buy south Tulsa if they want to, and their principles about some mystical tax threshold that shouldn’t be crossed meant more than the roofer dad with a family of 4 who had zero chance to afford healthcare for his kids. I applaud you guys who can make sense out of this kind of wealthy US… and it would be much easier on me if I could go back and fit in with my friends. But I have a real problem. I can no longer justify those inequalities. I really listen to your arguments and Profs arguments (in between the condescension). It’s not that Prof’s point about “who is decide morality and other’s contributions to common good/charity” isn’t sound logic. It’s the fact that the reality we live in is one wealthy man’s valid moral principles have to be weighed against another man’s real life need of taking the kid to the doctor. All that’s at risk for one is a competing principal, but zero economic risk or lifestyle risk. The risk on the other side could be as serious as a child living or dying. We are the only western democracy to make the call on the conservative side that you and Prof support. I know anything not-America isn’t worth listening to, but at least consider how many other democracies made the second choice. You just can’t blame that on being godless, or demanding a backup plan to working. Those platitudes are too simple for a man of your Intelligence. You are willing to “be in this together through your church” but not “we are in this together through our goverment”. I have become convinced the only chance the poor will ever have (and there our only chance for a civilized more equitable society) will but us acting MORE collectively through goverment. That doesn’t mean government owning business’s, or communism or anything like it. It’s like the Friedman article… let’s just get back to a more rational discussion about needed government, rather than this 30 year cult to destroy it. I really hope we realize soon that we need a New New Deal… a better and more efficient one to cope with a vastly different economy with more in’s and out’s into employment… Rather than just killing the old New Deal. Going back to just church networks won’t work, and isn’t fair… many of us don’t want our safety net provided through your church. Then again, maybe we are all mass stupids when measured against the complexity of economies and terrorism we find ourselves in. We are probably all just kidding ourselves that humans can figure it out this time. In the meantime, my government can tax me for poor folks… that is once I get an income again. My friends suspect I’m lobbying for poor folks for myself these days. It’s a lousy thing to give your GOP friends in arguments like this… they eventually pull out the “you are a deadbeat” line. I guess it would mean more for a very wealthy individual to say “tax the hockey out of me if you need too for poor people”. 🙂Cheers… we all have to do what we gotta do.

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  207. Wait a minute, wait a minute. I can’t let you get away with quoting a <>Malaysian<> newspaper as having some authority on the American definition of what a conservative is. If we were playing Scrabble, I’d throw the dictionary at you on that one and go get a sandwich whilst you looked up some reason and perspective. That’s like if you were raised without parents, me reading Oliver Twist and knowing what it was like for you. No. Try again. The conservatives I know are passionate about the poor, the suffering, yes – the widows and the orphans and want to help. What the conservatives I know do NOT want, is a system that lends itself to dependence and collective alternatives to work. The conservatives that I know belong to churches and donate money that allows the church to adopt victims of Katrina start a new life in a new community. And no, it’s not based on some contractual obligation to attend church nor even BELIEVE in God. You can say lies like that about conservatives being disconnected, over and over again, even across the Pacific in some Singaporian newspaper, and it does not make it become true. How has this administration proved this? How has this administration turned it’s back on the poor? How have conservatives turned their back on the poor? This administration has been better to the poor than #42. And that was practically his platform.Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish my tourist’s guide to Malaysian Cooking. No, I’ve never been there. But I watch Rachel Ray every weekend and I think I get the gist of it.

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  208. Wow, Curmie, we agree on something. How completely and utterly boring. I too have been quite dismayed by my taxes being taken for use by the collective group of students that attend schools that my son did not. I can’t say it ever dissuaded me from owning a home. As to the CG’s math, the tax rate for the school district, at least in Texas, is always the highest one…and there are no exemptions on it that I know of. The city and county districts offer exemptions for disabled veterans, over-65 and Homestead but you get zip on the ISD taxes. The computation is based on the appraised value of your home, not your mortgage. I’ve lost everyone haven’t I. I always do that. A house appraised at about $150k in my county will pay about $2700 in school district taxes per year (and I live in a relatively cheap district). Of course, hang on, where’s that index card with all the GOP talking points, um, oh, yeah, there it is. If we incorporated a school voucher system it would promote competition among various schools and allow for a more college institution method of attracting students…oh, I know, you don’t want to hear that but it’s a good idea. Not without it’s shortcomings but what ideas are. Even sitting down to a nice piece of chocolate cake isn’t COMPLETELY good for you.Oh, and curmie, I think my stance on gay marriage has been taken out to the woodshed and you’ve taken a whip to it. I do believe that you can take your “majoritarian rule sucks” stance a bit too staunch. How would we ever elect a president then? There have to be institutions that lend themselves to a system of having the public speak for what should be. Not everyone will agree and the minorities will lose out. Should the minority view succeed so that we avoid majoritarian principles? I don’t think so. At least if there is to be a departure of a custom common, not only to America, but to civilized societies (crap, I hated using that phrase), shouldn’t there be a vote? Look at our civil war. A lot of ignorant people wanted to hang on to their slaves and sure, there were a bunch of them…but not enough to defeat the Union. Was that a bad thing? That was majoritarian rule if I ever knew one. It wasn’t exactly a thumping but it was decisive. I can’t wait to learn something.

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  209. Sound familar? <>Janadas Devan, a Straits Times columnist, tried to explain to his Asian readers how the U.S. is changing. “Today’s conservatives,” he wrote, “differ in one crucial aspect from yesterday’s conservatives: the latter believed in small government, but believed, too, that a country ought to pay for all the government that it needed.“The former believe in no government, and therefore conclude that there is no need for a country to pay for even the government that it does have. … [But] it is not only government that doesn’t show up when government is starved of resources and leached of all its meaning. Community doesn’t show up either, sacrifice doesn’t show up, pulling together doesn’t show up, <>‘we’re all in this together’<> doesn’t show up.”<>< HREF="http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/14/opinion/14friedman.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists%2fThomas%20L%20Friedman" REL="nofollow">Friedman is so much smarter that a mass stupid<>

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  210. Let’s try some math.Tony rents for 20 years. Let’s just say that was $1000 a month for 20 years. I remember my property tax being less as a percentage of the mortgate… but let’s go with 10% of that $1000 per month as property tax. So for 20 years, Tony accumulates $100 a month towards schools. So $1200 a year * 20 years = $24,000 paid in. Tony claims current Texas per kid cost is $8000, but let’s not beat him up to bad. Let’s go with half of that… $4000 per year per kid to school for a year. 20 * $4000 = $80,000. Tony owes (and he would owe if we were keeping tabs for a school tax ala carte system): $80,000 – $24,000 = $56,000. Good grief… and I thought I was for wealth transfer. What a commie.

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  211. Remedial math:When I did own a home (a long time ago in a cheap neighborhood), my property taxes were approximately $1,500 per year. I’ll use that extremely conservative number-its probably closer to $4,000 a year now.Now take age 25 to 65 as my actuarial expectation of paying those taxes…that is 40 years. That translates into $60,000. Divide that by the twelve years of education of my kid, and it comes up $5,000 per year. I’m close using the most conservative numbers I could muster. Factor in inflation, the time value of money, and the fact that I’ll probably pay the taxes for more than 40 years and it is extremely lopsided. Which is what I would expect since I am subsidizing lower wage earners.

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  212. Tony,<>How do you figure renters don’t pay property tax?<>Well, first I’m not talking about all renters, but rather the renter named Tony. Second, if you think you are entitled to $8000 a year back from the places you have rented, I might suggest some remedial math.That said, I’m pumped that I will be getting a Iraq rebate check. < HREF="http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/extras/vonnegut.jhtml" REL="nofollow">Kurt Vonnegut’s list of liberal crap he doesn’t want to hear again.<>Kurt said we were just the one’s to give Iraq a democracy lesson.1) In the early days, mass genocide is ok. 2) You can hold on to your slaves for 100 years.3) You don’t have to give you women the right to vote for 150 years.

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  213. CG,Move a few pawns and you think you have me checkmated? I’ll bet you have world peace totally mastered too.Matters of national defense are totally different. You have consented to that…check your Constitution. Obviously I have wasted a lot of packets explaining how our legal system works. Not that it bothers me that much to know that I am talking to myself. It was never an impediment to me before.How do you figure renters don’t pay property tax? Where do you think your landlord gets the money to pay property taxes? I’ve met your landlord and while he is certainly a good guy, I don’t think he is just eating that expense.Now as tempting as it is to conclude this post with extreme ridicule and bombastic condescension, instead let me rescue you from your own confusion and make your case for you. Don’t expect this treatment all of the time: I’m just in a particularly generous mood today.I do think we deserve our money back on Iraq. The Government does not have the power to wage war absent a declaration of war. The War Powers act is itself unconstitutional. The various authorizations that have occurred down through the years since the enactment of that piece of excrement known as the WPA are themselves a dereliction of office and violation of the individual oaths of office by congressmen sufficient to warrant removal from office. (Notice I did not say impeachment because that is a Congressional act.)And by the way, I will say “you are welcome” in advance. Anytime you need me to think for you, do not hesitate to ask. A mind is, after all, a terrible thing to waste.

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  214. Tony,So one could make a case that lifetime renters don’t carry their fair share concerning the cost of educating the kiddies. If the government kept tabs so they could offer vouchers like you propose, you may actually owe money. Now that’s irony.Checkmate.

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  215. Great. I’m with you guys. I want my Iraq tax money back. I was violated when my tax money was used to make my future life here more dangerous. You guys feel bent over about educating little Johnny… you must really feel violated having your tax money used in Iraq. This opens up an entire new spectrum to be pissed off about… the wild wild world of misused tax money. Giddyup!!! We’ve got some serious blogging opportunities.Prof,<>If universal healthcare is like ANY other governmental program and shows great inefficiency, waste, and lack of responsiveness,<>Talk about dodgeball. How many times have I had to remind you that the term Universal Healthcare doesn’t equate (necessarily) to government healthcare… at least not how I’m using it. I’m for universal health coverage. Notice, nowhere in that sentence to I define the delivery mechanism. Frankly, it’s above my paygrade. What isn’t above my paygrade is holding my nose when I hear Prof say <>he intends to protect the efficiency and quality of his family’s doctor line by not allowing those who can’t afford to slide into the line.<>. Sorry… just can’t make that skunk smell like perfume. Interestingly, right after I posted the Universal Healthcare post, I flipped channels to a CNBC discussion on … of all things… OUR HEALTHCARE CRISIS. They had a couple of Senators, Governor Mitt Romney, and several business owners including the Starbucks CEO. To a man, they all seemed to agree that the nation was heading towards an elitist healthcare system. The have’s having the <>best healthcare system in the world<> and the have-nots having no healthcare system. I suppose people would keep making the claim until the cows come home that we had the best healthcare system… even if only two people left in the US could afford it. But Mitt Romney said something that you need to hear Mr. Prof. He said in there state they have been providing insurance cards to the poor that constantly show up at the emergency centers for their healthcare. Instead, these folks were routed to doctors… and patient-doctor relationships developed. These people still couldn’t afford their heathcare, but the costs to the state dropped by 2/3rds. That’s the entire point. If people get off their <>personal responsibility high-horse<> long enough regarding healthcare, they will be able to see that we can beat the current emergency room/hospital coverage of the poor. Imagine emergency rooms being limited to emergencies. If it helps, I would allow <>personal responsibility<> lectures to the folks after they see the doctor.

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  216. Tony: <>The right to become a parent and to raise you kid as you see fit has always been one of the most protected of our liberties. That right has been seized from me without my consent.<>Amen. Hallelujah. Pass the plate.Prof. Ricardo

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  217. C.G.: <>Let’s see…. multi-millonaire avoid estate tax OR all kids have heathcare? Tough choice…. NOT.<>I didn’t say avoid tax. That’s all lumped together anyway. I said seek the actual HEALTHCARE, that item you want to be so universal – Can I have an out of the system doctor put a band-aid on my finger?No more dodge ball. Answer the question.Prof. Ricardo“All kids?” Really. I’m tearing up already, sniff, sniff.

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  218. CG,I was making a general observation that majority rule stinks. Then I gave a specific example where you think majority rule is just fine immediately after you had posted that the majority is not to be trusted. I should have picked a different example so I could keep you on topic. 😀The $8,000 figure is what they spend per kid in Texas. Granted, I did not pay my $8,000 this year, but like you I paid a lot of years I did not have a kid in school. If I had all the tax money back…which by the way is not what I’m asking for…I could send my kid anywhere I wanted.The argument that the tax consequences violate my fundamental rights is irrefutable. The counter argument that you always use is that I can take my kid elsewhere and that I’m being taxed for education is entirely relevant.In terms of the constitution, it is express in the law and implied by natural rights theory that any power not expressly granted to the government is reserved to the states and the people. You are right, the Constitution does not address it, so it is still mine. The special case is those powers we have given the government to infringe on our human rights.Actually, when I made the argument about determining your child’s education being a fundamental right it was rooted in the nature of parenthood. The right to become a parent and to raise you kid as you see fit has always been one of the most protected of our liberties. That right has been seized from me without my consent.

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  219. <>So who’s morality should we legislate?<>You can’t have a true meritocracy without providing children with equal educational opportunities and healthcare coverage regardless of economic class. We can afford it now, so positions against it have become immoral. Of course I’m equating constantly striving for <>true<> meritocracy with morality. Just call me crazy. Let’s see…. multi-millonaire avoid estate tax OR all kids have heathcare? Tough choice…. NOT.

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  220. Prof,Help me find the actual <>working poor vs Welfare check recipient stats.<> I figure you already know this one off the top of your head. I realize I am asking help from someone immoral. 🙂

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  221. Common Good: <>Prof… I’m for profiling and universal healthcare.Notice to family and friends: If in 2005, you are still fighting against universal healthcare, you ARE IMMORAL.<>Interesting. So, does this mean you are for legislating morality? You religious fanatic, you. 🙂So who’s morality should we legislate? Yours (dictatorship)? The majorities (Democracy, lynch rule)? Or individual freedom to do what you will as long as it does not intrude on others?In your world of “universal healthcare,” would doctors and individuals be punished, even with prison sentences for getting any medical healthcare outside of the system (like Hillarycare)? You know how stupid governmental rule making can be. Are you content with a world where people will die because the healthcare they could get to would be “outside the system”, therefore they didn’t go, therefore they died? Remember three planes flew to their graves with compliant passengers on 9/11, only the final one did the passengers act on their own did they have a reasonable chance to avert disaster. If universal healthcare is like ANY other governmental program and shows great inefficiency, waste, and lack of responsiveness, and if it is like ANY other socialist nation’s healthcare in long waits, sometimes months for emergency appendectomies and such, I suspect we can imagine there are those who might not want to wait in lines like you see at community hospitals currently dispensing “free” healthcare. The net effect will be a decrease in the net health of our nation. This decrease in net healthcare will be met with intense need to do something. That something will involve more money, more control and intrusion, and more failure. But hey, it’s the thought that counts.Prof. Ricardo

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  222. Tony,<>Regardless of the detailed issues, my question was on majority rule.<>Well, you merged majority rule and rights when you said the following (which I responded to). <>One of my consistent themes has been that majority rule sucks when you are dealing with fundamental rights. The problem is that people of every political stripe swerve off into the majoritarianism at times. You for one are quite comfortable with the majority imposing its will on the minority in the area of education to name one example.<>It sounded like you were making a case your <>child education rights<> were being violated, and that I supported that violation because it was a majority decision.Warning: following just intellectual jousting. Truth be known, I wish the Federal government was showing up with buckets of educational cash for the Curm family.Your position doesn’t hold up… I think you called that weak. We could both agree you aren’t making the case that the country or state is violating your rights by any specific law which requires your attendance at any specific school… i.e. you have the <>legal right to go elsewhere<>. You are making the case, that the economic consequences of tax policy amounts to the same thing… a violation of your child education rights. (btw… is child education an unumerated right?). So we are back to my point… you have to make the case that tax consequences amount to a violation of your rights. Common sense would dictate that if education tax consequences can be a violation of rights, then many, many tax consequences could also be deemed rights violations. We are going to be in court a lot. Now if I remember right, you made the case once that <>education is a more base and fundamental right than others<>. I certainly wouldn’t argue against the importance of education, but I’m not sure where the constitution supports you in the claim education is a special case. Can you point me to the part of the Constitution holds education out to be a special case. Asked a different way… would you think education rights violation is the only place where one could invoke tax consequences to support you? Just out of curiosity, how did you determine your state is collecting $8000 from you. I say State, because we have State property tax funded schools… federal funding isn’t significant. If I remember correctly, my yearly property taxes on my fairly large home in the best school district in town was around $3000-$4000 a year. Now I’m a renter, and I’m not sure how much my landlord pays in property taxes and then passes on to me. I don’t think it’s $8000 a year unless I’m getting a very, very good deal. 🙂Tony, if I were King, parents would NEVER have to raise issues about the cost of educating kids. I’m afraid, however, there would still be federal funding of religion issues left to complain about. Maybe I shouldn’t be king. 🙂

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  223. Another bs line in the judge confirmation process. <>Because this president won the election, he won the right to fill the court as he chooses<>. Well… last I checked judges are for <>all of us<>. He won the election 51%-48%. That 2 or 3% didn’t mean the 48% don’t exist. It’s as if, since the GOP won the election by a couple of percent, they should now be entitled to overturn Roe vs Wade. Sorry… the logic doesn’t hold up. It’s bad enough we got a president that isn’t a president for <>all of us<>, but surely Judges have to be for <>all of us<>.That said… Roberts is extremely impressive. The problem is, IQ, temperment, and judicial philosophy doesn’t matter much when it comes to abortion. He will either vote your way or not. Nothing a judge does can heal the divide in this country on that subject. We (and the judge) are left with two very bad choices. 1) A country where women can decide pregnancy issues for themselves (could make a personal choice abortion is immoral for them), with a large percentage of the population revolted by that right making charges of murder… OR 2) a country where abortion is illegal (at least in some states), and as a consequence, doctors, mom’s, sisters, wives subject to prison or death sentences. We are surviving the current choice. It would be interesting to see if we survived changing that choice.

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  224. CG,What an amazingly weak response. I am very disappointed.We have gone around and around on this. I’m tempted to just blow it off. But in the interests of the broader discussion, I’ll indulge a bit more.It is impossible to make the case that taking tax dollars is not the majority imposing its will. Your argument is that this is a good thing. So the question is how does that affect my fundamental rights. In this case, the right to educate my child in the way that is best for him.As you know, this has gone from being abstract for me to quite real in the last few months. My position has not changed in the last quarter century, but now I find myself exactly where so many others have been before. If I had the eight thousand dollars of taxes that the state has taken from me to educate my kid, I would be able to send him to the school that would work for him. And in our case, there is exactly the right school and I can not afford it.But that was focusing in on one issue. I believe that you are on record for supporting majority rule on other issues as well. Such as abortion where you point out that most people do not think it is murder.Regardless of the detailed issues, my question was on majority rule.

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  225. I agree with Biden. It’s bs that <>just being a bright, good man<> is all the public has the right to know before confirming a judge. I’m sorry… but I should have the right to know the candidates views on individual vs state control of <>end of life issues<>. That’s not asking how one would rule on a case… it’s asking a fundamental question about individual liberty vs state intrusion. The Senators (of both parties) deserve to know more. Otherwise everyone is just rolling the dice.

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  226. Tony,<>You for one are quite comfortable with the majority imposing its will on the minority in the area of education to name one example.<>As soon as you convince me <>tax consequences<> equal violating your rights, you will have won the argument. Of course, then you will have to assist me in getting back my Iraq taxes. 🙂

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  227. CG said, <>”The majority has been wrong so often, it’s obvious they can not be trusted.”<>Better be careful making sense like that. You can run afoul of lots of other beliefs you espouse.One of my consistent themes has been that majority rule sucks when you are dealing with fundamental rights. The problem is that people of every political stripe swerve off into the majoritarianism at times. You for one are quite comfortable with the majority imposing its will on the minority in the area of education to name one example. TexaCon has weighed in enthusiastically for majority rule back during the old gay marriage battles. Note that there was a time when a majority of Americans wished to < HREF="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/rushmore/sfeature/sf_poll.html" REL="nofollow">add Ronald Reagan’s physiognomy to Mouth Rushmore.<>So which is it? Should the majority rule or not?I’d restate my own position again, but I have done so frequently and will try to avoid boring you all even further. The bottom line is that majority rule sounds great as long as you are in the majority.

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  228. I just spent a few minutes trying to answer the question: <>what percentage of the poverty class in the US are <>working<> poor vs welfare recipients<>. I can’t say I answered that exactly, but the following links support the following numbers:Poverty is defined as around $20,000 per year for a family of 5.Approx 12.x % of the nation falls into poverty.Approx 1.8% of the population received welfare (looks like that is AFCD and TANF today).Approx 7% of the population receives food stamps.Now I’m not positive about these numbers. I need the master Googler Tony to hunt this down. He is the google Mistro. 🙂 However, assuming I have this pretty much right… a few observations. The vast majority of aid in this country is in the form of food stamps. If you throw out food stamps, then it looks like approx 14% of the poverty class (1.8% / 12.7% poverty) recieve welfare payments. Again… I’m not sure about my numbers, but my brief glance leads me to believe the risk of “not enough personal responsibility”… however one tries to define that, is NOT high. I’m on board with continuing to search for better ways to deal with poverty, and better ways to lead capable people out of poverty and federal aid. However, it really looks like <>lack of personal responsibility<> is not the national crisis some would have you believe. Approx 12% of the nation being in the working poor… however… is a HUGE issue and risk. I may dig more later. The following two websites look like a wealth 🙂 of information.< HREF="http://www.publicagenda.org/issues/overview.cfm?issue_type=welfare" REL="nofollow">ref 1<>< HREF="http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty04/pov04hi.html" REL="nofollow">ref 2<>< HREF="http://www.publicagenda.org/issues/factfiles_detail.cfm?issue_type=welfare&list=17" REL="nofollow">ref 3<>

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  229. Yoshi,<>So the general rule is, the more education you have, the more liberal you get. Hmm? What’s that tell you?<>We live in a culture where those with less education label those with more as part of the <>intelligentsia<>. The mass stupids actually came up with a campaign to make fun of the educated among us. Prof… I’m for profiling and universal healthcare. Not accepting the conservative knuckle-dragging ideology is not PC… it’s common sense. We have to accept the Iraq war, or we are not patriotic. We have to accept the eat-your-own-kill-personal-responsibility myopic mantra… or we are weak and want the government to take care of us. You are weak if you don’t accept an economic system as a fair and sole arbiter of social justice in our society. See a trend here…. 🙂Sorry… some of us aren’t going to buy the bs anymore. Notice to family and friends: If in 2005, you are still fighting against universal healthcare, you ARE IMMORAL. It gives the other side too much of a pass to call it just an opposing view. It needs to be called what it is from this point forward… IMMORAL. The lonely voice at our founding that claimed slavery was immoral was shouted down. The lonely voices that said there should be child labor laws were shouted down. The lonely voices that said women should have the right to vote were shouted down. The voices today that say it’s not ok for a Christian society to shout down gays, and it’s not ok to allow the poor to not have healthcare are being shouted down. The lonely voice that says …. no, I will not accept an economic system being the sole arbiter of social justice in our country are being shouted down. The majority has been wrong so often, it’s obvious they can not be trusted.

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  230. C.G.,<>So our best defense against terrorism is a better educated public. Interesting.<>I said: “Eliminate mass stupidity.”A path to that is to short circuit known indoctrinations of stupidity.Ever wonder why we frisk old white women in wheel chairs, confiscate fingernail clippers and children’s safety scissors for homeland security? Other than the superficial thrill we give our undocumented security guards, I believe it is a consequence of political correctness, which is the step child of liberalism. Liberalism oversteps the correct doctrine of equality of human value to produce equality of outcome. Political correctness takes this to its logical conclusion of treating different levels of threatening people and treats them alike (ie. No profiling, middle eastern men with suicide garments and C4 treated like invalids and school children). The ridiculousness and bankruptcy of this philosophy escapes no one. However, few can connect the dots to find out the root cause of this ridiculous behavior. Our school children have become “team players” rather than independent thinkers, and thus mass government educated/thinking lobotomized individuals roam the country accounting for, what was Tony’s description? Oh yes, <>Mass Stupids<>. Ctrl + Alt + Del -> gov.skool & liberal college ed = mass thinkers = sensible environment to discuss and implement reasonable terrorism measures.Prof. Ricardo

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  231. Well, I go to one school in redneck Texas-land, so my experience may be the exception. (I looked at the report, btw).So the general rule is, the more education you have, the more liberal you get. Hmm? What’s that tell you? I’ll agree that most social sciences/ arts are liberal, but I think almost by nature people studying business are indoctrinated with conservative business values. I know we are at UTA, no doubt about it. I still think it depends on what is meant by “conservative”. I consider myself “conservative” because I believe in free markets, outsourcing, and invisible hands. But I’d probably be labeled “liberal” because I don’t believe Adam and Eve ran from velociraptors in the Garden of Edun. Or because I think we need an alternative form of energy developed more rapidly and shop at Whole Foods. Or because I don’t eat at Diary Queen or like football or professional wrestling. I’m slightly right of center, but I’d be called liberal by most slightly-biased surveys.

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  232. Marx is a four letter word nowadays. I had one professor dog him up and down. I reminded the class that if we keep what Marx wrote in the context of what was happening in the workforce at that time, mid-late 1800s industrial revolution with people chained to their workstations 12 hours + a day and kids digging coal in mines, Marx was pretty damn good. To be far though, this Professor just had a master’s degree. You should see the books in his office, you can always judge someone well by his library. Tom Clancy! Yuck!!!! Not even academic books, unless Rush Limbaugh counts as an intellectual. Generally however, we at school are subjected to listen to potshots on the U.N. all day.

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  233. Yoshi,I suspect one’s opinion on professorial political viewpoints depends on your school. I can tell you that in my experience most of my professors were extremely liberal to radical left. A number of Marxists and those I suspected where Marxists. A few hippies as well. Of course I’m a bit older than you and that was more fashionable in the early 80s.But you haven’t lived if you haven’t been taught economics by a Marxist.

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  234. Yoshi,You make $7 hr more than I do. 🙂 When I get through my mid-life crisis, I’ve promised my wife I will go back to work. Of course, I have no idea what work that will be. I always assumed I would start back up in IT. Back before I got old and all of a sudden didn’t have the right 3+ years experience. It a very strange career when 20 years really don’t buy you much. I should have thought that one through a little better. I’ve watched my friends, and with out a doubt… if I could do it over again, I would come back as a successful independent oil baron. I bet Prof can come up with the percentage of working poor vs irresponsibile welfare sucking poor. 🙂

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  235. Good point Common Good. I’d like to know the percentage on the poor, how many are working, how many receive transfer payments.I don’t think it’s easy to get a well-paying job. I ran into a fellow student who had graduated at the mall, shamlessly selling sunglasses. I wouldn’t say shameless, except he was using his sales-man pitch on me. I lost a lot of respect for him. His degree was in Economics by the way.My cousin also got his degree from St. Edwards in Austin. He’s a painter now. Another cousin-in-law now works for my uncle, who pays their income taxes, bought their huge house, furniture, and cars. Not to mention they have their gas card paid for. Gravy-train life, but no self-respect there. And me, well, I’m piling up a massive amount of debt avoiding getting a job in a sandwich shop making 7.00 an hour with a bunch of high school drop-outs. It is hard to make it out there…. even with an education. I can only imagine not having one.By the way, for the Prof’s sake, teachers and Professors, in my experience, are blatantly conservative. At least in the business and political science departments they are. That stereotype about liberal professors has to go…. I can think of 3 overtly liberal professors I’ve had in several years, all 3 women, one an anthropology teacher, the other two literature teachers. I can think of scores of conservatives, one’s that have left me convinced that Professors in general are indeed full-of-shit people who live self-important lives based around a theoretical world (kind of like pastors and politicians). Ironically though, we’re at the same conclusion about Professors.

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  236. TC,<>Do you see how condescension is not a valid rebuttal?<>Yeah… but it’s fun. I can’t remember if I started them before or after the CommieG comment. You know what else isn’t a valid rebuttal in a complex economy/society? Answer: A simple sermon on <>personal responsibibility<>.Does anyone know the stats on how many that fall into the poverty ranks are <>working<> poor vs welfare recipients? It occurs to me that if only 10% of that group is on welfare, one side would need to look past the <>personal responsibility<> mantra. On the other hand, if 90% of those in poverty are collecting welfare checks (I’m not considering EIC as welfare in this question), then my side certainly would have to measure that against available jobs in the ecnonomy. I have to admit I have always assumed 90% of the poor work just as hard (actually MUCH harder in many cases) as the rest of us… just with limited means {for whatever reason}. If someone could make the case that 90% of poverty is the fault of <>sloth<>… it could potentially have some impact on me.

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  237. TC,Message boards are for bemusment… and that’s how they should be taken. I wouldn/t talk to as directly in your living room unless you made it clear you were up to it. I don’t view message boards as anyone’s living room. I find the battle of ideas entertaining. So far the Robert’s nomination has NOT been a sham. Both sides are asking good questions… at least in my opinion. I’m having a little dialogue with Tony about it via email. I find the issues on Constitutional law fascinating… I would have enjoyed studying law. I don’t think I would have enjoyed practicing law… however. So far, the most interesting questions have come from Biden. Judge Roberts was most elegant in is opening remarks. He is very impressive. The gist of his opening remarks is he viewed the role of judges as that of umpires in a baseball game. He is simply there to call balls and strikes, not to make the rules of baseball. Nobody comes to the baseball game to see the umpire. Sounds great… not too many would find fault in that broad brush statement. Well, Biden challenged that today. I didn’t find his questioning partisan or rude… but I have no doubt some conserative talking heads will paint it that way. Besides, on some level… who cares… these are lifetime appointments, and this guy may be there for 30 years. Just try and imagine what may come before this guy in 30 years. Certainly some of those bio-ethic concerns Tony keeps raising here that bore us to tears. 🙂 But back to Biden. He challenged the metaphor that judges simply call strikes and balls. He repeated some of Rehnquist’s writings concerning the job of a Supreme Court Justice. Rehnquist made the claim that much of their job depended on <>tacit postulates<>. I think I have that term correct. Biden made the point that Rehnquist was making the point that much of their decisions are based on these postulates… which meant they relied on <>inferring<>. Inferring, by definition, means defining the strike zone when required. When a judge ends up with a case before him that is has not been fully covered by the legislature, then sometimes the judge has make a call. Roberts said this exactly… sometimes cases come up that they have to rule on was not covered/detailed by the legislators… even on purpose or otherwise. I’m not sure how they decide what cases they have to deciced vs not accept in the first place… and I would be interested in that explanation if Tony knows. Here was also a point Roberts made regarding labels like “strict contructionist”. Roberts says he doesn’t like labels and doesn’t pick one to describe himself other than modest. He said… paraphrasing: <>Consider the term strict contructionist. Well, when you read the lines in the Constitution that say “two thirds of Congress….” then everyone is a strick contructionist. However, when you read the words “unreasonable search”… we could all stare at the words all day long and not all agree on the strick contructionist meaning of those words.<> I’m sure some would call that a sham… but not me. Tony for sure will call it politics. To me it got right to the core of the problem of seeing our Constititution without the real grey that exists. Some people are willing to discuss and debate how we act in the grey zone that exists in reality… and others will claim that reality doesn’t exist. I just don’t see how ignoring the reality of the grey is healthy, or constructive. A better use of time would be highlighting areas where grey is the worse, and defending the reasoning behind defining some areas as quite black and white. For example, even grey areas of the Constitution (and I’m convinced it started in 1789 a quite grey)… become blacker and whiter over time with statues and precedent. However, does anyone really want to make the case that many, many decisions represent brand new circumstances which amount to defining the strike zone. TC… regarding the federal vs state control of disaster response… see Tony’s response. There very little for us to discuss if you think state’s should run this, and just have Federal assets lent to them. I’m convinced we will perish from the planet under that scheme… and as Tony says… there goes NFL football. You misunderstood my use of <>stupids<> this time… or at least made some point I was not. I am calling those who ignore the obvious need for federal control due to state rights conservative ideology <>stupids<>. Yeah, I know that rude. But this is just a message board, and if I happen to be right, your ideology will get a lot more innocent people killed. Seems like it reaches a threshold of risking a bit of rudeness is warranted. It appears to me that FEMA was well thought when Lee Witt was in charge, and it was a cabinet level position… although I have heard comments that even then, they were too slow to show up. So I think going back to the Witt-type FEMA with career operational expertise rather than horse lawyers, plus even beefing that up with quicker federal response and federal (not state) control of federal disasters will be the way going forward. I have to agree with Tony on this one… if your ideology regarding state rights override your judgement on this matter… not sure what could be said to change your mind at this point. Glad I <>bemuse<> you.Tony,<>But first, let me just say that I find those people who for political purposes attack the President and the administration as the sole culprits as disgusting as the next guy.<>Ah… but what if the degrading of FEMA (and other government agencies) is directly related to the successful 30 year conservative movement, and the current president leading that charge? What if it’s true… that this president has systematically degraded FEMA, along with other federal agencies that the MOVEMENT believe should not exist. What if it’s true that a government hating (or at least minimalizing) ideology has directly resulted in FEMA being worse now than it was 4 years ago? You propose the idea that we should condemn these guys if they haven’t made progress post 911. Why is that not politics, but making the claim that not only have they not made progress, but they moved in the opposite direction politics? Why would be hammering Bush on this now be politics?

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  238. <>even those stupids who think it’s your city’s personal responsibility to fend for yourself when your city turns into a lake.<>I don’t get it. I don’t get it. Dad-gummit, I don’t get it. So are the feds stupid or are they the wise ones? Your argument boils down to this (I’m paraphrasing):<><>The locals are stupid, just like my mayor, so we need to have the federal government, who is incompetent and stupid, come in and take over.<><>Is that about right? You don’t trust people on either side. Are you just complaining for the sake of complaining? Is this just a sport? Is there some logic to your vitriol against the administration or are you just spouting the Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz talking points? I’m a little bemused by this so don’t think of this as venomous. On one hand, the feds are idiots but they should be in charge. Are they less of idiots? Here is what I propose to you as the ideal situation. In disasters, the government should be a pool of assets. That pool of assets should include helicopters, troops, advisors, consolidation of aid efforts nationally, and yes, lots of money. Once a state of emergency has been declared locally, or at the federal level, that pool of assets should (and does, incidentally) become available to the local authorities. I don’t think you should have a case where the locals just put their hands in parade-rest position and have the feds come in and take over. I can, however, see the need for that when the local authorities do not have the resources to handle the disaster – ie. some contaminant or chemical emergency. That’s when the advisor asset becomes someone that takes over. I do not, however, in any way at all, believe that Katrina should provide for the local authorities to have a complete pass on what was their designated responsibility. No one, not a single (sane) person, in red state America believes that the pool of federal assets should not be made 100% available to local governments in need, requesting those assets. Let’s not create false arguments to slam dunk the obvious position. I know we are now officially, going in circles so I will end with that.<>Here is my question. If conservatives decide they will accept more collective federal protection for terrorism in the future to protect their a$$e$$…do I get to call them Commies? <>No. This is a fundamental part of our constitution to provide for our safety. That is what government is for. It’s not to give everyone a job and support everyone. The Prof can school you better on this. I’ll leave him to his strengths.The Roberts confirmation is a sham. It will be the worst display of partisanship we’ve seen yet so let’s not kid ourselves. He seems to be a good man and the Dems can’t seem to come up with a good rebuttal outside of forcing him to provide a ruling for some potential abortion case. He can take care of himself and I’m looking forward to the match up. <>Why don’t we look ourselves in our face and quit passing on the idea to our kids that government is evil. <>You’re joking right? When do we do this? Can we start by not comparing our Pres. to Hitler or saying he hates poor and/or black people? <>“No, no, that’s different.”<> I know, I know. I keep forgetting.What we need to do is raise them with the mentality that the government is not a “backup plan.” It’s not a backup to not wanting to find a job because your unemployment/welfare is easier to “earn.” We can also show them the example that some have shown, like providing more money for AIDS than any other administration. Providing <>unprecedented<> disaster relief around the world (not enough by some standards but percentage-wise, better than any other Pres.). Oh, I know, these are the GOP talking points. Share with me some of your original, completely unadulterated comments and perceptions fresh from the pluralistic fountain of knowledge between your ears. Do you see how condescension is not a valid rebuttal?

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  239. TexaCon,Well, I think there are a few obvious things you do for preparedness. I have posted here on many of those and discussed them with a bunch of people including a few who post here.But first, let me just say that I find those people who for political purposes attack the President and the administration as the sole culprits as disgusting as the next guy. We have too much politics in this country and I hope if I have set forth anything effectively, it would be that point.Nothing can illustrate better than events like 9-11 and Katrina why the need for a Federally directed first response. Look back at the major disasters that I enumerated: each one completely overwhelmed the local responders ability to deal with the situation.And know this: would be terrorists were watching and learning.The funny thing about it is that it has generally been the Shrub apologist chiding those of us opposed to his anti-American agenda for not “getting that this is a war”. Or often accusing us of worse. But now a real disaster occurs of the magnitude of 9-11 and the GOP sheep rush to defend our lack of preparedness.You know, I do realize how much effort has gone into local disaster planning. I’m sure the planning quality varies, but I do think we are much better prepared for events that are contained to a somewhat local scale. My friend who is working as a police Chaplain with the Katrina survivors is very impressed with the Houston PDs response. And he has been around some of these disasters.But again I refer you back to the national nature of the terrorism threat. There is nothing substantively different about what happened in New Orleans had the event been a dirty bomb instead of a Hurricane. Except of course every person in every corner of America would be in a near state of panic fearing additional attacks. And it is that inevitable panic that is poised to end our society forever.Contrast our current situation with where we would be with an effective emergency response. If the Department of Homeland Security did their job. What should have happened was an effective communication response should have begun immediately. Federal officials should have been detailing the response plan to keep people calm. And the response plan should’ve included some form of Federal presence on the ground within hours. How much more convincing would our national preparedness seem if they had been fully communicating in the early hours of the unfolding disaster with information about the local response failures and the measures being taken to plug the gap.You see, I’m not criticizing the lack of water drops per se. In a disaster, there will be twist and turns that are unforeseeable. I get that. What I am criticizing is the lack of any planning whatsoever to deal with that which is unforeseeable only in that its details are presently unknown.Count me with those Americans who are praying fervently that nothing happens which would need an organized Federal response to prevent social chaos. It is abundantly clear that nothing of significance has been accomplished to address large scale attacks. A little hazmat training and taking your shoes off in the airport may make you feel better but not me.

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  240. Prof,So our best defense against terrorism is a better educated public. Interesting. I bet a lot of smart Israeli’s would have something to say about that idea.Here is my prediction. Terrorism attacks will finally prove to our society <>we are all truly in this together… also globally<>. Ironically, the lesson will probably come to late. Just to be clear… I think our strong <>individualism<> strain is admirable… right up to the point where it becomes disgusting. We have much debate here about the fault of our education system, and Prof particuraly takes on the college professors for … well, whatever. Why don’t we look ourselves in our face and quit passing on the idea to our kids that government is evil. Individualism has taken on a perverted form when anything collective in society becomes satan. What a strange bunch we are. We teach our kids to “get theirs”… that’s the one consistent lesson. Well… we have it… everyone is “getting theirs”.

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  241. I guess TC has a better Mayor. I don’t want mine in charge of traffic lights, much less disaster planning. If they are my first line of defense… I hope it’s for minutes rather than hours or I’m am frickin toast. 🙂Here’s the thing I don’t get. Where was Rove? It’s been pretty obovious for a long time Bush isn’t up to all of this… but he has always had people that are very PR-capable around him. Bill Maher calls his support group “The Cleaners” in honor of Harvey Keitel’s role in Pulp Fiction. Yeah… this administration just basically accidentally killed the black guy, but the Cleaner shows up and makes it look ok for the mass stupids. Rove must be kicking himeself. He could have pulled out the Mission Accomplished flight suit, and had Bush throw out some Avian from a Black Hawk. That’s all it would have taken for the stupids… even those stupids who think it’s your city’s personal responsibility to fend for yourself when your city turns into a lake. Funny out red-state america feels so patriotic when we take our commie collective funded military overseas to bomb the shit out of folks, but cries communism if we use one ounce of collective government help regarding disasters that occur on our own soil. You really are going to have to decide if you are going to stick to your principles going forward, and opt instead to save the most people. Here’s a newsflash. Much of the potential terrorism attacks going forward are likely to take out many or most of the first responders along with the rest of the population. Is it your plan to fly over and drop personal responsibility pamplets on top of those dead first responders. Oh yeah… not for 72 hours. Look… I would rather not fight with anyone on this issue. I’m with Tony… it should be obvious to anyone other than the truly naive that our government (both parties) are nothing more than window dressing and camera whores on the issue of terrorism. I totally reject your notion that the best we can do is rely on local authorities for our needs going forward. There role has to be designed as immdetiate (if available), but minimum until a quick responding federal disaster team arrives… arrives in the first hours. I’m not saying Federal resources… i.e. military, should be deployed without serious consideration. I am saying we need quick responding federal resources positioned around the US AT ALL TIMES, and as soon as a National/Federal disaster is declared, these quick responding forces should take over. A turf dispute between the president and a governor should be removed from the equation. TC… you may actually have a point about the futility of trying to educate a local community about planned actions. I do not, however, think the idea that local authorities should be in charge for days will survive going forward. We will see… there will certainly be a friction between the idea of limited federal government and our new federal emergency needs in the age of terrorism. It may take another 911 or two… but I’m convinced reality will set in.Here is my question. If conservatives decide they will accept more collective federal protection for terrorism in the future to protect their a$$e$$… do I get to call them Commies? I finally got a grip on what <>Commmie<> really means to many. Anyone fighting the Christian theocracy is a Commie. The rest of the argument is just details. You can see it clear as day in the Supreme Court judge nominations. One side of the Senate asking the questions as a great big sign behind them… “Christians and the wealthy own this country”. The other side has a sign saying “Nope… we are all in this together”. Of course “being in anything together” is Commie. btw… on the Roberts nomination. Is it normal for a senator to coach a nominated judge on <>how to answer questions<> in the Senator’s opening remarks? I think it’s perfect acceptable for the Senators to explain what they feel are appropriate questions. No other senator can be restricted to those opinions, but still… expressing one’s opinion on the subject make sense to me. However, I sat there and listened to Senator Kyle tell Roberts … in front of the cameras… how to answer the questions. Then Kyle said he would be their to defend Roberts refusal to ask questions. Can their be anything more sickening than any Senator just acknowledging up front this Judge is part of their team. That’s the same for both sides.

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  242. Texas Conservative,Once again, you are on top of it. Bravo.Major objective in Homeland Security that MUST be accomplished to achieve preparedness: Eliminate mass stupidity. How do we do that? Eradicate political correctness. And how do we do that? Regain control of our children’s minds. Gov.skool is teaching our kids crap intense, values neutral, substandard, geared-to-the-test, simulated information, not to be confused with knowledge, understanding, or wisdom. This extends into college where the most vile, despicable, and loathsome creature to walk the planet (a professor) indoctrinates every last iota of common sense and virtue from your child and replaces it with “political correctness.”The not-so-funny thing about it is, the parents <>willingly<> sacrifice their children on the alter of the traditions of man: delegating to someone else their primary responsibility.Prof. Ricardo

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  243. Curmster, what about ALL the training performed in cities like ours? What about all the coordinated exercises that have taken place amongst civil authorities in major cities. I’m not the only one who has relatives in law enforcement am I? Are you waiting for the hide-under-your-desk exercises of the 60’s? Is that what you mean? Should our kids be educated in their schools that in the event of a dirty bomb, they need to run to the cafeteria because it’s safer there? Not sure what you mean, then, by being prepared. How can we ever be prepared for riding on a bus and suddenly having some crazy Jordanian yield a tummy full of c4? How do you prepare for that Curmie? How do you prepare for coordinated efforts to dismantle your public commuter trains by blowing them up? Tell everyone to run to the closest civic center? Hmmm, that might backfire if one of the bad guys knows where everyone will be running.The problem I have with your entire premise is that you can organize your law enforcement, your civil authorities, your firemen, your first-responders (nurses, Ambulatory, police, etc.) but “preparing” your citizens? How did Kennedy prepare our parents in ’62? Did that really prepare the public? Should the DHS just scare everyone on a daily basis? You see how desensitized people get when the threat level is moved up and down – forget about how trigger happy leftists get on the hyperbolic politico reasoning behind doing that. What is your point then? That my government has not prepared me for what to do in case my place of employment is bombed? What would they tell me? Stay home? They already say that. Go congregate to place X? Well, we don’t want to let that out of the bag. The problem is, Curmie, the enemy is among us. You prepare us and all you do is develop their contingency plan.

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  244. First, let’s start with the premise of your question. I think it’s false. WHAT where they doing THERE? WHY were they there? If we’re going to ask questions, let’s not ask why someone has not put Clearasil on the pimple. Let’s ask how the pimple got there. This will solve greater problems. Before that – Why was Amtrak not taken up on its offer to haul 900 evacuees? The mayor refused – that’s why. Why were the buses stranded? Because the mayor wanted greyhounds? Why not use the buses they have and use the greyhounds when they arrived for the next batch? Why not the buses called for in their OWN plan?<>Section III-B-V lists the tasks assigned to the various city government offices in the event of a hurricane catastrophe. The Mayor has three tasks: to initiate the evacuation, to retain overall control of the emergency operation, and then to authorize a return to the evacuated areas. The city’s Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) reports to the mayor and must coordinate with the NOPD, the state OEP, and the regional transit authorities to:* Supply transportation as needed in accordance with the current Standard Operating Procedures.* Place special vehicles on alert to be utilized if needed.* Position supervisors and dispatch evacuation buses.* If warranted by scope of evacuation, implement additional service.Instead, three days after landfall and a full day after the massive flooding, Blanco suddenly came to the conclusion that the buses might be useful. Unfortunately, now they sat under water, along with most of New Orleans and a few thousand of its residents.<>(above courtesy of http://www.captainsquartersblog.com)The fact is, the MAYOR had the right to confiscate materials from the local Wal-Mart to care for the people in the Superdome. WHY ARE YOU WAITING ON THE HELICOPTER WHEN THE WALMART IS DOWN THE STREET? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.But of course, CommieG, you’d prefer to blame it on the administration because that is more convenient. Hold the federal government’s feet to the fire on a situation known far better by local authorities. Do you understand how states can engage federal assets? Someone has to be the point on this and you have COMPLETELY given a pass to the local people who know their town, their people and their facilities a HELL of a lot better than someone in Washington. You know, you could muddy up the water with “they don’t like big govt.” and “they want to get rid of FEMA” and “they don’t care about the poor people”, but if you’re going to find real answers, the real reasons why stuff like this happens, ask the right questions and don’t be afraid to admit that you are wrong. The LOCAL authorities were the point on this. FEMA WAS NEVER DESIGNED TO BE A FIRST-RESPONDER. Where do you get this authority, this pseudo knowledge to think that when something happens in Biloxi, things shouldn’t get moving until someone takes a plane from DC to Mississippi? What if the “thing” has to do with preventing access to the city? What if all means in and out are blocked? Is it not the local authorities that have the best information about where their people are and in fact, HOW TO FOLLOW THEIR OWN PLAN.But, I know, I know, if it’s not about blaming Bush, it’s just not interesting. It’s like a tired old woobie that needs to be retired.

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  245. TC,Well you know, I was making a much broader criticism of the administration than simply the Katrina criticism. I still feel completely comfortable pointing out what an abysmal failure this administration is that after four years of supposedly preparing us for terrorist activity that we are undeniably as ill prepared today as we were on September 10, 2001.And note that I have been extremely critical of this administration on the point of inadequate preparation for inevitable terrorist activity since the day Shrub hired that idiot Ridge for the job and telegraphed his intention to do nothing but create a political masquerade. But hey, Ready.gov sure looks pretty.I am equally amused at the Democratic outrage. Like they ever did a thing to help in preparedness. Makes me want to puke. I could care less about who gets credit or blame. What I care about is actual preparedness for the inevitable disasters of our future. We clearly aren’t ready and I just can’t take the end of civilization so lightly. I mean, that could mean the cancellation of the entire football season.

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  246. TC,I can’t even jump on you on this one…. you are living in such denial. I know how painful it is when the Bush illusion finally hits you. Remember I was a pretty strong Bush supporter through most of his first term. Michael Brown just resigned. This administration has never admitted to anything as far as I can tell… and their political hack that Shrub put over FEMA just resigned in utter disgrace. This administration and the ideology that supports them hates government. The entire goal is to shrink or do away with goverment. They don’t think FEMA should exist… it represents a lack of state self responsibility. It was never high on Bush’s agenda to care who was the head of FEMA… why care about something you don’t believe should exist. Seriously… why all the tap dancing around this simple fact: <>desperate people were left alone for 5+ days in the Superdome and the Convention Center.<> There’s no way to make that dump not stink. Even if you are one of the one’s selling the misguided idea that local authorities should have been able to manage Lake New Orleans for a couple of days… the federal government still comes up stinking to high heaven. My goodness… even the idiot Bill O’Reilly had to squeeze out a <>24 hour federal government late disclaimer<>.TC… I will keep it simple for you. Answer this one question to any reasonable level of common sense, and you will convince me I’m wrong. <>Give me one good (heck, doesn’t even have to be good) reason why federal helicopters NEVER dropped water near the Superdome or the Convention Center<>. Just one. I can’t wait.Take it even further. Assume some Federal entity did drop water at the Superdome and Convention Center. You would still have to explain Brown and Chertoff saying on TV they didn’t even know about the Convention Center until late Thursday. Every media outlet on TV was talking about the Convention Center since Tuesday. Jeeze… buy a TV and put an intern on it watching 24 x 7 if that’s the best you can do. Think efficient energetic government rather than NO government. One side is going to have to swallow a painful dose of anti-collective government pride, or the New Orleans circus is just a prelude. Of course, pulling together for survival doesn’t mean we will pull together to make a real dent in inequality… but I can hope. We may have to kick out that anti-government foundation one brick at a time.You know you and I will never convince each other of much regarding ideology. But you have to ask yourself… <>why so much outrage over New Orleans<>. This didn’t all come from Democrats. You can only come to a couple of conclusions. 1) Either everyone (of both parties) that felt outrage over the lack of Federal response in New Orleans were <>redneck wrong<>… as Prof put it, whatever that means. I thought Rednecks batted for the other side (Rep). OR 2) The federal government really did fail in an unacceptable fashion. btw… do you think presidents… of either party, should appoint political friends to operations like FEMA? What about the EPA… ok to appoint political friends there.

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  247. Curious to know if either CG or Curmie still share the same level of criticism against this administration for Katrina (and the fastest national guard response even during hurricanes under Clinton) as they did the first day they crucified it (short of all the facts we know today).Same?More?Less?I feel like the two of you, and many others, really jumped on the demagogic bandwagon that even Sean Penn didn’t seem to ride (at least for now).In light of the tragedy and the hundreds who lost their life, I hope that these families relocating to places like Texas and others will find a measure of happiness with cities happy to have them. I think rebuilding seems a little nonsensical as well.

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  248. G-Ma,Welcome. I’m glad you posted. Sorry about the locker room talk. Sometimes you have to be patient with us boys…I am told that we will grow up eventually.I think the story of the displaced folks is going to unfold fairly quickly. A good friend of mine whom I got to talk with for a few minutes on Saturday is down in Houston doing volunteer work. The stories are absolutely horrible, but he feels progress is rapidly being made. They have already closed one of the facilities in Houston as they find better housing for them. A large number of them are looking to settle in Texas as they have no home or job to go back to.I find it a bit sad when I hear some people talking about going back and rebuilding. While I’m sure that is appropriate in most cases, clearly there is a lot that will not be rebuilt. I have never been a Saints fan, but I was happy with their win yesterday. Pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes just a little shred of hope is a good thing.

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  249. Welcome G-Ma,Lurker just means someone who <>reads<> on a message board… i.e. doesn’t post. It’s not like a peeping tom. 🙂I don’t read the Boston Globe, but I think the observation that things could go badly in the <>adopting communities<> sounds likely. Just consider the news already coming out of Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge residents lined up to buy guns. I think everyone in today’s world should have a gun at home for protection, but the fact that this event caused that action doesn’t speak well for the future. Baton Rouge streets are now packed… work commutes get longer. It may not be PC, but I think racism is worse in the south. It’s going to be very challenging times ahead.

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  250. I’ve been “reading” and “lurking (what ever that means) since last spring. Much of the time the commentary has been interesting, enlightening and only occasionally over my head. A few postings sounded like Junior High boys locker room talk. But I suppose you’re entitled. Thinking about the disaster in the gulf, I have been worrying more and more about what is going to happen over time to the displaced folks and the communities that have taken them in. I wish it weren’t so but my gut and life experiences tell me things are not going to go well. Eileen McNamara’s column in todays Boston Globe is right on point.G-Ma

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  251. “In the age of terrorism, I expect the Federal government to have an umbrella Federal plan, with variations of different state needs introduced per state. I don’t want 50 different states operating like independent chickens… and then require the federal government to have to fit themselves around those 50 varieties.”I agree with this statement…

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  252. Randy,<>Oh and by the way, the levees that broke were the responsibility of the local landowners and the local levee board to maintain, NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.<>I have a hard time drawing the local vs federal vs private line. Maybe you can help me. For example, it’s well known that we are losing miles of Lousiana wetlands every single year… I think it’s 25 miles a year or something. It has started to put much of the oil and gas gathering systems of the coast at risk… i.e. it was built to be underground, but has started to be exposed. Who is responsible for that? The private enterprises that own the gathering system? What if the bill to restore those wetlands is too large for the private companies… i.e. left to them, they would just quit producing off of Lousiana. Does it then revert to a city or state or federal issue, or do we accept the closing of the Lousiana refineries and gathering systems? And finally… is there a distinction between a levee that keeps oil production feasible and a gathering system that keeps it feasible?I bet that one will bring Prof out.

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  253. Is it possible for a society that hates the idea of government to build a government that can protect itself from terrorism? It occurs to me inventing WMDs was a bad move if the goal was to avoid all things collective. A big fat bank account does have limits.

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  254. Does anyone really want their mayor in charge of anything… much less a mayor being in charge of Lake New Orleans? Seriously, do you know who your mayor’s are. You want those guys designing your city disaster planning? You have got to be kidding me. In the age of terrorism, I expect the Federal government to have an umbrella Federal plan, with variations of different state needs introduced per state. I don’t want 50 different states operating like independent chickens… and then require the federal government to have to <>fit themselves around<> those 50 varieties. If that’s our choice, we WILL PERISH. At the end of the day, in the age of terrorism, states should only be involved in minimum immediate first responder needs (funded by the FEDERAL government with standards… not STATE choice on how they spend the funds) with declared national disasters. As soon as the national disaster is declared, the Federal government should be IN CHARGE. Anyone still think waiting 48-72 hours for the federal government to show up is going to work… i.e. anyone think that should remain the standard? Those days are over. We can get blackhawk helicopters across the globe in a couple of days, but can’t get a few on the scene in maybe 1 hour? I have played tennis next to the Bossier Airforce base before. Trust me… they have some very nice federally funded flying inventions there that could actually make it to New Orleans in less than 5 days. Unless of course, the “daddy party” is teaching that city a lesson in personal responsibility. My guess is the <>personal responsiblity daddy party speeches<> directed at the states are about to go on the shelf. There’s just too much obvious flaw with that sermon on display in New Orleans. Funny thing about flood victims. When you show up with personal responsibility speeches for being poor and getting hit by a Huricane, they aren’t really interested in drilling down to figure out how much their mayor failed them. Even the poor know the mayor doesn’t fly Blackhawks. Natural disasters and terrorist attacks (of certain magnitudes) are a federal issue. It’s silly even to debate it. I think it’s very likely that Katrina will have a very significant effect on the conservative party, and therefore a positive effect on our future. I think the 30 year conservative attack on government will have to be moderated to an attack on incompetent and inefficient government. I think that <>could be<> incredibly positive and significant, because the argument changes from <>putting the government in the bathtub and drowing it (Grover Norquist)<> to <>providing obviously needed federal goverment services in a more efficient and competent fashion<>. That’s huge. Once government quits being the <>enemy<>… we can FINALLY get on with building a better government. If the public could just catch on, then Tony’s two party incompetence just may be beat down.Randy,Is it possible we could reach a threshold where too many of us are acting poorly enough (irresponsible enough) to take us all down? Of course. It’s a complicated battle that we have to continue to fight. I think that battle can be fought on multiple fronts, but removing the government as a defense mechanism for the poor is certain disaster.I was waiting for them to put this weeks Real Time (Bill Maher) transcript up to put up a George Carlin quote. I will look it up when they put it out, but until then let me paraphrase:<>A liberal democracy <>government<> has two main jobs. The first is to protect it’s citizens. The second is to address the grievances of those that are not served by the economic system.<>That second sentence is from memory… but that’s close. Conservatives hate that second function of government. They call it everything from social engineering to wealth transfer. We will not be able to address that second America on display in New Orleans until the majority of us finally agree on that second function of government. Maybe Katrina will push this 50-50% nation back in the left direction. I hope so. I’m willing to bet people are more likely to hear the <>personal responsibility<> wisdom as a “have” rather than a “have not”.

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  255. Randy, in theory, great idea about stopping poverty before it starts. Yea, a good idea is getting people to have children later……. don’t say that around “fanatic” Pro-lifers though, they’ll ostracize you for statements like that. I’ve personally experienced it more than a few times.The big problem with abstinance though:We’re going to have to regulate the hell out of the big coorporations (all of them) that sell sex to our children though through marketing and advertising. Because let’s just say that the abstinance budget at school, even if we spent the whole federal budget on it, won’t be enough to balance out what they are being socialized with from FOX TV teen-dramas. (Isn’t ironic the so-called “Conservative” station is the worst one? Foxnews Viewers should boycott the Network over it if they really meant what they proclaim to.) I know a 15 year old that are now “sexually mature”. Her dad is the MOST CONSERVATIVE psycho that I know. But what match is he against an entire society? None. (He’s divorced and can’t control his ex-wife who let’s his daughter’s boyfriend stay over unattended. All he can do is be vainly furious.)

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  256. And a little food for thought in line with the blog titleIn case you aren’t familiar with how our government is SUPPOSED to work:The chain of responsibility for the protection of the citizens in New Orleans is:1. The Mayor2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security (a political appointee of the Governor who reports to the Governor)3. The Governor4. The Head of Homeland Security5. The PresidentWhat did each do?1. The mayor, with 5 days advance notice, waited until 2 days before he announced a mandatory evacuation (at the behest of the President). The he failed to provide transportation for those without transport even though he had hundreds of buses at his disposal.2. The New Orleans director of Homeland Security failed to have any plan for a contingency that has been talked about for 50 years. Then he blames the Feds for not doing what he should have done. (So much for political appointees)3. The Gove! rnor, despite a declaration of disaster by the President 2 DAYS BEFORE the storm hit, failed to take advantage of the offer of Federal troops and aid until two DAYS AFTER the storm hit.4. The Director of Homeland Security placed assets in the area to be ready when the Governor called for them5. The President urged a mandatory evacuation, and even declared a disaster State of Emergency, freeing up millions of dollars of federal assistance, should the Governor decide to use it.Oh and by the way, the levees that broke were the responsibility of the local landowners and the local levee board to maintain, NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.The disaster in New Orleans is what you get after decades of corrupt (democrat) government going all the way back to Huey Long.Funds for disaster protection and relief have been flowing into this city for decades, and where has it gone? Into the pockets of politicos and their friends.Decades of socialist government in New Orleans have sapped all self reliance from the community and made them dependent upon government for every little thing.Political correctness and a lack of will to fight crime have created the single most corrupt police force in the country and has permitted gang violence to flourish.The sad thing is that there are many poor folks who have suffered and died needlessly because those whom they voted into office failed them.For those who missed item 5 (the President’s level of accountability), it is made more clear in a New Orleans Times-Picayune article dated August 28:NEW ORLEANS (AP) — In the face of a catastrophic Hurricane Katrina, a mandatory evacuation was ordered Sunday for New Orleans by Mayor Ray Nagin.Acknowledging that large numbers of people, many of them stranded tourists, would be unable to leave, the city set up 10 places of last resort for people to go, including the Superdome. The mayo! r called the order unprecedented and said anyone who could leave the city should. Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding. The ball was placed in Mayor Nagin’s court to carry out the evacuation order. With a 5-day heads-up, he had the authority to use any and all services to evacuate all residents from the city, as documented in a city emergency preparedness plan. By waiting until the last minute, and failing to make full use of resources available within city limits, Nagin and his administration screwed up. Bigtime.Mayor Nagin and his emergency sidekick Terry Ebbert have displayed lethal, mind boggling incompetence before, during and after Katrina.Mayor Nagin and his profile in pathetic leadership police chief should resign. That city’s government is thoroughly incompetent. The people of New Orleans deserve better than that crowd of clowns is capable of giving them.These boobs let 569 buses, which could have carried 33,350 people out of New Orleans in one trip, get ruined in the floods. Whatever plan these guys had, it was a dud. Or it probably would have been if they’d bothered to follow it.As for all the race-baiting rhetoric and Bush-bashing coming from prominent blacks on the left, don’t expect Ray Nagin to be called out on the carpet for falling short. It’s more convenient to blame a white president for what went wrong than to hold a black mayor and his administration accountable for gross negligence and failing to fully carry out an established emergency preparedness plan.To hold Nagin and his administration accountable for dropping the ball amounts to letting loose the shouts and cries of “Racism!”. It’s sad, it’s wrong, but it’s standard operating procedure for the media and left-wing black leadership.Mark my words: you will not hear a word of criticism from Jesse Jackson Sr., Randall Robinson, the Congressional Black Caucus, the NAACP, the Rev. Al Sharpton, or Kanye West being directed toward Clarence Ray Nagin Jr.

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  257. Well then lets start with the system that creates poverty and work outward from there. 34% of all children born in this country are born out of wedlock, 70% of African Americans are in the same situation. Young adults that do not have children until they are married and 20 years or older do not have significant poverty levels. We need to get back to some basics, and it starts with marraige and telling kids that sex, although it feels good, is stupid unless exercised under the right circumstances. Teenage abstinance is the best policy.

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  258. Yoshi,Yes… I agree with your distinction on poverty. I have always agreed that the battle you are fighting on this message board makes my battle pale in comparison. Ironically, however… I’m convinced you will make no progress without the progress I lobby for. How in the world would you expect our culture’s poverty blinders to come off for foreign aid if it doesn’t see it domestically? The day the nation refuses to accept 30% poverty in New Orleans is probably the day you will make significant progress on global extreme poverty. You are fighting for the lowest rungs to be supported with enough infrastructure so they can give it a go… try and make it on their own. With any luck, they to can grow up into a prosperous existence of lake homes living side by side with public housing. Oh yeah… those are never near each other. Cheers… I think it’s a weekend.

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  259. <>The second term just became the ultimate nightmare for the Bush’s. The entire term will be filled with helping poor people.<>Bill Mahre<>The earth’s immune system is trying to get rid of us<>Kurt Vonnegut

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  260. Common Good: “We live in a society where it’s more important to get rid of estate taxes for the incredibly rich than deal with extreme poverty in many of our cities.”“Extreme Poverty”????I’m going to define poverty real quick by World Bank definitions. “Extreme Poverty” means you live on one dollar of purchasing power a day. “Moderate Poverty” means you have less than 2 dollars a day. “Relative” poverty, which is what we have here, means you have the basics, but lack recreation/entertainment, cultural goods, QUALITY healthcare/education (perequisites for upward social mobility.)That’s what we have here in the USA.

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  261. That would be funny. I hope they at least come clean now…. which I’m sure they didn’t…Actually, I never watch Fox news. And my antanae broke on my car (in the car wash), so I don’t have a.m. radio. But when I’m in someone else’s car(which is rare), I try and catch the M. Savage’s and the Hannitty’s and such. And they are always distorted verstions of true events, that only someone too lazy to be paying attention for themselves would fall for (ie. about 90% of Christian housewife types, and racist blue-collar guys from the South). If I like Bill O’Reilly it’s only relative to Sean Hannitty and Rush. I think it’s sub-consciously because he has an East Coast look, not a Southern football-loving, country boy like Hannity.However, watching that stuff is like watching “professional” wrestling, TV gospel preaching, J. Springer, or pornography. By watching it you just become part of the madness and you perpetuate it. Fox isn’t serious discussion of anything, it’s merely “news-entertainment” as wrestling is “sports-entertainment.” I think I’ll stick to listening to NPR’s BBC news and reading the Economist. Those NYTIMES posts you have are good too.As to my “inflation” comments earlier…. granted, HIGH inflation is bad because it wipes out your savings and it makes it hard to financially plan for the future.

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  262. Yoshi,This one if for you. It sounds like you occasionally catch some FoxNews. Some NYTimes writer accused Geraldo Rivera of pushing a soldier out of the way to get some camera footage of him and someone else (producer or someone) hauling an old lady in her wheelchair down some stairs. O’Reilly has Geraldo on his show two nights in a row claiming the NYTimes reporter should be held liable. The first night O’Reilly showed the tape of Geraldo, where Geraldo clearly DID NOT push the soldier out of the way. Then O’Reilly and Geraldo got all puffed up, and demanded a retraction from the NYTimes reporter, or Geraldo might sue. Well… second O’Reilly night: Geraldo says the lady refuese to retract, so he has started legal actions. O’Reilly plays the Geraldo tape again… looking exra smug… if that’s possible. Well, this time the guy in charge of editing the audio must have messed up… because this time when they run the tape you hear the cameraman or producer behind the scenes tell the soldier who just stepped in to help the old lady: “Get out of the shot”. Priceless.

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  263. Prof,<>Let’s visit “basic needs.” I set the bar quite low. Food, shelter, companionship, and a good dog.<>I guess that would be your list of <>common good<>. Of course, even with your minimalist, originalist perspective… your list is incomplete. You certainly have to add your nation’s military as a basic need. Without it, your other basic needs won’t be a problem for very long. What about roads and infrastructure? There’s too many of us now to survive without complex transportation systems. So let’s just say we got your list expanded to a <>reasonable list<> for a minimalist like yourself. That’s just one man’s opinion. Incorporated in that opinion is that we stick to that list, regardless of the economic prosperity of a nation. That makes no sense, because any agreed to list in a society is made by balancing common good needs against individual autonomy. In 1787, almost any attempt at satefy-nets would have been immoral because you literally would be taking “basic needs” from another, for another. That’s not the same moral equation of progressive taxes of the wealthy in our current economic circumstances. We aren’t even limiting the number of lake homes with progressive taxes. Hard to see how you make a moral argument otherwise.btw… it troubles me that you list dogs and companionship as seperate. I’m not going there. Country Western? No wonder you are so messed up.<>On the other end of the spectrum as I see it are those who think basic needs are having wealthy people not out pace you by more than an arms length.<>Sorry… no spin allowed here. The basic needs, as I explained above, is the common good our society agrees to via democracy. It’s totally logical that this common good list is not static… i.e. it’s definition is a sliding scale with the increased wealth of a nation. Once we became <>wealthy enough<>, universal healthcare became a moral and logical choice for society. The resulting taxes (progressive) to fund that moral choice would logically come mainly from the other side of the wealth divide. Many keep a watchful eye on the wealth gap, believing there is a point where it can cause civil unrest… but that’s not near the same thing as your point: which was people define part of common good as keeping the winner down. That’s nonsense. <>Unlike Common Good’s model of how the world works, where each person is an island – a social island, an economic island, and a geographic island <>It should be clear to anyone that reads this blogsite that Prof promotes the Island citizen (Libertarian) and support a thriving <>we are all in this together<> mainland. <>We now see government as the one who should wake us up and tuck us in and everything in between.<>When <>my kind<> 🙂 wins the argument over common sense common good and safety-nets…. we will have tucked OUR OWNSELVES in. Allowing your Libertarian ideas ( and therefore the ownership of this society by corporations) is allowing someone else to do something to us that rhymes with tuck. <>C.G. often says “what about the person who does not have a church, etc.”<>Not exactly. I say I don’t share your definition of charity. Any common good I promote (i.e. universal healthcare) is not charity to me. I would never accept having to <>ask for something that IS NOT CHARITY<>. Sitting very near your ideology is that Saudi Royal sitting at the end of the tent. You know… the one where all of those needing assistance of some kind line up to kiss his hand and make their best case of why they need help. Maybe for a sick child, for example. Then the Royal gives the thumbs up or thumbs down. Saudi is the ultimate example of Libertarian ideas. btw… very strange bringing in the child molester. 🙂<>I do not wish anyone to be poor.<>This one is for Stilldreamin also. Anyone for the conservative ideology is promoting an ideology that is destructive for our poor in our country. I will let you guys decide if you do that knowingly, or are simply misguided. I could care less what’s in Bush’s heart if his ideology and policies continue our nation’s blindspot to the poor. Some of us will now turn borderline violent when we hear <> our poor are better off than anyone’s else’s… OR … trickle down is working for our poor.<> Go sell it somewhere else. That BS isn’t working anymore. <>But I certainly do not wish for a world where I can gamble away all my money, my house, my pickup, and yes, my dog, and in the end government rights it all, enabling me to continue my destructive behavior.<>Quit lumping all poor in the same pot. It’s very unattractive.If anyone gets a chance to watch this weeks Real Time with Bill Maher… watch it. George Carlin makes some very harsh charges. He basically made the point that our elections and belief we really have a democracy is a farse… an illusion. You don’t have any control as a voting citizen. This is all a sham… always has been… to protect the property owners. We have an entire culture/society that puts property and property rights ahead of people. We live in a society where it’s more important to get rid of estate taxes for the incredibly rich than deal with extreme poverty in many of our cities. Any principle that protects an individual’s property (an individual who HAS ENOUGH FOR A LIFETIME) over hungry kids… even if those parents don’t pass Prof’s responsibility test… is not a principle at all. It’s time to delve a little deeper than the simplistic <>personal responsibility<> mantra. That is surely looking at the world and reality through a straw. So I agree with George Carlin. I’m going on record. I think the aggregate decisions of our nation document a history of failing the poor. I think our government works for the top 20%. I also think our government is really those corporations and not anyone here wasting time on this message board.

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  264. I’ve been pouring over the electronic sales circulars trying to figure out what to buy with <>my<> FEMA debit card. Any ideas? Have y’all got yours yet?Prof. RicardoPS <>Yoshi<>, I’ve got lots of work today. I’m glad your thinking. You’re on the Professor’s Honor Roll for this one. I’ll give you a response later on the real wages hurt by inflation scenario later when I get home.

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  265. I want to challenge this assertion I’ve seen here a few times, in the interest of us all learning more about macroeconomics and dropping the common fallacies and misconceptions we have.Someone who does homeschooling economics courses wrote: “Go back to a gold standard, meaning no more inflation. Prices become stable. In this country the relative wage of the worker went up every year until 1973 when we went off the gold standard. Nixon was free to inflate. Since then with a few minor exceptions (inflation adjusted) real wages have gone down. It now takes two incomes to buy a nice house.”______________________________My correction of this common laymen’s fallacy for all future reference:The “real wage,” (also known as the purchasing power of labor), depends the marginal product of labor, NOT ON HOW MUCH MONEY THE GOVERNMENT PRINTS! True, prices go up with inflation, but wages go up with it (since “wage” is merely a “price” of labor). If real wages have gone down, it’s because capital and technology or competion from abroad have pushed them down. Inflation isn’t bad, per se. Sure, hyperinflation is a pain in the arse because you have to carry a wheelbarrow around full of money, but you’d be getting paid in wheelbarrows as well. Plus you have to print new menus every week…Feel free to help me flesh this out… but it’s important to clear these things up….Sorry to change the subject, but this just kept popping into my mind…

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  266. Prof,While I agree that government intervention often does unreasonably distort the market, that does not mean that absent government intervention, the market would work wonderfully. See the examples I gave. Do you think the conditions the pre-teens worked under at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory were a good thing? Of course you don’t…I know you are a decent guy. The point is the zero regulation thing never worked even back during America’s most regulation free era.I have been and will continue to be an animated critic of government regulation and the creeping fascism which is our government and big business are drifting further into every day. That doesn’t mean I want the opposite extreme either.

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  267. Nobody is saying it yet, but in a lot of cases no one is going to build back in New Orleans. Insurers were already jittery about hurricanes. This will even will not only make building in New Orleans difficult, it will have ramifications for the entire Gulf Coast. Now the stuff that survived with minimal damage, that will be restored to operation because the capital investments are already made. The mortgages have already left the building. But new capital outside of government money-forget about it. The exception will be things like tourist operations and gambling operations. The return on those is so high that actuarially speaking they will find the risk reasonable. Anything that doesn’t pay out in a few years isn’t happening.

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  268. So. Now that we’ve decided that local, state and federal government, individuals, and perhaps aliens are to blame for the disaster in New Orleans, who is going to rebuild the place? I’ve read various statistics that place homeownership at a very low level, and some that claim only 25% of residents had flood insurance. FEMA’s $2,000 household giveaway isn’t going to go very far setting up new digs. I suppose this will tip a lot of people from working poor to welfare recipient. Of course Bush doesn’t hate black or the poor—look how many hundreds of thousands are being welcomed in his home state. Or is that just a preemptive vote getting strategy? Maybe he should have moved them to Florida, instead.

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  269. Market failure occur when there are too many people around to take a free ride on someone else or natural monopolies occur.That’s why the government just needs to build the roads (federal highways), invest in medicine and research, military, and things of this nature. If one guy invested in any one of these things, he wouldn’t get his return as and everyone else would be benefitting from it.

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  270. Being the argumentative type. 😀“Market failures” are rare, and the existence of someone who does not have “basic needs” is not evidence of it.At this point I think I need to be brutally honest. There is a place for diplomacy and this is not it. We are playing economic scientist. Let the party begin.The Market system exists everywhere in monetary and non-monetary areas of life. Its efficiency is determined by 1) information and 2) correctly interpreting that info, and 3) implementing a proper response.If someone receives bad information (artificially held low fuel prices from price controls), interprets that information (fuel must be plentiful), and implements their response (drive like there is plenty to go around), the consequence might be unexpected (gas lines, shortages). The market system communicates price, financial incentive and rewards, and other information. It is possible if a person makes a mistake in items #1-3 that they will not receive correct information and they will receive a unfortunate response, or reward (income) at the end. Wise decisions in the market must always be accompanied with a commensurate reward. Were this not the case, there would not be incentive to seek out good information and make good decisions. I just got an email from a client that left me last year (at his father’s request) for another CPA. He said he got bad advice from him, has filed bankruptcy, and is coming back to me for his ‘05 tax work. Bankruptcy is unpleasant. However, poor results for poor decisions must exist. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I wish no one ill. I wish no one would be poor, or bankrupt, or hungry. If a sufficient safety net exists that inhibits bad consequences to “bad market” conditions and bad decisions, incentive to make good decisions vanishes and we can all start buying swamp land and selling Herb-a-whatever Vitamins without discernment because we all cross the finish line at the same time no matter what.Let’s visit “basic needs.” I set the bar quite low. Food, shelter, companionship, and a good dog. (Sorry, I’ve been listening to Country&Western music lately). On the other end of the spectrum as I see it are those who think basic needs are having wealthy people not out pace you by more than an arms length. Silly, yes, unmeasurable to be sure, but extant none-the-less. This undefinable “basic needs” as a goal for the “failure” of the “market” is a nice excuse for jacking with the system through the implementation of governmental controls and intervention.Government’s track record on correcting “market failures” is atrocious at best. It hyperinflates money to destroy the foundations of our currency, which is our medium for exchange. It’s changing of tax policy has created near catastrophic consequences in real estate, oil & gas, partnerships, rental properties, etc. We used to plan 20 years out. With changing tax and non-tax laws, you’re unrealistic to plan more than 5 years into the future. The playing field changes, the information is distorted, and the government and media give bad analysis to current conditions. Remember the Carter $50 tax rebate around th spring of 1978? Fortunately Congress couldn’t agree on what to do and piddled long enough to see that we weren’t in a recession any longer and didn’t need the rebate. They were trying to stimulate the economy while it was taking off like a rocket. Why was it taking off? The printing press was running wide open. The government was making stupid “market decisions” based upon perceived market failures. Most of the failures in the “Market” were governmental intervention distorting the market. That was the case in the 1920’s.Unlike Common Good’s model of how the world works, where each person is an island – a social island, an economic island, and a geographic island – when a person (not the market) fails to meet his own basic needs, people from everywhere step in to help. That is less noticeable today because of what? Because of recent governmental intervention in taking care of us. We now see government as the one who should wake us up and tuck us in and everything in between. C.G. often says “what about the person who does not have a church, etc.” Well, they have a social community too. And if not, if they are an isolationist, or a child molester that everyone hates, well how about that? There are consequences for those actions too.I do not wish anyone to be poor. But I certainly do not wish for a world where I can gamble away all my money, my house, my pickup, and yes, my dog, and in the end government rights it all, enabling me to continue my destructive behavior.Prof. Ricardo

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  271. “In addition to debt relief, Wolfowitz said he was pushing for the world’s rich countries to honor a commitment to double aid to Africa in the next 10 years.‘It is important for the developed countries to keep those commitments. We need to hold their feet to the fire,’ he said in a wide-ranging interview.”

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  272. < HREF="http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050909/ap_on_re_us/wolfowitz_interview" REL="nofollow"> Paul Wolfowitz interview <>Hey Tx. Conservative, Randy, and Prof!Check out what this “Conservative” is saying? Looks like the value system is changing….. you guys might have to become democrats at the way things are starting to turn around…

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  273. [ partisan ]Bye Bye Brownie. More than just rednecks watched in horror.[ partisan ][ non-partisan ]Seriously, we should have better Federal systems, auditing and safeguards in place regarding natural disasters that serve to keep politics and personal opinions out of this <>as much as possible<>. An automatic… 3rd party review similar to the 911 commision should be in place. An after-disaster-report, if you will. It’s obvious we could review ourselves to death, but I think domestic federal declared emergencies warrant it.[ non-partisan ]

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  274. Tony,wow… I had no idea you got hits from that many countries. You would think with Canadian hits, I would get some support here. 🙂<>There are about six regular lurkers that I am aware of.<>That’s probably homeland security… CIA, FBI, etc. From your previous post: <>History is an interesting thing to recap. What did a zero regulation environment give us? The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire. Company Stores. Chinese Coolies. Jim Crow (and don’t kid yourself, a lot of that was about economics). Oh, and lets not forget the Great Depression.Yeah, zero regulation works really, really well.<>Yes, and how many probably predicted the end of Capitalism if <>minimum wages, child labor laws, 40 hour work weeks, workplace safeguards, etc.<> were ever implemented. The hard truth is we need <>enough invisible hand of the free marked<> AND <>enough rules and market interference<> to make it work. Takes work… no simple formula… I also agree one of the core problems that forces us to even have this type of discussion in 2005 is that much of economics and capitalism is <>faith based<>. It’s so complex, anyone can mold it into their ideology and make it sound perfectly logical… at least to them. 🙂

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  275. CG,I understand your inquiry, but in my experience lurkers can not be budged. One beer chat site I spent a LOT of time on prior to this blog had tons of lurkers. The administrator did everything he could to coax those people out to no avail. And the people who lurk aren’t not posting because of the views of anyone here. They prefer to just read and that is cool. I would like to know more about who they are, but that isn’t the way this works or even should work.In terms of numbers, it is hard to quantify the lurkers. There are about six regular lurkers that I am aware of. There are some recurring domains in the stats that indicate a number of occasional lurkers. In terms of hits, I’d say the visible posters here are responsible for around one third of the hits on the blogsite. This ratio changes as my posts get old…the lurkers tend to read less and less until I post again. Right now, I’d say about 50% of the hits are you, Prof and Randy. I have no way of counting the RSS/Atom subscribers.And of course, we do have a few groundhogs. They pop up out the ground every so often, throw a few nuts at all of us, then go back in there holes for a couple of months.Since you are curious, I’ll give a list of the countries that surfers have hit my website from. Almost all of these have several hits. And the Czech Republic was on the list prior to Yoshi’s trip to Europe. Actually, quite a number of hits from there. Far and away the most foreign hits come from the UK and Canada. I’m also sure I have not caught all of these because my stat service doesn’t track this and I have to keep it up manually:Argentina, Austrailia, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Egypt, European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweeden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uraguay, Virgin Islands, Wales, Yemen.I get some great international email. I think most folks outside the US are surprised when they run on to an American that is aware the rest of the World exists and wants to have a meaningful interaction with it.

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  276. Prof got me to thinking. It looks like Tony has really only a couple regular posters… more readers. I’m obviously the only one here batting from the left side of the plate. [ sarcasm ]I could see where my incredibly solid argument would intimidate people. [ sarcasm ] I would like to see Tony get a larger posting community. Let’s do a quick survey:1) if you are just a reader/lurker… post a quick comment confirming you are a reader2) if I go away, how many of you lurkers would post more? 🙂3) if I go away, would you still want someone to argue the progressive side… i.e. who would prefer a primarily Christian / Conservative forum?4) do you want a politics free zone? I have no idea what that is, but it sounded like a good question.I’m not really sure your response will matter… as Tony said, this isn’t a democracy. It’s really just 4 old guys and 1 young guy talking past each other. 🙂

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  277. CG,You wouldn’t be the first person to challenge that assertion. But I do agree that the distinction you are making is largely semantics. You introduce the term “robust” to make your point. I would suggest that is just a different way of saying the benefits are experienced more broadly.History is an interesting thing to recap. What did a zero regulation environment give us? The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire. Company Stores. Chinese Coolies. Jim Crow (and don’t kid yourself, a lot of that was about economics). Oh, and lets not forget the Great Depression.Yeah, zero regulation works really, really well.

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  278. That’s funny. I’m a word hoarder …. just like a conservative hoards income. 🙂Tony, I believe I have said most of what you just said… over and over and over and over, except of course ever calling you moderate. 🙂 You know I agree with your statement that we don’t seem capable of getting past the ideology and drilling down to the details. That said, my last dialogue with Prof (the word Nazi) shows that the American public is so split on some fundamental big picture concepts, it becomes very difficult