Other bits and pieces

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pimp My Ride

I'm just going to start this one off with the topic sentence from CNN's article:

“The federal government may suspend its $1 billion Cash for Clunkers program after less than a week over concerns that the plan may have already burned through its funds”

So, just give me a couple of seconds while I don my surprised look. Ah, there we are. Let me get this straight; the Federal Fraternal Order of the Magna Cum C-Average that is our Department of Transportation launched a program to shell out a finite amount of money to people with crappy cars, and were shocked to discover that the $1B they allocated only lasted a week.

Well. No shit. Go figure people will actually accept free money for a car they were going to get rid of anyway. This is probably the right time to implode the DOT.

This was their plan: They thought that if they gave people a credit for trading in a high mileage old car and buy a new one, that they would pull 1.2 metric ass-loads of gas guzzlers off the highway and save Mother Earth from the clutches of carbon strangulation. Whoever came up with this has to be clinically retarded. If this cranius magnamus was running hurdles in the Special Olympics he'd have a lot of bruises just above his knees. (Don't bother dressing me down for being insensitive. 'Retard' is one of my favorite words)

The threshold for what constitutes a planet killing perambulator is any vehicle that gets 18 miles to the gallon or less. Logically enough, any car that gets 18.1 MPG or more, is safe for children to respire directly from the exhaust pipe. So, you can trade in your 1995 POS that gets 17 MPG and walk out with a brand new planet friendly vehicle of peace that gets 19 MPG and $4500 extra in your pocket.

Let's work this out. If the average pay out is $4000, the program would pay out on a total of 250,000 vehicle trade-ins. (Whew, I can divided by four) Of course, that's being a bit generous, since there also has to be a budget to pay for the administration of the program; a program slated to run until November. (remember this is the government, if they hired staff and leased office space for a program of record through November, that bill will not change if the program ends in a week.) That administration will run nearly a quarter of a billion itself. So, these idiots are patting themselves on the back for spending $1.25B dollars to save 250,000 people (out of a population of 300M) about 10% on a new car they were already going to buy in an effort to save 4 MPG each. Just to be clear, That's $1.25B of YOUR money.

According to Rep Candice Miller (R-MI), "This is simply the most stimulative $1 billion the federal government has spent during the entire economic downturn."

That, right there, sums up the sadness of this myopic misadventure in government rescue better than any further words I could offer.

©Raymond Smith- 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I am The Sun!

Situated sublimely under a soothing state of hydrostatic equilibrium in one of the more rural subdivisions of the western arm of one of the more or less pedestrian barred spiral galaxies, you'll find what is probably a run of the mill planetary system. This system is unique, at least in the sense that it is the only system known to its inhabitants to contain inhabitants capable of knowing that they are inhabitants in fact inhabiting it. Up until a couple of years ago there were nine planets. More recently, and through no fault of its own, the runt of the litter was downgraded to a 'dwarf planet' (Apparently a blob of floating rock and ice is required to be more massive that Michael Moore to be considered an actual planet).

Each planet, while vastly different from one another in almost every respect, is exactly the right size to suit its distance from the Sun so that it is able to maintain a more or less circular ellipse around its governing body—the Sun. The Sun is exactly the right size to exert just enough influence on its orbiting subjugates to keep them bound in a not too confining framework which allows them the freedom to further subjugate their respective moons and rings as they see fit, but keeps them from smashing into each other and bringing the whole system down in a cataclysmic orgasm of hydrogen, carbon and puppies. If the Sun were to be any smaller, the planets would secede from the system and drift to another after smashing through the Oort Cloud like a 95 year-old plowing his Plymouth through a Florida flea market. If it were any larger, they would all be pulled into warm, gooey center, kicking and screaming as they were swallowed up by their hegemonic blast furnace of an overlord.

You can probably see where I'm going with this.

The U.S. Constitution, the study of which now takes second chair to that of the evolution of homosexual platypi, gives Congress specific powers called 'Enumerated Powers'. These include the authority to levy taxes, provide for the common defense, build post offices, and a few others, many of them obsolete like shaving the Indians or something. Anything that falls outside of those enumerated powers are not for the Federal Government to act upon. Think: No! Not yours! Put those powers down! To hammer this point home, the last amendment in the Bill of Rights addresses the issue specifically to keep socialist nut bars from ruining everything 203 years down the road.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

So, I ask you this: How is it that we now try to meander our lives through and around over 200,000 federal laws? And that's not even counting 'regulations', which aren't laws, but act like laws. (Regulations, like 'Executive orders' are an end-around to give the executive branch an avenue to legislate even though that is expressly forbidden in the constitution). According to the Office of the Federal Register, in 1998, the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), the official listing of all regulations in effect, contained a total of 134,723 pages in 201 volumes that claimed 19 feet of shelf space. In 1970, the CFR totaled only 54,834 pages. And that's 21 YEARS ago.

If the intended size of the federal book of law were represented by a brine shrimp, our current brine shrimp would be the size of Godzilla's big, fat, conjoined-twin older step brothers after having eaten every tourist in Tokyo.

The Senate, this week, is proposing a Federal ban on driving while texting. Now, I will be the first to stand up and say that it should be illegal to do anything other than drive while driving. But, that's what the States are for. They can legislate that for themselves. While this particular encroachment seems trivial, it's just another brick in the wall. The miscreation that is the D.C. Beltway has its tentacles wrapped around every facet of your lives—from cradle to grave. Washington pushes the States around like Andre the Giant V. that little fat guy that hated rhyming in 'The Princess Bride'. (I know that those to characters did not actually co-mingle in a violent manner in the movie, so don't bother pointing that out...I'm just saying) Did you know there are federal laws that dictate the setup of the restroom in your home?

So how do they get away with it? It's called the 'Commerce Clause'. One of the enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8 states that congress can regulate trade among foreign nations and among the several states. That power has been construed over and over again to mean that congress can regulate anything it wants with impunity. Here's how, and this is a beautiful piece of spin: Since there's basically nothing at all, be it human, animal, mineral, noun, or verb that can take place without somehow being affected by something that was bought or sold, either something physical or a service, across State lines; every act you can think of can and will be regulated by the federal government under the Interstate Commerce Clause. For further reading look up 'The Heart of Atlanta Hotel V. The United States, 1964. Believe it or not, civil rights falls under Interstate Commerce—and apparently, so does BBQ.

The Sun has swollen. It's going to swallow the Solar System, which...probably explains global warming.

Text ©Raymond Smith- 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

All the King's Men

“All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
--George Orwell

In the late 1700’s, a motley collection of disgruntled landowners, businessmen, and learned whatchamdoodles, collectively generated a simple concept of government that kicked off the social experiment that would become what is now an oligarchic clusterfuck of self-aggrandization.

How’s that for a thesis statement?

That construct, which can only be viewed in our new-world history books by looking out of the corner of your eye at that little cleft between the pages, was this: Smart, successful, dedicated patriots, wired-in to the needs of their respective state constituents, would take a leave of absence from their livelihoods to perform a sacred and honored civic duty in government—temporarily. Ultimately, they would serve for as long as their respective enterprises could coast without them, then they would return to work as printers, farmers, cobblers, milk tycoons, and of slave whipping. Then, someone else would take the honor, head to the Capitol and spend a few years bickering with the haughty malcontents from other states over which former colony gets to take what quantity lands from what Indians. These were people who had worked hard to succeed by their individual merits and had become experts at running things. They were plantation owners, scholars, business owners, and generally employers of many. They were the people who knew how to get things done in life, lead others, and were the most able to lend some of their experience to government. They were truly forming a government ‘of the people’. Granted, it was a government of the 'rich' people, but would you have really wanted an illiterate candle maker's apprentice trying to argue an amendment?

So, what happened?

A few weeks ago, Senator Barbra Boxer, (D) CA, while inappropriately dressing down a respected military General Officer, summed it up with all the elegance and subtlety of a charging herd of retarded triceratops. When she didn’t like the General addressing her as ‘Ma’am’ instead of ‘Senator’, she said “…I worked so hard to get that title, so I'd appreciate it…” It’s all about her. And she’s not alone…that’s the real problem.

Political office is now a career. Congress is no longer a place of humble service, but a crystal palace where the elite and power-hungry clamber to attain supremacy over the proletariat. They believe themselves to be our royal family. Every single member of congress (that includes the Senate) thinks he or she is better than you—more entitled than you. They have forgotten that they are public servants.

The salary for a congressman in 1790 was $6.00 per day, only paid for actual days spent in legislative session. Today we pay them $174,000 annually. While the value of $6 in 1970 would be about $137.00 today, a member of congress would have to work 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year to earn $35620 by TODAY’S money! In fact, congress is actually in session for an average of only 136 days a year (average of the years 2005-2008), which means that if we paid them at the same rate as we did in 1790, adjusted for inflation, they would each get $18632.00 per year (average). But wait, there’s more. If you happen to be so fortunate to be a leading member of the House or Senate, say, Speaker of the House for example, your annual salary minus all the extra perks would be $223,000. Let’s see, times that by 42, umm, carry the one and divide by zero…scratch my head; that’s $1627.00 PER DAY.

There's also campaign moneys that they get to keep and free foreign and domestic travel. They get a personal staff allowance to hire up to 18 people, but $75000.00 (per year, remember) of that can be used for 'other purposes'. They get an expense allowance which is somehow different than the other stuff. Oh, and don't forget Franking Privilege: the perquisite allowing them to mail anything to anyone for free. Now, that doesn't seem like a big deal, but when they're up for re-election, guess who's footing the bill for all those pamphlets in your mail box!

So, why did we pay them so little back then? It was a temporary side duty from the professions that actually made/kept them wealthy. It was like jury duty only they got to say 'Mr. President' and 'filibuster' a lot. Remember, they didn't really need the compensation. These people were already well off. With congressional duty not salivated over as a lucrative cash piggy, the job really only attracted those who really wanted to do the work. It wasn't going to make you rich, or powerful, or even famous.

Without using your Google, can you name a few congressmen from the 3rd Congress of the United States? And no, Ted Kennedy wasn't in office then, though it seems like it.

So these people are what they are but it's not their fault that the government is spilling over with their ilk. The problem is this: The American voter has lost its collective mind. While a large portion of this population used to research congressional candidates and really vote on their merits (and yes, you'd have to go back a ways to find when that really was), today, we vote for basically two kinds of candidates: The one that promises us free shit, and the one we saw in a movie once. Focusing on the later; we deify the famous to the point that we actually think that someone who is well known for entertaining is somehow more qualified to steer national policy than their more professional contender.

There is no other debatable explanation for Al Franken, Sony Bono, Gopher from 'The Love Boat', or Jesse Ventura.

Once in office, be they from the free shit side or the 'you might remember me from...' side, we treat them like royalty. We pamper them. We let them get away with behavior that would land any of the rest of us either out of a job or in jail. We look the other way when they don't pay their taxes. We think it's okay that they are so detached from the people they represent that they have no chance of really representing them. We simply don't care that 100% of the members of our government are deciding ways to spend our great great grand children's money on things that don't even effect them personally! They don't need universal health care, social security, or a better economy. They're right in the center of the greatest self-licking ice cream cone in history. We have no compunction whatsoever, as voters, to letting these people continue to suckle America's tit and then tell us how make a budget and get a job.

Members of Congress believe they are better than us because we keep telling them they are. Unless we stop believing it, they never will.

©Raymond Smith- 2009
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