Feet on the ground – head in the clouds.

Posts Tagged ‘consumption tax

Radical change we could agree on?

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Income Tax is the most ridiculously counter-productive tax we could possibly impose in terms of productivity. We want Americans to be productive. We want them to earn, to create things that others may buy, to create jobs. We do not want them to limit productivity in order to maintain a balance. Americans aren’t about wading in the middle, it’s our tax system that creates people like a friend of mine who always worked 36.5 hours, the minimum average to keep his full-time status, but where he figured that the rest of his check would all go to taxes. He was an accounting major, so I’m sure his math wouldn’t have been too far off, and he always seemed to have more take-home pay and get more back on his returns every year.

A consumption tax would serve the public good, be a better model for a more-free market, and most of all put the balance of incentives back in order. We want people to earn, to save and contribute to the circular flow of money within their communities. We don’t want anyone to shy away from work. If I work my ass off and save enough to buy a house with cash, that’s good for a lot of people. Sure, I may cut out some bank middle-mannery but who wants to argue they deserve to finance those who are inherently more responsible than their own management? If I’m keeping all of my money, I can afford to account for the taxes to buy a nice place in America, where many people enjoy resort-style amenities just for existing in a nice community. If I want to buy five platinum-plated Maseratis, I’ll be prepared to take the hit, but don’t punch me for punching in.

NI4D – The National Initiative for Democracy is the hidden-in-plain-view answer to many of our political woes. Last I checked, there are 11 states using some form of public initiative system. How else would things like medical marijuana get on a ballot? Or ever get a vote of any kind? Or gay marriage bans, for that matter? There are many things that make sense to the general public that are simply too dangerous for any politician to approach, let alone a majority of Congress. Throughout my college days I came across a lot of people who didn’t vote, but were somewhat informed and had an opinion. Even those who vote in Presidential elections rarely vote in off-year and local elections. Voter turnout does not really reflect a complete political apathy, more an apathy with the effectiveness of the current voting system.

Enter the national initiative. If the majority of Americans do not want a war, the majority should be heard. If a majority of residents of a state support a doctor’s right to prescribe medical marijuana, a conservative or pandering legislature should not block the will of the people on a state’s rights issue. If a majority of the public believe that a doctor may refuse to perform certain treatments based on their religious beliefs, I don’t believe any law could Constitutionally coerce them otherwise so long as this is made clear to the patient before their life is in the hands of the doctor. The Bill of Rights mentions the rights of the people in the 9th Amendment, and again as a part of state’s rights. This is better served in those 11 states with initiative systems, and referendum and recall can also be a better way to clear the haze of our current political system. All of the nonsense calls for resignation, all of the political posturing on issues the speaker doesn’t even believe will ever come to a vote and the back-and-forth nature of our failing two-party system would at least see some improvement and at most clear the way for real public discourse, real participatory democracy.

Concerning gay marriage: I say again, can the government simply refuse to define a marriage in any way? Let churches or individuals have the right to define their own “marriages”, and simply allow for all couples seeking to join their lives to be unified in the governments eyes. The slippery slope argument doesn’t fly here. The US has a long precedent of defining such unions as a union of only two, consenting adults. We have laws restricting the marriages of children which are legitimately in the public interest. Lately some ultra-conservative Congressmen have been comparing homosexuality to pedophilia. This is ludicrous and gets a gut reaction in many ways, but I’d offer one rational argument without gut involved. By definition, pedophilia violates legitimate laws in public interest. Sure, there could be homosexual predators out there, but as Chris Hansen proves there are predators of all stupid persuasions. But a union of consenting adults should not be the government’s business to deny one group if it is permitted for another.

If marriage is a religious practice, the sanctity of which should be defended, then it should remain out of the government. What the government should do is have a system for defining next of kin in a humane way, with the utmost priority on individual freedom to choose who is considered a spouse by a hospital.

I’m often accused of being an ultra-liberal or whatever you’d call it, but those tags really are just how others see you based on the conversations you’ve had. Sure, if you’re talking to me about health care, I sound a bit more on the liberal side. But if we’re talking about guns, I’m never really accused of being a conservative. That’s odd considering I don’t think any American should need to choose a “favorite Amendment” from the Bill of Rights. There was a specific reason our founders first defended speech, press and religion then our last line of defense second. This is not a “hunter’s” Amendment, although along with defense, we should be allowed to enjoy sport. It is the first line of the Constitution that says… and if you fail to obey the Kings of America as prescribed by the first three words of the Preamble… we’re not, ya know, gonna take it. The contentious issue here for many liberals is hinged on people like Glenn Beck, who think you start talking about getting guns ready. Paul Revere didn’t ride around practicing his speech. He wasn’t the lead character in ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’.

In all honesty, your guns will never be taken away. You’ll be able to feel more confident in that fact if we enact a national initiative system, but at the very least liberal politicians are not a monolith against guns. I was listening to J.Douche Hateworth on the radio the other day and he played a little “comedy” piece that described a terrorist with a knife coming at a family, he said if the father is a liberal he’d quake in his boots and think of pacifism. First of all, a terrorist with a knife? Second of all, his scenario says both fathers have a loaded weapon. You think liberals make bad fathers, Hayworth? Why don’t you come at me with a knife and see how liberal I am?

I’m no gun liberal in terms of ever wishing to take away the guns of any law-abiding citizen. I’m not sure that extreme restrictions on gun possession are the way to get the “more dangerous” criminals. If you look at the example of Al Capone, who was finally brought to justice on racketeering charges. The man ordered countless murders, but we get him for tax evasion? Don’t get me wrong, at the time it was a victory and having a definite criminal in prison is never a bad thing. But how many innocent people do go to jail? How many non-violent offenders serve time for marijuana possession? We can get the little fish, right or wrong, but we have trouble with the big fish? That’s essentially the same logic some liberals use that says driving through a school zone with a legally owned and registered weapon is automatically a crime. It’s pathetic when you consider that most legal gun-owners use their weapons for sport or self-defense. Sure, people stretch the definition of self-defense all the time, but that’s going to happen in society. The answer is more education. More organizations like the NRA who promote gun safety and tradition, and they need to be in the mainstream. The NRA shouldn’t automatically be considered one with the Republican party, although it’s most ardent supporters are often conservative. Gun ownership should be promoted among all law-abiding citizens, because at least one flying spaghetti monster knows that criminals will always have weapons.

“When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” I can’t find the original source of that quote, although in looking I found a great quote from Charlton Heston speaking on Fox News back in 1997: “There’s no such thing as a good gun. There’s no such thing as a bad gun. A gun in the hands of a bad man is a very dangerous thing. A gun in the hands of a good person is no danger to anyone except the bad guys.” What we should do to curb gun violence is create more good guys, through lifelong education and a societal emphasis on family of some kind. I know adopted kids who are great successes and legacies who have fizzled out, and it all came down to involvement. If people are involved in the lives of children they will learn to act as responsible people do, if children are raised with every amenity money can buy with no relationship with parents or some caregiver they will look for a role model somewhere. Think of the ratio of crap-to-awesome at any given mall. I’d argue that you’re taking the same gamble by allowing your child to pick any role model from their lives in your absence. Sure, they could end up with an amazing role model somewhere but it’s a gamble parents don’t have to take. Well, they shouldn’t have to take.

This is where I can get more liberal on people, but I simply can’t believe you can support both family and bite-sized government. Health care is a part of this. Healthy parents can work without getting sick as often, imposing less of a burden on the family’s budget and productivity. Children’s health care helps give all Americans a chance to grow up and contribute to society rather than being punished by the circumstances of their birth. I do not advocate wreckless takeover of health care by the government, but a quick read of the Preamble would establish that the federal government has some responsibility to our health at least in terms of keeping us productive and safe from potential pandemic. The more free we are to be productive and contribute to society, the more we all benefit. We will all have different ideas about how to get us there, but I think we’d all agree on the benefits of a healthy society.

These are just some ramblings. I just wonder if we all agreed on the results we wanted, the discourse on the methods might be more civil.


Everything in moderation, here I stand

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One of the biggest gripes I have with the climate of modern politics is that the moment you reveal one position on one issue, you are labeled. You can either be a flag waving, gun toting, Bible thumping, English-only speaking conservative or a soy burger eating, latte drinking, secular, high society liberal. It seems like nobody ever recognizes that everyone as wildly differing views, and don’t fit so nicely in those categories we’re given.

John Adams, one of my political heroes, essentially lost his second term for not being partisan enough. He refused to line up before the issue was at hand. I believe in much the same. I also believe it is possible to get America and Congress specifically to where very few things remain on the docket. It may sound idealistic or even absurd, but I believe that is what the Founding Fathers intended by the phrase ‘to form a more perfect Union’ in the Preamble to the Constitution. I wanted to write out just what my positions are on specific issues. This is based on the organization of issues at glassbooth.org with some variations.


On Abortion and Birth Control

  • I support a woman’s right to choose because they are always the most informed on the situation and the realities of a child being brought into the world and their own health concerns. I would also urge the federal government to leave this issue to the states, this is an example of the power of federalism.
  • I support emergency contraception because it is simple, early, safer and to be blunt the earth has a population problem. The United States doesn’t feel that problem, but it exists.
  • I support abstinence and sex education, with an emphasis on sexually-transmitted diseases. Children tend to do the opposite of what you tell them. Don’t just tell them not to, tell them why not and how to be safe if they disobey. It’s called mitigation, much more effective than the all-or-nothing policy of abstinence-only education.

On Civil Liberties

  • I support extending habeas corpus to Guantanamo Bay detainees, knowing the crimes of the accused will not harm national security.
  • I oppose waterboarding and any form of physical or psychological torture, first on the grounds that the counter-terrorism community believes it is ineffective in retrieving actionable intelligence. Especially in a ticking-time-bomb scenario, we need something that produces results. Torture simply undermines democracy.

On Crime and Punishment

  • I support the death penalty as a matter of federal concern, again I believe individual states should decide.
  • I support a drastic rethinking of the drug war, marijuana scheduling and decriminalization. Non-violent drug offenders should not end up in prison, rehab maybe.
  • I oppose mandatory minimum sentencing, instead I support the implementation of Initiative, Referendum and Recall in every state so that judges may be recalled if they do something against the interests of the public. The criticisms of this system are the same as when it began here in Arizona in 1912. That should tell you something, and as a resident, it works. Propositions brought up by the people allow us to offer legislation, which is especially useful in areas where politicians may fear backlash for proposing or voting for divisive legislation.

On Education

  • I support the elimination of the Department of Education thereby eliminating the No Child Left Behind Act, electing to trust the states to use their own existing education departments to compete with each other.
  • I oppose funding schools based on property tax in the area, this is de facto segregation an serves to create socio-economically segregated schools. With all funding coming from the state level, all schools within a district should receive the same amount per pupil and districts with more schools should be given bonuses. This would discourage branching-off to favor one or a smaller group of schools. There is a school within 5 miles of University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play that doesn’t have maps in its social studies classrooms.
  • I strongly support across-the-board raises for schoolteachers, progressively based on level (elementary, middle, secondary). There is absolutely no reason teachers shouldn’t be able to afford to live in whatever neighborhood they are teaching in, on their own salary. Teachers across this country are many of the ones facing losing their homes due to predatory lending and yes, false optimism on the teacher’s part.
  • I oppose standardized tests at the national level. States should be free to do as they please in this regard, but I ask this question: are the tests in the poor schools the same as the ones in the wealthy schools? It’s interesting we put them on the same scale, but not in the same building.
  • I oppose vouchers for education. The biggest problem with vouchers is the disparity in cost between your average private school and the amount these vouchers would grant. In Arizona, private schools’ tuition averages about $6,000-9,000 per year. Schools are only paid on average just shy of $4000 per student, per year. Anyone with another few grand can easier afford to send their children to nice schools, but poor families who have no way to pay or transport their children are out of luck.
  • I oppose merit-based pay. There is no fair way of brokering this system. Teachers who inherit stronger students (affluent areas with less crime, strong feeder schools) are at an advantage. This would only serve to discourage any teacher from looking to work in areas in highest need of teachers.
  • I support a period of mandatory public service for youth. When you feel like you own the house, you take better care. It’s the same with a nation, everyone should take part in building it and making it better.

On Environment and Energy

  • I support taking action to reduce the impact of Americans on the environment. Preliminary debate should be aimed at collecting the issues which establish consensus, such as gaining energy independence. Not only would renewable energy sources stabilize our economy and create jobs, but also reduce fossil fuel dependence (if not emissions).
  • I support pushing for international consensus points on the issue of environmental friendliness. Begin with broad and basic examples, and work with the international community on a truly global problem.
  • I support a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, where businesses may purchase carbon credits to offset emissions. It would really do nothing but push money in different directions, but it would reward those who are best on the environment. In my eyes these are well aligned incentives.
  • I support the pursuit of nuclear energy. We’ve got to get past stigma and phobias to realize, cleaner is better than dirty and dependent. We should always be working toward the best, most efficient and cleanest energy sources available. The problem is becoming complacent.
  • I strongly support a drastic effort to improve public transit, not only within urban centers but also interstate. There is no reason we cannot have bullet trains and an alternative to the airlines, one that doesn’t take days to reach a destination or confine us on a small bus with odd people.
  • I support increased fuel standards for automobiles in the United States. If only to make sure the domestic auto companies can compete, because in reality we’re getting killed in the auto market. It isn’t really even wise to buy an American car if you truly want to make the best purchase for your own self-interest.

On Gay Rights

  • I support civil unions for gay couples. I wouldn’t oppose gay marriage in any way, I just know this issue is the kind of thing that will require baby steps to overcome the hypocrisy in any “separate but equal” government stance.
  • I support extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples, to strengthen those families. They are, in fact, families. They shouldn’t worry about custody or inheritance if one dies simply because they aren’t a traditional couple.

On Gun Control

  • I support background checks for the purchase of firearms. This is just a matter of conscience. Our government keeps better tabs on people buying fertilizer than guns. I don’t think it should go any further, but making sure people aren’t violent criminals isn’t too much to ask.
  • I oppose a ban on assault rifles. “When guns are outlawed, outlaws will brandish cologne.” Did I get that right? No, that was Dave Barry, but I do think that if we outlaw assault rifles then the only people who will have them will be true violent criminals.

On Health Care

  • I support a universal system of health care. I believe that modern technology and government transparency will make this system work. The exact same people will be doing the diagnosis, treatment and surgical procedures so I don’t understand why people think the service would crumble. The truth is, you can go to Canada, you can ask a Canadian. They will tell you, their system works and people are happier and healthier. This would have collateral effects far beyond just health care.
  • I believe the government involvement in health care would help to bring costs down, because the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t be able to swarm such a large group at once.

On Immigration

  • I support a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants existing this country. The process of deportation would be lengthy and expensive.
  • I support deportation of all illegal immigrants convicted of a felony. With some exceptions, such as known gang members with a history of deportation and re-entry.
  • I oppose a physical fence along the US-Mexico border. Barriers don’t keep people out, they keep you in. Whether you realize it or not, this kind of thing will make us no safer but will speak volumes to the rest of the world and future generations. A border fence would only bolster the human smuggling trade and send business into a dangerous criminal cartel.
  • I oppose making English the official language in the United States. This is frivolous and sort-of xenophobic, and would only create problems getting care or court services. We should instead be mandating all American school children learn two or even three languages throughout their school years, beginning in elementary school.

On Iraq and Foreign Policy

  • I support beginning withdrawal of troops from the war in Iraq and a shift in focus to Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden.
  • I support the President urging China to cease selling weapons to those committing genocide in Sudan and urge Hu Jintao to meet with the Dalai Lama.
  • I support a lifelong commitment to the health and mental well-being of anyone who enlists in the military.
  • I support a foreign policy of tackling all issues diplomatically. I’m tired of presidents who think 4,000 dead American servicemen is better than even trying to a conversation with an adversary.
  • I support multi-lateralism in every major global action, through the United Nations or NATO.
  • I support using foreign aid to combat poverty and disease, and to provide business opportunity through microcredit loans.
  • I support ending the trade embargo with Cuba and beginning a new era of relations with our neighbor ninety miles from Florida.

On Medical Marijuana and Drug Policy

  • I support doctors making marijuana available for medical use. Many medical professionals would put their years of education and professional reputation on the line for something that millions of Americans believe should be legal for medical purposes.
  • I oppose federal raids on sick or dying patients prescribed medical marijuana, and their health care providers. This is cowardice and going after the lowest man on the totem pole.
  • I oppose the wasteful War on Drugs. The money only creates a giant bureaucracy and a court and prison system flooded with non-violent drug offenders, costing the taxpayers billions.
  • I support the rescheduling of marijuana, from Schedule I to Schedule III on the federal drug scheduling system. Compare for yourself.

Schedule I

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Examples: Heroin, LSD, Marijuana, MDMA (Ecstasy), methaqualone (Quaalude)

Schedule III

  • The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
  • The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

Examples: Anabolic steroids, ketamine (Special K), synthetic THC (Marinol)

On Social Security

  • I support privatizing social security. While simply stopping the highway robbery of the social security trust fund would probably right the ship, privatizing is more American. To be honest, nearly everything needs competition. Everything that isn’t a matter of true government concern. I think the government is more responsible for promoting a healthy population than for giving them peanuts by garnishing their grandchildren’s paychecks during retirement, but that’s me.
  • I oppose raising the earnings cap on social security. The more you make, the less you need social security for retirement.

On Taxes and Budget

  • I support the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service in favor of a Fair Tax system, which generates the same revenues by taxing consumption rather than income. The dumbest thing America does is tax the one thing it needs every able-bodied American to do, work. We don’t tax rampant consumption aside from marginal sales taxes, which often create negative externalities which tax dollars must address. Under the Fair Tax, you can make as much money as you want with no increase in tax due to income. Read more about the Fair Tax.
  • I support an amendment requiring Congress and the President to balance the federal budget every year.

On Trade and Economics

  • I support free trade with few restrictions. Trade can be the most powerful vehicle for positive change in the world, we must always prepare for creative destruction.
  • I oppose any increase in the federal minimum wage. This generally only leads to more inflation with little actual benefit in the long run. In the short run hours are usually cut, so the benefit is moot.
  • I support many government subsidies for farmers, however I believe fruits and vegetables are disgustingly underrepresented(around 3% of overall subsidies). This relates to illegal immigration as well, because if we subsidized fruits and vegetables more we might be able to attract American workers to pick strawberries in California or lettuce in Arizona. Just a thought.
  • I support normal trade and diplomatic relations with China. Our President should, however, continually be urging Hu Jintao to meet with the Dalai Lama and make visible strides in the area of human rights.


Let me know if there’s anything I should add to this list, and feel free to discuss my stances. You don’t need to waste your time just to attack, but reasoned debate is very welcome.

Written by unastronaut

April 15, 2008 at 10:31 am

Posted in barack obama, Blogroll, current events, Economics, economy, education, election, government, hillary clinton, illegal immigration, iraq war, john mccain, kiva, microcredit, philosophy, Politics, ron paul, vote 2008

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