Saturday, March 7, 2009

Nuts and Dolts

Money for the Regime to Burn

There's a picture in yesterday's paper of two Mega Millions lottery winners, who look like they just had an enema of Kickapoo joy juice. I wish them well... but at what point do they come to the realization that there is no longer a safe place to put their money, or a place where it will even retain its present value? I mean, hey, if Warren Buffet is taking a beating, what's some schmuck from New Jersey supposed to do? I can see the vultures circling already. After the government takes its customary income tax cut off the top, do you think it's going to forget about these people? Try “capital gains” -- assuming there _are_ any gains. And try the dirty little secret behind all of the Bush-Obama bailouts and stimulus packages, namely that the only way it's going to work (if that is the word) is by putting the Treasury Department printing presses into overdrive and grossly inflating the currency, to the point where we can pay with all this stuff with “Zimbabwe Bucks”, and thereby punish everyone who has managed to save, or invest, any money. So no, putting their winnings in a coffee can and burying them in the back yard won't do. Maybe they could try handing it over to one of these hedge fund managers who are being brought up on fraud charges. Or invest it in a Ponzi scheme. Or turn it over to Wall Street and see it siphoned off by a bunch of corrupt CEOs. I guess there's always gold... or Swiss francs... or high-end art... or antique cars. Those markets all seem to be in good shape at the moment. Frankly, if anyone handed me $20 million right now, I'd probably have an anxiety attack.

Park it Here, Hillary

I say again – why do we care more about peace in the Near East than the Israelis do? Now Hillary is tut-tutting the Israelis for demolishing Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem to make room for a “national park”. Yeah. A national park in East Jerusalem makes about as much sense as one in the South Bronx. But hey, do they care whether or not it's an obvious scam? I don't think so. It's good to see Hillary, whose frustration tolerance is the second lowest on record (only her husband's is lower... although Obama is gaining on them) running into the Irresistible Force known as Israeli aggression. You'd think she would already have had some idea about this based on her years in the White House... but I guess her focus at that time was on domestic policy. In any case, welcome to the rest of the world, Hillary!

You Can't Handle the Truth

Give Senator Leahy credit – either he hasn't gotten the word as yet, or he has gotten it and chooses to ignore it. He's still pushing for a “truth commission” to root out the dirt on the Bush administration. Obama has, of course, asked him to cool it, since, as we all know, yesterday's blatant violations of human rights can become today's standard procedure once you move from the legislature to the White House. We have seen this ratcheting effect time and time again, as indignation is replaced by a strange new respect for totalitarian tactics. Why give up something that (1) has already been shown to work, at least on occasion, and (2) most of the citizenry couldn't care less about? No one has ever gotten voted out of office for mistreating prisoners... or holding people without formal charges... or engaging in “extraordinary rendition”... or any of the rest of the “counterterrorism” toolkit. Bush got laughed at when he talked about “staying the course” and “not cutting and running”, but all his administration's abuses of individuals got was a big yawn. Obama and his crew saw it all... and you can bet they're going to take full advantage of it.

San Juan Sinecures

Ever wonder why Puerto Rico isn't yet a state? Government employees down there amount to 21% of the work force – which, I believe, exceeds even the percentage in the mainland U.S., except for certain localized pockets of parasitism like Washington, DC and Appalachia. When you grow up in a system where the only guaranteed path to financial security is government employment, you might have a hard time adjusting to the rough-and-tumble of the private sector... although, heaven knows, the private sector in the U.S. is shrinking faster than the polar ice caps are alleged to be. And of course, a lot of what passes for “private industry” is really government employment in disguise – by way of contracting, grants, entitlements, etc. Who among us can say that they, and their finances, are completely free of corruption and co-opting by the government? I sure can't. There might be some survivalist up in the woods of Idaho who can say this and mean it, but the independent (of government) American is a vanishing breed... and the truly free American isn't far behind.

Stone Walls Do Jobs Make

This time it's the Pew Center that has come out in favor of reducing the prison population by finding alternative ways of dealing with “low-level offenders”. In Pennsylvania, for example, 1 in 28 adults was in jail or prison in 2007 – and that only ranked 31st among the states. But just as “war is the health of the state”, prisons are the health of... each _individual_ state, if by “health” you're talking about job creation, patronage, pork, and unassailable budget items. To give an example, while some officials are making a show of considering alternatives to incarceration, plans are being made to build four new prisons in Pennsylvania, and expand others. All of which adds up to jobs, i.e. votes, i.e. politicians remaining in office, which is the bottom line of any government program at state level (and most of the ones at higher and lower levels as well). And for every Pew Center, or other, egghead making reasonable and humane recommendations concerning incarceration policy, there are hundreds of “invisible lobbyists” -- mostly job holders and job seekers – who want the situation to stay just the way it is, or for the incarceration rate to increase. And we know who always wins battles like this.

Pass the Meow Mix

This guy who killed and ate a woman's cat (and he's not even Chinese!) was found guilty of “cruelty to animals”. Well, being a “cat person”, I don't have much sympathy for this dude – but isn't that charge a bit absurd given that millions of animals of all kinds are killed every day for food? He allegedly “cut the cat's throat in a bathtub” -- sounds bad, but is it really any worse than the mode of dispatch for most livestock and poultry? It sounds pretty quick and minimally painful to me. In fact, isn't that precisely the way animals are supposed to be killed in kosher processing plants? So... aren't we really talking about a double standard here, one for animals customarily kept as pets and the other for animals customarily raised for food? This might be understandable, if not totally logical... but does the law in question really make this distinction? I'm not arguing for a "vegan" position here -- just common sense.

No comments: