Opinion

Today’s Civics reminders

Since they don’t appear to include civics in today’s educational curriculum I feel the need to pass on these, let’s call them “Helpful Hints”, so that people don’t say, or do, things that make them seem at best, ill-informed, and at worst just plain dumb, about how the country in which they claim citizenship is supposed to actually operate.

First, the Constitution of these United States (yes, you should read it, it’s yours!).

Second, the Bill of Rights (again, yes, read it!).

And, for a quick reminder of how it all got started, the Declaration of Independence.

Seriously, if you feel you are informed enough to cast a ballot you should have read, and when needed re-read, these documents before making up your mind about any issue or candidate, imo of course.

Key items you may want to note during your reading or at least know where these probably important phrases come from.:

“We the People…..”

“….hold these truths to be self-evident…”

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state…” Huh, not Federal (National) Government?  Don’t you wonder why the Founding Fathers, in the face of a massive British Monarchy (National) army, were so particular about maintaining the security of the states?

The Original Thirteen States and their initial Congressional House Representatives:

New Hampshire three, Massachusetts eight, Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

Republic or Democracy?  This article by Walter E. Williams states it pretty well (emphasis mine):

How often do we hear the claim that our nation is a democracy? Was a democratic form of government the vision of the Founders? As it turns out, the word democracy appears nowhere in the two most fundamental founding documents of our nation—the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, declares “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Our pledge of allegiance to the flag says not to “the democracy for which it stands,” but to “the republic for which it stands.” Is the song that emerged during the War of 1861 “The Battle Hymn of the Democracy” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”?

So what is the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence of the difference when he said, “You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.” Nothing in our Constitution suggests that government is a grantor of rights. Instead, government is envisioned as a protector of rights.

In recognition that it is government that poses the gravest threat to our liberties, the framers used negative phrases in reference to Congress throughout the first ten amendments to the Constitution, such as shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied. In a republican form of government, there is rule of law. All citizens, including government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government power is limited and decentralized through a system of checks and balances. Government intervenes in civil society to protect its citizens against force and fraud, but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange.

Contrast the framers’ vision of a republic with that of a democracy. According to Webster’s dictionary, a democracy is defined as “government by the people; especially: rule of the majority.” In a democracy the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike the rights envisioned under a republican form of government, rights in a democracy are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.

I won’t copy the entire article but it makes more points with which I agree and would encourage you to read it while keeping in mind your previous reading of the above documents.

If you do that work, instead of relying on some 15 minute TV news loop for how you should think and feel, and still believe you should vote for candidates and issues that want to take away your rights or, maybe more importantly, those of your neighbors, that is your right and I will fight to protect it in spite of my respectful disagreement that any Government or Legislative Body at any level can do a better job of running my life than I can. Just sayin…..

Advertisements

Guns don’t kill people, cars kill people

Ride-hailing apps may help to curb drunk driving

GUN violence in America gets plenty of attention, but cars kill more. Around 40,000 people a year die on American roads, more than all fatalities caused by firearms (of which two-thirds are suicides, not homicides).

Facts, just sayin….

Flying Cars! Uber’s white paper

On-Demand Urban Air Transportation

A network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically (called VTOL aircraft for Vertical Take-off and Landing, and pronounced vee-tol), will enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities.

Imagine traveling from San Francisco’s Marina to work in downtown San Jose — a drive that would normally occupy the better part of two hours — in only 15 minutes. What if you could save nearly four hours round-trip between São Paulo’s city center and the suburbs in Campinas? Or imagine reducing your 90-plus minute stop-and-go commute from Gurgaon to your office in central New Delhi to a mere six minutes.

Every day, millions of hours are wasted on the road worldwide. Last year, the average San Francisco resident spent 230 hours commuting between work and home—that’s half a million hours of productivity lost every single day. In Los Angeles and Sydney, residents spend seven whole working weeks each year commuting, two of which are wasted unproductively stuck in gridlock. In many global megacities, the problem is more severe: the average commute in Mumbai exceeds a staggering 90 minutes. For all of us, that’s less time with family, less time at work growing our economies, more money spent on fuel — and a marked increase in our stress levels: a study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, for example, found that those who commute more than 10 miles were at increased odds of elevated blood pressure.

Where do I sign up? Just sayin….

Digital Asset Estate Planning is critical!

Sadly, we had a good friend who did not make these arrangements and I still get his image popping up from his Facebook so here’s a short reminder on making changes to your estate plan for your digital assets:

Estate Planning for Digital Assets

The adviser realized leaving her client’s eBay and PayPal accounts open after his death could leave his heirs vulnerable to having those accounts hacked, a logistical nightmare if she didn’t have access to them.

“Anyone could hack into the accounts—which are connected to bank accounts—and take the money or rack up huge debts that the estate is then responsible for,”

They researched service agreements at social media, e-commerce and file storing sites. In accordance with those agreements, they came up with an amendment to the client’s revocable trust that they hoped would give the trustee, Ms. Pedersen’s firm, access to all of the client’s digital accounts when he dies.

Think about your accounts at Google, Facebook, Amazon, PayPay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, BitCoin, Itunes, etc. and how digital your life has become and make arrangements for someone to take down your digital accounts.  Don’t have your face pop up on a friend or family Facebook account after you’re gone, plan today.  Just sayin…

 

Maybe he’s onto something here…

Republican self-destruction is fun to watch, but bad for us all

January 29 at 1:44 PM Washington Post

…An intellectually vibrant conservatism is essential to a healthy democracy.  The United States needs conservatives willing to criticize the grand plans we liberals sometimes offer, to remind us that traditional institutions should not be overturned lightly and to challenge those who believe that politics can remold human nature.

Wait, is he suggesting we are slow to change? No, say it’s not so!

At its best, as Philip Wallach and Justus Myers argued in National Affairs , conservatism is a “disposition” that “has the most to offer societies that have much worth conserving.” Even those of us who are critical of our nation’s injustices and inequalities can agree that the United States is such a society. The task of conservatives, Wallach and Myers write, is to offer “incremental adaptation” as an alternative to radical change.

So, in plain speak, progress at a thoughtful pace.  How reasonable.

Conservatives in power could never materially reduce the size of government, because so much of what it does and spends money on — from supporting the elderly to protecting consumers to providing for the common defense — is so popular. Conservatives haven’t been able to roll back cultural changes, because most Americans don’t want to return where we were before the rights revolutions on behalf of African Americans, women and gays. And politicians can’t reverse the fact that white Americans gradually are losing their majority status in an increasingly diverse nation.

It’s a good read.  Just sayin….

 

 

An Economist Blog post on why raising Corporate taxes won’t help workers or the deficit

Stop cheering, Keynesians

Ever wonder why so many Americans are disgusted with Washington? Look no further than the demoralizing display of Kabuki democracy surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline.

Why the showdown over the Keystone XL pipeline is totally pointless

Damon Linker The Week January 14, 2015

After more than six long years of argument, debate, protest, lobbying, and court rulings, a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is wending its way through the Senate. Once the bill has passed, it will be sent to the president’s desk, where Barack Obama has pledged to veto it, marking only the third time he has chosen to use that constitutional power, and the first time he has done so since 2010.

It’s exciting.

And also utterly pointless.

The strongest argument against the pipeline is that it will contribute in a significant way to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The only problem is that everyone knows that the contribution will be negligible — with estimates ranging from 27 million to 110 million additional tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year out of a global total of roughly 40 billion tons. That’s an annual increase of somewhere between .0675 and .275 percent.

That’s right: the high-end estimate predicts that the pipeline will increase global greenhouse emissions by slightly more than one quarter of 1 percent.

But of course, stopping the pipeline would do no such thing. As everyone on both sides of the debate concedes, the Canadians will get their tar sands oil to market one way or the other, whether or not the pipeline is approved and built as proposed. (Rail transport is the most likely alternative.) And that means that rejecting the project will have essentially no impact on global carbon emissions.

And trains don’t contribute to Global Emissions, right? Or risk huge natural disasters and deaths as they pass through our cities and towns, right?

Yet the number of jobs at stake is as negligible as the projected increase in pollutants. Estimates place the number at around 2,000 annual temporary jobs over two years of pipeline construction, followed by 35 permanent positions once it’s up and running.

You heard that right: 35. Two digits; no zeros.

All of this is common knowledge. Pretty much no one on either side of the argument attempts to deny or refute any of it.

And yet here we are at the O.K. Corral, the Senate and president poised for a showdown.

Are you getting excited yet?  Feel the drama building and your blood boiling with passion?

Of course, for everyone in the country who isn’t an environmental activist, the hoopla defies comprehension. But hey, that’s the way our politics work now: enormous amounts of time, energy, and resources — and the president’s limited political capital — expended on a ploy to get a special-interest group trained and tested for…some as-yet-undetermined future fight.

Pssssssss – that’s the air going out of the drama balloon.  A whole bunch of time, money and energy wasted.  Oh wait, we are talking about politicians aren’t we.  Just sayin’…

Because I know all you talk about with your friends are taxes

Waste: Federal Tax Paperwork May Cost More Than The Corporate Income Tax Collects

Earlier studies of the costs of overall tax compliance, the deadweight costs and sheer economic waste, postulated several percent of GDP, or hundreds of billions of dollars. Surveying such material I reckoned $329 billion as a placeholder for those costs, noting also that, assuming $47 dollars an hour for compliance personnel to deal with the 7 billion would be all it takes to reach that height (but costs encompass more than salaries, of course).

Note something interesting; that $329 billion exceeds the $321 billion that the Treasury Department reports as what is taken in by via corporate income tax receipts.

Corporate income tax reform is needed; it’s a priority. But the greater problems are over-regulation and too much paperwork and red tape. Simplification and common sense, all around, is needed.

So, let me get this straight.  We can net the government more by eliminating the paperwork and burden of regulations than they collect in corporate income tax?  So Corporate Income Tax is a net loser?

One more bit of information to have at your fingertips:

The individual income tax receipts component of all this is $1.394 trillion. The corporate income tax, meanwhile, was $321 billion (p. 5, Table 3).2014 Corporate Income Taxes vs Tax Paperwork

Just sayin…

It made me think and it made me grin. Two good reasons to read.

“Vote first, ask questions later” is not a mantra of good citizenship. It’s a marketing strategy designed to reward politicians for voters’ ignorance.