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February 28, 2009

We Understand “Tax and Tax” Didn’t Test That Well With Focus Groups

You know what’s a good thing to do when you are mired in a deep recession?

Create a carbon “Cap-and-Trade” program that takes money and resources away from cheap, time-proven, efficient methods of energy production and redirect them towards really expensive, largely unproven, horribly inefficient methods.

Why?

As Joe Biden might put it, it’s a three-letter-word: J-O-B-S.

Jobs.

How do you demonstrate that redirecting scarce capital from inexpensive forms of energy to costly forms of energy creates jobs?  Easy.  The Environmental Defense Fund (which is often mistakenly believed to be a fund created to defend the environment but is in fact a job creation advocacy group) helped to prepare a rigorous study in which companies that might benefit from being given government money were asked if they thought they might benefit from being given government money. 

The answer? A resounding YES! (We Can Take Government Money!)

The President’s cap-and-trade proposal would require companies to give money to the government for emitting carbon dioxide. This should not be confused with a “carbon tax” which would require companies to give money to the government for emitting carbon dioxide.

While that might sound similar, we should highlight one important detail: Under cap-and-trade, companies would receive “carbon credits” that they would then be able to trade with their carbon-emitting friends, kind of like baseball cards.  Doesn’t that sound like fun? Plus, it allows policy makers to point out that it’s a “free market” solution, only you are forced to go to the market and are required to make a purchase.

Say, “free markets” are much more efficient when you get rid of that messy “free” part!

Over time, the amount of carbon allowed per credit would be reduced until, by 2050, it would be set at 83% below 2005 levels, which would basically require the United States to replace the bulk of its industrial capacity and electric power generating capabilities (including nearly 50% more capacity to address projected growth in demand) in the next 40 years.

But not to worry, at least these non-carbon-emitting renewable processes don’t actually exist yet nor does a suitable electric grid to distribute them.

What could go wrong?

Fortunately, these new technologies will be fully funded as the vast majority of tax, er, “carbon credit” revenue raised will go to middle class tax cuts, and studies have demonstrated that most middle class families typically apply tax refunds towards advanced clean energy development and smart grid technologies.

Critics do point out two possible downsides of the Presidents cap-and-trade proposal:

  1. It won’t work.
  2. It won’t create jobs.

But that’s not what's important.  What is important is that we have a plan (thank you, Underpants Gnomes):

Administration Gnomes
You know that feeling you have right now?  That’s what it feels like to finally have confidence in the folks in Washington.

J.

February 28, 2009 at 01:29 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 27, 2009

That Well They Keep Going To Might Need Its Own Infrastructure Project

In seeking to secure additional sources of revenue to fund his ambitious spending plans, Barack Obama is turning to a number of different sources.

For example, one option he is pursuing is raising taxes on the rich.

However, realizing that he needs to broaden the federal government’s revenue base, he is also seriously exploring raising taxes on the rich.

And while he would rather not have to, he has no choice but to also consider raising taxes on the rich.

This is really only fair.  As White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs pointed out, 

“We are asking those who, for quite some time, have shared in the benefits of previous tax cuts to give a little bit more.”

Well, a little more more.  They were already giving more.  But more just isn’t enough in these fiscally restrained times.

And besides, we have stood by long enough, silent in our shame, while the top 5% of all wage earners pay barely 60% of all income taxes.  Maybe they could get away with that in the Bush years, but the gravy train is over, fat cats!

And not a moment too soon, either.  For years, we have burdened the bottom 50% of taxpayers with paying 3% of all income taxes.  Surely these are the people most deserving of federal income tax relief, and by “tax relief” we mean “checks.”

Which are probably going to come in handy what with Obama’s proposed lowering of the charitable donation deduction taken by those evil fat cat rich people sitting around on their private jets lighting cigars with fancy drapes. Or something like that.

However, he may want to hurry it up a bit, while those rich folks are still rich.

Or before they move to the Netherlands

J.

February 27, 2009 at 12:27 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 26, 2009

On Reflection, Calling Government Projects “Shovel Ready” Might Have Been a Poor Choice of Words

Like many Americans, we were curious as to how our Stimulus dollars (Thank you, communist Chinese government!) might be used.

So we went to the Virginia site of Recovery.gov to see which extremely stimulative emergency projects that clearly support national priorities and so are appropriately the purview of the federal government are being considered for funding.  Among the proposals were:

Sidewalk for Little Florida Road in Poquoson – “Installation of a sidewalk/bikepath along this road would connect the existing sidewalk on Wythe Creek Road to the sidewalk on Poquoson Avenue:” $1,250,000

You know what we’re thinking?  Damn those Republicans for opposing a sidewalk that would connect the existing sidewalk on Wythe Creek Road to the sidewalk on Poquoson Avenue.  Damn them all to hell!

Southwest Virginia Teacher Employment Fair: $10,000

Sure, there are few things more essential to the preservation of our way of life than funding a southwest Virginia teacher employment fair but let’s be honest, that money could be better spent on more important things.  Such as funding 10 seconds worth of losses at General Motors.

Establish a “town atmosphere” and alter the perspective of approaching traffic in Warrenton: $450,000.

Now this vital project for which we must saddle future generations with debt is only in the “concept” phase, so even if approved we shouldn’t expect to feel the dramatic impact that a new town atmosphere and altered perspective would generate for some time, however we believe Joe Biden has estimated that it will lose as many as 400 jobs a day.  No, wait… gain 400 jobs.  A month?  Aw heck, he was never that good with numbers anyway.  Or names. Or even remembering the difference between the two.

Fiber optic modems for The City of Fairfax: $300,000

The City of Fairfax completed the installation of fiber optic cables connecting all their traffic signal controllers to the operations center but apparently neglected to actually install modems that could use them. So, you know, it would be kind of nifty if they got those.  And that someone else pay for them.  (We’re thinking “the rich.”)

The Energy Innovation Infrastructure Program, Fairfax County - “Never before has there been an infrastructure readily available to create a significant multiplying effect on America’s ability… develop game-changing energy innovations… produce highly visible, tangible results… self sustaining innovation model: $36,000,000

Our only real concern is whether there will be sufficient change-agents available to break through the silos and ensure that synergistic efficiencies will empower both diversity and global village B2B value adds through a core-competency focused customer-centric vision.  Otherwise, spot on.

Now, these are only proposals at the moment, so we can only hope for now that they get the attention they deserve.

And at last check there were nine other states with their Recovery sites already up and ready for your reading pleasure.

Enjoy!

J.

Welcome Daily Crux readers!  Feel free to have a look around.  Planet Moron is about more than just snarky observations on politics and society at large.  Okay, that was a lie.  However, we do have colorfully illustrated advertisements.  So there's that...

February 26, 2009 at 06:23 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

It’s Just So, Like, Negative And All

“No, you can’t have marshmallows for dinner.”

“No, you can’t wear your clothes backwards today.”

"No, you can’t borrow my chainsaw.”

Does this sound like you?  Do you find yourself simply saying “no,” to almost everything your children ask for?  If so, you are at risk of becoming:

The parents of “no.”

Even though you may believe it would be unwise to concede to your child’s request that she “help paint daddy’s car,” to simply say “no” creates the very real possibility that you will be seen as being obstructionist.    Particularly since your car is clearly in immediate and dire need of being illustrated with daisies and ladybugs.

Come to think of it, we here at Planet Moron submitted a detailed proposal to Mrs. Moron that we make a “down payment” on a Hummer H3T, the rest of the funding coming from somewhere. Later.

When she simply said “no,” without offering an alternative (say, a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon) we pointed out that she could be seen as deliberately impeding the progress we were trying to make in purchasing a vehicle we can’t afford and that in any case the fact that she didn’t object to adding that extra bath and taking a trip to Florida last year means she has no standing to object.

We’ll let you know what her response is.

Once she starts speaking to us again.

J.

February 26, 2009 at 09:40 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2009

Time To Replace Marine One?

There has been some controversy of late over the ballooning costs of replacing the fleet of helicopters that serve the President (individually known as “Marine One” whenever he is aboard) as they approach the end of their useful life. Former presidential candidate John McCain even questioned the President about the program at this week's fiscal summit strongly suggesting, however subtly, that had he been elected president, we'd have already invaded Iran by now.

We here at Planet Moron do not believe we should skimp on the safety of the President but also recognize that these are difficult times and as President Obama pointed out last night, “Given these realities, everyone... will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me.”

That is why we propose a compromise:

Introducing, Greyhound One:

Greyhound One

Greyhound One, could easily serve many of the functions of Marine One.  And given its long-haul capabilities, it could even substitute for Air Force One, thus showing that the President was serious about people not using “taxpayer money to buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet.”

He would still have to do something about those drapes, however…

Additionally, Greyhound One would address one of the more serious and persistent safety issues that has plagued Marine One for years:  Presidential head bumping. (It is thought that President Carter decided on the malaise speech after a particularly bad hit.)

There are downsides of course.  Waving goodbye from the steps of a Greyhound will have all the pageantry of going home for spring break.  And it doesn't matter how much wood, leather, and granite you add to a bus, you're still on a bus.  However, this is certainly not the only transportation solution available to the White House.

Segway One Introducing, the Segway One…

J.

February 25, 2009 at 04:42 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Not State of The Union Address

As a companion to our Live Blog coverage last night, we will be offering additional observations throughout the day on Twitter.  By Tweeting.  Or Twittering?  (Are we the only ones who think they named it "Twitter" on a dare?)

You may click here for our Twitter page.

J.

February 25, 2009 at 08:34 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 24, 2009

Live Blogging The Not-State-Of-The-Union Address

WhiskeyWe are going to live blog Barack Obama's Not-State-Of-The-Union Address.

Maybe.  No promises.  However, We are prepared.  Computer: Check.  WiFi connection: Check.  Jack Daniels Single Barrel: Check, check, and check.

8:43 PM: Howard Fineman is reporting that the president will replace the words "crisis" and "catastrophe" with "clarity" and "confidence."  The only problem is it might be difficult to get the American people to sign off on bank and mortgage bailouts by threatening them with impending clarity and near-certain confidence.

8:58 PM: CNN is reporting that Congressmen such as Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois and Elliot Engle of New York  had staked out coveted aisle spots since early this morning, like college kids lining up for the really good dorm rooms.  Just in case any of you live in their districts and think maybe they have better things to do with their time...

9:05 PM: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is being show walking to his seat.  Overseas markets are reported to be plummeting.

9:08 PM: He seems to have gone off camera and sat down.  Markets are staging a euphoric rally.

9:11 PM: Barack Obama has been introduced. He’s not wearing a cardigan.  So that’s a plus.

9:15 PM: Starting. Only 15 minutes late.  Not bad. For him.

9:19 PM: Recap so far:

We’re doomed.
We’re doomed.
We’re doomed.
We’re doomed
We’re doomed.
We’re doomed.
We’re doomed.
There’s some hope.

9:21 PM:  “Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market.”

An excellent point, except for the not-being-true part.

9:23 PM:  "I don't believe in bigger government."  And we here at Planet Moron don't believe in drinking, smoking, and driving too fast.

9:30 PM: "Help responsible families lower their mortgage payments." Just not the 92% who have been responsible enough to pay their mortgage.  Apparently, you can be TOO responsible.

9:32 PM:  Recap update:

We’re doomed.
We’re doomed.
Rich people are evil.
Rich people are evil.
It’s Bush’s fault.
Rich people are evil
We’re doomed.
We’re doomed.
There’s hope.

9:36 PM: "We need to ultimately make clean and renewable energy the profitable kind of energy.  So I ask Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of renewable energy."

The way you make clean and renewable energy "profitable" is to make the profitable kind of energy unprofitable by taxing it.  You keep using that word. "Profitable." I do not think it means what you think it means.

9:47 PM: Free healthcare for everyone.  Free education for everyone. Forever.  This must be very hard on a guy who does not believe in big government.

9:51 PM: "We will go line by line though the federal budget to eliminate wasteful spending."  Too bad he couldn't have gone through the stimulus bill line by line. Probably should have penciled that in.

9:58 PM: Recap update:

Tax the rich.
Cut defense spending.
Tax the rich.
Tax the rich.
End the war in Iraq. Eventually.

10:05 PM: You know who's a great guy?  A guy who just gives his money away.  Barack Obama is kind of like that.  Except he gives your money away.  That's kind of the same thing.

Graphical Summary:

NotStateOfTheUnionGraph

10:30 PM:  We didn't know Kenneth Parcell of 30 Rock was giving the Republican response.

J.

February 24, 2009 at 08:34 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

They Say That From A Mighty Oak, A Single Acorn Will Spring. Wait, That’s Not Right…

Home values are in a state of rapid decline nationwide, making it possible for the first time in years for many people previously shut out of the market by excessively high prices and a responsible approach to personal finances, to realize their dreams and move into a home of their very own. 

This, of course, must be stopped.

How can we possibly stop people from moving into their own homes?

Well, we should count ourselves fortunate that we have organizations like ACORN (Association Cancelling Ownership Rights Now), which is organizing people all across America to put a stop to this epidemic of home buying before it gets completely out of hand.

The best way to do this is to go to the source, and break into homes that belong to other people and “reclaim” them for people who don’t, on purely technical terms, own them anymore.

Seizing property that does not belong to you is, of course, a fundamental right long enshrined somewhere or other.

Naturally, this kind of “civil disobedience/felony trespass” is hard work and so ACORN needs an army of volunteers committed to selflessly living in houses they don’t own. 

Like this volunteer, a woman who, through no fault of her own, refinanced her home for hundreds of thousands of dollars and fell into arrears.  So what did the bank do? It waited barely two years before heartlessly selling the house she could not afford to somebody else who could.

And this kind of outrage is going on all across America.

Not surprisingly, these efforts are supported by organizations that seek to “End Homelessness” because the only way we are ever going to end homelessness, is to keep the people who own their homes, out of them.

Hey, those people can just keep on renting like they are now, okay?  Yes, we’d all like a home of our own, we’d all like a nice yard and big kitchen, but if you want something like that, we’re sorry, you’ll just have to go out and buy a house you can’t afford with money you don’t have just like everyone else.

How can you help further the cause?  You can start small.  Remember that little sports car you had to get rid of when the baby came along?  Take it back!  Just because you can’t afford something and it belongs to someone else now doesn’t mean you still don’t have the right to it. Did you have to cash in a CD to help your parents with their medical bills?  Just go to the bank and take it back!  Look, you helped out your parents!  That was nice of you.  You have every right to get that money back.

You may, however, want to pack a toothbrush.

Just in case.

J.

February 24, 2009 at 01:19 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2009

Like Zombies, Only With Better Teeth

According to The Washington Post, a new plague has begun to spread across our battered housing landscape.  An age-old pestilence made worse by our deepening financial crisis, like a dormant infection attacking a weakened body.  We speak of that which we have all long feared:

Renters!

Increasing foreclosure rates are turning previously normal people into hideous non-lawn-mowing renters. Try as we might to avert our gaze, it is becoming impossible to ignore them.  They’re everywhere.  On the street. In the grocery store.

Next door to you!

Zombie Renters

In Prince William County, Virginia, renters have increased from a barely manageable 7% of the population to a nearly disastrous 15%.  What are the ramifications?  According to County Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan, they could “destroy neighborhoods.”

Of course, renters have always been with us.  It is believed that Shakespeare’s  Hamlet was largely based on a childhood neighbor who rented month to month and often neglected to take in his garbage cans within 24 hours of the scheduled pickup. The ancients too, had their renters, and dealt with them in a variety of ways, including ritual sacrifice, social shunning, and restrictive multi-dweller occupancy zoning ordinances.

While we’ve always had renters in our midst, it is their growing numbers that are now a problem.  Sure, you don’t mind a renter here and there and in fact you yourself may have experimented with renting back when you were in college.  So maybe you toss them an extra parking pass when you see them circling the block.  Maybe you help them carry in that old sofa that their last roommate was getting rid of anyway. Hey, who doesn’t have a story about that crazy neighborhood renter who lived down the street and could never seem to remember that curbside recycling was every other week.

But that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down, not with renters on the verge of swarming our communities with their one-year leases and their wholly inadequate complement of lawn care equipment.

What can you do to protect yourself from renters?

First, parents might do well to teach their children a version of the NRA's Eddie Eagle GunSafe program which is organized around a simple, easy-to-remember set of rules:

If you see a Renter:
STOP!
Don't Touch.
Refuse to Examine His References.
Tell an Adult.

Second, encourage your community to start capping the percentage of renters allowed in a given area. While this may end up leaving homes vacant and exacerbating the mortgage crisis, at least it will keep the renters out (and free up some parking).

And finally, we must not let ourselves become sentimental and start seeing renting as somehow a “socially acceptable” alternative lifestyle. And it doesn’t matter how long you’ve known somebody.  Maybe she was a co-worker who has owned her own home for years.  It doesn't matter.  If she joins the others and becomes a renter and comes around looking for something partially furnished with renewal options, you have to be ruthless in keeping you and your family safe and go after renters’ single biggest weakness:

Oversized security deposits.

J.

February 23, 2009 at 12:31 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2009

Because that $150-A-Month Cut In Gasoline Expenses Did Such A Bang-Up Job Stimulating Things…

In yesterday’s weekly radio address, President Obama promised that, "By April 1st, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month."

In other news, it was reported that by April 1st, a typical family will also begin increasing its share of the national debt by at least $65 every month.

Which is kind of a freaky coincidence when you think about it.

How will $65 a month stimulate the economy?  Maybe you’ll finally go out and buy that car you’ve always dreamed of getting, provided the car you’ve always dreamed of getting is a 1997 Pontiac Grand Am. Or, speaking of cars, $65 a month is almost enough to get you a round of golf at the United Auto Worker’s private course. Or perhaps you’ll use it to go back to school part time and earn a degree. In about 40 years.

Well, at least you’ll have some extra money to pay higher gasoline and sin taxes!

Or are those the same thing these days…

J.

February 22, 2009 at 11:18 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack