September 30, 2011
What Would Suze Orman Say?
One of the problems with relying on private capital markets to fund promising new businesses, is that people using their own money tend to arrive at decisions different from people using someone else’s money.
This is highly undesirable, as it is a sad fact of life that the private sector routinely refuses to invest money in companies no one wants to invest in which plan to make things no one wants to buy. Their excuse? They’ll lose all their money.
It’s always me me me with these people.
That’s not the America I grew up in. Okay, maybe it is, but it’s not the America my two-year-old grew up in, the America that stands ready to lend a hand to those companies that, through no fault of their own, have completely unsustainable business plans.
Part of the problem is that private investors use different criteria in deciding whether or not to make an investment, including selfish, greedy requirements such as, “Can they make a profit?” and “Will I ever get my money back?”
In contrast, government investment experts look at more important criteria, such as, “Did the owners contribute to Democratic members of Congress?” and, “Did they also contribute to President Obama’s presidential campaign?” These are public interest issues that private investors willfully turn a blind eye too, demonstrating their total disregard for the responsibility they share in helping out the least fortunate Democratic candidates among us.
And then there are jobs. Sure, private companies can create jobs, such as JWF Industries which is in the process of hiring 100 people to help service the equipment needs of the natural gas industry drilling in the vast Marcellus shale region of Pennsylvania, but the funds required to create those jobs are modest at best, and not a single one of these new jobs are being created in China.
It’s much better if the government provides $737 million in loans to a company with family connections to former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It might only create 45 jobs (46 if you count Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law) but these are quality jobs, which you can tell since they’re going to cost $16 million each.
It’s really up to you. You can rely on the false hope that private investment in industries producing desirable products produces jobs, or you can do the right thing and rely on government experts to invest your money in companies with business plans based on selling a product for $3 that costs $6 to make.
Don't worry, they'll make it up on volume.
September 26, 2011
Maybe Churchill Never Heard of “Orszagocracy”
The problem with our democracy according to former Office of Management and Budget chief Peter Orszag is that there are way too many people who aren’t Peter Orszag:
“To solve the serious problems facing our country, we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.”
To be fair, you can have too much Democracy, such as in a homeowner’s association that votes that you need to remove the car you’ve had up on cinder blocks on your front lawn the past three years even though you just ordered a set of decorative plastic garden gnomes to place in front of them. You know, to “class the place up a bit.”
But Mr. Orszag’s problem with democracy is not really that people have too much of a say over others, it’s that too many of the people who have a say disagree with him.
What is the root source of this problem? The source, of course, is you. You’re too “polarized” to think clearly enough about our situation to agree on a “common-sense approach,” that just so happens mirrors the approach favored by the Democratic Party:
“A progressive tax code is one such automatic stabilizer,… making the tax code more progressive would strengthen its role as an automatic stabilizer.”
“Unemployment insurance is another automatic stabilizer; as the economy weakens, unemployment insurance expands, providing a boost to demand right when the economy needs it.”
“…We should be aiming to reduce the deficit in the long-term but not in the short-term.”
How did we become so polarized that vast numbers of people aren’t Democrats?
According to Peter Orszag, you’re choosing to live in communities of people who share your ideas regarding governance:
“One crucial cause, as documented in Bill Bishop’s The Big Sort, is that Republicans and Democrats are increasingly living in separate places.”
By living apart from Democrats, Republicans are being denied their common-sense approaches to problem solving.
Second, you watch news that you want to, as opposed to news Democrats used to decide for you:
“Common news sources, such as major broadcast TV stations and national newspapers, have been joined by an array of websites, podcasts, and cable shows. Research suggests that Americans are only tuning into or logging onto a small share of the media choices available to them—and they are picking the ones that fit their beliefs.”
Wasn’t it better when Walter Cronkite just told you what to believe?
Third, you’re crazy:
“Psychology research shows that, when people with similar opinions are put together, their views become more radical.”
Unless you live where Peter Orszag lives, in which case you’re a Democrat, er, we mean, a common-sense moderate, and believe the government spending more money is the only way to get the government to spend less money. Or something.
Do you know who’s not to blame for this situation? As coincidence would have it, people like Peter Orszag:
“It is true that several respected political scientists have suggested that elites play a larger role in polarization than my analysis would suggest. But those arguments founder on a simple point: Political scientist Gary Jacobson has found that people’s views on politics have not diverged considerably from those of their representatives. This suggests that polarization is not primarily an elite-driven phenomenon.”
Now that’s a relief!
“This is why I believe that we need to jettison the Civics 101 fairy tale about pure representative democracy and instead begin to build a new set of rules and institutions that would make legislative inertia less detrimental to our nation’s long-term health.”
Enough of this Civics 101 fairy tale! Bring on the new era of Rule by the Elites! ‘Tis better we do the bidding of our Lords than try to rely on the opinions of men of inferior…
Wait a second, this sounds familiar.
September 24, 2011
Elizabeth Warren’s Rant - Adjusted Version
It lit up the Internet. Finally, somebody willing to yell incoherently about things she doesn’t understand stand up for progressive values:
I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.” No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.
You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless — keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”
Given that Massachusetts Senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren avoided in any way addressing the arguments her opponents are actually making, we thought we’d recast her rant through the eyes of the rest of us:
I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.” No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody.
You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You built that factory using federal loan guarantees the rest of us paid for. It uses electricity subsidized by campaign contributions the rest of us paid for. Your workers drive to work in General Motors cars the rest of us paid for. Your business benefits from the study of lightweight embodiment as an input for collaborative creative interaction in the design and production of interactive dance performances, the rest of us paid for! You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because sending out marauding bands to seize everything at your factory is the job of federal agents, the rest of us paid for.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea, providing jobs and opportunities for your fellow citizens. God bless — that’s why we let you keep a hunk of your money, just a much smaller hunk than the rest of us. But part of the underlying social contract is, if you work really hard and make sacrifices and are successful, you should keep an even smaller hunk and pay forward so the rest of us don’t have to.
There, that's better.
September 21, 2011
Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell. – Law Enforcement Edition
“Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell,” is a periodic series in which we explore the new and exciting ways in which the notions of freedom and liberty are being interpreted in our modern and progressive world.
Defending Your Family by Shooting a Grizzly Bear
An Idaho man last month shot a grizzly bear that had wandered into his yard, threatening his wife and two of his children.
If you are like most American parents, you have only one question:
Was the bear okay?
Unfortunately, the bear died, and the man, Jeremy Hill, was subsequently charged with violating the Endangered Species Act. No charges were brought against the bear as human children populations are abundant throughout the Pacific Northwest.
While Mr. Hill initially faced up to a year in jail and $50,000 in fines, he eventually agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and pled guilty to not waiting for federal agents to come shoot the bear, as any law-abiding citizen should do. We mean, any law abiding widower left to raise his surviving children on his own.
Defending Yourself And Your Coworkers by Facing Down Armed Robbers.
A Michigan pharmacist found himself face to face with two armed gunmen as he worked the night shift at a Walgreens in Benton Township, Michigan. Staring down the barrel of a gun and fearing for his life, the pharmacist, Jeremy Hoven, clearly cracked under the pressure, completely forgetting his employer’s non-escalation policy, however remembering his firearms training and drew his permitted hand gun, shooting at the robbers and forcing them to flee.
Given that Walgreen’s policy is that “compromise is safer," a policy typically arrived at when you are doing something other than looking down the barrel of a gun (such as sitting safely in your corporate office), the company fired Hoven.
Let that be a lesson to you out there. Particularly to you armed robbers.
Minding Your Own Business
OLD: A time honored American tradition.
NEW: A crime.
The trouble started when a number of people living in rural Antelope Valley, California, were found to be not bothering anyone. Concerned by this blatant regard for others, Los Angeles County formed “Nuisance Abatement Teams” to address the non-growing problem.
Given the inherent danger involved in confronting people with a history of keeping to themselves and the natural hazards involved in any building code enforcement action, these NATs swarm homes with armed agents, the better to ensure no one tries to run to the bathroom and bring the place up to code (perhaps by installing a GFI, or maybe putting in a vapor barrier).
As a result of these actions, we hope Los Angeles can finally get a handle on these “public nuisance conditions on private property," in the middle of nowhere.
Being Tied up While Your Place is Ransacked
OLD: A crime
NEW: A law enforcement action.
A strip club in Edinburg, Texas was raided by forty law enforcement officers who tied up everyone inside while they searched the place for drugs.
While they did not find any drugs, they did find $1,500 in cash, $8,000 in club “tokens,” the manager’s wallet, laptops, tablet computers, and backpacks and decided to take those instead.
They really didn’t have any choice given the fact that there were no drugs to take.
These items are being held indefinitely as evidence, presumably for the crime of “intent to carry a wallet,” and “possession of cash.”
September 20, 2011
Maybe He Has an Inner Ear Problem
President Obama yesterday announced his $3.2 trillion deficit reduction plan perfectly balanced between spending cuts and tax increases, because if you’re going to reduce the amount of money you give to people who didn’t earn it, it’s only fair that you increase the amount you take from people who did.
To achieve this balance, the President had to propose spending cuts that can only be described as draconian, adding up to $1.8 trillion over the next ten years made up of:
$1.1 trillion slashed from spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts that no one was planning on spending anyway since we’re scheduled to withdraw from both countries over the next year. (Surprisingly the President did not include additional savings that could have been had by eliminating our Martian mining colony that no one was planning as that could have easily resulted in another eleventy gazillion dollars in deficit reduction.)
Another $293 billion was found by simply adding the funds we’re not currently planning on spending on the Medicare “doc fix” and then making believe they weren’t added. (Which reminds us, that ClubJenna subscription did NOT increase our cable bill. It just didn’t, okay?)
$325 billion in savings in Medicare and Medicaid by instituting reforms and stuff.
On the tax side of the equation, the President is planning on raising $1.8 trillion by increasing taxes, however as the President said, “This is not class warfare,” it’s merely raising taxes on one class so you can give the money to a different class, and if you refuse to give up your money, the government will send armed men to make you.
Okay so it’s a little bit like class warfare, but it’s important to take a closer look at the policy behind the tax increases:
Complicating our Tax Code
We’ve been hearing it for years, “Our tax code is too simple,” with millions of Americans still able to prepare their own taxes without the services of a professional accountant. President Obama is going to put an end to that by adding new tax brackets, exclusions, limits, and rules so that no American will ever be able to figure out his or her own taxes.
Coming out Strongly Against Unfairness That Doesn’t Really Exist
It would be completely unfair and a complete outrage if rich people paid a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than the middle class. Fortunately, in 99% of the cases they don’t, but still, it would be incredibly outrageously unfair if they did and we should be sure to come out against it using fiery populist rhetoric. Speaking of which, we are also against using kittens to heat our homes. There is no justification for it, and those who try to justify it should be called out. Any deficit reduction bill that calls for the use of kittens as home heating fuel, should and will be vetoed. It’s just the right thing to do.
Reducing the Incentives to be Fortunate.
The President made it clear that he thinks “the most fortunate among us” need to pay more in taxes, a sentiment echoed by Treasury Secretary Geithner who also believes that "Americans who are fortunate to make over a million dollars,” should pay more taxes.
Maybe it will be the store owner who will cut back on his 80 hours a week being fortunate at his shop. Maybe it will be the office worker being fortunate all night to finish a project or the college student who skips parties and pickup football games in order to be fortunate for hours on end in the lab.
Hey, look, you’ve been being fortunate your whole life, it’s only fair that you share some of that hard fortune with those who decided to be less fortunate and stay home and watch TV.
It is important that the President inspires us to greatness, to instill in us his own passion for reform:
“The President is proposing to designate a carried interest in an investment partnership as an “investment services partnership interest” (ISPI) and to tax a partner’s share of income from an ISPI that is not attributable to invested capital as ordinary income, regardless of the character of the income at the partnership level.”
Yeah! “No… um, whatever that is, no peace!!”
Naturally, the President’s plan has been criticized in all the usual quarters, from members of his own party to formerly vocal supporters to The Washington Post, you know, the same kind of broad-based nonpartisan near-universal condemnation every president is going to get no matter what he does.
And so we wish the President luck in saving his job. Er, in saving our jobs. That’s what we meant to say.
September 19, 2011
In case you were wondering why it was more difficult than usual to find a parking space last Friday, it might have been because of “PARK(ing) Day.”
If you are like most Planet Moron readers, your car is currently being held as evidence by the authorities, and so you might not have noticed, however PARK(ing) day is universally known as having possibly the most awkward name of any event in the history of humankind with the possible exception of “24 Hours of Reality.”
“An annual, worldwide event that invites citizens everywhere to transform metered parking spots into temporary parks for the public good.”
Finding a place to park is not in the public good, of course. As an article in Smithsonian Magazine recently explained:
“If aliens were watching the Earth from space, they might well assume that cars are the planet’s dominant species. Humans, they’d quickly observe, seem to exist in order to feed and groom their well-armored masters, and propel them from place to place.”
Keep in mind we are speaking here of profoundly stupid aliens, who despite having mastered technologies beyond our comprehension, still retain the cognitive abilities of a three-year-old.
“The image long peeved Matthew Passmore.”
Imagine how frustrating it must have been for Mr. Passmore to have to observe his fellow citizens going about their daily lives rather than spending their time in more productive pursuits such as “exploring the full dimensions of urban social ecology.”
And so in 2005, Mr. Passmore began the very first PARK(ing) Day. According to organizers, the event is necessary to:
“Challenge existing notions of public urban space and empower people to help redefine space to suit specific community needs.”
There is a possibility that these people have never heard of zoning commissions. But then, we have to remember:
“Cities are built for people, although in past decades large swaths of urban space have been dedicated almost to the storage and movement of private vehicles… that serve a relatively narrow bandwidth of the “public.”
And by “a relatively narrow bandwidth of the ‘public,’” they mean “the majority of the public” in every single major American urban area except New York.
Here at Planet Moron headquarters in Arlington County, Virginia, the local boondoggle known as “Artisphere,” (a name that doesn’t so much roll off the tongue as mugs it) enthusiastically sanctioned the event and even offered to participate:
“Dance Exchange will perform “Rest Easy,” a site-specific installation element of ‘Hammock’ in which Dance Exchange artist Sarah Levitt will seek rest in repetition from 5pm-6:30pm on September 16.”
Alternate title: “Public Employee Union.”
“The stage version of Hammock strips away the high-tech production elements of modern performance, instead focusing on the human body and the stage space they inhabit. Choreographed by Dance Exchange artists Sarah Levitt and Benjamin Wegman, Hammock explores rest as a defiant and aggressive act. The artists describe their process as one that “shifts between rest and productivity, talking and silence, being seen and disappearing, virtuosity and ‘that doesn’t look like a dance,’ changing the world and giving up for good.”
One of the things PARK(ing) Day hopes to promote is “unscripted social interactions.”
It would be interesting to hear the unscripted social interactions of taxpayers once they discover they’re paying for someone to get in and out of a hammock.
But we must remember:
“The vast majority of outdoor urban space is dedicated to the private vehicle, while only a fraction of that land is allocated to open space for people.”
We don’t mean to sound alarmist, but we think the organizers of PARK(ing) Day have been taken over by aliens.
September 15, 2011
We’re Probably Going to Need an AttackWatchWatch.com
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign unveiled a new web site yesterday designed to provide the administration with a platform to put forth its views on the important national policy issues of the day and perhaps draw contrasts with those with whom there may be honest disagreements, all in an atmosphere of mutual respect and deference to the ideals of a deliberative democracy.
Okay, so maybe they’re a little enthusiastic, but before you go on about how this is an outrageous effort by a sitting president to quell dissent in a desperate attempt to cling to power, you should know one thing:
It’s purely a coincidence that the site adopted the official colors of the Nazi Party.
Besides, the President has a right to counter his critics, such as those Republicans who falsely suggest that the administration has been granting large numbers of waivers to its union supporters.
This of course is an outrageous attack!
Naturally, AttackWatch offers a well-researched rebuttal to directly counter this bald-faced lie and suggests that readers:
“Read the official legislation.”
Your representative didn’t, but that's all the more reason you should.
Okay, so reading the legislation isn’t a direct counter to the favoritism charge, so AttackWatch offers several outside sources to expose the lie, for example, they point supporters to a nearly year old article by FactCheck.org that doesn’t actually address the question!
Looks like AttackWatch is two for two in this White House smack down!
Their next reference is a six-month-old Washington Post article that concedes that the first part of the statement by Republican Senator John Barrasso, “Two and a half million Americans, almost half of those union workers, have been given a waiver that they don’t have to live under this health care law,” is “technically correct,” and uses a “relatively narrow issue to make a broader point.”
What?! This bastard Republican stooped so low as to say something technically correct and then compounded this blatant dishonesty by using a relatively narrow issue to make a broader point?
How do these people sleep at night?
But the real killer is a Politifact article that found that it’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth because the Obama Administration releases incomplete information regarding waivers and besides, Obama Administration officials said clearly that they don’t show favoritism.
Who would know better than them?
Now do you understand the need for AttackWacth to counter these kinds of slanderous accusations?
And it hardly ends with attacks on the President’s health care plan. Some of his opponents are attempting to demonstrate his relative lack of commitment to the state of Israel using nothing more than a carefully documented recitation of his words and deeds.
That's an attack!!
Other opponents are making detailed arguments that the president’s auto bailouts used other people’s money and bailed out the auto unions using the underhanded method of citing readily available public information.
Lies! All lies!!!
GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry said the stimulus bill “created zero jobs,” when in fact some people claim many jobs were “created or saved.” Those are two entirely different measures, and fewer total people are working today than when the stimulus was signed into law. You know what that means?
They’re all lying liars who lie!!!!!
Given AttackWatch’s commitment to countering smears against the President, we wondered what kind of a response our humorous observation regarding their color scheme might elicit. Rather than wait in vain for a response (and frankly, we could use the traffic) we decided to create our own AttackWatch page using the same measured, carefully researched approach taken by AttackWatch:
Wow, we sure showed us!
We will now leave you with the President’s moving words on political civility delivered in the aftermath of the Tucson tragedy:
“It’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”
“And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy -- it did not -- but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.”
Do you question the President’s sincerity?”
That’s an attack! You must be attacked Attack! Attack! Attack!
UPDATE: And to absolutely no one's surprise, there is an AttackWatchWatch.com website. And no, it isn't us!
September 13, 2011
Shhh, Artist at Work
Would you tell Michelangelo that you’d like to have a word with him about Eve’s hair or suggest to Mozart that he might want to consider losing one of the clarinets if he wants to get you on board with his chamber piece?
Of course not, those are masterpieces, reflective of the visions of their creators and therefore sacrosanct from tinkering by lesser minds.
You know what else is a masterpiece above tinkering by lesser minds?
President Obama’s American Jobs Act.
This, according to the President’s top political advisor, David Axelrod:
"We're not in a negotiation to break up the package. It's not an à la carte menu. It's a strategy to get this country moving."
Despite this apparent ultimatum to pass the package in whole and without debate or change, Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sounded a conciliatory response:
“I’m confident we can reach this compromise.”
“You know what people are fed up with most of all? They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word.”
“America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise.”
Wait, sorry, that wasn’t Eric Cantor, that was President Obama when he was trying to get the Republicans to agree on a debt ceiling increase. But that was seven weeks ago.
You want to live your whole life in the past?
What if Republicans in Congress continue to insist that a coequal branch of government has the obligation to discharge its constitutional responsibilities and weigh in on the President’s proposal in a deliberative manner?
According to the President:
“…The only thing that’s stopping it is politics. (Applause.) And we can’t afford these same political games.”
You know what’s not playing political games?
Surrounding yourself with first reponders the day after 9/11 while advocating for federal dollars to flow into the coffers of public employee unions.
Increasing taxes on a small number of people less likely to vote for you so you can reduce them on a larger number of people more likely to vote for you.
Questioning the patriotism of those who disagree with you.
Now, we must pass this bill "immediately". Pass it "right now." We "don't have the luxuray of waiting." We have to pass it "right away."
Before you have a chance to think about it.
September 11, 2011
Maybe They Should Have Had a Moment of Silence Instead
There are many different ways to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11, from solemn public commemorations to quiet moments of personal reflection, but here’s one you might not have thought of:
Launch a vicious partisan attack on those with whom you’ve had foreign policy disagreements.
But then, you’re not Nobel Prize Winning Economist and Respected New York Times Columnist (NPWERNYTC) Paul Krugman, who starts off a piece, “The Years of Shame,” with this:
“Is it just me, or are the 9/11 commemorations oddly subdued?”
It’s not clear how he’d prefer a commemoration of the brutal deaths of thousand of innocent Americans at the hands of homicidal terrorists be handled. Fireworks at Ground Zero perhaps, or maybe a celebrity roast of Rudy Giuliani.
He goes on:
“What happened after 9/11 — and I think even people on the right know this, whether they admit it or not — was deeply shameful. The atrocity should have been a unifying event, but instead it became a wedge issue. Fake heroes like Bernie Kerik, Rudy Giuliani, and, yes, George W. Bush raced to cash in on the horror. And then the attack was used to justify an unrelated war the neocons wanted to fight, for all the wrong reasons…”
“The memory of 9/11 has been irrevocably poisoned; it has become an occasion for shame. And in its heart, the nation knows it.”
Indeed, NPWERNYTC Paul Krugman is so certain that the nation knows it that he took this unusual action:
“I’m not going to allow comments on this post, for obvious reasons.”
Okay, so maybe the nation is having trouble coming to terms with the shame it knows in its heart it should feel, but there is a reason for this:
The nation is certifiably insane.
This, from the other end of the political spectrum, Pulitzer Prize Winning Writer and Respected Washington Post Columnist (PPWWRWPC) Kathleen Parker, who in her own 9/11 piece, “An America that no longer knows itself,” writes:
“The event was so cataclysmic and horrifying that it caused a sort of emotional breakdown in the American constitution.”
“Putting it bluntly, Sept. 11 caused us to go temporarily insane.”
And by “us,” she means you.
“President Obama understands that the nation has a psychological problem, but no president in his right mind can afford to speak publicly of such things.”
You can’t talk to a crazy person. Everyone knows that.
“If Jimmy Carter was brought down by his “crisis of confidence,” a.k.a. “malaise,” speech, imagine if Obama, who already suffers an image of elitist condescension, mentioned that the nation could use a little time on the couch.”
Imagine! We just can’t be reasoned with. Even a little thing like the President of the United States telling us we’re insane would probably set us off.
If you choose to mark 9/11 in a manner that does not involve shame or insanity, you can always visit the official 9/11 Memorial in New York City, or what we like to call the “Empty Pits of Eternal Despair.”
You know what? That insanity thing is starting to look better.
September 10, 2011
If I Didn't Go to the Beach...
The terrorists would win.