Archive for April, 2011

An Earful About Earmarks (April 25, 2011)

Posted in Congress, Constitution, Debt/Deficits, Earmarks on April 25, 2011 by

. . .

5          “The era of earmarks is not over.”

C          “I hear that we have not heard the last.  Earmarks are misunderstood.  How many citizens really know what they are criticizing.  Remember the typical two stages of a bill in Congress.  One committee ‘authorizes’ a law that authorizes an activity or program.  After the other bills in the other authorizing committees are authorized, the Appropriations Committee and its subcommittees review them and ‘appropriate’ funds when appropriate.  After review, the authorized activity or program may or may not be appropriated funds.”

5          “The Interior Committee authorizes an activity or program and then the appropriate subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee appropriates money.”

C          “And with more steps in the process, there are fewer spending opportunities.”

5          “An earmark is a way to bypass this settled procedure and practice.  More powerful Representatives and Senators are able to slip spending provisions into bills without Congressional oversight.”

C          “The oversight is the lack of oversight.”

5          “Right.  The authorization/appropriation process is a way and a means to maintain internal checks and balances.  Today, there are too many checks being written by the government and too little balance.  The amount involved admittedly is just a drop in a deluge of deficits and debt.  However, allowing earmarks reflects a lack of disciple and purpose.”

C          “Earmarks are not unconstitutional.  Earmarks are not illegal.  Earmarks are perfectly legal.  But hear me out.  Earmarks are a leading cause of deficit spending.”

. . .

Bumper stickers of the week:

One man’s earmark is another man’s sage expenditure

Authorize And Appropriate; Avoid Earmark Expenditures

The Great National Dissolution: Resolving The Great Civil War (April 18, 2011)

Posted in Immanentizing The Eschaton, Political Parties, Politics, Race on April 18, 2011 by

. . .

A         “Last Tuesday marked one hundred and fifty years since the outbreak of the Civil War.”

E         “And it started with a terrorist assault by a state on Ft. Sumter, an outlying Union outpost.  4/12 was 9/11.”

A         “The Great National Dissolution springs from the realization that divorce and dissolution are among the most important and necessary institutions developed by humankind.”

E         “The fundamental issue today really is exactly the same as the fundamental issue in 1860.  Slavery disguised and marketed as States Rights.  America still is divided into the Slave States and the Free States.  It’s that fundamental.”

A         “The division reflects tension between the human desire to be free oneself and the human urge to enslave others.  The first stage of the Civil War was followed by the Great Hundred Year War of Terror.  From the signing of the terms of surrender in 1865 to the signing of the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, there was a sustained campaign of terrorism against Blacks.  Blacks rode the Underground Railroad from the Slave States to the Non-Slave States as political and economic refuges fleeing from domestic terrorists.  When the CRA and VRA were signed, most of the overt terrorism against Blacks in America went underground, yet many Blacks are still railroaded.”

E         “Dissolution may be an option, but you confront the proposition that the right of a state to leave the Union was settled at Appomattox in 1865.  There are some guys who proclaim: ‘Lee surrendered, I didn’t’.”

A         “Act on that sentiment and the Feds will issue ‘three hots and a cot.’  However, the proposal avoids the problem of unilateral and illegal state action.  Congress itself must enact the Great National Dissolution.”

E         “When the Civil War broke out, some guys who had studied Jomini, drank Jack Walker and went on panty raids together at West Point went South while the others went North particularly many of the small cadre that were deployed at the time out West.  Robert Lee, who graduated a few years earlier and higher in the class than most of his home boys, took sides with Virginia and the insurgents.  Others stayed with their then-current employer, Tio Sam.  So you say that everyone should be afforded an opportunity to make that decision today?”

A         “Exactly.  The Great National Migration.  Very clean, very elegant.”

E         “I suspect that the District of Columbia would elect to go with the Free States.”

A         “Probably.  DC could also attain statehood immediately.  Again, very clean, very elegant.”

E         “The battle lines in America are clear, although the specific boundary lines are cloudy.  The resource extraction states would go with the Slave States; the states with exploitable natural resources do not need human resources.  The entire state of Oklahoma would, of course, go with the Slave States.  A state like Minnesota would be torn, like the Virginia of old, possibly in twain.  M. Bachman and her ilk would go with the Slave States, K. Ellison and his followers would go with the Free States.”

A         “And then there is Wisconsin.”

E         “By the way, you’re hosed.”

A         “Not to worry.  A friend and I agree that each of us will be forced to leave or will be driven from our respective states.  We agreed to swap houses.  A Section 1031 exchange is possible.  The possibilities are endless.  There is no downside.  Neither side would need to compromise its principles.  The Great National Dissolution is one of the most, if not the most, clean, elegant, practical, and principled resolutions of an intractable problem in the history of humankind.”

E         “I’ll concede that the solution is Pareto Optimal.”

A         “And allows all of us everywhere to . . . immanentize the eschaton.”

. . .

[See the “e-ssay” dated January 3, 2005 titled “Boycott Red America (January 3, 2005).”]   

Bumper stickers of the week:

Lee Surrendered, I Didn’t

Better Dead Than Red

Better Red Than Read

The Great National Dissolution:  Coming To A State Near You

Only those who have already immanenetized the eschaton warn against immanentizing the eschaton.

Walmart’s Classy Action (April 11, 2011)

Posted in Courts, Economics, Monopoly, Supreme Court on April 11, 2011 by

. . .

E          “It keeps getting more surreal.  Walmart whined all the way to the Supreme Court recently that the proposed class of individuals joined in the discrimination law against it is too big.”

F          “So Walmart promotes judicial activism?”

E          “Or is it an admission by Walmart that Walmart is too big?  Walmart could divest itself of a few of its divisions.  Or enter into a ‘consent decree’ with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and down size.”

F          “Is a ‘consent decree’ one of those legal things that allows an entity to maintain that it did not do anything wrong in the past and it agrees not to do it ever again in the future.”

E          “That’s the animal.  A female spokeswoman with Walmart stated that she never experienced any discrimination while working her way through the Walmart hierarchy.”

F          “But she is not a proposed member of the class?”

E          “Nope.”

F          “What’s the problem?  Seems fair that she is not part of the class.  Large companies with large numbers of employees may have large classes.”

. . .

Bumper stickers of the week:

Large is good?

Radiation is democratic and dismayingly indifferent

“Peak Land”: The Exodus Toward The Equator . . . or the North Pole? (April 4, 2011)

Posted in Consumerism, Depression, Economics, Global Climate Change, Global Warming, Housing, Peak Land, Population, Recession on April 4, 2011 by

. . .

7          “Look at the movement of the ‘center of population’ or the ‘median point’ of the population in America over the decades.  Opportunity, open space, sun shine, clean air, air conditioning, ‘right to work laws’ and lax state environmental and occupational regulations attracted individuals and businesses to the western longitudes and the southern latitudes of America.  The center has moved from Maryland to Missouri.  In the coming decades, the population will need to migrate closer to the sun which on this planet means closer to the equator.”

13        “Not enough dead dinosaurs.  The decline in fossil fuels will drive everyone crazy and may drive them to drive south.  About ninety percent of the Canadian population lives within one hundred miles of the United States border.  They can’t move far and remain Canadians.  We will need to move south.  However, people will not have the electricity to condition the air.”

7          “Americans are drifting toward the southwest, yet they cannot live and work there because of the limited water supply even if photovoltaic cells are welcome and promising.  The populace may end up moving to enclaves in Oregon.”

13        “Then we bump into another limit.  We as a people have always lived at ‘peak land’ because the total number of hectares is finite and known.”

7          “With the rising seas reducing the land mass.”

13        “Exactly.  I look at the globe and a map differently.  I see a narrow undulating band of livable land that does not demand the consumption of substantial deceased dinosaurs to stay warm, offers adequate water supplies and provides locally grown food.  The sustainable plat on the planet is contracting.  Even rising temperatures will not be enough to offset the prohibitive costs of heating cold regions and handling short growing seasons.”

7          “Yet as the perverse insulation envelops the Earth, northern climes may become temperate climates.  Canadians may be well positioned.”

13        “All the rates of change are in flux and uncertain.  We are now moving from ‘peak land’ to scarcer land.”

7          “We are on the wrong side of too many tipping points.  Usable land is contracting while the population is expanding.”

13        “While the population is exploding.  A friend estimated that the city will reach five hundred thousand residents by 2030.  I observed that the city would need to contract to fifty thousand residents at most.  He was nonplussed and added an aside about the birth rate.  I agreed that we are over gross and getting grosser.  Nonetheless, our numbers must shrink and migrate.  He remained nonplussed.”

7          “For most people, it does not add up.  They aren’t even doing the math.”

. . .

[April – National Poetry Month]

Bumper stickers of the week:

A half dozen six-word memoirs in an “e-poem” titled “Take only pictures; Leave only footprints.”

Many live humans; Few dead dinosaurs.

Disregard the e-con-omists; Regard the physicists.

Change your attitude; Range the latitudes.

Pay old bills*; Develop new skills.

Consume less junk; Savor more beauty.

So many challenges; So little time.

*          Craft your own financial game plan.  With hyperinflation on the way, purposefully delaying the payment of bills allows one to pay obligations with significantly devalued dollars.  That is the strategy being pursued by the governments.