Friday, February 1, 2008

An Apology

I would like to express my regrets that it is a Montana Senator that has
monkey-wrenched the federal rebate program:

Rather than accepting a (possibly) less-than-perfect deal that gets
checks into the hands of Americans in a somewhat timely manner, Senator
Max Baucus found it appropriate to delay the whole process by insisting
on including a number of changes that must necessarily be resolved
before the program can continue.

Again, my apologies.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Political Perspectives

This political season, here (in no particular order) are some of the things that I think about a variety of subjects:

  • Immigration: I think it needs major reform. The country has (roughly) a half-million new entry-level new jobs each year, as well as a large number of labor-intensive jobs (think construction and farm), but only a tiny fraction of people willing to work those jobs. Immigrants (primarily from Mexico) are willing to work those jobs, but are unable to get the paperwork needed to do so legally. What I think should be done is to create a class of seasonal worker visas that allow migrants to work in the U.S. for a period of (say) 6 months, then have to leave again for an equal period. Similarly, a class of visa for those coming to take an entry-level job should be creaated -- one that would allow them to (optionally) apply for citizenship. Simultaneously, I think it would be entirely appropriate to lock down the U.S. border -- I mean, as in anyone crossing it except at an official checkpoint being subject to summary execution as a possible criminal/terrorist/what-have-you. If you want to 'secure the border', then by-god SECURE it.

  • Economy: If our elected officials want the American economy to grow, and our citizens to do well, get the fuck out of the way. Government has never, ever managed anything with any degree of efficiency, timeliness, or competency. Phase out such things as farm subsidies, price supports, and all of that kind of nonsense. Either eliminate the income tax by going to a national sales tax, or reduce the income tax to something along the lines of "Send us X% of all your income." Along with that, make a matter of LAW that the federal budget MUST be balanced, and that no program may be implemented without clearly specifying how it will be financed.
  • Politics: How 'bout our elected officials knock the crap off? I'd like to see our elected officials have to live by the same rules that the rest of us do: no special subsidies for their health insurance, no special medical care, no special nothin'. If some Congresscritter wants to send fifty million bucks to his home district, it should be done in the open, and the funding source (and recipients!) plainly identified.
  • Civil liberties: If Congress is obliged to operate out in the open, so should the White House. If Dubya (or whatever gonzo gets elected) wants to start tapping phones, (s)he should be obliged to state so publicly. Ditto anything else that bumps up against the Constitution or Bill of Rights -- if anyone in the administration has to ask "can we do that?", they should be obliged to publicize it.
  • Military: Our military is supposed to be there to protect us from outside aggression. Military manning and budgeting should be one of the highest priority items, with full accounting -- I'm not sure how or why a hammer from Sears or Snap-On or somesuch is inherently inferior to one made by a government contractor. I mean, Sears Craftsman tools have a lifetime warranty - take a broken screwdriver in, and it gets replaced on the spot, f'cryin out loud, so why isn't that good enough for the military? Similarly, if one of the armed services decides they don't need/want some weapon system (think "Osprey"), Congress shouldn't foist it on them anyway. Our military should be the best-trained, bestt-paid, biggest bad-asses on the planet -- people should be genuinely afraid of pissing us off.
  • Foreign policy: Why, in God's name, does this country riccochet all over the place in our dealings with other countries? I'd like to see even ONE of the candidates come out and say "The USA stands for ____; consistent with that principle, our policy toward countries/leaders that ______ will be _____". F'rinstance, we have a trade deficit with China (they're getting more of our money than we are of theirs - partly through the governments manipulation of their currency), and we're afraid of pissing THEM off?
  • Size of Government: I've noted before that the number of Federal employees as a percentage of the U.S. population has increased over the last half century (50 citizens per Fed employee in 1944 to 20:1 now). Maybe it's time to limit -- by law -- how many "civil servants" (they seldom seem to be either) we allow?

I mean, that's what I think...