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Willisms

« January 2007 | WILLisms.com | March 2007 »

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 93

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

nancy pelosi's makeover.jpg

Here is the actual caption:
A model for Jeremy Scott in 2006. Scott is making a comeback to Paris with his autumn-winter collection after deserting the French capital for Los Angeles and New York following his return to his homeland in 2001.
You call THAT a caption? Please! Give us a real caption.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, March 6. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at mccracken.ken@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

Winners from last week: 1. DaveD:

Hillary had the look of a deer caught in Obama's headlights.

2. Buckley F. Williams:

Darkness falls across the land / The midnight hour is close at hand / Creatures crawl in search of blood / To terrorize y'all's neighbourhood / And whosoever shall be found / Without the soul for getting down / Must stand and face the hounds of hell / And rot inside a corpse's shell. / The foulest stench is in the air / The funk of 40,000 years / And grizzy ghouls from every tomb / Are closing in to seal your doom / And though you fight to stay alive / Your body starts to shiver / For no mere mortal can resist / The evil of the Hiller.

3. John:

Gotham city debuts its replacement for the Bat Signal.

We were captioning before captioning was cool. Enter today!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 28 February 2007 06:55 AM · Comments (25)

The Right Hand Of Satan Survives Assassination Attempt

Why, oh why, do they hate Dick Cheney so?

The left, that is, not the Taliban.

It can't be because he was a draft dodger, because the left has nothing at all against draft dodgers - even ones who start illegal, preemptive unilateral wars (i.e., Bill Clinton).

It can't be because he swears a lot. After all, who swears more than leftists? Or Hillary Clinton for that matter?

It can't be because he got a DWI. For all the leftists who think that is a bad, bad thing, I have one word: Chappaquiddick.

And for those who think his relationship with Halliburton is such a terrible thing, I have news for you - contrary to what you read at the Huffington Post, Halliburton is not, in fact, the black hole singularity of all evil in the universe.

It can't be because he actually likes JOOS and cares about Israel. Hell, I bet some of you leftists out there know some jews yourself! You might even be one!

I feel like I have said it a million times - the left blogosphere is far nastier, puerile and stoopid than anything found on the right. Isn't this exactly what the Amanda Marcotte deal taught us? Oh, but the collective personalities that are Glenn Greenwald warns us against 'cherrypicking' hateful comments to somehow prove that leftists are inordinately vile (and sorry, Glenn, if I can't squeeze out a tear if any Iranian nuclear scientists meet an untimely end). Talk about low hanging fruit. You can't surf through the leftist blogosphere without being assaulted by f-bombs, infantile political 'reasoning' and constant, unrelenting demonization of all things Republican. So naturally, all of their spite aimed at Dick Cheney is vastly overblown and way out of proportion to any faults that guy actually has.

Why all the leftist hate?

Glad you asked! Apparently, when there is a chicken in every pot, there is peace in the land, and a full gas tank in the hybrid, there remains this unfulfilled longing to have an enemy, some kind of enemy, to rail against. Stanley Kurtz, in reviewing Peter Wood’s new book, A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now tells us that "Americans must now imagine and oppose oppressive authorities or hateful enemies, even where none exist. The newly unbounded American self, says Wood, is a ghostlike figure, perpetually in search of “something solid against which it can prove its own existence.” New Anger, Wood concludes, “is the desperately intense effort of these ghosts to feel real.”

Not everyone agrees with Wood's analysis, and in fact Jamie Malanowski complains that, no, anger is good!

When a man who ran as a moderate conservative governs from the far right [heh, if only! - ed.] after winning an election he has arguably lost, when he lies about the reasons for launching a war and then criminally bungles the management of that war in such a way that it will redound to the country’s disadvantage for at least a generation, I think folks are entitled to be miffed. I also think that after a man takes an oath to faithfully execute the laws of the country, and then takes another oath to always tell the truth, and then tells lies, people are entitled to get a little hot under the collar. Moreover, when one of the corporately underwritten political parties who run this country gets us into a quagmire of a war, and the other corporately underwritten political parties can’t get us out, I think all of us are entitled to be righteously, Old Testament Yahwehly, smite-them-with-a-thunderboltly pissed off. But maybe that’s just me.
Yeah, actually, it is just you Jamie - because there is not one scintilla of truth in anything you have written there. Actually, I suspect Jamie secretly supports Wood, and has graciously written an article to illustrate Wood's point about needing to invent enemies.

Update: Well ain't this rich. The 'cherrypicked' comments are falling from the tree so fast and furiously that Arianna decided to do a little ethical cleansing on scores of the egregious comments to salvage some semblence of nascent decency over at HuffPo. Too late for that, I think.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 27 February 2007 05:23 PM · Comments (4)

Going To Africa To Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Be Back Soon...

Just thought I'd leave a note, so you wouldn't worry.

Posted by Will Franklin · 20 February 2007 02:21 PM · Comments (12)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 421 -- Trade Is Good.

Free Trade Is Even Better-

Some facts on American trade (.pdf):

In 2006 U.S. exports grew by 12.7 percent over 2005 to $1.4 trillion, while imports increased 10.5 percent to $2.2 trillion. To compare, in 2005 Japan’s GDP was $4.91 trillion and Russia’s GDP was $733 billion.

The United States is actually exporting more than ever before (.pdf):

Exports comprised 11.1 percent of U.S. GDP in 2006, the highest ever in dollar terms. It was 5.2 percent 50 years ago and 9.6 in 2002.

Which is probably surprising for a lot of folks. The common media narrative is that the U.S has nothing left to export, because all the factories and jobs are going overseas. Sure, the trade deficit is large, but that's just because Americans buy most of their cheap consumer goods and clothes from places like China.

And here's one reason among many why we should promote free trade agreements (.pdf):

U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners make up 7.3 percent of the world’s GDP (excluding the U.S.), and exports to these countries comprise more than 42 percent of total U.S. exports. As of February 13, 2007 the U.S. has FTAs in force with 13 countries.

A look at those particular numbers (.pdf):

freetradeisgoodforexports.gif

We need more free trade, not less.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Emissions & Economy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 February 2007 02:21 PM · Comments (2)

Quotational Therapy: Part 129 -- British Kids, On What Would Make Life Better.

The British Political Establishment Is Freaking Kids Out With This Global Warming Hysteria-

You may have seen the bogus UN report noting that children in the US and UK have it so much worse than in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Well, it's bogus and hardly worth going into.

The BBC took it seriously, though, and asked British kids what would make their lives better.

Some of their answers:

bbcchildren.gif
No global warming and more kindness to animals! -Lilly, 8, Sheffield
My life would be a lot better if global warming wasn't a problem, it is really worrying to know that we could be in danger. -Lucy, 13, Birmingham
I would like life better if we didn't have the threat of global warming and for people to be much nicer!!! -Olivia, 9, Canterbury
It would make my life better if we didn't have to think about wars - and poverty - around the world, day in, day out. Global warming is also an issue - it's involved in everyone's lives. -Hayley, 10, Bristol
I'd like to think that global warming was not a problem - I'm worried that something will happen like in the movie "The Day after Tomorrow". -Jessica, 13, Surrey
Not having to worry about the environment so much because it is worrying me as you can see it in the papers, news and literally everywhere you go!!! It's making me and my friends go mad about what's happening to our planet. -Leanne, 12, Clacton-On-Sea
I don't feel safe about global warming so I think people should start helping. I also don't like groups of people hanging around on streets. -Isaac, 8, Leeds

What on earth? The British media-political-industrial complex needs to get a hold of itself. There is really no good reason for so many children to be so upset over this issue.

The screeching about global warming from certain corners of the world has become full-blown unthinking hysteria. In many countries, there is no room for dissent on the issue, regardless of party or ideology. In this country, meanwhile, the issue is far too politicized and polarized to even have a reasonable discussion about it.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Reagan & Tax Charts.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 February 2007 10:17 AM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 420 -- Carbon & Economy.

Big Economies Produce More CO2 Than Small Economies-

You hear it all the time:

The United States has only 4% of the world's population, but produces 25% of the world's greenhouse gases.

Before we get to the rebuttal, let's establish these facts.

The United States has 4.57% of the world's population. And emits 21.86% of the world's CO2.

Okay, so America has 4.57% of the world's population and emits 21.86% of the world's CO2. A bit different from 4% and 25%.

Now for the rebuttal:

Yeah, but the United States also accounts for 28.33% of the world's economy, 30.3% of the world's airports (far more if we're only counting "real" airports), 19.9% of the world's roads, and 20.3% of the world's railways. It is not the purpose of this post, however, to chronicle the minutiae of American and global greenhouse gas emissions (things like which countries require air conditioning, etc.). So, let's get back to the rebuttal.

America is also doing a better job than the rest of the world at controlling the growth of CO2 emissions, at least during the Bush administration's first four years (the most recent years of data).

Economic output correlates strongly with carbon dioxide output, yet America produces more economic output than CO2 output.

Thus, U.S. carbon emissions really aren't that out of whack.

Now, let's look at various countries, with an original WILLisms.com formula included.

America's carbon/economy ratio is 77.16 (21.86% of the world's carbon dioxide; 28.33% of the world's GDP). Anything under 100 means a country produces more economy than carbon. Anything over 100 means a country produces more carbon than economy. 77.16 is not half bad, in other words.

How does it compare to other countries?

North America-
Canada: 93.16
Mexico: 89.69

South America-
Argentina: 117.87
Brazil: 93.60
Chile: 106.62
Colombia: 90.35
Cuba: 135.35
Dominican Republic: 175.96
Ecuador: 119.64
Venezuela: 166.45

Europe-
Austria: 38.93
Belgium: 69.26
Czech Republic: 163.12
Denmark: 37.39
Finland: 54.06
France: 32.49
Germany: 52.05
Greece: 82.30
Iceland: 44.31
Ireland: 36.10
Italy: 47.01
Netherlands: 75.18
Norway: 33.71
Poland: 187.00
Portugal: 61.97
Spain: 57.76
Sweden: 27.43
Switzerland: 20.03
Turkey: 101.97
United Kingdom: 42.72
Europe Overall: 54.38

Eurasia-
Borat's Kazakhstan: 565.15
Russia: 396.58
Ukraine: 769.27

Asia & Oceania-
Australia: 103.25
China: 323.32
India: 241.18
Japan: 44.34
South Korea: 111.53
New Zealand: 66.02


Okay, so good for France. Bad for a lot of countries, especially the ones that aren't really subject to Kyoto, regardless of whether they have signed and ratified it.

At any rate, here is an informative graph of glacial advance/retreat, over the very, very, very long term, from the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology:

glaciers.gif

In my wholly unscientific judgment, that's sort of a back and forth kind of motion there.

And some more scientific graphs, on climate change, also from the Australian Government:

climatetrends.gif

And a theory that doesn't involve greenhouse gases (.pdf):

sunflaresandtemps.gif

Again, I am not a scientist, but...

Maybe there's more to (or less to) climate change than Al Gore (who is a scientist) would have us believe.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Stem Cell Research & Other Funding.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 February 2007 11:58 PM · Comments (7)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Seventy-Two -- Huge Portion Of The Federal Budget.

reformthursdayblue.gif

Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday or so, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

We Need Solutions, Not Max Baucus.

Some distressing news out of Congress, from Amy Ridenour's National Center blog:

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has announced he is refusing even to hold hearings on President Bush's nominee, Andrew Biggs, to be the #2 official at the Social Security Administration.

Baucus is refusing to schedule a hearing not because Biggs is unqualified, but because Baucus doesn't like his opinions.

What's so fascinatingly ridiculous about this decision is a comment from Baucus in his press release on the subject (.pdf):

"It’s time to move on to a real discussion about the long-term finances of Social Security and the Federal budget.”

Okay, yeah. But you are ending real discussion by not even having a hearing on Andrew Biggs. And you've already ruled out tax increases and benefit cuts. So... that basically leaves personal accounts. But you've ruled them out, too.

Yeah.

It's just embarrassing. I really feel for anyone in the White House or Congress trying to do serious work on Social Security reform.

Just a reminder of the size of Social Security, take a look at the outlays in the 2006 budget, found in the recently released Economic Report of the President (.pdf):

2006outlays.gif

Meanwhile, we're still being robbed. Each of the Thrift Savings Plan options (what personal accounts would be patterned after) is-- again-- up from last week, all while Social Security inches closer to insolvency.

Max Baucus, thief.

We deserve a better deal. We deserve personal accounts.

The clock is still ticking:


Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday or so for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 15 February 2007 07:23 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 419 -- Stem Cell Research & NIH Funding.

There's Still No Ban On Stem Cell Research-

Ladies and gents, Hollywood director Frank Darabont:

Hollywood director Frank Darabont has blasted US President George W. Bush's opposition to stem cell research, branding it "preposterous" and "uncompassionate".

The Shawshank Redemption and Green Mile film-maker is a huge admirer of actor and Parkinson's Disease sufferer Michael J. Fox, and is disgusted the Republican administration is blocking medical research which could potentially save thousands of lives.

Darabont tells website MovieHole.net, "I'm very sorry he's dealing with the severe health issues he's been facing. He's very courageous.

"Nobody deserves that... except maybe the a**holes in power in this country who are blocking stem cell research at every turn. Those preposterous, uncompassionate turds.

"God, if you're listening, let them get sick, we'll see how fast the arguments go away and the funding happens."

Meanwhile, back here in America, President Bush was the first to fund human embryonic stem cell research, in August of 2001. At the time, the President was praised by the Michael J. Foxes of the world, and many folks in the media made predictions that socially conservative voters would punish Bush for his decision, as if funding embryonic stem cell research in a limited way was a "read my lips" sort of flip-flop or broken campaign promise.

At any rate, there is still no ban on stem cell research.

From FY2003 to FY2008, we're looking at 196 million dollars just in federal funds for human embryonic stem cell research. This, of course, does not count all of the billions in funding state governments and private enterprises have implemented. Nor does it count the 1.21 billion dollars in federal funding over the same period for human non-embryonic stem cell research.

All told, since FY2003, the Federal Government has spent 3.602 billion dollars on various forms of stem cell research.

Over the same period, Uncle Sam, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has spent:
17.199 billion dollars on HIV/AIDS research;
270 million dollars on "Climate Change";
190 million dollars on "Global Warming Climate Change";
954 million dollars on "Health Effects of Climate Change";
137 million dollars on Homelessness;
1.498 billion dollars on "STDs/Herpes";
689 million dollars on "Cost Effectiveness Research";
3.149 billion dollars on "Smoking and Health";
and 3.097 billion dollars on "obesity."

Some interesting funding decisions, to say the least.

Why not take some of that particular $26.494 billion in research and allocate it (or not allocate it) more appropriately? Maybe some could even go toward more stem cell research, especially of the highly promising adult stem cell variety. Or give it all back to taxpayers and let them contribute (or not) to stem cell research laboratories in their own communities.

Meanwhile, funding for certain other ailments also seems out of whack, relative to the numbers of deaths they cause (.pdf):

nihfundingoutofwhack.gif

So, why does AIDS research get so much money? Well, deaths can't be the only thing to justify funding. Let's take a look at the numbers of people living with certain diseases, relative to the funding levels:

nihfundingperperson.gif

It's out of whack, especially when one takes a closer look at HIV/AIDS numbers. Indeed, the CDC notes:

MSM made up about two thirds of all men living with HIV in 2004, even though only about 5% to 7% of men in the United States reported having sex with other men.

Yes, the government actually uses the abbreviation (MSM), and it does not mean "mainstream media." Whatever the abbreviation, though, there is hardly any way to justify such lofty levels of funding for a disease that is almost entirely avoidable.

How To Avoid HIV/AIDS: A Simple Guide

1. Don't have unsafe sex, especially with "MSM."
2. Don't share needles with drug users.

That simple formula doesn't require billions of research dollars.

Thus, the answer: adjust the funding to appropriate levels. Take some of this overkill AIDS funding and apply it to adult human stem cell research. And maybe throw in some additional nanotechnology funding in there, as well.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: No Need For Tax Hikes, Revenue Is Booming.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 February 2007 09:02 PM · Comments (4)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 92.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

hillhalo.gif

The actual caption:

U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) speaks to voters at a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire on February 10, 2007. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Surely there's a better caption for this photograph.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, February 20. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email them in.


Captioning isn't everything. It's the only thing.

Enter today!

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 14 February 2007 12:25 PM · Comments (32)

One Million Visitors.

The ole SITE METER, which started counting in March of 2005, passed 1 million visitors today.

onemillionvisitors.gif

Thanks for making it happen. Yes, you.


Posted by Will Franklin · 13 February 2007 06:04 PM · Comments (12)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 418 -- Tax Revenues Still Outpacing Federal Spending.

Deficit Going Bye Bye-

Federal Fiscal Year 2007 is already 1/3 of the way finished. And deficit elimination, without any tax hikes, is drawing nearer (.pdf):

shrinkingdeficit.gif

Without higher taxes, tax revenues were nearly 10% higher in the first four months of FY07, relative to the first four months of FY06. Outlays, meanwhile, increased 2%.

And yet, some people want a tax hike?

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Carbon Emissions & Kyoto.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 February 2007 05:40 PM · Comments (1)

Quotational Therapy: Part 128 -- Ronald Reagan, On Tax Cuts.

Imploring America To Take The High Road-

reaganchart.gif

Ronald Reagan, in July of 1981, on taxes:

In a few days the Congress will stand at the fork of two roads. One road is all too familiar to us. It leads ultimately to higher taxes. It merely brings us full circle back to the source of our economic problems, where the government decides that it knows better than you what should be done with your earnings and, in fact, how you should conduct your life. The other road promises to renew the American spirit. It's a road of hope and opportunity. It places the direction of your life back in your hands where it belongs.

I've not taken your time this evening merely to ask you to trust me. Instead, I ask you to trust yourselves. That's what America is all about. Our struggle for nationhood, our unrelenting fight for freedom, our very existence -- these have all rested on the assurance that you must be free to shape your life as you are best able to, that no one can stop you from reaching higher or take from you the creativity that has made America the envy of mankind.

One road is timid and fearful; the other bold and hopeful.

I hope whomever we elect in 2008 has this same sort of clear philosophical vision on taxes.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Dick Durbin.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 February 2007 11:59 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 417 -- CO2 & Kyoto.

America Is Doing Better Than Kyoto Countries At Controlling CO2 Emissions-

I stumbled upon this claim (via Amy Ridenour) regarding CO2 emissions in Europe and the United States:

I would point out that ... there is a carbon cap system in place in Europe, we are doing a better job of reducing emissions here," Snow said.

The White House said Snow was referring to figures from the International Energy Agency that from 2000 to 2004, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion grew by 1.7 percent, while in the European Union such emissions grew by 5 percent.

Interesting that ABC News would discount the claim as being merely a "White House" point.

As if they just made it up. Or maybe the data is not verifiable or is under dispute. Or something. Actually, CO2 emissions in the United States rose 1.66% (total, not annually) from 2000 to 2004. And in Europe over the same time, carbon emissions rose 5.12%

Other countries of note (still 2000 to 2004)--

Canada: Up 3.48%.

Cuba: Up 4.36%.
Venezuela: Up 6.88%.

Belgium: Up 2.62%.
France: Up 1.47%.
Germany: Up 1.79%.
Italy: Up 9.24%.
Netherlands: Up 7.36%.
Spain: Up 15.09%.
Sweden: Up 7.11%.
Switzerland: Down 0.11%.
United Kingdom: Up 5.20%

Russia: Up 8.26%.

Israel: Up 6.58%.

South Africa: Up 13.46%.
Zimbabwe: Down 12.95%.

Australia: Up 9.34%.
New Zealand: Up 6.10%.

China: Up 55.31%.
India: Up 11.21%.
Japan: Up 6.05%.

Broken down into regions--
North America: Up 1.80%
Central/South America: Up 5.12%.
Europe: Up 5.12%.
Eurasia: Up 9.87%.
Middle East: Up 21.49%.
Africa: Up 12.67%.
Asia/Oceania: Up 30.05%

World: Up 13.38%.


Here's the data, and a graphic with some of those numbers:

co2emissions.gif

Incidentally, during the Gore/Clinton administration, from 1993 to 2000, U.S. carbon emissions rose 12.5% (6.02% in the first term; 4.82% in the second term).

Meanwhile, China, which, contrary to popular belief, did sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol (.pdf), has found all sorts of loopholes.

So...

Why don't we hear more about this sort of thing? From the administration, from Republicans more generally, from the media, from global warming experts... why don't we hear more about these numbers?


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Americans Do Not Support Tax-Funded Campaigns.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 February 2007 11:33 PM · Comments (3)

Quotational Therapy: Part 127 -- Quoting Senator Durbin Accurately.

Stay Classy, Dick Durbin-

As long as we're doing YouTube links, here's a hilarious one from Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois:

Basically, in this video, Durbin (the D Whip in the Senate) attacks Senator Ensign's staffers for passing along a a misquoted statement by Durbin to their boss.

But then, Durbin had to come back and admit the quote was correct all along. Here are the quotes:

SEN. DURBIN: “Finally … a friend of mine and colleague, Senator Ensign of Nevada, came to the floor just yesterday and quoted me. Unfortunately – I’m sure his staff is responsible for this – but Senator Ensign’s quotation was not accurate. … Unfortunately, Senator Ensign’s staff did not give him the entire quote, and in fairness to him I want to put it in the record so that he gets a chance to read exactly what I said. … I urge his staff to be on their toes.

And then...

[MINUTES LATER] I misread my notes for that statement. I want to clarify that Senator Ensign did, in fact, quote me accurately … I apologize if my earlier statement suggested that Senator Ensign had said something different. He did accurately quote me...”

The shamed Durbin then changed the Congressional Record to mitigate his original attack on Senator Ensign and his staff:

congressionalrecorddurbin.gif

Durbin, literally re-writing history, after failing to re-write history.

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

John Edwards' Blogger.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 February 2007 02:33 PM · Comments (5)

Hate Speech.

In President Bush's 2006 State of the Union Address, there was a classic moment. Bush spoke about Social Security, saying how it was unfortunate that Congress did not act on his reform suggestions in 2005.

With that, the Democrats stood and gave themselves a standing ovation. They cheered themselves on for failing to modernize Social Security. Yay for them. How special are they?

You can watch the moment here:

Anyway, it's a video I uploaded back in May of 2006, so I am responsible for moderating the comments.

Here's one of the comments, pending approval:

floorshow.gif
thank god they didn't go along with bush's bull - hang him for crimes against humanity

I have been debating what to do with this comment. Send it to the FBI? Just click "Remove"? "Block User" entirely? Or approve it so people can respond? Or maybe report it as "Spam" and see if the user gets banned for advocating the assassination of the President?

Incidentally, since the most recent State of the Union Address (2007 version), the star rating of this video has fallen, and fallen, and fallen. It seems as if a lot of people erroneously think that this video is from this year's SOTU. Thus, there have been dozens of totally off-topic comments I have not approved, mostly because they are similar to the one above.

So, what should I do about this comment?

Incidentally, you can read the original Reform Thursday post that linked to and analyzed this video here.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 February 2007 01:56 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 416 -- Public Financing Tax Checkoff.

A Landslide Vote-

You know that little box on your tax return that asks you if you'd like to designate $3 for financing of campaigns?

It looks like this:

Do you want $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund?

Yes

No


Do you check that box?

Neither do ~91% of your fellow Americans (.pdf):

taxcheckoff.gif

The somewhat complete data (.pdf & .pdf):

Year % Year % Year % Year % Year % Year %
1975 24.2% 1980 27.4% 1985 23.0% 1990 19.8% 1995 13.0% 2000 11.8%
1976 25.5% 1981 28.7% 1986 23.0% 1991 19.5% 1996 12.9% 2001 11.0%
1977 27.5% 1982 27.0% 1987 21.7% 1992 17.7% 1997 12.6% 2002 11.2%
1978 28.6% 1983 24.2% 1988 21.0% 1993 18.9% 1998 12.5% 2003 unknown
1979 25.4% 1984 23.7% 1989 20.1% 1994 14.5% 1999 12.5% 2004 9.2%

Apparently, the thought of dedicating over 1.3 billion tax dollars over the past thirty years to the likes of Sargent Shriver, Morris Udall, Sonia Johnson, Lyndon LaRouche, Lenora B. Fulani, and Jesse Jackson, just to name a few, has soured the American people to the notion of tax-funded elections.

Lyndon LaRouche, perhaps the nuttiest of them all, has received four million, six hundred eighty-five thousand, three hundred eighteen (4,685,318) American tax dollars (according to pulled together data from the FEC and OpenSecrets.org).

And, speaking of nutty, in 2004 Dennis Kucinich received $2,955,963 in taxpayer money to propagate his strange brand of socialism around Iowa and New Hampshire.

The list of questionable recipients could go on for pages.

Which begs the question: which candidates are worthy, and which candidates are questionable?

The answer to that question is fairly clear, technically-speaking, but extraordinarily fuzzy, philosophically-speaking. Philosophically, how can anyone justify Jesse Jackson receiving $3 million+ in 1984, or Al Gore receiving nearly $4 million in 1988, but Michael Badnarik (the Libertarian candidate in 2004) receiving a big fat zero dollars. Or, Pat Buchanan receiving $16.6 million in 2000 just so he could confuse old people at the voting booth in Palm Beach, Florida, while poor ole Al Sharpton only received a hundred grand in tax dollars in 2004. Neither one had any chance of winning, if the question was viability. Meanwhile, all kinds of other entertaining-but-unelectable candidates go without funding in each campaign season.

Technically-speaking, Buchanan was the beneficiary of Ross Perot's success in 1996 and 1992. Pat Buchanan received the federal dollars in 2000 because Perot reached certain electoral thresholds in... the Nineties. Philosophically-speaking, how does that make any sense? Why does it make sense to reward a "third" political party four years later, for success four years earlier? It doesn't really make sense.

Which leads us to the inevitable conclusion that public financing of campaigns is biased against non-establishment candidates. Philosophically, public financing fails to do what people assume it does: it fails to give up-and-coming outsiders a shot.

Unless every single individual running for office gets public dollars, the public financing system is philosophically flawed. However, financing the campaigns of potentially many thousands or millions of candidates is simply unworkable and absurd.

It's probably, therefore, time to scrap it. The American people seem to agree, based on their checkoff patterns over the years.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Socialism Literally Kills.

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 February 2007 12:15 PM · Comments (1)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Seventy-One -- We're Getting Robbed.

reformthursdayblue.gif

Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday or so, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

What If.

What if Congress had reformed Social Security back in early 2005? What if personal accounts had taken effect on June 1, 2005?

Just theoretically.

Well, we'd all be quite a bit better off. Looking at the Thrift Savings Plan options, which are the foundation/inspiration for most personal account reform plans, here are some results:

Fund G Fund F Fund C Fund S Fund I
June 1, 2005 $10.88 $10.67 $12.91 $14.68 $15.19
February 8, 2007 $11.77 $11.21 $16.05 $19.72 $22.70
Increase 8.18% 5.06% 24.32% 34.33% 49.44%

Those "increase" percentages are just total increases, not annual rates.

The 10-Year compound annual averages:

G: 5.31%
F: 6.25%
C: 8.37%
S: 9.56%
I: 7.53%

Meanwhile, back at the Social Security ranch, there are no personal accounts, nor even any huge one-size-fits-all interest-earning accounts, for those Social Security taxes. No, there's just a filing cabinet filled with IOUs from the government to the government, payable by future generations.

Every day we are denied personal accounts is a day we are robbed by the likes of Senator Conrad, Senator Baucus, and the rest in Congress who offer no solutions.

The clock is still ticking:


Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday or so for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 8 February 2007 08:27 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 415 -- Socialism Kills Medical Progress.

Policies Have Consequences-

We live in exciting times. Medical breakthroughs are helping people live better and longer lives than ever before in human history. In a generation, at the current exponential pace of technological advancement, life will be even better than we can probably imagine.

Unfortunately, if our new socialist overlords get their way, that progress won't continue exponentially. Sure, we still may see improvements in science and medicine, but not at the rate mankind deserves.

Let's look at some pertinent numbers.

Major brain drain out of Europe:

“in 1990, the . . . pharmaceutical industry still invested 50% more in Europe than in the US . . . today, the same industry is investing 40% more in the US compared to Europe.”


Europe is no longer the place for prescription drug development:

"In 1992, 6 out of the 10 top medicines in worldwide sales were European, while in 2002 this figure had fallen to just 2.”

A visual of that figure:

europeanpharma.gif

In the meantime, America has added market share:

While in the late 1980s only 41% of the top 50 innovative drugs were of American origin, in the late 1990s the U.S. percentage climbed to 62%.

What might have been, meanwhile, had OECD countries not implemented price controls and other market distortions?

Well, here's a pretty good answer (.pdf):

"... 10-13 extra drug launches per year-- a 50 percent increase. In addition, there would potentially be 110-140 additional drugs overall in the global pharmacopoeia, of which 35-40 would likely be in new drug classes. In the United States... there would be 20-30 thousand extra R&D jobs (with even greater increases overseas), 15-20 thousand extra pharmaceutical jobs, and a further 55-65 thousand extra jobs elsewhere in the economy."

Meanwhile, because of volume and price controls, people are denied access to innovative drugs for quite a while (.pdf):

delayeduseofdrugs.gif

And even after medicines do become available in OECD countries, their use remains relatively muted, as the OECD countries continue using older drugs (.pdf):

lowerpenetration.gif

The costs of subsidizing drugs and/or mandating lower prices are high indeed. Countries around the world can only "afford" (superficially) to manipulate the pharmaceutical market, because the United States government does so relatively little manipulation. If pharma is not profitable-- if pharma has little or no cash flow-- what would happen to these trajectories (.pdf):

cashflowequalsrandd.gif

And yet, Democrats now want the Federal Government to negotiate drug prices for consumers, which would produce the following results (.pdf):

• ...reduce pharmaceutical research and development investment annually by $5.6–11.6 billion, with the most likely effect at about $10 billion per year.

•This reduction in research and development investment will result in a loss of between 6 and 12 new medicines per year, with the most likely reduction at about 10.

•This reduced flow of new and improved medicines will cost Americans about 5 million life-years annually, which can be conservatively valued at about $500 billion annually, a figure far in excess of total
annual U.S. spending on pharmaceuticals.

This is the same philosophy that is driving our domestic auto industry in Michigan out of business. This is the vision Democrats have for America. We cannot let them succeed.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Medical Malpractice Costs.

Posted by Will Franklin · 8 February 2007 06:33 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 414 -- Medical Malpractice Costs.

Tort Reform-

Some facts on med/mal:

Since 1975, medical malpractice costs have risen four times faster than consumer price inflation and twice as fast as medical price inflation.

Dang (.pdf):

medmal.gif
The long-term trends show a harmful, quite possibly unsustainable growth in American medical-malpractice liability. By 2004, direct liability costs for medical malpractice in the United States had reached almost $29 billion annually – a 2,000-percent increase over costs in 1975. At 12 percent per year, the growth rate since 1975 runs four times the rate of inflation, twice the rate of medical-care inflation, and almost three percentage points higher than the growth rate in U.S. tort costs overall.

Dang (.pdf):

higherpremiums.gif

Source: Pacific Research Institute (.pdf).

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: .

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 February 2007 11:58 PM · Comments (0)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 91

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

eternal embrace.jpg

Here is the actual caption:
A pair of human skeletons lie in an eternal embrace at an Neolithic archaeological dig site near Mantova, Italy, in this photo released February 6, 2007.
Oh, right! We are supposed to believe that rubbish? How about a real caption, please?

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, February 13. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email at mccracken.ken@gmail.com.

Last week's photo:

shrill hill.jpg

Winners from last week: 1. Assistant Village Idiot:

We'd just like to say that even if we don't win, it was fun auditioning for Dreamgirls.

2. Rodney Dill:

The picture is technically inaccurate as Darth Rodham Clinton would only have one apprentice.

3. elliot:

Hillary: Remember DO NOT SPEAK, I do not want them to know I hired you and you're from Brooklyn New York.
Girl: Shore, I'm notta supposed to tawwwlk cause I'm froma New Yawwwk.

Captioning is the most fun you can have with your pants on. Enter today!

Posted by Ken McCracken · 7 February 2007 10:48 AM · Comments (26)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 413 -- Budget Cuts!

Big Mean Bush Hates Health Care-

Go read some of the stories on President Bush's proposed FY 2008 budget:

budgetcutsyeeearrrrgh.gif

"Budget cuts for health care" seems to be a big theme in the news stories. For example, from Bloomberg:

About one penny of every dollar Bush proposes to spend on the federal government in fiscal 2008 would go to Homeland Security. The president's total spending proposal is a record $2.9 trillion, a sum that includes cuts in health-care funding and increases in military spending.

Why is Bush spending so little to protect the homeland? Yeeaarrrrgh!

Why is Bush spending a record amount overall? YEEEEEAAAAARRRGH!

Why is Bush cutting health care funding? YYYYYEEAAARRRRRRRGGGGHHHHH!

I really hate the media. They do such a disservice to America.

Let's open up the actual budget (.pdf) and look specifically at the ubiquitous "health care cuts" claim, over the past decade (FY1999-FY2008).

Page 231...

"Medical Care" (in millions of dollars)
1999: 343,231
2000: 362,655
2001: 400,616
2002: 437,180
2003: 478,465
2004: 515,431
2005: 562,505
2006: 605,995
2007: 674,230
2008: 713,581 (107.9% higher than 1999; 63.2% higher than 2002)

Or page 57...

"Health" (in millions of dollars)
1999: 141,074
2000: 154,533
2001: 172,270
2002: 196,544
2003: 219,576
2004: 230,134
2005: 250,614
2006: 252,780
2007: 268,543
2008: 280,620 (98.9% higher than 1999; 42.8% higher than 2002)

Cuts?


Medicare, meanwhile, is a separate line entirely (in billions of dollars).

Page 152...

1999: 192.1
2000: 194.1
2001: 209.4
2002: 220.0
2003: 233.2
2004: 246.1
2005: 266.5
2006: 283.5
2007: 314.1
2008: 321.9 (67.6% higher than 1999; 46.3% higher than 2002)

Or, "Mandatory Programs" in Table 8.5 on page 141... (in millions of dollars)

1999-
Medicaid: 108,042
Total Health: 114,129
Medicare: 187,694

2000-
Medicaid: 117,921
Total Health: 124,521
Medicare: 194,115

2001-
Medicaid: 129,374
Total Health: 139,112
Medicare: 214,061

2002-
Medicaid: 147,512
Total Health: 157,142
Medicare: 227,699

2003-
Medicaid: 160,693
Total Health: 175,343
Medicare: 245,709

2004-
Medicaid: 176,231
Total Health: 192,402
Medicare: 264,890

2005-
Medicaid: 181,720
Total Health: 200,092
Medicare: 294,344

2006-
Medicaid: 180,625
Total Health: 201,382
Medicare: 324,879

2007-
Medicaid: 191,876
Total Health: 214,901
Medicare: 267,574

2008-
Medicaid: 201,944 (86.9% higher than 1999; 36.9% higher than 2002)
Total Health: 226,751 (98.7% higher than 1999; 44.3% higher than 2002)
Medicare: 386,493 (105.9% higher than 1999; 69.7% higher than 2002)


Cuts?

Okay, well, how about federal health care spending as a percentage of total federal spending.

Page 322...

1999: 21.5%
2000: 21.7%
2001: 23.0%
2002: 23.5%
2003: 24.2%
2004: 24.8%
2005: 24.8%
2006: 24.5%
2007: 25.5%
2008: 25.8%

Incidentally, those percentages were 2.1% in 1962, 7.1% in 1970, 11.1% in 1980, and 14.4% in 1990.

Or, how about government health care spending as a percentage of America's GDP.

Still page 322...

1999: 4.0%
2000: 4.0%
2001: 4.3%
2002: 4.6%
2003: 4.8%
2004: 4.9%
2005: 5.0%
2006: 5.0%
2007: 5.2%
2008: 5.1%

Gasp! One tenth of a percentage point of our economy less than in the 2007 budget! It's a cut! Yeeeaaaaarrrrrgh!

Only a Marxist could look at all of these numbers, see the numbers rising dramatically, but still call it a "cut." For a Marxist, though, spending a little smaller proportion of GDP on something from one year to the next is a cut. That's how they think. The government is the economy. The economy is the government. That's why there's so much talk in the media about lower taxes "costing" such and such amount.

That's socialist thinking. And it dominates our media today.

Incidentally, government health care spending as a percentage of GDP was 0.4% in 1962, 1.4% in 1970, 2.4% in 1980, and 3.1% in 1990. Even as our economy grows and booms, health care spending by the government now accounts for 1 out of every 20 dollars generated by the American economy. In the big picture, government health care spending is accelerating far more rapidly than the economy.

Also worth noting is that much of this health care spending is on auto-pilot. So President Bush or any future President can "cut" a little here or there from the discretionary portion of the budget, but the mandatory government health care spending trajectory is still decidedly upward.

Let's look at the changes in the Federal Budget from 1962 to 2008 (.pdf):

-1962-
1962budgetbreakdown.gif


VERSUS


-2008-

2008budgetbreakdown.gif

Of course, net interest is down from a high of 15.4% in 1996; mandatory spending is down from a high of 55% in 2002; defense discretionary spending is up from a low of 16.2% in 1999; and non-defense discretionary spending is down from a high of 24.9% in 1978, and up from a low of 16.1% in 1987.

Furthermore, looking at the budget numbers for health care cited above, out to 2012, it's a continual climb. As a percentage of total outlays, health care will climb to 28.4% in 2012 (from 25.8% in 2008). As a percentage of the economy, health care will climb to 5.3% in 2011, then fall to 5.2% in 2012 (from 5.1% in 2008). In dollar terms, "Medical Care" will climb to 905,272 million in 2012 (26.9% higher than the 713,581 million in 2008).

Also, does this...

2008-
Medicaid: 201,944
Total Health: 226,751
Medicare: 386,493

2012-
Medicaid: 270,223 (33.8% higher than 2008)
Total Health: 300,730 (32.6% higher than 2008)
Medicare: 481,620 (24.6% higher than 2008)

... look like a cut? Do any of these numbers look like cuts? Even with inflation?

No.

There are dozens of ways to look at the numbers, but every single reasonable way indicates that there are no health care cuts in the budget.

One would think it would be particularly difficult for folks in the establishment media to lie on the budget, since we're dealing with actual numbers. But lie they continue to do.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Taxes On Big Oil Are Too High.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 February 2007 04:03 PM · Comments (7)

Quotational Therapy: Part 126 -- Campaign Bloggers.

Stay Classy, John Edwards-

amandamarcotte.gif
One thing I vow here and now–you motherf[classy!]rs who want to ban birth control will never sleep. I will f[classy!]k without making children day in and out and you will know it and you won’t be able to stop it. Toss and turn, you mean, jealous motherf[classy!]rs. I’m not going to be “punished” with babies. Which makes all your efforts a failure. Some non-procreating women escaped. So give up now. You’ll never catch all of us. Give up now.

-John Edwards' campaign blogger, Amanda Marcotte. Her version was not quite as classy.

Oh, and eating meat ruins the environment.

The real question we should be asking here is: why is this guy one of the main contenders for the Democratic nomination?

And why does a psychic even need a blogger?

It just doesn't add up.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Ronald Reagan.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 February 2007 09:20 PM · Comments (7)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 412 -- Taxes On Energy Companies Are Too High.

Ridiculously Unjust Levels Of Taxation-

Hillary! Clinton wants to take oil company profits:

"The other day, the oil companies reported the highest profits in the history of the world. I want to take those profits..."

... and do all sorts of wonderful things with them.

Etc. Etc.

Okay.

Well. Typical.

But here's the truth:

While they were recording record profits last year, they were also writing checks to Uncle Sam to the tune of $100.7 billion -- two and a half times what they made in net profit. In fact, previous Tax Foundation research found that from 1977 to 2004, federal and state governments extracted $397 billion by taxing the profits of the largest oil companies and an additional $1.1 trillion in taxes at the pump. In today's dollars, that's $2.2 trillion.

Here's a visual of the profits and the taxes:

exxonmobiltaxesvsprofits.gif

Another way to look at it:

This tax burden on American “big oil” nearly equals the total economic output of Iran and exceeds total GDP in 150 of the 184 countries ranked by the World Bank.

A lot of folks, like Hillary Clinton, would also want to take those profits. Who wouldn't, especially if it were legal and/or ethical? Think of all the gold-plated Nintendo Wiis you could buy with that sort of money. The government, though, actually has the power to compel this sort of price gouge-- this unfair wealth confiscation-- without regard to legality or ethics.

What's more, they have the nerve to say that this level of taxation is lower than it ought to be. And-- this is the kicker-- the difference between where the taxation level is (atrociously high) and where they think it ought to be (atrociously and insanely high) becomes known as a "subsidy."


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Not-So-Awful Savings Rate.

Posted by Will Franklin · 5 February 2007 02:36 PM · Comments (4)

Sunday Heidi Weimaraner Update: 13 Months Old.

Heidi is 13 months old now.

I've done a few test shots for a new photographic technique. When Heidi was a wee tot, I could run along in front of her, taking plenty of interesting action shots in the process.

But then she got speed.

On my bike, I've clocked her at above 25 miles per hour. She is so fast, she literally makes me eat dirt. And gravel.

I can't run 25 mph an hour. Or even 15 mph. But I can ride that fast and still-- sort of-- position the camera appropriately. So, here's one shot from the bike, going ~13 mph:

frombike.gif

Hopefully I'll get better at this, because this technique could produce some great shots. Or I could just tumble face-first over my handle bars and break camera and/or arm. Who knows.

Here is another:

heidipegasus.gif

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 4 February 2007 01:39 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 411 -- America's Savings Rate.

Policies Have Consequences-

"Savings rate at level similar to Depression"

"2006 Personal Savings Fall to 74-Yr. Low"

Really?

Or maybe not:

awashinmoney.gif
Net wealth — the total value of all assets, including stocks, bonds, bank accounts, houses and retirement funds, after subtracting debt — is about $54 trillion, up a hefty $16 trillion since President Bush cut taxes in mid-2003. If you divide that $54 trillion by America's 114 million or so households, you get an average net worth of roughly $474,000.

So, the savings rate doesn't really measure savings?

Correct:

Most working Americans sock away a portion of their paycheck each month into a 401(k). This comes out of pretax income. But since the savings rate is derived by subtracting personal consumption from disposable income — that is, after-tax income — the money built up in these accounts isn't counted. Yet, 401(k) and similar savings plans totaled about $3.2 trillion at the end of 2005.

How about housing? To many — if not most — people, a house isn't just a place to live. It's a form of long-term saving, an investment we can either pass on to our children or cash in after we retire.

For the purpose of calculating savings, the money we put out for our mortgages each month is treated as consumption. In other words, your home may be savings to you, but you're treated by the government's accounting as if you were a renter.

Worse, the savings rate doesn't include a lot of things that should, by logic, be counted in any meaningful measure of savings. Like capital gains on stocks and houses, equity in private businesses, and the gains from mortgage refinancings, which often end up invested.

So, theoretically, we could all have nearly paid off mortgages on John Edwardsesque mansions and burstingly humongous 401(k)s, but Americans still wouldn't be saving any money according to this formula.

Why measure the savings rate this way?

What costly government program might derive legitimacy from an erroneously low savings rate?

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Crime & Punishment.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 February 2007 07:25 PM · Comments (5)

Quotational Therapy: Part 125 -- Ronald Reagan, On Freedom.

One Generation Away-

rwr.gif

Ronald Reagan, in his 1967 Gubernatorial Inaugural Address:

Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.

Ahem... Venezuela.


Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Milton Friedman.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on Monday and Friday.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 February 2007 05:41 PM · Comments (0)

Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Seventy -- Don't Raise The Cap.

reformthursdayblue.gif

Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday or so, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

Making A Terrible Deal Even Worse.

Imagine for a second that you are from someplace like North Dakota or Montana, and have made your career as a Senator. You plan on spending another decade or three in Washington, DC.

Question: What would be your philosophy on Social Security?

Maybe this?

"Both sides have to be willing to give up their fixed positions," [North Dakota Democrat Senator Kent] Conrad, 58, said at a Washington press conference last week. "There needs to be more revenue."

Answer: More revenue. Higher taxes, in other words.

Kent Conrad, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, views his role in government as a revenue maximizer. In order to keep the Democrats' 1930s-style dream government afloat, perpetually more tax revenues are required. For Democrats like Conrad, the only way to earn more tax revenue for the government is to confiscate it from Americans.

While entrepreneurs and corporate leaders must generate revenue through superior products/services, competitive pricing, innovation, and creative marketing, Conrad doesn't need to worry about any of that. He can simply compel Americans to pay more for less.

It's an unfortunate view of government. Instead of viewing his role as an innovator, a facilitator of a superior Social Security system, Conrad views himself as a revenue maximizer.

What's even more unfortunate is that Democrats hold such a narrow and reactionary view of revenue maximization. Democrats believe that raising the wage cap on payroll taxes will maximize revenue enough to save FDR's legacy.

Here's what raising the cap would do:

* Reduce the annual take-home pay of 10.3 million workers by an average of $5,650 in the first year alone after the cap is removed. Most of these workers have incomes below $125,000.

* Raise taxes on 4.0 million workers over the age of 50—just when they are trying to steer towards retirement.

* Raise taxes on 3 million small business owners.

* Greatly increase the top effective federal marginal tax rate.

* Weaken the U.S. economy by reducing the number of job opportunities and workers’personal sav­ings. By fiscal year 2015, the number of job opportunities lost would exceed 965,000, and personal savings would decline by more than $55 billion, in real terms.

* Not save Social Security. A 2003 Social Security Administration study showed that eliminating the Social Security wage cap would delay the program’s deficits for only about six years.

More than that, it would basically mean that millions of Americans would be paying more into a broken system, without getting more out of it in the end. Social Security, then, by definition, becomes a full-fledged welfare program. It becomes a full-fledged rob from the rich and middle class to give to the poor, but even then, give the poor the shaft program. It becomes a full-fledged Marxist tool of forced wealth confiscation/redistribution.

How is that program supposed to survive election after election, through the generations?

If it's not a welfare program, what is it? A retirement program?

Coyote Blog looks at Social Security as a retirement program:

Fine, let's call it a retirement program. Well, as a retirement program, it is a really, really big RIPOFF. Ever worker in this country is being raped by this retirement plan. In fact, it is the worst retirement program in the whole country:

* As we see above, it pays a negative rate of return
* It is not optional - you go to prison if you choose not to participate
* Unlike a private annuity contract, the government can rewrite your benefits level any time, and you have to take it. In fact, my statement says "Your estimated benefits are based on current law. Congress has made changes to the law in the past and can do so at any time. The law governing benefit amounts may change because, by 2040, the payroll taxes collected will be enough to pay only about 74 percent of scheduled benefits."
* There are no assets backing this annuity!! An insurance company that wrote annuities without any invested assets backing them would be thrown in jail faster than Jeff Skilling. The government has been doing it for decades.

Just how bad is your Social Security rate of return? Find out here.

Under the current system, as we move into the future, the average worker will already be paying far more per retiree than ever originally intended:

eachworkerperretireee.gif

Conrad wants to "increase revenue," something that won't fix Social Security but will make Social Security a worse deal than it already is.

Why not instead fix Social Security permanently? Why not instead make it a better deal? Why not personal accounts?

The clock is still ticking:


Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday or so for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Read More »


Posted by Will Franklin · 1 February 2007 10:08 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 410 -- Prison & Crime.

Deterrence-

Slate offers "Evidence that prison doesn't deter crime" (via Patterico's Pontifications).

I offer evidence that prison deters crime...

More incarcerations:

moreprisoners.gif


Lower crime rate:

violentcrimegoingdown.gif

Maybe being tough on crime... deters crime. Maybe locking up criminals... prevents them from committing more crimes.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: America's Huge Economy.

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 February 2007 06:12 PM · Comments (0)