Provoking (I hope) thoughts
It has been pointed out in many different venues that there are many and various ways to be dependent on petroleum, and thereby "supporting terrorism", aside from owning an SUV.
Two other petroleum-needy industries include heating homes and making plastics. So if you buy lots of spring or purified water, guess what? Or if you have more than 3 square meters of living space per person in your home...
Mind you, I don't support the original line of thinking in the first place. But if you live in a 4,000 square-foot home, but feel the need to criticize someone who drives an SUV as "harming the environment", you need to be shocked out of your faulty line of reasoning.
It's like my ex-mother-in-law, who was so proud of separating her glass bottles out for recycling, then drove them down to the recycling company in her Lincoln Town Car. Or someone who criticizes the Republican stance on Kyoto and/or global warming while driving a 60's VW that spews more harmful vapors than 20 brand new SUVs. Or someone who opposes guns in order to "Save The Children TM", but has a swimming pool (which claims more lives of children annually than guns). Or someone who does nearly any environmental campaigning at all while still personally owning a car. If you criticize any government policy on energy at all, you should be out there riding public transportation, no matter how inconvenient. No public transportation in your area? Oh, well then maybe you should recognize that every person lives in a different situation with different needs.
Several weeks ago I posted an article about not wanting to merely be a consumer in this world. I don't want to mindly ingest whatever visual, audial, political, or culinary (you get the idea) product someone desperately wants to sell me.
Please note, I am not advocating "sustainability" or going back to the stone age or anything. People should live life and buy what they want. You won't get nary a peep out of me. I just don't want to be a mindless consumer. I want to really desire the things I purchase, and really enjoy the use and ownership thereof.
You won't ever catch me buying an SUV again, for instance. My first (and only) SUV was a Honda CRV because we needed the extra room over our Civic and I felt incredibly comfortable driving it. But I detest low gas mileage, and I was distraught later when I realized that for what we spent on the CRV (getting Civic-level amenities/luxury), we could have gotten Accord level luxury and amenities, and an extra 5 miles to the gallon! (and a little less room...oh, well, can't have everything). Looking at the facts, the supply/demand concept means SUVs are overpriced for the value you get. You're just plain better off buying a car right now (unless everyone starts eschewing SUVs...the price would then drop and you could get a steal; I would encourage you to do so, and might just do so myself).
I also try to never eat beef, not for animal ethics or health, but because I think it is a waste to put so much energy and effort into feeding cows to get a food product that isn't that good for you and is largely not very tasty (except for a nice, thick porterhouse! Mmmm!)
Everytime someone proposes a tax cut, liberals always complain it's a tax cut for the rich. Partly, this is because a liberal would never propose a tax cut, I think. But I get tired of hearing these sorts of arguments. Let's look at it a little more closely, okay?
There are two basic taxes, regressive and progressive. I have a problem remembering which is which, because I'm not an ecomonics major, but one taxes each individual for the same amount, making it harder on the poor (because it takes a higher percentage of his total asset). I believe those are regressive taxes. It includes such taxes as Sales Taxes (because it hurts the poor guy to pay sales tax on the new refrigerator than the rich guy), and Driver's Licenses (because every person pays the same, regardless of income or assets). Progressive taxes get progressively harsher the richer you become. Someone who makes $200,000 a year is taxed at a higher rate than someone making $30,000. I have a problem knowing where to put a flat tax, though, can someone help me out? On the one hand, it's not progressive, because everyone is taxed at the exact same rate...but on the other hand it is, because the guy making $200,000 pays far more than the one making $30,000.
Based on this understanding of types of taxes, there are two ways to look at a tax cut. The actual amount of money cut, or the percentage of money it no longer takes away from the taxee. So is the tax cut a "windfall for the rich" because it delivers more money to the highest income levels, or because it returns more money per rich individual?
Because a big problem with tax cuts is the scale. If you had $1 million dollars and wanted to help a municipality, what would be the best way to give it away? Sure, you could send it to New York and have them separate it equally, after which each person would have an extra $.14. Not exactly a windfall, obviously. You might do a better job giving it to my hometown in Montana, but that would still mean a mere $333 per person. I don't have to tell you that would make no real or lasting difference to the community.
Or you could do something useful, like buy a few buses and provide salaries for drivers for a community large enough to for public transportation to be useful but too small to afford it.
So sometimes it makes more sense to give a large gift to a smaller group of people.
Geez, this is getting more complicated than I thought at first. Because now I have to explain why capital is important, I think.
Capital can only be effective when it is accumulated.
If you only have two people in the world, one can make food and one can work on shelter and tools. No wealth at all. Throw in a few extra people, and they can divide labor more efficiently, but still no wealth. Things get traded around through barter. But once you hit a critical mass of people, you can begin using money. Suddenly, you can assign relative worth. You don't have to chop up a chicken to buy shoes, carrots, milk, and an axe, nor do you have to buy a full chicken's worth of matches at one time. You can use money and get only as much as you need, and sell all your chickens at one time for a large sum of cash you can't use all at once. Once people have money, you can begin making a profit of pennies from each product, and still gain real wealth volume. That's impossible with barter. So once someone has large amounts of money, you can begin commissioning larger or more expensive works. Barter could never have gotten the World Trade Center built, or been able to hire Beethoven to compose any of his symphonies. You need an abstract of money to do huge or great things.
But $10 million spread among 1000 people cannot achieve the same thing as $10 million in one person's hand. Mainly because in the former example you will have at least 300 different opinions of what to do with the money. You also have to figure out how to split the proceeds.
The modern way to do this sort of thing is called stocks. A company gathers funds by selling them. You might or might not get a say in what's done, but your say is limited at best. You gain a portion of the proceeds according the agreement when you purchased the stock. Sometimes you can only make money if the stock price goes up, true, but sometimes they offer dividends.
So what happens under the Democrat tax plan? Everyone gets $300. Some might put it in the bank, where banks can now lend it out at interest, which would help the economy. Many would spend it. It would make them happy to have whatever that $300 purchased, but once it's gone, the help ends. Consumer spending is clearly NOT what the problem is in the economy right now. Consumer confidence has remained pretty high, spending has stayed up (except for a small dip right after 9/11). No, the problem with the economy is investor confidence after scandals like Worldcom and Enron, and is a sagging stock market. So Bush tax cuts would stimulate the Stock Market and reduce taxes enough for the people who would actually feel a difference. If you are a millionaire who has gotten burned by stock market drops, but now the stock market gains 400 points over the last month, AND you have an extra $100,000 in your pocket, what are you going to do with it? You already have your mansion and your BMW and Lexus SUV. Well, an extra $100,000 of Microsoft or Coke might be a smart move right now...and that infusion of cash helps Coke to decide to split stocks (increasing their cash assets) and expand into a new line of food, which creates 300 new jobs. Most of those new jobs go to people who were unemployed (FAR better than a freakin' $300 check), and some of the upper level jobs go to some people who had been getting near-minimum wage at McDonald's or something (also FAR better than a freakin' $300 check). These people all have a job now, and are spending money, getting a new car and some new furniture, which increases revenue for those companies, which allows them to get a $400 bonus this year (still better than a $300 check), and the more they spend, the more the economy improves for everyone. It looks like only one person got the benefit, but many people actually did.
No place should understand this more than Hawaii. Tourism dollars dried up in the late 80s. The same number of people lived there, but the number of jobs shrank dramatically. Every hotel used to have 2-3 live bands that they supported. These people would play music for a comfortable living. With the collapse of tourism, they had to go compete on the market for a shrinking number of jobs. Which meant that companies could pay lower salaries (which was nice, because in the worsening economy, many would have otherwise closed, making things even worse), and generally reducing the amount of money in the system. The government responded by raising hotel taxes, trying to increase revenue. This just drove tourists away even more, resulting in a flat revenue curve. They still hadn't recovered much at all when I left in 2001.
About that time they ran a commercial which showed a $20 brought in by a tourist, and how he used it for a taxi, whose driver used it to buy lunch for himself and a few friends at a restaurant, whose owner used it to buy shoes for his son....and so on.
A clear example that $20 isn't just $20. It can be multiplied through circulation.
But it's power can be most effective as an economic spur when it is accumulated with a bunch of other $20 bills.
Note the purpose stated clearly there. It isn't desirable to have all the money in the hands of the few, for the most part. In one of life's little ironies, although the economy affects everyone, not everyone can affect the economy significantly. Bush is trying to affect the economy positively. I think he's doing the right thing.
Although if the general situation is improving for most people (and it generally is in the US and many other places), I still don't really understand what the problem is of a widening gap between the rich and poor...
After all, if a poor person doubles his effective salary, does it matter if a rich person triples his?
Please ignore the poverty line. That's a political tool. Look into the numbers of people who own televisions, computers, air conditioners, Air Jordans, Nintendo Gamecubes, cable subscriptions, etc, etc. Most of this is available to those on welfare, much less poverty-level workers. Compare what a lower economic class individual lives like compared to the upper economic class lived like during the 1950s. We are a much richer nation than just 40 years ago.
I think I'm done for now. Sorry for the scattershot nature of this rant.
"Aye," she whispered, her fingertips stroking up under his kilt, now touching his upper thigh, now lightly touching his..."
Oops, wrong blog.|W|P|87144479|W|P||W|P|6:59 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|
More Journalism Blunders by Headline News
Yet another little newsbrief headline said:
"Hick Hunt: [some group of people] objects to search for real-life Beverly Hillbillies"
Can someone tell me why it is acceptable to use a perjorative only when directed at rural caucasians? Can anyone guess what the reaction would be if the headline was "N____ Hunt" for a TV show about whatever?
So why the disparity? It seems I'm going to be asking this question alot now.
Well....if you think about it, it seems like the networks change their portrayals of certain groups or issues only when there is a large public outcry against the current practice. That's right, networks really only change if they face possible boycotts, which would mean loss of viewers and loss of advertising revenue. Rural Caucasians apparently don't represent a large enough economic force for the established media to respect.
I don't know about you, but I find it sickening for some institution to claim to have the moral high ground, but when you peek behind the curtain, you see the only motivation is greed and sanctimoniousness.
That's why you'll never see me use slurs on this website toward anyone. I don't smear pro-choicers or Democrats or liberals or homosexuals, even though I disagree with their political aims. I try to use the term the subject prefers. It's only courtesy.|W|P|87091791|W|P||W|P|6:48 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|
More Headline News Bias
The worst bias examples seem to occur in those little headline newsbriefs that appear just above sports scores at the bottom of the screen.
"Bush Economic Plan will cost $300 Billion".
My main problem with that is the assumption that the money already belongs to the government and not just handing over our hard-earned money constitutes an expense the government should not have to endure.
Accurate reporting would be: "Bush Economic Plan would reduce the money available for pork projects by $300 Billion." But we won't ever hear than from CNN, will we?
(note that it's only a guess or projection what the results might be anyway)|W|P|87091184|W|P||W|P|6:41 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|
Okay, so sometimes it's feast or famine around here when it comes to posting volume. There's be more tomorrow, though, I guarantee you.|W|P|87090883|W|P||W|P|6:36 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|
A man formerly described as family-oriented and against violence allegedly killed his wife and children. A woman allegedly locked three boys in the basement for weeks; one starved to death, the other two nearly so. Let's say both the accused are actually found guilty. Which one do you think will face a longer sentence?
Generally speaking, when a man kills his children, he is maligned, cursed, stigmatized, and condemned, first and foremost by his wife, who immediately divorces him. I won't go so far as to say this is how it should be, but I certainly don't think this is unusual or unexpected. When a woman kills her children, however, not only is there often an outpouring of sympathy for the "grieving mother" and an attempt to understand "what forces could have driven her to such lengths", not only does she often receive a minor sentence or no jail at all, but in most cases, the husband supports his wife, remains married to her, and waits for her to be released from prison.
Any opinions why there is this disparity?
Let's stop pretending there is a natural love by mothers for their children. For most, this is so, yes. But there are many women who are just as abusive, cruel, and unloving as men are often portrayed. There are also men who are mentally ill or depressed and deserve the same consideration Andrea Yates received, but do not. Finally, maybe something should be said about men's ability to love unconditionally. Not every man, certainly. But any man who can forgive, support, and continue to love the murderer of his children is truly loving unconditionally (although maybe a little nuts. I'd have to be in that situation to understand, I think)
January 7, 2003
Conservatives may have talk radio...
The New York Times just published one of its most revealing articles in memory: "Outflanked Democrats Wonder How to Catch Up in Media Wars."
Apparently, the Democratic Party is gravely concerned that its liberal message is not being heard. And the reason Democrats give is that conservatives dominate talk radio, Fox News, and the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times.
Because of talk radio, two editorial pages and one cable news channel, liberals just cannot get their message across to Americans.
Full disclosure demands that I acknowledge a vested interest here. I have been a radio talk show host for 20 years -- 16 in Los Angeles and the last four in national syndication (through the Salem Radio Network). So I read with a big smile how influential my profession is perceived to be. But all this begs two questions: why is talk radio so powerful, and why is it dominated by conservatives?
The first question is particularly fascinating. That Democrats chafe at conservative dominance in talk radio is almost incredible -- because liberals dominate everything else.
Liberals dominate television: Aside from some Fox News shows (remember the conservative Sean Hannity is paired with the liberal Alan Colmes), the liberals dominate everything on TV (with the exception of John Stossel's specials on ABC). They dominate CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC and CNN news broadcasts, and they dominate all television entertainment.
Liberals dominate the education of our young: The ratio of Democrats to Republicans among liberal arts professors at universities is routinely 20 to one. And the deans, the presidents, the curricula, the speech codes and the campus newspapers are all liberal. Liberals also run the schools of education, the law schools, the high schools and the elementary schools.
Liberals dominate Hollywood: Are the Democrats unfamiliar with Barbra Streisand, Sean Penn, Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Julia Roberts, and almost every other star who speaks out on political issues? Do Democrats not attend movies, which with almost no exception are liberal, if not radical, in their messages? Have you seen any movies recently with a businessman hero? Any with an affirmation of Judaism or Christianity?
Liberals dominate the public airwaves: National Public Radio has been dubbed National Palestinian Radio for good reason. And PBS has just produced and aired what even The New York Times called "an Islamic infomercial" in its special on Islam. Juxtapose that with its skeptical inquiries into the beliefs of Christian or Jewish believers.
Liberals dominate the biggest foundations: such as the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.
Liberals dominate almost every major newspaper both in news coverage and editorial page positions: The Wall Street Journal editorial page is conservative as are and the editorial and news pages of The Washington Times. But the liberals have the rest, including The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Miami Herald, and the Chicago Tribune.
Liberals dominate virtually every professional organization: the American Bar Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Library Association, American Nurses Association, National Education Association, American Political Science Association, the Trial Lawyers Association, and, of course, every big labor union.
Liberals dominate much of organized religion: the mainstream Protestant churches and Reform and Conservative Judaism; while the liberal social message (with the exception of abortion rights) dominates much of the Roman Catholic Church.
Liberals dominate activist groups: the feminist, civil rights and civil liberties organizations as well as black, Hispanic, gay and Jewish organizations.
But according to Democrats, this domination of virtually all of American public life is not enough to get their message to the American people. Something must be done about the one TV news network, the two editorial pages and the radio shows they do not control.
Which raises the question -- why is it that liberals cannot dominate talk radio as they do virtually everything else?
I will answer this at length in a subsequent column, but the answer can be easily summarized -- liberals dominate where they cannot be intellectually challenged. It is effortless for a college professor to spout leftist rhetoric to naive young people who just graduated from high school. Let them have to defend their radical views in public and they wilt.
That is why many leftist professors refuse to come on my radio show -- they are unused to intellectual debate. They live with, work among, and relate to, fellow leftists. They almost never have to engage conservative ideas. We in talk radio, on the other hand, immerse ourselves in liberal newspapers, debate liberal guests and take liberal callers.
In short, the reason the liberal message is not being heard, despite liberal control of almost all public organs of communication, is that it is incoherent. The message, not a lack of messengers, is the contemporary liberal problem.
Quote of the Day from Cal Thomas
Conservatism is optimistic and fun. Liberalism is pessimistic and dour. Even liberals don't watch or listen to liberal talk shows, which ought to tell management that their problem is not about "kicking butt " but about serving up a different product more people will buy.
CNN's Media Bias, or Just Plain Idiocy?
While I was working out yesterday at the gym, on CNN Headline News I saw one of the scrolling newsbriefs at the bottom of the screen that said: "For the first time: Saddam calls inspectors spies." That is so blatantly false it made me laugh out loud. Saddam has called the inspectors spies at least once before, and if memory serves, at least three times before. The other times were right during the Clinton administration, right before Saddam kicked the inspectors out. Since HN's statement is so obviously wrong, it makes me wonder what possible agenda they could have for spreading misinformation. Perhaps to try and buy Iraq more time in the face of material breaches?
Just like people who only eat fast food will never be able to compete athletically, people who only watch CNN's "junk news" for world information will never be able to compete intellectually. This travesty of journalism also provides a good example of why every cable news network except one experienced double digit losses in viewership. Guess which one actually gained viewers? Fox.
So if there is, in fact, a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, it's what we who practice democracy call a majority. The Democrats will probably not be achieving that nationally for some time. In the 60s, they had a message that made sense: civil rights. Their power was such that the agenda was advanced despite leftover racists still in government. Unfortunately, the Democrats only real message during the 70s was merely: "We're against Nixon". It worked for a decade. In the 90s, the Democrats really didn't have an issue that resonated much with a large bloc of people, so they continued as a coalition advocating environmental, feminist, homosexual, and abortion issues. Even so, they still held office mainly due to weak Republican leadership rather than any strong issues of their own. The Democrat party is now largely morally bankrupt and bereft of worthwhile issues. I think we are seeing the early stages of the death of the Democrat Party. Two years ago I said to a friend that the 2000 election result would someday (25 years from now?) be seen as the turning point in the dissolution of the Democrat Party. I was laughed at, of course...and it seemed to be deserving after several Republican mis-steps injected some new life into the Democrat party. But the Dems own mis-steps are causing fragmentation and they seem to have lost direction. As was pointed out in another venue, Dems were claiming Bush's economic stimulus package was nothing more than tax cuts for the rich before Bush had said anything at all about his plan! Talk about knee-jerk reactionism. How can you expect anyone to listen to your arguments if they are not and cannot be based on facts?