Monday, December 17, 2007


I've had it. One wreath per house is plenty. Maybe two if you can make one look nice on a garage door or a gate or something. BUT IT IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS TO PUT ONE LITTLE WREATH ON EVERY SINGLE WINDOW!!!

Ok, I've settled down a little. Maybe I'm over-reacting. I just have an aversion to trends, particularly in Christmas decorations. I didn't like the icicle lights until a year or two ago. Before that, I found them repulsive. Now I would like to put them up on our balcony, but my roommate has not been converted over. Bah humbug to him.

And for the record, I was always referring specifically to wreathes on the outside of the house.

and speaking of Boortz...

The Fair Tax is taking a lot of hits with every added bit of publicity (for those that don't know, the Fair Tax would replace all federal taxes with a 23% point-of-sale consumption tax on retail purchases). Huckabee recently gave a very simplistic reason for supporting it, and made a bit of a mistake in the process:

"You end the underground economy," Huckabee said at a recent luncheon for the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce. "Illegals, prostitutes, pimps, gamblers, drug dealers - everybody pays taxes."

The WSJ editorial board, particularly James Taranto in his often entertaining Best of the Web today online column, jumped all over the claim. Taranto correctly pointed out that because no drug dealer or pimp will actually report the money he makes so as to pay the Fair Tax, such items and services would actually be purchased with pre-tax income! That's right, just like contributions to your 401k.

To be fair, while Huckabee's claim is way too far-reaching, the Fair Tax might do more to limit the tax-loss effects of the underground economy when it comes time for the drug dealers and pimps to purchase their own retail goods with the money they made from their illegal trade. Under our current system, their income would never be taxed directly. One could certainly argue that the Fair Tax would do more to tax nere-do-wells than our current system.

Instead of simply pointing out that the OpinionJournal crew were treating Huckabee a bit harshly for his gaffe, and merely pointing out what I just did in the above paragraph, Boortz (who co-authored the Fair Tax books with congressman John Linder) went into full-fledged defense mode. He began engaging Taranto & Co. in a semantical argument, in his typical snarky, self-satisfied manner:

So I've picked out three statements from the Wall Street Journal editorial to answer. Here we go:

"But while proponents use that 23% figure as an easier political sell, the rate is closer to 30% when it's calculated like any other sales tax, with the levy on top of the price."

We really do hate to break it to the editorial board at the Wall Street Journal, but the simple fact of the matter is that the FairTax is not calculated like other sales taxes. The FairTax is included in the price, not added on top of the price. Perhaps the board would be less inclined to misstate the terms of the FairTax if they actually read the book or H.R. 25, but we're patient people, so we'll explain this one more time:

(a) Current state sales taxes: You look at the item on the shelf. The item is priced at $100.00. You take that item to the cashier. The cashier adds the state sales tax to the $100. If that sales tax is 7 percent, you pay $107, take your receipt and walk out.

(b) FairTax: You look at the item on the shelf. The item is priced at $100. You take the item to the cashier. The cashier asks you for $100. You pay your $100, take your receipt and walk out. You look at the receipt. The receipt tells you that 23 percent of the $100 you paid for that item is the FairTax and will be forwarded to the federal government. You call upon your years of education and quickly calculate that $23 is 23 percent of $100.

This is really quite embarrassing when you examine it for more than a few seconds. The two books can't possibly the same item. A book that retailed at $100 under the current system would not magically cost 23% less in the Fair Tax. Whether the cost is $100 on the sticker, or $100 at the register, the retailer is only getting $77 in revenue by selling the item at $100 with the Fair Tax. Before he was getting $100. That assumes that the retailer is willing to eat the entire cost of the Fair Tax himself (minus whatever the savings in supply-side cost in the production of the book promised by the Fair Tax). That's simply not going to happen. Anytime a sales tax is levied on a retail purchase, the burden in a normal supply/demand market is shared to some degree by consumer and retailer (with the government getting a share, and with a share being lost as dead-weight loss). This is basic economics. Things WILL cost more at the register under the Fair Tax.

But that shouldn't be a problem for the Fair Tax supporters. With Americans controlling all of their income, they have more incentive to save money (one of the stated benefits of the Fair Tax), and have more purchasing power. This is not to mention the "prebate" given to all citizens in the form of a cash payout with the intention of covering all necessities.

It may sound like I am firmly against the Fair Tax. I'm not. I'm not exactly for it at this point either, but it's worth consideration. But right now the two most public faces are out their making ridiculous and unsupportable claims about their own position. Boortz was rightly called out on his own kind of voodoo economics (a term much more applicable here than when disingenuously used by the original iffy-conservative Republican, George H.W. Bush). Just today I heard him questioning the intellectual capacities of the WSJ editorial board. All this after he falls for the Huckabee magic as easily as Jim Gilchrist did. It's just not looking too good for him these days.

With friends like Huckabee and Boortz, the federal consumption tax idea might ponder the need for enemies.

Huckabee Does Not Heart Federalism, Limited Government

Ouch! For all the talk of the Republicans learning their lesson after 7 years of breaking the bank and expanding federal government, the current star of the GOP Primary is... Mike Huckabee?

A scathing explanation of his past as a governor can be found here.

Some highlights:

On its annual governor's report card, Cato gave Huckabee an "F" for fiscal policy during his final term, and an overall two-term grade of "D." Only four governors had worse scores, and 15 Democratic governors got higher grades, including well-known liberals like Ted Kulongoski of Oregon, Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.

But Huckabee doesn't just embrace big government in the form of big taxes. He truly appears to believe that if something is a good idea it should be a federal government program.


Under the Bush administration, the Republican Party has increasingly drifted away from its limited government roots. It has come to be dominated by a new breed of conservatives who believe in increasing the size, cost and power of government to achieve "conservative ends," even if that means limiting personal freedom in the process. Bush has brought us No Child Left Behind, the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and a 23-percent increase in domestic discretionary spending, and Huckabee's been right there with him.

On election night in 2006, 55 percent of voters leaving the polls said they believed the Republican Party had become the party of big government. Mike Huckabee is doing his best to convert the other 45.

While there are candidate willing to take up the mantle of Barry Goldwater (Paul) and Ronald Reagan (Thompson, I guess), which was supposed to be the platform to get the Republicans back in power, everyone's darling is another W in the making. Thompson is floundering and Paul is still a longshot (even though I think his poll numbers are lower than reality because many likely voters don't show up as 'likely primary voters' by the pollsters' standards).

Huckabee knows how to pander and demagogue. I heard Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, telling Alan Handelman that he will be endorsing Huckabee because of his new immigration plan. Never mind that Huckabee was seen very recently as being an open-border fan.

And that's not the only instance of political opportunism. The consummate big-government conservative has endorsed the Fair Tax, garnering him praise from faux Libertarian radio talk show host Neal Boortz.

My only hope is that he'll split some votes amongst the other front runners, and maybe open a narrow window for Thompson or (yeah right) Paul.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A shameful admission

I've long harbored a poor opinion of many casual dining restaurant chains. Don't get me wrong, it's not a matter of principle. Chili's, Outback, or even Olive Garden have very good choices (even if they don't represent authentic cuisine from Italy, Australia or... um... Chile?). But I've had nothing but bad experiences, for the most part, with places such as Applebees and Ruby Tuesdays (with the exception of going specifically for its salad bar). Don't ever order a steak at either place. But, because of the salad bar at Ruby Tuesdays, it is a good option for when my girlfriend and I are looking for a place to eat.

So we're at Crabtree Mall tonight, and we settle on the Ruby Tuesdays there. I'm not in the mood for a salad, and I recall seeing numerous commercials for their triple prime burger. It's ground from three prime steak cuts: sirloin, filet, and I think ribeye. Probably in sirloin heavy proportions, but it's still a good concept, as I once learned from watching a cuilinary cuilanary culinary cooking genius.

I have to say, it was delicious. The cheddar was too sharp, and overpowered the meat flavor. So I peeled it off. So it was just lettuce, tomato, and garlic mayo. But it was good. Like real good. Like I'm-so-ashamed-I-liked-a-Ruby-Tuesdays-offering-this-much-but-I-feel-like-telling-someone good. Seriously, I want to keep hating them. Especially THIS Ruby Tuesdays. This is the Ruby Tuesdays that, on the day of my 21st Birthday (for a friend's 21st birthday celebration.... mine was the day before), gave me what had to be, at most, a 4 oz sirloin. And no, I was informed, they did not actually bring me the petite sirloin that was on the menu. I seriously had as much meat on my burger tonight as I had on my plate that night. And it tasted better tonight. So next time you're at Ruby Tuesdays because your girlfriend/wife/parole officer wants to get a salad, give it a try.

Monday, October 22, 2007

More libertarian misconceptions

If you repeat it enough, it might as well be true.

The surprising fund raising numbers for Rep. Ron Paul are causing people to take notice of the libertarian movement. Unfortunately, the wrong ideas many people have about libertarianism are beat into their heads through repetition. And why not? The entrenched political elite on either side of the aisle are so engrossed in their Zoroastrian struggle that any deviation from The Way is heresy. So whether you're reading Time or even the Wall Street Journal (which is going to be as sympathetic as any big media outlet), you can't be surprised to hear the same old canards.

The following piece appeared in Time magazine. I saw it linked by Mitch Kokai over at the Locker Room.,9171,1673265,00.html

I'll just quote from my email discussing the article with Mr. Kokai:

It does have some interesting political commentary, but again libertarianism comes off as horribly misrepresented in a MSM publication. Now the author does go out of his way to note that he’s speaking in completely unfair generalizations, but that’s no excuse for trotting out the tired, “Libertarians are against government in all its manifestations.” You can also learn from the article that being against or skeptical of pre-emptive, foreign military intervention makes one an isolationist (which I’m sure would come as a shock to the trade policy folks at the Cato Institute), and that government and society are essentially the same thing (which I’m sure would come as a shock to Alexis de Tocqueville).

Of course, reading such in Time was not nearly as disappointing as reading hints in an Opinion Journal piece that Libertarianism is essentially a sort of amoral, free-wheeling nihilism; a notion that a moderately libertarian conservative / very serious Christian such as myself finds particularly noxious.

My thanks [for linking] was not at all sarcastic. It is good to see that libertarianism is getting some publicity, perhaps largely because of the surprisingly serious campaign of Ron Paul. But the article also shows that some misconceptions will take silver bullets and wooden stakes.

The Opinion Journal piece can be found here.

So: libertarians are not the same as libertines. The protection of rights cannot be achieved through anarchy. And the desire to keep troops close to home in most all circumstances (a far from certain tenet of libertarianism to begin with) has not the first thing to do with protectionism/isolationism.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

NC Lotto Highlighted in NY Times

Article found here.

The article mentions the lackluster revenues from the lottery compared to predictions, and how higher payouts (and thus, lower returns) will be used to bring in more customers.

A couple of highlights:
States including Georgia, Oklahoma and South Carolina have enacted laws that prohibit substituting lottery dollars for money that would have otherwise gone to education. But such laws have not stopped legislators.
Somehow, that sounds familiar.

States are also trying to bolster the number of “core” players, according to interviews with lottery officials in several states. Such players typically represent only 10 percent to 15 percent of all players but account for 80 percent of sales, according to Independent Lottery Research, which does research and marketing for state lotteries.
I wonder. Will targeting that demographic be a regressive or progressive revenue grab?

It's definitely worth a read. H/T: JLF LockerRoom.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Pro Choice? Really?

Something occurred to me today about the candidates out there for President. I'm sure pretty most all of the Democratic choices would describe themselves, with varying degrees of certainty and pride, as pro choice.

Lets examine that.

Choice as to how you pay for your health care? Nope.

Choice as to how and when you actually receive your health care?

In one case, no. But for others, it's an inevitable slippery slope.

How about letting proprietors decide if their establishment will allow people to smoke? Or allow consumers or workers to choose which such establishments to patronize / work in? Surely you jest.

Choice at the grocery store? Choice as to what candidates your money supports? Choice as to what views and opinions you listen to / watch / read?

Not in their America. But you can choose to end the life growing inside of you if you're a pregnant woman. And apparently that's enough to make you pro choice.

BTW, this phenomenon can be found on the 'GOP' side as well.

The supreme irony of all of this is that the candidate in either primary that most supports choice is the 0% NARAL rated OB/GYN from Texas who has delivered numerous babies.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Remember Reuters in the Israeli conflict in Lebanon?

Not to be outdone, the AP rubberstamps the following 'news' item:

In a region where the tradition of hospitality outweighs personal opinions about people…”

Says who?

“While Ahmadinejad likely expected at worst a hostile grilling by the audience, Bollinger's sardonic comments reflected a blatant disregard for the tradition of hospitality revered in the Middle East.”

Says who?

While you can’t expect a report out of Tehran to follow journalistic ethics, that doesn’t mean the AP should still feel comfortable slapping their logo on this commentary.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Vote Early, Vote Often

One stop voting began Thursday in Wake County.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Those aren't the words, Err

Now I haven't heard one of these songs in, well, years probably. But the beginning of both Nine Inch Nails' Closer and Foreigner's Jukebox Hero are eerily similar. Perhaps NIN was paying an homage. This lead to much confusion earlier when I was flipping through my presets and heard (I thought) 100.7 The River playing Nine Inch Nails.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Free Lunch

So there's a convenience store I like to stop at around work (won't specify which one). It's nearby, they have Saranac Ginger Beer, and the inked up guy behind the counter is always really nice. Anyway, I dropped in today to pick up some Tums. We started talking about what works for controlling heartburn besides just antacid tablets. I mentioned I had used Prilosec before. The clerk said that Nexium works really well. And then he said something I wasn't expecting. "I've got plenty of it if you want to try some." Which was very nice of him, of course. But I kinda shrugged him off. He was persistent: "No really, if you're around here Saturday, come by and pick some up. The stuff cost like $300 a bottle, but my insurance pays for it, and I've got a ton of the stuff."

You don't say...

Sunday, September 16, 2007


As much as I'd like to see Mario Williams continue his nice start to the season, I am a Panthers fan first. And seeing the Jake to Smitty thing clicking this well early on feels me with hope for the season.

Keep Rowin' Rowin' Rowin' Rowin'

Update: oh crap :(

Friday, September 14, 2007


What's all this water falling from the sky?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Robin Hoodwinked

As I was looking at the vote for the revamp(ir)ed corporate giveaway package, unsurprisingly, it fell largely along party lines. Only four Republicans and three Democrats crossed over the aisle. But then I started thinking about what those parties usually represent. Specifically, I was thinking back to a comment I read in this N&O article. "Tire manufacturing is coveted because of the pay and benefits associated with the jobs. Goodyear pays its Fayetteville workers an average of $55,000 a year. Hourly workers at Bridgestone also earn $55,000 a year." Now, socialist minded redistributionists, which the Democratic party presumably represents (at least more than the Republicans... I hope) might have a problem with that. According to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, the per capita income in NC in 2005 was $31,041. I'm guessing, but am not entirely sure, that a fair amount of people between that number and the tire plant workers are paying something in State taxes. Wouldn't that make this a regressive redistribution? Perhaps not overall. Obviously those above $55,000/year are paying more of the taxes. But still, there are those making less than the tire plant workers that are helping to pay their wages. I'm not sure I've ever heard someone passionately claim they were, "Stealing from the lower middle class and giving to the middle middle class!!!"

Friday, September 07, 2007

Blimp My Ride

Over at the Locker Room, I added my support to the movement opposing the Goodyear incentive program. I join a diverse cast, including members of the John Locke Foundation, NC Policy Watch, and the Governor himself. Check it out! (Apparently Mr. Coletti enjoyed the subject line I included in the email -- wonder if that nickname will stick with me) One thing I learned from watching NC Spin is that anytime John Hood and Chris Fitzsimon agree on something, it’s probably because somebody in government is screwing up so egregiously, it simply cannot be accepted. Of course, not everyone listed is so hard-lined against targeted incentives for ‘economic development.’ Easley being the most obvious example. But that just shows the complete lack of foresight amongst those that support such measures when it promises to “create new jobs.” OF COURSE existing firms will start crying for a handout. How would you feel if you were a businessman in North Carolina for some number of years, always making it on your own, when you see that someone else is getting a break starting out because they’re adding jobs at a time when it’s politically expedient to give a handout. Some of the players in the Incentives Game are throwing their hands up at the Goodyear deal saying, “We only want to give to those who are adding jobs!” Well what about those that have already added jobs? Did you help them? Frankly, while the whole deal is detestable, Goodyear, and any other existing company in the state, has some grounds to request support. And the next domino is teetering over in Wilson County.

Of course, supporters of corporate welfare claim that it is not a matter of rewarding those that create jobs, but just providing incentives for new jobs to be created. It’s strictly an investment. It pays for itself. Unfortunately, those that are making the decision to undertake the entrepreneurial risk are playing with someone else's money. Politicians can gamble on long-term risks with the taxpayers' money and take the short term gain of smiling for the camera at a ribbon cutting ceremony. If the terms of the incenvitves outlast the next election cycle, then it's too late to hold the pols respondible. Indeed, because of short memories and political spin, the animosity will likely be on the company if they pack up and leave once the public teat dries up. There is simply not enough personal risk assumed by the decision makers. It takes a lot of faith in the hands that hold the purse-strings to believe they will give away money with only the best of intentions. It's not really a surprise, then, that most proponents of such giveaways are those that feel comfortable consolidating more power in the hands of the politicians to run our lives, but I digress. Even assuming the best of intentions, it's too much to expect aldermen and commissioners, and even state legislators, to have sufficient knowledge of industries in which the cruel efficiencies of the market make or break experienced venture capitalists.

Anyway, this is the first blog post in a while. I've been thinking of getting back into it for a few weeks now, mainly because of issues like these. But once I got the reference on the Locker Room, I figured I'd definitely need to start back sooner rather than later. I just need to find (or remake) my old banner image and host it somewhere.