Cash is for Plunkers

I thought I would take a few moments to write a few thoughts about the latest ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program funding my our tax dollars.  We all know what the program is supposed to do.  Take the old gas guzzling cars off the road and put more efficient, environment-friendly cars on the road.  Additionally, it helps put some extra money into the pockets of those who take advantage of the program (rich or poor).  Even better, it provides some extra funds in the mix for the car makers who are producing these better cars.  Then, as if it cannot get any better, it is helping out the economy by getting cash and finance moving in the system.  How can we beat a program like this?

Well, lets look at the other side of the coin.  Government is classically known for being short-sighted and usually missing the secondary effects (or any real primary effects at all).  Some of which I thought I might share.

I will save the old government bashing lines for later.  I only want to look at the Cash for Clunkers program.  First, there are two pretty simple economic fundamentals that government seems to forget and is being ignored in the overall program.  Economics never, ever encourages waste!  “Wait,” you ask, “What is being wasted?”  All those cars that are being traded in under this program are not being resold, they are not going to some auction for charity, they don’t even go to the kidney foundation.  These cars are having a substance, usually a solvent, poured into the engines and the car is run until it seizes.  That means the car is destroyed, unless you want to put a new engine in it.  (I don’t know if these cars can even be parted out or sent to a junkyard.  They might just be scrapped!)

Good economics always has a good being put to its best use.  Good economics always has a commodity used, recycled, and used over and over.  These cars, some of them perfectly good cars, are being junked because they don’t meet an environmental standard.  No retrofitting, no alternative fuels, nothing.  Junked.  This is pretty much like everyone trading in their old radio for a newer one because the old one uses too much power, has a toxic chemical in its board, and has AM still available (which of course, nobody uses anymore).  But wait, there is more, we have to take the radio, crush it, and put it in the dumpster.  Do we realize how much energy went into creating that radio, do we know how much time, and all the other resources.  A car probably takes 100 times as much power, planning, and expenditures to create though.  What do we get in the end?  We have a car off the road, but what about the multiplication of energy and capital in mining, relocating, and planning the materials for a new one?  What about what those materials might have otherwise been put to use for.  (Classic scarcity and trade-offs)  In the end, we removed a few pounds of carbon from the air due to that one car, but put a few more pounds in the air to produce a new car somewhere else.  I am very willing to bet, the loss of those new resources pulled from other items, and the energy to create each new car is pretty much a wash for the old one it replaced.  Okay, for the sake of argument, there is a plus.  But what about the additional scarcity by the new products?  Oh, and we really cannot forget all the energy and capital (especially human resources) to cover the cost of that free $4,500 dollars they get for trading the car in.  Ouch, that alone probably puts us back into negative territory.

I don’t know how many cars are traded in or disposed of in a month, but I am willing to bet you there isn’t much more than the normal business routine.  Sure, we see a great swell.  But everyone looking at trading in their car for the rest of the year probably jumped the gun.  Who isn’t going to jump it for $4,500 extra dollars?  So what do we have, those who were already looking to trade in a car.  This could be either for necessity or luxury.  Some just want an updated model.  Others to update before their warranty runs out.  Others because they have no other choice, their car is on its last leg.  Here we are giving some money to the poor, the rich, and the middle-class.  Leaving aside the arguments for progressive taxes, we cover the spectrum.  But I am willing to bet most of these cars are for the middle-class and wealthier.  Why?  The poorer tend to have credit issues, especially in today’s market.  Even with the $4,500, how many of the poor do you think can afford a new car?  No, they are out looking for a used car, most of which will not qualify for the program.  Here we have a program that appears to be cleaning up the environment and offers incentives, but only to those who can afford it!  Odd twist isn’t it?

While we are talking about those poor people, of which I happen to be one.  Let’s look how this will effect me in other ways.  I prefer to pay cash for my cars.  I prefer to purchase used and not to finance.  Let’s say 100,000 cars are traded in under the Cash for Clunkers program.  Those cars, the high quality and the legitimate junk ones, are all instantly taken out of commission.  That is 100,000 cars which will no longer be circulating and will certainly not find their way back into the used car market.  A shortage creates a higher cost because of higher demand.  Sure, some of those cards would have been junked, but most of them would have gone on to auctions and other buyers.  So that Lincoln with only 50,000 miles on it, that I may have bought on the second hand market is no longer there.  In fact, NONE of them are in the second-hand market.  The cost of buying a used car will go up.  For how long, who knows.  At least a year, perhaps longer.  To some degree, it will probably never fully recover.  After all, we are taking out of commission quite a few cars.  So I better save up some more for that new used car, or keep my current clunker going for a little longer.  I can afford to maintain and fix my car.  What about those who cannot?  Well, their cars will enter a state of worsening condition and you know what, one of those cars blowing blue smoke does more environmental damage than my whole block’s gas guzzling vehicles could have hoped.  Give it a year or two, I am afraid most of our cars on the block may be blowing blue smoke in a year because we won’t be able to afford a new one or maintain it inevitably.

While the rest of the country is worrying about health-care, the politicians are trumping the success of the Cash for Clunkers.  It really isn’t a success.  Unless of course, you work for Ford, General Motors, or Toyota.  Those of us who cannot afford to trade in our car are paying for someone else to get a new car, on our tab.  Add to that shame, when we can afford a new car, or are required to get a new car, we have to pay more.  Guess I am getting taxed twice.  Oh well, I live in America, it is an honour to pay taxes.  Twice the honour to pay them in two different ways.

While I am thinking about it, I have a radio to go smash and replace.  Please send your $25 to me.  All of you!

Uproaching Ides of February

Okay, okay, okay.  I know, I have not been as diligent at the blog writing.  You will have to forgive me.  There are a couple of other things in my life going on besides me sitting around pondering what to share on the blog.

We have a new missionary in the ward.  When he said he was from Minnesota, the thought crossed my mind, “Hmmm, I wonder if he is related to Anna?”  I did not ask the question as we all know the “Do you know” game in Mormonism usually comes up empty.  When it does come up with a jackpot we then communicate it, we are best friends due to others, and life moves on.  Elder Lewis come to find out is related to Ms. Anna Badger.  It was fun to talk for a little bit and chat about those people we knew in common.  Alas, he had to go back to work, I went back to my life, and hopefully somebody else knows we were talking about them!  I will say I do miss those friends who I spent so much time with.  Amanda is a great replacement, but it would be nice to catch up from time to time.

Law school continues to humble me.  I realize every day how really useless my brain and eyes are.  I have to get a full 8 hours of sleep or my eyes start to fatigue and my brain retains less.  Add to that a few interactions with friends, some class time, and the constant confusion and bedtime cannot come too soon.  In visiting with friends who have gone before, they were all in the same situation, so I don’t feel worn down in solitude.  Others have passed this way before.

This weekend Amanda and I went out with some friends to a little restaurant in Bethany.  A town a little further down Old Route 66.  We ate at the Elephant Cafe which is supposed to be known for its ‘authentic’ Thai food.  I don’t know that I have eaten authentic ‘Thai’ food, I haven’t been to Thailand or Taiwan so I have no real experience to judge.  One thing is pretty sure, if this was a cheap Chinese knockoff, I still probably wouldn’t go back.  But they have sushi.  I thought the sushi was good enough, and cheap enough, so I might venture again.  Although not likely with Ms. Anti-Sushi Wife.

I understand today there was some tornadoes here in Oklahoma City.  Apparently Chuck-e-Cheese or whatever place took a direct hit.  Hopefully nobody was hurt.  Amanda has sent a picture of what appears to be a funnel cloud from Yukon.  I forgot we lived in the Great Plains where such things happen.  I am not too worried about it, if Dorothy can live through it, why can’t I?  I lived through one in Missouri, although it never touched down, and only barely turned the sky green.  But I lived through it.  I guess this makes one for Amanda.  My wife experienced her first tornado today.  I better be careful, I may have to deal with larger ones in the progression…

Lastly, I thought I would comment on this whole ‘help the economy’, ‘bail out’, ‘save the world’ business going on in DC.  What has the world come to?  My family and I will be fitting this bill for years to come.  But I live in America, land of the free; except you have to pay taxes to help those who made poor business decisions, oh and were greedy, and pay for infrastructure (also known as health care, business, and automobiles), failed to prepare for the future, want to live on a dole, and who really don’t care or give a darn.  My favorite part about living in this country is that the easy route is the path most preferred.  So if we continue to allow these types of behavior to be rewarded, it means only more and more will jump on the bandwagon, leading us to become like the French (bitter, rude, selfish, and want everything for nothing – oh wait, perhaps this the Americans, or we hate the French because they are so much like us, and they hate us because we are becoming so much like them!).  Nevertheless, government continues to expand and grow and somebody has to pay for the most inefficient of all creatures upon the earth.

Election night, and all through the country…

It is the eve of what some are saying is the most important election for a long, long time.  Some say since FDR, some say Kennedy, some say Lincoln.  We will just have to wait to see what the outcome is of the next President.  However, I thought I would walk through a couple of ideas since I am really torn on who to vote for.

The number one priority for me is to put our house in order.  That starts first and foremost with balancing the budget and paying off the bills.  Some of the most important bills deal with the debt.  So where do the candidates stand there?  Well, McCain belongs to the party who pays lip service to balancing the budget, small government, and paying off the bills.  The Reagan Revolution supposedly did what the Republicans said they were going to do.  Although there is quite a bit of argument of whether he just redistributed and made things appear more in the black.  Generally speaking Reagan is granted the balancing the budget and paying off some bills.  Fast forward a few years and we end up with George W. Bush.  The man spoke the talk but has been an outright liar when it comes to the facts.  If there is one thing I definitely deplore the man for is saddling me and my posterity with a great degree of debt.  The Republicans, if they could have ever been my party, have left me sorely disappointed.

Lets take a look at the other side of the aisle, the Democrats.  What has Obama promised in terms of balancing the budget and paying the bills?  He compares it to a household budget, that when times are lean you cut the pork and go out to eat a little less.  While this is comforting to a degree, we have no real record.  The Clinton’s certainly appear to have left us with the spending in the black.  If there is any indication on where Obama may go, this is some comfort.  However, the Democrats are the ones responsible for the New Deal, The Glorious Revolution, and most of our wars for the past century which are terribly expensive.  In light of the past century, the Democrats scare me, but in light of the disastrous budgetary past 8 years, I may be willing to give the Democrats another chance.  McCain doesn’t seem to have any beefs about war for the next 100 years and we simply cannot afford that.

While we are discussing the war, let’s talk about it.  As most are very aware, I have been adamantly against Afghanistan and Iraq.  I voted against both Kerry and Bush in the last election for this very reason.  In my mind, it seems we could be scores more effective and prepared if we were to keep our military protecting our shores, manning our borders, and investing in technology for better protection.  Why we are off meddling in somebody else’s affairs have certainly concerned me.  Some refer to it as policing the world.  I refer to it as the biggest bully on the playground.  I remember those days.  The bully went around picking on everyone, drawing lines in the grass (figuratively speaking), and making sure everyone knew they were the big dog.  Well, those are the guys that most either cowered or, as we did, seek to undermine.  We hid their lunches.  We put bugs in their desks.  We got them in trouble.  For the most part, that is what I feel like we are doing.  We are running around trying to defend ourselves from a multitude of fires.  In the end, we are stretched too thin, too worn out, and then our friends go become friends with somebody else and they become the new bully.  The whole process starts all over again.  Sure, I got my beating a time or two when I was caught.  It made it all the more sweet when he ate the sandwich with a jalapeño instead of a pickle inside.

If we fast forward to ‘grown-up games’ we find things are pretty much the same.  However, now we use ‘reason’, ‘the purse’,  and the ‘military’ to be the bully.  Isn’t it ironic that we cannot seem to catch these people and there just becomes more and more of them?  The bigger the bully, more there are to undermine.  Then you get the feigned friends who hang out with the bully.  They only do so because he is the bully.  We see this with France, Britain, and other nations.  Would they be our friends anymore if we didn’t have the strength and wealth.  Probably not.

Here we have McCain willing to draw a bunch more lines in the sand and to defend them to the death.  Somehow it feels eerily Animal Farm where instead of crying the name of Napoleon for everything that is wrong, we cry Osama Bin Laden.  Slowly we are getting away from Bin Laden to Iran.  Bin Laden let way to Hussein.  McCain really worries me even though he was apparently ‘correct’ about the surge in Iraq.  In my mind we should not have been there, so why a surge does any good is of little consequence.  Our country has some serious issues, for the cost of the war in Iraq we could have replaced nearly every stretch of national highway and rebuilt every high school in the country.  Bridges collapsing, infrastructure failing, power grids outdated, schools failing, and we claim we don’t have the money?  What a sack of bull.  Obama seems much less inclined to pursue war in any direction.  He seems to gather more favor on my part regarding the war.

Looking back again over history.  The Democrats have been the party of war, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson.  The Republicans are the one’s who claimed to clean up the mess.  However, both parties have their history of war even though more minor skirmishes.  Bush has given a big black eye to the Republican image.  More importantly, the Republicans were the party more known for their isolationist ideas.  Boy are those days gone!  Bush has marched right in there with Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Roosevelt.  Lincoln is, of course, company for Bush, but then one can always argue whether that war was necessary as well.  Interestingly, we had Mr. Paul arguing for a less extreme approach to the secession of the Southern States (don’t forget, slavery while in the background was not the reason for the war).  Is war always the answer?  Obama or John?  Obama appears more reticent but ultimately, the ideology of the Democrats gives more easily to war (at least used to).

Then it comes to the economy.  Just as Clinton kept reminding us and the market has just reinforced.  Boy, isn’t it sad when the market does what we are warned about if we keep racking up debt?  Yet nobody seems so anxious to point out what is mostly obvious.  Pay off your debt, remove your waste, lose the greed, and prepare for the future.  Somehow our government doesn’t seem to recognize these values.  It will be the downfall of our nation if it continues.  We already have saddled on our backs a generation or more of debt.  That is if we are diligent in paying off the bills.  But somehow we seem to divorce debt, credit spending, and more from the example of the government following the people, or more likely the government following the people.  Either way, it has to be fixed now, and once we take care of our extravagence, then the economy will take care of itself.  What is more, if we were to put our government in order and we were not paying all this money on interest, what could we do?  Do you think any Democrat would turn down spending this money on health care?  Do you think any Republican would turn down tax cuts?  Do we realize how much money is being spent on interest and debt every year!  It is a terrible waste and is probably the greatest weakness of our nation.  Rather than throwing money we don’t have at a problem we cannot fully comprehend, how about we take care of our own troubles and let the rest work out on its own?  That will win the race.

Tax cuts.  We cannot pay off our debts with tax cuts.  We cannot pay off our debts with more programs.  We cannot pay off our debts without some changes.  Who will offer it.  Well, neither candidate has offered much for this.  More of the same rhetoric for which they are both weak in showing they would actually do.

Health Care.  Boy, another way of having it all backwards.  How about we let the market forces back into insurance and health care and we would see massive movement.  Deregulation of these industries would alter the way we see health care.  The extreme abuses, both to the government and to the polity, would be changed dramatically.  But then again, will either party do anything here.  No.  Will either candidate?  No.  Both are already cuing up the line for expanding health care.  While certainly noble, unless we change the basic foundation, nothing will change.  Both parties are a draw.

Well, there are the big issues.  Does either really distinguish the other?  Nope.  McCain is Republican and Obama is Democrat.  Republicans screwed up their chance running Congress and the Presidency.  Democrats screwed up their chance before as well.  Honestly speaking, I don’t want either.  Therefore, you will find me voting for neither party, neither candidate.

What does that leave me with?  The Constitution Party who strongly supports much of what I believe.  Chuck Baldwin is their candidate.  However, I cannot vote for him in Oklahoma since The Constitution Party is not on the ballot.  There is the Libertarian Party, which also seems to agree with what I have written.  They also are not on the ballot in Oklahoma.  (Which ironically sent my wife a notice that her registration was incomplete after the deadline.  She turned it in more than a month before the deadline and they could not notify her before the deadline??  Somebody should take up this issue with voter registration!)  So I am at a real loss.

I won’t go into the details concerning Oklahoma politics.  I won’t list my issues here.  Their biggest problem is the terrible roads!  I guess I will just have to write in William Borah or Robert La Follette.  Making a decision this election year is like being asked whether I preferred urine or vomit in my shake.  Neither please!

Birthday Week

On Saturday we planted three new trees in front of the house.  I have great hopes for them and their rising high in the next three years.  It will be interesting to see what our home looks like when and if we move away from it after law school.  We went and purchased them, along with an ax and other tools, from a birthday gift card.  Thank you!  I have been slowly whittling away at the stump in the front with my new ax.  I also removed all the above ground roots behind the garage.  There is one or two I missed, but I will get them.

We went out to eat at Outback Steakhouse Friday night.  They did not cook either of our steaks well enough and we had to send them back.  Accordingly they only made us pay for one of the steaks for our trouble.  Of course, it was the more expensive!  I did not mind too much.  It was really good once I got the steak back and it was not rare still.  Amanda is not a big seafood or fish fan so I try to eat up.  I enjoyed shrimp and mussels with my meal.  Interestingly, the waiter asked if we were from Utah because I used a Zions Card.  He had been to Utah and seen the banks everywhere.  I was offended at the Utah notion but he recovered quickly.

The rest of the week brought other gifts, cards, money, and wishes.  Thank you to everyone!!

I continue through school.  No complaints.  I see there are a number around who are getting a little stressed.  For the most part I think everyone puts on a brave face.  I don’t feel like I am in full comprehension of the facts.  However, I don’t tend to get anxious.  I hear there are a few who are pretty stressed.

I have been watching the news and am a bit disappointed in our good government.  As we remembered the Constitution’s Birthday last week it appears the Capitol District didn’t have much of a remembrance celebration.  They are off working out a bail out for an estimated $700,000,000,000.  That equates to more than $2,000 per person.  Forget the whole per person, I am talking per living citizen of this country!  So much for refund checks.  They are going to take them back with tremendous interest!  How about we put our house in order?  How about we take care of our collective debt before we begin helping others out with their debt?  Who will help us out of our debt?  China?  In reading last night I stumbled on the following scripture, “For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend to many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.”  (Deut 15:6).  Does that mean if we borrow over many nations we shall not reign?  Does that mean we shall not be blessed?  In what way?

It certainly seems like time we paid our dues, debts, and other obligations.  I feel so strongly about the whole bail out thing I want to swear.  This seems ridiculous!  Outrageous!  Okay, Wall Street may fail.  So the argument I will get taxed either way.  I would rather take my chances than to help a bunch of whiners who live in the corner office.  They should have been prepared.  They should have not gone into debt.  They should have been wiser.  Why do we have to bail them out?  Rather than shutting down the Fed, they will probably just create another department.  The Department of Finance.  Socialism, here we come!

Well, back to reading torts.  The one class I feel like I am actually getting.  Maybe that should say something to me.

Immigration guided?

The immigration issue has been a topic of importance lately.  What is the proper decision, policy, and attitude we should take?  Open borders?  Closed borders?  Monitored immigration?  Initially when the nation was founded, immigration was open.  Any and all were welcome.  Slowly we began to regulate and require certain things of those who came into the nation.  Citizenship requirements have changed.  By the 1880′s we were numbering and giving minimums for those coming into the country.
What is the proper way to administer immigration?  If we go for the Founder’s view, it would be a pretty loose interpretation.  Basically, anything goes (or anything comes).  That certainly doesn’t seem to be anything the majority of American’s would be willing to accept at present.  Anyone’s opinion is really valid now when it comes to historical pretext.  We have covered the entire field.
What is the role of immigration with regards to what God would prefer?  I am not entirely sure.  Here is our scripture for thought.
2 Nephi 1:6
“Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.”
This scripture seems to be pretty straight forward.  NONE shall come UNLESS the Lord has brought them.  This is a Prophet speaking.  What is more, it is another Prophet who is recording the comments of another.  In a sense, we have two witnesses of this statement.  Moreover, Lehi himself states it is a prophecy.
That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for play.  Two prophets state, in positive terms, ALL who come to this nation will be brought by the Lord.  The question is then, what about our immigration policy?  If we try to limit it, are we acting against God’s will?  For all these who come in still, even illegally, should we hold such a vindictive attitude towards them?  Are we in a sense an Uzza reaching forth to steady the ark?
The statement seems like it would be still in effect?  There doesn’t appear to be anything in the previous or following verses that would limit it to 1492 to 1827.  Certainly, the LDS would not hold such a view.  The LDS would hold this immigration lead by the hand of the Lord continued en mass at least through 1910.  Why the change?
The gathering is to Stakes of Zion rather than to a central location now.  But this doesn’t appear to be talking about a gathering, or even the covenant people.  NONE seem so be a pretty exclusive statement for those who are covenant or not.
I suppose the real question is should we open the borders and allow all to come?  Or is the Lord inspiring our politicians to limit the immigration while at the same time inspiring others to break that limiting?
LDS are expected to keep the laws of the land, but will the Lord inspire others to break those laws the Saints are expected to uphold?  We hear cries all over against the Hispanic influx.  Is this inspired and is man putting forth his puny arm to stop the flow that God has decreed?  None shall come save it be by the hand of the Lord.
I really don’t know.  But it certainly makes me think.  Personally America is the idea of a tent of charity and of good will.  To me it seems that all are welcome and we will welcome them with open arms.
In the Old Testament, the immigrant went by another name; stranger.  Reminds me of the old western movies.  Do a search of the Old Testament and you shall see quite a few laws and regulations concerning strangers.  They were expected to hold the rest of Israel’s laws faithfully.  Those out of the covenant were treated equally, but were restricted from covenant promises and practices.
One of the first scriptures that come to mind is the reminder the Lord gives to Israel.  Strangers are to be treated well, after all, all Israel was a stranger in the land of Egypt.  It is the old golden rule.  Do unto others as you would have done unto you.  “Also, thou shalt not oppress a stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Ex 23:9).
Strangers could buy and sell unfettered.  They could even take some of those under the covenant as slaves (Lev 25).
Strangers were to be given the same laws as the covenant folk.  Additionally, they were to be treated equally before the law.  Even in breaking the law, the stranger was to be treated the same as the children of Israel (Num 15).
Strangers could even offer up burnt offerings.  They were expected to live the same law of health (Lev 22).
Remember, Israel after wandering went into Canaan to take possession of the Land.  The Lord even told them they were being given a land wherein they were going to be the stranger.  The Lord was going to give them the land, despite what the residents thought.  It was when the current residents fought back, and the residents along the way, that they lost their lives (Gen 17:8)  They could very well have assimilated as many other societies have done.
This always brings new meaning to the stranger referenced Matthew 25.  Whatsoever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.  But he uses the phrase ‘Stranger’ several times.  “I was a stranger and ye took me in” (vs 35).  “When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?” (vs 38).  “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.  Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” (vs 43-44).
“Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the Land of Egypt” (Deut 10:19).
“And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.  When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; Then thou shalt say before the Lord thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou has commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:” (Deut 26:11-13).
Indeed, the stranger is even classified among the widows and orphans in a requirement for Israel to reach out to them (Deut 24).
Strangers could not take part of temple worship or passover.  Unless, they were willing to be circumcised, then they were no more strangers (similar to citizenship??) (Ex 12).
I will leave it there.  I have turned from the degree of immigration to how we should treat the immigrant.  There doesn’t seem to be a qualification of whether they were living among Israel legally or not.  God seems no respecter of persons.  Why would we treat with harshness the stranger in our midst, legal or not?
Turning back to the original question, I would definitely lean towards open borders and open communication.  It seems most arguments against open borders are for selfish reasons.  Our jobs, our land, our territory and more.  Perhaps we should re-evaluate.

FairTax Concerns

There seems to be quite a few little plans on how to reform government floating around.  So, I thought I would take a moment to comment on one of them.

I finished reading the FairTax book that was published in 2005.  If you are interested more in the book, there is a link to the book in my books section.

There were a few points of thought I wanted to put out there for the record.  There is a discussion group here in Richmond who are going to pick it up and discuss it next month.  I thought I would make my thoughts available since I will not be present.

Generally, I love the idea of revolutionizing government.  I want refreshing new ideas in government.  Solving our problems with the same thinking seems asinine to me.  Something is wrong, and new ideas are going to be required to correct them.  I am quite happy to throw the whole tax code out the window and go for all new.  However, the problem of moving the establishment to the new house is that I am afraid the same people might be running the household.  So what difference does it make if we have a new heating and air conditioning system if the fools don’t know how to manipulate the thermostat to keep things comfortable?

The FairTax generally seems like a great idea.  I like the idea of making the tax code simple and straight forward.  Who could possibly be against that?

One of the points they bring out is the fact that the tax code is so completely mind boggling.  After all, it does take teams of experts to figure out exactly what it says and even then the IRS is not completely sure how it all comes out in the end.  It seems like every little political, special interest, lobbyist wants to come along and tweak it in a certain way.  That is the nature of the game of our government.  I am not going to get into the aspects of how we have brought this upon ourselves; just the fact is everyone wants to tweak the system to favor them or their buddy.  It is a tremendous drag on resources and time in our economy and anything to remove half this burden is probably worth it.

My first problem with the FairTax is why in the world would we think this is going to change?  There is nothing in the FairTax that seems to indicate it will require citizen approval or even cognition of what is going on.  In fact, it seems the majority of citizens of this country really don’t care about the tax code or anything politically.  Running for President is really a popularity game where you say anything to make people your friend.  Say the nicest, most far reaching, and promise the most in bonuses and you can have the job.  Depending on the mood current, we find ourselves with different parties or sway.  If we fear our security, we tend to think Republican; if we feel charitable, we tend to go Democrat.  Despite what they say, nobody seems to care much about accountability or proper stewardship.

The fact remains, even with a completely new tax system, if it made it through intact like Linder and Boortz suggest, the lobbyists will still remain.  Yes, they will certainly have to recoup and plan a new attack but I am convinced they will be working much harder at working this system than the citizens will be in protecting it.  It just seems like it would be another 10-15-20 years before we end up pretty much where we started.  If we could get it passed taxing the health care industry, it seems they would find the buttons to press to get themselves some exceptions, exemptions, or exclusions.  Perhaps they could even keep the bill from touching them at all.  They are a pretty strong lobbying group.  But they will keep knocking on representative’s doors until the little tweaks over time amount to big breaks.

To me it seems we should work out the representation of the people and fix the problems leading to this problem first before we trying reforming the system already broke.  The infamous “Iron Triangles” will continue until they wear down any bulwarks this system might have.  Honestly, I don’t see much in the way of protection to keep the system from being changed back to favoring those who pay for insider links and favors.

Take a look at all the states that have consumption taxes.  Most states have different rates for food, medical, or other areas.  There is the sin tax, and many other consumption taxes which all have different rates.  We have these debates taking place right now.  Utah just worked out lowering the consumption taxes for food.  Idaho is thinking about it.  Why would a federal sales tax be any less inclined to face all these pressures?

My second problem lies in the fact of the prebate.  If Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid don’t already smack of intrusion into the market and private realms, let’s start sending a prebate check to every single consumer household in the United States.  Last time I checked, there don’t appear to be any households without consumers.  We are going to wipe out the IRS, but what about the bureaucracy that will have to replace it to keep track of where a family sits in relation to the poverty line and cut them a check every month for prebate against a consumption tax.  We think the government has sway over us due to our taxes, just wait until they are in a sense returning our money to us for basic essentials.  Even better, those illegal aliens, those drug meisters, and others who pay their consumption taxes would be mapped if they wanted their prebates.  What about the homeless without a bank account or mail address, would it go through the local benefits office continuing to give them money to spend on whatever they spend it on (which is stereotyped as alcohol and cigarettes).  Shoot, lets just return the cash to them on a debit card (only for those with mailing addresses) they can only spend on groceries which are healthy, don’t pollute the environment, are not genetically modified, and can sing opera to boot!  Oh, we certainly cannot forget to let them pay their heating and air conditioning, but only if they have the new thermostat the State of California can manipulate by remote control.  Linder and Boortz want to minimize government intrusion then introduce this which seems to be 3 times the devil the IRS ever was, despite the current abuses.  I am pretty sure the lobbyists will find their perks.

What if they cannot find somebody?  I am sure the government is not going to set aside in some trust fund their money until the missing people can be found.  I very much doubt they will pay them their back prebates when they are found.  Doesn’t this seem a bit like the Big Brother scenario the communists scared us about for so long?

Thirdly, another issue brought up in the book is the fact our government, politicians, and lobbyists found ways to sneak the money away from us.  Rather than sitting down and writing a check once a year where we know exactly what we are spending and demanding accountability because it hurts, we have implemented withdrawal.  Now, we pay a portion of our paycheck without ever having received the money to begin with.  Most of us are just excited when we get back a grand or two when in fact we paid many thousands more.  If I wrote out a check for the $6,000 I aid in taxes this year to the federal government I would dang sure want to know what they were doing with that painful check.  Now, most of us are just myopic enough to be excited to get $1,500 back.  Boy, talk about hoodwinked.

Boortz is definitely going to fix it isn’t he?  Let’s make a consumption tax where every single person pays every single time they make a purchase.  That $5 I spent on lunch now is also paying federal taxes.  So at the end of the year, there is absolutely no way for me to account how much I paid in taxes for the year.  Sounds like a great idea to me.  At least now, I can find out how much I pay in the end, even though I might be excited to get a portion of it back.  They make fun of and mock the VAT in the book because of how well the tax is hidden and then propose an inclusive tax?  I could swallow this to a degree if it was an exclusive tax, meaning you saw the price of the good and then the tax was added on.  If I was a diligent individual, I could know at year end how much I paid in taxes.  However, if it is inclusive, there is absolutely no way I would know.  That sounds heretical in a society that professes glasnost (openness and transparency), although we can debate how much we actually have.  I really don’t mean to keep waving the Communist/Socialist flag it just keeps eking out.  You cannot tell me the sin tax would not be re-instituted.

Lastly, this is a point which doesn’t hold as much weight, but certainly seems to be of concern to me.  I don’t understand all the aspects really, but this still seems to linger.  This consumption tax would supposedly be only on new products or on services.  I will pay taxes on the lawyer, the doctor, the hamburger, and the new home.  Taxes will be paid on food, daycare, gasoline, cigarettes, and prescription drugs.  However, used items will not be taxed.  If I purchase a home built 50 years ago, I will pay for the supplies to renovate it, and the services, if employed, to renovate it.  This sounds great.  What happens when we get to a point, perhaps like some of these European countries where new growth is slower.  What happens when we confined the growth of cities and require redevelopment?  No taxes would be purchased on the buying of these homes, but on their renovation or decoration.  At that point, the housing market which seems such a boom to the economy and especially government coffers would slow considerably.  However, the need for revenue’s will drop.  When people figure out to purchase that new car and really save thousands.  Doesn’t this seem that at some point in the future, this would not be a valid source of income since it will be the big ticket items that will be the money maker?  This might be 25, 50, 100, 200 years in the future.  But if we are trying to look for long term solutions, this doesn’t really seem like one to me.  Like I said, I know this is the weakest point simply because there is so little I know about where most of our current revenues come and projected growth.  I would have to really get into some numbers of Europe and see.

There are my issues and problems with the FairTax.  I am more than happy to have someone explain how they would get around these.  In the end, it seems the problems with our tax system are really only a symptom of some problems with our current government structure.  It appears our system is missing some transparency already, the contact with constituents only becomes more distant, and that our desire to force others to live in a certain way is emblematic of deeper problems in government.  Yes, taxes, especially income taxes are intrusive and obnoxious, but it is only the fruit of a tree much larger and in need of pruning.  After all, why else would I be a Ron Paul supporter?