The FairTax Book is a light, but interesting read on taxes – a phrase I never thought I would write. It was written by Congressman John Linder and talk show host named Neal Boortz. Until I read the book, I had never heard of Boortz, but Linder is a socially conservative congressman from Georgia who has promoted tax reform for many years. This book did a great job convincing me that a consumption tax on all new sales and services to the final consumer (e.g., unlike the European VAT, resellers would not pay it) is a viable and superior solution to reforming our income tax. The proposed consumption tax would eliminate all corporate and personal income taxes in exchange for the consumption tax. I have previously opposed consumption taxes because they regressively target the poor. The FairTax proposal has an answer to that. All citizens in the US (rich and poor) would receive a monthly check to cover the expected amount of taxes a poor family would pay on necessities. Thus, the poor would end up paying no tax (and if they spent less than the government estimated, they would even come out ahead).
Under the FairTax proposal, the IRS would be eliminated (yea!), and all the people who deal with income taxes could find better uses for their time. When the book was published, over 600,000 people had signed a petition for the FairTax. Since then, many others (including yours truly) have done so online. You can learn more by reading the book (which was at my local library) or by going to the FairTax website.
I finally got around to reading Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and greatly enjoyed the experience. Steven Levitt, a famous economist, got into a little hot water because he was careless with the data in one claim. He stated that legal abortions reduced crime because the disproportionably large number of abortions performed on impoverished minority women. Levitt's mistake will not be of interest to non academics as he still stands by his conclusion (the mistake was in how he did his statistics, he has since redone them and obtained the same conclusions.) Some other economists disagree with this finding, but I think the finding should not be controversial. If you abort/kill/vivisect/otherwise destroy millions of unborn children, you can expect these dead unborn will be incapable of committing crimes in the future. The killing of these unborn is (and should be) controversial, but given million of children, some would have become criminals. Some would have become doctors too and most would have paid taxes to help support our aging population. For better and for worse, all of this potential was snuffed out by abortionists. I do not see why people are giving Levitt a hard time over this claim.
However, the abortion claim is just a small part of the book. Levitt uses economic tools to evaluate a host of issues, such as identifying teachers who encourage cheating on standardized tests and analyzing the business operations of crack gangs.
Last, but not least, I recommend Pietra Rivoli's The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy. It was a fascinating story of the life cycle of a T-Shirt. Who knew that many Chinese T-Shirt firms used cotton grown in Texas? That's right – in today's crazy economy, cotton is grown in Texas, shipped to China and turned into yarn then into fabric, then sent to whatever poor country is high on the current US quota list where expatriate Chinese "reside" and assemble the shirt before shipping it to United States. Rivoli does a fair job presenting the views of free market economists and that of protectionist activists and looks at the results over time.
All three books are wonderful reads and should be part of every politician's library. Recommended reading for all voters.
Anderson responded The problem with the old psychological label was that *it* rested on “no scientific rationale whatsoever.” Once the shrinks were asked to quit ASSUMING homosexuality was a “mental disorder,” and to present evidence therefor, they changed their labeling.
I disagreed as the old psychological label firmly rested upon the APA definition of a mental disorder. In layman’s terms, the APA generally defines a mental disorder as a behavior that generally results in “significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability” etc. If you [originally Anderson, but open to anyone] want me to provide references to the average life expectancy of an American homosexual, I’ll be glad to do so. I have gay friends who I do not expect to live to 40 - this is not a healthy lifestyle and most gays admit it. Whether or not they have a choice in the matter is a huge, long, complicated topic, but the question as to whether or not homosexuality meets the normal definition of a mental disorder (i.e., behavior that significantly increases risk of suffering death, pain, and/or disability) is an empirical question to which all evidence cries “YES”.
Anderson then stated (first sentence was originally mine with Anderson applying the bold):
generally results in "significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability”
The bolded words refute your argument, I think. Though your references would be interesting.
Certainly, some gays (for ex.) engage in risky sexual practices. So do straights. But there is nothing about being gay, per se, that leads one to have anonymous unprotected encounters at highway rest stops, etc.
I disagreed with Anderson's last statement. If it were true, there should be no difference is behavior between straight men and gay men other than the target of their amorous affection. In which case, I would agree with Anderson. However, the facts do not lead to this conclusion. Here are a few quotes that support my case.
A 1997 article published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that in one Canadian urban area, the expected life span for a homosexual man at age 20 was 8 to 20 years less than that for all men.
So the general case (homosexuality) leads to a significantly increased risk of death, pain, and/or disability (8 to 20 years of shortened lifespan).
The Centers for Disease Control reported last year that new cases of HIV among homosexual men rose for the third straight year. Homosexual men accounted for 42 percent of new HIV cases in 2000 and 60 percent of all cases among all men -- despite the fact that homosexual men make up no more than 1 to 3 percent of the population. Among all new cases heterosexuals accounted for 33 percent, injection drug users 25 percent. In addition, homosexual men account for two-thirds of new syphilis cases, the CDC reported this year.
Again, the general case (homosexuality) leads to a significantly increased risk of death, pain, and/or disability (vastly increased chance of catching HIV, syphilis, and other STDs).
I think it very clear that this meets the original APA definition – which is why homosexuality was originally classified as a mental disorder.
OK, I have spent some time looking up a few stats. If anyone still disagrees, provide some legitimate reasons why homosexuality does not meet the stated definition of a mental disorder. Or even find some statistics showing that gay men have the same number of sexual partners as straight men. That would go a long way toward refuting my argument. However, if the facts indicate that, in general, homosexuals have many more sexual partners than straight men, that would reinforce my case.
As always, comments are appreciated. Since they have just been fixed, let me remind people that comments will stay open for about two weeks. The two week limit is enough to give people the ability to provide feedback and still help me fight spam. Someday, I'll make the time to automate this process – in the meantime, I just close comments when I get around to it. I also want to thank Anderson again for being civil. Too many people have trouble disagreeing with someone about charged issues without resorting to personal insults, so I like to call attention to people who can politely discuss such issues.
I don't see why many of my fellow Americans are making a big deal about this. Yes, Austria has a law against denying the Holocaust. As far as I can tell, Austrians consider this law on par with our law against falsely yelling fire in a crowded theater. Given Austrian history, they may have a point.
I find it fascinating that many of those that make a big deal about this are more complacent about other restrictions on free speech all over the Western World. In much of Europe and Canada, you can be jailed for pointing out that homosexuality is a perversion according to most (all?) the major religions and that homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the psychologists until the homosexuals applied political pressure to change this definition without any scientific rationale whatsoever.
In the US, some forms of political speech have been banned right before an election - so much for the 1st Amendment which was specifically written to protect political speech. Our Supreme Court claims that the First Amendment protects virtual pornography and lap dances, but not political speech. Why are the American "defenders" of free speech not more outraged over this local problem than the jailing of one harmful lunatic in Austria? Let's clean our own house first. We have more serious free speech problems that need to be addressed. If and when we have our own house in order, then we can pay attention to more trivial problems.
Note: My title is not aimed at James (whose blog I enjoy) nor Sebastian (of whom I had never read until today). It is aimed at everyone who makes a big deal over the speck in Austria's eye while ignoring the beam in America's eye.
Again, she declines and tries to get some sleep.
The lawyer, now agitated, says, "Okay, if you don't know the answer you pay me $5.00, and if I don't know the answer, I will pay you $500.00."
This catches the blonde's attention and, figuring there will be no end to this torment unless she plays, agrees to the game.
The lawyer asks the first question. "What's the distance from the earth to the moon?"
The blonde doesn't say a word, reaches into her purse, pulls out a $5.00 bill and hands it to the lawyer. "Okay," says the lawyer, "your turn".
She asks the lawyer, "What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four legs?"
The lawyer, puzzled, takes out his laptop computer and searches all his references, no answer. He taps into the air phone with his modem and searches the net and the library of congress, no answer. Frustrated, he sends e-mail to all his friends and coworkers, to no avail. After an hour, he wakes the blonde, and hands her $500.00.
The blonde says, "Thank you," and turns back to get some more sleep.
The lawyer, who is more than a little miffed, wakes the blonde and asks, "Well, what's the answer?"
Without a word, the blonde reaches into her purse, hands the lawyer $5.00, and goes back to sleep.
The student senate rejected the memorial because "a Marine" is not "an example of the sort of person UW wants to produce."Not that race should matter to these politically correct and obviously naïve students, but Boyington was neither rich nor white, but a poor American Indian who faithfully served his country in a time of war. I am ashamed public tax money goes to support these ungrateful kids, but I am thankful for modern day soldiers who protect the UW student's rights to make public idiots of themselves. I also want to be careful that we do not think all UW students are idiots. This only became news, because a UW student, Brent Ludeman, called attention to the story via emails and letters [second letter, after the letter by the clown who cast the dissenting tie-breaking vote].
"We don't need to honor any more rich white males."
My wife is a good sport and puts up with my many quirks. She is fun to be with and makes most days special. I am also lucky my wife is a wonderful cook from the Deep South. When I take her out to a restaurant, it is because I love her, not because I need a good meal. On the contrary, my wife's cooking is usually much better than that of a restaurant. This probably means she gets taken out less than she would if she were culinary challenged.
My wife is a full-time homemaker. It may shock some people as old fashioned, but my wife and I both love it and our kids are doing great. (The latter is simple probability; research shows that all things being equal, kids raised in a traditional family will do much better than kids who are not.)
I don't know what I would do without her. I love her and wanted to take time on Valentine's Day to publicly acknowledge her.
The stash of equipment included chemical warfare protection suits, or NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) suits, as they are technically known. They were found together with three blank-firing pistols, a stun gun and CS spray. Officers also found a gas mask, handcuffs, hunting knives and a walkie talkie.This should silence those who claimed the raid was unjustified. However, when I started doing some research into these findings, I also found a story behind the story. A key factor in the successful prosecution of Islamic cleric Abu Hamza came from a civilian, Glen Jenvey. Without Jenvey's actions, Abu Hamza might have gotten away with his claims that he did not know about all the illegal items being stored in his mosque.
Police also found more than 100 stolen or forged passports and identity documents, laminating equipment, credit cards and chequebooks hidden under rugs and concealed above ceilings. One officer recalled pulling down part of a ceiling to find passports raining down on him.
On his own volition, and on his own time and time, Jenvey determined to go after Hamza because he foresaw how much of a threat Hamza could be.
I’d spied on people before - bizarre as it sounds - as a bit of a hobby, because I was interested in it. And I suppose I fancied myself as a bit of a spy. Hamza came to my attention after Al Qaeda blew up the USS Cole in 2000 and Muslim terrorists came to much greater prominance. I’d been looking into the Tamil Tigers in London for years and grew to loathe all terrorists. But Hamza struck me as being worse than them, just like Hitler who he praised in his videos. That’s why I was determined to bring him down.Jenvey's findings have been used by the FBI and Scotland Yard as part of the fight against terrorism. I am amazed and grateful for Jenvey's efforts. If anyone wants to put together a true, albeit political correct, documentary, I would suggest Jenvey's life would make for a fascinating film.
So I set up a false website called Islamic News, which praised jihadis around the world. I also set up links to other websites, including Hamza’s “Supporters of Shariah”, tricking them into thinking I was hellbent on forming some kind of Islamic state.
I passed on the information I found, but found people weren’t paying much attention. Then September 11 came and made me more determined to focus on Hamza and bring him to justice. I telephoned him directly, saying I was the press officer for a Kashmir terrorist group. I also emailed him telling him that I had a brother who was recruiting terrorists and raising funds for the Kashmir group. Then when I spoke to him on the phone again I told him that it would help if I had tapes of his speeches. I was getting fed up with waiting for the video tapes to come so I picked up the phone and rang Hamza, who I called Hook because of the metal hook he has for a hand.[Editorial note: Hamza has a hook because a bomb exploded while Hamza was working on it. Hamza claims he was trying to defuse a land mind. Most people believe the Islamic cleric was creating a terrorist bomb and it prematurely detonated.]
Within a month, he sent 20 audio tapes, and a week later we got the two-hour video tapes. I was shocked by what they showed because Hamza was clearly calling for Muslims to rise up here and in America. And it was clear to me that this person sitting there in the middle of the table inside the mosque was more than just a hate-filled preacher. His knowledge of the attacks on the US embassies in Africa and the USS Cole are far too detailed for him to be anything other than involved. He has to have links with the attackers. In one of the videos he shows off an Arabic doumantary about the making of the Twin Towers and I’m sure they were all made before September 11. It all added up to Hamza being a major player in the terrorist world.
There’s no question about it. The tapes Hamza handed over to me were designed to spread his hate-filled messages. They were aimed at turning young Muslims into terrorists. Who knows, he probably sent the same things to the 7/7 bombers.
If you do find any bugs with the comments or other bugs on the site, please let me know by posting here. Right now, the only known bug is that my search results come back with a dark (hard-to-read) format. This will be fixed shortly.
(2006-02-08) — Democrat National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean today accused White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove of engineering a series of Bush administration failures and scandals in order to highlight the Democrat party’s inability to capitalize on political opportunity.Scott spoofs my greatest frustration with American politics today. As an Independent, what are my options? The Republicans are acting like a party that has grown accustomed to majority status – many of them, including the president, seem to be fans of big government, massive spending, and cronyism. However, at least they have three strengths – most Republicans are pro-life, strong on defense, and believe that laws should be enforced by judges, but created by legislatures who face reelection. They also recognize Social Security is going to be a problem and some of them tried to address this issue.
“I think it’s more than coincidence,” said Mr. Dean, “that Scooter Libby, Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff get indicted, Social Security reform is DOA, Iraq is a quagmire, Bin Laden is on the lam, Iran and North Korea have nukes, FEMA lets black people die in New Orleans, gas prices go ballistic and yet, Democrats get no bump in the polls…Oliver Stone, phone your office.”
A White House spokesman denied that the administration ever intentionally fails at anything, but acknowledged that the key to Republican electoral victory in 2006 and 2008 is to “give Democrats numerous chances to publicly highlight their own ideas and to spotlight their own integrity.”
Other than supporting the "right" to abort a baby at any point, up to and including delivery, for what do the Democrats stand? Some of the students on my campus (who I would judge as libertarian, not conservative) disdainfully call the Democrats the terrorists' rights party.
The Democrats' lack of ideas is harming America. If they were a serious option, there would be real pressure on the Republicans to shape up or the electorate would throw them out. However, given the choice between today's Republicans and today's Democrats, I will hold my nose and vote for big government Republican who are at least trying to tackle today's pressing issues vs. voting for clueless Democrat who is more concerned with a terrorist's right to privacy than keeping their oath to protect the United States from enemies foreign and domestic. When you cannot tell the difference between a press release by Bin Laden and any ranking Democrat, you know the Democrats are in trouble.
Now that I am middle-aged, a Russian astronomer claims temperatures will peak in six or seven years and that I can look forward to chilly golden years with my grandchildren as we enter a mini ice age. At least his theory makes sense, has a testable timeframe, and explains why Mars has been warming at the same time as the Earth even without mankind, trees, or bovines.
I now have access to my blog again and the comment system should be revamped shortly. Thank you blogrescue.