Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trolling my site again: Taxes, Democrats and more

I want to reiterate this again. I am in essence "trolling" my site. Also, when I troll, I don't normally provide facts or figures. I am just bloviating. I am diverging from my main focus of software development and entering into other realms. To me, technology is easy. Politics is infinitely "complex". In the back of my mind, I think everything is related. For example, with the legislative talk of tax cuts and stimulus and jobs, no one talks about the reinvigorating our work force. We could do that with a focus on technology and education. We could encourage math, physics and engineering programs at the high school level and push incentives to enter into technology program as opposed to "the Arts". But that is another issue that I won't address in this post.

I really want to address the tax cuts and all of that. I guess I will have to profess, I lean more Ron Paul Libertarian. The stuff makes sense. The recent tax cut issue is one of those Libertarian classic topics. And I will make two points.

Point-1. If you are rich or poor, really really rich or poor, you should be entitled to keep your own stuff. It is your stuff. Yours yours yours. The income you receive, however you got it, is yours. Yours.

If you are given a toy or a Christmas card or a car. It is your car, your toy, whatever. We shouldn't have an third party entity (the federal government) make an

Point-2. The American government is one of the richest, most powerful organizations to have ever existed. Not only can we invade another nation (in two weeks), and not even declare war, we can occupy that nation for decades. We have set up hundreds of proxy governments all over the world. The massive amount of American influence is mind boggling. So, why why why are so many Americans excited to fund more federal government. If you let tax cuts expire, raise taxes, then you hand over more money to an organization with a trillion dollar budget. You are taking a small percentage of income from millions of rich American and handing it over to a couple hundred rich politicians so that they hand it over to poor Americans. Now that I said it, it seems that directly asking rich people (like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg) to distribute their wealth to poor is a lot better way to distribute wealth than relying of the federal government to do it. Bill Gates can give a poor person hundred thousand dollars without any restrictions (and he has done this). It takes the federal government so long to do anything. Some poor aren't even poor by the time they receive their benefits (bureaucracy). Worse yet, the poor weren't poor to begin with (fraud). But But!! Reaganomics doesn't work. Supply-side, trickle-down economics does not work. It is funny to hear pundits use this language. I guess it doesn't work if you don't actually define what particular aspect of the strategy works or doesn't. I could say, "computers don't work". That doesn't make much sense but it is a valid declaration. "Computers and speech recognition software doesn't work well at understanding garbled speech". OK, that is better. I wish pundits would identify what aspect of lower taxes doesn't work. Right now, they are saying that lower taxes and supply-side economics doesn't create jobs. I don't know if any government policy outside of hiring federal workers (see the recent Census), can actually create jobs. I hope that good economic policy can encourage growth and then companies will hire new workers. It seems a little bit too simplistic to directly attribute Congress and the White House to jobs created or not created in the private sector. I would trust the GDP growth figures during one time period or another. I would trust federal revenue figures. Government policy has an impact on those numbers. Pundits are suggesting that the Bush policies, supply-side economics didn't create jobs. I looked at the GDP growth figures and the job numbers, they number are lower over time during the Bush years. At least the growth rates are lower. And during the Clinton years, there was more economic stability. But, were the economics of those times the result of White House policy or just the events of those time periods. The average GDP growth rate went down over time during the Bush years. But there was a lot of stuff happening. There was 9/11, Katrina, the Iraq/Afghan wars. I would suggest that long wars and major unplanned catastrophes contributed to a loss GDP. We can't tell if it was the cause, but it certainly was a factor. I can't say that tax cuts contributed to GDP growth loss.

I will be honest, I don't care as much as some should, what our government does or does not do. I don't receive unemployment. I don't have kids in the public education system. I don't have close family in the military. I am more a silent observer. To me (I am sitting here up high), I don't understand the premise behind the peons (the poor and middle-class) wanting to take money from the rich peons (the 250k+ households) and giving it to...the federal government (the trillion dollar organization).

I know, I know. If you take money from the greedy rich, then the government will give that money directly to the poor. And the poor will then be rich too. Not only has that never happened. It couldn't possibly happen. The entire premise of wealth distribution is impossible with how the system works. This is not the 1700s. We are not under the rule of some oligarchy. It is 2010. There are 300+ million Americans, some of them have fixed incomes. They work at hourly rates and in salaried positions. If you really wanted to fix a problem. I would start with Wal-mart and McDonald's. They employ 2 million Americans. You could look at retail and fast food chains as well. A lot of Americans work in low-paying jobs. The problem are these corporations that use American slave labor to fund their operations. But they are operating within the law.

We need to tell people NOT to take these low paying jobs. It is such a cost ineffective decision. Once you work at these places, that is less time that you could spend to further your education and building your real value. Your brain is a valuable, valuable commodity. You are not leveraging your resources by doing jobs that machines can do. And what have they done, Wal-mart and the retail companies have introduced machines to do the work that normally people would do. The self check-out is a good example. As opposed to paying someone five or six dollars to manage a register, they added a camera system, an easy to use bar-code scanner and there you go, jobs are replaced. And like most major corporations, they don't slim down their work force with the added productivity from the robots. No, the corporations normally just put humans on jobs that a machine can't do. The Wal-mart greeter that says "hello" when you enter the store is a good example. Seriously, Wal-mart uses productivity gains to make more money not to become a smaller organization. If you notice, the people that work at Target and Wal-mart are all equipped with radios and scanner guns. Wal-mart didn't get rid the people because of technology advances, they just shifted resources. And once again, Walmart is well within the bounds of the law to do so. With the might of 1.8 million employees (and McDonald's has 500,000), they seem to be growing and not shrinking. And human slavery is cheap, the average salary at Wal-mart is $11 a hour. Wal-mart employees are not paid a lot and Wal-mart has a lot of employees. So if you distribute that $11 salary across the 1.8 million works, you could employ all of those workers for 20 million dollars. That is nothing for the type of business that Wal-mart does. My theory is highly, highly suspect. But I hope you get my point. It is very cost effective for Wal-mart to hire people for those menial jobs and cost ineffective for the person that works there.

I want to go back to my point, there are a lot of people that work for these mega-corporations. They don't get paid a lot. And a lot of Americans are fighting to work for these places. You see the same human rights issues and social engineering in China and India. I guess it is different in America because these corporations are huge. Plus, we tend to have better marketing. How can you be mad at McDonald's, the corporation's mascot is a big clown in a yellow jump suit? Who cares that it takes half a work day for their employees to buy food from the restaurant that they work at? Not a well-seared rib-eye steak and champagne from a top New York restaurant. No, two big mac combos at McDonald's can still be a bit pricey. In America, it isn't just one broken down factory. We are looking at a hundreds of thousands, a million jobs. And all of their employees aren't making 250k a year. No amount of federal government intervention will substantially push up the hourly wage of a Wal-mart employee.

I am still swinging around back to my point. So we have this slave labor thing that is happening in America. It is bad and probably a lack of government is at fault, but it doesn't mean that we increase taxes on the higher income earners. The taxes probably won't be distributed to the really poor. The increase government revenue will get spent on earmarks and defense. I don't know what the legal procedures are with taxes and the deficit, but the reason we even have a deficit out of control spending. Tax cuts or lack of tax cuts still don't change the government's trillion dollar budget. If you want to address the deficit problem, I would cut non-vital government functions. I don't know have fifty thousand troops in Japan is a vital government function, when Japanese people don't want us there. I found it funny that the Congressional Budget Office included speculative revenue that they would have received from tax revenue if the Bush tax cuts expired in their figures for why the deficit is so large. It would be like suing an employer that never hired you, suing for funds that you should have received if you worked for them. The federal government includes tax revenue that "they should have" received. And guess what, I am excited to tell you, that there is a US debt ceiling. So, once the federal government has too much debt, then the government will shutdown. But it isn't like the ceiling in your house, where the height of the ceiling is mostly at a fixed position. No, the Congress can raise the ceiling. Is the power to raise the debt ceiling some hidden aspect of our law. No, they raise it every couple of years. The debt ceiling is set around 14 trillion dollars and they plan on raising the value in a couple of months. Also, if we reach the debt ceiling and Congress does not raise it, I am still a little suspect that government will actually shutdown. They will just create another law to subvert the government shutdown (probably).

I know, the Democratic position is to fight for tax increases on the upper income earners. It is Democratic dogma. It is Republican dogma to fight against those tax increases. To the Republicans, if the Democrats don't budge and you won't budge, I am surprised you don't look at other ways to decrease taxes (see Obama's recent tax framework). I wouldn't mind increases in other areas. We could start with increases for mega corporations. We should create a tax just for BP and their negligence in the oil spill. So, we can get more tax revenue, fix the deficit and make everyone happy. People just have to be more creative. But my position does still stand, I still feel those greedy, greedy rich people should be able to keep as much of their money as the law allows. And yes, rich people have the power to avoid taxes. And sometimes, we have tax limits in the tax code that make it unfair for the regular people. For example, there are limits on the payroll taxes that you pay. With the FICA tax (Federal Insurance Contributions), you are not taxed on income earned from capital gains/sale of a stock trade. So the tax code hasn't caught up to trends in our economy. If that is unfair, then change the code so that the really rich pay their fare share. Remove the tax limits or address capital gains. Now everyone is happy.

Up next, a post about machine learning and Numenta's nupic!

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