Doing your job

With the recent events about the economy and how John McCain hurried back to Washington to help out in the deal, I started think about politicians doing the job they were elected to do. The presidential candidates and vice-presidential candidates are campaigning when they are supposed to be in Washington doing their jobs. We, the taxpayers, are paying for their new “job search” and paying them for not doing their current job. McCain and Obama should have resigned their positions in order to campaign for president as they are both doing a disservice to their states. Campaigning appears to be a full time job; how can the presidential candidates listen to the discussions in senate and participate if they aren’t there? Yes, McCain and Obama came back to throw in their two cents on the bailout, but where have they been for all the other discussions? I can watch the discussions on C-SPAN, but does that mean I’m participating? No.

Speaking of politicians doing their jobs, if you look at the official house calendar, congressmen (and congresswomen) only work 9 months out of the year. I suspect they are supposed to be talking to their constituents the rest of the time, but does that really happen? Why do we pay these people so much to do so little? Oh, it’s because they make the laws.

Health insurance solution

Both John McCain and Barack Obama have ideas on how to handle universal health care. Both plans are pretty weak in my opinion. McCain’s plan talks about giving each person a $2,500 tax credit to pay for insurance. That doesn’t pay for squat and requires that individuals actually qualify for insurance. As someone with a pre-existing condition (ulcerative colitis), I’m not sure that I could quality for an individual plan which would put me up a creek or leave me stuck with the plan for those that can’t afford insurance even after the tax credit. While I pay a significant amount for health insurance now, I get decent care.

Obama’s plan may sound a little better, but where on this earth is the money going to come from to pay for it? The government has already taken on a significant amount of debt with this financial bailout.

So my solution is quite simple; now that the federal government is going to own a very large insurance company (AIG) that sells insurance, use that to provide universal health insurance for everyone. Since we’ve already bitten the bullet to waste taxpayer money bailing out private companies, why not use that to their advantage?

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Maybe I should run for political office. Nah, no party would support me as my views are all over the board and I manage to offend everyone. I guess that’s what happens when I’m a free thinker and actually think about issues on an issue by issue basis instead of doing what my “party” tells me to do.

Cycle of fuel costs

The price of oil took a nice nose dive today. The news says that this is in part to expected higher inflation which is attributed to higher fuel costs thus lowering demand. If the price of fuel decreases because of this, will people use more fuel and therefore drive the price of oil up again? While I hope not, thinking about that kind of cycle makes my head spin.

Congress caused the gas price problem

In the president’s radio address this past weekend, he blamed Congress for high gas prices. He thinks that drilling everywhere is going to bring the prices down. Boy, and people actually elected this guy president? The high prices couldn’t be caused by supply and demand (lots of demand around the world), the war in Iraq (takes a lot of gas to fuel those military vehicles), or the world hating us (I’m sure Venezuela and other countries would pump out more oil if they didn’t hate us or more specifically the president so much)? Drilling everywhere isn’t the solution to anything; it may help in the medium term (starting to drill today won’t lower prices next week), but there is only a limited supply of oil in the world. If you want to blame Congress, blame the Congress that rolled over 20-30 years ago by not pushing for higher fuel economy for cars and trucks. The auto makers just didn’t want to spend the money back then to produce more efficient cars and congress didn’t act to force them to do it.

How many days do we have until this guy is out of office?

Taxing those that can’t do math

The latest attempt at getting out of California’s budget problems is to increase marketing of the lottery. Someone once told me that the lottery is for those that can’t do math as the odds of winning a substantial payout are astronomical. So the state is hoping that those that can’t afford to spend money on the lottery buy more lottery tickets. I’m not saying that those that can afford it don’t play, but my gut tells me that many of those that do play can’t really afford it, but hope that just the next ticket will be the big one (it never is). What a brilliant plan; I’m once again impressed my our government.

My partial solution (not just to the state’s money problem, but all government money problems) is to tax each person that has served an elected office for each year that he served. Some amount, like $10,000, would be a start. Those in office currently or in the past got us into the mess that we’re in now. I’m sure that this will go over real well with the politicians. This won’t solve everything, but it may make politicians think twice before wasting our tax dollars.

If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say it

Everyone has heard that if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, don’t say it. Well, I guess politicians haven’t heard this saying. In your local city council race, a former local news personality is going up against an unknown CPA. The new personality (Marti Emerald) has sent campaign mailers touting what she has done and what she will do. Her opponent (there are a few other candidates, but these are the top 2), April Boling has only sent us campaign flyers that sling mud at her opponent. What kind of campaigning is that? We know nothing about her and she just wants to say what Marti Emerald isn’t. If the signs around the neighborhood are indicative of the outcome of the race, Marti will win by a landslide.

Misspoke or lying?

On today’s news, there was a story about Hillary Clinton’s multiple recounts of her trip to Bosnia when she was under sniper fire. After that was proven to be false, she said she misspoke. There are certain things in your life that you’re unlikely to forget; I’d think that getting shot at would definitely be one of them. Can we actually believe anything else she has said?

Can we end non-binding resolutions?

The US House of Representatives this week apparently passed a resolution saying that China should talk to the Dalai Lama (which, of course, has pissed off the Chinese). This resolution carries no weight and means nothing. However, it took time for our lawmakers to draft it and pass it. Why do our elected officials waste our taxpayer money with this stuff that means nothing? They are lawmakers, not resolution makers.

I’d love to see a law get passed that makes it illegal to propose and pass resolution with steep fines as penalties. There is enough work for lawmakers to do without futzing around with stuff that doesn’t do anything.

The tax man taketh

It is time for me to pay my taxes again. As someone that is self-employed, I have to pay quarterly estimated taxes, so this happens 4 times a year. One of the things that gets me (it’s a mental thing) is paying taxes in such huge chunks. Salaried employees have taxes withheld and in theory, the total withholdings equals the total tax, so the money comes out in small increments and people don’t end up with a huge tax bill. Being self-employed, my income varies each year. If I have a good year, I end up with a big fat bill. If I have a year worse than the previous year, I get a refund.

Enough about the technical side of paying taxes. When I write the check (figuratively, not literally as I pay my taxes online so the check doesn’t get lost in the mail), I always think about what my taxes buy me. Really, nothing that helps me. You might be asking, what about the roads I drive on? Or the police? Or the fire department? OK, I’ll give you that, but isn’t some of that funded by sales tax, property taxes, and state income tax? What is the federal government giving me? Here’s my list:

  • 1 war in Iraq
  • 1 war in Afghanistan
  • 1 partially finished border fence
  • 1 bailout of Bear Stearns
  • 1 bailout of “greedy” lenders and borrowers (hey, the news used the word “greedy” last night to describe them)
  • 1 fleet of very, very expensive presidential helicopters (now costing something like $11 billion when the budget was $6 billion)
  • 1 questionable detention facility in Cuba
  • And lots more stuff that doesn’t do me any good…

Wow, with that list, I should be more than happy to give the government more money! I reluctantly pay my taxes because if I didn’t, they’d nail me faster than Al Capone.

Hypocritical government

This shouldn’t be news to most, but our government is quite hypocritical. Today I was reading about a bunch of men that were arrested in Saudi Arabia for flirting with women. They were arrested by the religious police. Here is a country that has no religious freedom and is a dictatorship, ummm, I mean kingdom. Yet, the US considers Saudi Arabia an ally and hasn’t made moves to invade it. The US has tried to intervene in other countries that are dictatorships and have governments that the US doesn’t like, but because Saudi Arabia has oil and is strategically placed, the US keeps it as a bed buddy. Is Saudi Arabia any different than communist governments or say Cuba?