Thursday, October 20, 2016

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Gainesville Sun edits my letter

The Gainesville Sun made some "slight" revisions to my letter to the editor. Here is the letter I sent in:

Free Money

I came before the County Commission about 2 years ago and asked if there was any doubt that they would increase the bed tax. I was told that no decision would be made unless it could be proven beyond any doubt that any project would be fully justified. Rigorous rules and STRICT business criteria would be followed.

When millions of dollars can be extracted from people who don't live here, you can justify any expenditure. Heck, pay me $50,000 as head of the ACTDA, and I'll whip up a PowerPoint presentation complete with spreadsheets, expert testimony and back-up data to show that the ant farm in my bedroom is an eco-tourist attraction.

No doubt hundreds of hours of staff time at taxpayer expense and many hours of volunteer time, have been expended for each of the requests deemed worthy in an attempt to justify a claim on the booty. Virtually all the participants agree that the tax should be imposed.

What would be funny if it were not so unseemly is to watch commissioners bragging about holding other commissioners' projects "hostage" unless their own pet project is funded. They have already spent the money even before the final vote. To liken this to a pack of laughing hyenas chasing after a hapless water buffalo is an insult to hyenas.

Would there even be any discussion if it were not for the bed tax? No, because without someone else picking up the tab, none of these projects would be viable.

Somehow the notion is abroad that WE won't be paying it. It's like free money just dropped from the sky. Really? I venture to guess that a rather sizable percentage of the nightly and weekly and certainly the monthly stays are, in fact, Gainesville residents.

More to the point, why does the tax apply to a stay of up to six months? Are there non-resident, ball-playing, museum-going, eco-tourists who would stay in a motel for 6 months and thus pay for and reap the rewards of a 5% bed tax?

And finally, here is the vital question that should concern us locally. What happens when whatever projects you decide to "invest" in fail? For example, what if gas prices rise to $6 a gallon and no one drives? Are they going to do what the city did with Ironwood and simply roll it back into the general budget?

Friends, this is an immoral, beggar-thy-neighbor money grab, pure and simple. The folks who will pay this tax are not here to argue against it. It's taxation without representation.

Here is what they printed:

It's like free money

I came before the County Commission about two years ago and asked if there was any doubt that they would increase the bed tax. I was told that no decision would be made unless it could be proven beyond any doubt that any project would be fully justified.

When millions of dollars can be extracted from people who don't live here, you can justify any expenditure.

Somehow the notion is abroad that “we” won't be paying it. It's like free money just dropped from the sky. Really?

This is an immoral, beggar-thy-neighbor money grab, pure and simple. The folks who will pay this tax are not here to argue against it. It's taxation without representation.

George Elmore,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Supreme Court on Campaign Finance

I am not sure why, but it appears that most of the dissension about the recent Supreme Court decision concerning campaign finance comes from the liberal side. Mark Shields was quite literally apoplectic on the News Hour last Thursday saying that now the country is truly doomed. As far as I am concerned, the Court did not go far enough. It should have been a 9-0 decision to toss out all laws governing election advertising.

It's true that the rcent Supreme Court ruling may result in various corporations, unions and large special interest groups spending HUGE amounts on electioneering. Big Oil alone spent some $45 million in one year lobbying Congress. But that amount pales against the amount congressional leaders spend on influencing the votes of its own members. Sure, we know about the $300 million awarded to Louisianna and the virtually unlimited dollars promised to acquire Ben Nelson's vote. We have NO idea how many other deals were cut behind closed doors, but you can bet it was WAY more than the total that was spent by the various special interests to try to influence the outcome of the last election.

Generally speaking corporations may now spend corporate money to try to get their guy elected for the benefit of their shareholders. Rationally they will spend only a fraction of their profits to achieve this goal. They cannot spend too much or the shareholders will bail. At least they have that option. And don't forget that various corporations and large special interests often have conflicting agendas which tend to expose both sides of the argument.

When government uses your and my tax money to buy votes, we're totally screwed. We don't have the option to bail. Oh, sure, we can vote them out, but when? Two years, four years from now? By then the damage is done.

The simple fact is that governments at all levels have tried for decades to "fix" the campaign problem, and they have only succeeded in messing things up. It's that danged troublesome 1st amandment -- always in the way.

What I find interesting is how folks trust the government to come up with "fair" campaign rules. Why on this planet would you think that the folks making the laws about campaign finance would make laws that would hinder their own chances for re-election?

The first amendment was specifically crafted to prohibit any restrictions on political speech. The Supreme Court over the years has differentiated commercial and private speech, but of all the types of speech you may define, the one that is (or should be) sacrosanct is that around elections. Is the electorate so stupid that it cannot wade through all the competing claims to come to a rational decision? I dare say that all 140 million or so voters would tell you that they personally can weed out the lies and misinformation in political ads. What worries them are the other 139,999,999 voters who are not so bright and need to be protected.

The systemic, underlying problem is simply that there is too much money in Washington. There is not and never will be a campaign law that will be successful in limiting the dollars spent on trying to influence election outcomes. As long as you can get all the drugs you want in a maximum security prison, so shall money influence elections.



"An election is nothing more than the advanced auction of stolen goods." - Ambrose Bierce

Friday, December 21, 2007

Why I love the government

by Jimmy

Because mothers are too STUPID to properly care for their children. Because doctors are too STUPID to know how and what medicines to prescribe for their patients. Because parents are too STUPID to know what car seat or toy is safe for their kids. Because we're too STUPID to know how to handle a firearm. Because we're too STUPID to plan for our own retirement. Because parents are too STUPID to know what school to send their kids to. Because we are too STUPID to know what kind of food to eat. Because we are too STUPID to think about our own health care, Because we are so STUPID that we continue driving cars that use too much gas. We're so STUPID that we need a label on an iron warning us not to use it on clothes that we are currently wearing. And we're too STUPID to pay for good art and culture. Quite simply we are too STUPID to take care of ourselves, our parents, our children, our future and our environment.

However, as STUPID as we are, we are able to elect all knowing, all seeing, all caring geniuses who will guide us through the minefield of life on our way to Nirvanatopia. These are the same savants who have saddled us with an ever increasing debt of over $30,000 for every man, woman and child (even those yet unborn) here in the United States. They build bridges to nowhere. They have managed the dollar so well that it is worth about 5% of what it was 80 years ago. The penny postcard now costs 26¢. They have lost the war on poverty, the war on drugs and the Vietnam war. They have made it a felony for a 10 year old to even draw a picture of a gun. They can secretly open all mail, listen in on all conversations and examine all our records for our own protection. They send hordes of petty bureaucrats into our homes and businesses to pester us with a never ending array of rules and regulations, and whose response to any question is a robotic, "I'm just doin' my job." And if you don't like it, they will send an armored SWAT team to your house, bust down your fucking door, tear out your windows and blast your STUPID ass away. You STUPID motherfucker.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Banking "crisis"

On Dec 14, 2007, at 6:35 PM, Curtis wrote to Jimmy:
What' with this big WW banking bailout that's happening right now to the tune of 40 billion/month?
Jimmy replies:
I think they mean a one time charge or infusion of $40 billion. Not every month. $40 billion per month is about 1/2 trillion dollars each year. That doesn't sound right.

Normally, in a truly free market, this would work itself out (self correct) in a matter of months. The problem is that the U.S. gov has decided to wade in and try to forestall the correction.

The banks made some bad loans and they are having to take some write downs on their assets (the collateral behind those loans was not worth what they loaned). Some of the loans had escalator clauses that kicked in after the "teaser" period was up. It's like those credit card checks you get in the mail that say 0% for 6 months and then the rate goes up to the usual 14% to 24%. Ideally on the CC loans, you pay them off before the 6 months are up. Unfortunately a bunch of folks don't.

The same with the housing mortgages. The banks offered 100% financing at a teaser rate of, say, 4% for the first 3 years, and then the rate would go to 6.9% or whatever. Two things happened. #1, here were a bunch of folks who bought a house, not for themselves, but to resell. Call them speculators, call them investors. It doesn't matter. They got the 100% low interest rate mortgage figuring that they could make a profit by selling the house within the 3 year time span. The problem is that too many people decided to do the same thing, and suddenly (#2) there was a housing glut with too many sellers and not enough buyers. Prices dropped. Now these "investors" are owning a house which is not only not worth the financed amount, but they are also looking at a huge rise in their monthly payment. Can't sell and can't pay. It's the "can't pay" that's a problem.

Naturally some legitimate homebuyers/owners with less than sterling credit got scooped up in the net. These are the hard luck stories that Congress is attempting to address. They will fail. They will only prolong the pain as they did during the depression of the 30's.

A possible larger problem is that real investors do not like uncertainty. They are not looking for capital appreciation. Only a reasonable, steady, predictable return. Foreign governments hold over $2 trillion of U.S. Treasury debt on the presumption that the dollar will pretty much hold its value relative to their own currencies. If they see massive volatility in the U.S. markets, they may just decide to dump their dollar reserves. In the past three (maybe 4) years the dollar has gone from .88 per Euro to $1.44 per Euro. That's a 75% increase. Gold has increased about a third. This is not good news in such a short time. When you dump dollars, you can only do it by buying something else that you perceive as more stable. The price of those things will rise relative to the dollar as more and more people jump the dollar ship.

For every seller of dollars there must be a buyer, so how do you get the seller to part with his non dollar asset in exchange for dollars. Why, you offer him more, of course. This is called a price increase, or, if the Fed has expanded the money supply, (it has) then it's called inflation. People will deal with gradual, sneaky inflation. They will panic when it's obvious and rapid.

Jimmy is buying gold on Monday.