What I Like about Scrooge

A pretty neat article on Slate, contributed by the one and only Womanofthelaw.

In this whole world, there is nobody more generous than the miser—the man who could deplete the world’s resources but chooses not to. The only difference between miserliness and philanthropy is that the philanthropist serves a favored few while the miser spreads his largess far and wide.

If you build a house and refuse to buy a house, the rest of the world is one house richer. If you earn a dollar and refuse to spend a dollar, the rest of the world is one dollar richer—because you produced a dollar’s worth of goods and didn’t consume them.

Two Americas

Well, I guess John Edwards was right – there really are two Americas. The thing is, they don’t fall along the lines of the “haves” and “have not’s.” In looking at the election map, there’s something incredibly striking about it… namely the overwhelming sea of red across the middle of the country.

I sit in Massachusetts. All I see around me – hearing from friends, talking to coworkers, signs, bumperstickers – is drastically anti-Bush. I’ve overheard (and participated in) a number of political arguments, and there always seems to be a *pervasive* anti-Bush sentiment in them, from at least one participant. (not me… I was happy to see that Badnarik at least got 1% of the vote in MA)

But, looking at the map, this place is clearly out of touch. Just look at the map. There are blue states squished to the sides and top of the country, and then just an army of red states. I hear people say things like “I can’t imagine how someone would vote for Bush” or “No educated person could ever vote for Bush.” Well, look at the map. Is it true that all of those states are full of “uneducated” people?

There must be two Americas, and I honestly have no idea what the other one is like… but it sure seems big.

John Kerry is Borderline Retarded

I must admit that when choosing between watching the Red Sox game and the debate, I’ve chosen the Red Sox game. I don’t regret it either. At least with the game I’m watching people who are actually the best in the country at their particular profession compete against one another.

During commercials, I’ve flipped to the debate just to get a feel of what’s going on. Maybe it’s just my timing, but Ive heard a few social issues talked about – like gay marriage and abortion – and neither candidate really took a stand to differentiate themselves from the other. A few times now I’ve caught them talking about economics, where Kerry has without a doubt proven that he would do nothing but further the damage to this country’s economy.

Raise the minimum wage? Hey great idea. Sure, you just force companies to pay people more, they pull that magical money out of the air, and voila people making minimum wage earn more money. I didn’t hear anyone (including Bush, who probably doesn’t know any better) bring up how many jobs are lost when the minimum wage gets raised. No mention either of how, if a company can’t cut jobs, a raise in minimum wage simply results in increased prices on goods and services. So, the struggling single parent is working at a fast food joint. The minimum wage gets raised and one of two things happen: 1) The restaurant has to clamp down on hiring, since every employee must be paid that much more money (ie. fewer jobs), or 2) The restaurant simply raises the cost of the food it sells. The landlord of that single parent now has to pay more for his/her hamburger. Stuff costs more. Time to raise the rent!

Then I went on to hear Kerry’s equally simplistic solutions for health care costs and social security. Honestly, these are the two best candidates America has to offer?

What a nuisance

Kerry is getting blasted by Republicans, mostly out of context, for referring to terrorism as a nuisance.

“We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives but they’re a nuisance,”

“As a former law enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling,”

Now, I really don’t think Kerry is referring to terrorism as a “nuisance” right now. I think it’s clear that what he’s saying that he’d like to supress terrorism completely, but is conceeding that it will probably never totally disappear.

My main issue is that he’s comparing this stuff to gambling and prostitution. So, we have no social liberals running for office? As a social liberal myself, I want to see gambling and prostitution made f’n legal. Apparently the supposed liberal candidate thinks they’re a nuisance – on the order of terrorism going forward, I guess.

Tonight's upcoming debate

Tonight’s debate is going to suck. As I mentioned in my VP debate post, what we’re going to hear tonight is more talk from two politicians who think they are responsible for creating jobs, improving the economy, and spending the private sector’s money to solve the private sector’s problems.

What might possibly be interesting is Badnarik’s claim that he’s either going to debate tonight or be arrested. That article would be more appropriately titled “Badnarik will be arrested tonight.”

I’m not sure if this story will make the news, or it will just be a small-time unmentionable story, dismissed as a sideshow – like most third parties.

Debate #2: The VPs

I have to admit that I didn’t see this whole debate (I missed about the first 40 minutes) but from what I saw it was -as I expected- entirely more fulfilling than was the first presidential debate. There were some great shots taken at one another’s expense. In addition, each participant was much more well-spoken than the presidential candidates.

Some parts ticked me off, namely:

  • Cheney kept moving around and muffling his microphone. They should have just given them mics on a stand or something.
  • Edwards’ mouth moves in bizarre ways. Tell me that’s not aggravating.
  • Damned if I know where all of those statistics are coming from. At one point I think Edwards mentioned the number of domestic jobs lost was one-point-something million, and then said there were over two million manufacturing jobs lost. Beats me. Wouldn’t manufacturing jobs be a subset of the domestic jobs? Maybe I misunderstood. Then Cheney comes back with millions of other jobs created. It’s ridiculous and confusing.
  • The “outsourcing” issue. Kerry and Edwards sound more afraid of outsourcing than Pat Buchanan. I know it sounds great that they want to close all of these “loopholes” but let’s see what happens then. Oh, well, the fact that labor is cheaper in other countries still doesn’t change. Take that away from our companies and chop us off at the legs. After competing on a non-level playing field with the rest of the world, I can’t imagine any company wouldn’t seriously consider up and leaving the US and it’s heavy corporate taxes and regulations, and take even more jobs with it. The outsourcing argument is, in my opinion, such an outrageous scare tactic that it really bothers me when people bring it up as this big evil operation. If you want to keep jobs in the US, buy US products. If you hate outsourcing, don’t buy from companies who outsource. There are plenty of watchdog groups out there (as well as the media) so it’s no secret who these companies are. Having the government prevent outsourcing will do nothing but cost us jobs.
  • Job “creation.” Here’s something you’ll never hear in the debates – the government does not create jobs. Hey, I’ll go even a step further – the government does not make the economy good. I don’t want the government to try to do either anyhow – they inevitably screw it up. Every stupid interest rate change announcement throughs the economy in a tailspin. The government should make sure we have an adequate framework for conducting business – not overtax, not overregulate, and let the private sector do what it does best. That is to create and destroy jobs as needed to cater to the needs of consumers worldwide. Cheney seemed like he almost wanted to say it, but if a former CEO is afraid to say it, then I can only assume we’ll never hear a politician make that case. They’ll both continue to take credit for creating jobs, and blame each other when jobs are lost.
  • No one seems to have a reasonable solution to health care (where reasonable is defined as the solution I’d most like to see). It’s more of the same – throw government money at it. If we keep this nonsense up, I’m going to have to start punching every smoker and fat person I know. Hey buddy, pay for your own unhealthy lifestyle.

On a similar note, I read this article today about the FDA letting Vioxx out the door even though it had dangerous side effects. Now let me ask a question – what do you conclude from reading a story like this? My hunch is that politicians, and maybe even most Americans, think that means “we’d better give the FDA more money, possibly even pass some ‘reform’ because they’re not doing a very good job.” How many people look at that and think – “what a useless piece of garbage the FDA is? Why are we still throwing money at them? Drug prices skyrocket as companies go through years of federal regulations and hoops to get drugs to market, only to have this happen?” I don’t think many people think that way. I don’t hear many politicians talking that way. It’s more of the same – we’re not doing a good job, but if we spent more money everything would be great (hmmm… I believe that’s their answer to education also).

Okay, so it turns out the debate got me fairly fired up. I think that’s a sign of a good debate. Again, on most of the important issues I think neither candidate is for me. Cheney’s line about saying the first time he ever met Edwards was on the stage, calling him out for not showing up on the job, was f’n great. I was hoping Cheney would drop the f-bomb during the debate, but since that didn’t happen I think at least that comment was pretty close.

I think Edwards’ strongest technique was in appealing to the American people – talking directly to them at times. At first I thought it was annoying, but it grew on me and I think it was pretty compelling in the end.

Debate #1

I know everyone is eager to hear my thoughts on the debate (sarcasm), so here they come. The debate has just ended, so I don’t know what everyone else is going to say, but generally I’ve been re-assured that neither candidate is right for me. When I hear them both argue about how much money they are spending or want to spend, it makes me violently ill.

My thoughts on Kerry:
– The “outsourcing” comment about capturing Bin Laden was a fairly cheap shot, and not witty enough that even Sharpton would consider saying it.
– He spent a lot of time trying to explain how his viewpoint on the war was consistent – I think with moderate success. He did spend so much time explaining himself that it almost came off sounding negative, though.
– After being beaten up by fellow veterans about Vietnam, for some reason he still insists on bringing it up frequently.
– He is clearly a better speaker than Bush.
– He made a great point in attacking Bush for saying that, knowing what he knows now, he would have done things exactly the same. I would think that even if Bush was trying to keep the troops’ spirits up, he’d at least concede that something really should have been done differently.
– Not sure if it’s totally accurate, but the argument about Iraq being more of a terrorist haven now than it was before is pretty damaging. Bush did little to disprove that.

Thoughts on Bush:
– A local political radio host said earlier in the week that the expectations of Bush doing well in this debate were so low, that the only way he would fail to meet them is if he “picked his nose and ate it.” Since that didn’t happen, I guess it’s safe to say he at least lived up to expectations.
– By pretending to take notes when Kerry spoke (I watched the NBC feed which showed the split screen and reaction shots) I think that was more appealing than some of Kerry’s reactions. Definitely better than watching Kerry’s phony, exaggerated smile.
– He overemphasized the “Wrong war, wrong time” line to the point where I believe he used it to rebut an unrelated argument.
– I thought he gave an excellent answer to the question of whether or not the war was “worth it” with regard to lost lives. It was poorly delivered (as is most of what Bush says) but it had good substance and in the end he gave a clear answer – “yes.” Kerry’s rebuttal pretty much allowed him to skirt that question and he did not provide a yes/no answer.
– His arguments about America making their own decisions about defense and treaties (like the international court thing) appealed to me, and I think were somehwat damaging to Kerry.

In general, I think they spent too much time bickering over details. Bush got 75% of Al Qaeda, but not UBL. Kerry wants bi-lateral talks with Korea and Bush doesn’t. Both felt it was America’s duty to disarm Saddam. Both love spending money. Both are pro-troops (as is mostly everyone). Whoop-dee-do.

I don’t think the debate had a pure winner, only because of the topic. If the next debate is about social issues I think that will be more interesting. I think Bush will have a tough time with that.