Prisons, Hypocrisy and In-Depth Sporting Analysis…

This just in: Obama’s Buffett Rule was shot down in the senate…according to plan.

This is a the rule that says “If you make more than $1 million in a year, you will have a minimum tax rate of 30%.”  (I pay about 35%) No one thought this had a chance.  So why put it up for a vote?  Simple – to make the Republicans go on record as voting against a tax plan that would hurt only the rich.

Politics just being politics.

Here is a link to an article about how some companies lobbied against a simpler tax system simply because they make money helping people with a tax system that is complicated.  Forget about loopholes.  Just make filling out the tax forms easier and I’ll be a lot happier.  My son needed help filing his tax forms.  He made some money working at a coffee shop and was using the easiest forms to file.  It took us 2 HOURS!.  These things are so confusing.  There are cross references and “if-then” loops that make me wonder how those in charge of such forms can sit back and say, “My what a fine job we did with these forms.”

On the economics page...

Who said: “People say that reducing inequality is radical. I think that tolerating the level of inequality the United States tolerates is radical.”  This is a statement made by two awarded economists.  Here is an interesting article by and about them.

California is one of several states in bad shape economically.  There are two things they can do to fix this right now.

First, they can change our labor laws to match the rest of the country.  Companies have been leaving California in droves for more than a decade.  Why, because the labor laws cause employees to work more and be paid less.  At the same time, companies cannot retain or recruit quality workers because the labor laws are almost designed to make that impossible. We could also reduce traffic by 20% without spending a dime.  It’s all in our labor laws.

Second, fix the prison system.

I had a conversation with my son the other day about a question posed to him in his economics class.  The question was, “What do you do with someone who is found in possession of cocaine?”

The laws will give you a very specific answer.  1 pound of cocaine = punishment X

The problem is that “punishment X” is the wrong punishment.  It is either too harsh or too liberal…in every case.

Think about it.  The punishment is designed to be a deterrent – prevent the crime before it occurs.  However, we all have different motivations for our actions and thus require different deterrents.  Was the person an addict?  Were they going to sell it?  Maybe they were blackmailed into handling it.  Maybe they needed money for their child’s operation.

I can’t imagine the same deterrent would be equally effective for someone who carried cocaine for greed and for someone who carried it to save their child. And yet we pretend that the punishment always fits the crime.

My point is that the punishment is not a suitable deterrent.  So either fix that, or look elsewhere.  For example, ask yourself  “What would the crime rate be in the inner cities if we gave hope to the poor living there instead of buying car elevators for the super rich?”

Ask yourself, “Which is a better way to fight drugs: (1) cut off the supply or (2) cut off the demand?”  Hint: Cut off the supply and drug prices rise causing new “venders” to enter the market.

There has to be a reason that we have far more people in jails than any other modern country.  Note: If California had ZERO prisons, our budget would be a surplus.

On the Hypocrisy page…

Remember how Ann Romney was “outraged” by the statement a single person working for CNN made.  The comment was that “Ann Romney never worked a day in her life.”  Now, this comment has now been thrown over Obama’s head, even though the person saying it has nothing to do with Obama.  However, Ann Romney was outraged.  She was so outraged that she called the statement  an “early birthday present” when speaking with a bunch of Republican fund-raisers.  Here is a link to more detail.

On the sporting page…

Baseball season is well underway.  For those of you unfamiliar with the sport, this is where teams pretend to compete and then, at the end of the season, we give a trophy to the team that spent the most money.

I think basketball and Hockey are still playing in case anyone is watching.

Let me wrap up both of these sports with one sentence apiece.

Basketball: Kobe Bryant did something.

Hockey: There was a team-building fight after the game.

I’m waiting for football season.

Time to get in line for my flight.

But first…your quote for the day: “The massive prison construction represents a commitment by our nation to plan for social failure by spending billions of dollars to lock up hundreds of thousands of people while at the same time cutting billions of dollars
from programs that would provide opportunity to young Americans.”  – Steven Donzinger

Want to save the world?  Step one – rid yourself of fear.  Step two – help someone else to the same.  Repeat.

Up, up and away…

jim

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