Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rant: Feds - cut spending NOW

Federal revenue never exceeds 20% of GDP. We’re over 18% now. Doesn’t matter who you squeeze how, the feds aren’t getting more than about another 1% GDP - which is about $140B, nowhere near “enough”.

Given that, the next obvious thought is to raise GDP. Start with the fact that GDP fell for the first time in ‘09, then consider that for ~15 years before that it rose at $500B/yr. At this point, just getting back to normal growth would be a remarkable accomplishment - and would net another $100B/yr annual growth in revenue, again nowhere near enough. Outer-limits SWAG is doubling long-term GDP growth, growing revenue by a still-inadequate $200B instead.

So squeezing hard and stimulating fast, while munching skittles falling from rainbows whilst perched on a unicorn’s back, the best we could Hope(TM) for is $340B new revenue. Meh.

Washington is spending $1500B more of our money than they're getting. For the most optimistic schemes offered, they'll still spend over a trillion dollars more than there is to, putting us and our children on the hook for not just paying off tens (hundreds?) of trillions of dollars, but making our kids pay the interest bill as well with money they'll need for other things and no reason to pay for our folly.

That leaves...50% across-the-board spending cuts.

Stock up & hunker down, this ain’t gonna be pretty.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Movie: The Omega Man

I'd like to say that this was - was - an intelligent well made movie befitting it's time, and that that time has passed and, alas, it has not aged well. I'd like to, but alas I snuck a peek just moments ago at Roger Ebert's then-current review, and find it is what it was: a well intentioned story bogged down in the ways of that age of storytelling, no less compelling today than it was then.

Of late, the then-uncredited novel "I Am Legend" has been remade into a telling a bit more believable. A bit. The core difficulty with this story, aside from creating a convincing world for the protagonist and all the technology and talent needed, is getting the zombies right. Heston's foes were too smart to be that stupid, and Smith's foes were too dumb to be that smart. The rest of the tale then struggles to cope with the resulting cognitive whiplash.

Given the intelligence and wit of "World War Z" (movie version pending with trepidation), I'm exploring the zombie genre in hopes of finding comparable competence. Some, like "The Omega Man", are obligatory viewing in this study. Obligatory, however, does not denote worthwhile.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rant: A sponge only soaks up so much

For 2011,
· Revenue: $2.17T
· Spending: $3.82T
· Debt: $14.56T
Assuming all else remains unchanged[1], we’d have to cut federal spending by $2.14T – that’s 56% – to eliminate the debt in 30 years.
What’s that? “Increase taxes on the rich!” I hear, over and over?
... if individuals earning more than $200,000 were taxed at a 100 percent marginal rate–and we confiscated their passports so they could not flee–the take would come to $1.27 trillion, or just 77 percent of this year’s deficit.
- Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute
Ok, for sake of argument, raise taxes on the “rich” to 100%[2]. Kicking ballpark numbers around, that leaves $0.41T in cuts – real cuts, not “rate of increase cuts” – in spending just to stop the deficit hemorrhaging. We need another $0.49T in cuts – real cuts – to pay off the debt in a very generous 30 years.
So, ball back to the Democrats' court: going whole-hog 100% “tax the rich” nets about $1.27T, and the deficit is still out of control. What $0.90T in spending cuts is the Left willing to offer? This amounts to the minimum amount of spending cuts[3] we need to make now just to clean up this mess[4] over the next generation.
Sure, it’s more complicated than that – but that’s the core framework to operate from. If we tax “the rich” (loosely defined) to the point of running out of other people’s money, we see the minimum steps required just to start moving in the right direction.
One alternative to cutting spending is, of course, to increase revenue. But how? Consider:
As a result of reducing taxes on the rich, the rich got much richer — so much so that they wound up paying nearly four times as much total tax (and nearly three times as much tax per rich person) as when taxes were higher.
- http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/271013/folly-soaking-rich-mario-loyola#
“It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now … Cutting taxes now is not to incur a budget deficit, but to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which can bring a budget surplus.”
– John F. Kennedy, Nov. 20, 1962
Your move.
1 - note that spending, in most cases, increases faster than revenue. Therein lies the core problem: political unwillingness to spend less than revenue.
2 - ignoring the agreed fact that increasing taxes on the rich slows the economy, and going to 100% would drive subsequent revenues to $0. This is reducto ad absurdum exercise in identifying how far each side is willing/capable to go.
3 - that’s real cuts, not “reductions in increase”. That’s next year and ongoing from that, not “over 10 years”.
4 - “this mess” is here, and continual pointing fingers years into the past at debatable causes doesn’t clean it up now.

Rant: Conspiracy of Oz

Legend has this quote:

Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets and then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again.
~ Rick Polito, Marin Independent Journal's TV listing for "The Wizard of Oz"

A co-worker's retort is too good to let fade:
I have always thought that Glinda was the real villain in the story. She could have sent Dorothy home right off the bat, but nooo- she was secretly plotting the demise of two of her world leaders- The Witch of the West and Oz. (She had already lived to see another foe destroyed, The Witch of the East.) I mean, the Witch of the West just wanted her now deceased sister’s magic shoes. Why wouldn’t she be angry when the person who just dropped a house on her sibling stole them from her? Dorothy was but an unwitting pawn in Glinda’s machinations to set up puppet governments (Scarecrow got Oz, The Tin Woodsman got Winkie Land in the east) all over the world and rule from on high in the North.