Thursday, October 30, 2008

Answer the Question!!! (Part 1)

If you watched the Presidential debates, then you were probably as frustrated as I was when listening to our two Presidential candidates "answer" questions. It is almost as if they are allergic to answers. Just to give you an example, here was one of my favorite exchanges. The "answers" are long, so I will start with Obama's "answer" and then will post McCain's "answer". Also, I could not resist commenting on various paragraphs, so I put the "answers" in italics and my comments in plain font.


Since World War II, we have never been asked to sacrifice anything to help our country, except the blood of our heroic men and women. As president, what sacrifices -- sacrifices will you ask every American to make to help restore the American dream and to get out of the economic morass that we're now in?


You know, a lot of you remember the tragedy of 9/11 and where you were on that day and, you know, how all of the country was ready to come together and make enormous changes to make us not only safer, but to make us a better country and a more unified country.”

You know when an "answer" starts like this, you are in for a very long, answer-free tangent.

“And President Bush did some smart things at the outset, but one of the opportunities that was missed was, when he spoke to the American people, he said, "Go out and shop."

“That wasn't the kind of call to service that I think the American people were looking for.”

Alright, straw man arguments. I love these. Is that what he said? Is that all he said? I'm pretty sure that was one of his suggestions about how to get the economy moving again. And actually, Bush said a lot of things around that time and had the highest approval rating (85%+) of any President ever. So, the straw man doesn't work here. But, I digress, because the question was about sacrifices and we haven't heard anything about that yet.

“And so it's important to understand that the -- I think the American people are hungry for the kind of leadership that is going to tackle these problems not just in government, but outside of government.”

Is that a sacrifice? Are we going to have to sacrifice our hunger for leadership for actual leadership that will give us the results that we crave? Wow. I don’t know about that. You ask hard things of us.

“And let's take the example of energy, which we already spoke about. There is going to be the need for each and every one of us to start thinking about how we use energy.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa…Do not bring up the “T” word. That is a huge sacrifice and I just don’t think Americans are ready to do it. What good ever came of "thinking"? But, as long as we only have to think about how we use energy, I might be okay with that. As long as I don’t have to do anything about it, I guess I could think about it a little bit. I'm fine with thinking about sacrifices as long as I don't have to make any.

“I believe in the need for increased oil production. We're going to have to explore new ways to get more oil, and that includes offshore drilling. It includes telling the oil companies, that currently have 68 million acres that they're not using, that either you use them or you lose them.”


“We're going to have to develop clean coal technology and safe ways to store nuclear energy.”

Please tell me there will be a sacrifice somewhere in here.

“But each and every one of us can start thinking about how can we save energy in our homes, in our buildings. And one of the things I want to do is make sure that we're providing incentives so that you can buy a fuel efficient car that's made right here in the United States of America, not in Japan or South Korea, making sure that you are able to weatherize your home or make your business more fuel efficient.”

I'm glad he backed off of the "thinking" sacrifice so that now we only have to "start thinking". That means we get a little bit of pre-thinking time where we can warm our brains up a little bit before we do some actual thinking. At the same time, he mentioned Incentives, fuel efficiencies, and saving energy…these are the kinds of "sacrifices" I can live with.

“And that's going to require effort from each and every one of us.”

Effort? What effort? Is the effort in thinking about how we save energy in our homes? To be honest, that really doesn’t require much effort. I think it will come pretty easily. Now, it may require effort for energy companies to invent new ways of saving energy, but the question asked what Americans will have to do. I think that implied the general population.

And the last point I just want to make. I think the young people of America are especially interested in how they can serve, and that's one of the reasons why I'm interested in doubling the Peace Corps, making sure that we are creating a volunteer corps all across this country that can be involved in their community, involved in military service, so that military families and our troops are not the only ones bearing the burden of renewing America.

I think this is actually the first point you are making. And, in all honesty, it's not really a point. I’m not bashing the idea, but how does this have anything to do with the actual question? Doubling the Peace Corps – thus creating jobs – to help Americans is not a sacrifice to Americans. It could very well be a blessing.

“That's something that all of us have to be involved with and that requires some leadership from Washington."

Don’t try to tell me that we are all going to be down in the trenches doing this together. Politicians are going to be doing this and if their ability to answer questions has anything to do with their ability to work we are all in big trouble.

Did you hear a real sacrifice in there? Did you hear something like "Well, Americans are going to have to be realistic when applying for a home loan. And if they don't qualify for a loan, they are going to have to sacrifice home ownership until they can afford it." Or perhaps, "The rich are going to have to sacrifice some of their hard-earned money to help the poor."

There is nothing like that. Is this for real? This is really a guy who might be running our Country and he can't even answer a simple question? It just baffles me. For those who might think I am picking on Obama, wait until I post my rant against McCain's "answer".

Bar Stool Economics

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing
The fifth would pay $1
The sixth would pay $3
The seventh would pay $7
The eighth would pay $12
The ninth would pay $18
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers, he said, I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner
suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.!

And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings)

The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings)
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28% savings)
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings)
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings)
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings)

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four
continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20, 'declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, 'but he got $10!'
'Yeah, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!'
'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'
'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the
most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics, University of Georgia
For those who understand, no explanation is needed.
For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible

Thanks to Adam Poyfair for sending this to me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Costume Idea - ACORN Worker

Halloween is getting closer and I'm sure many of you don't have costumes yet. Well, don't worry! I have a great idea for a low-cost Halloween costume - all you really need is a clipboard, some voter registration cards, and some candy. Here's how you do it:

Get a clipboard and a bunch of voter registration cards. When trick-or-treaters come to your house for candy, just tell them that you will give them candy as long as they register to vote - for Barack Obama, of course. It's that easy! If you want to make a little ACORN sign that would be great, but it is in no way necessary. I think you will get a lot of laughs and, since you will have a bunch of signed voter registration cards, you might as well turn them in. Everybody wins, right?

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: "Didn't you tell me two years ago to sign trick-or-treaters up for sub-prime mortgages? Look where that got us."

Well, don't blame me for that. We all know that the Bush administration is 100% to blame for that crisis. If you're worried about the ACORN thing, we can find someone else to blame. Just enjoy Halloween and don't think of the consequences...oops! I used the 'C' word. Just enjoy Halloween!