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Monopoly – Changing the Face of Crime Games

Monopoly – Changing the Face of Crime Games

 bandit monopoly

Monopoly has been changed by Hasbro to reflect the times:  Even in some ways that they may not have planned that are quite ironic.

To start with, the concept of a “monopoly” is a business concept that is illegal in the United States so although most of us have not spent much time thinking about it, the game is fundamentally based on the idea of going around the legal system and building so much money and power that you impoverish the other players thereby gaining more and more wealth and taking over the whole board.

There are the struggles of the traditional version of the game such as paying other players, paying taxes, and getting sent to jail for several rounds (in some cases you have some power to “get out of jail free”, to get lucky and get out early or possibly buy your way out of jail).

I never thought about it before, but what a training ground for exactly the kind of business practices that got us into a global financial crisis.  Do whatever you can to make so much money and power that you can dominate some section of the world (even if that means impoverishing everyone else involved) by seeking to do things that are illegal or at least legally questionable.  During all of this you try to avoid the evils of paying others, paying taxes or getting sent to jail.  If you get sent to jail, you try to use your saved up influence to get out of jail free, get out early or to buy your way out of it.

The change they should probably make for this game is to call it “The Wall Street and Mortgage Lenders Game of Life”.  

The new changes made to the game are even more ironic in light of the past few years.  The big change that has been made to the game is removal of the “Jail” and the concept of going to jail.  Much like the concept of punishment for the people responsible for financial collapse in recent years.  You do not have to worry about going to jail and you can still collect your two-hundred dollars much like the financial folks who avoided any consequences and still received huge bonuses in the wake of destroying the worldwide economy and millions of lives.

I was thinking of writing this all off as a silly observation I can ramble about with someone over coffee, but I was struck by the idea in our culture of being above the law or not having consequences (even if you knowingly are bending the rules or breaking the law). 

The reason for this change is apparently to speed up the game to only take twenty-five to thirty minutes.  The modern child has a shorter attention span and apparently a busier schedule so the game has to be faster and shorter.  

So why not take out any semblance of consequences for undertaking an illegal activity in a game that promotes this illegal activity as the focus?  Let’s take the game “Cops and Robbers” and tell all the kids that it’s more fun to be the robber and make all the kids robbers and have no cops. 

I may be over-thinking all of this and the truth is:  I LOVE PLAYING MONOPOLY (even though the game does take forever), but I think that this may unwittingly reflect one of the worst aspects of our culture and put it into practice with our children who are the key target audience.  

Maybe my once youthful and different views of the world have given way to becoming the mainstream, “old fashioned” values of the mid twenty-one teens, but I do think that if I am going to play a game where my focus is to be the best there is at undertaking illegal activity I have to negotiate my way through the maze of avoiding the consequences of my actions.  After all, what fun is it to play a game of doing something illegal if there are no actual consequences to avoid.

Maybe, if my morals were truly in the right place, I would not want to play a game like Monopoly on principle, simply because it is a game promoting such bad parts of our culture and what destroys us, but I must be honest and admit that I love the game.  I suppose it makes me feel like it is okay because there is a jail that I can be sent to for these actions and it makes it a little harder to justify if that possibility is not there.

I am not sure how I am supposed to feel about this new version and it’s absence of the “Jail” but on several levels, it does make me uncomfortable

Fiscal Cliff – The Republicans’ Fault???

Fiscal Cliff – The Republicans’ Fault???

Here we are in the United States hours away from being tossed over something called a fiscal cliff by our own government.  But, what is a fiscal cliff and where did it come from?

The truth is that this “fiscal cliff” is our congresses’ idea of a way to punish itself.   The idea is that going over this fiscal cliff is so unthinkable of an idea that if the congress failed so bad at doing their jobs that it comes to that, they would be forced to find a quick solution.

What will happen, to begin the New Year in the United States is that all of the various tax breaks that have been put into place over the past several years to help various groups for various reasons will all disappear at once effectively raising everybody’s taxes all at once.

So basically, our congress has devised an efficient way to deliver a high powered groin kick to all of our citizens just as we were coming out of the worst economy in recent history.

Here in our great democracy of the United States, the public blame will probably fall on our Republican Party.  While this is really the fault of a dysfunctional congress, I have to say that I am going to have to agree with those that place much of the blame on the Republicans.

Those that know me understand that I feel that anyone who runs in lockstep along with one party or the other, as if rooting for their favorite football team is an idiot.  With your favorite team, you root for them no matter what and when they are doing bad you make excuses and try to convince yourself and others they are doing good.  If your team cheats, there is always a good excuse for why it’s okay, if another team makes some minor mistake; it is some terribly egregious act worthy of the worst punishment imaginable (insert pause to let the Fox News logo pass through your imagination for a moment).

I do believe in our party system, I just believe that, just like a person, sometimes a party can be way out there or just have bad years and that you as a person in a democracy have a responsibility to not support and facilitate the crazy.

In this case, the Republican Party has been hijacked by its extreme wing.  The problem for the Republicans in government is that these extremists seem to have the power to make or break a candidate for office in places where republican votes dominate.  The problem for the Republican Party is that on the national stage this extreme wing is a great distance from what the majority of voters are thinking right now and these extreme views have been eating the party from within for about eight years now (including two presidential elections.

I say all of this, because one of the major sticking points for Republicans in congress has continuously been that they will not sign a bill that raises taxes on the wealthiest people in America.

This was on of the battle cries of their overwhelming loss in the recent presidential election where the vast majority of the voting public of this country publically shared their disagreement on this issue.

The truth is that the logic that the Republican party is using is terribly flawed and not likely to be accepted by the general public.

The tax breaks are basically to help people in need like welfare checks and government cheese.  So at some point in history, some pointy headed economist decided that helping the poor doesn’t really stimulate the economy; helping the wealthy actually creates more spending and the money might be used to enlarge their companies so we would be more productive if we give the welfare checks and government cheese to the wealthiest Americans.  Thus, “Trickle-Down Economics” was born.

Though welfare checks and cheese were not the way it was done, this “assistance” came in the form of tax breaks and other subsidies.

I totally get the logic;  If those that have more, have even more, they are likely to spend more.  Those that have less, if given a little more it is more likely to go into smaller bills, late bills etc. that should have been paid anyway and will not do much to boost the economy.

The fundamental difference is that one side is trying to help people (sometimes haphazardly giving money away to both those who desperately need it as well as those that take advantage of the free money) while the other side believes that if you help the rich, at some point the poor and needy will be helped in the long term.  The money will trickle down to them.

The flaw here is that when thought through, this will never fly with the voting populous as a whole.  Think of it as one party trying to get all of the homeless shelters to close their doors to the poor, and convert to buildings that collect cash to distribute to the Donald Trumps and oil companies of the world because you will get a better return on your investment.  Eventually, with this little bit of extra spending cash, these wealthy Americans will spend more because of it and create more jobs which will be jobs the poor that use these shelters would be able to get and the world will be a better place, birds will chirp again, roses will bloom and all will live happily ever after.

While I do see the logic, the idea of help for the wealthy is preposterous.  I did a piece recently named “Taxing the Rich? Not Taxing the Rich?” in which I discussed this in some detail, but some of the breaks we are giving are ridiculous.

No matter how you feel on this issue, the American voting public has already clearly stated it is absolutely a “no go”.  They general voting public does not believe in Trickle-Down Economics at this time.  But, yet the Republican Party is willing to fight to the death (by the death of every person in the country by tossing us over a fiscal cliff not their own) for this unpopular concept.

One thing that I have noticed about the current Republican Party and particularly the extreme wing of the party (often called “Tea Party Republicans” associated in my mind way more with tea-toting rich people and less with the rebellion of throwing tea in the harbor that was a part of starting our country) is that when the American public does not agree with them they always go back to this stance that we do not know what is good for us so they have to force it down our throats for our own good.

That’s all fine and dandy…

if you are a dictator in some third world nation.

For those of us who live in a democracy, this is the clear indicator that the Republicans in Congress are not interested in doing their jobs.  The job of representing the desires and needs of the American people.

The facts are that we have been doing the experiment of “Trickle-Down Economics” for many years and during the years when the computer industry was booming in the United States all was fine.  But, suddenly in the second term of a Republican president the economy went bad.  The first dominoes to fall were due to abuses and excesses of the same wealthy that these breaks went to.

We are all suddenly faced with a painful reality:  If you give extra money to wealthy Americans and wealthy corporations (who are now declared to be people also) they may use it to be greedy and destroy our economy instead of somehow bolstering it.

This is the main point that the Republicans are stuck on and much of the rest of the debate is simply fluff to attempt to appear to be trying to play nice.

The American People are not buying all of this and the republican Party is becoming more of a cult than a political party (I suppose that Bill Graham can put the Republican Party on his website as a cult in place of the Mormons who suddenly were removed from the list because the Republican Party had a Mormon candidate for president).

They have a following that cheers them on and backs their play more and more the crazier it is.  The more out of step with the national voting population, the louder the cheers are.  The problem with all of that is that; the more out of step with the national voting population, the less trust this population will have in them.

The Republican Party is imploding and it is as if they are screaming:  “If we are going to implode, we are going to take the whole country with us over a…  wait for it…  FISCAL CLIFF!”

Don’t get me wrong; the Democrats have their crazy too and are playing a bit of a game also.  The difference is that it is a game that the American voting populous supports.  The Republican Party has hijacked the American public, tied us up in the back seat and decided to play a dangerous game of chicken driving headfirst at the Democrats in the hopes that they will scare the Democrats into turning out of the way at the last minute.

The challenge for Republicans is that even some of their own party have jumped out of the car.  There was this “Plan B” (use scary horror movie narrator voice).  It was Speaker Boehner’s (pronounced bay-ner if you didn’t know) attempt at going nuclear.  He was going to ram a plan through the House of Representatives because the Republicans have a majority there and force the President to not sign it publicly.  The idea is that this would shift the blame off of the Republican Party and place the blame firmly on the shoulders of President Obama and the Democrats.

The words “EPIC FAIL” (use scary horror movie narrator voice) come to mind.  The Republican dominated house did not vote for this and The Speaker now looks like Boo-Boo the Fool.

It is the last day of 2012 and I can see the cliff ahead.  This must have been the actual day that the Mayan Calendar was supposed to end.  In truth, I suspect that if we actually go over this cliff, the Mayan calendar may have been pointing to the end of the Republican Party’s political might as they defiantly go down with the ship still ranting “Tea Party” slogans as the ship goes down like the band in the Titanic movie.

By Wednesday morning the Uncle Sam recruiting posters with Uncle Sam pointing which says “I Want You” may have the caption changed to say:  “Republicans, It’s Your Fault”.

Alethinos P.

The Freedom to Communicate – or Not?

The Freedom to Communicate – or Not?

 

New legislation in California goes into effect for the New Year that allows for writing, reading and sending text messages as long as this is only done using voice-activated systems.  The idea is that you can send text and email messages as long as there is no need to hold or look at the device.

That bill seemed reasonable enough to me in light of the fact that you can use your phone that way in California.

I do however think that the technology for all of this still has a ways to go, but what there is now is workable with a bit of practice.

Somewhere around election time I remember hearing some discussions about this “Freedom to Communicate bill”, but it seemed fairly obvious that it would have to become the law of the land in light of the fact that the same technology is legal for phone calls.

I also found myself wondering; how does a police officer or Highway Patrol officer know that the fact you are talking to yourself in the car means that you are texting or emailing and not just using your phone.  If a person is using voice-activated systems for any reason, the person is simply in the car talking.  How would it be possible for a police officer to know that the talking was for texting and not to place a call or is not actually a call?  Then of course there are those of us who might occasionally find ourselves talking to ourselves in the car.  What would it be about texting or emailing verbally that would send a signal to an officer two cars away saying:  “That person right there is not calling someone or talking to themselves, that person is verbally texting out loud.” (insert sudden siren sound).

The idea that someone was enforcing voice-activated texting in California was preposterous anyway so this really bill just eliminated a weird glitch in our state’s legal system.

Then, in a brilliant flash of “WTH” the National Safety Council rushed to our rescue (for no apparent reason).

According to the leader of this daring rescue; Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council “Safe driving requires a driver’s full attention — hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving,”

At first glance, that seems like a fairly reasonable statement, but then if you think it out, it does leave one to wonder how far this will all go.  For example, talking to a passenger in the car is not “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving” is it?  Should we make talking in the car illegal altogether to ensure that we are all “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving”?  After all, that would be the only possible way that a ban on voice activated texting and emailing could be enforced while voice activated use of the same cell phone for calls is legal.

I totally get what this Janet Froetscher person is trying to get at, but the only logical end to that logic is that a driver should never do anything in the car but drive because it is safer.  Yes, it is safer, but it is also tremendous and preposterous overkill.  However, making a law that outlaws any talking in the car, as well as outlawing any eating of fast food, doing makeup, changing the radio, rolling down the windows, turning on the heat etc. would be the only way to legislate “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving”.

I remember (many years ago) in Drivers-Ed being told that if I needed to roll down windows or fool with the heating system I should probably pull over to a safe area, come to a complete stop and do what I needed to do and then cautiously reenter traffic.  WHO DOES THAT?!?!  Apparently, a hero named Janet Froetscher; rolling down the highways and byways of America “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving”.

Meanwhile, back here on earth (I know, several people reading this inserted jokes about how California is not “back here on earth” – go ahead, laugh it up), most of us can handle a few mild distractions such as conversation with our significant others while driving no matter if the person is in the car or is heard through the speakers in the car.  I suppose I can do just fine in a conversation with my phone through the speakers and mic in the car also.

I honestly think this Janet Froetscher person is wasting our time and the time of the people working in government in California’s time.  I can only hope this doesn’t end up wasting our tax money in research or otherwise preparing to defend against some unenforceable voice-activated texting ban.

Janet Froetscher!  STOP TRYING TO SAVE US FROM THINGS WE DO NOT NEED SAVING FROM!

She’s like a fireman that runs up to your house in the middle of the night with an ax, breaks through your door, runs into your bedroom, snatches you out of bed and whisks you off to an ambulance when there was no problem with you or your home at all.  All she gets is a:  “Thanks for all of your efforts and for caring, but I didn’t need saving right now sooooo:  What the heck are you doing!”

In her defense, I do agree that with the current technologies available to most of us, it would be pretty hard to send a text or email without ever looking at the phone to see what I’m sending.  I mean:  if you thought auto-correct could cause problems, try voice-to-text software and auto-correct on an email or text that you never see before it is sent.

I think this Janet Froetscher person would do better to focus her efforts on trying to pressure phone companies to improve their voice-to-text operations in their phones, so that there is no need to glance at the screen.

On a deeper note; I wonder if it is going to also be legal to write articles using voice-to-text technology while driving?  If I post an incomplete article next week, it is because I was getting pulled over for voice-to-text typing while driving and didn’t get to finish.

Reporting from my car (not necessarily:  “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving” I suppose);

 

Alethinos P.

Guns, Gun Control and Rhetoric Verses Reality

Guns, Gun Control and Rhetoric Verses Reality

I have been curiously watching all of the posturing on gun laws/gun control and I think the first calm and rational discussions have started over the last twenty four hours most notably from the president himself.  I have yet to hear anything that sounds like a realistic solution to the challenge of gun control or a plausible solution to the rising violence in our country (which are not necessarily the same thing).

While I am not really in agreement with much of what is being said on both sides of this argument, I do agree that something needs to be done immediately.  I am writing this as entirely opinion and probably more about venting, but I know that there are very obvious middle grounds that all involved can rise to that is above all of the crazy of politics and the heat of the moment.

Excuse me for just thinking out loud and going off a rabbit trail, but since when has CNN become another news (I use the word “news” almost sarcastically) organization that promotes one side of an argument, either accidentally or intentionally becoming the propaganda machine of one party.  Even to the point of having several people from one side of an argument and one straw man for the other side who the host beats up.  It appears that the last hope of news that is not really propaganda has come under new management and is starting to “sell out” so to speak.

I know I have gone off on a rabbit trail, but let me explain how that is connected to all of this.  I was watching this Piers Morgan fellow do exactly what I just described and go off on some rants while beating up the straw man he had on his show to supposedly defent the right to bear arms.  The main basis of this argument was how Great Brittan has banned all guns and violence has gone down.

Immediately my head pulled back on my neck and my left eyebrow raised itself.  I flashed back to all of the news from my childhood of bombs and kidnappings.  My brain flashed on all of the ruckus around trashcans in London which had to be removed because they were too easy of a place to put bombs.  Suddenly, according to the oversimplification of Mr. Morgan, all of the problems of violence in Great Brittan were magically solved by making guns illegal.  Has it never occurred to him that there may be a whole lot more to any drop in violence that may have taken a lot longer than just passing that law took that all played a part in this and that minimizing it to outlawing guns altogether might force people to miss what really caused any positive changes.

My next thought (question) was:  “Were bombs and acts of terrorism made illegal in that law as well?”  Then I asked myself: “Were bombs legal in Great Britain before that?”

This opened a Pandora’s Box of distrust for both sides of this argument and forced me to step outside of the situation and take a perspective other than either extreme.

Then I listened to a few supposed experts proclaiming that if the teachers had guns this would have not happened.  My head shook itself before I even had a chance to process this.  The solution to violence at schools is to create the environment of an old Clint Eastwood movie where a person who is going to hurt children has the power to create the Okay Corral where there is battle/rain of bullets and magically the only person hurt would somehow only be the evil person.  This idea completely overestimates the ability of an average teacher (or any person for that matter, but in this case “a teacher”) to get to this weapon quickly, switch his/her mind over to “shoot to kill” mode without deep though, aim and shoot while under deep pressure and with very limited time in a way that incapacitates the person before that person hurts anyone.  The chances of all of this happening through the average citizen without some other disaster being created are astronomically unlikely.

Then, back on the political right, I have been aggravated for years and years by people describing the reason for banning “weapons of war” or assault rifles being that hunters do not need machine guns to hunt.  Why?  Because fully automatic weapons have been illegal since before I was born (i.e. machine guns) and are not an issue anyhow.  MACHINE GUNS ARE ALREADY ILLEGAL AND HAVE BEEN FOR MANY, MANY YEARS.  That also means that people in the media need to stop calling semi-automatic weapons, “automatic weapons”.  All of this is lying to sell an untruth.  Anyone who has a fully automatic, machine gun is already in ownership of something that is illegal and laws that have been spoken of as getting machine guns off of the street were being sold to us by people who are either lying to us or deeply uninformed.

There is more insanity on both sides that I have heard, but let’s get back to the point:

Starting with “the right to bear arms” in our United States Bill of Rights and Second Amendment of our constitution.  The NRA and extreme right wing keep disguising this as having something to do with hunting and collecting and so on.  The fact is that the founding fathers had felt that some of the previous corrupt governments of the worlds had been able to force their subjects into submission by having their militaries push around unarmed citizens as well as the fact that militias were the main first line of defense against outside invaders.

The idea that the constitutional argument has something to do with hunting rifles against weapons of war is incredibly ludicrous.  The law was put in place to allow the general population to have weapons of war period.  Both sides of the argument are arguing over a lie.

What the constitution does not say is that it should be okay for every person, no matter how mentally challenged, irresponsible or just plain stupid a person is can just go out and grab weapons of war at will.  As a matter of fact, it is probably allowable within all parts of the constitution to reasonably keep such people away from sharp objects and so on.

What I am getting at, is that according to the constitution and the intentions of those that penned those laws citizens in general are allowed to possess weapons of war.

That being the case, the only two options for addressing this issue that are not “unconstitutional” are to attempt to change the constitution or to put measures in place that are more discerning about who can get these weapons and how they are stored (while somehow not limiting the constitutional right of every citizen to possess weapons of war).

I am absolutely not a fan of making wholesale changes in the constitution for several reasons that are pretty involved, but to achieve a lot of what I have been hearing including bills to ban assault rifles and magazines that have certain capacities etc. can only legally be done by changing the constitution.  I say that because the basis of the arguments is that weapons of war are not for hunting and as such not covered by the Second Amendment.  The truth is that weapons of war are exactly what are covered by the Second Amendment so in truth, these bills and previous laws banning such firearms were legally unconstitutional by the intention and letter of the law of our constitution.

Much of what is going on is an attempt to under mine what is in the constitution.  While I do agree with some of the ideas, they are either constitutional or not.  So again I say, the only legal way to do much of what is proposed is to change the constitution and basically remove the right to bear arms (the right to bear weapons of war).

I am definitely leaned towards much tougher regulation and monitoring of who gets these weapons and how they are kept.

There are many of these laws in place in many parts of the country, but when you dig deeper you find that they are often not enforced and almost always have some massive loopholes that many who should not be getting these weapons use to arm themselves.  Much like people who have their licenses suspended in a big city yet they still drive, but far more dangerous and troubling.

Here a few points  I came up with that seem like they would have to be a part of this for any gun controls to be able to work:

  • Gun ownership has to be done in the same way that driver’s licenses and other licenses are issued by the states. – Gun ownership has to be licensed and renewed every few years and just like you cannot drive a car if you do not have a license, you can no longer legally own a gun if your license is suspended or revoked (there are some places that do some form of this currently).
  • I believe, EXTENSIVE background checks MUST be done on every person who purchases a weapon in the United States (even if it is purchased in parts at a gun show) which could be a part of the cost of the license renewal fee.
  • I would like to see a psychological evaluation of every person who purchases a weapon but even doing that at every license renewal would have an exorbitant cost and would be limited.  I do think that this may be a more serious consideration for the more dangerous weapons such as assault rifles etc. and that It may have to be a part of the financial responsibility of a person who wants to own this level of weapon.  (If there is a license to own weapons that must be renewed every four years, there can be a higher level of license that requires a psychological evaluation that needs to be done as part of each renewal)
  • There needs to be specific laws on how these weapons are stored and on who other than the owner of the weapons can access these weapons.  This needs to focus on some level of training/certification for children and appropriate age limits etc.  Spouses, significant others, domestic partners etc. must have their own certifications and if not, should not have access to these weapons.
  • There needs to be separate certifications to be able to carry a firearm or to have a firearm in some public setting (such as security guards, business owners etc.)
  • Being convicted of violent crimes, being admitted for psychological evaluation etc. should immediately mean the suspension of your license and require the surrendering of your weapons.  (I am not sure what happens to these weapons or who they are surrendered to due to the fact there may be reasons that some of these folks might be found perfectly fit and be able to get their license and weapons back, but it is a general idea).
  • Having an unstable or otherwise disqualified person in your home should require some kind of specific off site storage or suspension of your license.  Maybe private businesses that do just government approved gun storage that requires showing a gun owners license to get into your box etc.  The government would license and govern these too, but they would only be required for those that cannot safely have weapons in their homes or who would prefer to store them somewhere safer.

I have lots more that I could add, but I think that these ideas as a framework might be a good compromise and a great way to start to turn the tide on this issue.

I do believe also that there is much more to all of this than just guns however.  Explosives can be made of just about anything, guns can be acquired illegally pretty easily in the area in which I live (just as illegal drugs are everywhere in our big cities and the war on drugs struggles to even put a dent in it).  People with major psychological problems are roaming the streets of our cities with no supervision and minimal help if any.  Our society has grown more and more addicted to extreme violence and enjoys being angry at someone or something.

In other words, I do not believe that better gun laws or eliminating guns all together will solve all violence, but I do believe that we should not be easily arming every person in our country no matter how dangerous or disturbed.

The mother of this person (who I am not using his name on purpose) apparently was fairly responsible and otherwise responsible with her weapons, but there were no protections in place that would keep another individual (in this case a person with deep emotional and psychological issues) from coming into her home and stealing them from her to kill her and several children.  I do not feel that this kind of safety has been sufficiently addressed or discussed in all of this.

This is really about me venting and trying to step out of all of the rhetoric of both sides and try to take a look at this within the framework of the constitution.  I do leave you with these thoughts:

If you want to eliminate guns or “weapons of war” you are asking for a change in the constitution (which is possible, but not likely and in many cases unwise).

If you do not want much tougher controls on who has access to guns then you are a shrinking minority and do not reflect the will of the American people.  You also may have slept through the last couple of weeks of news.

Let’s all come together and do something sensible and constitutional that best guarantees our safety and the safety of our children because lives are more important than laws, lives are the reason for the laws, and lives are way more important than party politics.

Taxing the Rich? Not Taxing the Rich?

Taxing the Rich?  Not Taxing the Rich?

I’ve been pondering all of this taxation, fiscal cliff stuff and trying my best to have an open mind to both sides of the debate.  My views have been deeply changed and the reality of some of this is kind of astonishing.

I know I am seriously oversimplifying the debate, but a key question is if raiding taxes on those with astronomical amounts of money helps the economy and job creation or if giving them greater tax breaks empowers them to do a better job of creating jobs and thus creating a better economy.

I did this and have to force myself to think of the ridiculously rich people and ridiculously rich corporations as the same since the Supreme Court has declared corporations to be people.

The trickle down theory of economics implies that if they extremely rich have a bit more money to play with they will grow their empires which will involve creating more jobs to serve in the building and sustaining of these empires as well as growing their wealth more to lead to more empire building and more jobs.  With more jobs and more money there will be more spending and the more employees with more money will be spending and the economy will have more money moving around.

I encountered a few stories about tax breaks for big oil companies and I remembered being angry a few times over the past few years at stories of these companies making record profits at the same time that the American people were paying record prices for gasoline.  Then I was miffed by public statements from these companies that the record prices and record profits were not related.

Then when all of this conversation about tax breaks started, I found out that these companies were still getting tremendously large tax breaks (AKA assistance) while making record profits.

So in trying to open my mind, I thought, “Well, maybe in all of this more jobs were created and so on as I have been being force fed as an idea.”

I found nothing but evidence to the contrary (one of the clearest and well done articles http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2012/02/07/11145/big-oils-banner-year/)

Looking at the evidence I have found in my admittedly casual research, it seems that nothing seems to happen with more money but more greed and a lust for more power to keep the fountain of wealth flowing.

Some who are old enough might remember back in the seventies when the OPEC folks slowed production of oil to raise prices and absolutely jacked up the economy to levels where gas had to be rationed and panic was a way of life.

Well, our big oil companies were doing the same thing when we were all dying at the pumps as we still are.  Now with us numb to the inflated prices that we pay for gas the profits over the past few years have been at levels never seen before and the tax breaks still remain in place.

It’s like a person who is on welfare (or some other government program) because he/she lost his/her job, getting a job that makes him/her absolutely rich (more so with each paycheck) and being able to still collect welfare.  As a matter of fact, there are people on Capitol Hill trying to say that because the welfare worked so well in helping this person get the job, we should make that persons welfare check even larger to make that job even better.

If confronted on this logic, then the argument turns to the idea that even though this person is getting rich right now, what if this person isn’t making as much next year or the year after?  In this example, what if this person loses the job?  We need to keep this person who is getting rich on welfare because he/she might struggle again later.  WTH!!!!

It seems that once the government steps in to help you out and you become rich, it might be time for you to start carrying your weight.  You know:  Like how others pulled the weight when you were struggling which allowed you to pay less.

Let’s look at the logic and the arguments specifically the ridiculous nature of these arguments.

Over the election season I heard a few arguments and debates on the idea of how the rich pay more money in taxes than the rest of the population and that means that they should be taxed less.

So let’s imagine that all taxes were ten percent of your income for everybody (because the math is easy).  A person making ten million dollars a year would pay a whopping million dollars a year.  A person making thirty thousand dollars a year would only pay three thousand dollars a year. 

The logic is that if we give the ten million dollar a year person a massive tax break, the economy will end up better.  In my research I found a few different numbers about percentages of taxes paid but it seems to be a pretty general consensus that the rich pay taxes on about 2.7 percent of their income.

Lets round that off to three percent (the math is easier and it gives them the benefit of the doubt point three percent) and run the numbers.  That means that my ten million dollar a year person only pays taxes on three hundred thousand dollars which reduces the taxes from being a million dollars a year to thirty thousand dollars.

So, the idea that the rich already pay considerably more than the rest of the population is absolutely true.  In fact, in this example the rich person pays exactly what the other person makes in the year (Numbers I picked by accident, but it is pretty cool numerically).

The problem is that the amount of responsibility each person carries is not proportionate.  In other words I think the logic of all of this is a terribly flawed system.

Picture our economy as a tug-of-war with the rest of the world.  On our side there are small, incredibly weak people, weak people, normal people, slightly strong people and a few massively strong giants that could probably do the tug-of-war match all by themselves.

What would happen if the massively strong giants decide that they do too much of the pulling and decided they should not have to pull so hard.  This few decide to pull using slightly more pulling power than the incredibly weak people are puling with when pulling with all of their might. 

Can you honestly say that the massively strong giants are doing their part?  If the team starts to lose the tug-of-war terribly and the massively strong giants refuse to pull any harder and as a matter of fact complain that they should be pulling less, are they really pulling their weight on the team?

The tug-of-war only works if every person involved gives their all.  If the weaker people are giving their all and the stronger people are just giving some because they are comparing themselves to the strength of the weaker people shouldn’t you look at the stronger people when you are losing?

The few, massively strong people in our economy are not pulling their weight and are refusing to.  We are losing the tug-of-war match and are about to fall over fiscal cliffs and back into recessions and this few is talking about how they already pull more than the rest of us why should they pull as hard as they can.

Now on to the idea that at least this extra money is creating jobs and building the economy, which assumes the giving nature of these people (and corporations) who are already not pulling as hard as they could.

In the case of the big oil companies, record profits (plus 2 billion is subsidies) led to, producing less oil.  The money didn’t go into producing more oil or new jobs etc. (they did do exploration and had some jobs come and go but not substantially more then when they didn’t have record profits) the money went into buying their own stock and into buying political power.

According to the article I referenced earlier, in 2011 the big five oil companies spent $1.6 million on campaign contributions and $65.7 million on lobbying efforts.  Apparently, the only jobs created were in politics.

I am becoming more and more a fan of the idea of a flat tax.  Then everyone in the tug-of-war would pull as hard as they are able and the whole group does its best.  I do believe that there could be tax breaks for groups that are somehow in need, but that has to be a break that is only in place during the time of need.  If you are breaking world records for income, I am not sure a tax break that was to help you when you were down is still a valid use of tax breaks.  I think your need is over and it is your turn to repay those that carried the weight when you were down by taking your turn to carry the weight.

I know the wording has been tweaked a bit to describe “raising the taxes on the rich” and having the rich carry the burden of the economy etc., but I have realized that all we are talking about is bringing things back to where everybody is giving the same amount of effort.  The stronger pull as hard as they can and the weaker pull as hard as they can even though that means the stronger pull with more strength than the weaker.

So, I am starting to realize that this idea of raising the taxes on the ultra rich that the Republican Party is probably the right idea especially when the economy is bad.  I am not saying that I am buying everything the Democrats are peddling right now, but I am starting to see how this one concept is just sensible.

The Republicans’ insistence on getting as close to this “Fiscal Cliff” as possible while sticking to the idea that they will never allow anything that raises taxes on the ultra rich is an astonishing stand on foolish grounds especially since the American people have overwhelmingly voted to show that this is what they want.  If the democratic process has clearly stated that this is what a large majority of the American public wants then why are they letting the extremist arm of their party direct them in this illogical direction that threatens to ruin their party and throw us over this “Fiscal Cliff” (which will raise taxes on everybody including the rich anyhow on New Years Day).

A Real Sham

A Real Sham

http://img57.imageshack.us/img57/8515/coyoteacmeov0.png

This is classic, I had to pass it on.  The story I saw is on The Atlantic Wire via Yahoo News – you can see the story here – http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-rebels-now-tank-powered-playstation-controller-020228394.html .

The reason I had to pass this on is because I was absolutely amazed by something called……  Wait for it….

The Sham.  Actually, that is incorrect it is named…  The Sham II.

No, not a Sham-Wow but a real live Sham.  The naming of this thing was not done in English so I suppose that those naming it may not have known how the name would translate into the general English speaking population.

Definition of sham:

something that is not what it purports to be; a spurious imitation; fraud or hoax.

I have always used the word to describe some lie or hustle which is how I mostly hear the word used.

But there is more, this does get even stranger.  The Sham II is apparently a tank created by Syrian rebels level the playing field against the tanks of Assad regime.

This thing is apparently a homemade tank made out of spare parts, wrapped in a steel case and driving by cameras that are mounted on it.

The cockpit has two large flat screen televisions and the gun is controlled……   Wait for it….     By a Playstation controller.

The whole thing is built on top of an old diesel car and is driven using the steering wheel.

I searched out another article in France 24 and learned more (http://www.france24.com/en/20121209-sham-ii-new-fighting-machine-syria-rebels) and learned more.

Apparently this is The Sham II because the Sham I only shielded the driver but left the rest of the crew exposed to enemy fire 9I know which Job I want in the Sham).

I also found out that the whole thing costs about $10,000 dollars to make.  That’s less that a cheap economy car with no radio on dog dish hubcaps (and a whole lot more fun and useful I might add).  The folks over at Volvo might want to take some safety tips from these guys.

There were also pictures (http://www.france24.com/en/files/imagecache/aef_ct_wire_image_lightbox/images/afp/photo_1355084364140-1-0.jpg?1355122433  –  http://www.france24.com/en/files/imagecache/aef_ct_wire_image/images/afp/photo_1355084430686-1-0.jpg  –  http://www.france24.com/en/files/imagecache/aef_ct_wire_image/images/afp/photo_1355084507593-1-0.jpg ) and I have to admit, it looks more like a legitimate tank that i would have figured.  The biggest enemy however may not be the effects of combat:  The worst enemy might be the rust you see in the picture.  I hope the conflict ends faster than rust can eat the steel.

This is some serious Road Warrior, DR. Dre and Tupac, “California Dreamin” stuff.

My first thoughts were:  “This sounds like the worst place to be in the entire conflict.”  You are fighting against your government and that government’s tanks.   That government is a government that the entire world is trying to keep from using chemical weapons on you and you are going to go up against them in a homemade Road Warrior car shooting through your Playstation in something called the Sham II.

Of course, this was followed by some silliness from me:  “What do you call the crew, the Sham Riders or Sham Warriors”  “If you get killed does it say game over on the screen” “Can you search the internet for cheat codes” “Can you play online against Assad using the card you bought at the local Wal-Mart” “If they win the battles do they unlock special tank features” and on and on.

Later it dawned on me how creative and brave the whole thing is.  To be able to make your own tank and use televisions and video game consoles is amazing.  That’s some real MacGyver stuff.  Then to be the guys who are willing to take this thing into combat for something you believe in is incredibly brave and any victories this tank gets are heroic.

Then the adrenalin junkie in me kicked in and had to think:  “This thing sounds like a dangerous place to be, but that crazy thing sounds like it would be pretty fun to drive around fighting in.

I might have made the whole thing a two man operation with two Playstation controllers and just make the whole thing a big video game experience.

There has to be a documentary, a movie and a few video games in this story.  I am very interested in hearing more about this thing and how it does in combat with actual tanks and I am also eager to play the video game.

Just thought I would share because I thought it was an incredibly interesting story and the Sham II is not a Sham because it is nowhere near being April yet.

What a strange world we are in,

Alethinos Paradoxos

What Are We Talking About In This Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman Thing?

What Are We Talking About In This Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman Thing?

I was watching the news today and was absolutely astonished what I saw relative to this George Zimmerman person.  Apparently he is suing one of the major television networks for making it sound like he was being racist in the audio of his phone call to the police.  WTH!!!!

All I could think was:  “If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bull droppings.”  That seems to be the defense that his attorney is rolling with: The “If you cannot dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bull droppings” defense.

I know I have been on this rant before since I redid the page, but here it is.  The race issue is a peripheral issue in this case.

I don’t care if Trayvon Martin was as white as a fresh snowman, the exact same actions would still be just as evil and just as illegal.  George Zimmerman’s actions are to some degree premeditated, but he stalked, chased down, attacked and shot a teenage boy who’s only possible crime was being scary in Mr. Zimmerman’s mind.  I suppose I sure have underestimated how scary Skittles and Arizona Tea are.

The race issue is a divisive attempt to manipulate the general public into a racial conflict as if trying to drum up support for a candidate for mayor in some racially divided town.  He is not on some campaign to gain a percentage of public opinion for or against him.  This man stalked, attacked and ended up killing someone’s child:  Much of which he did while on the phone with the police who were instructing him to stop.

He could have been wearing a Klu Klux Klan outfit or a t-shirt that says I love Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and it would be just as illegal and ridiculous.  If you stalk, attack and kill a Caucasian person it would be just as illegal and outrageous as it is to have killed this teenager.

What I don’t understand is why this lawyer and this Zimmerman person can get this much airtime and nobody calls them on the fact that the race thing is a peripheral issue and a distraction from the real case.

I will keep saying the same thing:  You cannot stalk, attack and shoot any person of any race, creed or color in the United States.  The only pertinent issue is weather or not our legal system is going to let a person get away with stalking, attacking and killing another person.  The media circus of distraction is meaningless.

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