Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Philly Two-Cent Tax

Up in Philly...the mayor and some folks in the council...are working on a tax proposal...where soft drinks would have a 2-cent tax thrown on them. The intent is to get you to stop drinking sodas.

I read this today...and sat there for five minutes contemplating how this would work and its intended effect.

Germans did a big tax deal on smokes and found that as long as you stepped it up at a very marginal pace....smokers didn't stop because of a tax.

Germans also found out that if you reached the tax at a significant pace...folks did quit buying smokes...at least within the borders. The border patrol guys reported a fairly big increase in large illegal shipments of smokes being brought in via couriers or regular citizens. A guy would drive to Luxembourg and buy twelve cartons and save money for the bulk purchase (strictly illegal by German law).

So I'm guessing the Philly council has considered this issue...and this is really just another tax on top of every other tax. For folks who get upset and really want to save on this issue....they will go three miles outside of the city limits...buy 12 cases of soda...and quietly drive back to the city smiling. For folks within the city who sell sodas....they will all lose some profit...and whine about this.

Usually when someone gives you some stupid comment about why a tax is necessary....it's always related to more revenue requirements. This new concept...goes over your head, and most of you won't ask any questions. Eventually, fifty years from now...some folks in Philly will level a two-cent tax on each sheet of toilet paper....telling you that you are too wasteful and this is supposed to gear you to a lesser use deal. Maybe by that point...you've gained some insight and ask stupid questions.

The NY City Case

There are around two dozen sources now...in the past five days...claiming that the terrorist trials in New York City...are about to be pushed back to a military situation...and probably to Gitmo.

Why? Why the change?

Whichever team who did the homework for Eric Holder (Attorney General)...apparently left several critical things out of the thinking process...especially asking NY political figures what they thought.

Presently....it's a zero percent chance that any terrorist trial can be held in NY City. So the best option left...other than Gitmo...was to move it to another NY region or one of the other 49 states. I'm guessing they asked a couple of senators and found that most would ban funding any movement of the case...if it stayed in civilian court.

What happens now? Around 3PM on some Friday afternoon...when the President likely out of the country on vacation....an announcement will be read. I'm guessing Attorney General Holder will be on a weekend trip as well. So the news analysts will try to reason out what happened.

The thing I always saw out of this entire civilian court case...was that the guy could have the case tossed out (there's always a fifty-fifty chance of this in any case). I just wanted the case carried to an end point. Either they were guilty or innocent...and this would be decided. Having the case tossed out...would have doubts left with everyone....which you really don't want.

So sitting there right now...are a couple of guys...trying to write a 80-word public statement. I'm guessing they are on version fifteen at this point...with Eric Holder all pumped up on a three-day weekend trip that he must take.

And the Gitmo management guys? Well...summer vacation has likely been canceled for a couple of guys.

Larry's Day

Once upon a time....there was this guy named Larry. Larry stood there long enough...to figure out how things worked. Larry figured out the angles to corruption. Larry figured out how to make millions. Larry figured out risk. Larry went to work. Eventually...one day...Larry screwed up. Last Friday...Larry's day of judgment came.

Larry Langford, former mayor of Birmingham, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $360k by a federal judge. Larry has to do federal time now.

For most folks in Bama...this has been a case that they've been waiting on for quiet a while. There are various things that folks suspected of Larry over the past decade...and this short list of crimes was what finally got Larry in trouble.

Normally....I'd end this blog at this point....there is this other little bit of the Larry Langford story that we didn't know about until last week.

You see....Larry had by some miracle of God....won hundreds of jackpots at a bingo casino in the Birmingham. In fact, Larry had won $1.5 million. On the positive side, Larry went out and reported it as income....but some folks have another law suite out there....questioning how Larry won so many jackpots so easily.

This was a story that simply was hidden. Why? You'd think if any guy had such a great record of jackpot winnings...he'd want to tell folks about how lucky he was....but not in this case.

Anti-Capitalism Pondering

There was a TV news "show" recently...which asked you what political affiliation you really thought you were. I think I got about twelve minutes into the show before I turned it off. At some point...I felt like I was in a SouthPark episode with ManBearPig (Half-man, half-bear, half-pig)....so my sudden perception of my political status was half-Republican, half-Democrat, and half-Libertarian.

For those who don't get it...you can't have three halves...it's illogical.

In the past week, this same show (notice how I'm not giving you the name of the show)...came to cast out this war going against capitalism. Somewhere hidden in our society today...there are still these guys who have an anti-capitalism scheme in their mind.

In the 1930s...you had guys who spouted this and might have gotten some traction out of the argument.

In the 1960s...you had some remains of these guys out there...who mostly tied their talk and agenda to college students. The college punks thought they were really smart and elite in believing a anti-capitalism system.

Today...we still have some folks out there, who try their best to convince the young, naive and elitist society that capitalism is evil and can be killed off for the good of mankind.

This argument works as long as you imagine capitalism tasting like vanilla ice cream and nothing else. The minute you'd like the twist of lemon or strawberry....then it can't stay vanilla and then you invite capitalism into the mix.

The same problem exists with plain old Coke. If you ask for diet Coke or caffeine-free Coke, you invite capitalism into the situation.

Guy's against capitalism....live one-dimensional lives.

The anti-capitalism folks lack any belief of change.

Ever noticed.....almost every third sentence from a anti-capitalism guy....starts off with "The common man...."? Its funny in a way...the common guy just isn't a 365-day a year plain Coke guy or plain vanilla guy. They want something different. The minute you announce this preference....only capitalism fills that void. You can't dictate to some organization to manufacture this type of ice cream or this type peanut butter. The market measures demand and then delivers. That's called capitalism.

So as you sit and ponder anti-capitalism...consider the advances in laptops, computers, ABS braking, cellphones, software, medicine, and health procedures. They all relate to a society that had belief in change and capitalism.

If you take the anti-capitalism position....you basically like vanilla ice cream and don't mind if vanilla is the only ice cream that exists. I'm guessing you are thinking long and hard about this...and that hint of strawberry, or walnut or cherry ice cream is creeping into your mind. If so...you aren't really into the anti-capitalism lifestyle or a naive future.

These elitist folks who sit around and think about stuff like this...very likely like a variety of ice cream...but they have never thought about how they get it on a daily basis.

The Pentagon Shooter

It was a curious day. We got dumped off down in Pentagon City...and walked to the Pentagon. It's about a half-mile walk...so I didn't suffer.

As for the shooter...well...every bit of information that came out today...made me consider the guy bi-polar. I don't think he'd been in control of himself for well over twenty years.

The problem is that you've got fifty thousand people like him in the US...walking around and a threat to society. Forty years ago...we would have taken state action and had him put into a state facility. Today...no one wants to confront someone and put them into a institution.

The sad thing here is that he really could have hurt just about anyone...even out on the bus station platform....and made this a lot worse.