Wednesday, 13 February 2013

My Union Address

Since last night's State of the Union address....I've probably watched seventy minutes of analysis from CNN, the Business Channel, Fox News, MSNBC, and CBS.

A bunch of folks took this address pretty serious.....although historically, it's mostly just a boring speech that usually accomplishes next to nothing.

If I were going to list out ten things that might be worth doing....this would be my list:

1.  Skip the government over to a four-day work-week, with twenty percent less pay....effective immediately  and no one other than soldiers or Marines would be exempt.  Even Congress and the Senate would be limited to four days of work, and they'd take the same twenty percent paycut.  After a year or two....most folks would admit that they don't see any problems and about the same work done in four days as they did in five days.

2.  Identify any federal prosecutor who won't prosecute to US federal laws on the books, and terminate them from federal work.  We don't need more laws....we just need the current book of laws enforced.

3.  Flip the nation over to a simplified flat-tax for both personal income and corporate income.  The federal tax code would then be limited to 100 pages of text, period.....no exceptions.

4.  Get the government out of job creation.  It never was their job.....there's a big enough team in the real world to take care of that business.

5.  End federal pay-off's to foreign countries.  Keep the capital within the US.

6.  Pull US troops out of all foreign countries unless you identify hostilities or a war necessary.  US troops remain on US soil, unless there's a need to deploy them.  We've got plenty of buy-me-a-drink bar girls in Texas and Florida.....we don't need Private Joe buying his drinks from some British bar gal.

7.  Leave high school and university management to individual states.  There's a reason why we have county school boards.

8.  Force TV outlets and journalists to pay a federal political tax every-time they want to interview any Congressman, Senator or White House administration player.  Forty-four dollars a minute sounds fairly reasonable. Put the money into the revenue pot and thank the guys for just talking a lot.

9.  If you don't have a real national energy policy, then don't go around stomping on this energy or that energy.  State a policy and then let's move on.

10.  Finally, a bank ought to act and behave like a bank.  If you are a bank that does a lot of investing business....you simply aren't a bank, and we need to invent a new term for your line of business.  We are making tons of regulations....which don't really affect ninety percent of the banks out there....but they have to hire lawyers to reassure them of such.

My Neighborhood

Down across the river....into DC....there's Farragut Square. It's about two blocks away from the rear of the White House....set into sort of a triangular shape.  I'd take a guess that it's no more than two acres. The key elements of the square....for the past one hundred-odd years....has been the statue of Admiral Farragut, and a Gingko tree.

There's a sidewalk that takes you around the square, and probably twenty benches for a guy to sit and just take in a quiet city street in DC.  On any given afternoon....there's probably five or six KGB guys sitting there....maybe an entourage from VP Joe's office....maybe two Nam vets talking over old times....and maybe even a right-wing guy arguing with a left-wing guy.

There's a couple of minor trees and shurbs on the square....but the Ginko is the big deal.  It's actually around 140 years old.  Well....it was....around 140 years old.

Yesterday....some landscaping crew was hired up to come in and cut a tree down on the square.  It was supposed to be the tree across from the Ginko tree....a much younger tree.  No is saying why that tree had to go, but it was on the list.

The National Park Service had marked all the trees in some fashion.....trees to cut and trees to stay.  No one is saying much except the landscaping crew cut the wrong tree.

Naturally, this has raised a mighty big fuss in DC.

Now, there's a discussion that no tree-cutting contract ought to be allowed, unless a qualified arborist, a tree scientist, is actually on-site when the cutting is planned and done.  You can just see the wheels of Congress at work.  Within two years, there'll be some government regulation that requires the hiring of 16k arborists by the government and commercial landscaping services (if you want a government contract, you'd have to prove you have such a arborist).

The cut tree?  Pictures indicate that it got cut up pretty quick once the chainsaw guy got going.

It's funny how a government regulation gets born.  You can just smell trouble coming now.

Pay Scale

Someone at the office yesterday brought this to my attention, and I sat there laughing for the rest of the day.

When I arrived at Lackland Air Force Base in August of 1977....my monthly salary was roughly $399.  After you took out taxes and Social Security....every two weeks.....I made around $170 every two weeks.    I'd be the first to admit that it wasn't a bad deal.  I had three hot meals a day provided free of charge.  I had a barracks room.  The Air Force took care of most of my requirements.

The current pay scale for a new guy arriving at Lackland?  $1400 a month.  You can figure after taxes and Social Security....a guy is taking home $500 every two weeks....an amazing amount of money for a eighteen year-old kid.

The first thing I ever bought after getting my paycheck?  A pair of $45 cowboy boots.  The same pair today?  Probably in the $110 range.

It is a mighty different world.

Simply Observations

The value of the State of the Union address?  It's political theater, at best.  A President (doesn't matter if it's JFK, or Bush I)....will walk in and deliver an hour-long speech, and ask for around twenty things.  Over the next twelve months....if lucky, he might get or achieve five of the items that he requested.  The difference between this President and past Presidents?  President Obama will lay out some form of "blame" for things that haven't been done.  When you look at the State of the Union addresses that Carter or Nixon gave....it was simply a long, drawn-out, and dull speech....that didn't really blame anyone but gave simply their vision of where things ought to go.

The shooter out in California is dead from the cabin fire.  Most cops will be relieved.  The prosecutor team can be happy to some degree because there won't be a year-long episode to prepare for an intensive court battle.

Sometime this morning, the Carnival cruise ship will finally be dragged into port in Mobile.  It's been three days now.  No electrical power on the ship.  Toilets won't flush.  No food has been available.  Around four thousand folks have just been surviving....since Sunday.  Folks who have been calling from the ship....indicate that everything stinks.  Folks are throwing up and are getting sick from lack of sanitation.  Some folks gave up on their rooms and have been sleeping on the top deck because that's the only place with a breeze.  I would imagine that Carnival will have to give not only a free trip to each person on-board  but some kind of incentive check of $5k to make them desire another trip with the cruise ship company.

Finally, there's the odd piece that popped up this week over Arlington Cemetery.  A family-orientated group has made a strong statement over the possible idea that gay married partners of US troops could be eligible to be buried in the cemetery.  The simple truth is that any immediate family member of a GI....to include his wife or kids....can gain a position within the cemetery upon death.  This was a reaction to the Monday list of things that the Pentagon would consider open to gay marriage partners.  I'm guessing that they will want some Senators and Representatives to voice some sentiment, and most just want to stay out of this mess as much as possible.  My general opinion is that when you've reached the point that you need to be six feet under....your sex stuff doesn't matter much anymore.  Arlington Cemetery didn't exist before the Civil War, and it has a limit to what it can handle.  One day....it'll reach that limit, and the gates will close unless you just want to visit.