Jason Moran
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
  Forget What You Know About Taxes
This is the last entry from the What Would You Do As President? series. Up this time around is:
Could that be any vaguer? Revising the tax could mean such a wide spectrum of thought that there’s absolutely no way to cover all of it with any depth in this one post. If I had to boil my thoughts down to a single politician’s views, and please don’t stone me for saying this, but it would be that crazy Ron Paul. Look up a few of his speeches on youtube and you might be surprised. The whole point of Ron Paul is that he is a strict Constitutionalist that thinks there is far too much government and that government has more or less missed the point for far too many years.

Lincoln started taxing to pay for the Civil War, but it was repealed after a few years. Income tax started up again in 1894, but the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional the next year. It came back for good in 1913 with the 16th amendment. Even though the Constitution prohibited direct taxes to individuals, the powers that be decided to make it possible.

Regardless, the key point is not the constitutionality of taxes; the point is that income taxes have only really been around for less than 100 years. If we survived without taxes before, what makes today so much different other than us being satisfied with our present condition? I'd like to argue that everybody could be better off with less, or even no taxes (gasp!).

Maybe it has something to do with our money not being on a standard (like the gold standard). I don't want to jump to conclusions, but I do know that when there is a gold standard the government can’t just print money to fund its spending, so it keeps government spending in check. Plus, it helps keep inflation under control so your money doesn’t become practically worthless in a few years.

So, what is my advice? To completely dump the entire Internal Revenue Service and forget about taxes? Not quite.

Let’s replace personal income tax with a consumption tax.

So, the taxes you pay when you buy stuff increases, but that is what replaces the income tax. In other words, if you buy less stuff you will pay less taxes. Businesses still get taxed separately, but their write-offs would obviously be better considering the inherit tax that goes with all of the products and services supporting their business.

Maybe that’s too crazy, so how about a very low flat tax plus consumption tax.

How about a 5% flat tax on all money earned (and we’ll still throw in a few tax incentives like dependents, mortgage tax adjustments, etc). Since people with a few more bucks will be buying the yachts and the luxury items, the taxes they will be paying will go up according to all of the stuff they spend their money on. I don’t know if these concepts are feasible, so maybe the better place to start is to start cutting out government programs and services since the government just costs way too much money. If we cut out enough, then the taxes we pay will be reduced.

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Friday, February 22, 2008
  Immigration, Citizenship, and Voting
One more from the What Would You Do As President? series (I think I'll do one last one after this, maybe). I want to debate the pros and cons of what a few of the denizens of the web think:

The basics of what these folks are talking about are a national language (English), adding to the requirements to become a United States citizen, illegal aliens, and reintroducing voting tests.

I don't know how feasible a border-spanning, check-pointed gateway is, but if it was made to be nearly impossible to get over/under/through then I could see it stifling illegal immigration. The only problem would be if the checkpoints were very far away from each other.

I am a native English speaker, and I have to admit that I get pretty annoyed when I call into an automated phone system that will not continue until I pick a language (#1 for English, para espanol - oprima numero dos). If the system always used to use English, why would I have to make a selection before continuing? Shouldn't the system assume that I want to use English and have an option to switch to a Spanish menu? I'm not against the spanish menu option, I'm against forcing me to actively choose English when it should be the expected norm.

As for illegal aliens, I think immediate deportation is a bit harsh because there are some people that were here legally but have had their visa lapse - sometimes out of their control. However, if you were caught working in the U.S. without a visa and you don't get it cleared up in a week, then you have an option of immediate deportation or jail followed by deportation (unless you resolved your visa status while you were in jail). Obviously this goes directly against the thought that non-violent criminals shouldn't be clogging up our penitentiary system, so maybe it's just a large fine that quadruples if you get caught again.

As for voting tests, let's not forget that there is free public education for all. I don't see any persecution or unfairness with extremely trivial voting tests. You should only have to pass it once (perhaps per voting district), and it has to be standardized so it won't become unfair. If you cannot read at a very basic level and / or pass a trivial test then can you be doing anything other than voting either by guessing or being a brain-dead hole-puncher for somebody else that told you what to vote for? The test can be something as easy as this:
Pick the option that is a color:
If you guessed fluffy you can't vote...and you should be shot.

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Friday, February 15, 2008
  How The Universe Works
I read this comment on slashdot and it made me laugh:

God made the universe 6,000 years ago. If you do not worship him and subjugate yourself to his will, he will torture you forever. He just put in things like dinosaur bones and black holes to mess with your head, to get you to disbelieve in him, so that he can torture you forever without feeling guilty about it.

He's kinda messed up because he was alone for like, eternity, until he made up some friends in his head, but he's incapable of imagining anything that is actually his peer, so he secretly hates us all for not providing the companionship he needs. That is how the universe works.

I'm a Christian, but I'm still allowed to laugh at this even if I don't believe in it, right? Many of the points the original quoter makes are either directly believed by hardcore fundamentalists or at least are derived or inferred from fundamentally interpreted scripture. Why is it that we (humans) are the glory of God? Why didn't He make some super being like Voltron that would break-dance and give God high fives whenever He leveled up in WOW and play some inter-galactic game of billiards involving planets and suns with? I dunno why, I guess that's why He's God and we're the created?

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008
  Legalize Stuff
This is more from the What Would You Do As President? series. These are all items that I may or may not agree with, but they are pretty interesting to talk about. How about we just start legalizing all kinds of stuff? These are what some people think:
Overcrowded prisons are a fact, so how can we deal with that problem? We could build more prisons...or we could let the ones that won't hurt anybody out. That makes you wonder 'who are the ones that won't hurt anyone?' Speaking in generalities, it would be the ones that did white collar crimes (fraud, etc) and probably drug offenders.

The immediate red flag is that if you don't go to jail for dealing drugs, then it'll get worse and worse. The best response to that is to regulate and tax the living crap out of selling recreational drugs - and to stick a heavy fine on those that do it illegally. Heck, while we're legalizing, regulating, and taxing the entire drug industry, let's legalize, regulate, and tax prostitution because all of that tax money would probably pay for a free universal health plan. Oh, and da ho'z wouldn't need no mo' P.I.M.P.S, fo' shizzle.

Going back to the druggies, I don't even think you'd have to lower the rap sheet implications for continued participation in the illegal drug trade. If it was a felony before, it still is. You just pay a hefty fine instead of doing jail time.

Cannibas Sativa (hemp) has a bazillion industrial uses. It's pretty much as useful as water. Millions of products could be produced from it, and it grows like a weed! Dude!!

I know that I don't agree with doing drugs, but why is there a double standard? Alcohol is a drug and it is legal, regulated, and taxed. Cigars and cigarettes are addictive, give you that 10 second high the first few times you do them, yet you can buy them everywhere. Marijuana is really not much different, so why is it illegal? Or, on the other side of the coin, why is alcohol legal? What about harder drugs? Maybe it's just the really hard and crazy addictive drugs (I'm thinking heroin) that should be illegal. Why are we only allowed to have one legal drug, and everything else will put you in jail?

You know what's weird? I always considered myself on the straight-edge "stick those druggies in jail" side of the equation, but there are too many inconsistencies for me to be happy about the current state of affairs. Besides, I tip a few back now and again, so why should I be allowed to look down upon pot smokers and other drug users unless they have truly destroyed their lives to the point that they have become complete degenerates? Alcoholics can also become degenerates or have little impact on their lives - so why the double standard?

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