Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Energy Policy Debate: Bold New Ideas

After hearing the new crop of poli-chickens regurgitate the same old rhetoric regarding America's energy future, I'm demanding some fresh ideas. Here's the problem with red vs. blue policy:

Red (GOP): Drilling in Alaska is a good idea, but that's not going to fix the problem even in the short term. There isn't enough oil in Alaska to offset our current imports. US on-shore domestic oil production has been declining since the 1970's, so it's foolish to think that we can bring online enough domestic supply to slake our ever-expanding thirst.

Blue (Democrats): Biofuels like ethanol will never replace gasoline nomatter how much you subsidize it. It's a net-loss when you consider the cost of farming and additional infrastructure. Additional taxes on gasoline would be a good idea if you were building towards a feasible solution, but hybrid cars and E85 are going to be disasterous if mandated federally. Besides, I trust this Congress with money less than I would a bank run by crack addicts. How's that non-existent Social Security trust fund going, Mr. Byrd?!

Smashing through boundaries: The fix is in!

We're going to drop the price of fuel for consumers and build up the infrastructure to maintain the same level of prosperity and rapidness of travel all the while decreasing our consumption of petroleum products in the long-term. More specifically, I'm calling for:

-Nuclear power to replace diesel-guzzling ocean freighters and heavy rail locomotives. Yeah, that sounds radical, but if we can put an engine on a submarine that makes 50,000 horsepower and doesn't need to be refueled for 10 years, then why are we dumping God-awful amounts of diesel fuel into these boats that bring us our beer from Europe and our miscellaneous bullshit from China? I know that there's a security risk, but the US Coast Guard can easily implement a satellite tracking mechanism to ensure that these boats don't fall into the hands of terrorists. We could very easily replace our obnoxious lovers of diesel juice that deliver bulk manufactured items via railroads. Wouldn't it be ironic to have a perfectly environmentally sound, zero-carbon train deliver thousands of tons of sooty coal to be burned to make electricity?

If security concerns prevent us from using this ultra-efficient, Al Gore friendly method of powering our industry, then I hate to inform you but Osama Bin Laden and Co. have officially beaten the US. The point of terrorism is to make your victim too afraid to be themselves, and if we get hung up because we're afraid then we lose.

Replacing the mass consumers of diesel fuel will free at least 30% of our domestic refinery capacity and roughly the same in crude oil consumption, thus automatically reducing our demand on petro products by roughly 1/3. In dollars for you, that brings us back to around $1.55-$1.80 a gallon on gasoline with a much more stable price that is far less subject to Katrina-like fluctuations and panic.

-We need a mass transit system that is beneficial to suburban commuters. We can't follow Europe's model because their cities are built much different from ours. We have a bigger country and we have a chance to really do something revolutionary to satisfy our need to move people from place to place rapidly while catering to the impatience of US consumers. This is a challenge, but this is very possible. Great advancements have been made in the field of magnetic levitation trains by Japanese researchers that could prove to be the ultimate technology for making trains a means of inter- and intra- city transportation so rapid that the airlines can't even keep up!

There's two things that energy ideas should have in common: They should have a very positive economic effect and they should improve the environment. One without the other is a NO DEAL. Sorry, Al Gore. I'm not willing to lose my job over some extrapolated research, we're a good bit smarter than that. We can keep our economy and protect and improve our planet at the same time. I demand this of our leaders.

Let's discuss- how else can we lead the world into economically and environmentally-friendly energy solutions?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fair Tax Q & A

The purpose of this entry is to address the very pertinent questions from the last Fair Tax post. I'm going to take the opportunity to use charts to illustrate how the Fair Tax is victory for the people over the liars in Washington, and lets the American people do what they do best: propser!

Item #1: Does a babysitter or the kid that mows my lawn have to collect the Fair Tax? (from Lefty)

No, there is a provision within HR.25 and S.25 that allows for small jobs and "hobby income", up to an annual $2,000. If you sell furniture or other personal belongings via classifieds such as this does not count towards your hobby income. Your car, your investment portfolio, and your Beanie Baby collection are personal items that are not sold in commercial quantities, and therefore are not taxed as retail items, because you are not a retailer. Besides, they are used goods and the tax has already been levied against them.

Item #2: Isn't this a regressive tax? What about the child tax credit? (from Hillary Clinton)

Pictures say a thousand words, and the Fair Tax is the most thoroughly researched tax reform measure in history. Instead of bloviating in miserable economic theory, he's a chart that explains it much better than I can:
How does everybody end up paying less? Several reasons persist:

-Vastly increased compliance (some will still sell illegally, but far fewer than cheat today)
-Improved efficiency in collection (The IRS is the least efficient office possibly ever)
-Broadening of the tax base (internet sales, retail services, etc.)
-Broadening of the base of people who pay taxes (illegal immigrants, tourists, drug dealers)

As for the child tax credit that Hillary was so worried about: based on current estimates, most households with 2 kids will get a $492 check at the beginning of each month. Do we really need to keep paying tax credits every April to people with herds of kids? The Fair Tax reimburses the expenses that additional children create, and that is all that tax policy should ever be responsible for. In fact, the child tax credit of today is basically a brand of social engineering, and is absolutely irresponsible tax policy, so we're not even talking about apples to oranges.

Item #3: Won't the prebate system just create another government monster? (from Lefty)

All legal US Citizens and legal permanent guests will recieve the prebate regardless of income. Hey, we're saying that no US citizen shall pay any taxes on the necessities of life, to be determined by the basic poverty level spending amount. You do not have to prove to the government how much money you make (a MILESTONE in reduction of government paperwork!). This is an important point from our Constitution that the 16th Amendment repealed. The US Treasury Department will do the job that the IRS turned into a beurocratic nightmare, and the FBI will investigate fraud just like they're (supposed to be) doing now. The Treasury Dept. won't turn into another monster because they have a much simpler job that will require an amount of staff that all researchers agree will pale in comparison to the current IRS roster.

Item #4: So basically businesses are doing the job of funding our government. Some of them are corrupt. (from BND)

Yes, businesses will be charged with the task of sending the money off to the Treasury Department. To be sure some will cheat, but with 80-90% fewer entities filing, the concentration of investigation power of the FBI has increased nearly tenfold. Besides, over 80% of all retail goods purchased come from the largest of the big-box retailers, and there is no way they can risk cheating under such a hot spotlight. Also, there is a built-in 1/4% kickback to reimburse for the accounting, so this is not charity work for the government. The math is quite fucking simple with the Fair Tax, so 1/4% is extremely generous.

Item #5: What about doctors and other small business? (from Lefty)

Since the tax base has been broadened to include the retail service sector, your doctor would indeed have to collect the Fair Tax from consumers. These costs are considered into the prebate, so we can't let lobbyists have a foothold here by making exception. This isn't going to exacerbate the health care fiasco for the poor because again, healthcare costs are considered for pre-imbursing these additional costs of basic living. Internet sales are also charged to pay taxes, because that's only fair.

Item #6: What about gas prices? (from Lefty)

The federal government already has a whopping tax built in to gasoline, but it would be up to congress if they wanted to remove the current tax to make room for the new sales tax. Otherwise, it is a retail-level good or service so it is subject to the Fair Tax. I can't stress enough that we're keeping 100% of our paychecks here, plus the cost of these goods will fall from 20-28% once we remove the current income tax burden from the production scheme. I am strongly in favor of user-based taxes, such as the one on gasoline, so we'll have to see if our favorite nincompoops in Washington can do something productive with the revenue.

Item #7: Isn't this a blow to the federal government? (from Lefty)

Not at all, it is revenue-neutral. They will collect the same amount of money from us, the difference is that now they have to do it efficiently, they have to collect from everybody to include illegal immigrants, tax cheaters, and tourists, and we are now perfectly aware of how much they are taking from us. We the people are tired of hidden taxes, lobbyists tactics, and insider tax breaks for buddies. Because we have to tax all retail goods with no exceptions, there are no footholds for shit-eating lobbyists to hook up their buddies. There are no tax credits for oil companies, and there won't need to be any offshore banking to hide money from our government. If you're worried about people not spending money, here's a comparison to how much more stable of a source of income sales taxes are as opposed to income taxes:

AGI = Adjusted Gross Income, PCE = Personal Consumer Expenditures (please note that this graph shows percent change, so a flatter line is a more stable function)

Item #8: Isn't the tax rate really 30%, or even 60%? (from Hillary Clinton)

The people that say the Fair Tax rate is 30% are actually correct. Taxes can be calculated exclusively or inclusively. I wonder why the same people don't want to say that most people pay 52% of their income when calculated exclusively? Since income taxes are always calculated inclusively, it's most appropriate to report the 23% Fair Tax as such. The 30% figure is still better than the 52% figure.

Inclusive Method: Exclusive Method:
Widget: $77 Widget: $77
Fair Tax: $23 30% sales tax: $23
Total: $100 Total: $100
$23 out of $100 = 23%. This is exactly how our income taxes are calculated.

The 60% figure is based on bullshit research done by biased lobbyists who made the fictitious assumption that we would exempt groceries, gasoline, heating bills, electricity, etc. etc. etc. from being taxed, and then still reimburse people for the basic cost of taxes on necessities. That's how they came up with the bogus 60% in order to compensate.

$22,000,000 in top-tier research has been invested in the Fair Tax making it the most heavily researched tax reform measure in history. On May 15th, 10,000 Fair Tax supporters will rally right across the street from the presidential candidate debate scheduled just a few hours later. This is an idea that deserves some mainstream press. By the way, HR.25 and S.25 now have 60 co-sponsors. The idea is gaining steam with every session of Congress. It's starting a powerful trend where people want to know how much tax we pay, and we're tired of being lied to having our money confiscated. I know it's not perfect, but let me close with this question: Why in the hell would you punish people who work legally?