Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Herman Cain almost had me...

Herman Cain has intrigued me since he hit the campaign trail.  He is a successful businessman who has a degree in math.  That alone is a major point for him in my book.  He supports wiping out the vast and confusing quagmire that is the US tax code with a flat tax.  Another point.  Then we get to the part about "advancing to the Fair Tax".  Now you've lost me. 

You see, I have a simple view of a flat tax.  One tax rate for all, no exceptions.  None.  It hits everyone just as hard.  My hope for the 999 plan was this:
9% tax on gross income for all businesses after paying their employees.
9% tax on gross income for individuals.
9% sales tax.

Herman Cain's plan initially appears this simple.  However, I noticed that interspersed in the Cain explanation were a number of qualifiers, all of which make it no longer a flat tax.  Businesses still have deductions that they can qualify for, so the gray areas then open up.  I guess the tax preparers needed to be thrown a bone.  Additionally, we have "Empowerment Zones" for more deductions, both personal and business.  More gray area, even more vaguely defined.  And I see no actual explanation of the "Fair Tax", which I am led to believe would be similar to the VAT so popular in the Euro Zone, which right now is such a high symbol of fiscal responsibility.

I have been a fan of flat tax since I have had to pay taxes.  I have noticed one thing in all discussions.  The idea is great, a simple plan based on basic math.  Then it gets complicated because the people in the discussion forget the "flat" part of flat tax.  Normally the first item thrown out there is Capitol Investment.  From there we hit on charitable contributions and eventually we are circling the drain while discussing carbon footprint taxes and value added tax.  Then we have the issue of Federal vs State Vs Local. 

I call bullshit on all of them.  Do you know how I am sure that a simple flat tax with no special rules or exceptions will work?  Nobody will be entirely happy, but nobody will be completely screwed.  I prefer the following plan:

10% Federal tax on gross income for all businesses after paying their employees.
10% Federal tax on gross income for individuals.
4% Federal sales tax.

5% State tax on gross income for all businesses after paying their employees.
5% State tax on gross income for individuals.
3% State sales tax.

2% Local tax on gross income for all businesses after paying their employees.
2% Local tax on gross income for individuals.
1% Local sales tax.

Edit: Forgot to add the total lines: 
Business - 17% tax on gross income after paying employees.
Individuals - 17% tax on gross income.
Sales Tax - 7% on all goods and services.
And we finish by removing all other taxes.  Where did the numbers come from?  My ass, really, but I can't do any worse than the people we have elected already.  Going on this plan, I would pay over 50% less in taxes overall.  The trick would be getting those we elect to actually learn how to balance a checkbook and not pour money down a bottomless hole.

I see how he got elected...

I was flipping through the channels last night before going to bed and stopped on a channel that sucked me in like a fishing show.  I really didn't want to watch, but I couldn't avoid the spectacle.  President Obama was in the Tonight Show and I simply had to stop.  Jay Leno was pitching up slow underhands like a third grade softball pitcher and Obama was swinging for the fences.  I was mesmerised.  I am always amazed by his public speaking skill and I imagne after his time in the Whitehouse he will make a killing on the public speaking curcuit.  I see why he got elected. 

On the other hand, having read the news and actually looked into many of the things that were discussed, I also know that what I was seeing was carefully orchestrated.  It was just another stop on his "not a campaign" trail.  Lots of blaming the republicans for failing to approve his legislation.  Of course, he conveniently glosses over the math.  I was entertained by one comment.  He said that the politicians have to stop thinking only about the next election and start thinking about the future for our children.  That is entertaining, since those of us that can do math have seen him put our grandchildren in debt. 

Occupy... parks and um...stuff...

I have been watching the new reports about the Occupy <your city here> people and am amazed how they don't represent me but claim to.  Their claim of 99% is interesting, because I have yet to meet anyone who believes that they are included in that percentage.  Maybe its because all the people I know have jobs, so they can't be onsite at the rally to drink the cool-aide.

The protesters appear to be all of the same people who rallied to the president's cry for Obamacare (which raised my familie's rates drastically) but didn't actually research the bill or do the math.  Generally, all I have seen and read about are a bunch of people who have little grasp of math, no knowlege of history and a general dream of living their dream of protesting like its 1969.  While I am sure that there are some sincere people with actual college degrees in something other than liberal arts and political science participating, I have not seen any of them speaking publicly. Nor have the demands from the speakers that are available even vaguely based in reality.  One would think that they would be requesting reform in the area of compensation at large corporations, since that tends to be a driving factor in the "greed" that they claim is evil.  Mmm, not so much.  They want free money, free healthcare, complete elimination of fossil fuel use, free homes, a chicken in every pot and I believe there was mention of a pear tree and some birds in it.  These people do not represent 99% of us, however, the rest of us are too busy working to get on over to our local protest to correct them.

Now I see that a new movement is starting, the "I am the 53%" crowd.  These are people who are applying actual research and math completed by non-partisan researchers and are tired of some hippie wanting free everything claiming to represent them.  They have the audacity of paying their bills, too.  This has resulted in immediate calls of "racist, tea party whackjobs paid for by big business".  Funny, I have yet to see them crapping on cop cars, trashing public parks, engaging in violent clashes with police or even threatening violence.  I guess that happens when you decide that a job (even a fast food job) is better than unemployment. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Range time, or current lack thereof...

So I am looking at the calendar and I realize two things.

1.  It has in fact been over two years since I set foot on a range to actually fire an honest to god firearm instead of a gas blowback airsoft pistol in the backyard.
2.  I naturally misspell the word calendar.

Since spell check is set to automatically tell me that I am an idiot, I discount the latter and start working on the former.  Despite living in the the SF Bay area, there are actually a fair number of options for range time in the south bay area.  I can choose five ranges, two of which are county/city owned.  Entertainingly, the county owned one has the best overall facilities (in my opinion) with prices that are as good as, if not better, than the privately owned ranges.  However, it is an outdoor range, which can be a downer in rainy weather, even with the covered lanes.  To the rescue comes the city owned range, which is small, appears to date back to the Roosevelt administration (the first one) and has limited hours.  But is is indoors and the prices are almost criminally low.  For less than I pay for one adult at the county range for all day access, I can get a lane for my entire family. 

Now, of the private ranges, I have been to all of them and none of them thrill me.  Cost aside, they all have issues that cause me to lose interest. 

One, despite being located across the street from a police department and having strict guidelines on who they sell and rent to, it always feels like its Gang Night (half off for all members!).  I have actually seen people shooting pistols gansta style.  I'm not taking my daughter there.
The second has replaced their backstop with what appears to be either coal or volcanic rock but failed to do anything about ventilation.  10 minutes into a session and its hard to see any targets past the 5 yard mark and even harder to breathe.
The last is just to far to drive on winding mountain roads to get to.  It is a nice outdoor range, but the two municipal ranges are closer. 

So now I have to work a weekly schedule up for visiting the ranges, get signed up for the CMP and start regularly putting lead downrange.  Because living here, I have to do everything I can to make Feinstein cry without breaking the law. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gov. Moonbeam inspires me...

He inspires me to move to another state.  Almost any other state. (Massachusetts, NJ and NY being huge on the exception list.)

Jerry Brown is getting into his stride.  Since his election I have been waiting for his participation in the useless exercises that originate from LA, usually with a democrat behind it.  He seemed to be worrying about the important things, like the budget, but I was sure that he would start signing worthless legislation sooner or later. 

Now, I hold allegiance to no party, I find most of them to be stupid.  I vote for the person who I feel will do the best job.  Unfortunately, that usually ends up being translated to a vote for the one who will do the least amount of damage.  While I did vote, I did not vote for him because I have already seen him in action. 

So this week Jerry, has decided to sign two bills into law concerning firearms.  Now, neither of these laws will do a thing to prevent crime.  Nor will they do anything to assist with the prosecution of criminals.  Criminal generally as a rule do not openly carry firearms due to their lack of interest in law enforcement interaction, so I doubt that the ban on open carry (AB 144) will do anything to enhance safety.  It will allow petty law enforcement officials to harass people that they don't like who own firearms, but that argument will have to wait until cases start hitting the courts.  And I feel that they will.  Since the state is not a "Shall Issue" state for CCW, I am sure that this one will be fought in court for some reason shortly.

AB 809 is another item that is a solution without a problem.  Are untraceable rifles and shotguns a problem for law enforcement right now?  Has it ever been a problem?  No, and it plays right into the argument from the gun rights advocates about registration being the first step towards confiscation.  What it means right now is that I will refrain from purchasing the long guns that I wanted to purchase until I either find the legal way around this requirement or (more likely) I move out of this continually sinking state of suck and fail.