Why We Need a Consumption Tax

News of the Day,” Macroblog, 31 March 2005, http://macroblog.typepad.com/macroblog/2005/03/news_o_the_day.html (from The Glittering Eye).

Because this personal fiscal insanity has to stop

Personal spending rose 0.5 percent in February while incomes rose a less-than-expected 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The Labor Department said today the number of Americans seeking first-time jobless benefits jumped in the last weekly tally before tomorrow’s monthly jobs report.

Again spending rose faster than savings. This is great for Keynesians, but in the real world this retards growth and weakens are international position. Americans are literally selling out the future at steep discounts. A consumption tax would punish spendin, not earnings and not savings, and give us a sustainable economy.

Likewise, isn’t it great being a hostage to the Middle East?

Crude oil rose and gasoline and heating-oil surged to records on signs that U.S. refineries lack capacity to make enough fuel and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts predicted that oil could touch $105 a barrel.

….

It’s equally likely that oil will touch $105 or $15 a barrel,” said Jason Schenker, an analyst with Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte. “It’s not going to $105 without a major cataclysmic terrorist attack on significant oil infrastructure. It’s not a rational expectation.”

A geogreen strategy would take pain today, in the form of consumption taxes on oil, to avoid this randomness tomorrow. Oil revenue makes bad regimes horrible and fair regimes crooked. The oil system is lose-lose.

So we have two bits of bad news. Why not combine them?

Record prices have failed to curtail surging fuel consumption, the Goldman Sachs analysts said in a research note. The firm’s upper limit was $80 previously. U.S. supplies of gasoline and distillate fuels, such as diesel and heating oil, fell last week, according to an Energy Department report yesterday.

Great. We need a step enough oil tax to divert the excess revenue out of sheik’s pockets. If it would go to the treasury, fine. If it would go to a special fund, fine. But we cannot keep this us.

Russia Backs Indian Security Council Seat

Russia Tells Pakistan: India ‘Deserving UNSC Candidate’,” Daily Times, 31 March 2005, http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_31-3-2005_pg7_45 (from The Acorn).

I blogged before on Russia’s responsible attitudes toward China. Part of the reason is Russia is excellently placed for Asia’s future — Moscow’s Cold-War-Era times to New Delhi should come in useful. The latest good news? Russia support’s India’s quest for a United Nations permanent seat:

Russia told Pakistan on Wednesday that India was a “deserving candidate” for an expanded UN Security Council seat, PTI reported. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s special envoy Riaz Khokhar was told this when he called on Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov, PTI said. Khokhar met Saltanov to convey President Musharraf’s personal message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The conversation focussed mainly on international and regional issues. “In the context of a upcoming UN reforms the Russian side affirmed the well-known consistent and principled position of Russia on expanding the UN Security Council membership. Moscow sees India as a deserving candidate,” said Russian sources, reiterating Putin’s statement in December last that Russia would back a permanent UNSC berth for India. However, Saltanov called for a consensus on UNSC reforms.

The Acorn adds his thoughts

Moreover, by leaking news of what was supposed to be a ’secret meeting’ the Russians did not lose the opportunity to score points in New Delhi.

International Political Fan Fiction

Aaron warned me that after Allawi’s Law, I was in danger of creating political fan fiction, and that he would have to avoid for me for that reason. That got me wondering, and I could find two other examples of this breathtaking genre.

From Ridiculopathy

A recent Google topic check resulted in several magabytes of text labeled “Greenfield/Russert Slash.”

Jeff suddenly stopped, drawing his face away from his lover’s gaze in shame. “This is wrong, Tim,” he muttered. “We’re from two different worlds, you and I. You have your life at NBC, and I have mine at CNN.”

Tim lifted his head from the bearskin rug stroked the protruding vertebrae on Jeff’s back. “Our love is forbidden, yes,” he said. “If our respective news divisions catch wind of this, it would ruin us both.”

Their bond passed wordless between them like an unseen ribbon of fraternity. They had been the only two prescient enough to predict the Florida mess in 2000, each respected enough by both parties to garner invitations to moderate high-level debates. Neither had fared well enough to keep a prime time cable talk show running for more than a few weeks.

Jeff pushed up the nose of his round tortoise shell glasses, resolved in his decision. “If running numbers with you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.”

With that, Tim put the bear costume back on for another go.

And IMAO has an entire category of the stuff (hat-tip Catalase).

“Why does it look like President Bush’s Social Security plans won’t be passed?” asked a reporter, “Is it because you’re so fat?”

“I’m not fat!” White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan exclaimed, “And the Social Security plans will be passed.”

“Is it because you’re in denial of being fat then?”

“Argh!” Scott exclaimed and stormed away. “The press are being mean to me!” he yelled as he entered the White House. He then noticed Bush was spraying the interior with something. “What are you doing?”

“I’m spraying the White House with monkey poison,” he explained, “I’m pretty sure a monkey bit me while I was sleeping, and I don’t want any monkeys in my house.”

“A monkey did not bite you!” Laura Bush exclaimed, “You just imagined it!”

Bush kept spraying. “I can’t take that chance!”

But no international political fan fiction found. Allawi’s Law still wins!

Conservative Yasuo Tanaka (But not in Nagoya)

Japanese City Finds It’s Hip to Be Uncool: Years of Fiscal Conservatism Pay Off as Now-Trendy Nagoya Area Booms,” by Athony Faiola, Washington Post, 30 March 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11075-2005Mar29.html (from Riding Sun).

I first heard of Yasuo Tanaka from the book Japan Unbound. He came across as an unconvential but serious politician trying to turn around Nagano from its disasterous history of poor spending.

It looks like his home prefecture is doing well because of his fiscal conservatism

But the sophisticates in Tokyo and Osaka aren’t laughing anymore. In a nation still struggling to find its footing after a 13-year economic slump, Nagoya is riding high as Japan’s city of the moment. With an economic growth rate of 2.8 percent, greater Nagoya — home to 7.2 million people and some of Japan’s most successful companies, most notably Toyota Motor Corp. — is sizzling along at more than double the national average. The region boasts an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, markedly lower than the national rate of 4.7 percent, according to government statistics.

“Nagoya is doing better than the rest of Japan today because of a local culture of not being wasteful or risky,” said Shinobu Iguchi, senior economist at the city’s Kyoritsu Research Institute. “The rest of Japan made fun of that aspect of Nagoyans in the past, but the success in the region now speaks for itself.”

But analysts also cite Nagoya’s reputation for being stingy. In the past eight years, the city has trimmed 13 percent of its workforce, or 3,648 jobs, deemed part of a bloated government bureaucracy.

Especially considering that JU profiled him as the left’s answer to Shintaro Ishihara, it’s all the better. Let’s hope the Japanese Right can do for Nihon what the American Right did for the United States since the early ’80s.

Update: Gaijinbiker updates his original post

And I previously misidentified Yasuo Tanaka as the mayor of Nagoya, when in fact he is governor of Nagano prefecture. (The reference has been removed.) I’ve always had a problem with Japan’s “N-G” place names — once I bought an expensive Shinkansen ticket from Tokyo to Nagoya, instead of Niigata.

There’s a lot to be said for blogs. Refusal to admit that he was wrong cost Dan Rather his job. My local newspaper, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, constantly publishes inaccuracies and half-truths without correcting them. And not necessarily political ones, but basic facts of business, economics, and even sports. I suspect most of the main-stream media is like that.

Meanwhile, Riding Sun spots a goof, corrects it, and passes the word along. That’s the way media should work. That’s the way that the better blogs do work. That’s the way Riding Sun does work.

Back in the Day

The Good Old Days,” by Brendan, I Hate Linux, 31 March 2005, http://ihatelinux.blogspot.com/2005/03/good-old-days.html.

An eventful day today. In spite of a foul-up by USD, I got the Assistanship at UNL. So, failing a great counter-offer by my current employer, I’ll be there come August.

Brendan has a nostalgic and somewhat melancholy post about the past.

Not long ago I was talking with my friend Dan about the good old days of computing, the nostalgia with regards to different applications, the cost of new hardware, who was stuck on the worst pc for longer. Rather a sad topic for a couple of people in their mid 20’s.

One area that occurred to me was that of meeting new people.

Often these days, most people spend most of their online communication time with their friends and family, the IM and/or e-mail have in large part replaced the telephone enabling people to have multiple conversations simultaneously.

Go back a number of years, there were few on the internet, and even fewer who were capable of ‘chatting’ (ie having and using such an application). Back then, most who used such things did so on their own and didn’t know many people from the ‘real world’, so they ended up meeting lots of new people online.

Hopping onto IRC or some other chat service they’d spend time either with existing online friends from given social circles, or venture out and meet new people. Another common method was simply throwing ones ICQ # at the bottom of their webpage, e-mail, usenet posting or whatever was seen by others.

Heck, it was this way that I met my (now) ex. I was sitting in a Minneapolis chat room and someone entered saying they were from California, and me being the nosey person some accuse me of being, I IMed the person asking “You live in California and are in a Minnesota chat room… why?” And so began a nice conversation, like many over the years, but tapering off over the last few.

What’s the point of all of this? Just my thoughts on how much some things were ‘back in the day’ Back when ICQ was all of the rage, back when giving out your IP was not something to be feared, back when chat clients didn’t by default restrict messages from persons not on your ‘buddy list’.

Of course, a decade ago I was about crippled, so some things do improve. I remember being intensely happy while walking to Best Buy to purchase a computer with my family. In that same memory, I’m hobbling.

At one of the most influential periods of my life, all of my happy moments come from lying down. It was unfomfortable to sit, painful and exhausting to walk. I had accomplishments, but what stands out is how happy I was to fall asleep. I remembering being unable to walk a block to be at the White House fence. From the year before that I remember very little.

I remember that period of my life happily, and that comes from my loving family. I remember my first computer, a Packard Bell 100Hz with 16 megabytes of RAM and a 1.2 gig harddrive, fondly. I remember how mad I got at it, and how blissful playing Myst with my friend Aaron was. I remember getting (a virus-infected — egads!) copy of SimCity from him too.

My first computer had MS Paint, which I used to create (artistically terrible) alien land-scapes. My brother and I played Oregon Trail II, SimCity 2000, Hoover, and the Conquest of the New World battle-sim on it. I could forget my sickness and go anywhere and do anything. I’ve loved computers since. I wouldn’t have taken my undergrad degree from DSU without those experiences, nor my graduate degree from the University of South Dakota Computer Science Department.

Enough sentimental blogging for the day. And PS: I’ve had dinner with his ex. She’s hot. Cute and short and hot. Incredibly so. And so is her friend.