Monday, February 05, 2018

Taxes are not a one-way transaction

We all complain about taxes and we all would like to pay less taxes or none at all.

But what happens when we pay less taxes?

We won’t have the public streets and highways that we want to be in pot-holeless condition.

We wont’t have fire departments coming to put out our house-fires or the neighbors’ house-fires that might expand to our house.  Does that give you a clue why tax supported fire departments are a good idea?  If not, consider how safe your house would be if you were the only one on your block who paid the fire department.

The same holds for police and snowplowing and street cleaning and …  Would you want to be responsible for clearing the snow from the street in front of your house?

And the irony of ironies is that the “conservatives” who complain the loudest about taxes for things they don’t like want to to throw money at the military, especially if it means a military base in their district.

Oh, yes!  If you can read this, thank a teacher.  If you're rich, maybe your daddy paid the teacher.  If you're not rich, hundreds and thousands of tax-paying citizens paid the teacher.  Or, the poor kid whose education you helped pay for in your middle-age may be the doctor that saves your life in your old age.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Vanguard feedback

Sent to Vanguard after email notice of tax documents:

1) Finding feedback is a bit of a chore.
2) The instructions in your emails do not match what is on the screen when a user signs in to his or her account.
3) I have had more debugging experience than I care to remember.  I really don't wish to spend my time debugging third party software.

Or better yet, I tried to send the above to Vanguard.  The window for feedback wouldn’t scroll down all the times, including “Submit” if that was an option.

I did discover that I could move to non-visible sections with the tab key.

Hm!  I noticed typos in the Notes copy.  I wondered if I sent uncorrected text.

Gli italiani sono tornati (English speakers please read on)

For several weeks there has been a big spike in usage of this blog.  It was almost like clockwork every two days.  It was at the same time as a large number of visits "from" Italy.  And then it stopped.

Hurray, maybe the Italian/Russian reverse spammers had gone away.

Then today there was another spike.

You, my legitimate readers, can help make them go away by telling your friends and relatives about this blog.  If the ranking of visits to this blog goes way up, then the hopes of reverse spammers will go do away.  The reverse spammers hope I'll click on their links and ...

But I don't hold much hope about word about this blog spreading.  My comments to the New York Times and Washington Post don't get many "likes" either.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Why we should have universal health care!

We should have universal health care to increase public health.

Many readers have health insurance, have a certain number of sick days, and generally stay home if we are sick.  About the only thing we will infect other people with are colds or flu.  We will stay home if we have the flu but not in the early stages when we think it is a cold.

But there are lots of people who have no health insurance and no sick days.  These are people who drag themselves to work to make sure their incomes stay steady.  They are the ones who can infect the rest of us on the bus or as restaurant servers or store clerks.

At a gym, many people clean off every surface they touch before and after using a machine.  But do they, or we, clean off every door handle, including on the lockers.  If we take a bus, do we clean off the seat before we sit down.  Do we wear masks in elevators, especially in a medical facility?

How many Typhoid Mary’s are out there serving us even when they know they are sick?

Universal health care will not eliminate all cases of passing an illness on, but it can certainly reduce our risk of catching a disease.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Quote of the day: Trump and John Wilkes Booth

“Donald Trump is the John Wilkes Booth of the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln.” - Paul A. Fleming, “With so much stupidity, question everything”, Letters to the Editor, Duluth News Tribune, 2018-01-04

Monday, January 01, 2018

Edmund Burke and Sarah Palin thinking alike?

“The occupation of an hair-dresser, or of a working tallow chandler, cannot be a matter of honor to any person–to say nothing of a number of other more servile employments.  Such description of men ought no to suffer oppression from the state; but the state suffers oppression, if such as they, either individually or collectively, are permitted to rule.”

Quoted in The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin, Corey Robin

I can’t see how he can equate a thinker like Edmund Burke to a clueless person like Sarah Palin.

The above quote is taken very much out of context.  Burke was commenting on the French Revolution where everything was torn down to start anew.  Burke's comments were often directed at Thomas Paine who thought each generation should start governance from scratch.  Burke was very much for change in the context of continuity.  People should keep what works and fix what is no longer working.  To do so, you can't just take people off the street and expect them to understand what changes should be made and how.

I gave up reading The Reactionary Mind after that quote.

I do recommend Edmund Burke: The First Conservative by Jesse Norman and The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Left and Right by Yuval Levin.  Both have a more nuanced understanding of "conservatives" and "liberals".  Although Levin describes himself as a conservative, he gives fair hearing to both Burke and Paine.

Ironically, both Paine and Burke favored the American Revolution.  However, the United States was founded on a Burkean conservatism.  The French revolutionaries imprisoned Paine for about a year and the French Revolution fell to a military government under Napoleon Bonaparte.

Unfortunately, I don't think there are any Burkean conservatives in the U.S. government, unless they are Democrats.  The only thing conservative about Republicans is conserving their own power and that of large corporations.

Ironically, our first conservative wrote a well-thought treatise on how to govern and what dangers to watch out for.  Current "conservatives" not only ignore the lessons in George Washington's Farewell Address, but they don't even attend its annual reading in the Senate!!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Trump is not a conservative

Are “conservatives” really conservative?  About the only thing “conservatives” want to “conserve” is their power.

They are definitely not like Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or Dwight Eisenhower.  They certainly don’t take Eisenhower’s advice about the “military-industrial complex.”

And they are definitely not like the “First Conservative”, Edmund Burke.  See “Edmund Burke: the first conservative” by Jesse Norman or “Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left” by Yuval Levin.

They are more like the French Revolution, tearing down everything that went before than Burke’s Whigs who made small changes to an existing order as needed.

This was intended for “Why I’m Still a Never Trumper”. Bret Stephens, New York Times, 2017-12-29, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/opinion/why-im-still-a-nevertrumper.html.  Unfortunately, comments were cut off before I could get it sent.