Friday, July 19, 2013

German Longsword Drills

I really need to practice more of this stuff.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Nuclear Option

Senate Democrats and Republicans managed to find some kind of agreement to vote on Presidential appointments, so Reid won’t be implementing the “nuclear option” today.

What is it taking so long? I think the “nuclear option” should have been exercised ages ago. What the Senate has right now is not a filibuster: a filibuster requires effort. A filibuster requires politicians to occupy the floor and keep debate open endlessly to keep a vote from happening. It requires the kind of effort that Wendy Davis put forth in Texas and Rand Paul put forth in the US House.

What the Senate has is an “obstruct” button, and it needs to be taken away.

Monday, July 15, 2013

On the Trayvon Martin Case

I suppose that everyone with even a fleeting connection to the media has learned by now that George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin.

I hope that everyone realizes that being acquitted of these charges doesn’t mean that Zimmerman did nothing wrong and/or wasn’t being an idiot. This case isn’t over: there will be a wrongful death suit, and there’s a good chance he’ll lose that one.

I’m not terribly surprised by the verdict. I’ve been a juror in a criminal case, and the bar to convict is pretty high. For any given charge, there are several criteria that jury must agree have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If and only if all of them have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury must find the defendant guilty. If there’s a reasonable doubt about even one of the conditions, the jury must find the defendant not guilty.

I’m willing to bet that the jury just followed their instructions and did what they had to do based on the evidence presented in court. Don't blame them: blame the politicians who set up this situation with Florida's insane gun laws.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Politics: Tax Policy Revisited

In a previous post I discussed how I would revise personal income taxes, if it were up to me. I also have a few ideas about corporate taxes that I would implement, if I had supreme executive power!

One of the arguments that I hear a lot is that corporate taxes hurt the economy and the people by discouraging employment. The corporations have less money available to them due to taxes, so they have less to put into payroll. I think that can be handled by letting corporations deduct legitimate costs of doing business from their income, payroll being one of those costs. Money that goes to payroll is subject to personal income tax, anyway, so there's no need to "double-tax" it.

Now, I would try to limit that by putting a "salary cap" on the payroll deduction. No more than $200,000 in compensation for an individual employee can be deducted, for example. That should keep the payroll deduction from being used as a tax loophole by giving outrageous compensation packages to executives; they would have to pay a lot of people good salaries to avoid taxes that way.

(Edit: To account for inflation, I think calculated value would be better than a fixed number. Instead of $200,000 as the deduction cap, make it ten times the compensation of the lowest-paid person in the organization.)

Other legitimate costs of doing business would be materials used in making a product, utilities, equipment purchases, and equipment maintenance.

Things I would not include are payments on corporate debt, be they loan payments or buying back stocks or bonds. I just don't want to encourage a lot of borrowing. Stock dividends would also be right out. Payouts to shareholders are things that you do with profits, not expenses.

Charitable spending I would make deductible, but only for the amount that actually goes to charitable work. There would be no such thing as a "non-profit organization" that was untaxed: just money used for charitable purposes that's deductible.

That's what strikes me as a fair corporate tax system that encourages investment and employment and doesn't reward stuffing the bank accounts of corporate executives.