Monday, December 26, 2011

We’re Outnumbered 1 to 99.

I was casting about for a blog topic. Then Peter Moskos pointed out an excellent topic on which to comment on his blog Cop in the Hood. After reading the article he referred to, I find Rolling Stone said everything I could think of.

As I commented on Peter’s blog, the more I learn of American history, the better I understand this is how America has functioned for well over a hundred years. Maybe from the start. The difference now is that the current one percenters, in addition to having a bigger piece of the pie than ever before, lack the civility, manners, class—call it what you want—to keep from flaunting it at every opportunity, then rubbing our noses in it if they don’t like the response.

I’m no communist. I looked up what true socialists believe in, and I’m not one of those, either. It’s still early. Jamie Dimon and his cohorts can still talk me into it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

More Christmas Wishes

Tim Hallinan, friend and superior author, has also found the poetry muse this Christmas. His is topical, and more generally entertaining.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays From The Home Office

Another pass around the sun
Is ending for us all
And I confess, the year that ebbs
Has held us all in thrall
With ups and downs and downs and ups,
Our heads we could but shake.
A hurricane was not enough;
We had our own earthquake.

The Sole Heir’s news is only good,
Her options she surveyed,
And changed her school from U of M
To down St. Mary’s way
At southern tip of Maryland,
A place she much prefers,
So strongly that, two hours away,
We still can hear her purr.

Her next year may be better still:
In May she’s off to France
Where studies medical will get
Their first prolonged glance.
She’ll stay six weeks in sunny Nice,
A Riviera clime,
She’ll learn, she’ll work, she’ll play, she’ll tour,
The time should be sublime.

The Spouse Beloved had a year
‘Twould rattle lesser souls
Her craft room’s devastation set
Her back on several goals.
The water of her discontent
Has seen its flow abate,
Its renovation’s tardiness
Is gone, no more she waits
For closet and for storage space,
More room to work her crafts,
It’s coming all together now
Despite some minor gaffes.

My year, it had a couple downs,
Though ups will far outlast,
Like surgery on both my eyes
Means they’re no longer glassed.
Twin cataracts their view had dimmed
Until both were removed,
Bionic lenses took their place;
My vision’s much improved.

A book has been produced, my first
To place in public view,
And though the sales have not been brisk,
I’ve good reviews in lieu.
Kind words from several writing peers
Describe success to me,
Wild Bill was first, two more next year,
How well they’ll do, we’ll see.

A lot of other stuff occurred
But, frankly, little good.
And mighty bored you all would be
If tell it all I would,
So I will pass, because we know
That bad times always fade
There’s no point to remember them,
To rest they should be laid.

Now once again a year will end
And all will celebrate
The winter solstice holidays
Of any faith you fete,
We hope you have a happy time,
Kick back or tie one on
That’s all for now, we’re signing off,
Till Twenty-Twelve is gone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Equality of American Justice

Barry Bonds has been sentenced for the obstruction of justice conviction he received from his perjury trial, where he was accused to lying to a grand jury about his steroid use. Two years probation, thirty days home incarceration, and a $4,000 fine. This is what it costs to give evasive answers calculated to mislead prosecutors.

The only real reason to prosecute people for perjury and obstruction is to deter others. If people start getting the idea they can swear on the Bible and then tell a court whatever they feel like without fear of retribution, what little justice we have in this country won’t be worth even the pittance it has become.

How much will this sentence deter Bonds, should he find himself in another similar situation. Two years probation is nothing. It means only that the judge doesn’t want to see you in court again for a little while. Even a santorum like Bonds should be able to go forty years at a stretch before his arrogance becomes criminal again. He made it that far once; he knows how it works.

Thirty days house arrest? Please. Barry Bonds made over $100 million dollars playing baseball. It’s not like he’s trapped in some fifth-floor walkup in the South Bronx where the rats are afraid to go because of the number and attitude of the roaches. Barry’s toughest decision might be to decide which house to be stuck in for a month.

Then there is the fine, which is insulting to any member of the 99% who has ever run afoul of the criminal justice system. At his prime, Barry Bonds made about $30,000 every time he stepped to the plate. He wouldn’t put pine tar on his bat for four grand.

How is this calculated to make someone think twice before they get cute in court? Not only will this not deter Bonds and his ilk; it won’t deter me. I’d like nothing better than to be kept home for thirty days, and The Home Office is a little to the left of anyplace Bonds might stay on the Palatial Scale. Two years probation. I’ve never had any more serious brushes with law enforcement than a speeding ticket in fifty-five years; I can go two at a stretch if I have to.

Four thousand dollar fine? I’m not one of the 1% (though I am probably part of the 5%), and I was able to maintain a rainy day account adequate to write a stress-free check for my share of The Sole Heir’s car last summer, which, coincidentally, was $4,000. If I had to testify in court, I’d tell the truth because that’s how I roll, not because a penalty the likes of Bonds’s means anything to me.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t people for whom that would be a serious penalty. How about a guy who’s working on a landscaping crew, or a day laborer making minimum wage (if that) by the time you average in the days he doesn’t get work? Tie him to his house for thirty days and he doesn’t make his rent or feed himself. Of course, he wouldn’t get thirty days home incarceration, he’d get longer time in a real jail because he also doesn’t have the four grand to pay the fine.

This is American justice at its finest, proving its equality by punishing the rich the same as the poor, except to the rich it’s not punishment. It’s bragging rights, so they can chat up their buddies and show how the system works for them. In our case, justice isn’t just blind; it’s stupid.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Magic Dollars

Okay, here's what I can't figure out: If government spending doesn't stimulate the economy, why will defense spending cuts hurt it? Is there something about defense spending dollars that circulate through the economy better than infrastructure spending dollars?
Republicans (and some Democrats) are lining up to find ways around the defense spending cuts that they themselves voted to implement should the Supercommittee fail, which it has. Funny, but I don't see the same ardor to preserve the domestic spending also set to be cut by the triggers. Is this because defense dollars are magic? Or is it because defense dollars have a different trickle-down effect: money goes into campaign coffers, then trickles down into defense contracts? Gee, I wonder where the money in the first half of that equation came from?
On a related note, why is it Republicans (and some Democrats) won't allow the payroll tax cut to be extended without offsetting spending cuts that will hurt a lot of the people who receive the payroll tax break? Could it be because this tax cut only affects those making $106,000 or less? I don't remember them being this aggressive about a tax cut being revenue neutral when the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy went into effect, or when they were extended last year.
Please correct me if I'm missing something.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Double or Nothing

Among the primary arguments put forth for minimizing or doing away with corporate and/or capital gains taxes is the concept of double taxation. “That money is taxed twice,” proponents say. “Once at the corporate level, then again at the personal or capital gains level.”

We all know the word that describes this: bullshit.

First, money cannot be taxed. Money is inanimate and abstract. It has no inherent value aside from what we agree it’s worth. (This includes gold, by the way, so let’s not start that bogus Gold Standard argument unless we want to include the world is flat, the sun revolves around the earth, and dinosaurs co-existed with people. Oh, wait…maybe I shouldn’t include that last one.)

People are taxed. Therefore, since the Supreme Court and Mitt “The Twenty Percent Solution” Romney have declared corporations to be people, corporations should pay taxes. If they are to have all the rights of people, let them shoulder the same responsibilities. For now, whenever a conservative complains about how many people don’t pay any income tax at all, it should be understood they include General Electric in their condemnation.