Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Other People's Money On Other People

Milton Friedman said there are four ways to spend money:

1. You spend your money on yourself.

2. You spend your money on other people.

3. You spend other people's money on yourself.

4. You spend other people's money on other people.

If this list sounds familiar, you are either very well-informed or you remember me mentioning this before. *grin*

The economic stimulus package that the House of Representatives is voting on today (you can read all 647 pages here) is a very good example of what happens under situation #4. Here is a summary from today's Wall Street Journal:

"Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before."

So said White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in November, and Democrats in Congress are certainly taking his advice to heart. The 647-page, $825 billion House legislation is being sold as an economic "stimulus," but now that Democrats have finally released the details we understand Rahm's point much better. This is a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years.

We've looked it over, and even we can't quite believe it. There's $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn't turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There's even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.

You can read the entire article here.

The Senate has their own version of the stimulus bill which should come up for a vote in a few weeks.

Sounds like the same old pork, different congress. Whether your political beliefs or understanding of the Constitution allow for a government stimulus of private commerce or not, shouldn't the majority of the bill contain laws which would actually stimulate something economic? Maybe they are trying to stimulate a faster economic downfall? In so, way to go!

So much for change.

Update: The House passed the bill this afternoon (Jan. 28th) 244-188.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Random Puzzlements

I have been having a couple of thoughts/ questions rattling around in my brain over the last few days, and they have been stuck in the rattling and pondering mode without much development, so I thought I would share them here. Either you all can add to my thoughts and help me jump-start them into serious "analysis mode" or, at the very least, I'll have good company in the "rattling around" club.

Random Puzzlement #1:

I get that President Obama's election was an historic one because of his ancestry. However, isn't making a big deal about his race defeating the point of being color blind and not making race an issue? How much celebration is appropriate without violating the principles encapsulated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of not judging people by the color of their skin but by the content of their character? Isn't "positive" racism still racism?

Random Puzzlement #2:

Why weren't Mr. and Mrs. Obama wearing coats at the inaugural ceremony? I know this doesn't seem like a big deal (it probably isn't), but it really bothered me for some reason (because I'm a mom of a child who shares Mr. Obama's percentage of body fat, maybe?). I don't know, but all I could wonder was if it's because our society tends to place so much importance on image that we can't even allow the President and First Lady to wear a coat during an outdoor national ceremony on a 20 degree day for fear we will miss what designer they are wearing so we can all criticize them later?

Random Puzzlement #3:

Why was the phrase "so help me God" added to the Oath of Office during the inaugural ceremony? It's not in the Constitution, so why did Chief Justice Roberts feel compelled to add it? He also added at the re-take, so I don't think it was a fluke. If President Obama wanted to say, "So help me God" after taking the oath as a sort of public prayer, that's fine. George Washington did. That's where the tradition comes from. However, I have a problem with it being formally added. Does it's inclusion negate the oath taken since the oath would no longer be in compliance with the Constitution? If so, would that mean we have been president-less for decades since it has traditionally been added for who knows how long? Frodo says I was being nit-picky in the case of President Obama's swearing-in since it was asked as a question, but it wasn't at the re-do. Does it really matter?

Random Puzzlement #4:

Why hasn't more than one President used the word "affirm" as opposed to "swear" when taking the oath?

(Really, Really) Random Puzzlement #5:

Why do I feel guilty taking our two stray kittens to the animal shelter? It's a no-kill shelter, their other sibling that was there was adopted quickly, we didn't ask for these kittens, and Frodo is deathly allergic to cats... sooo, why do I feel bad?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

The transition from President Washington to President Adams is notable because is was a peaceful transition from one head of the Executive Branch to another. The transition from President Adams to President Jefferson is notable because it was also a peaceful transition and followed a very contentious election. In fact, John Adams was not even invited to Jefferson's inauguration and left the White House at dawn with no fanfare to maintain the peace and solemnity of the occasion. Every inauguration since is notable because, despite hotly contested elections, revolution has been avoided and peace has prevailed. It is truly awe-inspiring.

Executive Oath of Office

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
-United States Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Clause 8