Service Nation Summit: Day Two

Posted on September 12th, 2008 by bile
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  • Was just visited by Henri Makembe. Told me they would be providing for interview with people but I’d have to keep it friendly. “If we make them mad then they won’t want to give any of the other bloggers time.” So… they don’t want me to ask serious questions. What a surprise.
  • Have quoted Winston Churchill, Mother Teressa, Mahatma Gandhi.
  • They show all these examples of service yet they all appear to be real voluntarism, ie no government involvement.
  • “We are not here as Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, socialists or Green party members. We are here as Americans.” I appreciate the shout out but I’m here as a libertarian.
  • “We are here today because of Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.” Too bad they don’t wish to abide by the ideas contained in those documents.
  • “Politicians get a bad wrap. Some deservingly. But there are all kinds of politicians who help America.”
  • Being a citizen of the United States is the highest reward.
  • If you googled “giving back” you’d likely find “Mike Bloomberg.”
  • Bloomberg: New York City’s government school system improvement is an example for the rest of the nation.
  • New York City is the city of service because William James who wrote The Moral Equivalent of War (intro by Jon Roland) advocating national service was born here.
  • “We are the beneficiaries of those who give their lives to defend us.” Defending from the Koreans? The Vietnamese? The Iraqis? The Pakistanis? The Iranians?
  • Bloomberg babbles on about global warming, “We are polluting the air we breath.” Yes… by breathing.
  • “Service should be asked of everyone and should be open to everyone. So we are creating new programs.”
  • “Democracy and capitalism hasn’t helped everyone…”
  • George Bush: Asks everyone to spend two years or 4k hours helping out in a lifetime.
  • Laura Bush: “People have more opportunities to volunteer through government programs.” Being incentivized by tax payers money is not voluntarism.
  • Rolling Ridge elementary school gives it’s kids service journals and have made ‘service’ party of the curriculum.
  • “Children who learn the importance of service early are more likely to volunteer later in life.” Gotta indoctrinate them young.
  • The program has moved on to personal stories from ‘volunteers.’ One from City Year, Civilian Conservation Corp, AmeriCorps.
  • Admiral Michael Mullen: “the soldiers in Iraq are protecting our democracy at home. They are there because of what happened on 9/11.” I thought Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. How is it that our invasion of Iraq is protecting us?
  • “There is no greater reward than working for something greater than yourself.”
  • “Keep singing (God Bless America), keep waving (flags), and keep serving!” Yay nationalism/fascism!
  • Obama, McCain, Dodd, Clinton have said they will cosponsor the Serve America Act from Kennedy and Hatch.
  • The language used always refers to “the two candidates for the oval office.”
  • Senator Hatch: “We want to help children who want to serve.”
  • “Our efforts will start early in our classrooms.”
  • “Service learning has shown to keep kids interested in school. So we are going to offer more incentives.”
  • 61 million Americans volunteer without government incentives.
  • “We will invest into a volunteer fund matched dollar for dollar from the private sector.”
  • Want to create funds to help non-profit entrepreneurs.
  • Offer older people “education rewards” to give to their children and grandchildren to pay for school.

Read More…

Ron Paul calling for hearings on falling dollar’s impact on oil prices

Posted on July 3rd, 2008 by bile
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In the face of $4 per gallon gasoline and predictions the price will rise to $7 by the end of summer, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Lake Jackson) is calling on Congress to explore how the weakened value of the dollar may be contributing to the rise in oil prices.

Paul, whose 14th Congressional District of Texas includes part of the Katy area and much of Cinco Ranch, said he wants Congress to hold hearings on the relationship between the falling value of the dollar and the recent rise of oil prices.

As ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Paul sent a letter earlier this week to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services committee, asking for the hearings.

“The price of oil is currently among the most pressing issues to American workers,” Paul said. “Congress should be examining all factors contributing to the high cost of oil, and monetary policy is one of the key factors in the run-up in price.”

Paul’s letter pointed out that the price of oil in dollars has risen 39 percent this year. Oil in Euros has only risen 30 percent, resulting in degraded purchasing power of the dollar of at least 80 cents of the increased price of a gallon of gas.

“Neither the Federal Reserve nor the Treasury Department have been willing to take responsibility for the dollar’s slide over the past several years, while American consumers have been forced to pay continually higher prices for gasoline, heating oil and numerous other imported products upon which Americans depend,” Paul noted in his letter. “American consumers cannot afford to allow continued lax Congressional oversight of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department’s duties as stewards of the dollar, especially since the dollar is a major factor in the skyrocketing price of oil.”

Besides himself, 16 other Members of Congress signed on to the letter, including ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services Spencer Bachus, and Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Rep. Jeb Hensarling.

Hopefully DownsizeDC will get something going on this. If anything this could be an educational tool for those who would be participating. The more congress critters who understand economics, even a little bit, the better.

Green Party’s solution to the high oil prices and oil dependence

Posted on June 9th, 2008 by bile
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Green Party candidates like Cynthia McKinney, Jesse Johnson, Kent Mesplay, and Katherine “Kat” Swift offer positive solutions.The British are paying $8 dollars a gallon for gas. Goldman Sachs predicts Americans will be paying $6 a gallon next year.

Green Party candidates positive solutions. “More Trains, Less Traffic”. Build modern high speed rail across America. New High Speed rail in the intersate corridors, and light rail in communities to cut dependance on foreign oil in half. Stop wanton waste of $1 Trillion tax dollars on foriegn military misadventure. Stop the deficit spending that has brought a weaking dollar, and inflated prices. Seek political solutions for political problems. Use tax savings to balance annual $3.1 trillion federal budget, pay off $9.4 Trillion federal debt, install auditable accounting system at pentagon. Build rail with tax savings.

Kent Mesplay, ” Cut out tax payer funded oil, auto, aspault subsidies”.

Columist Charles Krauthammer wrote in the Washington Post this week. “Tax the damn thing.”

“Why have the extra $2 dollars (above the current $4) go abroad? Have it go to the U.S. Treasury as a gas tax.” To pay off the federal debt and strengthen the U.S. economy. Force conservation.

Announce a schedule of gas tax hikes of 50 cents every six months for the next two years. And put a tax floor under $4 gasoline, so that as high gas prices transform the fleet, change driving habits, and hugely reduce U.S. oil demand and bring down world oil prices .. the American consumer and American economy reap all the benefits”.

Don’t know if the spelling mistakes are in the original press release but I’d hope not. Couldn’t find this release on their website so I’m not sure of the source. I’m interested in the economic theory behind this along with the constitutional validation. I have a feeling the former would be overly simplistic and the latter based on the fallacious living document theory. I’m not entirely sure I understand the tax floor at $4/gallon of gas. Does that mean if prices drop the tax will become a greater percentage or the retail price? Does that imply that they will raise the tax as the gas price increases in order to at least keep the percentage the same? How will this light rail work in the nonmetropolitian areas where at least 1/6th of the population lives in? I know that where I grew up buses and light rail would be almost completely useless. Where is the justification for taxing those individuals who happen to live in rural areas where these services won’t ever reach? Will anyone acknowledge that the unconstitutional interstate highway system very likely was a major component of our current situation? Are the people advocating this claimed solution claiming that this government intervention will be different because it’d be done “right” by the “correct” people unlike the very consistent string of “wrong” individuals prior? What do they propose to do for those who couldn’t afford artificially inflated $6/gallon gasoline?

CA considers taxing some plastic bags

Posted on April 13th, 2008 by bile
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California shoppers could end up paying recycling fees if they decide to haul their groceries home in plastic bags.

Two bills scheduled to be considered tomorrow by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee would authorize fees of 15 cents or 25 cents a bag.

The idea is to discourage supermarkets and large drug stores from using plastic bags.

Supporters describe the measures as a follow-up to a recent program requiring supermarkets and pharmacy superstores to recycle plastic bags and sell reusable bags.

But the California Retailers Association says lawmakers should give the recycling programs more time to work before considering the fees.

I’m not interested into getting into who’s responsible it is to deal with the plastic bag issue, what harm they do, the property rights issues, etc. again. I just wanted to comment that it’s funny that back when I was a kid the news and politicians were making a big deal out of paper bags and how they were part of the deforestation problem. They tried to get the stores to stop using them and I recall some places would charge you for paper to get you to use plastic instead. That turned out to be completely bogus and now paper is sort of OK (deforestation myth is still spread) and plastic is the new target. Seems unlikely people are going to recycle those bags unless the police state steps in. They aren’t exactly the easiest things to deal after used. Many recycling programs are actually economically and/or environmentally worse than the alternative so I’d like to see if plastic baggy recycling is actually worth it. I’d also like to see the amount of plastic used in the store bags vs trash bags. Are the pols going to tax Hefty bags too?

Ron Paul on the steel penny bill

Posted on March 19th, 2008 by bile
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Before the Financial Services Committee, Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology, Hearing on HR 5512, March 11, 2008

Mr. Chairman,

I oppose HR 5512 because it is unconstitutional to delegate the determination of the metal content of our coinage to the Secretary of the Treasury. Under Article I Section 8 of the Constitution, the Congress is given the power to coin money and regulate the value thereof. It is a shame that Congress has already unconstitutionally delegated its coinage authority to the Treasury Department, but that is no reason to further delegate our power and essentially abdicate Congressional oversight as the passing of HR 5512 would do.

Oversight by members of Congress, who have an incentive to listen to their constituents, ensures openness and transparency. This bill would eliminate that process and delegate it to unelected bureaucrats. The Secretary of the Treasury would be given sole discretion to alter the metal content of coins, or even to create non-metal coins. Given the history of Congressional delegation and subsequent lax oversight on issues as important as the conflict in Iraq, it would be naïve to believe that Congress would exercise any more oversight over an issue as unimportant to most members as the composition of coins.

While I sympathize with the aim of Section 4 of this bill to save taxpayer dollars by minting steel pennies, it is disappointing that our currency has been so greatly devalued as to make this step necessary. At the time of the penny’s introduction, it actually had some purchasing power. Based on the price of gold, what one penny would have purchased in 1909 requires 47 cents today. It is no wonder then that few people nowadays would stoop to pick up any coin smaller than a quarter.

Congress’ unconstitutional delegation of monetary policy to the Federal Reserve and its reluctance to exercise oversight in that arena have led to a massive devaluation of the dollar. If we fail to end this devaluation, we will undoubtedly hold future hearings as the metal value of our coins continues to outstrip the face value.

HR 5512 is a sad commentary on how far we have fallen, not just since the days of the Founders, but only in the last 75 to 100 years. We could not maintain the gold standard nor the silver standard. We could not maintain the copper standard, and now we cannot even maintain the zinc standard. Paper money inevitably breeds inflation and destroys the value of the currency. That is the reason that this proposal is before us today.

I’m surprised we haven’t heard about people melting down pennies. They are worth like 50% over the face value.

Minimum wage raises to $5.85

Posted on July 24th, 2007 by bile
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The first minimum wage increase in 10 years takes effect Tuesday, to $5.85 from $5.15 an hour, with two more steps over the next two years taking base pay for millions of workers to $7.25.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 raises the wage in the 18 states that haven’t already boosted their minimum wage. The District of Columbia has also raised its minimum wage.

About 13 million workers, or 10 percent of the nation’s work force, will benefit from an increase in the minimum wage, the labor-backed Economic Policy Institute said. Of those 13 million, 5.6 million would be directly affected, while 7.4 million low-wage workers will see the spillover effect on their wages.

“You may be able to get someone to work for 10 cents an hour, but we’ve decided as a society that that’s not a desirable situation.” Says you. That ‘someone’ is a competent human able to decide their own worth for a particular job. If they choose to work for less then they can survive on that is their decision. They will quickly learn it’s not reasonable to be paid that amount and will either find more work or demand more money. Either way things will balance out. The market works when you leave it alone.