Whorled View

February 16, 2008

The Homeland Production Agency: An idea who’s time has come.

Filed under: economics,Technology — lullabyman @ 9:11 pm

We should be getting a nice fat tax rebate this year thanks to the economy being in the toilet. I should be grateful but I can’t help but think that this tax rebate will have little effect on the economy while it balloons both inflation and the deficit. Most of everything we buy today is made overseas so all the rebate will really do is put more money into the pockets of our Asian neighbors. Very little of it will end up staying here in the US of A. What good is it if everyone buys a flatpanel TV where only 20% of that rebate stays in the country (as Walmart’s markup), which remainder Walmart employees will use to buy the foreign-made Nintendo Wii to use with said foreign-made TV.

“…only 20% of that rebate stays in the country (as Walmart’s markup), which remainder Walmart employees will use to buy the foreign-made Nintendo Wii to use with said foreign-made TV

The other problem with the existing rebate (besides the dangerous impact on inflation and the deficit) is the removal from circulation by nervous consumers. With the bleak future constantly thrown in our faces people are likely to conserve as much as possible.

To stimulate the economy you must put money in a system that keeps it in the country and keeps it in circulation. President Bush’s current stimulus package does very little if anything to this effect.

My solution came from an idea I had while visiting www.madeintheusa.com. It has a quote in the side bar which says, “There are 293 million people living in the United States. If each one would shift $20 a month in spending from foreign made products to American made products, that would create 5 million new jobs.”

“There are 293 million people living in the United States. If each one would shift $20 a month in spending from foreign made products to American made products, that would create 5 million new jobs.”

Wow. Adjusting $20/month from one brand to another will create 5 million new jobs – and thats without any “new” spending. Imagine if the whole stimulus plan (roughly $1200/family) could be used for only domestically made products. The economic effect would be enormous. But how do you earmark that money for domestically manufactured products? $150 billion is a lot of money, so the corruption to acquire would be an acceptable risk for many (if not most) companies with foreign products. In short, it would necessitate yet another government entity (booo!) to monitor business and corporate supply claims: the Homeland Production Agency or “HPA”.

But it’s time has come. Being a Republican who has some John Birch leanings I shudder to think of creating another government agency, nevertheless it is an evil necessity. There must be an agency that has as it’s main goal the encouragement of production in our Homeland. Such an agency would work closely with the IRS (which it would eventually replace – so really no additional bureaucracy is being created) to provide tax incentives for companies to incorporate US made parts and pieces. Because of tax incentives, corporate taxes must account for which supplies are imported or domestic, and the HPA must verify those claims. Each product then gets a HPA rating where 0% means it is wholly foreign made and 100% means it’s wholly domestically made, all parts and pieces included. Lastly, the HPA would be responsible for making sure tax rebates go toward domestically made products as much as possible.

“Each product then gets a HPA rating where 0% means it is wholly foreign made and 100% means it’s 100% domestically made – all parts and pieces included.”

This last item seems the trickiest (although it isn’t as I’ll show below). How does the HPA make sure that 100% of your tax rebate goes toward purchasing domestically produced products? Simple (although in practice it will be a task initially costing 100’s of millions): by making the HPA pay for the products directly, and through a system already in place that facilitates the power of internet database processing.

It would involve using a modified version of Paypal as the payment system, and your Social Security number gives you access to an HPA-paypal account to where your tax rebate will be deposited. You may even add to this balance if you wish. Any website can implement the HPA-paypal system – as simply as adding any other payment module (as an ecommerce programmer, let me assure you that this is very easy to do).

“Any website can implement the HPA-paypal system – as simply as adding any other payment module (as an ecommerce programmer, let me assure you that this is very easy to do).

For example, let’s say you get a letter from the IRS that your HPA rebate has arrived, so you log onto amazon.com (or any e-commerce website). Let’s say that you want to buy a leafblower, a trampoline, a Wii, a doodad, and a Schwinn ten-speed. You select “HPA-Paypal” for my payment method and check out. HPA pays 100% for the leafblower and trampoline because they’re both made entirely in the US, but only for half of the Schwinn because of the foreign parts, and nothing for the Wii, made entirely outside the US. HPA won’t pay for the doodad either because the doodad manufacturer didn’t register their product with the HPA and so it isn’t in the HPA database. Note that amazon.com doesn’t need any of this information – it’s all taken care of at check-out by HPA when they pull the info from the HPA database. At checkout you enter a credit card to pay for the remainder of the balance that the HPA won’t pay (for foreign manufactured products). Piece of cake … for everyone concerned.

“You log onto amazon.com … select HPA-Paypal for my payment method … and enter a credit card to pay for the balance that the HPA won’t pay. Piece of cake.”

Ten years ago funding domestically made products like this would have been impossibly difficult. Today such a system can be put into place within months (at least on a limited basis initially), and become a necessary and powerful tool to be used down the road to address future economic issues. All the pieces are already in place. It could, in fact, provide the framework for a less intrusive, and consumption based tax method as we begin to deal the the problems inherent in today’s income tax methods.  At that time there would be no more need for the IRS, so we’d end up with no greater bureaucracy than we currently have (it would actually shrink because the HPA based consumption tax would be far easier to administer than an income tax system).  It is, in short, a no-brainer.

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February 8, 2008

Watch the Anti-Mormon-flavored PBS program “The Mormons”, or not

If you missed it 10 months ago don’t despair … recently reshown (as was “September Dawn”) to coincide with Romney’s epic struggle against the msm-nominated McCain , you can watch it Monday night on PBS.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the most one-sided and history-selective treatment of the Mormon church that has ever been wrongly portrayed as a balanced treatment of the church. I actually don’t have a problem with all the anti-Mormon media that honestly admits that it intends to be highly critical and not give a balanced view because at least those treatments are at least honestly disrespectful. I’ll take honest disrespect over dishonest respect any time of the day.

But this one pretends to be something that it isn’t: Balanced. Some history: A couple years ago producers of the PBS series “American Experience” approached the Mormon church with a proposal to produce a “balanced” view of the Church in a 2 part documentary. Church leaders obliged and were interviewed as promised. Boy were they surprised when it aired.

Apparently “balanced” meant that they would give the same amount of time to a couple church leaders and BYU professors, as with excommunicated members, as with apostate ex-mormons, as with a couple of non-mormon intellectual critics, as with a couple evangelical anti-mormons, as with a non-representative members who made bad decisions or had ideas that weren’t backed up by official doctrine, and then they gave like 5 minutes to one good-representative lds family (out of 4 hours). So if you combine the time spent on negative and critical messages compared to positive messages the ratio was something like 5:1.

That would be fair I suppose if the church does 5 times more damage than it does good, but if you look at the statistics of Mormon communities you’ll find quite the opposite dynamic: the presence of the Mormon church (at least statistically when you look at family values, crime, suicide rates, graduation rates, education, etc) has a tremendously positive effect on communities. Christ said “By their fruits shall ye know them” (what I like to call the divine litmus test), but for whatever reason this maxim is never applied to modern-day Mormons or modern-day Mormonism.

I blogged on the program when it first aired back in May of 2007. You can read my summary of it if you don’t want to waste your time to find out how one-sided and selective it was (see here for part 1 and here for part 2).

Don’t get me wrong – it was done very professionally by Hollywood standards, narrated by a well known actor (David Ogden Stiers, the uppity surgeon from Mash) with nice camera work, with the deceptive appearance of good research, commentary by self appointed experts sitting in comfy chairs in wooden walled offices, paranoia enabling sensationalism, and most of all: artistic liberties (ie. innuendo, fact wrangling, and most of all: extremely selective history coverage).

So if you watch it then please remember the divine litmus test (“By their fruits shall ye know them”) when you consider what most of your Mormon neighbors are about. What do THEY do? How to THEY act? Then consider the amazing social statistics of communities with lots of Mormons compared to anywhere else. If you’re an atheist and thus don’t like the idea of “By their fruits shall ye know them”, consider this adage: “Actions speak louder than words”. It means the same thing. Our beliefs guide our actions and words so you can really get to know us by what we do on a daily basis.

Otherwise you can watch a million programs called “The Mormons” and never still have a clue what a “Mormon” is. Don’t be scared … we won’t bite, and we probably won’t even convert you. In fact we’d love to give you the other side of this documentary so you will truly have a “balanced” perspective.

February 6, 2008

Repair the Primaries: The Multi-vote Plan

Filed under: Politics,Sociology — lullabyman @ 6:07 am

We saw it with the republicans – the conservatives split down the middle so we nominated someone who doesn’t electrify the bulk of the republicans. It’s worse when it happens in a general election, but it happens all the time.

4 years ago it happened among the Democrats where the moderate democrats beat themselves up while John Kerry as an extreme liberal sailed in as the uncontested liberal candidate, who then couldn’t get elected despite the fact that Bush was so unpopular. In 2000 Ralph Nader split the democrat vote, handing the election to Bush despite the fact that Gore got the popular vote. In 1992 it was Ross Perot who split the Republican vote giving Clinton the victory even though Perot didn’t win any electoral votes (you don’t have to win the electoral vote to steal pre-electoral votes in a tight race).

My solution would be very easy to do using electronic voting machines: everyone is allowed up to 4 votes to divide among the candidates any way they want, but each candidate can get a maximum of only two votes. You can for example choose to give your first choice 2 votes, your second choice 1 vote, and then not cast the 4th vote. You could also give your 2 top candidates the maximum of 2 votes each, or you can give one candidate 2 votes and not cast the other 2 votes. You could, if you wanted to, spread the 4 votes among the 4 candidates who are against or for a particular issue, 1 vote each.

At a minimum it should be practiced on a Primary level. It would probably not even be necessary at the general election if done that the primary level because we’d end up with more viable candidates so splitting the party at the general would be less likely to happen.

This method will greatly increase the likelihood that at least the best platform gets nominated (assuming that democracy works: what’s best is what’s most popular).

It would also increase the likelihood that more moderates would get nominated, and elected. Why? Because there are more moderates than extremists, so it’s the moderates that generally knock each other out while the extremists go uncontested. The nomination of John Kerry was the perfect example of this.

Then again, if you like Iraqgate or Lewinsky gate – both products of Presidents elected via the spit-vote phenomenon in either the primary or general election, and if you’d like to see more of that kind of thing then lets stick with the existing system. If you always think what you’ve always thought, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

February 5, 2008

Huckabee’s Secret Combination

Filed under: christianity,Corruption,partisan politics,Politics,Sociology — lullabyman @ 2:52 pm

According to the math Huckabee has no chance of winning even if he gets all the South-Eastern states. Why, then, is he staying in the race? Of course, it’s to split the socially conservative vote with Romney so McCain will win.

Seems crazy, though, as McCain stands for almost everything that Huck and Romney both oppose – so what’s going on here?

Well, the answer’s obvious isn’t it? All the other electoral drop-outs have endorsed McCain so they could be veep, so Huck must be doing the same, right? But an endorsement by Huckabee for McCain would seem so hypocritical given their diametrically opposed platforms. If Huckabee was a true conservative he would endorse the candidate with a conservative platform: Romney. So what is he to do?

And where is he of the most value for McCain? Exactly where he is.  Besides, dropping out and endorsing McCain would substantiate all the rumors of Huck’s supposed baptist-based bigotry. If he wants to really help McCain, and secure for himself the veep spot, he needs to split the conservative vote and effectively hand over the victory to McCain.

So we’ll see, rather soon, if it will pay off for Huckabee. Will he have sold his birthright (his platform) for porridge (mere revenge) or will he get the veep spot? And don’t kid yourself … he is indeed selling his platform – McCain is Anti-Marriage-Ammendment, Anti-Life-Amendment, Pro-taxes, Pro-Amnesty, and soft on moral issues, and Huckabee is doing far more for McCain than any of the other McCain endorsers combined.

Either way, whether it is revenge or to get the veep spot, it is despicable to split the vote just to deprive your closest platform of a victory. Such a man is the least deserving of anyone’s vote.

February 4, 2008

McCain debates Hillary, lovingly

Filed under: partisan politics,Politics,Sociology — lullabyman @ 3:50 pm

Now that the Republican party has practically let the mainstream media pick their candidate we can look forward to what their debates will be like:

Hillary: Repeal the Bush Tax cuts!
McCain: I agree!

Hillary: Reward illegals with citizenship!
McCain: I agree!

Hillary: Punish America alone for global warming!
McCain: I agree!

Hillary: No conservative Judges like Alito!
McCain: I agree!

Hillary: Abort unwanted babies!
McCain: I agree if it belongs to my daughter!

Hillary: Gay rights!
McCain: Especially if they’re “passionate lesbians”!

Hillary: No Man-Woman Marriage Amendment!
McCain: I agree!

Hillary: Protect incumbents and limit free speech!
McCain: Long live McCain-Feingold!

Hillary: No Alaska drilling!
McCain: I agree!

Hillary: Vote for me!
McCain: I agree! Wait… ! Ummmmmm…

Oh boy! I can’t wait! (that dripping sound you hear is sarcasm)

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