Sunday, December 19, 2010

Economic Ideas.

In keeping with my ideals, I've spent more time educating myself on politics than just throwing out my opinions. I've spent a lot of time on what this blog is about and its about ideas. So in keeping with this I have a huge idea about how to restructure the economy and the American tax structure.

Usually, this blog is a lot about process in addition to ideas. In other words, how do we get stuff done? What is politically possible? I try to answer these questions in ways that try to make people think. Today though is not about the art of the possible but what needs to be done.

All of us have been hearing a lot about the economy and taxes. How do we make the American economy better? Well I have an idea that probably won't make a lot of people happy but here it goes:

First, end temporary tax cuts. All tax cuts have to be permanent. This is basic Milton Freedman economics. Temporary tax cuts do not increase consumer spending so all these temporary stimulus cuts (Bush tax cuts and the American Recovery and Reconstruction Act, also known as the stimulus package) do absolutely nothing for the economy. Consumers use this money to save or pay off debt because they realize this is temporary so they use this money to get ahead not to spend it. Sounds great but in reality does nothing to boost jobs or GDP.

Second, slash corporate taxes and capital gains permanently. The problem with the American economy is we are focused so much on consumer spending that we get into large bubbles and spending money we don't have. This is an epidemic over all over the place from business, to government, to the average person. The United States has the second largest corporate taxes in the world while we have on of the lowest personal income taxes. This needs to change. Corporations don't pay taxes consumers do. Business just pass on taxes to consumers. These taxes prevent companies from investing which is were the U.S. economy needs to focus more on instead of consumer and government spending.

Third, include a Value Added tax. Sales taxes are another way to discourage spending and raising investment. Since we lowered or eliminated corporate taxes consumer prices will go down. Make this up by adding on a sales tax so that consumer prices have a zero net difference. Instead of buying things we don't need the economy can focus more on innovation, investment, and building.

These ideas are not very original Fareed Zakaria talks about these a lot on his CNN show GPS, but these are not talked about enough.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The little pig that couldn't

Back when I was in high school, I used to be a fairly strict libertarian. Over the years I've soften on that; however, every now and then I am reminded why I have libertarian leanings.

In Michigan, a boy with severe pet allergies and his family where not allowed to keep a small pig.

If someone can take care of the animal and its not a danger to others than why not let the poor kid have the pig? In fact, I wish more people kept chickens, goats and small farm animals as it is better for the enviroment, cheaper for use to produce food, and maintain our lawns and gardens.

If no one else's property or life is threatened than its really no business of the government to act this way.

And, in the end, don't you just feel bad for the kid and the pig?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Well that was fast

Yesterday, I wrote at length about how Russia was using anti-piracy measures against dissident political groups.

Now the very next day, Microsoft has come out against using such tactics. Essentially, once the American press (MSNBC and the New York Times) got wind of this it was corrected the very next day.

This is why the news media is very important to spreading political rights at home and around the globe. Public perception is a powerful weapon indeed. Russia will continue its slow march towards political freedom.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Russia, Microsoft, and protesters

I recently read an article about how Russian may be using international copyright law as a way to disrupt opposition political organizations. I have also been keeping track on Medvedev's efforts to modernize Russia (which is needed very badly).

(Just as a note the idea of Russia enforcing copyright law is hilarious. I've been to the faux Disneyland ins St. Petersburg. It is just way too obvious.)

The problem with Russian politics in general is that it tries to blend two mutually exclusive things. Russia gets away with doing this by saying "Well this is Russia and we are different from you."

Point taken, Russia is very different (I love the country and hope to go back). However, you can't have a democracy (aka nobody lives in a democracy its called a republic) without having a way of organizing, protesting, and meeting publicly. Russia is not against freedom of speech necessarily, I didn't feel like I had to watch what I said when I was over there, but they don't like people saying things in groups or newspapers.

Reason why is because United Russia, pro-government political party, is the freaking government. Russia is a one party state. Elections are really just a formality and more represent a coronation. Still it would be wrong to compare Russia to say Saudi Arabia, North Korea, or Iran. There is some freedom in Russia. In fact, modern Russians have way more freedom than their ancestors could have dreamed.

Unfortunately, in the west we lump Russia with the axis of evil out of nostalgia for the Cold War. The biggest misfortune however is the west biggest asset in changing Russia to a freer state is actually helping the Russian government. Russians want an American lifestyle (just not the politics) our corporations have a duty to say "to have an American lifestyle you have to be a free country." Yet, Microsoft sits back and lets Russia (allegedly) abuse its citizens.

Luckily, we in America have freedom of assembly and freedom of the press so Americans can put pressure on Microsoft to help Russian political groups. Russia will gradually modernize and get freer, it has to to survive, our only question is how long do we want to wait?

Friday, August 20, 2010

David Harsanyi on the NYC Mosque

Hasanyi is definitely on of my favorite columnist. I agree with him sometimes. His articles are highly sarcastic (I enjoy my sarcasm on a very deep level). Even when I disagree with Hasanyi his articles make for interesting topics of discussion.

His latest about NYC Mosque is interesting in the sense that I agree with him in shades of grey.

There is definitely a line between healthy debate/critical thought and then outright bigotry.

I don't think its bigoted to say I disagree with aspects of religious belief. The line I would draw is when the religion as a whole is discriminated against and adherents are prevented from exercising there religion.

There is nothing wrong with being a Muslim. Period.

Therefore, I have no problem with people debating whether or not building a Mosque at that particular location is a wise idea. Where I draw the line is when politicians go on television to say we should not build any mosques anywhere.

I've personally have visited mosques many times. I have always been treated well and I have returned the favor though I am not a Muslim. Islam contrary to popular belief has a longer history of tolerance than Christianity.

Does this make Christianity evil? No of course not. We should not characterize religions or any group of people based on their worst members. If you are in fact a true conservative/libertarian than you will judge people as an individual not by the group they belong to. That is higher than tolerance. It is acceptance.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mosque issue and why I'm not convince the GOP will win big

A lot of opinions have been thrown around the mosque issue in NYC. I will simply say this if you are one of the 30% or so people who think the government should discriminate against Muslims then you have no business telling me or anyone that the government is too big and powerful. You also have no right to lecture anyone about the Constitution.

You also have no business reading this blog. This is about complex issues and promoting independent thought.

Now, I will leave some room for disagreement about whether the mosque should be built at that particular location. Honestly, they have the right to build a mosque wherever they like on private property. Just remember we are talking about fiat and political strategy not legal issues.

With that said, I would like to take this NYC Mosque issue and use it as an example of why I don't think the GOP has an effective strategy for the midterms.

Now to be fair, Fivethirtyeight already wrote about this so let's give credit where credit is do.

The idea is the polls are more complicated on the mosque issue than they might appear. The country is broke up into thirds on third thinks there is no problem building a mosque there, a third doesn't like the mosque there but thinks they have a legal right to build it, and the last third thinks the government has the right to prevent the mosque from being built.

So looking at the polling two-thirds of the country find Obama's position agreeable (Obama is somewhere in the middle). Whereas the last third really won't agree with Obama on anything anyway.

As an example, this is a pretty good explanation for the entire GOP strategy which is work hard to the right and get the base to the polls. The problem is you can't win elections with a third of the population.

This third of the population is more likely to vote; however, in this hyper-partisan environment it motivates independents to get more involved in politics. If the hard right and the hard left cancel each other out (well the hard right has a slight advantage but not enough to fight off the middle). Obama has been placing himself in the center-left which is strategically makes sense. Get the middle and the left has no choice to follow. Contrary to the right's belief the left are really not to happy with Obama as Robert Gibbs comments showed.

Now will the Republicans win seats this fall? Almost certainly. Will they take back the House? Maybe. Will they take the Senate? I really doubt it.

Lastly, I would like to point out the in-fighting with Republicans isn't over. The Tea Party challengers are forcing primaries that are preventing Republican resources away from the general election. In the short term, the Democrats have trouble but the its not as bad as it might appear. As for the long term the Democrats are likely to dominate but we'll save that for later.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hickenlooper is Colorado's next governor

Well after McPlagiarist was found out the GOP officially handed the governorship to Mayor John Hickenlooper.

The GOP clearly blew this one. As one of my favorite columnists David Harsanyi points out:

But long before Republicans were asked to absolve Scott McInnis of his occasional Tom Cruise meltdowns, or his imaginary turn as philanthropist, or his fantasy campaign's real-life payments to his wife, or even his plagiarism (do your own lack of work, for God's sake), the Republican Party had blown it and blown it good.

He really hit the nail on the head there. I'm surprised he made it all the way to plagiarism. He gave thousands to his wife for managing a campaign that didn't exist.

Not only did he plagiarize, which is bad enough, but he was paid $300,000 for it!

He's finished. The Grand Junction Sentinel (his hometown paper) is calling him to leave. GOP blew it they could have had Penry really challenge McInnis but he backed out mysteriously.

Now according the The Denver Post, Republicans want Tancredo to replace McInnis. There are so many problems with that I don't know where to begin. Tancredo says bizarre things. Not to mention his name might not even appear on the ballot.

If the GOP has any brains at all they drop the governor's race and focus on the senate, Congressmen John Salazar, and Ed Perlmutter.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Palisade Mayor Recall

Though originally from Fruita, I have family in Palisade and they brought to my attention there is a recall effort to get Mayor Dave Walker out of office.

I've been reading up on the situation but I'd like to here from Mayor Walker and Wayne Reid, the man leading the recall effort, to get their take.

I sent an email to Mayor Walker about doing an interview. I look forward to his response. If you want a brief look at what is going on look here from video and here for print.

Mayor Walker or Mr. Reid if you are reading this I'd love to do an interview. I will give you both a fair shake. I'm more interested in learning about the issues than expressing my opinions.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ken Buck gets my kudos

Well Tancredo pulled yet another well Tancredo:

. . . I believe this with all my heart, that the greatest threat to the United States today, the greatest threat to our liberty, the greatest threat to the Constitution, the greatest threat to our way of life, everything we believe in, the greatest threat to the country put together by the Founding Fathers, is the guy who is in the White House today."

Though honestly, I think the bigger story to me is Buck's response:

"I think he's created a new word in the dictionary; it's called a Tancredo-ism. I don't agree. I think there are a lot of threats to this country, and I don't think the man in the White House is the greatest threat to this country at all."

"I was surprised when Tom said that. Tom tends to exaggerate sometimes. I respect, frankly, President Obama. I disagree with him on a lot of his policies, but he is the president of the United States, and I respect him as our leader."

My kudos to Buck for respectfully disagreeing with Obama and Tancredo. A strong democracy is a democracy that debates ideas and maintains civility. Nice to know some Republics don't play a zero-sum game.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Taking Arizona down a notch

I really hate to through around the term racism. It seems to me that it is an overused straw-man in today's political discourse. However, I might make an exception to what Arizona's legislature is doing at the present moment.

First, both houses passed a bill that gives police in Arizona the power to stop anyone to check their immigration papers. I understand the United States immigration system is terrible in the sense that it is too hard to become a citizen so immigrants are forced to come illegally.

Let me say that I have some experience with police having the right to check your papers at anytime. When I was in Russia, (a very hard country to even get a visa to) police have the right to check your papers at anytime for any reason. This leads to racial profiling which I have seen first hand. I never had my papers checked once (I am of Russian decent but speak very little Russian) while people from the Caucuses and Central Asia, many of which are probably Russian citizens, get stopped constantly. Does this stop illegal immigration to Russia? No, it increases crime and corruption of police. Does this stop terrorists or criminality? No, it alienates people and makes them more likely to be terrorists or criminals.

Therefore, I can only conclude that this law only encourages racial profiling, division, corruption, and criminality. Not to mention state and federal issues.

Next, we have the birther bill that is working its way through the Arizona house. I find it hypocritical that Arizona is trying to pass a birther bill when its senior senator, who was born in Panama, has already ran for President twice. Not to say John McCain isn't eligible to become president (he was born on a military base) but there is more cause to question McCain's eligibility than Obama's. Obama was born in Hawaii which is a state. His birth was in the newspaper, there is a birth certificate posted online, and Hawaiian officials say he was born there.

It seems to me that its not difficult to find Arizona to be on the wrong side of racial equality. The West is not the South. Arizona needs to stop becoming the next Alabama.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

16th St Mall

This is largely a local issue, but since deals with politics, economics, and a place I literally go to everyday I think its an important discussion.

How to revitalize 16th St. Mall? There are three options being proposed and I really don't like any of them except maybe option two. I think option three of moving the shuttles to 16th and 15th Streets is interesting but 15th needs to be revitalized massively. There is nothing interesting there. After looking at the comments I came up with my own idea:

1) Move the shuttles to 17th & 15th Streets. 17th will go east and 15th will go west.
2) Move up the sidewalk to create patio space, a large walkway, and more kiosks.
3) Use the current center lane on 16th as a two way bike path.

Denver should be more bike friendly. Unfortunately, a lot of bicycles (myself included) act like idiots downtown. This way there is a convenient and safe place to ride downtown. Pedestrians and bikes are always a problem but it is almost impossible to bike downtown without using a sidewalk and that is far more dangerous than a careless pedestrian or bicyclist wandering to were they shouldn't be.

I also think 17th St. is very attractive and should be shown to tourists while 15th needs to be revitalized. There is nothing there which seems a waste to me. Obviously, the city and investors would have to be heavily dedicated to this idea but I think after how LoDo was rebuilt after Coors Field it looks certainly possible.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I did some research on Haiti awhile back and I do consider myself particularly familiar with its history, economics, and political problems. I'm thinking of doing a series of blogs on how to solve for the major problems in Haiti. Unlike some other countries I think Haiti's cycle of crisis can be solved.

This is how I feel Haiti's problems lie:
1) Economics/Environment
2) Politics
3) Too much direct foreign intervention

I will cover this more in the future but here's my solutions:
1) Immediately input a reforestation program
2) Open up Haitian trade by including Haiti in DR-CAFTA
3) Gradually withdraw the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti
4) Refocus the UN to:
  • Monitoring elections
  • Treating AIDS through the World Health Organization
  • Focus aid through UNICEF

5) Have the US and EU train a police force and a (small) military
6) Respect Haiti's sovereignty

More on this later...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Well I'm already wrong but that's a good thing

Salazar has turned down running for governor and now supports Hickelooper. Probably a good thing. Salazar is a cool guy and I really disagree with him on Iraq/Gitmo issues and some economic issues as well but his run for governor would have been interesting.

Hickenlooper however is more interesting though Hickenlooper is so popular he can only loose (thing Obama). As a guy who is both a policy wonk and a campaign junky this certainly appeals to the campaign junky side.

Now I wonder if there will be a primary (probably not), will Hickenlooper actually run (he in all likelihood will), who will he pick as his running mate, and will this be the western slope McInnis v. the Denverite/Front Ranger Hickenlooper?

Hickenlooper will probably have to make a Western Sloper his running mate or make a huge splash to put him over the top.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Colorado Political Questions

Major lack of updates on my part. Anyway lets get to it.

Some major political questions in Colorado that will become clearer as time goes on but I am going to ask and speculate on now:

Who is going to run on the Democratic ticket for governor?
My guess Ken Salazar if not than Hickenlooper. Salazar will probably win though. Most interesting question for me is who will he pick as a running mate.

Will Romanoff beat Bennet and Norton?
I think Romanoff has a good chance certainly name recognition and anti-incumbency mood helps. Norton is a formidable opponent probably stronger than Bennet.

Will Markey keep her seat?
Yes, yes, and yes. I bet it is hers as long as she wants it.

How much will the anti-incumbency feeling actually effect the election?
Not much actually but then again I am prepared to be shocked. Best chance of anti-incumbency is in the senate election and maybe state treasurer.

What was Rep. Kathleen Curry thinking?
If you ask me not very much. She thinks she will be more effective without her chairmanship and leader position? Now she has to run as a write-in candidate. Yeah seems like she's committing political suicide.

How are Ali Hasan's chances?
I make no secret how much I like him. Kennedy is smart but not much of a campaigner on the Democratic side. Republican field is crowded not sure he can win a primary. I do believe he would be a challenge for Kennedy in a state wide race though with his money and cross party appeal. His anti-cumbency views and new face could help. I do worry though that his last campaigns have killed his appeal in the front range with ironically should be his base for a state wide office. He's also had some bad press.

Still the biggest question on my mind what is Josh Penry's future?
I have no idea. I think he may have hurt himself a big with his run for governor. I do have a sneaking suspicion he made some sort of deal with McInnis. I'm guessing has his running mate but I'll be honest I have no clue and I'm really curious.