Pay Cuts

Posted July 15th, 2011 (5:12 am) || Comments Off

From time to time those people we elect to represent us government get together to discuss money, particularly how much the government is responsible for collecting from the population it governs and how it will then spend that money once collected. It seems that during this times, at least as of late, a lot of discussion revolves around the specific topics of tax cuts and social security benefits. Now, I don’t really want to talk about that specifically. I’m not an economist and I can barely balance the budget of my own household let alone that of an entire nation. Instead I’ve like to take a moment to focus on some of the reactions I see others having to them.

One such reaction I keep seeing, over and over again, is the suggestion the whole of congress should take a massive pay cut. The reason for this is that it should, somehow, enable government to simultaneously not raise taxes while continuing to fund programs such as Social Security. In fact, I’ve seem some suggest that a pay cut to members of Congress would make up the difference of savings that would be made if we cut the pay of our military personnel.

I’m a little confused about this. How many members of Congress to these people think we have? How much do these people think they’re getting paid? Let’s look at some numbers. There are currently some 535 members of Congress. A rough estimate of their annual pay is $100 million. Wow, sounds like a lot, right? Well, how many military personal are there? Currently, about 1.5 million (active duty). That works out to something like an extra $60 per year, per soldier. Wow. And that’s not taking into account the 1.5 million in reserve duty. Does it still sound like a lot of money? Look at it this way, if we upped and gave every member of our military (active and reserve) a pay cut of $30 a year (would anyone even notice?), we could buy a back up Congress. That’s how little we pay our government. We can practically buy another one with the spare change we find in couches.

So where could we get some more money? I vote taxes. I love taxes. I always pay my taxes. Taxes are awesome! Taxes pay for the police to protect me (debatable, but maybe if we paid them more), for the fire department to rescue me, for the state to educate me (again, debatable, but again, maybe if we paid them more). Taxes bring us parks and stadiums and public works and roads and the fix the city should something really, really bad happen). Hell, if we all paid more taxes, think of all the other cool stuff we could get! Health care, public transportation, housing.

Sure, sounds like socialism, but I like economic competition. I propose we all pay so much in taxes that everything we need is provided for us. Food, clothing, shelter, medical care and the ability to get to point A to point B if you don’t mind standing in line first. Then, anything you get paid from having a job (that’s left after paying taxes) can be spent on upgrades. Want a better house, or better food? Get a better job! Simple and fair and still (kinda) capitalism. The difference is the the have-nots still have something. Of course we’d have to make poverty illegal to make sure everyone works. If you don’t get a job, the government will lock you up in a prison/factory. This would rid us of illegal immigrants stealing the jobs we won’t do anyway because prison labor will be cheaper.

So no more talk about saving money by not paying our government! Or something… I may have missed my own point somewhere.

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Tea Party Values

Posted October 20th, 2010 (6:20 pm) || Comments Off

The longer the Tea Party exists and continues to make a showing in the political arena, the more confused I have been by their activities. I think the recent gaff made by Christine O’Donnell, Deleware’s Tea Party candidate for the U.S. Senate, in a debate with her rival, Chris Coons, finally allowed me a small epiphany.

Here’s the gaff:

While nothing specific in realizing a person who doesn’t even know her 1st Amendment rights is running for office, the event triggered a train of thoughts that revealed something startling: The Tea Party doesn’t really exist.

There is an official movement in politics which started in 2008 which goes by the name “Tea Party” but they aren’t in any sense an actual political party. Of all of the Tea Party supported candidates running for office, all of them are running as Republicans. The movement itself, despite having a website and being capable of supporting people running for office, doesn’t even have a leader or any sort of organizational structure. It seems to me this so-called Tea Party is just a vaguely understood idea with no definable meaning, objective or purpose.

This doesn’t seem to stop its “members” from pretending. Even though the large number of Tea Party candidates are, in my opinion, only pretending to be politicians, the offices they are running for are all to real, as are the voters who may jump on board and pretend to elect them only to find they really did.

Some small part of me quietly hopes a significant number of Tea Partiers get elected. They might just be crazy enough the rest of the government will feel compelled to do their job.

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Marijuana Legal?

Posted October 10th, 2010 (8:53 am) || Comments Off

On the ballet this year in California is Proposition 19, which would enable persons age 21 older to legally possess, consume and even grow marijuana. As I’m not a resident of California, I have no say in the matter and will not be significantly influenced either way if the proposition passes or fails. I have some thoughts on the matter though.

I’m no expert on the substance, but I understand it has a number of short-term physical and neurological effects, some of which may interfere with any number of physical and cognitive tasks, just as driving or taking a math test. How much interference I’m not sure of, but having been near enough to some friends who’ve been under the influence I can easily say I’d rather not be in the road while someone driving high, and know not to expect such a person to finish that test on time (at least not without a lot of guessing to save time). What I’d like to do is discuss how, if legalized, users under the influence of marijuana may be treated.

My first concerns involve the workplace. With marijuana illegal, having traces of it how up on a drug test would be immediate grounds for termination from any employer which uses drug screening. As a legal substance, its presence would have to be ignored. Like alcohol, there would have to be indicators an employee is under the influence while on the job. I know some tests may indicate how recently marijuana was consumed, but I’m worried it would be impossible to distinguish between people using it responsibly away from work, medicinally, or at work in violation of company policy.

I have similar concerns for law enforcement, whose tests performed in the field are far less accurate than a full lab test.

I suppose these issues are matters for the employers to figure out, but it leaves a lot of room for error. I’d also rather not smell pot at work.

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