Saturday, June 25, 2005

Summer Fun

Now that summer is here, I think I'll devote Saturday to a fun quiz for my readers. Here's the first:

1. On a standard traffic light, is the green on the top or bottom?

2. How many states are there? (Don't laugh, some people don't know.)

3. In which hand is the Statue of Liberty's torch?

4. What 6 colors are on the classic Campbell's soup label?

5. What 2 letters don't appear on the telephone dial? (No cheating!)

6. What 2 numbers on the telephone dial don't have letters by them?

7. When you walk does your left arm swing with your right or left leg?

8. How many matches are in a standard pack?

9. On our flag, is the top stripe red or white?

10. What is the lowest number on the FM dial?

11. Which way does water go down the drain, counter-clockwise or clockwise?

12. Which way does a "no smoking" sign's slash run?

13. How many channels are on a VHF TV dial?

14. Which side of a women's blouse are the buttons on?

15. Which way do fans rotate?

16. Whose face is on a dime?

17. How many sides does a stop sign have?

18. Do books have even number pages on the right or left side?

19. How many lug nuts are on a standard car wheel?

22. How many sides are there on a standard pencil?

23. Sleepy, Happy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Doc. Who's missing?

24. How many hot dog buns are in a standard package?

25. On which card is the card-maker's trademark?

26. On which side of a venetian blind is the cord or rod that adjusts the opening between the slats?

27. On the back of a one dollar bill, what is in the center?

28. There are 12 buttons on a touch tone phone. What 2 symbols bear no digits?

29. How many curves are in a standard paper clip?

28. Does a carousel turn counter-clockwise or clockwise?

29. How many times does the number 1 appear on a “standard” PC keyboard?

Some of you might recognize these questions from Grouchy Old Cripple in Atlanta. Well, you would be partially right. He has a very similar quiz. I found this at I removed one question that was state specific and didn't feel it was fair to citizens of other states.

Answers to this quiz will be posted next week. How about leaving your scores in comments? I think it would be fun. Have fun and good luck!

Did You Know?

The Justice Department wants to keep tabs on your Internet activities. They want you ISP to retain records of your online activities. Now, I have no reason to fear. Justice can look at my online activities all they want, but, In My Opinion it's an invasion of my privacy. If they want to know what I'm doing, get a warrant that requires the ISP to track me. Otherwise, keep your nose out of my business.

Here's the
link. Thanks to Boortz for the link.

That the average Gitmo detainee gains 18 pounds? It's the first POW camp where the prisoners gain weight. Yeah, I can see the similarity between Gitmo and gulags and the Nazi death camps.

Increasing the Tax Base - Summary

(The final entry in my series on Increasing the Tax Base. It, and the other entries can be read at Americans for Fair Taxation)

We started out talking about the wage-earner group. This is you and me. This is the group that have traditional jobs where Federal taxes are deducted from our paychecks each and every payday. Then we added the criminal element to the mix. Then added tourists, illegal immigrants, and finally teenagers.

Let’s consider this: the Fair Tax is a consumption tax. You pay a tax based on what you buy. Those who currently pay an income tax (the wage earner) will no longer pay taxes through a payroll deduction, but will pay taxes through their consumption as will the criminal, the tourist, the illegal immigrant, and the teenager. The one thing all five groups have in common is that they buy “stuff” whether it’s food, clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, CD’s, DVD’s, or whatever.

By including these four groups with the wage earner the tax base is dramatically broadened. The Democrats say they are concerned that a consumption tax will put an unduly heavy burden on the poor and the middle class. Adding these groups will ease the burden that we all currently bear.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Increasing the Tax Base - Group 4

(This is my most recent post to Americans for Fair Taxation)

Here’s a group you probably never thought about. While this group isn’t required to pay taxes, they spend a huge amount of money.

Teenagers comprise an up and coming group of future taxpayers. Many, if not most, teenagers don’t have jobs. When they do have what I call "traditional jobs", they will be paid at entry level wages - minimum wage. They usually don’t make enough to report their income, but still have taxes taken out. The group I’m focusing on in this essay are the teens who are unemployed or have jobs babysitting, lawn mowing, and the like. They don't have taxes automatically withdrawn so they don't "pay" taxes on their income.

The reason I include teenagers is that they do have money, whether from allowances, birthday or Christmas gifts, babysitting and lawn mowing, or just getting money from Mom or Dad. Under the Fair Tax they will become tax payers when they buy clothing, CD’s, DVD’s, or whatever it is teenagers buy today.

I know, there will be those who lambast me because I advocate adding teenagers to the tax base, but what is really wrong with it? They pay a state tax on those items now. The addition of a Federal consumption tax is not going to stop them from buying what they want. If anything, they will become more savvy shoppers and make their money go farther. Many teenagers want to be "adults", so, let them pay taxes like adults do.

We started out with the wage-earner group and added the criminal element, tourists, illegal immigrants, and now teenagers. Next, a summary of the tax base.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday Ramblings

My Last Word (I hope) on:

Michael Jackson: I don’t know if he abused, sexually or in any other way, any child. I wasn’t there so, I don’t really know. It’s my opinion that MJ is a freak of nature. I am very suspicious of why a 40-something-year-old man would have unrelated young boys sleeping with him. I can’t think of a single valid reason he would do this except for sexual gratification. But my opinion isn’t proof. One thing to remember is just because the accuser wasn’t credible, and his mother was proven to be a con artist, doesn’t mean he wasn’t abused. Doesn’t mean he was either.

Doesn't this story deserve more attention than MJ got? Or maybe this one?

Jennifer Wilbanks: You remember her, the Runaway Bride. She’s pleaded guilty to charges in Georgia; she’s a felon now. She’s getting psychiatric therapy that I think she desperately needs. I think that her thyroid needs to be checked out. Those deer-in-the-headlights-eyes can be symptomatic of thyroid problems. And as those of us with thyroid problems know, a wonky thyroid can cause all kinds of physical and, and yes, mental problems. She apparently also has book and movie deals in the works along with her fiancĂ©, John Mason. My question is: Why does anyone care?

Natalee Holloway: I’m very sorry this young woman is missing. I truly hope that she is found alive and well, but after three weeks, my hopes are dim. If I had a daughter and she wanted to take a trip to another country with her friends, I would be going along as a chaperone. Sorry, but I think an 18-year-old is too young to be traveling alone, even with other students and chaperones. No one can watch out for a child better than the child’s own parents. Am I blaming the parents? In My Opinion they have some blame. The chaperones and other students also bear some blame, I believe most of the blame lies with Natalee herself. She made the choices that led to whatever happened to her.

Terri and Michael Schiavo: Terri’s autopsy has been released and there is nothing to indicate that Michael had anything to do with her condition. I wondered if there had been abuse, but tried to keep an open mind. Yes, I had questions, and the autopsy answered most of them for me. She was blind and had minimal brain function. Her heart and lungs functioned by instinct. Was Terri in a persistent vegetative state? The autopsy could not answer that; the tests needed to answer that question had to be done before death. Michael would not allow those tests to be done. And now we'll never know.

Do I think the feeding tube should have been removed? No, I don’t. In My Opinion, had she been terminal, or had a living will, that would have changed matters, but she wasn’t and didn’t. I believe she should have been allowed to live out her natural life, such as it was. I believe that Michael should have given her parents care and custody, quietly divorced Terri, and gone on with his life. This should have been done years ago. I doubt anyone could have blamed him for taking this path. I think that Michael will always be known as the man who legally killed his wife. I believe that if Michael was not doing the best for Terri that he could, he will answer for it eventually. To Terri and to God.

Governor Jeb Bush wants to have Michael investigated for failing to call for help in time to help Terri. I don’t know what happened when Terri collapsed. I don’t know if Michael waited too long, or why, if he did. I don’t know that it would have made a difference. I didn’t follow the court proceeding too closely, so I don’t know the timeline. In My Opinion Governor Jeb needs to find something else to occupy his mind for the next eighteen months or so that he will be in office. I’ll have to check to see what Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist is doing in this matter. Charlie threw his hat into the ring for the Governor’s mansion. In general, I’ve approved of Charlie, but this might be a deal breaker.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are engaged. Lovely for them, but why should I care? America doesn’t have a monarchy, so we’ve substituted Hollywood figures for royalty and we tend to hang on what they do, say, and think. As if their opinion mattered more than yours or mine.

And in other news: The House has apparently voted to cut funding (50% of our annual dues) for the United Nations unless the UN makes real progress toward reform. The only problem I see is, does the UN understand what needs to be reformed? My guess is that they will do something. After all, the UN wants our money. In My Opinion, the whole thing should be turned into housing for the poor.

There are calls to close Gitmo, at least the detention facilities. Ain’t gonna happen. Not with Kellogg, Brown, and Root Services, a Halliburton subsidiary, being awarded a $30 million contract to build a 220 bed prison facility at Gitmo.
Personal Social Security Accounts

Yep, I'm gonna beat that horse again. He's not dead, and In My Opinion, he's showing signs of life everywhere except in DC.

Did you know there are 30 countries in the world that have personal retirement accounts for their citizens? I'm the product of a government (public school) education, so my logic and reasoning tends to be somewhat faulty. (Over the last few years I've been attempting to re-educate myself, but it's slow going trying to make up for 14 years of indoctrination). But if countries like Sweden, the UK, Argentina, the Netherlands, and Chile, not to mention most Latin American and Central and Eastern European countries, and some Eastern Asia-Pacific countries are going to a personal (not private) retirement accounts, doesn't make sense that the greatest country in the world at least consider it?

Now, as a general rule of principle, I think that if the Euro-weenies are doing something, then we should stay away from it. This is an exception. From the reading I've done, citizens of other countries are receiving very nice retirements from their personal investments into the state retirement system.

Citizens who were receiving benefits when the country switched to the "new" system continued to receive the benefits they received under the "old" system. Current employees were given the choice of going into the "new" system or staying with the "old" system. New employees automatically went into the "new" system. Sound familiar? That's what President Bush has promised would happen in the US if we go to a personal retirement account system.

Current SS beneficiaries and those at 55 years of age or older would see NO change in their benefits. Employees under 55 would have a choice of staying with SS as it is, or going to the "new" system. New employees would go into the "new" system as they hire on. Gramma is not going to lose her benefits and go hungry. Gramps is not going to lose his house in order to eat. Uncle Joe at 58 will get the same benefits when he retires that he would be entitled to if there were no change. As for me, I am under 55, I will have a choice to stay or to change. I will receive full benefits at age 67. Not everyone will reach retirement age at 65 these days. Go to and look up your account. It wil tell you at what age you will be entitled to full benefits.

And now, some Republicans are talking about raising the retirement age to 69. Thus ensuring that certain members of our society will not receive the benefits they paid for all their working lives. Oh, who am I talking about? Specifically black men. Black men die earlier than any other group and receive less in benefits because of their early death rate.

Black men and women should be screaming to their Congressional representatives in both the House and Senate to resolve this situation to make it more fair and equitable for Black Americans. This is one area where I believe blacks are descrimated against. It's not right, it's not fair, and it needs to be changed.

If personal retirement accounts are good enough for Central Europeans and United States Federal government employees (the Thrift system), it should be good enough for the American taxpayer.

Thanks to No Speed Bumps for the link to the National Center for Policy Analysis.