Three Tax Laws That Should Be Changed Immediately

Wednesday, 17 December 2008 02:13 by The Lunatic

 

Tax reform is coming - again (and again, and again!)  It seems that every few years, the government realizes that the tax code is broken and they make a bunch of changes to "fix" it. More precisely, they usually ADD a bunch of new laws, making the labyrinth of regulations so complex that not even the trustiest and experienced of tax advisors can really say what's what anymore.

There are three tax laws that, in my opinion, should be first on the chopping block:

  • The Alternative Minimum Tax

This is one of the least popular (if ANY tax law can be considered "popular") regulations on the books.  It came about in 1970 as a way to make sure that the wealthy paid some minimum tax, no matter how More...

Categories:   Economics | Politics
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I want to see a "Personal Responsibility" constitutional amendment

Saturday, 6 December 2008 09:42 by The Lunatic

 

All my life, I've seen these crazy news reports about people suing someone else, often times getting huge sums of money, for something that was partially - or mostly - their own fault.  We all cringe when we hear these stories, but it's a real issue that goes deep into our pockets. Our whole society has a warped mentality that someone else should be responsible for ... your own bad decisions, your health problems, your physical handicap, your depression, your failed investments, your smoking/drug habit, or the fact that your kid can't swim yet she snuck down and found an open door and decided to try a few laps in the hotel pool at midnight (yes, the hotel had to pay).

That "someone else" usually is your employer, your government, your doctor, your neighbor, or the store that sold you the gun which your wife used to shoot your brother (yes, the store owner had to pay).

The cost to society for all this overhead is astonishing.  It's disgusting. I'm not talking just about the money More...

Categories:   Social Issues
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The History of Workman's Law

Friday, 5 December 2008 02:05 by The Lunatic

 

For the last twenty years or so, my email signature has included the following:

     Workman’s Law:
In the movies, the skeptics of supernatural phenomena are always wrong.
In real life, the skeptics of supernatural phenomena are always right. 

I came up with "Workman's Law" after watching the movie Ghost Busters, somewhere around 1985.  Remember the creepy EPA inspector that wanted to shut down the Ghost Busters? That was the impetus for Workman's Law. He didn't believe in ghosts, he thought the Ghost Busters we're all a bunch of con artists, and everyone from the janitor to the mayor ridiculed him.  In the end, he was horribly slimed by the ghost and the audience applauded and everyone said "WHAT AN IDIOT!"

It's a great movie, but it's not real life!

Workman's Law has held up pretty well since then, I'm happy to say.  Here's a challenge for everyone: find me a movie where the skeptic turns out to be right (ok, I'll admit there may be a few) AND find me a real life supernatural phenomenon. I'll buy the winner a cheeseburger.

Here's a great article posted in The Onion a few months ago: Evolutionists Flock to Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain. I love it!

 

Categories:   Science
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The religious right has left the building

Thursday, 4 December 2008 06:56 by The Lunatic

 

I was looking back through some of the comments on my November 4 posting of "Same Sex Marriage - Why is this an Issue?" and I'm amused by some of the banter. 

As a very devout "Born Again Atheist", I don't have much patience for religious ramblings.  Christianity is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned - religion is just a tool to pacify and control the populace, and there are a LOT of weak-minded people that just love drinking the cool-aid.  It's unfathomable that people still believe in this (excuse the expletive) crap.

Religions get their power from telling people pretty much any story that will control the downtrodden (and open their wallets, of course) - with no regard for what the "truth" may be.  Over the years, they've gotten More...

Categories:   Religion
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The Monty Hall Goat Trick

Friday, 28 November 2008 03:42 by The Lunatic

Here is one of my favorite math puzzles – commonly known as the “Monty Hall Goat Trick”.  It’s a wonderfully delicious problem that plays with your head. It has a psychological component that makes even the brightest of people swear that the obvious answer is the correct one, but it’s not!

The game was a regular feature on “Let’s Make A Deal” – a strangely popular show back in the 70’s with legendary game show host Monty Hall. Pop culture at its finest (well, along with “The Gong Show”, of course).  During the show, some very lucky (and usually crazily dressed) person was selected from the studio audience to play the game, and had the chance to win A BRAND NEW CAR! (this became Monty Hall’s catchphrase).

The puzzle has been discussed on hundreds of website, so it’s nothing new, but it's still one of my favorites. Stay with me if you haven’t run across this problem before …

Let’s say you are the lucky participant that gets selected to play the game out of the studio audience. The rules of the game are simple:

  • There are three doors.  Behind two doors is a goat and behind one of the three doors is A BRAND NEW CAR! You get to take home either a goat or More...
Categories:   Science
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Unions. I really hate em.

Friday, 21 November 2008 02:25 by The Lunatic

 

GM has been in trouble a long time, no doubt about it. It's easy to blame management for their slow change to smaller cars, corporate inefficiency, etc.  But face it: it's the unions that are mostly to blame for GM's downfall.  Or, if you prefer, it's managements fault that they didn't have a backbone - and they let the unions walk all over them.

I have many issues with the whole philosophy of unions. Yes, there have been times when they've been helpful - when working conditions were abysmal, unsafe, the pay was equivalent to slave labor, and there weren't any other options for workers. But for the most part those times are long past.

Let's look at unions from a couple of different angles.

I have absolutely no compassion for any company that mistreats employees, but I don't consider providing only a basic health plan as "mistreating" anyone.  Many of the benefits More...

Categories:   Economics | Social Issues
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Why doesn't McCain just say "I'm Sorry" to Jackson Browne?

Thursday, 20 November 2008 07:08 by The Lunatic

 

I've done a lot of media licensing in my life.  A lot .... hit songs, video clips, still images (including a picture of Elvis Presley once, that was fun). I'm fairly up to date on licensing laws and procedures, and I have a high regard for artists rights. And I certainly wouldn't dream of using someone's copyrighted material in a national advertisement without their permission. 

So why is John McCain trying to sue Jackson Browne after he used "Running on Empty" without permission?  This is just plain stupid:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27820970

Basically, McCain's campaign used Jackson Browne's hit song "Running on Empty" in an ad that targeted Obama's energy plan.  Jackson Browne sued, rightfully so, stating that More...

Categories:   Politics
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Death and Taxes. Ok, just taxes.

Thursday, 20 November 2008 04:22 by The Lunatic

 

Americans are spoiled.

We want to have a semi-socialist government that provides entitlements and health care, but no one wants higher taxes to pay for it. We want high wages, but then we complain when everyone buys cheap foreign made goods. We're straddled with trillions of dollars of debt, and no one wants to raise taxes to pay for it. We want it all, and we don't want to pay for it.  Spoiled.

Something has to give!

Believe me, I think our taxes are too high as it is and I don't want to pay any more - especially when the money is being spent on an idiotic war that has no end in sight, on a bailout which has very little chance of saving our debt driven economy, and social programs that give freebies to people that really don't contribute much in return. But let's be realistic.

For 150 years, we've gone More...

Categories:   Economics | Politics
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Are there any stable currencies left?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008 00:06 by The Lunatic

 

There was a report a few weeks ago talking about the inflation in Zimbabwe.  The "Official" rate of inflation is 230 MILLION PERCENT, while some analysts put the number in the billions. The full story is here:
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/11/03/zimbabwe.money/index.html

They can't seem to print money fast enough to keep up.  Previously, the largest bill was 50,000 Zimbabwe dollars, and now the new bill is Z$1,000,000, and they're still expecting currency shortages!

I remember when South American countries were all in an economic free-fall back in the 90's.  If you ate at a restaurant in Argentina, you needed to pay for your meal when you ordered, because if you waited until after you finished, the price will have doubled.  And that's with an inflation rate of "only" a few thousand percent.

How in the heck do you keep things "synchronized" from store to store with a 230 million percent inflation rate?  It's ludicrous!

Of course, this leads to the question of More...

Categories:   Economics
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What do you believe?

Friday, 14 November 2008 23:22 by The Lunatic

 

Here is the second of my two talks that I gave at the Seattle chapter of the Ethical Culture Society, this one is from November 4, 2004. (See yesterday's post for the first ...)

* * * * *

What do you believe?
David M. H. Workman

 

People can be very fervent in their beliefs. 

I’m talking about the good old fashioned argument of science versus religion.  By religion, I mean the organizations whose purpose it is to evangelize a monotheistic God.

What do you believe in?  Is there a god?  Is there a controlling “force” in the universe?  Is our existence and our future pre-determined for us?

Our beliefs are based on our own experiences, what our parents and teachers teach us, what we read, whomever we decide is telling us the truth. And what about our sometimes irrational interpretations More...

Categories:   Religion | Science
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