Saturday, September 27, 2008

George W. Bush -- the trash president?

He has trashed:

  • the environment
  • the federal government
  • America's image in the world
  • now (September 2008) the economy

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Meaningful Election Analysis

This is not a suggestion for a specific story. Rather, it is a suggestion for a direction in coverage.

So much presidential coverage is transitory -- you know: 'who's ahead this week,' 'he said, she said,' ...

Around the buildup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, stories emerged about a white paper prepared in 2000 by the Project for the New American Century for the Bush/Cheney campaign that advocated overthrowing the government of Iraq and establishing permanent bases there as the basis of a Middle East geopolitical strategy.

What can we find out today about

a) key advisers to the campaigns -- individuals who are very likely to hold White House positions in the candidate's administration

b) position papers that telegraph what the candidates' policies are likely to be

This would help us make informed decisions, far more than sound bites of campaign rhetoric or, worse yet, the usual horse-race coverage.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

I read this great quote that sounded like it describes the Bush administration, but it actually came from Hermann Goering. Seemed too good to be true, but (although it isn't quoted very accurately) it really is true: article

Courtesy of Amazon book search, here is the actual quote and citation:

"Naturally, the common people don't want war... That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship ... voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
- Hermann Goering (quoted in Nuremberg Diary, p. 278)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

"Tax what you don't want; don't tax what you want."

Governments need revenue, but the best way of raising it is through taxing behaviors that have social costs, like smoking, drinking and gambling.

Right now in the US, we tax some good things: jobs (Income Tax, Social Security withholding, etc.) and commerce (sales tax in most states).

In Europe they tax all stages of economic activity with the VAT - Value Added Tax.

Meanwhile there are many undesirable things we don't tax: driving a Hummer, bad haircuts, stupidity, etc.

While I can't see taxing any of these, there is something that hurts all of us that is not now taxed: toxic synthetic industrial chemicals.

What if we taxed these substances?

Let me tell you a true story:

I worked for four years in the printed circuitry industry. We had one process that used a plastic photo-resist which was washed away using Methylene chloride (MC), a potential carcinogen. Workers were exposed to it, and we also released it to the air and water outside the factory.

It was time to replace this wash machine, and we were evaluating two technologies: the plastic/MC one, and a new environmentally friendly one that used Cellulose, a natural plant product, for the resist, and detergent (dish soap) for the wash. The cost of the two processes was equal. We went with the old MC process, because changing to the new process would have involved Engineering hours to understand and fine-tune the new process.

Now what if there had been a "Toxin Tax" on the ~5,000 gallons of MC we used over the course of, say, two years, that was approximately equal to the cost of the Engineering hours required to switch technologies? We could have justified the switch on economic as well as environmental terms. We all would have been better off without the release of MC into the environment, AND we would have given good employment to an engineer!

The Centers for Disease Control publish an annual list of the top 20 toxic substances in our environment.

What if we said today that, over the next ten years, we would gradually add a tax to these products?