Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Celebrity


Some wag once said: “A celebrity is someone who is famous for being famous.”  The most famous such “celebrity” in today’s America has to be Kim Kardashian.  Let there be no doubt, Ms. Kardashian is quite beautiful and quite sexy.  But 100,000 to 1,000,000 American women are as desirable as she is, so why is she famous and they not?  What did she do to become famous?  Another perfect example of this kind of celebrity is Paris Hilton, great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, founder of an international hotel chain that bears his name.  Ms. Hilton can barely be called pretty, much less beautiful.  So what she did do to gain fame?  She put herself in the way of paparazzi until they noticed her barely bizarre behavior.  Kim Kardashian was smart enough to know who to latch onto.  There is the reason for Kardashian’s celebrity, she was a hanger-on of another “celebrity.”

So, what do really famous people do?  How do really famous people become famous?  Easy, they do something!  They achieve something (beyond looking good).  Bill Gates, Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak, Michael Jordan, Stephen Curry, Tom Brady, Muhammad Ali, Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, Angelina Jolie, Barack Obama, even Donald Trump, they all did something and you all know what they did.  And you all know that they put in thousands of hours preparing for their achievement before they began to attract even a small measure of fame.  What did Kardashian do to get where she is?  Nothing, really.  She grabbed onto another celebrity’s coattails.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Taxes, Again

When will I stop writing the same damn thing about taxes?  When enough Americans really GET what I am trying to say.  Voting for the guy who promises to cut your taxes is the same thing as voting to have a (bigger) Budget Deficit, which is the same thing as voting to explode the National Debt.  There is a reason that we have a nearly unimaginable $20 trillion National Debt: for 35 years we have not raised enough taxes to cover what we as a nation have bought.  Voting for a tax cut is the same thing as choosing not to pay down your unpaid credit card balance, the same thing as choosing not to pay for what you bought last month.  This essay will examine the sometimes surprising consequences of low tax rates, which include that they don’t make us happier and they don’t make us more free either.

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A Brief Anecdotal History of Taxation

Come with me, on a short journey through the history of taxation.  No, really!

Our first stop is Bethlehem.  “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.  …  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”  (KJV: Luke 2: 1, 3, 4, 5)  So, the parents of the Christ-child were just returning to Bethlehem because the emperor in far-away Rome wanted to tax his subjects based on their home-town.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Day After

It's official: President-Elect Trump!

Note to the reader: I began this post the day after the ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency became clear.  Watching the results as they unfolded on Tuesday night was unsettling.  I did not vote for Hillary Clinton (of COURSE I voted!  And if you have read me at all, you should know that I consider our de facto two-party system an abomination) but the idea that Donald Trump might become President was very … troubling.  Never in our history, at least in MY lifetime, has a candidate been so unfit for the job: personally, politically, internationally and ethically.