Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Windfall Tax on Oil Profits

Some time ago I was in my car listening to John Williams on WGN, something I don't do regularly, but no matter. On that particular day, JW interviewed Sen. Dick Durbin on dicussing Politics, Sudoku, and his proposal to create a Windfall Tax on Oil companies. Mr. Williams is neither conservative nor liberal, a fairly level headed guy, and he was gracious to Senator Durbin's proposal but made good opposing points. Despite being regarded by TIME as one of the 10 Best Senators in America, Senator Dick Durbin did a lousy job of making his case justifying the Windfall Tax Profit bill. Keep in mind this is more than 6 months ago, before $3.00 a gallon.

What Durbin should have brought to make his case is discuss the fact that we give somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 billion in tax incentives to oil companies, and our beloved Congress not all that long ago gave Big Oil additional tax breaks. And even with these arguments I still have reservations about his proposal.

While I'm a liberal, it has always rankled me when someone on my side of the political spectrum decides to tax something that people do a lot of in order to generate revenue. A good example of such foolishness is Initiative 77, the law that would tax coffee in Seattle (fyi - the law was shot down). I'm in favor of more funds for education, but getting those streams of revenue by arbitrarily selecting an activity that has no relationship with the beneficiaries of those funds is horrible way to decide government policy.

Well, leave it to Daniel Gross of Slate to make the case better than anyone else in this brilliant artcile right here. The cost to pull oil out of the ground has not increased dramatically. Oil companies record profits have little to do with increased cost but rather decreased supply and increased demand. The war in Iraq has a direct relationship with the rise in oil prices. We are also running a deficit to conduct this war. Some people have been hurt by the financial effects of the war, such as the American Consumer. Some people have benefited from the war such as the oil companies.

"Ordinarily, we shouldn't want the government to decide when profits become "excess." But the case of huge profits from the run-up in oil prices is different for two reasons. First, it is unusually clear that these profits have nothing to do with productivity. Diverting them to the U.S. Treasury would have no effect on the incentive to extract more oil from American ground. Second, some or all of these profits are directly related to a situation that is imposing huge sacrifices—financial and otherwise—from others; that is, the Iraq war.
"Because of the war, the government is adding hundreds of billions of dollars to the burden of debt that all taxpayers, including other businesses, will have to pay off. Because of the war, American soldiers by the hundreds, and Iraqis by the thousands, are paying the ultimate tax of death by government policy. And because of the war, American oil companies are raking in extra billions of dollars of profits."

Support the Windwall Tax on Oil Companies. It's the right thing to do.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Maybe We Don't Deserve Democracy

It's been forever since I last posted. Forever.... Not that I haven't been thinking and ranting and doing, but this is the first time I've actually decided to log in and write something. A question to the very few who still actually read this blog

Some bulletpoints for us to review the items of the past week or two;

  • Tom Delay resigns with all the investigations swirling around him.

  • Scooter Libby testifies that both Cheney and Bush authorized him to leak Joseph Wilson's wife's name in order to retaliate for his editorial in the New York Times

  • Seymour Hersh writes an article in the New Yorker regarding plans of invading ANOTHER FUCKING COUNTRY when the last pre-emptive war we're in is going so well that we still have no idea when it will be over.

  • In order to keep another nation from obtaining nuclear weapons (Iran) we have compiled a list of options how we can stop them, and the amazing thing is that at the top of the list of options is USING NUCLEAR WEAPONS against them. Please stop laughing... this isn't funny... okay it is a little funny, but still it's very disturbing.

All this is happening and what are we doing? Well, I'm blogging which in the grand scheme of things does not do much. But a thought keeps pestering me in light of all this news. Do we really deserve Democracy?

How many people vote in elections in this country. At best it comes in somewhere around 50% give or take a few percentage points depending on the news of the day. The elected (insert sarcastic tone here) leadership of this nation has their hands on the controls of enough weaponry to annihilate every living thing on the planet 10 times over, and yet they casually wave their dicks around like it's a goddamn supersoaker. And what is the rest of the citizens of this nation doing? Sitting on it's ass saying "what can you do?" and "all politicians are corrupt". Throwing it's collective hands in the air and thinking we're powerless to do anything.

We have become complacent and removed from the power this nation wields. We don't even think about it, our responsibility as citizens. In the declaration of independence the writers put it best...

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.


He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
(our rubber stamp GOP congress)

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.(imprisoning individuals with total disregard for the constitution)

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; (protests regarding illegal immigrants circa 2006) refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone,(see justice Sunday, our new Supreme Court appointees, etc) for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices (record deficits and expansion of government circa 2001), and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States. (Jose Padilla)


For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us (The War on Terror).

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people (Bush environmental policy).

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The signers of the Declaration represented the new states as follows:
New Hampshire - Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
Massachusetts - John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island - Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
Connecticut - Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
New York - William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
New Jersey - Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
Pennsylvania - Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
Delaware - Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
Maryland - Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia - George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
North Carolina - William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
South Carolina - Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
Georgia - Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

The Declaration of Independence still resonates loudly. I can't say that the reference to "savage" (aka American Indians aka Native Americans) makes me proud, but nearly everything else does. How can't it?

History repeats itself. The forefathers of this nation went to great lengths to establish the principles of this nation. I know, we didn't, we still don't treat all people as created equal, but the sentiment is there. These people started a revolution that would be cited as the shot that was heard round the world.

The same shit is happening today. And what are we doing? Watching American Idol and stuffing our faces with Twinkies. And blogging... Maybe we don't deserve democracy.